Business and Economy

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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.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

More than 30 local food activists took their support of Maine farmer Dan Brown from the barnyard to the courtyard this morning. Brown is a Blue Hill farmer who was fined $1,000 by the state for selling raw milk at his farm stand without a license. Blue Hill is one of 11 towns in Maine that have declared independence from state and federal regulations on locally-produced food. And Brown issued a legal challenge of the state's action against him. Today the Maine Supreme Court took up his case.

FairPoint union employees from Maine took their concerns over ongoing contract negotiations to corporate headquarters today in Charlotte, North Carolina, where shareholders were convening their annual meeting. After posing a few questions to senior managers and shareholders, the employees left, saying management wants the workers to accept lower wages. But company officials say that's only part of the story. A.J. Higgins has more.

Emily Corwin / New Hampshire Public Radio

If you've ever driven into Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Newington, you've likely seen the large piles of scrap metal looming along the waterfront. The scrap company's lease at the port is up for renewal in December, and opponents in town are upset about the view and the environment. They're now pushing the state for some changes. From New Hampshire Public Radio, Emily Corwin reports.

In Lewiston-Auburn, Dollar Stores a Dime a Dozen

May 13, 2014
Tom Porter / MPBN

The Lewiston-Auburn area is poised for a mini retail boom - of sorts. Two major discount "dollar store" chains are targeting the Twin Cities for major development in the near future - a move that some industry observers find interesting, given that hundreds of dollar stores are closing elsewhere in the country.

Heavy equipment prepares the ground for the construction of an 8,300-square-foot Family Dollar store on Sabbatus Street, about two-and-a-half miles from downtown Lewiston. 

Jay Field / MPBN

Some disappointing news came today for the deep water wind project known as Aqua Ventus. That's the pilot project led by a University of Maine development team. Aqua Ventus was competing for federal development money. But, as Jennifer Mitchell reports, the project was not selected for full funding. So now, its fate is less certain. Meanwhile, environmental advocates are still lamenting a decision they say chased away another wind developer.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a statement clarifying its position on proposed federal rule that had concerned brewers and farmers in Maine and across the country. However, whether that statement is a "clarification" or a "climb-down" depends on who you talk to. The issue revolves around "spent grains," a by-product of the brewing process that many farmers - including some in Maine - rely on. Tom Porter has more.

Fair Housing in Maine

Apr 23, 2014
A house for rent.
File/stock image / A house for rent.

What do renters and landlords need to know? Learn about fair housing laws, your rights as a renter, and what reasonable accommodations landlords are sometimes required to make. Learn about fair housing issues affecting veterans and people with disabilities.

Guests:

  • Amy M. Sneirson, Executive Director, Maine Human Rights Commission
  • Patricia Ender, Pine Tree Legal
  • Brit Vitalius, on behalf of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association (MEREDA)

 We've all witnessed the ongoing saga of the slow decline of Maine's dairy industry as measured by the number of family farms, and some processors. So where are we headed? One of the region's largest operations, Oakhurst dairy, has been sold to a national farmer-owned co-op. Maine Farmers who lost their contracts with processors decided to team up and create their own company called Moo Milk, that's putting Maine product on store shelves.

Host Keith Shortall discussed the future of dairy farming in Maine with:

Bill Eldridge, CEO of MOO Milk

Court documents in an old tax dispute indicate that the owners of a pipeline that crosses Maine - and could be used to transport tar sands oil - is several years past its retirement date.

The National Wildlife Federation has uncovered court documents from an old tax dispute that it says show yet another reason why any plan by the Exxon-owned Portland Pipe Line Corp. to transport tar sands oil through the pipeline that runs across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont is risky. Jim Murphy is senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation's northeast regional center.

  Jamie and John are back to talk cars, car repairs and the latest news from the auto industry.

Host Jennifer Rooks will be joined by 

Jamie Page Deaton, US News and World Report Automotive Editor 

John Paul, master technician and public affairs manager AAA Southern New England

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