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Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: She's been to Boulder ... and she sees Manchester with fresh eyes

August 18. 2018 8:12PM
Sara Bee returned to Manchester work as a financial adviser after going to school in Colorado and living in Nashville. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Sara Bee has been to Boulder and back, and the 27-year-old Bedford native says Manchester is hipper than it used to be.

A couple of weeks ago, I had fun comparing Manchester to Boulder, alluding to a story by a writer for Inc. magazine who said our love of hiking, biking and kayaking reminded him of the Colorado city nestled near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Having lived there twice, I called that a stretch, while racking up the good things the Queen City has going for it that make it worthy of comparison.

Bee reached out to me after that column, saying she had a similar experience. The 2009 West High graduate began her college career at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., but completed her bachelor's degree in 2012 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She remained in Colorado for a few years after she graduated.

After a brief move to Nashville for work, Bee eventually found her way back here. Since March, she's been employed as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch at the MacDermott Group on Elm Street. She and her boyfriend were scheduled to close on a house on the West Side on Thursday. In short, she's happy to be back.

Bee is the kind of boomerang millennial the Granite State needs to recruit to shore up its aging demographic. The young professional has gotten involved in community efforts, deepening her roots in her native state. And her enthusiasm for Manchester is inspiring.

We met Wednesday at the Local Moose Cafe on Queen City Avenue, one of the coffee houses in town that Bee says reminds her of Boulder. The cafe features a lunch menu heavy on farm-to-table ingredients. Where else can you get oatmeal milk with your coffee in Manchester? That's so Boulder!

Bee moved back to Manchester about 18 months ago after living in Nashville. She missed skiing and didn't much like the 95-degree Tennessee heat and humidity for seven months of the year. After she found a job in Boston, she and her boyfriend returned to Manchester, where they both have family. She spent more than a year commuting.

"The original thought was 'I'll move to Boston; we'll live somewhere in between Manchester and Boston because there's nothing going on up here,'" Bee said. But those plans eventually changed as she rediscovered Manchester.

"I had friends here, and we'd go out every now and then when we came home, but upon moving back I quickly saw that this was an awesome place. There is so much going on that I had no idea about," Bee said.

Last summer, Bee worked with Downeast Cider, a craft hard cider maker in Boston. She represented the company at a couple of beer festivals, including the Manchester Brewfest held at Arms Park in the Millyard. Bee nearly forgot where she was.

"I could not believe how many people came out for it. It was a beautiful day. It's right on the river," Bee said. "I was living in the (Mill) Lofts apartments across the street so I walked over. I got to work and talk about cider and drink craft beer. And I was like, 'Where am I? I'm not in Manchester. This is so cool.' I've never lived somewhere where I can walk to work."

Bee won't be able to walk to work anymore, but she'll only have to drive about a mile and a half to her office downtown from her new home. Her boyfriend, Neil Pichette, works in the city as well, for his family's business, Pichette Bros. Construction.

Since she stopped commuting to Boston - a trip that meant a 5 a.m. bus ride from Salem and a 5:30 p.m. bus ride back - Bee has had more time to get involved in local activities.

A high school and college lacrosse player, she will soon be coaching an eighth-grade girls team through the Boys & Girls Club.

"I love that age group, when they're still kind of goofy but willing to do stuff," she said. "I cannot imagine growing up without doing sports. It's not for everybody, but it was my way of keeping busy. And you have to keep your grades up. You meet people."

Bee has volunteered with New Hampshire Business for Social Responsibility and the New Hampshire High Tech Council, where her focus has been on helping young girls become interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math.)

Her parents, Jim and Sue Bee, who live in Bedford, now have one of their three daughters back in town. Older sister, Jenna, lives in Boulder; and younger sister, Laura, lives near San Francisco.

"If you asked me five years ago what I would be doing it wouldn't be living on the West Side with Neil Pichette," Bee said. "But I'm really happy that I am."

Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or

Business Manchester Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook


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