Business and Economy

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Helping new, existing and would be entrepreneurs make the right connections to prosper, this week's 'start up and create week' is a series of events celebrating our state's robust startup culture. Learn where to turn for help if you're thinking of starting a business, and get tips on promoting your products and services.

Host Keith Shortall speaks with:

PORTLAND, MAINE — Three women who once worked at a Maine scented candle manufacturer say in federal lawsuits that the company's founder and president subjected them to "relentless sexual harassment."

The lawsuits were filed last week in U.S. District Court in Portland by the former vice president of sales, former retail sales manager, and former debt collector at Wells-based Village Candle.

Governor LePage is joining members of Maine's seafood and paper industries on a three-day trade mission to Iceland.

The Republican governor departs for Reykjavik today.

Tomorrow, LePage will meet with President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. He's also expected to visit a food and beverage distributor and tour a collection of companies that strive for the 100 percent utilization of seafood product.

There is a rare point of agreement among the three leading candidates for governor: They all agree that the bump up in the state's bond rating is good news. A few years ago, Moody's Investor Services lowered Maine's credit rating slightly by saying it had a negative outlook for its Double A-2 rating. For the bond sale scheduled for later this month, Moody's improved that status to a "stable outlook." And Gov. Paul LePage says a further improvement could propel a major bond package from the administration.

Some southern Maine lobstermen are upset that a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel is inadvertently cutting their fishing lines and traps.

The Portsmouth Herald reports on Thursday that NOAA's ship is working off the York coast to map the depths for new nautical charts. Mike Sinclair, president of the York Lobstermen's Association, told the paper he estimates NOAA vessels have caused $25,000 in gear losses since 2009. The ships have worked off the York coast four times since then.

An Aroostook County potato processing company broke ground Wednesday on what company officials say is an $8.5 million expansion.

The expansion of the Naturally Potatoes processing plant in Mars Hill will double the facility's production and storage.

"It's a nice combination of things. It's good for the potato industry, good for the economy of Northern Maine, and the state of Maine," says Naturally Potatoes CEO William Haggett.

Patty Wight / MPBN

A federal investigation into the illegal buying and selling of glass eels is picking up speed and may soon result in indictments of dozens of people. In recent weeks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has led raids in Maine and in other states along the eastern seaboard as part of Operation Broken Glass. The investigation is focusing on networks of poachers who catch elvers and sell them for large amounts of cash to dealers in Maine and elsewhere for eventual export to the lucrative Asian market.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

Frustrated by what they say is the failure of legislative and political efforts to stop the proposed east-west highway, a small group of grandmothers is taking matters into its own hands. The grandmothers have started holding monthly vigils in front of Cianbro headquarters. Cianbro is the Pittsfield-based construction firm that wants to build a 220-mile-long closed access toll highway that would stretch from Calais to Coburn Gore. As Susan Sharon reports, the grandmothers hope that their quiet persistence will carry a powerful message.

Ten years ago, it was in rough shape but now, it has rebounded. What's different? Hear a discussion of the latest research into salmon aquaculture, find out what consumers should know about farmed salmon and we'll address concerns about sea lice and the impact of aquaculture on the wild salmon population.

For the past four years, Forbes Magazine has ranked Maine as the worst state to do business.  The Maine Real Estate and Development Association wants to make it the best place. Today in Portland, the group gathered about 300 leaders from the public and private sectors to hash out what's working - and what's not.  

Patty Wight / MPBN

Mainers like buying local. And it's not just a slogan, it's now a documented fact, according to a local food initiative called the Maine Food Strategy, which today released its first ever Consumer Survey Report. The group hopes that the findings will accelerate even more local food purchasing -- and beyond fresh fruits and veggies.

Maine's potato growers don't have a whole lot to celebrate at the moment; a major processing contract negotiated by a growers' bargaining council resulted in disappointingly low figures. Maine's spud crop last year was worth almost $170 million dollars and potato farmers cultivated some 54,000 acres, most of that in Aroostook County. But fewer acres will be planted this year, and with a chilly, wet spring in northern Maine, 2014 could be a tough one for many growers of Maine's iconic tuber.

MOO Milk CEO: 'I Feel Like I've Let Them Down'

May 19, 2014

MOO chief executive Bill Eldridge says the problem is not demand for the milk - which has quadruped in the last two years - but the poor state of a key piece of machinery.

A bold experiment launched by ten Maine organic dairy farmers has come to an end. The company known as Maine's Own Organic Milk, or MOO Milk, has announced it will end operations tomorrow.

  After being dropped by a national dairy, the farmers joined together five years ago to process and market their milk to consumers.

Running a business wasn't a completely foreign idea to ten-year-old Maiya Koloski. She has the kind of entrepreneurial aspirations a lot of kids don't realize they have.

This weekend hundreds of kids across Maine will launch businesses they've created themselves. Sunday is Build-A-Biz Day, and from downtowns to variety stores to front yards, kids will offer products for the public to peruse and purchase. It's part of a program to teach kids to become entrepreneurs, and even pint-size kids can turn adult-sized ideas into reality.