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NH Senate panel told: Proposed jobs program wouldn't cost the state anything

CONCORD - Allowing unemployed workers to bypass the job-hunting requirements if they are working on establishing their own business will not cost the state anything, Senate budget writers were told Tuesday.

The Senate initially approved Senate Bill 143 and Tuesday a public hearing was held before the Senate Finance Committee.

The program, which has the support of the Department of Employment Security and the NH Small Business Development Center, is modeled after programs in other states, including New Jersey and New York, which have 60 percent success rates, according to the bill's prime sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord.

"This program is aimed at helping older, more experienced workers who are likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits," Larsen said. "This program will encourage and enable unemployed workers to create their own jobs and perhaps provide jobs for others by starting their own small businesses."

If unemployed people have to constantly job hunt, there is no incentive to try to start their own business, Larsen said.

She and others emphasized the program would not cost the state any money, noting the 25 to 50 participants would likely exhaust their 26 weeks of benefits whether they participate in the program or not.

For people to participate, they have to be permanently laid off and eligible to receive regular unemployment benefits.

Through DES's profiling system, the person has to be identified as likely to exhaust benefits and has to be willing to work with the Small Business Development Center on entrepreneurial training, business counseling and technical assistance.

Program participants have work full-time in activities establishing the business.

The committee will decide on its recommendation on the bill next week and then it will go back to the Senate for action.

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