The People of Berlin Never Gave Up

December 22, 2011

After months of unnecessary delays and uncertainty, Berlin Prison will finally open.  And that's good news for jobs in the North Country. Berlin Prison itself will add more than 300 jobs and provide a $40 million annual economic boost to the region.

Berlin began its campaign for the prison in 2001. By 2007 construction had begun and in 2010 the prison was completed. However, for more than a year, a protracted budget fight in Congress left the prison fully complete but lacking the funds to open.

But the people of Berlin never gave up. I have been to Berlin several times as this process unfolded, speaking with residents, touring the prison and meeting with Mayor Grenier and city officials.

Since 2008, Berlin residents, businesses, non-profits and state agencies have pooled resources to form a partnership, the Northern New Hampshire Talent Team, to help the region best take full advantage of the economic benefits of this prison. This innovative approach is becoming a national model and exemplifies what is possible when the private and public sectors work together. With the prison now beginning operations, the Talent Team will be busier than ever as it helps local businesses become suppliers to the prison, creates welcome packages for prison employees moving to Berlin, and supports North Country residents applying for new jobs.

The prison is just one of several positive developments in Berlin recently. The Burgess BioPower Plant is under construction and promises 40 new jobs at the plant, 200 jobs in timber harvesting and trucking, and up to 400 jobs during the construction phase.  The Gorham Paper Mill-thanks to the cooperative efforts of mill workers, state officials, and community leaders-has new owners who are committed to seeing it grow. 

In the next few months, Berlin residents will be able to submit applications to become correctional officers, healthcare workers, and maintenance workers at the prison. These will be dependable jobs that pay a sustainable wage. Different positions will require different qualifications, and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. People looking for more information on jobs at the prison or throughout the North Country should visit the City of Berlin's website: http://www.berlinnh.gov/

While the prison alone won't solve the North Country's economic problems, it’s an important step in the right direction.  I am pleased that Congress has finally resolved this issue in a way that will help get people back to work in the region. I will continue to urge Congress to create jobs by investing in infrastructure: roads, bridges, and railways. This will generate construction jobs in the short term and help our businesses operate efficiently so they can grow and create jobs in the years to come.

I want to thank the New Hampshire Departments of Resources and Economic Development, the New Hampshire Employment Security, and the White Mountains Community College. And of course, thank you to Mayor Grenier and all the city officials and community leaders who continue to fight for jobs for Berlin.

Of course, we still have much to do. But I am committed to continuing to work with the region on long-term economic growth so that Berlin’s children can stay in the North Country knowing there are career paths for them and for their own children.


By:  Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Source: Berlin Daily Sun