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March 30. 2012 7:16PM

Promise of 800 retail jobs draws thousands


Job seekers mingle with retail representatives at the Career/Job Fair for Merrimack Premium Outlets on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
NASHUA -- Thousands of job seekers visited Nashua Community College Friday for an opportunity to work at the Merrimack Premium Outlet opening June 14.

The Merrimack Premium Outlets job fair was open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. By 3:30 p.m. roughly 2,300 people had signed in at the event.

About 100 stores are gearing up to open June 14 with an additional 40 planned, according to Tara Reardon, commissioner of New Hampshire Employment Security. About 800 positions were available.

“For Southern New Hampshire 800 jobs is just phenomenal,” Reardon said. “We're really excited about that.”

Positions ranged from part-time retail spots to management, security, human resources and food services. Applicants also varied from those seeking full-time employment to others looking for a second job.

“There are some good opportunities here,” said Michael Anderson of Milford.

It was the first job fair that Anderson attended and he said it was enjoyable. He was excited that the stores are hiring from the ground up, providing a variety of opportunities at every level, Anderson said.

Jacqueline Geasheimer, of Merrimack, also appreciated the fact that so many companies ready to hire were represented at the event. As a recent college graduate, Geasheimer said she found opportunities in her field that offered room for growth.

“Knowing that I have so many opportunities in the town that I live in is something to be optimistic about,” Geasheimer said.

It was one of the better fairs that Steven Goldstein, of Nashua, has attended. A former software engineer, Goldstein has been working in retail for the past seven or eight years, he said. He was impressed with the number of stores and found one or two that may be a good fit, he said.

“It was definitely worth coming here,” Goldstein said.

Throughout the day, applicants arrived dressed for success and armed with resumes and references. Spirits remained high as job seekers and employers seemed to find what they were looking for. Some candidates were ushered upstairs for private or group interviews while others schedule interviews for another time.

“The applicant pool is just wonderful. The retailers are getting terrific response,” said Elaine Devine, general manager of Merrimack Premium Outlets.

Vendors were thrilled with the candidates applying for all kinds of jobs, Devine said.

Guy Aquila, Northeast district manager for Samsonite, said a steady flow of well-prepared applicants brought a broad skill set to the table.

“I'm looking forward to getting some good potential candidates,” Aquila said.

In the Gold Toe booth Director of Store Operations Lori Ayers was screening candidates for a hiring process that will probably start in May.

“We found a few that have been exactly what we need,” Ayers said.

Bloomingdales Human Resources Administrator Amanda Atkins said she was thrilled to see such a huge response. The company intends to hire through the opening and beyond and is off to a strong start, Atkins said.

“We've had some success with job offers today,” Atkins said.

The applicant pool is strong in this area and Bloomingdales is excited to be in New Hampshire, Atkins said.

The shopping center is located on Industrial Drive at Exit 10 off of the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Merrimack and will house over 135 designer and brand name outlet stores. It is estimated to cost over $100 million. Developers project it will bring $800,000 to $1.3 million in property tax revenue every year.

A grand opening celebration featuring live entertainment and in-store promotions is scheduled for June 14 through June 17.

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