Entries Filed in 'Economy'
March 8th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, Economy
March 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Creative Economy, Economy
Today the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future gave strong bipartisan approval with a vote of 12 – 1 for a $73 million bond package supporting jobs in microbiology, marine resources, and technology.
“This is jobs bond encourages, supports, and stimulates Maine’s economy and job growth,” said Democratic Senator Linda Valentino the Senate Chair of the Workforce Committee. “We’ve heard from economic experts that investment in our innovators will lead directly to commercialization, job creation, and can help bolster Maine’s economic recovery.”
The package is the culmination of the committee’s work over the last eight months after hearing from leaders in the business and research and development communities. The focus of the package is to provide funding that small businesses and institutions will use specifically for job creation efforts.
“This bond proposal helps propel business toward near-term job creation. It’s just what the state needs as it continues to shake off the effects of the recession,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry , the House Chair of the Workforce Committee. “Targeted, smart investment by the state can create good-paying jobs in 21st century fields that will keep our bright young people here at home, enlarge the markets for what we provide, and push Maine’s economy forward.”
The package includes:
- $ 5 million for the FAME Loan Guarantee Program, which is expected to create or retain 1,935 jobs and has a performance leverage of 17 to 1, will spur investment and innovation;
- $ 15 million for the FAME Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program, also known as the REDLIP Program, will be used for flexible loans to create jobs, revitalize downtowns, and strengthen Maine’s rural economy;
- $ 10 million for the Maine Technology Asset Fund which will leverage matching funds on at least a one-to-one basis to promote research development, and commercialization for economic development and private sector job creation;
- $ 8 million for a lab at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to assist farmers and foresters improve plant, animal and human health;
- $ 15 million for Jackson Laboratories for a new biometric analysis lab which will be matched by $16 million in private and public contributions. An investment in this area can make the state a global resources for precision medicine;
- $ 5 million for a Mount Desert Island Biological Lab which will be matched by $9.5 million in private and public funds to increase biotechnology workforce training from 350 to 500 students per year
- $ 15 million for a marine economy expansion
Since 2011, Maine has ranked last in terms of private sector job growth and has recovered merely one-third of the jobs lost from the recession and
“As a former FAME board member, I know what a difference this could make for job creation. This type of investment can grow small businesses and our rural economies,” said Representative Joyce Maker of Calais.
Rep. Timberlake voted against the measure and Rep. Grant and Rep. Bennett were both absent for today’s vote.
A letter along with the bond measure will now be sent to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for review. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.
Tags: Bonds for jobs in Maine
February 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights, Economy, Health Care, Healthy Lifestyles
For the first time, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has recognized that federal labor law protects workers in the medical marijuana industry. The government authorized a complaint absent settlement of the charges that Wellness Connection of Maine, a medical marijuana company, repeatedly retaliated against and interfered with workers who were exercising their right to form a union. The charges allege nearly a dozen instances where Wellness Connection violated the National Labor Relations Act and the rights of its employees.
The alleged violations began last February, after workers at an Auburn cultivation site organized a walk-out in protest of the company’s unlawful practice of applying pesticides. The federal government is prepared to issue a complaint stating that the company unlawfully disciplined workers who stood together, and interfered with their right to join the UFCW by interrogating them, creating the impression of surveillance, and soliciting them to oppose the union. The NLRB also found merit to the charges that the company maintained several overly broad confidentiality policies that unlawfully prevented employees from discussing their wages and working conditions.
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February 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Economy, News from Washington
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will allocate $32.8 million in disaster assistance to aid those impacted by difficult fishing conditions in the Northeast. In September 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department declared the Northeast Multispecies Groundfish Fishery a “commercial fishery disaster,” making it eligible for federal disaster assistance.
“This assistance is long overdue. Maine’s fishing industry continues to feel the pain of difficult stock conditions and strict annual catch limits. I’ve been proud to stand with the New England delegation to push for relief for those affected by a very difficult few years at sea,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “It is my hope that this assistance will quickly be distributed in a way that provides measurable relief to Maine fishermen, our fishing industry, and the communities that rely on them.”
In November, Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joined members of Congress from states affected by five commercial fishery failures declared in 2012 and 2013 in urging appropriators to provide robust disaster assistance in a final FY2014 appropriations package. $75 million was included in the FY2014 omnibus spending bill that passed the House in January.
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February 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Civil Rights, Community Maine, Economy, News from Washington
Congressman Mike Michaud signed a discharge petition to force the House to bring up and vote on legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. Michaud is a cosponsor of the bill, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 within two years. A discharge petition allows a majority of members to bypass the Speaker of the House and bring a bill to the floor for consideration.
“No one who works every day to pay the bills, take care of their family, and put food on the table should have to live in poverty. It’s time to raise the minimum wage so that hard-working Mainers can receive a living wage,” said Michaud. “It has been nearly seven years since a Republican President signed a minimum wage increase into law. It’s time for Congress to act to ensure that all American workers receive a fair and honest wage.”
