I grew up in Gorham, native of Dummer.
Berlin lost the paper mills which directly put out of work a couple thousand employees from its peak, who where making excellent union wages. This also put out of work a myriad of supporting industries such as loggers, truck drivers, restaurants, local shops and stores etc. A big hit on what was once a population of about 18,000 people.
When thousands of people left Berlin for jobs elsewhere, rents and housing became relatively inexpensive as compared to south of the notches where the NH economy was booming. This caused many hundreds, probably thousands, of low income people dependent on public funds for survival to move from southern NH to the Berlin area because their limited incomes (welfare, social security, and whatnot) could be stretched further due to the lower cost of housing.
Next came the prisons, because few other towns wanted prisons in their backyard but Berlin being in dire need of jobs believed making the area a prison complex would solve their employment problems. Say what you will, I know of several families who moved to Berlin because a family member had been incarcerated in town and the found the area to be to their liking. Now they are living near to additional family members who currently reside in said prison, which is of course of great advantage to all - prison complex and family alike.
Crime and drug use increased, the amount of money the town takes in taxes has drastically decreased. Many shops and houses are abandoned or in serious disrepair, and that etc and etc and etc. Many of those who can afford to have moved to surrounding towns such as Gorham, Shelburne, Jefferson to get out of what has become quite the hole.
Gorham is a fine little town, but Littleton, where I currently live, is the hub of the North Country. Although the big box stores have moved in, they are located on the edge of town and away from the smaller shops situated along the main drag. In Littleton there is at least some remaining industry and the mood is generally upbeat, crime is much lower than in the Berlin area.