NH Coalition for Business & Education Launched

Concord  – The New Hampshire Coalition for Business & Education (NHCBE) was launched today, April 18th, as a new sounding board for good ideas to improve education in the Granite State and as an advocacy group for good ideas that show promise. The Coalition will also look to support existing education initiatives in New Hampshire that are successful and making a difference.

Tom Raffio, President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental and Chair of the NH Board of Education, will serve as the Coalition’s Chair. In announcing the formation of the group Raffio said, “It’s time for business, education and public policy leaders in New Hampshire to regularly sit at the same table with each other and discuss the challenges confronting education at all levels in the Granite State. Then, most importantly, to take action as advocates for a select number of viable solutions that show real promise.”

Raffio, along with NH Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry, Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather, NH High Technology Council President Fred Kocher, and NH College and University Council President and CEO Tom Horgan have worked to develop the Coalition after surveying business, education and policy leaders across the State and finding strong support for creating a Coalition to foster stronger working relationships among the three sectors.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has agreed to serve as the Coalition’s fiscal agent and its President and CEO, Richard Ober, will serve as a member of the Coalition Board. Over twenty leaders from the business, education and public policy communities have agreed to serve on the NHCBE Board and several New Hampshire business leaders have already contributed to provide initial funding.

President of the NH High Technology Council, Fred Kocher, said, “I’ve lost track of how many business owners I’ve heard say, ‘I can’t find the talent I need to grow my business,’ especially owners who require college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. The jobs are there, but the numbers of college graduates to fill them are not. That dilemma has its roots in secondary education.”

At the Coalition’s inaugural meeting the members agreed to move forward and heard presentations on priority concerns from the NH Department of Education, the University System of NH and the business community. President and CEO of the NH College and University Council, Tom Horgan, said, “We know that New Hampshire is facing some significant demographic and economic challenges in the years ahead. We can best secure our collective future by ensuring that we have the educated citizens our businesses and our communities require. This Coalition promises to serve as an important force in supporting key initiatives aimed at addressing both workforce and educational needs.”

The NH Coalition for Business and Education will operate under the umbrella of the NH Forum on the Future, which is in its 8th year of focusing on those forces shaping New Hampshire’s future, and is co-hosted by the NH College and University Council and the NH High Technology Council. The Coalition members agreed to meet again in June to outline a yearlong plan for how it will operate and to prioritize advocacy actions.