REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT

New owners intend to redevelop Scarborough Downs

The owners of Scarborough Downs have agreed to sell a sprawling parcel that includes the struggling harness racetrack to a local company that is planning a major redevelopment of the property. Scarborough-based Cross Roads Holdings went under contract in October to buy the 480-acre parcel at Scarborough Downs and lease the track to its existing owners. The holding group’s management team includes William, Marc and Rocco Risbara III of Risbara Bros., and Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors, all longtime residents. The potential owners envision a long-term redevelopment of the property into a town center with housing, shopping, dining, offices, an interconnected road network, trails, recreation facilities and more. Read the story.

Modular home plant in Waterford for sale

Paris-based KBS Builders has put its Waterford plant on the market for close to $1 million. The Dunham Group in Portland is marketing the 61,850 square-foot manufacturing plant at 947 Waterford Road for KBS Builders for $995,000, according to the Dunham Group’s web page. It is unclear what effect this sale has on the operation of KBS Builders or its employees. In recent years, the plant has traditionally closed in the winter and laid off from 20 to 60 employees, or moved them to the Paris plant. Officials have said in previous years that the lack of commercial building work in Maine and overhead costs in the Waterford facility were the major reasons they shut the plant down each winter. Established in 2001, the modular home company was formed as KBS Building Systems, offering a diverse line of housing and commercial and industrial buildings. Read the story.

HEALTH CARE

MaineHealth members vote to create centralized board

All members of MaineHealth have voted in favor of unifying into one board to oversee the state’s largest health care network. The new governance structure will likely start in January 2019. MaineHealth – the parent organization for Maine Medical Center, Franklin Community Health, Pen Bay Medical Center, Southern Maine Healthcare and several other community hospitals and health care systems – has been working on unifying the system for more than a year. The unification, when it’s complete, will mean that one board of trustees will ultimately make decisions instead of 10 separate, independent boards. The voting started on Nov. 2, and by Thursday, all hospital boards had voted in favor of unification. Under the new structure, local boards will continue to formulate budgets and strategic plans, oversee quality of care and handle credentialing of physicians and others. The new governing structure allows MaineHealth to more easily move funds from one health system to another, and also run the system more efficiently, MaineHealth officials said. Read the story.

RETAIL

L.L. Bean sales up and down into holiday season

L.L. Bean’s holiday sales have been steady but not record-breaking, as the company prepares to offer employees buyouts aimed at freeing up cash. The family-owned company does not publicly release sales figures. Spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said sales leading up to the holidays have been up and down, but “there is no reason to be concerned for the future of the company.” L.L. Bean reported $1.6 billion in sales last year, essentially flat from 2015. It’s too early to predict what sales will be this year because there are three months until the end of the company’s fiscal year, Beem said. Last year, L.L. Bean said it would offer roughly 900 employees early retirement packages in an effort to trim its U.S. workforce of 4,500 to 5,000 by 10 percent and free up cash to grow the business. Read the story.

COMMERCIAL FISHERIES

Rare toxic bloom closes parts of Casco Bay

A rare late-season toxic algae bloom has closed most of the fertile shellfishing areas in Casco Bay, disrupting the region’s wild-caught and farmed shellfish industry. The state Department of Marine Resources expanded the area of the harvesting ban Tuesday so that it now stretches from Portland Harbor to the west side of Harpswell. The closure was triggered when tests of shellfish flesh showed elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin that can produce sickness and brain damage in humans. The ban affects hundreds of acres of productive clam flats in Freeport and Brunswick and at least a dozen mussel and oyster farms in those towns and around Chebeague Island. This is the first recorded bloom of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia in Casco Bay. Read the story.

Addiction task force for fishing industry opposed

The head of the Maine Department of Marine Resources has come out against a proposed bill to study the high rate of addiction in commercial fishing. Patrick Keliher said a task force bill that will be introduced by Rep. Mick Devin, a Newcastle marine biologist who sits on the committee that oversees Keliher’s agency, focuses too narrowly on one industry. Keliher acknowledges the commercial fishing industry has a drug addiction problem, but no more so than any other line of work. Addiction is an issue that transcends the fishing industry, he said. Devin, who has yet to write the bill, proposed the task force bill after two lobstermen from his district complained about the number of young fishermen using drugs before going out to sea to work. Read the story.

Association receives grant to help restore fisheries

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is giving a grant of nearly $100,000 to a Maine group that advocates for marine conservation and the livelihoods of small fishermen. The grant is going to the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, which is based in Brunswick. The group says the money will help with its mission of restoring fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and preserving Maine fishing communities for the future. Read the story.

TECHNOLOGY

Investor joins artificial intelligence firm

The former head of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development has joined a Portland company that develops artificial intelligence. Don Gooding has been named chairman of the board for Introspective Systems, a small company that works on a myriad of complicated, data-based problems such as realigning the power grid for the U.S. Department of Energy. Gooding, who was an angel, or seed, investor when the company started, has increased his stake. His new duties include guiding Introspective Systems through funding rounds, identifying market opportunities and investors, and providing leadership counsel to ensure and accelerate growth, according to a news release from the company. Read the story.

EDUCATION

Colby campaign plays out in NYC

Colby College this week celebrated its $750 million comprehensive campaign in New York City with a trustee making it possible for the Empire State Building to be lit in Colby blue Tuesday night. The Colby and Dare Northward campaign theme logos were projected on the Nasdaq sign in Times Square as part of the activities, which represent the first of many regional events planned around the country in the next couple of years, according to college officials. On Wednesday night, alumni, parents and friends celebrated by attending Jazz at Lincoln Center, according to Colby’s communications director. On Oct. 20, Colby launched the $750 million fundraising campaign in Waterville. Officials announced the college had already raised more than $380 million toward that goal. Since then, the campaign total has increased to $387 million. Read the story.

ENERGY

CMP touts transmission bid for Massachusetts

Central Maine Power is facing tough competition in a $1 billion bid to build a transmission line from Canada through Maine and held a news conference Wednesday to challenge its rivals and assert itself as the cheapest and most reliable choice to supply Massachusetts with hydroelectricity. The event took place in Augusta, and was attended by Maine business leaders and municipal supporters. But the message was meant for New England media, which joined via conference call. The takeaway was: CMP’s project will save Massachusetts electric customers $600 million over two competing proposals – Northern Pass in New Hampshire and the New England Clean Power Link in Vermont. The assertion was contested by CMP competitiors. Massachusetts passed a law last year requiring the state to seek long-term contracts for offshore wind farms and land-based renewable energy. Dozens of bids were submitted from across New England and eastern Canada, including a handful of other proposals from Maine. Initial land-based winners are scheduled to be announced on Jan. 25. Read the story.