Redzone buys GWI wireless network

Rockland-based wireless internet service provider Redzone Wireless LLC has acquired Bidde- ford-based GWI’s wireless internet network, which serves residential and commercial customers primarily in Maine’s Midcoast region and several Penobscot Bay coastal and island communities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the two companies Thursday. Because of the acquisition, Redzone said it will immediately be able to provide service to hundreds of new wireless internet subscribers in underserved communities including Union, Jefferson, Georgetown, Somerville, Waldoboro, Northport, Owls Head, Rockport, Lincolnville, Warren and Belfast. Redzone said it will also serve new and existing customers living on the island communities of North Haven, Westport, Vinalhaven, Monhegan, Matinicus, Squirrel Island and Islesboro. Read the story.


ACA rate increases OK’d, but most will be offset by subsidies

The Maine Bureau of Insurance this week approved double-digit increases for the three insurers offering Affordable Care Act individual marketplace plans. The bureau – which regulates rate requests by insurance companies – gave the OK Wednesday to a 25.5 percent increase for customers of Community Health Options, 21.1 percent for Harvard Pilgrim and 18 percent for Anthem. The rates still must be approved by the federal government and most of the increases will be offset by subsidies for those who qualify for government assistance. About 90 percent of the roughly 84,000 Mainers who have individual plans under the ACA qualify for subsidies because they earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty limit. In Maine, the 400 percent threshold is $97,000 for a family of four. Read the story.

Aetna pulls out of ACA market

Aetna is canceling its plans to join the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplace in Maine after spending months preparing to compete against three other insurers in offering subsidized benefits. In May, Aetna had filed paperwork with the state to join Anthem, Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim in the ACA marketplace, but on Aug. 5 the company filed a notice with the Maine Bureau of Insurance canceling its plans. Aetna will still offer individual plans outside the marketplace. The decision is part of Aetna’s national strategy to pull back from the ACA marketplace for financial reasons, according to Mark Bertolini, the company’s chairman and CEO, in a transcript of an Aug. 2 conference call with analysts that was provided to the Portland Press Herald. Read the story.


Bank sues owners of Westbrook office building over nonpayment of mortgage

U.S. Bank is suing the owners of One Riverfront Plaza in Westbrook over nonpayment of the property’s $20 million mortgage, asking the court to approve a foreclosure sale and appoint a receiver to take over management of the vacant office building. The complaint, filed Aug. 11 by the Minneapolis-based bank in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, alleges that One Riverfront’s owners have failed to make their mortgage payments on the property. Five entities are listed as the property’s co-owners: Pendleton Westbrook SPE LLC; ZAK Westbrook SPE LLC; SRA Westbrook SPE LLC; SPC Westbrook SPE LLC; and Paris Westbrook SPE LLC. All five are based in Hackensack, New Jersey. The six-story, 134,000-square-foot office building has been empty since January, when its sole tenant, insurer Disability RMS, relocated to South Portland. Read the story.

Scarborough medical building sells at auction for $1 million

The Scarborough building that housed the Foundation for Blood Research has been sold for $1 million to a Portland construction and development firm. The building was auctioned last week by Tranzon Auction Properties. It had been owned by the foundation and was purchased by Hardypond Development, which is owned by Hardypond Construction of Portland. Frank Carr, the director of business development for Hardypond, said the company already owns Elevation Center, a 61,000-square-foot office building located at Route 1 and Science Park Road, which leads to the former FBR building. The FBR building came with four undeveloped lots, Carr said, although it may not be possible to build on two of them because of wetlands on the property, which sits between Route 1 and a connector that leads to I-295 and the Maine Turnpike. Read the story.


Mining regulations due for another review

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is once again proposing a major rewrite of the state’s metallic mining regulations, reviving a controversial issue that failed twice in the Legislature during the past two years. DEP officials said the proposed rules are needed to address inconsistencies between existing rules and statutes that could hamper the department’s ability to thoroughly review a mining permit application. The proposal will be presented Thursday to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection as a first step in what is likely to be a lengthy and potentially contentious debate over mining in Maine. This is merely the latest chapter in a four-year-long battle prompted by J.D. Irving Ltd.’s interest in mining under Bald Mountain in Aroostook County. Located about 35 miles west of Presque Isle, Bald Mountain is believed to contain significant deposits of gold, silver and other minerals. Read the story.

Sound Rink leads Maine companies making Inc. magazine list

Eight Maine businesses made this year’s Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest-growing privately held companies. One company, Portland-based Sound Rink, made the Inc. 500 list, while another, Portland-based Tilson Technology Management, made the Inc. 5000 list for the sixth consecutive year. Sound Rink organizes and sells concert packages that include tickets to the show, meet-and-greets with the performers and limited-edition souvenirs such as posters, T-shirts and other items. Read the story.


Regional natural gas expansion project suffers setback in Massachusetts

A plan to have Maine electric consumers underwrite a contract to help pay for expanded natural gas capacity in New England suffered a major setback Wednesday when a court in Massachusetts ruled against a similar proposal in the Bay State. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against the state’s Department of Public Utilities’ requirement that electricity customers help subsidize construction of private gas pipelines. The court said private companies should bear all the financial risks. Reaction came swiftly in Maine, where the Public Utilities Commission last month gave conditional approval for a similar measure. After two years of study, Maine regulators decided that subsidizing new supply would benefit residents overall by lowering natural gas and electricity rates. The region’s environmental groups applauded Wednesday’s ruling, saying that propping up fossil fuels slows New England’s transition to an economy driven by renewable power and high efficiency. Others said it is a serious defeat for New England electricity and natural gas consumers, who are burdened by billions of dollars in unnecessarily high winter energy costs triggered by tight natural gas supplies. Read the story.


MCED names new director

An Arizona businessman with a 20-year history of developing entrepreneurship has been named executive director of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development. The center’s board of directors announced the appointment of Thomas G. Rainey Tuesday. He will start on Sept. 6. Rainey is currently head of an economic development consulting firm in Arizona. He has served as president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies and the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology; helped develop a business incubation strategy for New Hampshire; and developed six NASA-funded business incubator facilities in Florida in the 1990s. Read the story.


Ruby Tuesday closes 2 southern Maine restaurants

Two southern Maine locations of Ruby Tuesday appear to be among the 95 restaurants closed by the Tennessee-based chain as it tries to become more profitable. Ruby Tuesday, which had 724 restaurants in May, said it is closing 95 “underperforming” restaurants across the country to strengthen its position in the casual dining industry. The announcement was made Thursday as the company issued its 2016 fiscal year earnings. Although the company declined to release a list of the affected properties, restaurant locations in Biddeford, South Portland and Bangor are missing from the company’s website, and a Google search describes the three as “permanently closed.” Eight other Maine locations remain open. Read the story.