Textron to buy Waterboro’s Howe and Howe

Howe and Howe Technologies, which makes futuristic off-road and military vehicles in Waterboro, is being purchased by Textron, a defense contractor based in Providence.

Michael D. Howe, president of the firm, said the deal is expected to close in late November or early December. Terms were not disclosed, but Textron is a $14 billion military and industrial conglomerate whose subsidiaries make specialized vehicles such Bell helicopters, Cessna aircraft and Arctic Cat snowmobiles. It employs 35,000 people worldwide. Howe and Howe has developed Ripsaw, a remote-controlled fighting vehicle that can handle a wide range of terrains and conditions. A version of the vehicle was used in the movie “Mad Max: Fury Road” three years ago. Read the story.


Terminal expansion planned for Casco Bay Lines

Casco Bay Lines wants to start the second phase of an expansion project begun almost a decade ago. The public ferry company plans to add a second floor to the terminal on Commercial Street, extend the ferry pier, repair the pier structure and improve pedestrian and traffic circulation. Passenger, vehicle and freight volume has grown year over year and the small terminal needs to reconfigure to stay efficient, said Casco Bay Lines General Manager Hank Berg. Ferry officials planned to add second-floor office space and other improvements when it expanded the passenger waiting area four years ago, but didn’t have the money on hand, Berg said. Since then, the company has come up with $7 million it needs for the upgrades, about 80 percent funded by federal grants. Read the story.


Utilities commission delays CMP decision

Regulators who have the power to approve or derail a plan to build a 145-mile transmission line through Maine are delaying their decision. Maine’s Public Utilities Commission, which had been expected to issue a decision by year’s end on Central Maine Power’s plan to bring hydropower from Quebec to markets in Massachusetts, issued a statement Friday morning saying intervenors needed more time to digest thousands of pages of information submitted in the case. Hearings set for Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 were canceled. Instead, a conference has been set for Oct. 31 to establish a new timetable for the decision. The project has been highly controversial, drawing opposition from power supply competitors and environmental groups, while a coaliton of business and labor groups supports it. Read the story.


Tourism group launches seasonal workers effort

Maine’s workforce crisis is pushing the tourism industry to take extra steps to find enough seasonal workers. The Maine Tourism Association soon will start a staffing service to connect its members with job seekers in Maine and other parts of the country. In recent years, restaurants, hotels and attractions have had to shut down early or reduce hours during the peak summer season because they did not have enough workers. The problem is acute on Maine’s coast, the state’s most popular tourism destination with a local seasonal workforce deficit. The association plans to bring on a full-time staff member to find employees in other states, provide background checks, arrange transportation to Maine and offer basic hospitality skills training. Read the story.


ReVision Energy receives environmental leadership award

ReVision Energy, a Portland renewable energy company, received an award for its environmental leadership. The Lewis Family Foundation presented its inaugural Alnoba Leadership Awards at Alnoba, the first passive house standard building of its kind in New England, in Kensington, New Hampshire. ReVision’s leadership team of Phil Coupe, Bill Behrens, Fortunat Mueller and Dan Clapp accepted the award, which recognizes New England business leaders helping to save the Earth, according to a news release from the foundation. The foundation will donate $5,000 to the Conservation Law Foundation and $5,000 to Citizens Count on behalf of ReVision’s leadership team. Read the story.


Donation to jump-start digital innovation center

A $1 million private donation is expected to jump-start a digital innovation center at the University of Southern Maine. With his donation, Michael Dubyak, chairman of the board of directors at Wex, intends to speed up financing for modern classroom and laboratory space in the university’s science building – a key component of educating graduates for a digital economy. The university plans to update existing space on its Portland campus to emphasize computer science, digital learning and collaboration with local businesses. The vision for the new space is 9,000 square feet of computer labs, offices and collaborative workspace laid out more like the offices of a Silicon Valley tech firm than a traditional classroom. Read the story.


Lobster board moves to ban exotic bait

The American Lobster Management Board took a first step toward adopting regional bait safety rules, voting Monday to develop a resolution to prohibit the use of exotic baits that could introduce disease, parasites or invasive species to East Coast waters. The board unanimously agreed on the need to shield native species, including the $1.4 billion Maine lobster industry, from the dangers posed by the mad scramble for new kinds of bait that may occur when regulators slash herring quotas next year. This action came at the request of Maine Department of Marine Resources, which enacted its strict bait rules in 2013. But Commissioner Pat Keliher said risky bait is still finding its way into the Gulf of Maine through New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Canada. The board agreed to develop a bait safety resolution that all lobstering states would enact by 2020. To get compliance, the board also plans to begin the slow process of adding bait safety to its lobster management plan. Read the story.

Herring quota cuts put lobstermen over bait barrel

The threat of a huge cut in next year’s herring catch quota has Maine bait dealers scrambling to find alternative ways to satisfy the voracious appetite of the state’s $1.4 billion lobster industry. The New England Fishery Management Council voted last month to set the 2019 herring quota at 3.2 million pounds – about 78 million pounds less than what the East Coast herring fleet is permitted to catch this year – to help the population recover from a record-low number of juvenile herring. Some fishermen have said they will switch to pogy or rockfish, or found ways to conserve bait use because they saw the collapse coming. But as more fishermen look to other bait species, prices are expected to rise. Read the story.


New Wex headquarters well underway in Old Port

A year after it broke ground, construction on the new Old Port headquarters of payment services company Wex is 75 percent complete. The company, which broke ground on Oct. 17, 2017, on the four-story office and parking complex, employs about 1,000 people at its South Portland facility. Roughly 40 percent of the employees there will relocate to the new building when it’s finished. Rob Gould, Wex spokesman, said furniture is expected to be installed in the new headquarters next month. The project’s site plan calls for a 100,000-square-foot, four-story mixed-use building that will provide office space for Wex with additional retail space underneath. Between 450 and 550 new parking spaces would be within 750 feet of the Thames Street site to accommodate the company’s needs and increased demand for public parking in Portland’s East End. Read the story.


MaineHealth completes its hospital consolidation

MaineHealth, the nonprofit parent of Maine Medical Center and other hospitals in the state, finished on Wednesday merging its systems, unifying budgets under one umbrella organization and creating a more centralized health care system. One reason for the initiative is to help preserve health services in rural areas of Maine, hospital officials said. The nonprofit operates Maine Medical Center and 11 other hospitals and health care services, including rural locations such as Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. Corporators approved the final step of unification, which means the MaineHealth Board of Trustees will make final decisions on what occurs at each hospital. Read the story.