Entries Filed in 'Creative Economy'

$600,000 to help develop and improve Maine’s local food economy

October 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy

Congresswomen Chellie Pingree helped increase USDA funding for Maine agriculture.

Congresswomen Chellie Pingree helped increase USDA funding for Maine agriculture.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced that Maine will be getting over $600,000 in federal Specialty Crop Block Grants to fund a number of efforts that will strengthen and grow the local food economy. Pingree authored a provision of the recently passed Farm Bill that provides substantially increased funding for this program.

The grants cover a range of projects, from research into pest management for potatoes to a study of the effects of pesticides on honeybees to a joint project with the University of Maine to develop a hop industry in Maine.

“Maine has a great variety of small farmers and producers who are already contributing to our economy,” Pingree said. “These types of investments were are announcing today will help them grow their operations and get involved in new crops, strengthening the local farm economy.”

Pingree was the driving force behind a number of local food provisions in the Farm Bill signed by President Obama earlier this year, include a substantial increase in funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

The $602,678 grant will go to the Maine Department of Agriculture, which will distribute it to 11 projects around the state:

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RGGI has generated $257 million in energy savings for Maine

August 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Creative Economy, Energy Issues, Environment

During a “citizen hearing” today in Portland, local health experts, marine fisheries experts, clean energy leaders and conservation advocates, highlighted the public health and economic benefits of the EPA’s new carbon pollution standards for power plants, and urged Maine’s elected leaders, including Senators Collins and King to pledge support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. They also highlighted how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has helped grow Maine’s clean energy economy.

“The Administration’s carbon pollution standards establish the first ever national limits on industrial carbon pollution from power plants and take an essential step toward protecting public health from the harmful effects of climate change,” said Dr.Lani Graham, Maine Medical Association. “Ignoring the impacts of industrial carbon pollution puts us all, especially children, at risk from asthma attacks and other health impacts associated with air pollution.”

“The sooner we implement the elements of the EPA Power Plant proposal the lower the costs in terms of money, human health, and the environment,” said Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne. “As advocates for Casco Bay we know that lowering emissions from power plants will help protect the health of the bay, the people in the watershed, and the coastal economy.”

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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.


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


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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Congressman Mike Michaud: His passion to help people and his economic policies

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Creative Economy, Economy, Exclusive Interviews, Issue 41

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

Back in 2005 the Federal Government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced that there would be closures of military bases across the country. Maine was targeted at three major facilities: Kittery-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) and Defense Finance and Accounting Services Center (DFAS) in Limestone.

The State’s Congressional Delegation swung into action along with Gov. John Baldacci, and the communities effected. Press conferences and meetings were held at each threatened facility, sometimes one a day at each location, and Congressman Mike Michaud was at the majority of them, from promoting the attributes of workers in Limestone to rallying shipyard employees in Portsmouth. He fought for the workers and their communities in Portsmouth and BNAS in Maine and D.C., even though those bases were not in his congressional district.

After ten years of reporting on the Congressman’s activities, I’ve learned that there is nothing more important to him that making sure the people of Maine are treated fairly and have good paying jobs with healthcare benefits.

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Congressman Mike Michaud gives a shipyard union leader a congratulatory hug for helping to Save the Shipyard from BRAC closure in 2003. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Recently we talked about his economic development plans for Maine.

Q: What is your highest priority?


My biggest priority is building a Maine economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us. That starts with job creation, but it also means an intense focus on education, starting with early childhood, and continuing through college; it means a higher minimum wage and expanded access to health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers, and 3,000 veterans; and it means empowering business to grow and expand.

Under Gov. LePage and his failed policies, Maine has lagged behind the rest of New England in private-sector job growth. His “open for business” policy is nothing but rhetoric. He’s actually driven hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector investment out of the state.

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Nouveau Cirque Theater/New circus comes to Maine setting the stage for a transformation in New England shows

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Creative Economy, Issue 41

A narrative dance theatre performance in Harrison Bergeron Escapes from the Zoo performed at Bowdoin College. Photo by Ramona du Houx

A narrative dance theatre performance in Harrison Bergeron Escapes from the Zoo performed at Bowdoin College. Photo by Ramona du Houx

In May, at Bowdoin College, audiences were in awe watching aerial dancers twirl high overhead on “silks” that wrapped round their arms as they completed dare devil acts. It was hard to imagine these performers were not professionals—but they were students in Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva’s course, Interdisciplinary Devising. And it wasn’t just a circus act; they were part of a narrative dance theatre performance in Harrison Bergeron Escapes from the Zoo the second Circus-Theatre-Cabarets ever performed in Maine.

Amazingly no student had ever performed aerial stunts— many had majors in areas unrelated to theater. The staging – on four levels (floor, two balconies, a catwalk, and aerial silk) was remarkably complex, yet the constant dance-like motion of the performers made everything flow.

