Maine Med gets state OK for expansion

Maine Medical Center has won state approval for its massive $512 million renovation and expansion project that will add single-patient rooms, operating rooms and a new entranceway facing Congress Street. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services this week granted Maine Med a Certificate of Need, which is a state requirement to make sure that hospital expansion projects are necessary and would not duplicate services or increase health care costs. The hospital still needs approvals from the city of Portland before it can begin construction. If all goes as planned, Maine Med would break ground in the spring of 2018 and complete the project – the most extensive renovation in Maine Med’s history – by 2022. Maine Med, originally built in 1874, has expanded and upgraded numerous times throughout its history. Read the story.

Citing uncertainty, Anthem leaves ACA market

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will no longer sell new policies on Maine’s Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace, citing the 2018 market uncertainty and volatility as the reasons for its withdrawal. Officials said contributing factors were the shrinking and deteriorating individual market and continued changes and uncertainty in federal operations, including the future of the cost-sharing reduction program that helps low-income consumers pay premiums. Insurers would have to pay for the reductions if the government stops funding the program. Anthem has 28,700 customers on the ACA’s individual marketplace, out of more than 80,000 Mainers who obtain insurance on the marketplace. Anthem’s exit leaves Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care as the only insurers offering plans in which cost-sharing and subsidies can be used to help pay premiums. Read the story.


BIW gets contracts for two warships

Bath Iron Works has been awarded a contract to design and build two Arleigh-Burke class destroyers for the Navy, work that is expected to keep one of Maine’s largest employers busy for several years. BIW and members of Maine’s congressional delegation announced the Navy’s contract award for planning and construction of two DDG-51 Class destroyers on Thursday. The Navy isn’t releasing the value of the contract because it plans to award more contracts in the future and wants to make sure the bidding process remains competitive. BIW, which is owned by General Dynamics, competes for Navy surface combatant contracts with Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy contract award was modified to include full funding for two destroyers, the DDG-126 and DDG-127, and will include funding for Flight III radar design upgrades on the DDG-126, Lesko said. The new, advanced radar is expected to significantly improve the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer’s ability to detect and destroy enemy targets, including ballistic missiles. Read the story.


LePage seeks new gas line from Canada

Frustrated by failed attempts to greatly expand natural gas capacity in New England, Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday that he wants to develop a new pipeline from Quebec into Maine in an effort to lower energy prices for homes and businesses. “We cannot move forward as a state without more pipeline capacity,” LePage told a meeting of industry professionals and other business people at the fifth annual Natural Gas Conference held in Falmouth. LePage told the group he plans to meet with officials in Quebec in the next month or so. In subsequent comments to the Portland Press Herald, LePage said the province is interested in a new gas line that could bring supply from western Canada through Maine. Read the story.

Paper industry veteran nominated for PUC post

A veteran of Maine’s paper industry has been nominated by Gov. Paul LePage to fill the vacant seat on the state Public Utilities Commission. LePage on Wednesday nominated Randall Davis of Smithfield, the energy manager at Sappi North America’s Somerset paper mill, to fill the vacancy left when Carlisle McLean resigned in June. Davis has worked for Sappi for 38 years, and has spent the past six years managing electric and natural gas contracts and other energy matters to maximize revenue at the mill. The Legislature is expected to come back into session next month, presenting a final opportunity this year for the governor to get new nominees confirmed. Read the story.


Committee finishes sweeping pot bill

A legislative committee completed a sweeping rewrite of Maine’s recreational marijuana law Thursday that would double the tax rate, provide a cut to host towns and give Maine residents a two-year head start in the market. But committee leaders are worried that the LePage administration will scuttle the bill, either through an outright veto or delayed implementation, even if the legislation is passed during a special legislative session next month. The joint committee adopted the bill on a 13-2 vote. It started its work on the now-70-page bill seven months ago, four months after voters legalized adult-use cannabis at the polls. Read the story.


Colby dorm project ahead of schedule

The final steel beam was raised Thursday onto what will be a Colby College dormitory at 150 Main St. in Waterville. The $25.5 million residential complex is one of a number of multimillion-dollar projects spearheaded by the college to push forward the renewal of the city’s downtown. Construction of the 100,000-square-foot building, which will house 200 students and eight faculty and staff members, is ahead of schedule; and the building is expected to open in August 2018. Read the story.

Bean Group buys Maine Real Estate Network

One of Maine’s largest independent real estate companies has been acquired by the Bean Group. The Maine Real Estate Network, Maine’s largest residential real estate company by units sold, was acquired by Bean Group on Thursday. A purchase price was not disclosed, but the deal does not include the Loni Graiver family of companies, Cumberland County Mortgage and Graiver Homes, according to a statement from Bean Group. With this transaction, Portsmouth-based Bean Group will have more than 915 real estate professionals working in four states. In 2017, the company expects its sales associates to facilitate over $2.1 billion in residential real estate sales, and nearly 8,400 home sale transactions, according to the statement. Read the story.

Cianbro expands training institute

Pittsfield-based general contractor Cianbro Corp. expanded its own training center recently to keep pace with demand for skilled workers. Established in 2007, the Cianbro Institute is a training and education center exclusively for Cianbro workers to improve their skills and develop new ones. The institute outgrew its original facilities and was relocated in August to a 40-acre site in Pittsfield that includes a power substation with high-voltage lines, a welding shop, construction cranes and other facilities, and equipment used to simulate real work environments. CEO Peter Vigue said the institute makes it possible for more workers to have steady, year-round employment in an industry in which having just one skill often limits a worker to only seasonal employment. Read the story.


Proposed timber commercialization center gets a boost

The University of Maine System will receive a $454,532 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to create the Maine Mass Timber Commercialization Center, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said Wednesday. The center will help forest industry partners, trade organization, construction firms, architects and other stakeholders revitalize and diversify Maine’s forest-based economy by advancing new forest products technologies and bringing innovative mass timber manufacturing to Maine. It aims to boost the local and regional economy in Penobscot County and throughout rural Maine. Funding is a direct result of the Economic Development Assessment Team’s January assessment that outlined strategies to leverage federal resources to redevelop former industrial sites and support the viability of affected mill communities to grow Maine’s rural economy. Read the story.