Entries Filed in 'Business & Innovation'

Michaud’s Northern Border Regional Commission gets $1.2 Million for Maine

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

Michaud at Hinkley Boats. The company has worked in partnership with the UMaine composite laboratory to improve their boats.

Michaud at Hinkley Boats. The company has worked in partnership with the UMaine composite laboratory to improve their boats.

Maine is receiving more than $1.2 million from the Northern Border Regional Commission – which was created by legislation U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud authored several years ago with the aim of rejuvenating some of the most economically distressed areas in New England.

“When I authored the legislation creating the Northern Border Regional Commission, I did so with the hope that it would create good jobs for Mainers and help jumpstart the parts of our state where business development is needed most,” said Michaud. “Today’s latest round of grants to Maine communities and organizations is more proof of how the NBRC is working just as we had hoped – it’s protecting and even creating jobs, and it’s giving many of our communities the tools and infrastructure they need to flourish.”

Today’s grantees in Maine are:

· $250,000 to Indian Township Passamaquoddy Reservation, to build a maple processing facility in Jackson;

· $250,000 to the town of Hartland to line a solid waste landfill facility (NBRC estimates this will save 142 jobs);

· $226,000 to the town of Ashland, to upgrade a section of highway that is central to the town forest-products intermodal facility;

· $230,000 to the Maine Woods Products Association, to start a training and credentialing program for industry employees; and

· $250,000 to the city of Ellsworth, to develop a station to expand the availability of high-speed internet along the city’s main thoroughfare (NBRC predicts this will support up to 100 new jobs).

“These are great investments for our state – they’ll create jobs, strengthen infrastructure and make our state a better place to do business,” added Michaud. “I’m pleased the NBRC has been such a success, and I look forward to future investments in our state.”

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Wind turbine project will generate $11 million for Hancock County

September 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Economy, Energy Issues, Environment, Maine's green energy potential

Wind turbine project approved by Hancock County Commissioners September 12th will generate $11 million in property tax revenue for the county over a 30-year period agreement.

The commission voted 2-1 in approval of a tax increment financing (TIF) district for the project, which will install 17 turbines, at 500 feet tall, with a 3-megawatt capacity in Townships 22 and 16. Of the $11 million in property tax revenue, Hancock County will keep $5.82 million, while the rest will go to Hancock Wind, a First Wind subsidiary.

The agreement allows Hancock Wind to retain 70 percent of its annual tax payments to the county for the next 20 years, but for the last 10 years of the agreement the county will receive 100 percent of the tax revenue.

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Gorham-based research group to get $1.1 million for wind power technology

September 10th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues

The VolturnUS 1:8 comfortably resting in the water. The full size offshore wind VolturnUS turbines will be over 600 feet tall— taller than the Washington Monument. The big units will be fabricated onshore and assembled on the water. Photo by Ramona du HouxCongresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that the Gorham-based Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) is getting a $1.1 million federal grant to help them develop innovative new technology to detect birds and bats near wind turbines. Pingree had pushed for the funding for BRI and said it will help the growing wind power industry in Maine while protecting important bird and bat species.

“The wind power industry is creating jobs in Maine while developing new sources of clean energy,” Pingree said. “But for the industry to keep growing we have to develop better ways to make sure wind turbines aren’t having an impact on the environment. This research that BRI is collaborating on will help do that and is a great example of how Maine can be a leader in clean energy technology.”

BRI will use the grant to further develop a system of high-tech cameras that detect birds and bats in the area of wind turbines. The project is a collaboration with private and public partners including the University of Maine, First Wind and HiDefAerial Surveying.

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Vice President Biden impressed by Maine’s manufacturing history and potential

September 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Economy, Labor issues, Speeches

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone's hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden made a point to try and shake everyone’s hand in the audience. Photo by Morgan Rogers

Vice President Biden toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard September 3rd with Maine Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate, Mike Michaud, to highlight the history and future of Maine’s manufacturing innovation.

The tour of the 214-year-old Naval Shipyard gave Michaud a chance to share Maine’s shipbuilding history, manufacturing potential, and University of Maine’s “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” initiative, with Biden.

