Business and Economy

Business news

Opposition is mounting to Central Maine Power’s proposal to build a major new transmission line through western Maine.

The 145-mile line would carry electricity from Canada’s Hydro-Quebec dam system to customers in Massachusetts. A growing number of stakeholders are saying there’s little or no benefit for Maine, while treasured resources, such as the Kennebec River Gorge, would be compromised.

Catalyst Paper Corp. is selling its U.S. operations, including its paper mill in Rumford, Maine.

A spokesperson for Nine Dragons Paper says it is not planning any layoffs in Rumford, which has a workforce of more than 600 employees.

Friday Nine Dragons announced that it would purchase the Rumford operation, along with facilities in Wisconsin and Ohio, from the Canada-based Catalyst Paper for $175 million.

Proposed Farm Bill Could Mean Bad News For Maine’s Organic Farmers

May 25, 2018
Julia Bayly / Bangor Daily News

When the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass the massive $867 billion 2018 farm bill last week, that was good news for Maine’s small family farms and organic growers according to those who work closely with them.

But there remains concerns that language in the Senate’s unreleased version could still spell disaster for Maine’s organic and small growers.

Organic farmers under threat

Sales of single family homes in Maine ticked up by 8.59 percent in April, compared to April of 2017.

According to the Maine Association of Realtors, more than 1200 such homes were sold in April, with a median sales price of $200,000, about 8 percent more than the year before.

Maine Association of Realtors President, Kim Gleason, says the increasing price is one indicator that few houses are available compared to the number of buyers.

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

State officials are shutting down the Maine elver season early, citing illegal sales of the valuable "glass" eels coveted by Asian aquaculture businesses.

The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) says a Marine Patrol investigation found some elver dealers paid cash to licensed harvesters without registering the eel sales through the state's official swipe card system, and they did so at prices less than those for properly tracked eels.

"You have to assume there's some greed involved here," says DMR spokesperson Jeff Nichols.

A new poll released by the Critical Insights marketing group of Portland concludes that nearly half of all Mainers surveyed believe the forest products industry remains vital to the state's economy.

"We just wanted to culminate all those stories into the findings of our research question that we put out there, just to show people that we indeed are a big part of the economic engine of Maine," said Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council.

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

A subsidiary of Central Maine Power's (CMP) parent company won the right Wednesday to negotiate a contract for what will be the nation's largest offshore wind project, off the Massachusetts coast.

The federal government Wednesday released employment and wage data for the country's largest counties. Cumberland is the only Maine county on that list.

Investors in 32 areas of Maine will get new federal tax benefits intended to bring jobs and investment to some of the state’s poorest parts.

The federal Opportunity Zones program allows investors in some census tracts to avoid paying federal capital gains tax on earnings from those areas.

The only significant state fishery for baby eels in the United States has blown past records for value as high demand from overseas aquaculture companies is driving prices to new heights.

Fishermen in Maine search for the eels, called elvers, in rivers and streams every spring so they can be sold to Asian aquaculture companies as seed stock. Fishermen have sold more than $20 million worth of the eels so far this season.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

Food delivery app companies GrubHub and Uber Eats are entering a turf war in Maine. As they both try to win customers in the southern part of the state, they have an entrenched competitor to contend with too – the local guy.

If you're feeling peckish, the food delivery apps make it pretty easy to tap into Portland's dynamic foodie scene – a few taps on your smartphone, choose a restaurant, choose from the menu that pops up, authorize a payment – including a delivery fee – and, maybe a half hour later you can expect your order.

New Charity Receiving Poland Spring Aid Lacks Federal Nonprofit Status

May 19, 2018
Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News

Despite not having yet acquired nonprofit status, a still-forming charity has a $150,000 commitment from Poland Spring as the retail water seller extends its influence in northern Penobscot County. 

EMHS Is Ending Partnerships With Portland And Bangor Over Opioid Lawsuits

May 18, 2018
Courtesy EMHS / Bangor Daily News

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems says it is ending partnerships with Bangor and Portland after the two cities moved to file lawsuits accusing it and national pharmaceutical manufacturers of playing a key role in the opioid crisis.

EMHS said in a Thursday news release it decided to take the action because of concern that some physicians, formerly employed by EMHS member organizations, “could be named in the suit as a legal tactic to keep the cases in Maine state courts.”

Unemployment in Maine remained at a 60 year low in April at 2.7 percent, the same rate as March.

State Labor Department official Glenn Mills said those are the two lowest monthly unemployment numbers since 1957.

“It's a very tight labor market and conditions are very good,” Mills commented.

The state’s 2.7 percent rate was well below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in April and below Maine’s jobless rate of 3.3 percent in April, 2017.

Developers Behind Massive Portland Project Accused Of ‘Shell Game,’ Fraud

May 18, 2018
Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News

A construction company is suing the developers behind an ambitious housing project, once expected to transform a troubled Portland neighborhood, for fraud.