CONCORD, N.H. – While residents in New Hampshire’s North Country await funding for the still-empty federal prison in Berlin, some are beginning to wonder if the prison and its much-needed jobs will ever become reality.

Work on the 1,280-bed prison was completed last year and a warden has been hired. Officials had hoped to have it up and running by the summer, but the funding was not included in the final budget compromise in Congress this year. It’s hoped that the money will appear in the next federal budget, to be considered this fall.

“It’s hard, and I know that people are frustrated,” said Judy Woodward of the Family Resource Center in Gorham, one of a group of agencies that has been holding employment information sessions for people interested in working at the prison.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation have been working to secure the funds.

New Hampshire U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, said it’s costing $4 million a year just to maintain the empty building.

“Here we have a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility that is ready to house inmates — the only thing that’s missing is the staff,” said Ayotte, who toured the prison last week.

“I will continue to work with Bureau of Prisons officials to try to open the facility as soon as possible. Getting the Berlin prison operational will help address dangerous overcrowding in the federal prison system while simultaneously creating job opportunities.”

The prison is expected to give an annual economic boost of $40 million to the North Country, which has lost many jobs in recent years because of plant and mill closings. The prison is expected to provide more than 300 jobs, about two-thirds of the workers projected to be hired locally.

“In our area, we’ve had a lot of false starts with paper mills and things,” Woodward said. “People get a little jaded, but personally, I believe this is going to happen.”

She said the local agencies — collectively known as the “Northern New Hampshire Talent Team” — have been told that beds for the inmates have been installed; administrative offices have moved from their temporary quarters to permanent locations inside the prison; a new telephone system was installed; and furniture is expected to arrive in the next few months.

“We are advising everyone to not wait until news of activation, but instead to use this time to be in the best position possible when the jobs are posted,” she said.

The potential work force remains unconvinced.

Mark Belanger, New Hampshire Employment Security manager in Berlin, said he had a job workshop recently about the prison, and only one person attended.

“People just stop listening,” Belanger said. “These are great jobs. A lot of our younger people would love to have these jobs. I think we’ve got to wake them up somehow that there’s stuff that can be done, but it’s hard to do that when there’s no job immediately following.”

The next employment information session is scheduled for Tuesday at the Colebrook Elementary School, followed by one at Lyndon State College, in Lyndonville, Vt.

A job application workshop in Berlin has been postponed until at least six people sign up.

“This has been a dilemma,” said Katharine Eneguess, president of White Mountains Community College in Berlin and member of the talent team. “But we also see this as an opportunity to engage more people and get them prepared.”