“I’ve traveled a million miles around the world as vice president and I traveled a million miles before that,” said Biden to more than a 1000 attendees at the shipyard. “And the fact of the matter is you’re the best in the world. It’s true.”

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New KeepME Home initiative to make life better for older Mainers

August 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Health Care

The Maine Council on Aging (MCOA)—made up of over 30 organizations working to ensure the well-being of Maine’s older adults—announced its support today of a package of legislative proposals presented by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves.

“Maine is the oldest state in the nation — each day more than 50 people turn 65. These numbers must be a call to action for our state leaders,” said Eves, who has who has spearheaded a statewide aging initiative to address Maine’s aging challenges. “We must transform how people age in our state so they can live independently in their communities and homes. That is the goal of the “KeepME Home” initiative.”

The “KeepME Home” initiatives announced by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves addresses several critical needs for older Mainers: affordable housing near services, access to needed home care and financial security.

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Federal grant helped C&L expansion in Bangor not LePage

August 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

bangor

During a campaign stop to improve the image of Gov. Paul LePage, Republican Governors Association Chair Gov. Chris Christie visited C&L Aviation in Bangor. The company was able to expand thanks, in part, to the work of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

During their visit Christie and LePage tried to rebrand LePage’s dismal record on economic development and job creation using C&L Aviation. A major contributing factor to the C&L Aviation expansion was a $580,000 federal grant that Michaud helped secure from the Economic Development Administration.

C&L Aviation originally came to Bangor when Governor John E. Baldacci offered the company Pine Tree Development Zone status, (PTDZ), which is a tax incentive package started under his two terms as governor. The Bangor Chamber of Commerce as well as the City Council also played major roles in securing C&L Aviation as a Bangor business.

PTDZ status was granted to over 300 companies during the Baldacci Administration helping Maine companies expand and it brought new companies to the state. LePage has renamed the PTDZ tax incentive package to make it appear as his administration’s policy. It’s now just a Tax Incentive Package.

Michaud has long been a supporter of the EDA and has continually fought to protect its funding.

In November 2012, Michaud, along with other members of Maine’s congressional delegation, wrote a letter to the EDA urging it to approve funding for the expansion of C&L. And, in April 2013, Michaud hosted Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary for economic development for the U.S. Economic Development Administration in Bangor to tour the Bangor International Airport and project site for proposed expansion. According to the Bangor Daily News, that visit “made an impression” on Erskine, who approved funding for the project just three months later.

Under LePage’s leadership, Maine’s economy has lagged behind the rest of New England and the country. Maine is ranked near the bottom in job creation and personal income growth, and the state is currently ranked 47th in the country in economic development.

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New Business Insider 47th ranking: Maine’s economic growth lags

August 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine's first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Mike Michaud helped secure funds for UMaine’s first in the Americas floating wind turbine project, VoltunUS. Photo by Ramona du Houx

The ranking is among the latest evidence showing Maine’s job and economic growth behind other states in the country. According to national labor statistics, the country has recovered 106 percent of the nonfarm payroll jobs lost during the recession. Regionally, New England has recovered 116 percent of jobs. Maine lags behind, recovering only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the recession. Top legislative leaders said the latest ranking is yet another indicator of LePage’s failed management.

Governor LePage reneged on a deal the state had made with Statoil by manipulating the legislature. The company was going to invest $120 million in their project when LePage pushed his bill through the legislature taking away rights given Statoil under the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Statoil–an international clean energy innovator was ready to make Maine’s name as the world’s leader in floating offshore wind platforms. International sales in the technology, jointly created with the University of Maine, would have highlighted this cutting edge industry while creating hundreds of jobs and pumping millions of dollars in to Maine’s economy. Statoil has since invested $2.5 billion in the U.K.

“Maine people deserve leaders who will put economic opportunity and jobs ahead of ideology,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Governor LePage billed himself as a businessman who would turn around Maine’s economy yet he has chosen Tea Party politics over jobs and what’s best for the people of Maine at every turn.”

