Summer indicators point to record year for tourism

Maine’s summer tourism-related revenue was on track at the end of August to break all previous records, driven largely by strong sales in Portland, the southern coast and Bar Harbor. However, restaurant and lodging professionals noted that not all tourism-related businesses across the state have benefited equally from the boom. Summer 2015 was a record season for Maine tourism, but in summer 2016, Maine’s restaurant sales of $1.11 billion for the four months ending Aug. 30 were up nearly 5 percent from the same period year earlier. And its lodging sales of $559.3 million for the four months were up more than 7 percent from the same period of 2015, according to Maine Revenue Services data. Figures for August are preliminary, and September figures are not yet available. The numbers reflect the highest summer revenues for both industries in Maine’s history. Read the story.


State reopens parts of coast closed because of bloom

Parts of the Down East coast have been reopened to shellfish harvesting because of declining levels of a potentially harmful biotoxin produced by an unusual algae bloom. On Thursday, the Department of Marine Resources re-opened some of the coastline between Calais and Cutler for the harvest of clams, mussels and carnivorous snails, and said clamming will be allowed on a portion of the coast between Isle Au Haut to Winter Harbor. Shellfish harvesting on much of the Down East coast remains restricted because of an algae bloom that produces a toxin that can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning, or ASP, in humans. Read the story.


City lauded for assets in food processing

Greater Portland ranks high in a study of prime processor sites for its low labor costs and its port. A study by a national site-selection firm identifies greater Portland as one of the lowest-cost locations for food and beverage processors in the United States and Canada, primarily because of the area’s lower labor costs. Only companies based in eastern Tennessee and eastern Ontario have lower overhead costs, according to the analysis from the New Jersey-based Boyd Co. The study compared estimated annual operating costs for a 300,000-square-foot plant with 500 hourly workers in 24 regions across North America. Factors considered were labor, energy and certain taxes. Read the story.


Barber Foods’ parent acquires New Jersey firm

AdvancePierre Foods, the parent company of Portland-based Barber Foods, has acquired Allied Specialty Foods for $60 million, the company said Monday. The Cincinnati-based AdvancePierre, a national producer and distributor of sandwiches, sandwich components and other entrees and snacks, said it acquired Allied to boost its offering of Philly steak sandwiches and sandwich components. It described Allied as “a pioneering manufacturer of raw and cooked beef and chicken Philly steak products.” Allied’s customer base is primarily in the food service industry, which it currently serves from a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Vineland, New Jersey. Read the story.

Roastery earns sustainability label

Coffee By Design, a Portland specialty roastery, has been certified as a B Corp., an internationally recognized designation of the company’s commitment to sustainability and other standards. “We adhere to the ‘three-legged-stool model’ for our business, emphasizing people, planet and profit,” co-owner Mary Allen Lindemann said in a news release announcing the designation Thursday. There are nearly 1,900 certified B Corps. in the world and 10 in Maine, according to the B Corp. website. Unlike traditional corporations, certified B Corp. companies are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders, including workers, suppliers, community, consumers and the environment. Read the story.

Bangor call center closing

Verizon is closing call centers in five states, including the one in Bangor that will affect over 200 workers. The company said Thursday a consolidation of its call centers will impact about 3,200 workers in Bangor; Rochester, New York, and New York City; Lincoln, Nebraska; Wallingford and Meriden, Connecticut, and Rancho Cordova, California. Besides the 200 jobs in Maine, some 850 will be lost at the two New York locations. In California, 700 jobs are being cut and another 300 are being relocated. The other cuts include 320 in Nebraska, and 550 in Connecticut. Another 175 jobs at a customer service facility in Huntsville, Alabama, are being relocated to Hanover, Maryland, the company said. Bangor workers are expected to be offered jobs at other centers. Read the story.


JAX launches partnership with university in China

The Jackson Laboratory is partnering with a university in China to collaborate on genomic research to speed treatments for diseases. The Bar Harbor biomedical research institution announced Tuesday that it intends to work with Wenzhou Medical University and its affiliated hospitals in the Ouhai District in southeast China to focus on individualized therapies for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. The partnership combines JAX’s expertise in scientific research with WMU’s clinical expertise. Read the story.


Credit unions reach new asset, membership records

Maine credit unions reached a milestone in the first half of 2016, with combined assets surpassing $7 billion for the first time. According to mid-year statistics about Maine’s 58 credit unions from the Maine Credit Union League, combined assets had reached an all-time high of $7.04 billion as of June 30. Total membership in Maine credit unions also reached a record high of nearly 680,000 members, according to the league. Loans outstanding to members for the six-month period increased by nearly $200 million, or 4.1 percent, to $4.9 billion, it said. Savings at Maine credit unions also reached a milestone, growing by more than $200 million for the period to rise above the $6 billion mark for the first time to $6.02 billion. Read the story.


Solar farm proposed for former air base

A solar power developer has signed a lease for what could become the state’s largest solar farm, producing up to 100 megawatts of electricity, officials said Tuesday. Ranger Solar wants to develop more than 600 acres at the former Loring Air Force Base, but first the Yarmouth-based company must clear regulatory hurdles and negotiate power purchase agreements with buyers of the energy. Ranger Solar, which approached the local development authority last year, would like to see construction underway before 2019, which would allow for time for necessary approvals. The lease covers several parcels at the 3,800-acre Loring Commerce Centre, as the base is now known, said Carl Flora, president of the Loring Development Authority. Read the story.


Vaccine maker plans multi-million expansion

A poultry vaccine manufacturer is moving ahead with plans for a composting facility and other upgrades at its Winslow location. Lohmann Animal Health International Inc., which is owned by Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly, says the composting facility should save the company money and will improve its waste efficiency. Construction costs are estimated at $160,000. The company also applied in mid-July for a permit to upgrade Building H, which holds the main laboratory and research and development building. This project has an estimated cost of $2.67 million, according to the application for a town building permit. Lohmann Animal Health develops vaccines and food components to help prevent diseases of animals used in food production. It employs more than 100 people at the Winslow site. Read the story.

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