June 25. 2014 10:10PM

Grant helps Salem business expand, add jobs

SALEM — There are jobs available for low- and moderate-income people in southern New Hampshire, thanks to a state grant.

About two years ago, Stephens and Michaels Associates of Salem received a $300,000 working capital loan through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program to expand and add new jobs.

Of the 21 new jobs the call and collection center was to create, 17 were earmarked for low- and moderate-income employees, according to Donna Lane, Salem’s CDBG grant consultant.

The company created the necessary jobs, but has not been able to fill them all, according to Lane.

“They have had success filling nine of the 17 positions, but there are 15 being advertised that are beyond what was required,” said Laurel Bistany, executive director of the Regional Economic Development Center.

The position pays about $20 per hour and has benefits including a 401K and a bonus plan, according to Bistany.

“It is a difficult job and it requires a certain skill set,” said Bistany. “They do require one year of experience. They are a call center for businesses all over the country.”

Not all the positions have been filled, in part, because of the falling unemployment rate in the region since the grant was first awarded almost two years ago, according to Bistany.

Community Development Block Grants can also be used for economic development programs, public housing, and planning that benefits low- and moderate-income residents, Lane said.