RETAIL: Renys plans to add a store in Windham shopping center

Renys, the Maine-based retail chain, plans to open a new store in Windham this spring. The store will occupy the corner of the Windham Mall on Route 302 previously occupied by Big Lots and Summit Adventures, according to a release from the company.

John Reny, president of R.H. Reny, said the selection of Windham was aided by the town’s proximity to Bridgton, where deliveries are made daily to that store. Read the story.

Plastic and paper bags to cost 5 cents at Falmouth’s big stores

The Falmouth Town Council approved an ordinance last week establishing a 5-cent fee on paper and plastic carry-out bags at half a dozen stores in town.

The narrowly tailored ordinance, written after considerable evaluation by town officials and the public, will apply only to businesses larger than 10,000 square feet. Right now in Falmouth, that means only Hannaford, Shaw’s, Wal-Mart, Staples, Rite Aid and Goodwill will have to charge the fee, which will be kept by the retailers.

The ordinance takes effect April 1. Small businesses were exempted after discussion in Falmouth’s small-business community. Some business owners said they don’t use plastic bags or don’t have the capacity to implement the fee and track collections, said Kimberly Darling, the town’s energy and sustainability coordinator. Read the story.

REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT: Linekin Bay Resort sold in Boothbay Harbor

A longtime, family-owned resort in Boothbay Harbor has changed hands. The Linekin Bay Resort, which had been in the Branch family for 106 years, was sold recently to Scott Larson, owner of the Newagen Seaside Inn in Southport, and Stephen Malcolm, owner of Knickerbocker Group, a midcoast design and construction firm.

Terms were not disclosed. In a Dec. 31 letter to the public, Peter and Kristina Branch said a need for “significant investment” in the resort prompted them to look for buyers. Read the story.

Otten’s plans for the Balsams move forward

The redevelopment of the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, which closed in 2010, has taken another step forward, thanks to that state’s attorney general’s office.

The Caledonian Record reported the decision was made Tuesday in the face of objections from some donors to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The “no action” letter allows for amending conservation restrictions in four towns, mostly for the expansion of the Wilderness Ski Area.

The easement was created in 2012 after more than 1,500 Forest Society supporters donated $850,000 for the purchase of conservation restrictions on land around the Balsams. Read the story.

ENERGY: CMP, Emera seek permission to generate power again

Restricted from owning power plants since a 2000 law restructured the industry, Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine would like to get back in the generation business, a move that the companies and their supporters say could lower Maine electricity prices.

Skeptics disagree, saying that prices are just as likely to go higher, and that there’s already enough competition to sell power in Maine, which has the lowest electricity prices in New England.

Both points of view were to be presented Thursday to the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee in a public hearing on a bill that would enable CMP and Emera to generate power, probably through affiliates of their multinational parent companies.

The new generators probably would take the form of wind farms and large-scale solar arrays, and possibly natural-gas plants, based on government policies and market needs in New England. Read the story.

TRANSPORTATION: Downeaster improves service, may add Kennebunk stop

Amtrak’s Downeaster service has rebounded from its dismal performance last year and plans to add more train trips to Freeport and Brunswick later this year before the fall foliage season begins. Also on the docket: a potential new stop in Kennebunk.

The Boston-to-Brunswick rail service was hammered in 2015 by service interruptions owing to construction delays, a relentless winter and other factors. Once the model for customer service on a regional rail line, the Downeaster ended the fiscal year with a 30 percent on-time percentage. By December – six months into the new fiscal year – the service had recovered, with 86 percent of Downeaster trains arriving on time that month – more than 10 percentage points above the national average. Read the story.

LABOR: Petitions delivered to get higher minimum wage on ballot

Supporters of a $12 minimum wage in Maine announced Thursday that they had gathered more than 80,000 petition signatures as part of their campaign to put the issue before Maine voters this November. Members of a coalition behind the referendum campaign – the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition and Maine AFL-CIO – held a press conference at the State House on Thursday before delivering the petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

A minimum of 61,123 valid signatures from registered Maine voters are required to qualify for the ballot.

The proposed citizen’s initiative seeks to raise Maine’s statewide minimum wage – now $7.50 an hour, or 25 cents above the federal minimum – to $9 per hour in 2017 and then by $1 annual increments until the hourly wage hits $12 by 2020. After that it will be linked to cost of living increases. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS: Oxbow Brewing to solicit up to $1 million in investments

Newcastle-based craft beer maker Oxbow Brewing Co. LLC plans to solicit up to $1 million in private equity investment, according to a document filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Oxbow filed a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities form, signaling that it intends to solicit investments in exchange for shares in the company.

The brewer indicated that it would accept amounts as little as $5,000 per investor, and that it expected the offering period to last more than a year. The funds are expected to be used to buy the shares of one of the company’s founders. Read the story.

Portland accounting firms merge into Purdy Powers

Portland-based accounting firms Purdy Powers & Co. and Marshall & Libby LLC have merged into one, the firm announced Wednesday.

The combined firm, which now operates under the Purdy Powers name, offers enhanced services and features a stronger team than either had prior to the merger, they said. The deal was completed Dec. 31. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the merger deal, the Marshall & Libby team relocated from its office on outer Congress Street to Purdy Powers’ newly expanded office at 130 Middle St. in Portland, the firm said. Read the story.

ECONOMICS: Maine sixth in U.S. for employer retirement plans

Maine’s demographics, widespread unionization and workplace values are contributing to a workforce that is relatively well-prepared for retirement, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

However, the lower-than-average participation rate among Mainers with access to a company retirement plan shows that more education is needed to convey the benefits of saving for retirement, its author said.

The report, based on employer surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2010 to 2014, found that Maine ranked No. 6 among the 50 states in terms of the share of workers with access to a company retirement plan.

Sixty-seven percent of Maine workers have access to an employer-based retirement plan, it said, compared with the national average of 58 percent. The top-ranked state in the nation was Wisconsin, with a 70 percent access rate, and the lowest was Florida, at 46 percent. Read the story.

– From staff and wire reports