Business and Economy

Business news

Fred Bever / Maine Public

For more than half a century, a massive, oil-fired plant has been churning out electricity from an island in the heart of Maine’s Casco Bay, where sailors use its towering smokestack for navigation.

The old generator is expensive to run and dirtier than new technologies, so these days it comes on only a few times a year. Nonetheless, since December, the wires on the island have been humming pretty much nonstop.

A job fair Tuesday will kick off Maine’s annual Hire-A-Vet campaign.

Auta Main, veterans program manager at the Maine Department of Labor, says veterans bring a very desirable skill set to any job.

“Even at a young age they become leaders, they’re often supervising 30 or 40 people when they’re 20 years old. They come with leadership skills, teamwork. They’re prompt, they show up on time, they’re disciplined. They love mission and purpose,” she says.

A new report suggests that an economic incentive program designed to help struggling areas of the state is poorly designed and is unlikely helping economically depressed areas. The analysis from the legislature’s watchdog agency says that the Pine Tree Development Zone program lacks the needed data collection and accountability to assess its true capacity to create jobs, and recommends a major overhaul. But some lawmakers think it’s time to scrap the 13-year-old program that costs the taxpayers $12 million a year.

Belfast Shipyard Expansion Could Start Next Spring

Aug 23, 2017
Billy Black / City of Belfast/via Bangor Daily News

BELFAST, Maine — A Belfast shipyard could start the first stage of a major expansion this fall after receiving insurance on a significant portion of its financing.

The Finance Authority of Maine, a quasi-independent state agency aimed at supporting business investment and growth in Maine, announced last week that it approved insurance on a pair of Androscoggin Bank loans totaling $3.6 million to finance an expansion at Front Street Shipyard in Belfast.

Murray Carpenter / Maine Public

Imagine a company that would manage your medical records, remind you of appointments, ship medications to you, then send you a text or Facebook message to remind you to take them. It would even know what food is best for you, and send that to your house as well. This company exists, and can offer you all of these services - if you are a dog.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - Maine tourism officials are steering a new course for the cruise ship industry.

The Portland Press Herald reports the Office of Tourism plans to increase marketing and improve the experience of visitors so more ships will make Maine a destination.

The office awarded a marketing contract to the Portland-based company Soli DG last month after it took over management of cruise promotion from the Maine Port Authority. The port authority will now make cruise infrastructure and operations their focus.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

These days, when people say they're sending a document to the printer, they usually mean they're zapping it over to the Xerox machine.  It's never been easier to duplicate a stack of signs, letters, or notices.  But that's a relatively new development. 

Charles Krupa / Associated Press/file

A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Connecticut claims that Nestle Waters North America, the parent company of Poland Spring, has been perpetuating a colossal fraud against American consumers.

The suit alleges that, rather than containing 100 percent natural spring water, as the label says, Poland Spring products contain ordinary groundwater collected from wells.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

In order to meet demand for it’s iconic rubber-sole boots, Maine-based L.L.Bean has opened a new, larger facility in Lewiston.

The company says this new operation will give it the equipment and employment capacity it needs. L.L.Bean spokesman Mac McKeever says the company now has three molding machines to make the rubber bottoms: two in Lewiston and one in Brunswick.

“We sold over 600,000 pairs last year. This year we’re looking to produce over 750,000, and by 2018 we hope to make over a million,” he says.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

The Rumford Water District has signed a deal with Poland Spring Water Co., that will allow it to draw up to 150 million gallons of water per year for 15 years, from two district wells.

But Water District Superintendant Brian Gagnon says, under the deal, the town's needs will come first. "We come first, and we're holding an amount of up to a million gallons a day that would be used for the townspeople."

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Port Authority wants to build a maintenance and operations building to free up cargo space for the growing International Marine Terminal.
The Portland Press Herald reports that an application filed with the city planning office seeks approval for a two-story building next to the headquarters of the Maine Port Authority on Commercial Street.
The building would be farther away from the existing structure near the terminal's crane.

More than 100 Southwest Harbor residents turned out in force Tuesday evening to unanimously enact a 180-day moratorium against the use of any town facilities by cruise ships.

Local residents and fishermen fought back against a proposed visit next month by the 210-passenger ship, the Pearl Mist, arguing that the 310-foot vessel would rip up fishing gear.

The battle over solar power’s future in Maine is moving to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

Last month, lawmakers who support existing incentives for residential solar power generation failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a plan to preserve them. That means a new rule proposed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission will go into effect in January.

Maine’s portion of the Volkswagen settlement money will go toward increasing the state’s use of zero-emissions vehicles, lowering emissions from ports and rail yards, infrastructure like charging stations and grants to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

The state is getting about $21 million of the $14.7 billion settlement Volkswagen is paying after it was charged with putting devices in some of its diesel vehicles that allowed it to “cheat” on emissions tests.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine developer is looking to bring more affordable housing to Portland as costs in the city rise.
The Portland Press Herald reports that Avesta Housing has proposed a $10 million housing development in Portland's Parkside neighborhood. Avesta says most of the 82 apartments would be reserved for low-income residents.
The proposal comes as demand for housing in Portland increases and rent rises.