From the Editor: September 2016

From the Editor: September 2016

The diversity of the Upper Valley’s business community never ceases to amaze me. For a relatively small region, at least compared with the Manchesters and Burlingtons of the world, not to mention the Bostons and New Yorks, we’ve got a lot going on.

This month’s issue provides several cases in point.

Our cover story, by contributor Jaimie Seaton, profiles the Randolph division of Applied Research Associates. The 50 or so engineers, scientists and other staffers working in ARA’s Beanville Road facility are a tiny fraction of the New Mexico-based research and engineering company’s 1,100 employees at 58 sites in 22 states and Canada. But they’ve been working on some big ideas.

In the 1990s, the employee-owned company, which operates with what chief scientist John Haas described to Seaton as an “entrepreneurial spirit,” developed robotic tractors that can safely neutralize land mines and similar dangers. Today, it is creating smart sensors that can detect everything from a single intruder to a terrorist’s “dirty bomb.”

ARA’s projects have the potential to save thousands of lives, both uniformed and civilian, and to prevent catastrophic damage to important facilities like pipelines and electric utilities. They already are standing watch at U.S. military installations at home and abroad.

Little company. Important work. Global reach. Very cool.

Then, in our SCORE Stories column, contributor Lynn Luczkowski profiles another little Upper Valley company that, improbably, also has a global reach.

Founded in 2009 in Elaine and Mike McCabe’s Thetford Center basement, Red Kite Candy Co. burst onto the national confection scene in 2012 with a review in The New York Times — “luscious freshness,” the Times gushed, with “just enough sweetness.” Cue the internet ordering stampede.

But Red Kite’s story is more than just “little company makes good.” It’s the story of a woman facing a cancer diagnosis and deciding, along with her husband, to pursue her dreams and her passions. With advice from the counselors at the Upper Valley chapter of SCORE, the McCabes have grown their business. Today, they produce their toffees and caramels in a state-of-the-art candy kitchen in Bradford, Vt., and sell them in stores around New England and to internet buyers around the world.

That’s the sweet taste of success.

Those stories, plus our Creative Economy visit with some of the artists and crafters at last month’s League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair, help illustrate an Upper Valley economy characterized by technical expertise, entrepreneurship, collaboration, creativity and courage.

— Ernie Kohlsaat


Author: Ernie Kohlsaat

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