New Balance, the Boston-based footwear maker, says it wants to hire hundreds of new workers as part of a major, multi-million dollar expansion of one of its Maine factories.
This week, representatives from the company presented proposals for what they say is a $65 million addition to their manufacturing facility in Skowhegan, a central Maine community of fewer than 9,000 people.
At a select board meeting this past Tuesday, they displayed a slideshow that included renderings of a one-story addition that is 120,000 square feet and other information about the project, including that it may create more than 200 new jobs.
New Balance’s enthusiasm is matched by others in Skowhegan and its business community.
“We’re just very excited,” said Sam Hight, a member of the board of the Skowhegan Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Get updates on what's happening in New England to your inbox. Sign up for our News Headlines newsletter.
“Two hundred jobs in a community of this size would make a very big impact, especially with everything that’s going on in Skowhegan right now,” he added.
During a Thursday interview with NECN/NBC 10 Boston, Hight noted that the announcement also makes a statement about this area of Maine that makes the town proud.
“It really comes down to the people and it’s just good to see that national brand realize that and pick our community to grow,” he said.
If all final approvals are met and the expansion is built, the people who live in and around Skowhegan will be key to its success.
However, hiring skilled workers has been challenging for businesses in Maine and across the country.
Asked if he thought it would be possible for New Balance to hire hundreds more employees in the area, Hight said he is optimistic because of a recent influx of residents to the town.
“I think with COVID, people have realized living in Maine is pretty good and living in rural Maine is even better,” he said.
Instead, Height believes housing new residents may be a more difficult challenge for Skowhegan to address quickly.
“We’ve got to house these people,” he said.
There is some, but not a lot of time to address that issue, if the timeline proposed by New Balance is followed.
The company has said it would like to start moving into the expanded facility by late August 2024 and have it totally finished by the end of that year.
More Maine news
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.