TECHNOLOGY: Tech company Garmin to buy DeLorme

Swiss GPS giant Garmin plans to buy Maine mapmaker DeLorme in a move that will likely lead the 40-year-old Yarmouth company to focus on its successful satellite communications devices and away from its traditional map expertise. Garmin already makes GPS devices and digital maps, and made clear that it wants DeLorme for inReach, a futuristic type of walkie-talkie. The device allows users to send and receive texts and issue an SOS via satellite, and has proven popular with hikers, hunters and sailors, who are often out of cellphone range. A company official said Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe housed in DeLorme’s lobby in Yarmouth, will remain open to the public and tour groups after the sale to Garmin. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in 30 to 60 days, weren’t disclosed. As of last year, DeLorme executives said inReach accounted for about half of the company’s $20 million in annual revenues. Both companies said most of the 92 full-time employees in Yarmouth will be retained. The Maine headquarters will focus on research and development, with an emphasis on “satellite communications devices and technologies.” Marketing and sales people are also expected to continue to be based at DeLorme’s headquarters, but the company’s retail map store will close. Read the story.

MANUFACTURING: N.H. composites program recruiting in Maine

A Portsmouth, New Hampshire, community college is recruiting students in southern Maine, offering in-state tuition rates to help fill its composites manufacturing classes with students who have near-guaranteed jobs at a nearby jet engine manufacturer. The effort is happening at the same time Southern Maine Community College’s composites program is restructuring after its director departed late last year in a dispute with school administrators, which led to the loss of student access to a high-tech composites lab in Brunswick. The program at Great Bay Community College is run by a former director of SMCC’s Maine Advanced Technology Center and closely tied to a manufacturing plant in Rochester, New Hampshire, where composite parts for jet engines are produced. Students can take a six-month certification program at Great Bay, then take entry level jobs paying $15-1$16 an hour at Safran/Albany International plant while they continue to take classes at Great Bay to earn an associate degree. Great Bay is extending in-state tuition rates of $200 a credit to students within 50 miles of its Portsmouth campus, roughly the distance to Portland. The SMCC composites program is seeking a new director and possibly revamping its focus. Read the story.

CEO: Madison mill production will fluctuate with market

The top executive at a paper mill in Madison said Tuesday he can’t confirm the details of a potential months-long curtailment at the paper mill, saying only that while production at the mill is down, the situation is changing on a weekly basis and layoffs have been avoided. Meanwhile, the president of the union representing employees at the mill said schedule changes enacted after the curtailment are frustrating workers with less pay. Russ Drechsel, president and CEO of Madison Paper Industries, said the mill’s production schedule is now subject to change on a weekly basis because of fluctuating demand for its glossy paper. The mill employs about 225 people. The production change comes shortly after the U.S. Commerce Department, at the request of Madison Paper and Verso Corp., approved the placement of duties on similar kind of paper being imported into the U.S. from Canada. That order is under review by the Commerce Department, which is revisiting the 18.85 percent countervailing duties on supercalendered paper produced in Canada by Irving Pulp and Paper and Catalyst Paper. Tariffs were imposed on both after the Commerce Department ruled that Canadian paper makers were given unfair subsidies by the Canadian government, but neither Irving nor Catalyst received subsidies. Both have operations in Maine. Read the story.

FISHERIES: Lobstermen raise alarm over license changes

Dozens of lobstermen crowded a hearing room in Augusta Wednesday to offer testimony on a proposal to modify how Maine lobstermen get fishing licenses, a complex process that has doomed some eligible residents to a decade-long wait in the name of conservation and local control. The industry is Maine’s largest commercial fishery, generating $457 million in 2014. The proposal could affect 5,800 current license holders and the nearly 300 on a long and unpredictable waiting list. The bill, L.D. 1503, would create a new, limited lobster and crab fishing license for a reduced number of traps; increase the age from 18 to 23 before someone who has gone through the industry’s apprenticeship program is put on a waiting list; and remove special fees for applicants age 70 or older, among other things. As of November 2015, there were 293 names on waiting lists for licenses. Some had been on the list since 2005. Lawmakers are expected to take up the issue again Feb. 17. Read the story.

TOURISM: Saddleback remains closed over school break

Officials at Saddleback Mountain near Rangeley said Monday the ski resort would not open in time for the traditional February school vacation week, plunging the future of the mountain into further uncertainty and raising fresh concerns among pass-holders and local business owners. The ski resort had been slated to open under new ownership by the end of January, but the sale of the mountain has delayed its opening day and the prospective buyer has not been identified. The company made the announcement that it would not open for the week of Feb.14 on its Facebook page Monday afternoon without offering a specific reason. Saddleback announced in July that it would close operations if it could not secure $3 million to replace an aging chairlift, and the owners, Bill and Irene Berry, were unable to get the financing. Last month, Saddleback said the Berry family and a prospective buyer had reached an agreement on the terms of the sale and there was hope that the mountain would reopen soon. Read the story.

RETAIL: Bakery closes cafe to focus on wholesale operation

The Borealis Bakery & Bistro at 182 Ocean Ave. in Portland was scheduled to close Saturday after about seven years in business. Jim Amaral, the well-known Maine baker behind the bistro and the larger Borealis Breads bakeries in Wells and Waldoboro, said the building is owned by his brother, a Massachusetts real estate developer who has decided to sell the property. Amaral said he will focus on the wholesale side of Borealis. Despite more competition from bakery startups, Borealis has been “thriving in general,” Amaral said, and the closure of the popular 35-seat neighborhood bistro, which is near the Back Cove area of Portland, has nothing to do with a lack of business. Amaral said Borealis Breads was in a good position to expand its wholesale business since most startups don’t have the resources or facilities to handle big wholesale accounts. Read the story.

Local Chipotle restaurants seem unaffected by scares

Greater Portland Chipotle restaurants bore scant effects from the company’s recurring safety issues. All stores in the Chipotle Mexican Grill chain closed Monday for additional safety training following outbreaks of E. coli and norovirus at restaurants in Boston, Washington and Oregon. But on Tuesday, customers were lined up 10-deep at the South Portland Chipotle. The company’s net income plummeted 44 percent in the fourth quarter – sales at comparable restaurants were down 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter — but the chain’s annual revenue was still up 9.6 percent over 2014, increasing to $4.5 billion. Read the story.


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