Hampton Union, Tuesday, November 13, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
We often think of the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine as the epitome of the best small-town living has to offer.
After all, we have our small, quaint towns and cities, complete with Revolutionary-era architecture; our community organizations that work to help their neighbors who are experiencing tough times; and our residents who attempt in so many ways to maintain the easy-going, low-key, yet independent lifestyle that New England has been historically known for.
From the air, it is hard to tell just what is going on here, with most homes and businesses obscured by decades-old trees that fill our landscape.
However, tucked away in the industrial parks and open fields of this region are companies that are changing, not only this state, but the country and the world. From firms that create and supply the technology necessary to realize and act on disasters in real time, to companies that help the stressed construction industry keep its costs manageable, the entrepreneurs of the Seacoast are rapidly developing the solutions to the problems the world is facing today.
Some of the most critical solutions have been developed and are being marketed by a firm that just years ago most people felt would not survive. Foss Manufacturing, located on 44 acres in the center of Hampton, was in bankruptcy and its principal, Steve Foss, had been indicted for fraud.
Things looked bleak for the non-woven and synthetic textile firm and the more than 300 people it employed.
However, under the tutelage of its new ownership, the firm has come out of bankruptcy stronger than ever and has begun to focus on producing fibers that can have an enormous impact on the amount of solid waste going into landfills and the protection of people from some of the most deadly medical scourges on this planet.
Foss is now concentrating on its Ecospun fiber, created entirely from recycled plastic bottles. The promise of this process is the elimination of non-biodegradeable plastic from the waste stream, saving cities and towns lot of money in disposal costs and keeping the amount of space necessary for the landfilling of the vast amount of solid waste we produce at a minimum.
Foss has also developed something it calls "Fosshield," a process by which fibers are impregnated with chemicals that can actually kill some of the most virulent forms of microbes on the planet. It has been shown to reduce various strep bacteria to virtually undetectable levels, including the drug-resistant forms that are causing such havoc in the lives of students at every level and hospital patients, as well as their families.
The development of these kinds of companies and their products contrasts markedly with the sleepy, small-town environment in which they are located. It is a testament to how quality of life can act as a magnet that brings in some of the best and brightest minds in the world, and how the business environment on the Seacoast acts as a catalyst for the creation of products that will ultimately better our world.
-- Hampton Union