PORTLAND — William Milliken has wanted to provide health insurance to more of his employees for years.

Now, because of a new federal tax credit, the time has arrived, he said.

His 15 minutes of fame may have arrived, too.

Milliken expects to be mentioned later today by President Barack Obama during a speech at the Portland Expo about the health insurance reforms he championed and signed into law last week. Obama plans to highlight the benefits to small businesses that will now be able to insure more workers because of a tax credit.

This week, Milliken said, staff in the White House sent him two tickets for the event and went over a part of Obama’s speech mentioning him and his business. “I’m excited,” he said. “Anything I can do to help.”

A White House spokeswoman would not confirm the contents of the speech, but said Milliken was provided tickets.

Milliken makes no secret of his support for Obama, and passed along an invitation for the president to visit his coffee shop. But he’s also genuinely excited about providing health insurance to more workers.

“This is something I wanted to do anyway,” he said. “But the economics of the situation are holding us back. It’s not like I’m doing this to make Obama look good.”

Milliken co-owns Maine Beer and Beverage and Market House Coffee, two companies located in the Public Market House at Monument Square.

“We used to give health insurance to all our employees,”  he said. But, when it was forced to move out of the former Portland Public Market three years ago, he had to drop the plans for nearly everyone. “Our sales dropped by half,” he said.

Business has slowly recovered and three of its nine employees now have health insurance paid for by the company, Milliken said. With the new health insurance tax credit for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, he expects to add two more employees who work nearly full time.

Milliken was clearly excited this morning about the possible “call out” by Obama, giving a high-five to 30-year-old Gretchen Voight, manager of the coffee shop. Voight is excited, too. She is one of the workers who may soon have health insurance because of the new tax credit.

“I would love to have health insurance,” she said. “They’re working very hard to get that for me.”

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