“Is the New Hampshire advantage still there?” Morris said she is asked. “Is it all smoke and mirrors?”
Morris said business owners also are concerned about providing health insurance to employees.
“I think everyone is concerned,” she said. “I think people are finding it confusing and a challenge.”
Salem High School principal Tracy Collyer and Christopher Dodge, head of the school’s Career and Technical Education Center, said the goal is to educate students so they can become valuable members of the work force.
“Reach out and tell us what your needs are,” Dodge said. “We want to be meeting the needs of the business community.”
David Metzemaekers of Scott Electronics in Salem said manufacturing has became highly advanced in recent years and requires specially trained workers to get the job done.
It’s no longer “the dirty job” it was once, business executives said.
“It’s important to us to educate the kids in high school — it’s so different now,” Metzemaekers said. “You must be motivated and that’s what we want these kids to be.”
Local community leaders who attended the forum included Salem Town Manager Keith Hickey and Assistant Town Manager Leon Goodwin.
Hickey said the town, like many businesses, has had trouble finding the employees it needs while trying to keep property taxes down.
“We’ve had some challenges trying to attract the right people as well,” he said.
Hickey said a key to revitalizing the state and local economies is casino gambling.
“We think Rockingham Park is the prime location in New Hampshire to have that facility,” he said. “We hope the governor will continue to support one casino in Southern New Hampshire. ... It’s one of the few untapped revenue sources our state can look at.”