LePage also pushed his agenda through the legislature. By doing so Maine’s 1 percent got a huge tax break while most every citizen saw an increase in their property tax bill. What happened was simply: By giving the rich a tax break LePage took funds that normally would have gone to local towns away from them. These local municipalities had to keep emergency services and their schools running so property taxes went up and some services were cut. Jobs were lost, and incomes slashed with LePage’s policies.

Additionally, LePage is the only Governor in the country who vetoed five bills to increase access to life-saving health care under the Affordable Care Act, turning down nearly $1 million per day in economic investment in the state. According the Maine Center on Economic Policy, the federal investment in life-saving health care would have created and saved 4,400 jobs in the state.

“Gov. LePage may want to tell folks that he’s done right by Maine’s economy but once again, I don’t think he should be bragging about these bottom-of-the-pack numbers,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “After almost for years, it’s clear his strategies are not effective. Governor LePage and his allies in the legislature are not what Maine needs or can afford.”

Under Paul LePage’s economic leadership, Maine has experienced, a job creation record among the worst in the U.S. since the bottom of the recession, ranking 42nd out of 50 states in the latest report (June 2014). Additionally, Maine has the 5th highest rate in the country of people who work only part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

The state has had the second worst personal income growth record in the U.S., ranking 49th from 2009 through 2013. Plus, median household income is down $1,600 and $4,600 below the U.S. median.

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ReEnergy announces plans to restart operations at biomass-to-energy facility in Ashland, ME

August 5th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

ReEnergy Holdings today announced plans to resume operations at its biomass-to-electricity facility in Ashland, ME.

“We are very pleased to be resuming operations of this critical energy asset,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “This will restore jobs, improve forest health, and enhance reliability and stability in the delivery of electricity in northern Maine. This was only possible through the collaboration and support of key stakeholders.”

The 39-megawatt ReEnergy Ashland facility generates renewable energy from responsibly harvested green forest residue biomass and unadulterated wood. It is capable of producing approximately 284,000 MWh of electricity each year — enough to supply nearly 37,000 homes. The facility, which opened in 1993, was acquired by ReEnergy Holdings in December 2011 as part of a multi-facility portfolio purchase from Boralex Industries Inc. It has been idled since March 2011. It is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational by December.

“The reopening of the Ashland biomass facility is welcome news for the important jobs it will restore and the renewable energy it will generate. The forest economy is a tremendous asset in our state and biomass plants like the one in Ashland play a vital role,” said Senator Susan Collins.

The facility has a significant economic impact in northern Maine. The resumption of operations will restore 25 well-paying direct jobs and an estimated 150 indirect jobs associated with the facility, many of them related to the supply of the forest residue fuel supply to the facility and additional jobs tied to local goods and services related to the facility. At full production levels, the facility purchases more than $16 million annually in fuel from local loggers. When considering the payrolls of the direct and indirect jobs along with taxes paid by ReEnergy Ashland, the annual economic impact on the region is well in excess of $20 million.

ReEnergy’s plans to restart the power plant in Ashland is great news for the community,” said Ashland Town Manager Ralph Dwyer. “It will create many well-paying direct jobs at the plant as well as other indirect jobs supplying the facility with biomass fuel. The Town of Ashland appreciates ReEnergy’s commitment to our community and look forward to seeing the plant in operation again.”

ReEnergy has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard for the facilities that are currently operating in Maine and New York. ReEnergy will seek similar certification for the Ashland facility, and this certification will provide third-party verification that ReEnergy’s biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices. ReEnergy is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified to the SFI Standard.

ReEnergy’s strategy is to own and operate its facilities in regions capable of supplying raw materials while simultaneously ensuring the long-term sustainability of the forests where those facilities are located. The company owns and operates three other biomass-to-energy facilities in Maine: ReEnergy Stratton (48 MW); ReEnergy Livermore Falls (39 MW); and ReEnergy Fort Fairfield (37 MW). ReEnergy also owns and operates a facility in Lewiston that processes construction and demolition material. With Ashland operating, ReEnergy will employ more than 140 people in Maine and support more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“This is great news for the town of Ashland and another sign of the positive things that are happening in Aroostook County’s forest economy,” said Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council.

