Following the Stimulus Money in New Hampshire
August 4, 2010
by Jon Greenberg
If you want to trace the flow of stimulus money in New Hampshire, start at Jacqueline Doyon's house in Manchester. The elderly widow's immaculate home is the set piece for a weatherization party. A new furnace, high-efficiency light bulbs and fresh insulation have cut her energy bills almost in half — all thanks to programs funded by the economic stimulus. Last year's stimulus package included nearly $300 billion for contracts and grants — much of it for improving infrastructure. And more than half of those funds have yet to be spent. In New Hampshire alone, about $100 million in stimulus funds will go toward local projects by this fall.
The Granite State's stimulus dollars are going to help people of modest means like Doyon. But the program also helps small contractors like Melissa and Robert Warchal, the owners of Warchal Insulation, which did the work on Doyon's house. The state's unemployment rate peaked in 2010 and remains well above levels of the past few years.
Late last year, things began to kick into high gear for the Warchals. "There was just a stack of jobs waiting for us and it's been consistent ever since," says Melissa Warchal. With so much work coming from the stimulus, the Warchals did what the Obama administration hoped — they expanded. "We ended up buying another truck and hired two full-time employees," Melissa Warchal says. One of those new hires is 22-year-old Adam Baker, a construction worker who was laid off last fall. Baker got this job in April and he's grateful for it. "You're not stressing about everything all the time and hoping that you're going to be able to pay your bills and so on," he says. The job could not have come at a better time for Baker and his girlfriend. "I'm actually expecting a child in November. So, we found out on Wednesday, actually, and I'm trying to put a lot of money aside for him," Baker says.