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Devens job fair attracts glut of employers for Nashoba Valley

A job fair targeting the Nashoba Valley is already oversubscribed by worker-hungry companies in what organizers say is an encouraging sign of an improving economy.

Sixty-one companies have signed up for tables at the Nashoba Valley Job Fair, to be held Friday at the Devens Common Center at Devens, said Sean Rourke, who has been helping organize the event on behalf of state Representative Sheila Harrington, a Republican from Groton.

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With all available space already taken, companies that want to take part in the show are now being put on a waiting list, he said.

More than 231 job seekers have also signed up so far, with as many as 500 expected during the event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Rourke said.  

A range of companies, from hospitals to manufacturers, are looking to fill more than 400 jobs.  

‘When companies from as far away as Rhode Island started asking about the job fair, we realized we had to reach out to some other organizations.’

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“I think things are starting to look positive,” said Melissa Fetterhoff, president and chief executive of the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in 16 area towns.  

Harrington came up with the idea for the job fair and then teamed up with the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce and the One-Stop Career Centers of Massachusetts.

Initial plans called for bringing in 25 companies, typically the size of job fairs held in Lowell and Leominster.

But firms kept calling, so by late last week, all available space in the Devens meeting hall had been spoken for, said Rourke, a legal assistant in Harrington’s law office who has been helping coordinate the event planning.

In fact, as companies rushed to sign up, the organizers shifted their attention to ensuring there would be enough job seekers on hand, reaching out to a couple state-run employment centers.

“When companies from as far away as Rhode Island started asking about the job fair, we realized we had to reach out to some other organizations in the area for support,” the chamber’s Fetterhoff said in a prepared statement. “The North Central Career Center, and the Career Center of Lowell have been a huge help in recruiting even more employers and job-seekers for the event.”

Another surprise has been the number of manufacturing firms looking to hire and planning to take tables at the fair in hopes of finding some new employees, Rourke said.

Fourteen of the first 47 firms to sign up were either manufacturers or staffing agencies specializing in factory and industrial workers, according to a list provided by event organizers.  

Stow-based Radant Technologies is looking for a mechanical assembler of composite parts, Devens-based Rock-Tenn is seeking machine operators and general factory laborers, while FIBA Technologies in Millbury is looking for assemblers, welders, and CNC machinists.  

Worcester-based Rand Whitney Packaging Corp. is looking for a machine operator and a mechanic, as well as other types of workers.

Health care providers, financial services companies, and tech firms are also planning to hunt for new hires at the event.

Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer is looking for registered nurses, a case manager, a respiratory therapist, and mammography technicians, as well as switchboard operators, registrars, and file clerks.

HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster is looking to fill positions in information systems, management, nursing, therapy, and radiology, among other areas.

A number of local banks and insurance companies will also be on the hunt for new employees, as well as a couple of software firms.

While job fairs have become routine in the area’s urban centers, Harrington, the state representative, wanted something that would specifically target Nashoba Valley, Rourke said.

Job seekers should bring multiple copies of their resumes and a list of their references.

Staffers from the North Central Career Center and the Career Center of Lowell will be on hand to look over resumes and provide tips and advice, he said.  

“The point of it is to be hyper local and really specific to the needs of the unemployed and underemployed of the area,” Rourke said.

Scott Van Voorhis can be reached at sbvanvoorhis@hotmail.com.

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