Entries Filed in 'Business & Innovation'

Report shows Maine leading the way in farming revival

July 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Farming, Issue 41, Issues

Organic Farm, photo by Ramona du Houx

Organic Farm, photo by Ramona du Houx

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that farming in Maine is on the increase, with Maine leading New England in the number of farms in operation.

“The farm economy in Maine is alive and well and growing,” said.Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “It’s grown by almost 25 percent over five years and Maine farmers are younger and more likely to be women than in the country overall. And CSAs are more popular in Maine than in nearly any other state in the country.”

According to Gary Keough, a statistician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agriculture sales increased by 24 percent from 2007 to 2012. The average age for Maine farmers is 1.3 years younger than the national average, and 29 percent of Maine farmers are women, compared to just 17 percent nationally. And Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangements, where consumers pay a fixed price for a share of a farm’s output, are more popular in Maine than almost anywhere else in the country, with Maine ranking third in the number of farms participating in CSAs.

“You can see Maine people take high quality local food and farming seriously,” said Pingree. “Just look at the growth of organic farming, which increased by over 50 percent in five years.”

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Statoil pumps $2.5 billion in UK offshore floating wind project instead of Maine

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Energy Issues, Environment

Hywind Scotland Park Overview, courtesy of Stratiol

Statoil Oil is investing $2.5 billion in the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm project off the shores off the coast of Norfolk, UK.  Statiol’s 30 MW pilot project under construction will consist of five, 6 MW floating turbines operating in waters exceeding 100m of depth. The Pilot Park objectives will demonstrate cost efficient and low risk solutions for commercial scale parks. The project was destined to be in Maine, until Governor Paul LePage got involved. He forced through a bill revoking an agreement between the state of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission and Stratoil to build an offshore wind farm, with help from rate payers. Once the company learned that Gov. LePage would not honor the business agreement they decided to build the wind farm in the UK.

The technology that will be used in the pilot project has been tested in a demonstration project off the coast of Norway and with tests in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Statoil had plans for four test turbines off Boothbay Harbor. The company pulled out of Maine in October, 2013, saying it would focus its research and development in Scotland, which had a clearer policy on offshore wind energy.

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Michaud and Pingree help restore funding for tidal power in Federal Spending Bill

July 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Energy Issues

Congressman Michael Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree helped restore $9 million in funding for a program that has already invested over $18 million in Maine tidal projects since 2008. Michaud, who had previously led a House effort to support funding for the program, joined Pingree, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, to successfully push for an amendment to the bill that sets spending levels for the Department of Energy. Their amendment, which was also sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, passed the House today by a wide margin, including the support of dozens of Republicans.

“The Water Power Program supports critical private-sector research, development, deployment and commercialization for marine hydrokinetic energy technology developed here in Maine,” said Michaud. “Other countries have already shown interest, presenting great opportunities for exporting American technology. Now is not the time for a drastic cut to this important program. I look forward to working with the Senate to increase funding even more.

The amendment restores $9 million in cuts to the portion of the Department of Energy budget that funds the Marine and Hyrdokinetic Energy Program. That program promotes research and development of emerging technology that generates clean energy from the nation’s oceans and rivers. Michaud and Pingree’s amendment pays for the restored funding by cutting the budget for the Department of Energy’s administrative expenses.

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TechWalk 2014: conference focused on Maine’s leading technology innovators

July 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation

Maine Technology Institute’s (MTI) annual TechWalk will be held at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Thursday October 2, 2014. The theme of TechWalk 2014 is “Connecting Through Technology,” and will feature Victor Hwang, Founder and CEO of T2 Venture Creation, as the keynote speaker.

Hwang is the author of the well-known book, The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.

“TechWalk is MTI’s signature event, showcasing our investments in innovative technology companies in Maine, connecting entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, legislators and business services from across Maine and New England,” said Bob Martin, President of MTI.

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Maine becomes first east coast state to study, plan, and prepare for ocean acidification

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Environment, Science

The Press conference in Portland explaining the dire issue of ocean acidification and what Maine, and the federal government is doing to help.  courtesy photo

The Press conference in Portland explaining the dire issue of ocean acidification and what Maine, and the federal government is doing to help. courtesy photo

Research tells us the world’s ocean water is becoming more acidic, and that spells trouble for shellfish like clams and oysters. Marine scientists are worried and so are businesses that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. To better understand the problem and to help find solutions so the correct actions in the State Capitol the Maine Legislature voted overwhelmingly in April to form the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission. The 16-member panel was announced on the Portland waterfront with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The Congresswoman has introduced a bill that would require federal officials to study the effects of ocean acidification on coastal communities in Maine and around the country.

“Ocean acidification could be a real threat to the fisheries that are the lifeblood of coastal communities. The truth is we don’t fully understand how it would impact a vital industry like the lobster fishery and what the effect would be on Maine,” said Pingree. “We know what’s causing ocean acidification but now we need to better understand how hard it is going to hit coastal economies.”

Under Pingree’s legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries were impacted.

“Maine is taking the lead on ocean acidification on the Eastern seaboard. We understand that it is a real threat to our marine environment, jobs and way of life,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the House chair of the State Commission and a marine biologist who sponsored the legislation that created the panel. “The commission brings together talented individuals who will address this threat head-on and find ways to protect our marine resources and economies.”

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Universal Bread, Waterville’s new bakery specializing in old world artisan bread

June 24th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Business & Innovation, Community Maine

Adrian Sulea creates authentic artisan breads in Waterville. photo by Ramona du Houx

Adrian Sulea creates authentic artisan breads in Waterville. photo by Ramona du Houx

Tucked away on 19 Temple Street is Universal Bread, a new bakery specializing in old world artisan bread.