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would raise the minimum wage to $8.20 an hour within three months of enactment. The wage would increase to $9.15 an hour within a year, and to $10.10 an hour within two years. A recent study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would generate $22 billion in increased economic activity.
Tags: Minimum wage increase
February 25th, 2014 · 3 Comments · Creative Economy, Economy
For many the thought of recreating Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” could be daunting. Vanessa Leigh says it’s entirely achievable. She is co-founder of Muse Paintbar, soon to open in downtown Portland. Part art instruction studio, part wine bar, MUSE, is Maine’s first paint & wine bar, and it will be located on 245 Commercial Street in Portland.
“Muse allows local artists to share our passion by offering people of varying artistic talent and experience the opportunity to create a piece of art in a fun, relaxed atmosphere,” said Leigh. “Art can be intimidating. We break down those barriers by providing simple, step-by-step directions that allow participants to get comfortable and gain confidence in the process. By the end of the session, they have had a great time and produced a beautiful piece of art they can be proud of,” said Muse co-founded Vanessa Leigh.
Muse Paintbar will enable people of all artistic abilities to reproduce some of the world’s most well-known art while enjoying wine, beer, and food in a relaxed atmosphere. Without any prior experience, participants follow the artist’s instructions on how to create their very own masterpieces. They will recreate works of art like Hokusai’s Great Wave, seasonal images like Snowy Evergreens and a Saint Patrick’s Day clover, or Maine inspired scenes like Mt. Katahdin.
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February 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Creative Economy, Economy
A Maine Midcoast Innovation Hub is being created in cooperation with Midcoast Magnet, and will provide a series of support services and programs to identify entrepreneurs in the midcoast region and help them start innovative businesses.
“There is a great deal of creative talent in the midcoast, and the new relationship with Blackstone Accelerates Growth will help the region’s entrepreneurs grow successful businesses here,” said Amanda Roberson Austin, president of Midcoast Magnet and the new Coordinator of the BxG Midcoast Innovation Hub.
The hub intends to support existing midcoast businesses to help them grow. The Innovation Hub program is designed to provide connections for entrepreneurs and businesses, provide access to resources and to help accelerate business growth.
“Our expectation is that working with a strong regional organization like Midcoast Magnet will create a sustainable community of support in the region,” said Martha Bentley, Operations Director for BxG in Maine.
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February 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Economy, News from Washington
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, of Maine’s 1st district, is asking for people to sign a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder to stop the Comcast-TIME Warner merger. To sign the petition go here.
TO: ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER
The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner is not in the best interests of American consumers and threatens the free and open nature of the Internet. We urge you as Attorney General not to let this merger proceed.
Why is this important?
A merger of the two largest cable companies in the United States would be a bad deal for consumers, leading to less competition and likely higher prices for subscribers. And a combined Comcast-Time Warner would be in a position to slow or even block Internet traffic from content providers like Netflix or Hulu if the cable company decided they didn’t want the competition.
Subscribers are frustrated with the service and price of cable service, and almost no one thinks letting the two companies with the worst consumer satisfaction ratings in the industry would somehow magically make those problems go away.
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February 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Economy
Congressman Mike Michaud called upon House leadership to immediately act to renew emergency long-term unemployment benefits, which expired in December. New analysis released yesterday shows that the expiration of the program will have cost the Maine economy $7.8 million in January and February alone.
“Failure to renew emergency unemployment benefits is taking a very real toll on Mainers struggling to make ends meet and on our state’s economy. By the end of February, expiration of these important benefits will have cost Maine’s economy nearly $8 million.” said Michaud. “Speaker Boehner should immediately call the House back into session and hold a vote to provide relief to Americans trying to put food on the table.”
In most states, including Maine, eligible unemployed workers can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits from state-funded unemployment compensation programs. Since 2008, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program has provided workers who have exhausted their state benefits with additional assistance.
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Tags: Need for unemployment
New Report: Between 2009 and 2011 the top one percent in Maine captured 60 percent of all income growth
February 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Creative Economy, Economy, Taxes
A new report shows that from 2009 to 2011, the top one percent in Maine captured 60 percent of all income growth. That is among the findings The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1928-2011, released today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI)., which partners with EPI on economic policy analysis, reacted to the EPI findings.
“In Maine, as across America, the income gap between those at the very top of the economic ladder and everyone else is growing wider,” said Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP). “For those nearer the bottom of the ladder, incomes are stagnant or rising at such a slow pace that working families increasingly must struggle just to make ends meet. And basic worker protections like the minimum wage have failed to compensate for this expanding divide.”
Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in Maine is no higher than it was 40 years ago and substantially lower than its peak in 1968.
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Tags: Maine's income disparity