Economic Development Portsmouth


Major Economic Resources and Initiatives

Portsmouth has many unique assets, including its role as NH's only deep-water port and its central role as a high-tech culinary and cultural destination hub for northern New England. The City's economic resources include:

Portsmouth's Workforce
Portsmouth has a youthful and technologically adept workforce. Many educational institutions, including the University of New Hampshire and a number of technical colleges, produce workers who thrive in the technologically and biologically oriented business climate that has characterized much of Portsmouth's new economic growth. According to the 2010 Census, showed over more than 40% of Portsmouth's residents had advanced degrees. Many of those and others are specially trained for careers in technological fields.

Pease International Airport
The airport at Pease is a tremendous asset to the region as well as the businesses located at the Port. The airport is growing and passenger service is expanding. Currently, passenger service is provided by Allegiant Airlines and ground support, maintenance, and repair is provided by Port City Air. PlaneSense provides fractional aircraft ownership.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Located in Kittery, Maine just across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, the Shipyard is a major overhaul and refueling facility for all classes of submarines and has recently been strengthened by its position as one of only four U.S. Navy bases capable of housing nuclear submarines. The Shipyard has a military and civilian payroll of $414 million, and accounts for $38 million in purchases in the New England area and contracts for $128 million in facility services.

The Port of New Hampshire
The Port of New Hampshire, located on the Piscataqua River on the Portsmouth side, is a source of great pride for the City of Portsmouth. The Port has a 66' wharf (33'-35' water depth), 310' long barge pier (22' water depth), two warehouse structures ( approx. 50,270 s.f.), and container port operations. The overwhelming desire to maintain a working port in the tradition of the City's past, and the Port's strategic location on a deep natural harbor, guarantee the future viability of the Port for international shipping. The marine terminal users co-exist with boating and commercial fishing.

Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)
New Hampshire has one Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ No. 81, awarded by the federal government in 1982) consisting of five distinct sites, three of which are located in Portsmouth. Pease International Tradeport has 1,095 acres (including the airport), 10 acres are at the Port of New Hampshire, and 50 acres are at the Portsmouth Industrial Park on Lafayette Road. A Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is a site within the United States where items may be imported, stored and processed with deferral or elimination of customs duties and excise taxes. Firms operating in an FTZ are thus able to operate more competitively in the international market.

New Hampshire Tax Advantages
New Hampshire's tax structure is very business friendly. There is no sales tax, no use tax, no income tax, no capital gains tax, no inventory tax and no higher assessment for commercial or industrial real estate. There are loan guarantees and tax exempt financing for manufacturers.

Quality of Life
Portsmouth's quality of life is hard to beat. Professionals, especially young, entrepreneurial and highly skilled technical workers have been particularly attracted to all that Portsmouth offers. Portsmouth's working port combined with its natural landscapes, parks, and proximity to New Hampshire's lakes and mountains region means there is something for everyone here. Educational resources at all levels are of outstanding quality. Portsmouth's civic life, and arts and cultural resources are highly regarded throughout the state, New England and the Northeast.

Economic Revitalization Zones (erz)
The City of Portsmouth has three economic revitalization zones (ERZ).  The ERZ designation is an economic development tool allowed by state statute that creates incentive for companies to expand or relocate to an eligible area.  Projects in an approved zone must create new jobs and expand the economic base and can range from the creation of new facilities to the rehabilitation of existing structures.  State approval of ER Zones qualifies businesses expanding or relocating in these ER zones for tax credits outlined in RSA 162-N:8.  Under the provisions of this statute, businesses in an approved ER Zone may be eligible for tax credits to be used against Business Profit Tax and Business Enterprise Tax up to a maximum of $40,000 annually for a five year period.  Below is a summary of the current ERZ areas in Portsmouth. Click here for more information.

Inter and Intra-city Transportation Summary
Portsmouth, located just 50 miles north of Boston, has a strategic position on the East Coast. Its accessibility by air, rail, and Interstate 95, as well as its deep water port, enhance the ability to host small and large, independent companies with plans for national or global competitiveness.

Portsmouth's closest airport is Pease International Tradeport (PSM) in Portsmouth. Other airports, including Manchester Airport, Logan Airport (Boston) and Portland International Airport (Maine) are easily accessed within an hour drive from the city. Several bus transportation providers and private airport shuttles serve all three airports with direct service into Portsmouth.

Road Routes Routes 1,4,16,1A,and Interstate I-95

Railroad: Boston & Maine and Guilford Rail
The rail system through Portsmouth is solely utilized for freight movement. Passenger Rail service does not directly serve Portsmouth, however neighboring communities Dover and Exeter have Amtrak service and COAST provides service to those stations.

Port of New Hampshire
Port of New Hampshire The Port is an effective means for freight shipping and receiving. For information on Portsmouth's Foreign Trade Zone and capabilities of the Port of Portsmouth see the "International Business" section and the Port of NH website.