In movies of Europe, when there is a street scene in the daytime the viewer can usually see a long baguette in shopping bags, on the backs of bicycles, or in the hands of city goes always wrapped in a white. Most people in towns across the continent still wake up and go to their local baker for the morning’s fresh bread. It’s a tradition Adrian Sulea of North Anson wants to establish in Waterville.

Sulea said he named his business Universal Bread because, “the only standard bread should be held against is its Universality. Bread baking is an art that endures history and transcends cultures. Bread has its personality equally touched both by the baker and those who daily appreciate its significance.”

Sulea’s bread is authentic down to the fluffy light center. He uses all natural ingredients with just yeast, water and wheat. A baguette is well worth $3.50. He also sells boules and batards, and whole wheat is available as well.

Bread is considered a staple in many cultures but represents so much more. It’s a comfort that brings people together. While processed and packaged breads laced with sugar and fats have become the norm in supermarkets, there are growing numbers of bakers that are meeting the demand for artisan-baked bread in Maine. Adrian is the first located in the center of the city.

Adrian has a degree from the University of Maine at Farmington in Business Economics. While attending school he couldn’t find any fresh baked artisan bread like he was accustomed to in Romania so he started to bake his own from a traditional family recipe. After living in Boston, he decided to return to Maine, open Universal Bread and follow his passion.

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Ocean experts head to Bigelow Laboratory to discuss pressing national and regional issues

June 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Science

Leaders of marine laboratories in the northeast and Great Lakes will be at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay this week, June 25-27, to plan a way forward to cope with federal budget reductions, to address implications of ocean acidification, and to deliberate about how to best guide policy that affects their regions. Scientists and government officials also will participate in the annual meeting of the North East Association of Marine and Great Lake Laboratories.

“These are challenging times for the marine and Great Lake environments and laboratory directors are at the forefront, said Dr. Graham Shimmield, president of the North East Association of Marine and Great Lake Laboratories and executive director of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. “This meeting provides us with the opportunity to share our ideas for how to best address these challenges and openly engage with government officials and research scientists. We are particularly pleased to be including a session that showcases Maine’s lead in ocean acidification with the establishment of a commission to figure out how to preserve our marine resources in a changing marine environment.”

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Vitelli: There’s a lot happening with the Maine economy but we all need a willing partner as governor

June 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Guest Columns, State Representatives

By State Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic

Maine is a special place. Whether you’re a native Mainer, you moved here, or you’re vacationing here, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Our natural resources—from our lakes and oceans to our rolling hills and mountains—it’s easy to see why people want to live, work, and play here in Maine. But there’s one thing that makes Maine truly special.

Our people.

Mainers are known for our hard work; our creativity; and our determination. Perhaps it goes back to our Yankee roots. But regardless, whether you live in the smallest of Maine villages or in our state’s largest city, entrepreneurs can be found in every corner of our state. They include artisans, farmers, engineers, designers, inventors, microbrewers, creative crafters, and ambitious Main Street retailers.

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Portland, Maine’s City Council bans foam packaging, endorses bag fee

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Community Maine, Economy, Environment

Maine's Portland City Hall during the holidays,  photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s Portland City Hall during the holidays, photo by Ramona du Houx

On June 16th, the Portland City Council voted 6-3 to ban foam packaging in city stores and restaurants, and voted 6-3 to enact a 5-cent fee on disposable shopping bags.

“These practical and common-sense actions will help to reduce the most common and costly litter in the city,” said Glen Brand, Director of Sierra Club Maine. “Styrofoam and plastic bags are more than unsightly eyesores; their production wastes energy and causes pollution, and plastic bags break down into toxic particles that pose a serious health threat to ocean wildlife.”

The council was confronted with arguments on both ordinance changes. Mayor Michael Brennan joined councilors Jon Hinck, Jill Duson, Ed Suslovic, David Marshall and Kevin Donoghue in favor, while Nicholas Mavodones, John Coyne and Cheryl Leeman voted against them.

“It was an issue I ran on while campaigning for mayor,” said Marshall.”The program encourages people to bring their own reusable bags to stores. Plastic bags have real environmental and economic costs.”

Portland’s single-use bag fee program is modeled on similar programs nationwide that have proven to reduce plastic bag litter clogging storm drains, jamming recycling equipment, and eventually floating out to sea.

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Portland, Maine will host 74 cruise ships with more than 82,000 passengers in 2014

June 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy

Portland city hall.  photo by Ramona du Houx

Portland city hall. photo by Ramona du Houx

The 2014 cruise season is currently underway in Portland. The City’s port will host 74 cruise ship visits with more than 82,000 passengers between June and November. This season the city will also see five maiden voyages, an unprecedented number. Maiden voyages include the Pearl Mist on July 9, the Ruby Princess on September 25, the Legend of the Seas on September 26, Oceania’s Insignia on October 14, and the Crystal Serenity on October 20.

American Cruise Lines conducts a total of 28 homeport operations in Portland this season. They homeport the Independence (102 passengers) 18 times and the Glory (49 passengers) seven times for their popular Maine Coast & Harbors cruise. The Glory also visits Portland five times as she sails from Providence, RI on her Grand New England cruise series.

Pearl Sea’s launches its new cruise line and sails the Pearl Mist to Portland on June 30 with her maiden voyage on July 9. She then homeports in Portland three times during the season.

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