MANCHESTER, NH – The NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council Board of Directors has grown to 12 members with the recent addition of three community leaders.
New board members are Flo Nicolas, co-founder and COO of DEI Directive, who will be chair of the coalition’s Equity Advisory Committee; Heather McGrail, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who has supported NextGen’s communications since last fall; and Shannon MacLeod, who as former Mayor Joyce Craig’s chief of staff helped lead the city’s application to the federal Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.
The NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council supports the Build Back Better Regional Challenge coalition’s strategy for inclusive growth and sustained economic development, sparked by the city’s award of $44 million in BBRC grants in 2022 to create jobs in the biomedical manufacturing field, particularly production and distribution of regenerative tissue and organs. Its mission is to foster the progress and growth of Manchester and southern New Hampshire by creating family-sustaining jobs and expanded opportunity through the development of the biofabrication industry.
The biofab cluster is expected to create 7,000 direct jobs, and 40,000 indirect jobs. Manchester was one of 21 communities nationwide awarded grants.
The NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council board also includes eight founding directors, who contributed to Manchester’s winning proposal to the BBRC, and former New Hampshire Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who joined the board in March. Manchester Director of Economic Development Jodie Nazaka is chair and Deputy Executive Director of Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute Maureen Toohey is secretary.
“I am thrilled to announce the addition of three outstanding members to NextGen’s Board of Directors,” Nazaka said in a news release. “Their expertise, steadfast dedication, and consistent support towards our objectives are key to advancing the biofabrication industry in Manchester. I believe their contributions are crucial to effectively leverage the Build Back Better Regional Challenge to spur economic development and strengthen our community’s resilience.”
Nicolas “is a rising global thought leader within emerging technology, experienced lawyer for corporate technology operations, and distinguished advocate for inclusive initiatives,” according to the release. She is an alumna of the LinkedIn Accelerator Program: Technology & Innovation Creator; honoree of the American Bar Association Women in Legal Tech, named by the NH Tech Alliance as Tech Professional of the Year in 2022, receiver of NHBR’s Outstanding Women in Business award in 2023, and recently recognized as one of the state’s top 200 business leaders on NHBR’s NH 200 list.
Nicolas said, “It was crucial for me to serve on NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council’s Board of Directors because, as a community advocate for inclusion, it is essential that I partner with organizations whose commitment aligns with mine to work together to ensure that we build long-term equitable economic opportunities in New Hampshire for ALL. Success is envisioned through thorough assessment, leveraging data analytics, and a call for accountability and transparency. It is essential to have diverse representation where decisions impacting our communities are being made. Our communities thrive when all members have access to the resources and opportunities to experience equitable economic growth.”
McGrail has been a leader of Greater Manchester Chamber for nearly seven years, expanding community engagement efforts while building and sustaining robust membership of the state’s largest Chamber of Commerce, according to the release. The chamber’s work is focused on driving economic and workforce development in the southern New Hampshire region.
“Heather brings nearly two decades of non-profit and corporate leadership to NextGen,” the release said. She is the recipient of the 2023 NHBR’s Granite State Outstanding Women’s Leadership award and recently recognized by NHBR as one of the state’s top business leaders of 2024 on the NH 200 list.
“The growth of the biofabrication industry represents an incredible opportunity to spur exciting progress in Greater Manchester,” McGrail said. “With aligned goals and enthusiasm for innovation, the Chamber is happy to contribute to the work of the NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council.”
MacLeod most recently served as Craig’s chief of staff, leading the office’s economic development, transportation, housing, homelessness, education, small business, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
MacLeod said that health care as we know it is changing in Manchester’s Millyard, “and the work of the NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council will ensure that the biofabrication industry’s impacts will be local as well as global.”
“It’s an honor to join an organization that is poised to have such a significant and positive impact on the Manchester community,” MacLeod said.
The NextGen Manchester Resiliency Coalition’s partners are Southern New Hampshire University, The University of New Hampshire, the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, BioFab USA, the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and the Greater Manchester Chamber.