Bus Transportation
Portsmouth is served by local fixed route bus service provided by COAST (Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation) and the  UNH Wildcat Transit. Special accommodations are made for handicapped accessibility and services are tailored to serve several dense commercial areas in the city including the Pease International Tradeport, downtown Portsmouth's Market Square, and Lafayette Road (U.S. Route 1). COAST provides service to neighboring communities serviced by Amtrak passenger service in Dover and Exeter, NH.

Portsmouth can be reached by Greyhound buses, Vermont Transit and C & J Trailways. Flight Line airport shuttle provides access to Boston's Logan Airport (BOS), Manchester Airport (MHT), and Pease International Tradeport (PSM).


Community Profile: Business Vitality for the City of Portsmouth, including Population and Income. Demographics/Population, Labor Force, Labor Force Educational Levels, Largest Employers and # of Employees, Municipal Services , Utilities , Educational Facilities, Medical & Health, Community Services & Recreation and Other Information can be found at

Portsmouth welcomes and is the location of several international businesses.  In addition to its business parks and the Pease International Tradeport  the City offers the following resources attractive to international business.

The Port of New Hampshire

The State of New Hampshire's Maritime Terminal and deepwater port provide marine services for access and bulk cargo. Its strategic location on a deep natural harbor makes it viable for international cargo shipping as well as for visiting cruise ships. The Harbormaster offices and dock are located onsite.  Port infrastructure includes a 66-foot-long wharf, a 310-foot barge pier, two large warehouse structures, and open areas for bulk storage and container facilities. 

Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ)
New Hampshire has one Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) consisting of five distinct sites, three of which are located in Portsmouth: 1,095 acres at the Tradeport, 10 acres at the Port, and 50 acres at the Portsmouth Industrial Park. A Foreign Trade Zone is a site within the United States where items may be imported, stored and processed with deferral or elimination of customs duties and excise taxes, allowing firms to operate more competitively in the international market. The FTZ, in conjunction with the State's International Trade Resource Center, provides both opportunity and technical assistance for businesses interested in foreign commerce.

International Business Assistance
The City of Portsmouth, State of New Hampshire and the Pease Development Authority are experienced in meeting the needs of international companies. These agencies offer the business community a range of programs and services, including one-on-one counseling, export financing information, education and training seminars, automated trade leads, market research and development, worldwide marketing promotion, and an international resource library. For information and assistance contact:

Thank you for considering Portsmouth as a location for your business.  The best resource for starting a business in NH is the State of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development is:

Business Registration
Business registration is not required at the City level, but depending on the type of business, registration is required at the Secretary of State's Office:

Flexible/Co-working Spaces
Regus Flexible Workspaces
IOS Business Centers:
Alpha Loft:

Local Permits
Local permits may be required for change of building use, fit-ups, land use approval and site review, and health and safety.  Visit the City's Planning and Inspections and Planning Department websites for more information on permits:

Business Location Real Estate Resources
Useful property search resources:

Business Start-up/Accelerator Programs:
Portsmouth is replete with entrepreneurial activity.  Its proximity to the campus of the University of New Hampshire, its dynamic downtown, arts and culture scene and friendly business environment make it an excellent and supportive place to start a business.

For a local resource for sustainable entrepreneurial growth and innovation, meet-ups and education opportunities see:, or

For information on the Portsmouth Maker Space visit:

For business assistance see the section of this website on Business Assistance.

Cultural Assets, Historical Assets, Fine Arts, Natural Resources, and Municipal Recreation

This section is designed to familiarize you with Portsmouth's strongest assets: its people, natural beauty, and unique cultural assets. This page is just a starting point. We encourage you to browse the web sites of all of our non-profit arts and culture organizations.

Portsmouth's pride in its history, art and culture is evident in this thoughtful Art and Culture Plan developed inby the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Arts and Culture. The plan recognizes the local economic impact of those who visit the City's arts and culture venues and the role its visual and performance arts play in the City's vitality.

Please visit the State Department of Economic Development NHECONOMY.COM for information on the following resources:

Office Of Business And Industrial Development

Office Of Economic Initiatives

Vendor Matching Program

New Hampshire Industrial Research Center

New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center

Procurement Technical Assistance Program

New Hampshire Department Of State Corporate Division


Regional Resources Include:

The Rockingham Economic Development Corporation (REDC) seeks to promote responsible, sustainable economic development activities in the communities of Rockingham County and 5 communities in eastern Hillsborough Country. The REDC has partnered with the Rockingham Planning Commission to publish a Regional Community Profile Guide for Rockingham County that will include information not currently published on population, housing, employment, and wage data for use in promoting business development in Rockingham County. Website:

Operating as a non-profit local government organization, the Commission serves in an advisory role to local governments in order to promote coordinated planning, orderly growth, efficient land use, and environmental protection. The Commission's professional planning staff provides an array of planning assistance to our 26 active member communities. Membership, which is optional, is obtained through annual dues assessed to each community on a per capita basis.

