Town Manager Robert Simpson said Wednesday that preliminary contacts from the manufacturing firms, which he would not identify, have come through various routes, from the Governor’s Office to the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Town officials wanted to start marketing the properties owned by the shoe manufacturer immediately, but up until a week ago they were unsure of the company’s plans for the buildings. Since then, Dexter Shoe Co. officials have made it known to town officials that they can market two of the company’s five commercial buildings.
Simpson said town officials were told they can begin marketing the Water Street and McFarland Street plants.
It is not known, however, if the company will donate the buildings to the town as it has in another community, or whether Dexter Shoe Co. will lease or sell the buildings.
The Water Street plant is 116,828 square feet and presently serves as the carpenter shop and machine shop. The McFarland property, which is 104,150 square feet, serves as a warehouse.
The need to find a replacement industry for the shoe manufacturer is urgent in the minds of town officials because of the large number of people soon to be unemployed.
The company’s other properties in Dexter are the 482,675-square-foot Railroad Avenue plant which is the primary manufacturing facility; two sheds on Water Street that are about 50 years old; a guest residence on Liberty Street, and property on Lake Wassookeag that is valued by the town at $524,400. The total assessed valuation of all the company’s properties is $14,878,100.
Dexter Shoe Co. officials reported that starting in November through December, 475 employees will lose their jobs.
A transition team will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. today to devise a plan to help the displaced workers with readjustment and retraining assistance. The workers will be eligible for career counseling, training and other services through the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Workforce Investment Act funds.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe has requested funds for a Temporary Transition Center in Dexter, but those funds had not been approved as of Wednesday, according to Dave Lackey, Snowe’s press secretary.
“We think there’s a good chance for it,” Lackey said.
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