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Few details in Sununu report on '100 businesses in 100 days'

State House Bureau

April 21. 2017 10:02AM
Gov. Chris Sununu speaks before the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce as chamber President Michael Skelton listens at St. Anselm College last month. (Kimberly Houghton/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu says he has kept his campaign promise to meet with 100 out-of-state businesses in his first 100 days in office, in the hope that he can convince them to locate in New Hampshire.

The governor declined to name a single business he met with, however, so there was no way to verify the claims contained in an eight-page report presented at a news conference on Thursday.

Sununu said no business wants publicity about a potential relocation until the move becomes a reality, and that all those he met with requested confidentiality.

“This isn’t our stipulation, it’s a request of those businesses,” he said. “They asked us not to release their identity. If you are a manufacturer in Pennsylvania or wherever and are looking to pick up and move 100 employees, that is not something you necessarily want to publicize.”

Sununu said he and members of his economic development team have met with 127 businesses from seven countries and 23 states, including 20 businesses in Canada that participated in a webinar.

Michael Todd, the governor’s interim communications director, said the governor’s only international trip was to Canada.

When asked about the cost of out-of-state travel associated with the trips, Sununu said the governor’s office has no budget for out-of-state travel, and that “the vast majority” of travel funding so far has come from a balance in his own inaugural committee treasury.

Sununu said he thought the state should budget money for international travel by the governor to recruit businesses, “and we are requesting it through the budget process now in the Senate.”

The report, titled “100 Businesses in 100 Days,” states that some of the businesses contacted are actively in the process of moving and expanding, while others were simply “happy to make a connection for their future considerations.”

The governor's report can be viewed below:

Sununu said he had no “hard commitments” from any of the businesses to relocate to New Hampshire.

The report outlines what Sununu and his team learned in their conversations with business executives about relocation concerns, including regulations, education, taxes and infrastructure.

The governor took advantage of the opportunity to promote his proposal to create a new Department of Business and Economic Affairs by combining the existing divisions of Economic Development and Travel and Tourism into a new state agency.

NHGOP Chairman Jeanie Forrester said Sununu has fulfilled his campaign promise.

“In fact, he exceeded his goal by meeting with 127 businesses from seven countries and 23 states,” she said.

Democrats ridiculed the report.

“Governor Sununu’s ‘100 businesses in 100 days’ press conference was characteristically short on details and left us with more questions than answers,” said state Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “He offered no names or proof of businesses he met with, giving Granite Staters no way to keep him accountable to his promise. The nature of his meetings were questionable, as he cited a webinar he hosted with 20 businesses. What did the rest of his meetings look like?”

Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, took issue with Sununu’s claim that he is the first governor to visit Canada in the last seven or eight years.

His predecessor, Gov. Maggie Hassan had business meetings in Canada 2013 and 2015, and Gov. John Lynch visited Quebec in 2011.

“Governor Sununu wants people to take him at his word without offering any evidence or credible sources to verify his big claims,” she said. “His press conference should be called out for what it is, a dog and pony show with no real legs to stand on.”

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