Knowledge Institute Small Business Development (KISBD)
KISBD has been driving venture start-up and growth for four decades. KISBD founders, Drs. William & Deborah Osgood, are both scholars and practitioners in the field of entrepreneurship. The robust website provides information on resources for companies and individuals including business-to-business (B2B) products and services, a small business assistance agency, already in business and looking to grow, or just starting out.


eCoast Angel Network
The eCoast Angel Network was formed in July 2000 by a group of like-minded investors from the Portsmouth NH area.  Members come from diverse backgrounds but have a unified purpose:

  • To support economic development, principally in the eCoast region
  • To foster entrepreneurial spirit
  • To identify investment opportunities

The group's focus is on early-stage companies involved with advanced technology, e-commerce, healthcare, and industrial products and services, principally located in the New Hampshire coastal region. The group is most interested in companies requiring $250K-$2 Million at pre-money valuations of less than $5 Million, who have a credible multi-option exit strategy and Fare led by an experienced core management team.
The group maintains strong ties to other investment groups and many of the members have affiliations with early-stage Venture Capital firms. The eCoast Angels has been a leader in promoting best practices and encouraging cooperation between regional angel groups. The group is a charter member of the Angel Capital Association, North America's professional alliance of angel groups. In keeping with the group's purpose, it has offered advice and counsel to many companies that were not funded by the network.


The Business Finance Authority (BFA) provides financial assistance and credit enhancements to companies and local development corporations seeking to build or expand industrial or recreational facilities in New Hampshire.

The Institute for Cooperative Community Development (ICCD) provides assistence to small state entrepreneurs in maintaining self-sufficiency business. The Microloan Program/Capital Network provides New Hampshire-based businesses with small loans of up to $25,000 with no participation limits.

The U.S. Department of Housing arid Urban Development allocates Community Development Block Grant funds for a broad range of community-based activities for small businesses including:
· Housing
· Public facilities
· Public services
· Equipment
Contact Portsmouth Community Development Office (603) 610 7226 /

The Granite State Development Corporation (GSDC) Loan Program offers businesses up to 90% financing at approximately 2.5% over the ten-year U.S. Treasury note market rate for up to 20 years.
Eligible investments include the acquisition of fixed assets, such as land and buildings, new construction or renovation, or machinery and equipment. The loans from GSDC are funded through the private sale of debentures that are guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The program is designed for for-profit businesses with less than 500 employees, a net worth not to exceed $6 million, and an after-tax annual net profit less than $2 million. Individuals with 20% or greater ownership of either the small business concern or a designated real estate holding entity are required to provide an unsecured personal guaranty.

The New Hampshire Export Finance Program (NHEFP) strives to assist New Hampshire businesses that export goods and services and need short-term working capital, export receivable insurance, or financing for the sale of capital goods and services to buyers. Available programs include the Export Working Capital Guarantee, funded through the Export Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im Bank) and Small Business Administration; Ex-Im Bank Export Credit Insurance; and Ex-Im Bank Foreign Buyer Credit.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Guaranty Loans are made by private lenders and are guaranteed up to a specified percentage by the SBA. The 7(a) Guaranty Program helps lenders provide longer term financing for small business customers. The program limits the bank's exposure and allows lenders to consider larger loan requests. A secondary market exists for sale of the guaranteed portion of SBA loans.

The Community Loan Fund turns investments into loans and education to create opportunity and transform lives across New Hampshire. It collaborates with a wide range of donors and lenders; and with business, nonprofit and government partners; to provide the financing and support people need to own homes, have quality jobs and child care, and become financially independent.
Borrowers include small businesses, self-employed individuals, child-care providers, nonprofit housing developers, human-services nonprofits, and manufactured-housing cooperatives and homeowners.
Established in 1983, the Community Loan Fund was one of the first Community Development Financial Institutions in the nation, and has received industry awards and recognition for social impact, financial strength and performance.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helps both new and established business owners enhance their companies' potential for success. Private counseling is provided by appointment only, but the NHSBDC also coordinates with a variety of public and private organizations to offer an extensive list of training programs at affordable costs. SBDC counselors are trained in all aspects of business management and provide free counseling on topics such as accounting, advertising, cash flow planning, financing, human resource management, inventory control, marketing and market research, selling strategies, and many other areas.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) sponsors SCORE, comprised of volunteers with a wide array of business experience who provide free confidential counseling to new or existing small business owners. The Portsmouth chapter, one of seven in New Hampshire, currently has 40 members and covers the area that includes Dover, Durham, Exeter, Portsmouth, Rochester, and Somersworth.
Through in-depth counseling and training, SCORE volunteers help business owners and managers identify basic management problems, determine their causes, and formulate solutions. SCORE counselors also can help successful firms review their distribution channels, evaluate expansion opportunities, modify products, and meet other business challenges. Management counseling takes place either at a client's business, at an SBA field office, or at a SCORE chapter location.