“Harrison Bergeron was a wonderful opportunity to stage an amalgam of dance, drama, circus and live music – with a strong social narrative. The Bowdoin production was an experiment in trans-disciplinary theatre,” said Syssoyeva, who was a visiting Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance. “And it was an exploration of the power of live performance – of what makes theatre fundamentally different from film: intense, physical immediacy. With the rise of collectively devised performance, theatre is becoming ever more multi-disciplinary. Despite eternal funding difficulties, despite ever more sophisticated technologies of mediated performance, live theatre is experiencing a revival – especially physical theatre. At the same time, the New Circus movement (nouveau cirque) is surging in North America and Europe. Our production of Harrison Bergeron is a cross over from devised physical theatre into New Circus.”

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Waterville’s potential as Maine’s art hub grows with Common Street Arts

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Issue 41

Rachel McDonald,  Common Street Arts program manager, explains CSA workshops. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Rachel McDonald, Common Street Arts program manager, explains CSA workshops. Photo by Ramona du Houx

In the heart of downtown Waterville, 16 Common Street, there is a relatively new non-profit arts organization that is helping to build the city’s creative economy with exhibits and arts education. This summer the line up of workshops offered by Common Street Arts (CSA) is truly impressive, and so are it’s shows.

“At the core we are a cooperative arts and education venue that is divided into two spaces. The gallery presents excellent art of all sorts from a wide range of emerging artists to more established artists and people in between. The studio side provides educational programs,” said Rachel McDonald, who has been Common Street Arts program manager since August after leaving a position at the Portland Museum of Art.

“I jumped at this opportunity— to build up the organization. That’s what I’m passionate about,” said McDonald.

Art on exhibit at CSA, Waterville. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Art on exhibit at CSA, Waterville. Photo by Ramona du Houx

The Maine non-profit 501-c-4 gallery has around eight juried and curated exhibitions per year and the community responds. The openings, with local foods and wine, always have tremendous turnouts.

“Creating a space for people to view art is essential for any downtown to help grow it’s creative economy,” said McDonald. “The Waterville community has been great coming out for our openings. We sometimes have a film events where we collaborate with Colby cinema studies. Other times we’ve had musicians play and artists talk about their work and give lectures.”

CSA has become a community center for arts in Waterville.

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Neil Rolde’s new book: Real Political Tales- Short Stories by a Veteran Politician

July 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Books, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Issue 41, Neil Rolde

Author/politician, Neil Rolde talks about his new book. photo by Ramona du Houx

Author/politician, Neil Rolde talks about his new book. photo by Ramona du Houx

Author/Statesman Neil Rolde has written a work of fiction focused on his experiences called Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician.

“If you’ve ever served in a state legislature, lobbied one, or just read about their activities in the newspaper and wondered what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll love this book! From page one I couldn’t put it down and I loved every word of Neil’s stories crafted from ‘behind the scenes’ in the Maine legislature,” wrote Congresswoman Chellie Pingree in the book. “The characters may be fictional, but thanks to Neil’s insights and knowledge, coupled with his wonderful writing style, they all came to life.”

Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician is published by Maine’s Polar Bear & Company.

“The personal element is stronger in the affairs of legislative bodies than of any other branch of government, but it is a hard thing to convey in straight reporting. The public understanding of the legislative process is poorer as a result. As an experienced and influential legislator, with a great gift for storytelling, Neil Rolde is the ideal person to remedy this defect, and this volume of Political Tales delivers on that promise,” wrote U.S. House of Representative Barney Frank in the book. “The stories are educational and entertaining in equal measure, and people who read them will be better prepared to understand what goes on when legislators meet and transact important public business.”

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A summer of art focus on contemporary art at Portland’s museum and art college

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Community Maine, Creative Economy

The Portland Museum of Art (PMA) and Maine College of Art (MECA) will feature art talks on the Third Thursday of each month that explore tends in contemporary art locally and nationally.

The programming is part of a new Third Thursdays initiative in which both institutions will stay open until 9 p.m. to create another evening for the visual arts in downtown Portland, Maine.

The major topic of conversation will revolve around contemporary art in Maine and its influence on our cultural identity.

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Neil Rolde to talk about his books and John Willey will recite his poems in Portland

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Creative Economy

A literary night of readings on Friday, June 20th from 6pm to 8pm, surrounded by art, will take place at The Constellation Gallery, 511 Congress Street. Award winning author/statesman Neil Rolde will tell stories about his books and life. Each vignette will be inspired from a poem written and read by John Willey from his book Observed From a Skin Boat.

Having a story evolve from a poem is a new concept to engage people in the art of the written word.

“I’m looking forward to the evening,” said Rolde, a Maine renowned historian, former politician and, philanthropist. “I’ve never done anything like this before. It should be fun and it’s a unique way for people to understand the relevance of poetry and research.”

Most of Mr. Rolde’s books are extensively researched and involve the history of Maine and its people. The plight of Native Americans has been a reoccurring theme in Rolde’s life since his childhood and he helped Maine’s tribes while he worked in the Curtis administration. These experiences led him to write one of Maine’s definitive historic books: Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians.

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