Business and Economy

Business news

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Maine businesses are largely unscathed by the new tariffs China is imposing on U.S. products. But there's one big exception – lobster.

Wade Merritt, the president of the Maine International Trade Center, says early salvos in the developing trade war between the U.S. and China didn't seem too bad. But the tariffs China just announced came on like a summer thunderstorm, and they will hit about one-quarter of all of Maine's exports abroad.

A helicopter service based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire has started offering interactive scenic tours out of the Portland Jetport.

Seacoast Helicopters Founder and CEO Bruce Cultrera says the company was looking for expansion opportunities, and found Portland's environment to be similar to Portsmouth's.

“Very picturesque, touristy, lots of eye candy: islands lighthouses, waterfront so on and so forth,” says Cultrera.

Courtesy Bay Ferries

After an eight-year hiatus, the Canadian-owned CAT ferry is weighing the resumption of daily transits between Yamouth, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor. 

Maine's Public Advocate Skeptical Of Expansive Plan To Improve Power Grid

Jul 5, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine - The agency that represents the interests of Maine utility customers is skeptical of a costly proposal to improve the state's power grid in the face of increasingly intense storms.
 
Public advocate Barry Hobbins says he wants more details of the plan, and assurances that ratepayers won't be on the hook for the costs.
 

Portland's City Council is working on a proposal that would levy a fee on new hotel rooms to support affordable housing in the city.

The proposed ordinance, sent last week from the council's Housing Committee to the Planning Board, would charge developers a fee of $5,000 per new room being built now or in the future.

The proposal is the result of a study that finds new hotels are being built in Portland much faster than the national average, and that the workers needed to staff them can't afford to live in the city.

Maine Public

The parent company of Central Maine Power is proposing a $2.5 billion effort to "harden" its electricity distribution systems in Maine and New York, following major storms and outages over the past year — and the company would like to have consumers to pay some or all of the bill.

The federal government says Mainer's personal income grew at a 4.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year. That was just above the national growth rate, 4.3 percent, and just below the New England average, which was 4.8 percent.

Canal 5 Studio of Portland

Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) officials say plans to construct a cold storage facility on the Portland waterfront will continue as most-recent plans crumble.

Americold has dropped plans to build the facility next to the International Marine Terminal in Portland. 

But Deputy DOT Commissioner Jonathan Nass says economic studies of the port show the project is needed and viable, and he says the department is looking at other options.

Electricity Sellers Allegedly Posed As CMP Auditors To Sign Up Customers

Jun 22, 2018
George Danby / Bangor Daily News

Residents in Bath, Norway, Paris and Fryeburg opened their doors in recent months to the same scene: a man claiming to be an “auditor” for Central Maine Power Co. He said he was there to make sure customers were not overpaying for electricity, at a time when hundreds were shocked by high wintertime bills from the utility.

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

Central Maine Power (CMP) and Maine's consumer advocate have agreed that electricity consumers can be charged $34 million for costs related to recovery from the October 2017 wind storm, which cut services to thousands of Mainers.

The cost will largely be offset, says Public Advocate Barry Hobbins, by a recent cut in the federal corporate tax and by changes in accounting methodology that reduces consumer liability for costs stemming from this year's March storm.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

RANGELEY, Maine - The Australian developer who's buying Maine's Saddleback Mountain ski resort has been arrested after a raid on his offices in his home country.
 
Australian news media report that Sebastian Monsour was charged Thursday with investment fraud after a search warrant was executed.
 
Monsour is CEO of the Majella Group, which is in the process of buying Saddleback.
 
The Rangeley ski resort has been closed for several seasons. Owners Bill and Irene Berry announced a year ago that they were selling to Majella Group.
 

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

Governor Paul LePage says he is stalling completion of an eight-year old state agreement to take ownership of the scenic Kennebec River Gorge – land that is now owned by Central Maine Power.

Governor Paul LePage says that while he supports Donald Trump and his administration, he has does not support tariffs, which he says can't work because the U.S. is too big of a user of world commodities.

This morning at the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce' s Eggs and Issues breakfast, LePage took aim at tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canadian steel. The Governor says most of the steel that comes into Maine is from Canada.

A Hawaii man has been sentenced to six months in prison for skimming money from a lobster wholesaler that he worked for in Maine.

Jonathan Cowles was also ordered to pay nearly $360,000 in restitution for an order of 50,000 pounds of lobster that the company shipped to China but was never paid for.

Federal prosecutors say Cowles stole a portion of sales by having customers pay him directly instead of the company. He pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud.

His defense attorney said he was in the midst of a divorce and needed money to pay legal and medical bills.

Skyrocketing Prices, Demand For New Homes Signal Turnaround In Maine Lumber Market

Jun 20, 2018
Stuart Hedstrom/Piscataquis Observer / via Bangor Daily News

Prices for wood to build and renovate houses have as much as doubled over the past six months, increasing costs for consumers but boosting Maine’s softwood sales and signaling a turnaround in that segment of the forestry market, industry experts say.

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