REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT

Hundreds of homes sold in Brunswick investment deal

Hundreds of units of former military housing in Brunswick and Topsham have been sold to an investment group in a real estate deal worth tens of millions of dollars. Schott Management, owned by Auburn developer George Schott, was sold June 30 to a group of investors from Maine and Texas. Schott’s company has owned and leased housing at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station since 2010, following the decommissioning of the base and the departure of roughly 4,800 Navy-related jobs. Chris Rhoades, a Falmouth real estate developer and partner in the deal, said in an interview Wednesday that the new owners plan to renovate the homes and apartments, and could build up to 200 units of additional housing. The new owners were drawn to the property because of the area’s proximity to other metro areas of Maine and the ongoing redevelopment of the former Navy base, which now is home to more than 100 businesses and 1,200 workers. Read the story.

Casco Bay ‘island kingdom’ on the market for $8 million

Hope Island, a secluded paradise in Casco Bay that is owned by developer John Cacoulidis, is on the market for $7.95 million. The 86-acre property includes an 11,295-square-foot main house with six bathrooms and three bedrooms. The surrounding estate features two guest houses, a barn with worker’s quarters, outbuildings for equipment and machinery, a 10-stall horse barn, coops for chickens, ducks and geese, a tavern for entertaining, a private chapel and a boat house with a deep-water pier. In all, there are nine habitable buildings on the property. Cacoulidis bought the island in 1993 for $1.3 million and over the next 24 years “no expense was spared creating this magical island kingdom,” according to the LandVest listing. The owners are no longer using the property as they had in the past, according to the broker, and decided to sell. Read the story.

AGRICULTURE

USDA buys surplus wild blueberries

Maine wild blueberry growers are getting a $10 million bonus buy from the federal government to help offset depressed prices for their crops. For the third straight year, Maine’s wild blueberry growers have grappled with large yields while there’s a global oversupply of cultivated blueberries and declining prices. Earlier this year, Maine’s congressional delegation and state officials asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide relief to growers by buying surplus frozen wild blueberries, according to a news release from the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. The USDA, which last year provided a $13 million bonus buy, agreed. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Portland regional chamber promotes interim chief executive

The woman who was interim CEO of the area’s largest chamber of commerce has been named its permanent chief executive. Quincy Hentzel, who stepped in as interim CEO in February after the resignation of Chris Hall, is now the full-time CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, according to a media release Wednesday. Hentzel was one of more than 70 applicants for the position, which oversees the day-to-day operations of one of Maine’s largest chambers. Hentzel previously worked at Industrium, a public relations/advertising agency, where she focused on public relations/public affairs work for clients across the country. She also spent 11 years as director of governmental affairs for the Maine Credit Union League. Read the story.

Shaw honored by Ernst & Young

Entrepreneur Ben Shaw, founder of Vets First Choice, was hailed by Ernst & Young as a New England Entrepreneur of the Year. Shaw, whose growing company provides veterinarians with online pharmacy services, was among 17 regional winners selected and the only one from Maine. The company was founded in 2010 as a way to give veterinarians more control over how medications are dispensed for their clients’ pets, turning on its head the typical distribution network in which people order their pets’ meds from an online pharmacy such as 1-800-PetsMeds. By dispensing medications and custom diets through veterinary practices, pet owners and pet care providers are better connected, improving management of a pet’s health. Shaw said the award was a recognition of the company’s success as a team. Read the story.

Gorham contractor now an ESOP

Knowles Industrial Services Corp., a specialty contractor based in Gorham, became an employee-owned enterprise last month. The company’s 78 employees now own stock in it, according to a statement from President Dan Maloney. Leadership and operations are expected to remain the same. The company, which specializes in concrete and masonry work, was founded in 1924. Read the story.

EDUCATION

Husson rolls out combined integrated technology/MBA program

Husson University is offering a combined integrated technology and MBA degree starting this fall. The program, which also offers associates and bachelor’s degrees in integrated technology, anticipates an increased demand for employees who can create computer information systems, develop software, and engage in web design and development. The new bachelor of science in Integrated Technology/MBA program grants students two degrees in five years that will provide them with advanced technology and business skills. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, job opportunities for computer and integrated technology professionals are expected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, higher than the average of all other occupations in the department’s annual outlook. Median wages were $82,860 as of May 2016. Read the story.

ENVIRONMENT

Brewers oppose EPA revisions

Four Maine breweries have signed on to an effort to fight the Trump administration’s plan to repeal a rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency wide authority to regulate pollution in wetlands and other bodies of water that run into major rivers. Rising Tide Brewing Co., Baxter Brewing Co., Allagash Brewing Co. and Maine Beer Co. signed a letter to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers objecting to rescinding the Clean Water Rule, which was issued in 2015 under the Obama administration. The EPA plans to rescind the 2015 guidelines and institute new rules within the next year. Maine’s breweries are part of a Natural Resources Defense Council group of 48 craft breweries from across the country advocating for clean water. Read the story.

DEP cites multiple violations at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay was cited by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection late last month for multiple violations, including improperly displacing soil and filling natural wetlands, and for doing work without obtaining proper permits. The violations were discovered this spring after multiple inspections of a major expansion underway at the popular gardens. The state cited Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens as the landowner, Wright-Ryan of Portland as the construction manager and Crooker Construction of Topsham as the site contractor. William Cullina, the gardens’ executive director, called the violations “minor” and said they did not stem from negligence, but extreme weather. The DEP report, dated June 27, alleged that work crews filled freshwater wetlands and altered a significant wildlife habitat without first obtaining permits, a violation of the Natural Resources Protection Act, among other charges. Read the story.