Biomass-to-energy offers substantial long-term employment and positive rural economic impacts. With in-state equipment manufacturing, fuel harvesting, processing, and jobs from facility construction to ongoing boiler service, the bioenergy industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy. As a rule of thumb, each megawatt of biomass-fueled electricity supports approximately five full-time jobs: one direct job in the biomass facility, and four indirect jobs in surrounding forests and communities.

The Ashland facility has been idled since March 2011 due to market conditions. The restart has been made possible due to a confluence of factors, including an increased need for electric grid stability in northern Maine, availability of transmission capacity, a growing need for a local outlet for mill and forest residues, and energy market changes.

The facility has been maintained in a manner that will allow for a prompt return to its standard of reliability, but several months of preparation will be necessary to hire and re-hire employees, build fuel supply, and assess and re-tune equipment.

About ReEnergy Holdings:

ReEnergy Holdings LLC, a portfolio company of Riverstone Holdings LLC, owns and/or operates facilities that use forest-derived woody biomass and other waste residues to produce renewable energy. It also owns facilities in New England that recycle construction and demolition debris. ReEnergy was formed in 2008 by affiliates of Riverstone Holdings LLC and a senior management/co-investor team comprised of experienced industry professionals. ReEnergy owns and/or operates nine energy generating facilities with 325 MW of installed renewable energy generation capacity and processes for recycling more than 700,000 tons per year of construction and demolition material. ReEnergy operates in six states and employs more than 300 people.

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Maine teachers learn to integrate ocean science in the classroom at Bigelow Laboratory

July 31st, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Science

Nine high school teachers and one junior high school teacher from across Maine spent a week at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in July learning about ocean sciences so they could integrate what was learned into their classrooms this fall. This was the fourth time Bigelow Laboratory invited teachers in for what has become an annual Keller-Bigelow Laboratory Orders Of Magnitude (BLOOM) Teachers workshop.

The four-day summer workshop is led by Bigelow Laboratory researchers, Dr. David Fields and Dr. Nicole Poulton, provides teachers with training, tools, and hands-on research experience so that they are better equipped to teach ocean science in their classrooms. Educators learn how to teach the fundamentals of ocean science in a local and global context and receive curriculum materials, aquatic field sampling and laboratory equipment, and follow-up academic year support.

“Our goal is to enhance teachers understanding of the ocean, how it works, what lives in it, and how it is changing so that they can take this knowledge and share it more effectively with their students, “ explained Fields. “Given that the ocean is so vital to our economy and way of life here in Maine, a greater focus on ocean science is a winning situation for everyone involved.”

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Hope is on the horizon for Maine’s small businesses and healthcare

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 41

Front Street Shipyard has enhanced Belfast's creative economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Front Street Shipyard has enhanced Belfast’s creative economy. Photo by Ramona du Houx


EDITORIAL

Artists, artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, IT computer professionals, inventors, microbrewers, and unique retailers can be found in every corner of our state. More café’s and restaurants are opening daily. Maine’s creative economy, embracing technology, talent and tolerance, is in full swing. These, more than 143,000 small businesses, entrepreneurs are our mainstay.

Two out of every three jobs are created by a small business—and more than 280,000 Mainers are employed by a small business.

They are forging ahead, despite a bad business climate created by Gov. LePage’s administration. But small businesses hurt when their taxes go up because the state has cut back funds to municipalities forcing towns to increase property taxes. They hurt when there is a new law that doesn’t allow a business, where you live and work, to deduct part of their property expenses on the Maine tax return. They hurt when people’s incomes stagnate.

Under Governor LePage’s watch, Maine ranks forty-sixth in the nation for jobs recovered since the recession. While the rest of the country has recovered 101 percent of lost jobs, Maine has only recovered 48 percent, and most of them are in the Portland area.

According to CNBC, Maine is ranked 45th on its list of America’s Top States for Business– including specific rankings as 46th in infrastructure and 48th in overall economy.

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