Hathaway Center sold to affiliate of New York development firm

The historic Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street has been sold for about $20 million. The building was sold to North River Hathaway LLC by Hathaway Mill PO LLC, under an agreement that was signed Feb. 10 and announced Thursday. The former Waterville shirt factory was renovated several years ago and transformed into retail offices and 67 high-end apartments in an effort that helped jump-start downtown revitalization hopes. The building dates back to 1876, when it was operated as a cotton manufacturing mill. C.F. Hathaway & Co. was built in 1881 and made shirts at the building until 2003, when it closed. Paul Boghossian redeveloped the mill building for about $30 million. Read the story.

Home sales strong in January

Sales of existing single-family homes in Maine rose 7.9 percent in January from a year earlier thanks to low interest rates and low inventories. Real estate agents across the state assisted in the sale of 959 homes at a median price of $190,000, up 8.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a news release from the Maine Association of Realtors. For the three-month period ending Jan. 31, home sales statewide were up 12.6 percent from a year earlier, and the median sale price was up 6.5 percent to $189,000. The median price indicates that half of homes sold for more and half sold for less. Read the story.


Conrad to become top chamber exec in Lewiston-Auburn

A woman who spent decades advocating for the Lewiston-Auburn community has been named the new chief of that area’s chamber of commerce. Rebecca Swanson Conrad will start as the new president and chief executive officer of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce on March 27, according to a release announcing the appointment. Conrad is currently the vice president for institutional advancement at Maine College of Art in Portland, where she has worked since 2006. She spent 21 years in higher education administration at Bates College, including 1999-2003 when she served as executive director of LA Excels, the college’s nonprofit community development partnership in Lewiston-Auburn that focused on leadership, arts, educational aspirations and economic revitalization. Her business experience includes 20 years as co-owner with her husband of Austin’s Fine Wines and Foods and three years as the owner of an Auburn gift store. Read the story.


Airbnb rentals double in 2016

Hosts using the Airbnb online home-sharing service earned $26 million and hosted about 174,000 visitors in Maine last year, according to data released by Airbnb Wednesday. The announcement comes as Gov. Paul LePage tries to amend the state’s tax rules to ensure that hosts on Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms are collecting the required lodging tax of 9 percent and forwarding it to the state. If all Airbnb hosts had paid that tax in 2016, the state would have collected about $2.3 million in tax revenue. According to Airbnb, a typical Maine host earned $5,900 in supplemental income last year, and a typical listing was occupied for 30 nights with an average length of stay of 2.7 nights. The number of visitors using Airbnb represents a 100 percent year-over-year increase, the company said. There were 3,700 active Airbnb hosts in the state in 2016, up from 2,100 in 2015. Read the story.


Doctors raise concerns over proposed board changes

Doctors at Pen Bay Medical Center are concerned that a proposal by parent corporation MaineHealth to create a single board of directors could result in a loss of local control and potentially cuts in services at the Rockport hospital. Those concerns were voiced in a Jan. 9 letter to employees by the president of the Pen Bay medical staff summarizing a Jan. 5 meeting of physicians. The Pen Bay letter follows a similar letter sent out in November by the physicians at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. MaineHealth has proposed creating a single board of trustees that would make decisions for all member hospitals and affiliated organizations, such as nursing homes and home health agencies. Currently, each member organization has a separate board. When Pen Bay Healthcare became a MaineHealth member in 2010, the agreement stipulated that no service offered locally could be discontinued unless initiated and approved by the local board. Pen Bay Healthcare and Waldo County — which became a MaineHealth member in 2009 — merged in 2015 into a single organization and board called Coastal Healthcare Alliance, which remains a member of MaineHealth. Read the story.


Maine considered for biorefinery

A Canadian company that turns leftover wood from forestry operations into heating fuel has begun supplying Bates College in Lewiston and is seeking enough customers to build a production facility in Maine. Ensyn Corp. is ramping up production of a proprietary biofuel it has made for more than 25 years at a small facility in Renfrew, Ontario. Now the company, along with private partners and the governments of Canada and Quebec, is building a $78 million plant at Port-Cartier, Quebec. The Cote Nord facility is designed to produce 10.5 million gallons of oil a year from trees when it comes on line later this year to supply customers in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. Sales are aimed at large institutions, such as universities, state buildings and hospitals, that want to reduce the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide they emit. Biorefineries can create new markets for sustainable forestry, reduce fossil fuel dependence and support hundreds of jobs in the woods, in trucking and for plant operations. Read the story.


Eimskip adds four more calls to Portland

Icelandic shipping company Eimskip will add four trips to Portland this year – a 13 percent increase in port calls over 2016 – continuing growth at Maine’s sole container terminal.

Eimskip has increased port calls to Portland from 26 in 2013 to 35 planned for this year. The increased visits are being driven by a 20 percent growth in shipping volume, said Larus Isfeld, managing director of Eimskip USA. Portland is the only U.S. port Eimskip ships to directly. The company’s goal is to have weekly calls to Portland by 2020 and it has been growing its shipping volume over time to meet that goal, he said. Weekly service is regarded as the minimum required to serve inventory management strategies used by many companies today. If weekly service can be established, it will make Portland a more attractive port for manufacturers and distributors with business interests in northern Europe. Read the story.


Credit union league appoints new chief

The incoming head of Maine’s trade group for credit unions said his top priority is to use advanced technology and data to save consumers money and help them make better financial decisions. The Maine Credit Union League and its for-profit data processing affiliate Synergent have chosen Todd Mason to replace outgoing President and CEO John Murphy, who plans to retire this summer. Mason is a credit union industry veteran from Michigan with executive experience in that state’s credit union trade organization.

Mason’s current job is chief strategy officer for RouteOne, an indirect automotive lending technology company based in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Before that, he worked for the Michigan Credit Union League and Affiliates for 19 years, serving in a variety of roles including vice president of technology, education and marketing, and chief operating officer of the league’s CU Solutions Group. Mason said the Maine league and Synergent seemed like a good fit because they share his desire to push credit union technology further without compromising the industry’s emphasis on personal interaction. He’s expected to start in late April. Read the story.