Business and Economy

Business news

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

All this week we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the problem of eviction in Maine in a series called “Eviction: Life Unpacked.”

Two Maine wood-fired power plants remain inactive despite receiving approval for $1.2 million in state subsidies.

The Portland Press Herald reports a July performance report shows the plants only purchased a small fraction of the wood fuel they promised to buy. The newspaper reports owner Stored Solar has trimmed the plants' workforce and plans to restart the plants in the fall.

The plants make electricity with leftover wood from forestry operations and sawdust from lumber mills.

The Governor's Energy Office says the price of heating oil in Maine has dipped but remains above last year's prices due to rising global crude oil prices.

The statewide average cash price for No. 2 heating oil was $2.72 per gallon this week. The office says that the price has remained steady since March, but is up from $2.23 in October.

The statewide price of kerosene has dipped to $3.33 cents, compared with $3.48 in January. Propane prices have dipped to $2.67 compared with $2.83 in February.

Families have less than one month to find new long-term care facilities for 22 residents of a Penobscot County nursing home, which is closing its doors Sept. 1.

In a prepared statement, the management of Mountain Heights Care Facility in Patten said that declining occupancy and MaineCare rates, in addition to a recent increase in the minimum wage, are the primary reasons for the closure.

Patten Town Manager Raymond Foss said the region will be hard hit.

Tony Fischer / Flickr

The Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is imposing a new five-trap limit for lobster trawlers in a restricted area around Mt. Desert Rock — about 6 miles off Frenchboro. Gear conflicts are growing common in the area, as smaller and larger boats compete for access to fertile lobster habitat.

Unemployment rates rose slightly in June in all three of Maine's major urban areas.

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that Bangor's unemployment rate rose to 3.3 percent, up from 3 percent in May.

Portland-South Portland had a 2.7 percent jobless rate in June, up from 2.4 percent in May.

Kitchen For Food Startups In Portland To Close

Aug 1, 2018
Kathleen Pierce / Bangor Daily News

A Portland commercial kitchen where cooks looking to launch food businesses can rent space will close in September.

The Fork Food Lab will be shut down, the head of its parent company said Tuesday, “due to the structural layout and market dynamics in this location.”

The announcement comes as a setback to innovative cooks in a city that’s gained a national reputation as a coastal foodie haven and is striving to place itself at the center of a statewide food economy.

Jim Mone / AP Photo

Solar power faces some financial headwinds these days, but the industry is moving forward in Maine. 

A Maine labor official says the federal government is giving the OK to Republican Gov. Paul LePage's plan to direct more federal funding to job training.

Maine Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Richard Freund told State Workforce board members in July that the U.S. Department of Labor has conditionally approved the plan. The LePage administration hasn't released a letter describing the approval.

Maine Company Wants A Chance At Bar Harbor-Canada Ferry Service

Jul 27, 2018
Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News

A company that operates local passenger ferries in Hancock and Washington counties has jumped into the ring on offering ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia.

Downeast Windjammer Cruises has proposed paying the town of Bar Harbor $2.75 million over 10 years to operate a vehicle ferry to Canada from a defunct ferry terminal that Bar Harbor voters agreed to purchase in June. The company, owned and operated by Cherryfield resident Steve Pagels, also seasonally runs sailing cruises in and around Bar Harbor.

Steve Cookson / AP - File Photo

Central Maine Power's proposal to bring a massive amount of electricity from Canada through western Maine to Massachusetts will lower electricity costs throughout the region, and ease winter-time price spikes as well; at least, that's the pitch Massachusetts officials are making to regulators there.

Workforce expansion, workforce development and workforce retention continue to pose major hurdles for Maine employers, according to a new report from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Development Foundation and Educate Maine.

The three development groups said Thursday that Maine's quality of life, the work ethic of its residents and the state’s abundant natural resources continue to attract new businesses.

A group of Democrats in Congress says fishermen are headed for a financial disaster due to increasing tariffs, and the government should be prepared to provide relief.

The effort is led by Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. His bill designed to help fishermen who are hurt by heavy tariffs imposed by China on dozens of American seafood items as the U.S.'s trade hostilities with that country escalate.

The U.S. Agriculture department says $12 billion is needed to help farmers who were hurt by the Trump Administration's tariff wars with China, Mexico and Canada.

Maine's Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says some of that relief will likely make it to Maine dairy, potato and blueberry farmers. He says some of the administration's maneuvering has been aimed at lowering the 27 percent Chinese tariff already leveled at Maine blueberry exports – a favorite for people in China.

The two unions representing Consolidated Communications workers in Northern New England say their membership has voted "overwhelmingly" to authorize a strike if necessary.

Don Trementozzi with Communications Workers of America Local 1400, says negotiations have been contentious since they began in April, but he says a strike is in no one's best interest, and that both CWA and IBEW are hoping an agreement can be reached "You know a strike is not in the best interest of either party, you know, you lose customers, it costs a lot of money, people lose income," he says