RUMFORD — The recent shoemakers job fair was “way better than expected,” town Economic Development Director George O’Keefe said.

Fifty-nine people applied for jobs at an operating seeking to relocated to Rumford.

“This was a huge success for our community. This just proves that Rumford people want to work,” O’Keefe said. Thirty applicants are from Rumford and 30 are experienced in shoemaking.

O’Keefe said it wasn’t a case of “‘I’ve worked on this machine, maybe I can do this.'”

The employer is looking for people with shoemaking experience, he said. “It had to be people who have made shoes in the past, and we definitely got that.”

O’Keefe said there are 15 to 20 full-time positions available at $12 to $20 per hour for stitchers, machine operators and mechanics.

“This is not a startup,” he said. “They are in production right now.”

The primary product would be dress shoes, with the possibility of moccasins and loafers, he said.

The employer has made it clear that they are committed to training new employees, O’Keefe said. There are also opportunities for anybody who has any exposure, experience or ideas regarding shoemaking.

For people who have machine operating experience, but have not made shoes before, there are training opportunities available. O’Keefe said the employer has indicated that in the future, they intend to work with those in high school.

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More than half the applicants at the shoemakers job fair in Rumford on Feb. 9 were from Rumford.

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