Business and Economy

Business news

Race to Save Rare Breed of Pig Hinges on Eating Them

Dec 29, 2016
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

WASHINGTON, Maine — A push is on to save one of the rarest domestic pig breeds in the country, and a Maine farmer is helping lead the charge by convincing consumers to eat them.

The American mulefoot hog was once the rarest of all U.S. livestock breeds, and they’re still listed as critically rare by the Livestock Conservancy. There are fewer than 500 registered, purebred, breeding mulefoots.

Andrew Catalina / Maine Public

Many shoppers stood in long lines this holiday season to get an edge on special sales prices or limited supplies. Outside Bissell Brothers in Portland, more than 300 people braved frigid temperatures recently to get their hands on a precious liquid that comes in a can.

MADISON, Maine — A solar farm that occupies nearly 22 acres of land in the Maine town of Madison is expected to be fully operational by the end of this week.

The Morning Sentinel reports that the solar energy project in the Madison Business Gateway is reportedly more than twice the size of any other in Maine. It was constructed by ISG Energy over the summer and fall.

Dozens of Rural Areas Leave Fast-Track Wind Power Zone

Dec 28, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine — Dozens of sparsely populated townships are being exempted from Maine’s fast-track development zone aimed at speeding up development of wind power projects.

This year, about 45 Maine communities lacking local governments have taken advantage of a state law and asked to be removed from the special zone created by then-Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat.

Critics say because local governments can restrict wind turbines, the fast-track zone leaves unorganized towns voiceless.

A consumer subsidy for renewable power in Maine may be ending — or at least changing. It’s called the Class 1 Renewable Portfolio Standards program, and many stakeholders, including environmentalists, say it’s ready for reform.

The minimum wage next month is increasing in four of the six New England states.

Massachusetts’ 2017 rate of $11 an hour puts it in a tie for top statewide rate in the country, along with Washington state.

Not far behind are Connecticut, with a new rate of $10.10 an hour, and Vermont, at $10.

Rhode Island holds steady in the new year at $9.60, while Maine will see the largest increase in the region. On Jan. 7, its minimum wage will rise $1.50, up to $9 an hour, triggered by a ballot question voters approved in November.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

For the first month in this budget year, state revenues failed to meet projections in November.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Local unions say FairPoint Communications has gone ahead with plans to lay off more than 100 workers across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

FairPoint on Friday said it understands the personal impact of layoffs but says they address declining revenues and the realities of the telecommunications industry.

The company has said the cuts amount to about 35 workers in Maine, 55 workers in New Hampshire and 20 workers in Vermont.

Tom Porter / Maine Public/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A nonprofit group that focuses on responsible seafood management says it is certifying the Gulf of Maine's lobster fishery as sustainable.

PORTLAND, Maine - Mainers' personal income rose by 1.1 percent in the third quarter of this year.    That placed the state squarely in the middle of the states for the rate of third-quarter growth. 

The biggest driver of the gain in personal income was wages, up 1.5 percent in the quarter.  There were smaller gains in dividends and similar payments, along with government aid.

By industry, the biggest contributors to the gain in personal income among Maine residents were health-related fields, and state and local government employment.

Kevin T. Houle / Flickr/Creative Commons

State regulators are delaying a much-anticipated and hotly contested decision on the future of solar power in Maine.

At issue is a program that allows residents and small businesses with solar installations to get paid retail rates for excess electricity that they supply to the regional grid. Net metering, as it’s called, has been a way for solar users to recoup the big, upfront cost of the investment.

Critics, including Gov. Paul LePage, say those costs are coming way down, and the program benefits wealthy do-gooders at the expense of all electricity users.

Four years ago, Unity College became the first U.S. college to eliminate fossil fuels from its international investment portfolio. Now, Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury says the central Maine school is redoubling its efforts to create a “net-zero” campus and spread its message of energy sustainability to other higher education institutions.

“I think what Unity College allowed many institutions to do is realize that it was possible — until then there were many conversations, but no institution actually took the plunge,” he says.

Mark Vogelzang / Maine Public

President-elect Donald Trump says he wants to bolster the nation’s military with more ships, planes and ground forces. Even if he is only partially successful, it could mean a big boost to Maine’s defense contractors and to the state’s economy.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

It’s been more than a year since a new potato variety known as the Caribou Russet was unveiled. But so far, it’s been rather hard to find — getting a new potato onto store shelves isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Not only will Maine’s new minimum wage law have an impact on hourly pay rates, it will also affect some workers’ overtime pay.

Under a recently approved ballot item, Maine’s hourly minimum will rise to $9 an hour next month. And, because the state’s rules on who should get time-and-a-half pay for working overtime are tied to its minimum wage, when the new minimum kicks in, most workers who earn $27,000 a year or less will qualify for overtime.