ENERGY

Solar farm planned in Franklin County

A Yarmouth-based energy company is in the early stages of bringing a utility-scale solar farm to Farmington that could break ground in 2018 and eclipse the size of any solar installation now operating in Maine. Ranger Solar is conducting environmental studies on undeveloped land on Farmington Falls Road with the hopes of creating a 50- to 80-megawatt solar farm, project manager Aaron Svedlow said. Svedlow would not confirm a published report that the project is planned for Sandy River Farms on Farmington Falls Road, but farm owner Bussie York said Wednesday that it is his land that Ranger Solar is working to develop. Read the story.

Colby progressing on solar installation

Colby College is expecting to have its array of 5,505 solar panels installed and running along Washington Street by January 2017. The Waterville Planning Board approved 5-0 a site application from Stephen Mohr of Mohr & Seredin Landscape Architects Inc. at its meeting on Tuesday. Mohr is working with NRG Energy Inc., a solar energy company based in New Jersey and Texas, and Colby College on installing the solar array. The college has been talking about a photovoltaics installation for three or four years and this project will complement the college’s energy plan. Colby’s trustees have entered into an agreement to lease NRG 12.7 acres of the 26 it owns on Washington Street for 27 years for the arrays of PV panels. The college will tap into the system and will be able to cover 16 percent of its energy consumption with the 2.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity the solar power will generate. Read the story.

REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION

Co-working space planned for downtown Augusta

A collaborative workspace is coming to downtown Augusta. The owners of Riverview Terrace, at 227 Water St., are converting the second floor of the building into office space for startups, small businesses and anyone else who needs space and doesn’t want to spend the money to set up their own office. The building, the former home of the Lipman & Katz law firm and a branch of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, is owned by several members of the Guerrette family. The space will be retrofitted into private offices as well as task areas, floating desks, standing desks, a kitchenette, a lounge area and private space for phone calls. The building has Wi-Fi and a gymnasium that would be included in any co-working space agreement. A number of prominent Water Street businesses have moved away or closed in recent years in addition to Lipman & Katz, including Stacy’s Hallmark, Gagliano’s Italian Bistro and Kennebec Pediatrics. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Fuel restaurant to go to essay winner

The owner of Lewiston’s most upscale restaurant is offering the business and a two-bedroom condo to the winner of an essay contest. Eric Agren, who opened Fuel restaurant 10 years ago during the revival of the city’s downtown, is offering the business, its wine cellar, a nearby condo and $20,000 in cash to the winner of a 300-word essay contest. The entry fee is $150. Agren said in a release that he wants to hand over the restaurant to someone who has a passion to achieve their dream. The online contest will run until Oct. 17. Read the story.

State unveils new job-match service

The Maine Department of Labor has launched a new job match system that is integrated with a national database to help more people find jobs in Maine. The new system, called Maine JobLink, was unveiled recently on maine.gov/joblink. It replaces the previous job-match service, Maine Job Bank. The system upgrade is integrated with other job-matching services around the country that were developed using the same software. The number of jobs available on Maine JobLink is 30 percent higher than the number on Maine Job Bank, which averaged about 9,500 open positions the week it was taken off line, according to a release from the Maine Department of Labor. Maine Joblink posts the real-time number of positions on its website, which has remained above 13,500 since going live. The Maine JobLink, which is fully mobile, provides new features such as job spidering through Indeed.com and a connection to the National Labor Exchange; automated analysis of skill gaps for desired jobs; streamlined resume building; customizable career planning maps; automated notification of job and resume matches by email or text message; and up-to-date labor market information, including Maine’s best-paying occupations and where there are labor surpluses and shortages. Read the story.

Jackson Lab raises front-line workers’ wages to $15 minimum

The Jackson Laboratory announced Tuesday that it has adopted a new minimum wage for front-line workers of $15 per hour. The decision affects about 800 of the Bar Harbor-based nonprofit research organization’s workforce, or about 43 percent of its staff, according to a news release from Jackson Lab. The bulk of the affected employees work in animal care and positions supporting the laboratory’s research, administration and operations. Chief Operating Officer Chuck Hewett said the move recognizes workers’ improved productivity and will help the nonprofit research lab retain a trained workforce. Read the story.

CES acquires southern Maine rival

A Bangor-area engineering and environmental services firm has expanded into southern Maine with the acquisition of a Saco competitor. CES Inc. of Brewer announced the acquisition of Mohlin & Co. on Monday. Mohlin & Co. is a consulting engineering firm that specializes in structural engineering, according to a news release from CES announcing the sale. Robert “Bob” Mohlin, owner and president of Mohlin & Co., founded the firm in 1982 to offer design services to the power, industrial and commercial industries. The acquisition gives CES its first southern Maine location, augmenting the company’s five other branches in Lewiston, Machias, Presque Isle, Waterville and Bar Harbor. Read the story.

MANUFACTURING

Verso emerges from bankruptcy

Verso Corp., the paper maker that employs 500 at its mill in Jay, has emerged from bankruptcy. The Tennessee-based company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January to clear $2.4 billion in debt. On Friday, it filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to implement its reorganization plan and issue 34.4 million shares of new stock. While complex, the plan’s centerpiece is to issue shares of stock to creditors in lieu of cash repayment. The new common stock will be issued to creditors that were owed money by Verso and its NewPage subsidiary before the bankruptcy. As part of Friday’s filing, the company said it has taken the necessary steps to have its shares once again listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker VRS. Read the story.

Augusta printer undertakes $2.5 million expansion

As part of its third expansion since 2007, J.S. McCarthy Printers in Augusta is planning to install new machinery that makes sheets of paper from giant paper rolls, a change that will increase efficiency for the Augusta-based commercial printer. Typically, local papermakers send rolls of paper to a facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they are cut into sheets to be sold and delivered to commercial printers, owner Rick Tardiff said. Now that process will be performed-in house. The expansion will add 14,400 square feet to the existing building at a cost of about $2.5 million. The company expects to hire six new employees because of the sheet operation. J.S. McCarthy, founded in Augusta in 1947, makes printed materials for colleges and universities, the greeting card industry, and folding cartons or packaging for a range of products, including packaged food. Seventy percent of the company’s business comes from out of state. Read the story.