REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION

Cianbro lands $215 million federal contract

Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield has been awarded part of a $215 million federal contract to modernize and expand facilities at the U.S. Land Port of Entry in Alexandria Bay, New York. The contract was awarded to Cianbro and Northland Associates Inc. of Liverpool, New York, by the U.S. General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service. The first phase of the contract for Cianbro and Northland, Cianbro’s joint venture partner, is for $90.8 million and is expected to take two-and-a half years, according to a Cianbro spokesman. The U.S. General Services Administration website says construction of the project is expected to begin this month, and both phases are expected to be completed in July 2022. Read the story.

Home sales slowed in May

Fewer houses for sale was cited as the reason Maine home sales were down in May compared with the same month last year. The volume of single-family home sales was down 8.85 percent in May compared with a year earlier, according to information released by the Maine Association of Realtors. But prices did rise 5.12 percent to a median price of $200,000. The inventory of homes for sale is 20 percent lower this spring than last, said the president of the Realtors association. Nationally, the volume of single-family home sales increased 2.7 percent. The National Association of Realtors reported a nationwide media sale price of $254,600, a 6.0 percent jump from one year ago. Read the story.

COMMERCIAL FISHERIES

Lobstermen win concession to fish in coral protection zone

A deep-sea coral protection plan adopted Thursday won’t keep Maine fishermen out of their traditional Gulf of Maine fishing spots. The New England Fisheries Management Council voted to ban all but lobstermen from fishing about 39 square miles of coral-rich area in two protection zones near Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge. About 50 Maine lobster boats from more than a dozen ports harvest more than $8 million worth of lobster from those areas, according to state estimates. Ground fishermen say the exclusion from the Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge coral protection zones doesn’t hurt them. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Mainers’ income still lags nation

New estimates from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show Mainers’ personal income grew by 2.7 percent from 2014 to 2015, a sluggish growth rate compared to the rest of the nation. The inflation-adjusted data put Maine among the 10 slowest-growing states, according to the BEA. The agency estimates that the United States as a whole had a 4.1 percent inflation-adjusted increase in personal income. Thursday’s BEA estimates for 2014-2015 show Maine’s real per capita personal income growing from $38,856 in 2014 to $39,950 in 2015. New Hampshire’s income growth rate was 4.3 percent, and Massachusetts ranked among the fastest-growing states with a 5.3 percent growth rate. Read the story.

Expense software company bought by California investment group

Certify, a Portland company that develops expense management software, has been acquired by a California-based investment group. K1 Investment Management, an investment firm focused on global software companies, purchased Certify and three other expense software companies for $125 million. The deal creates one company with more than 7,500 customers that use the specialized software to reduce overhead associated with managing employee time, travel and expenses. Certify is expected to maintain its Portland operation where 90 people work. Read the story.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

$50 million tech bond passes

The proposed $50 million technology and innovation bond that was the subject of Maine’s June 13 referendum passed easily, with 62 percent of voters supporting it and 38 percent opposed, according to certified results released Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s Office. Initial results from large communities around the state suggested an easy victory for the proposal despite a low voter turnout, but the statewide vote totals were not available until Wednesday. In total, voters approved the bond 63,468 to 39,549. The bond calls for the Maine Technology Institute to distribute $45 million in grants for upgrades in aquaculture, marine technology, forestry and agriculture. The Small Enterprise Growth Fund would direct the remaining $5 million to qualifying small businesses in fields including marine sciences, biotechnology and manufacturing. Read the story.

Wine maker wins $100,000 pitch contest

Season two of Maine’s entrepreneurial competition TV show “Greenlight Maine” ended June 17 with Michael Terrien and Eric Martin, founders of Bluet, taking home the $100,000 grand prize. Bluet, a Jefferson-based business that produces sparkling wine made from wild blueberries, was chosen based on its founders’ superior knowledge of how to operate and grow the business, the judges said. Bluet was one of 26 contestants participating in the 13-episode season. It competed against hydroelectric facilities developer Surge Hydro and herbal products maker Herbal Revolution in the season finale. Read the story.

ENERGY

Poliquin seeks protection for dam

A federal commission that regulates dams is being asked to exempt a dam in Washington County from licensing requirements that could be costly to the paper mill that controls the dam and the surrounding community that benefits from the management of river and lake levels. In a letter, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to exempt the Forest City Dam on the St. Croix River from regulations that could force its manager to abandon it. If the dam is abandoned, its gates would be open permanently and water levels on the river and in East Grand Lake would drop by 6 feet and have a deleterious effect on housing and fisheries that contribute to the area’s economy. In late December, Woodland Pulp notified federal officials that it wanted to abandon ownership of the dams at Forest City and Sysladobsis Lake because it has been operating them at a significant loss. Poliquin’s letter states the increased operational costs forced the owners to begin the process to abandon the dams. Read the story.

TOURISM

Feds agree to offer more temporary visas

The Department of Homeland Security will offer extra visas for temporary seasonal workers, a move that could help the Maine hospitality industry find workers for jobs it is struggling to fill this summer. The department said it has yet to determine how many visas will be available. Visas will be offered only to seasonal businesses that “would be severely harmed if they do not receive temporary employment relief under the H2B program,” the department said in a statement Wednesday. It expects to begin offering visas in late July. Steve Hewins, director of the Maine Innkeepers Association, said the news is positive, but its impact on Maine is unclear. Read the story.

MANUFACTURING

Chip maker seeks change on TIF agreeement

ON Semiconductor, formerly Fairchild, wants to amend its tax increment financing agreement with the city for its 20-acre manufacturing facility on Western Avenue. City Manager Scott Morelli said ON’s request was the subject of a City Council executive session Monday, but he declined to discuss how the company wants to change the document. Morelli said ON’s request will be discussed publicly at a council meeting as early as next month. The Phoenix-based microchip maker purchased rival Fairchild Semiconductor last September in a $2.4 billion deal that had been in the works for nearly a year. The purchase included Fairchild’s plant and offices in South Portland, which employed about 650 people at the time of the sale. Read the story.