Note from the Director

September 10th, 2012 by CfRP

Dear Friends,


I hope the end of summer finds you well. As many of you know, on August 1 the Center for Rural Partnerships began a new era, with Thad Guldbrandsen moving on to become the Vice Provost for Research and Engagement. I’d like to congratulate Thad, and thank him for his leadership of the Center over the past 6 years. He has left the woodpile well-stocked, and all of us at the Center are inspired to continue his legacy of developing and supporting collaborative projects with Plymouth State’s many partners throughout the region.


At any time of transition, it’s important to take stock of past success and chart a course for new areas of achievement. Since its inception in 2005, the Center for Rural Partnerships has become known as a resource for facilitating relationships among community partners, developing workshops and educational opportunities both on-and-off campus, and conducting community-level applied research throughout the region. This is what we do best, and thanks to the vibrancy and hard work of our partners and staff, we will continue to develop and support fruitful partnerships across the fields of history, heritage and culture; health and social welfare; and recreation, tourism, and agriculture. I am excited to continue this work together.


Looking forward, I see a number of opportunities for the Center to expand its service to the region. First, we’ll be developing a strategic plan that will allow us to better listen to the needs of our partners and focus on meeting those needs. Second, in keeping with new campus initiatives for student engagement and service learning, the Center will help create a student-focused “rural laboratory” that will create opportunities for students to engage the region by conducting research, working on real-world projects, and applying coursework. Third, the Center will be expanding our communication efforts to better share and promote the collaborative success of our partners. We’ll be updating our web page, creating some visual materials, and expanding our social media presence. Be sure to visit often!


So, there’s a lot of work to do and a lot to look forward to. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a sample of some exciting projects coming to fruition in the coming months:


  • Thanks to the support of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, The Center will be continuing its Coos County Outreach Initiative, which provides technical support, cultural programming, and educational opportunities to businesses, entrepreneurs, and community organizations throughout the North Country.


  • With PSU’s College of Business Administration, the Center will be re-introducing the new-and-improved North Country Economic Index, which has been expanded to include new features and in-depth analysis that better serves the region’s policy-makers and economic development stakeholders.


  • In partnership with the Institute for New Hampshire Studies and the New Hampshire Department of Travel and Tourism Development, the Center will be co-hosting a tourism-marketing workshop designed to help motel owners create exciting and profitable travel itineraries.


  • Along with the Northern Forest Heritage Park and the Plymouth State Art Department, the Center will be organizing several showings of a documentary film detailing the creation and installation of murals on the Brown Company R+D Building.


And, thanks to you, there will be plenty more. Keep in touch, and I look forward to seeing you soon.





Ben Amsden

Interim Director

Upcoming Staff Changes at the CfRP from Thad Guldbrandsen

March 30th, 2012 by CfRP

March 30th, 2012

Friends and partners,

I am writing with news about upcoming staffing changes at the Center for Rural Partnerships.

Ben Amsden will take over leadership of the Center for Rural Partnerships on April 1, 2012, with a three-year appointment as Interim Director.  Ben has been with the Center since 2008, and holds degrees in economics, recreation and tourism, and rural sociology. Many of you have already had the chance to work with him on projects related to community development, food & agriculture, agritourism, affordable housing, transportation, and more.  Ben has established himself as a trusted community partner and creative leader on many of the Center’s initiatives, and we are proud of what he has accomplished both nationally and here in New Hampshire. We are in good hands with Ben, and I am looking forward to watching the Center prosper under his leadership.


Marylynn Cote began work as the Center’s new administrative assistant on March 28, 2012.  A Lakes Region native, she comes to us from the Common Man Inn and Spa in Plymouth, and the Northway Bank in Campton.  In addition to working with the Center, Marylynn will be continuing her progress towards a B.A. in Communication Studies through the Frost School at PSU.


Frances Belcher, Linda Upham-Bornstein, and Melissa Greenawalt-Yelle continue to work on behalf of the Center’s initiatives in the areas of regional health, history and heritage, and the White Mountains Institute.  Their work continues to create a legacy of positive relationships with many of our partners, while providing educational opportunities for students and strengthening Plymouth State’s capacity to serve the region.


I will continue to be active in regional collaboration in my new capacity as Vice Provost for Research and Engagement at PSU, an appointment that will begin on August 1, 2012.  My appointment and the reorganization of the Vice Provost’s office reflect an increased institutional commitment to regional partnerships.  Over the past ten years, PSU has dramatically increased its commitment to regional engagement.  The Center for Rural Partnerships, the Center for the Environment, and the Center for Activity Living and Healthy Communities have all been big parts of our commitment to the region, and they will continue to engage faculty, staff, and students in partnerships with our broader community in rural New Hampshire and across the Northern Forest. There is more we can do, however, and the establishment of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Engagement is just one part of PSU’s larger effort to catalyze the next phase of development and become ever more responsible partners in regional prosperity.


Thank you for support and partnership over the past six and a half years that I have served as the Director of the Center for Rural Partnerships, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration.  Meanwhile, please join me in welcoming Ben and Marylynn to their new posts at the Center.


Thank you,


The Genuine Progress Indicator

January 20th, 2012 by Melissa

Friday, January 20, 2012


Greetings Everyone!

Snow is in the air, and I hope you get to enjoy winter this weekend.

At the Center for Rural Partnerships, we are always thinking about ways to think about community and economic development that reflect New Hampshire values and honor what we know about scholarly research and “best practices” in the field.  Fran Belcher recently initiated a conversation within the Center about Vermont’s unique approach, reflected in a bill currently before the legislature.   Of course, we do not endorse this bill, since the Center never weighs in on legislation or lobbies in any way.  However, this discussion does raise interesting topics worthy of further discussion.

