New ferry to Yarmouth will be faster, less fancy

The new operator of a ferry route between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is scaling down amenities in exchange for faster crossings. Bay Ferries Ltd., the company chosen by the provincial government to operate the service in 2016, said Wednesday that the new ferry would be smaller than predecessor Nova Star and not have overnight cabins, fine dining or gambling, all amenities on the Nova Star. But the new ferry, The Cat, will make the crossing in about half the time — five and a half hours. Bay Ferries CEO said it has a different business model, one that emphasizes getting passengers to their destinations quickly rather than marketing the trip as a luxury cruise experience. The company is still negotiating with the city of Portland over the ferry’s schedule. Read the story.

Water bottler increasing use of trains

Poland Spring Water is increasingly using trains to move its bottled water from Maine to markets in Massachusetts. The company on Friday will begin shipping containers on trains from a previously unused intermodal facility in Waterville. Trucks will be hauling the containers to Waterville from the company’s bottling plant in Kingfield.The trains will travel to the Portland waterfront, where railroad crews will add Poland Spring containers hauled there by truck from the company’s bottling plant in Hollis. Read the story.



Funding for BIW in the pipeline

Bath Iron Works, one of Maine’s largest employers, is in line for steady funding of the ships awarded to the yard, even as it grapples with reining in costs for its showpiece destroyer. A top-level Navy official told a Senate Armed Services Committee panel Wednesday that it is seeking $81.4 billion to buy 38 warships, submarines and support vessels in the next five years. For BIW, that means the funding process moves forward for ships already under contract to be built at the shipyard, said BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser. BIW, which employs 6,100 people, has seven Navy ships under construction and another four under contract. Meanwhile, costs for the Zumwalts are running about 3.7 percent, or $450 million, above estimates from the last fiscal year, but within Navy guidelines. Revised costs for the three ships is about $12.74 billion. Read the story.


New fund intends to attract big business, protect taxpayers

Rules for a new $50 million capital fund are being developed in Augusta to attract or retain big employers. Lawmakers created the structure of the fund, but are leaving it up to private sources to capitalize it. The fund, which would not be backed by taxpayer money, is a nod to the backlash generated by investments made through the state’s New Markets tax credit program, the subject of a 2015 Portland Press Herald investigation. Companies that want to access the fund would have to create or retain 250 jobs that pay roughly $20 per hour. Read the story.

Scarborough broker barred by SEC


The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday issued an order barring Scarborough resident Thomas E. Skypeck from the securities industry. Skypeck was associated with multiple SEC-registered broker-dealers in Maine from 1988-2013, according to the SEC order. The SEC order was based on Skypeck’s criminal conviction in a 2015 case brought by the Maine Attorney General’s Office alleging that Skypeck committed theft, forgery and multiple securities law violations by defrauding a senior citizen client in a scheme involving precious metals. Read the story.


Two mills scheduled for auction

The former Lincoln Paper & Tissue Co. and Expera Old Town Mill are going up for auction this month. Rabin Worldwide says it plans to put both facilities up for sale during a four-day auction starting in two weeks in Bangor. Rich Reese, auctioneer and president of Rabin Worldwide, says about 4,000 lots are tagged and cataloged for the auction. The Lincoln Mill filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. Several potential buyers have expressed interest in restarting the mill, but no deal has materialized. Read the story.


Governor’s remark sets off speculation


Gov. Paul LePage set off a wave of speculation and concern by saying a company in southern Maine soon will cut 900 jobs. The governor made his remarks at a town hall meeting Wednesday night in Orono, saying he was sworn to secrecy about who the company was, but blamed high energy costs for the job loss. On Thursday, officials from local economic development agencies, municipalities and the Department of Labor said they didn’t know anything about it. Speculation that the company might be South Portland’s Fairchild Semiconductor – which is being purchased by Arizona-based rival ON Semiconductor – led to numerous calls to City Manager James Gailey’s office, prompting him to put out a statement saying the city had no information about an impending layoff and that it was watching the Fairchild transaction carefully. Read the story.


SunEdison financial woes prompt pledge from group opposed to wind power

A nonprofit group that opposes wind-power development in the Moosehead Lake region says it will fight any plan to erect turbines on Misery Ridge amid fears that project developer SunEdison might file for bankruptcy. The Moosehead Region Futures Committee also is fighting to allow to small townships and unorganized territories near the lake to withdraw from a development zone that fast-tracks wind project permitting, according to a news release from the group Thursday. The Moosehead Region Futures Committee is expressing concern that SunEdison might file for bankruptcy and says it is committed to defeating plans the company has to build a 26-turbine wind farm in Misery Ridge. In August, SunEdison installed meteorological towers on land then owned by Plum Creek, a forest management company, in the Misery Ridge area to test wind conditions for a potential project. No formal application has been submitted. Weyerhaeuser Co. bought Plum Creek and its land and other assets in November. A SunEdison spokesman said he couldn’t comment on whether the company is filing for bankruptcy or what might happen to its assets in Maine if that happens. Read the story.


Wal-Mart coming to new Westbrook retail plaza

Wal-Mart store will be the anchor tenant of a new retail plaza in Westbrook. An architect for Wal-Mart presented design plans Tuesday to the Westbrook Planning Board, which is reviewing the proposed 500,000-square-foot shopping center. The site on Main Street across from Westbrook Crossing, a plaza anchored by Kohl’s department store, is owned by Pike Industries, which operated a quarry there. Developer Jeffrey Gove plans to turn the quarry into a lake that will be stocked with fish, open for ice skating in the winter and surrounded by a walking trail that will link to trail systems in Portland and its western suburbs. Gove said he plans to break ground on the project in the fall and for stores to open a year later. Read the story.

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