Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC), acting as the Strafford Region Economic Development District Board of Directors, has adopted the 2023 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Update for the Strafford Region. The CEDS Update provides an overview of our region’s economic conditions and opportunities. The CEDS is updated annually on a five-year cycle. A five-year CEDS update is a complete overhaul of the visioning, goal setting, and selection of themes relevant to the region’s economy. Subsequent annual updates track progress toward implementation of the five-year CEDS, including data and project updates.
Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) is one of nine regional planning commissions in New Hampshire. In 2015, SRPC was designated as the Strafford Economic Development District (Strafford EDD) by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the US Department of Commerce. The Strafford EDD comprises the municipalities of Strafford County plus Brookfield and Wakefield. Newmarket, Northwood, and Nottingham are part of the EDD operated by the Regional Economic Development Center.
Although the region was designated an EDD in 2015, SRPC has been adopting a CEDS since 2011 and has continued to update the document on a five-year cycle. The 2021-2025 CEDS outlines a regional strategy for future economic development and prosperity based on the themes and goals developed by the EDD Board of Directors. This 2023 CEDS acts as the second annual update to the 2021-2025 CEDS Plan. The update summarizes the progress our region is making in achieving the goals and themes established in the 2021-2025 CEDS, which includes: Economic Growth; Business Operations; Housing; Infrastructure; Mobility and Accessibility; Age- Friendliness; Workforce and Education; Community Vibrancy; and Childcare.
Some of the regional economic conditions highlighted in the 2023 CEDS Update:
- Low unemployment rate at 2.21%;
- Record low level of bankruptcies at 37 filings in 2022, compared to 162 in 2019;
- Residential vacancy rates at about 1%;
- Amtrak’s Downeaster is back up to 90% of the pre-Covid ridership and the Durham station has just reached its one million passenger mark;
- For the first time in many years, the number of residents over age 65 that are remaining or returning to the workforce is increasing; and
- As of July 2022, childcare employment in the Strafford Region is down 8.4% since the start of Covid.
Communities and partners throughout the region submitted 73 projects to be included as priority initiatives in the region. Projects are comprised of street and sidewalk improvements, bridge repairs, updates to critical infrastructure (like backup generators), site clean-up and redevelopment, and unique security and resilience projects to prepare our businesses for future impacts. To review the Strafford Region 2023 CEDS Update visit: strafford.org/docs/2023- comprehensive-economic-development-strategy/.
In September 2023, the Strafford Economic Strategy Committee will begin prioritizing actions for 2024, with an eye towards mobility and accessibility, resilient infrastructure, technical assistance to businesses, and improving childcare access challenges. To stay up to date on the Strafford EDD priority-setting for 2024, please visit strafford.org/committees/edd-strategy- committee/.