Here is an excerpt from VT LEG 274149.1 –

“The genuine progress indicator shall be based upon and be at least as comprehensive as the framework designed by the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics of the University of Vermont; shall incorporate basic human rights principles; and shall include at least the following measures:

(A) access to livable wages;
(B) access to affordable housing;
(C) access to health care;
(D) personal consumption expenditures;
(E) income distribution;
(F) personal consumption adjusted for income inequality;
(G) value of household labor;
(H) value of volunteer work;
(I) services of household capital;
(J) services of highways and streets;
(K) cost of crime;
(L) cost of family breakdown;
(M) loss of leisure time;
(N) cost of underemployment;
(O) cost of consumer durables;
(P) cost of commuting;
(Q) cost of household pollution abatement;
(R) cost of automobile accidents;
(S) cost of water pollution;
(T) cost of air pollution;
(U) cost of noise pollution;
(V) loss of wetlands;
(W) loss of farmland;
(X) depletion of nonrenewable 1 resources;
(Y) long-term environmental damage;
(Z) cost of ozone depletion;
(AA) loss of forest cover;
(BB) net capital investment; and
(CC) net foreign lending and borrowing.”

I’d be curious to hear what others think about this.


Economic Trends in Grafton County

January 19th, 2012 by Melissa

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, Ben Amsden, Dan Lee, and Zack Lacroix presented an update on the “Economic Assessment of Grafton County, New Hampshire” to the Board of Directors of the Grafton County Economic Development Council in at the Lincoln Public Library.  There are some notable points from the presentation that I would like to share.

  • Grafton County seems to be recovering from the Great Recession, but the situation is still fragile.
  • Education and healthcare remain key economic drivers in Grafton County, especially in the Lebanon and Plymouth labor market areas.  Recent public budget cuts and economic challenges have resulted in notable declines in employment in these sectors, which will likely be felt throughout the economy.
  • Recent employment data provides some hope in the manufacturing sectors.  Grafton County remains strong in advanced manufacturing, which is an area in which the United States still holds a competitive advantage.
  • Many economic sectors that are important to Grafton County (tourism, building trades, landscaping) are underreported in employment data, because many small businesses do not have a large number of employees.
  • Grafton County continues have communities and a natural environment that are highly attractive to visitors and residents.  Further economic health is largely contingent on the County’s ability to sustain and build on these attractive qualities.

Please have a look at the PowerPoint presentation, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.  The full report, with all the necessary citations and background information, will be posted in the coming days.

Our Involvement with the White Mountains Institute!

January 11th, 2012 by CfRP

This winter, we at the Center for Rural Partnerships are working on projects related to local food and agriculture in Northern New Hampshire, educational programs for health-care students in the North Country, the history and legacy of the Weeks Act, economic trends in the region, and much more.  The White Mountains Institute (WMI) is one initiative that has received a lot of our attention lately.  This is an effort to develop graduate courses, undergraduate courses, programs for families, and new on-line resources related to the White Mountains region.  Our first WMI courses are currently being offered as part of PSU’s winterim program.   We have a busy summer planned for WMI, and more information will be released in the coming days and weeks.  Meanwhile, please visit our web page:


Passing Interest

April 14th, 2011 by Alice

Thaddeus C Guldbrandsen

Spring is here!  It’s brought with it a flurry of exciting activity that I look forward to sharing here.  Right now, though, I’m in the thick of it and today’s note reflects the fact that I’m walking out the door (again) as soon as I hit the “Publish” button.

We have received a number of requests for assistance, research, and assessment of the Northern Pass Project, so I think it might be useful to provide a clear statement about where we stand:

Plymouth State University and the Center for Rural Partnerships are not taking a position on the Northern Pass in any way.

Plymouth State University is a diverse community, comprised of people with many different perspectives. As an institution, we are not intervening in the conversation.  As individual citizens we are free to exercise our First Amendment rights as we see fit.

At this time, we have no plans to do any research or write anything about the project’s implications or its impacts.  We are involved with on-going conversations with other intuitions of higher learning and state agencies about appropriate roles for us to play, working in collaboration with other neutral partners.  We believe that this neutrality provides the best opportunity to be of service to the region.  More about why in the near future.

Until next time,




Follow Thad on Twitter! Follow the Center on Twitter!

Farm & Forest, Weeks Act Centennial Site Debut, and More!

February 3rd, 2011 by Alice



New Hampshire's Farm & Forest Exposition, "New Hampshire's Greatest Winter Fair," takes place on Friday, Feb 4 and Saturday, Feb 5, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

This year at the New Hampshire Farm and Forest Expo, the Center for Rural Partnerships is collaborating with a number of different organizations to deliver interesting programs to the people of New Hampshire.  Ben Amsden, in collaboration with the University of Vermont Cooperative Extension, has developed another great program devoted to agritourism, risk management, and local food.

Nicole DeGrandpre, Kelly Rice (both student assistants), Linda Upham-Bornstein, and I are also partnering with the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, the Museum of the White Mountains, and others to provide a fun and edifying, interactive exhibit.  We will have multiple computer terminals to help students get oriented to the Beyond Brown Paper Collection, the Protecting the Forests Exhibit, our Weeks Act Centennial web pages, and Linda and Nicole’s video about the Life and Times of W.R. Brown.

See you at Farm and Forest!


Thaddeus C Guldbrandsen


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