aerial view of bristol nh downtown

Bristol’s Proximity to Higher Learning Boosts Economic Development

November 16, 2021 12:34 am

There are many reasons why Bristol, New Hampshire is a great place to live and work. We’ve got countless outdoor activities, tons of amenities, and many opportunities to learn and grow. This includes access to higher learning in the neighboring towns of Plymouth and Laconia. Due to its close proximity to these institutions, Bristol is a welcoming spot for talented, educated innovators. The town has benefitted from this culture with a number of local companies starting up here in recent years.

The two colleges closest to Bristol, Plymouth State University and Lakes Region Community College, are both career-focused, community-based, and provide students with great amenities. 

Plymouth State University

There is a wide variety of educational degrees and majors available at Plymouth State University. The public liberal arts college is located in the towns of Plymouth and Holderness. Anyone who visits the PSU campus will be charmed by the warm, hometown vibe and nearby mountains. 

PSU embraces innovation, collaboration, and flexibility. As the world grows rapidly and new technologies emerge, universities and institutions must be quick to adapt. PSU has found a way to do so by incorporating that flexible and adaptable nature into their learning model. Students are encouraged to customize their learning experience so that it aligns closely with their career goals. 

In 2017, PSU switched over to a “cluster model” with seven interdisciplinary areas, including: Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Justice & Security, Tourism, Environment, & Sustainable, and Health & Human Enrichment. The cluster model pushes students to think critically and problem-solve with students from other majors, faculty members, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. The aim is for students to learn about and propose solutions to a societal challenge of their choosing. 

It’s a great model for businesses who want to draw from a pool of educated and talented people, while cultivating the school-to-job pipeline.

PSU is also home to some cutting-edge facilities, including their “Open Labs” and makerspace where students can develop creative manufacturing concepts. These spaces are more functional than standard classrooms and allow for better collaboration with local businesses and organizations. The result is a system that benefits students and industry. Students can take a tour and learn more about the campus by registering for a visit in-person or virtually. The school also encourages businesses to reach out about opportunities for collaboration. PLymouth State University President Donald Birx has been supportive of these efforts, as well, promoting the expansion north of New Hampshire’s I-93 Tech Corridor.

Lakes Region Community College

Lakes Region Community College offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs, from business management to advanced manufacturing. Its nursing program is among the best in the Northeast and the marine mechanics program is one of the top in the nation. Located in Laconia, LRCC is a non-profit school dedicated to launching people’s careers, even offering classes to high school students who want to get a head start on college. The school also has student apartments available for those who need affordable housing while they learn.

LRCC is a melting pot of people and educational paths. There are many different types of students: recent high school graduates, adults who want to return to school to advance in their  professions, people looking to change their career, and more. LRCC is supportive of those who don’t quite know where to start or what they want to do. Career Coach is a resource on the LRCC website meant to provide career guidance for those who need it. 

Because the school offers targeted, career-focused training, it makes a great pool of talent for companies, medical institutions and other organizations feeling the workforce crunch. There is even the option for businesses to design custom training programs for their employees to help companies advance careers internally.

There are many aspects that make LRCC a great educational institution. LRCC students will find a caring community, flexibility and support from faculty members, incredible academic resources, and the lowest tuition in the state of New Hampshire. They are also in training for jobs in high demand at companies here in Bristol, including Mid-State Health Center, Freudenberg, and Hiltz.

These two schools have continued to draw students because of the lifestyle studying in this part of New Hampshire offers. Both PSU and LRCC are surrounded by nature and beautiful views, and are located in communities that have a small town feel. When not in class, students can head to a nearby ski mountain, go hiking, see a show at The Flying Monkey, or just relax with friends and a coffee on the beautiful campuses.

Newfound Regional School District

Education is a priority at all levels here in Bristol and the local school district has a number of programs aimed at getting our students ready for big things. Our school district works in collaboration with the J. Oliva Huot Technical Center in Laconia, which provides technical training to high school students to prepare them for careers. In addition to training, these students can earn credits they can transfer to participating colleges, giving them a head start to postsecondary learning. 

Programs range from the trades, such as construction and plumbing, to the creative, including film/video and photographic arts and culinary arts. The Huot Center is training future mechanics, computer programmers and teachers right here in our community, fulfilling a need for employers and students.

Bristol and the greater Lakes Region has long valued these schools for the quality students they draw and the workforce potential they provide for a wide range of employers.