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Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: We're rich; We just don't know it

December 28. 2013 12:59AM

Imagine it must be like to go to bed as a person of modest means and wake up filthy rich.

We're talking about you, Manchester-Nashua.

The Queen City/Gate City metropolitan area - let's call it QC/GC - was named the ninth-richest in the country on Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal website Now QC/GC can brag about how it gets to hang out with San Jose, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Bridgeport, Conn.; San Francisco; Boston; Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.; Anchorage, Alaska; and Honolulu, which made up the top eight, respectively.

And QC/GC gets to lord over No. 10: Napa, Calif. You might make a fine Chardonnay, dear Napa, but QC/GC has more bucks than you to spend on wining and dining.

To celebrate, we suggest QC/GC book a flight around the world with Intrav, which has scheduled a "cultural tapestries journey" by first-class private jet for May 3-27. Guests will visit such fascinating places as Paris, Istanbul, Beijing and Tokyo.

"Decide to take a boat excursion off the Adriatic coast in Dubrovnik at the 11th hour? No problem. "There's always room for one more," according to the brochure we received at the New Hampshire Sunday News.

And it's perfect for a tandem-city jaunt: The double occupancy price per person is only $99,950.

We realize that's a bit pricey even for QC/GC, which will have to save up for a couple of years for that kind of trip. The Marketwatch report cited a median income for the Manchester-Nashua area of $69,089.

But two can dream.

While being ranked as the ninth richest metro area for Manchester-Nashua won't solve the state's struggle to maintain its "New Hampshire advantage" reputation, it does cap the year on a high note. Here are a few more bright spots culled from the business news of 2013 in the New Hampshire Sunday News and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Patent-rich NH

The Granite State has plenty of bright ideas.

The Manchester-Nashua area's combined 357 patents in 2011 made the area one of the most invention-rich communities in the country, according to research by the Brookings Institution released on Feb. 1.

That was good enough for a national ranking of No. 29, based on the number of patents applied for per capita from 2007 to 2011. Boston was ranked 34th, while the country's two biggest cities, New York City and Los Angeles, placed 77th and 56th, respectively.

BAE Systems in Nashua was granted 53 patents in 2011 by the U.S. Patent Office, mostly for radar and radio navigation technology - the most of any business in the state.

Housing market rebound

Home sales increased more than 10 percent ahead of the first 11 months of last year, the New Hampshire Association of Realtors reported this month. The 14,052 homes sold through the end of November represents the first time the 14,000 barrier has been surpassed in a calendar year since 2005.

The $205,000 median home price in November was 3 percent ahead of last year, and the $210,000 for the first 11 months represented a 9 percent increase over the $193,000 through November of 2012, the group reported.

In the commercial sector, we also saw signs of recovery. The owners of the Center of New Hampshire building on Elm Street, for example, spent $575,000 to renovate the downtown Manchester landmark. St. Mary's Bank opened its stately new headquarters on McGregor Street on the city's West Side after more than a year of construction, replacing its dowdy 1970 building next door with an architectural marvel that recalls its pre-1970 home.

Tech triumphs

The Granite State's growing reputation as a hub for high-tech companies was underscored when Manchester Millyard juggernaut Dyn doubled the size of its stylish complex, a $1 million project that added another 60,000 square feet. Over the past decade, Dyn grew from fledgling startup to a fast-growing company that employs nearly 280 people, most of whom work at the Queen City campus.

We also saw outside interests snatch up some notable Granite State companies.

In September, Enterasys Networks, the only remaining independent offshoot of Cabletron Systems, was acquired by Extreme Networks of San Jose, Calif., in a $180 million cash transaction. Enterasys employs about 900 workers and is based in Salem.

In December, Amadeus, a Spain-based technology travel company, announced that it plans to acquire Portsmouth-based Newmarket International for $500 million. Newmarket International, which employs 430 people and serves around 22,000 unique properties in 154 countries, operates in the group and event management segment of the hotel industry.

Breweries abound

We've probably had more stories and photos about breweries on the pages of this newspaper over the past year than at any other in its 150-year history. The Granite State's craft brew industry has been attracting new players and prompting veterans to expand operations. New Hampshire is now home to about 20 craft beer makers and a dozen brew pubs.

This month, Smuttynose Brewing Co., which celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, began installing European-made brewing equipment that will enable it to expand production to as much as 65,000 barrels annually at its new facility at the 14-acre Towle Farm property in Hampton.

We'll raise a frosty mug of IPA to that.

Mike Cote is business editor at the Union Leader. Contact him at 668-4321, ext. 324 or

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