Developer proposes unique partnership to access bonds

Portland’s regional bus system is considering an unusual proposal that would give the developer of a Westbrook complex access to millions in tax-free bond money and potentially increase transit ridership and revenue. Greater Portland Metro is reviewing a long-term lease of new streets, sidewalks and other transportation infrastructure planned in Rock Row, a sprawling retail, entertainment and residential development. Waterstone Properties Group of Massachusetts, the company behind the proposal, needs a public or nonprofit agency to lease its planned road system to get $16.3 million in tax-exempt bonds it has requested through the Finance Authority of Maine. Waterstone would pay Metro to lease its property and the bus service would help design a future transportation network in the 66-acre development. Read the story.

Working waterfront proponents launch petition drive

Dozens of fishermen, their families and friends gathered at a pub on Portland’s waterfront last Sunday to kick off what could turn out to be a historic campaign to save their industry from extinction. Citizens behind the movement to freeze or contain development on the waterfront met in Andy’s Old Port Pub to collect petition signatures, raise money, and hand out informational materials. They will be seeking a referendum that aims to protect the working waterfront zone on Commercial Street by restoring the water dependency use requirement, which they claim has been eroded. Organizers need to collect at least 1,500 signatures by January in order for the waterfront zoning amendment initiative to be voted on at a citywide referendum in May. Read the story.


CEO who grew Pine State Trading passes on


Charles Canning Jr., who with his brother, Jack, helped to make Pine State Trading a nationally recognized leader in distribution of farm-to-table foods, beverages and vending products, has died. He was 83. Charles Canning Sr. started Pine State Tobacco in 1941. Just about two decades later, his sons, Charlie and Jack, joined the company as president and vice president, respectively. Charlie eventually would serve as CEO. Throughout Pine State’s history, the enterprise grew through acquisitions across the region, transforming it from a local distributor of convenience store products and beverages to one of the state’s largest employers and a company with a national reputation. Read the story.

Veterans’ foundation gets huge gift from Powerball winner

A central Maine-based organization that runs a retreat for wounded veterans is receiving half-a-million dollars from the winner of a recent Powerball jackpot. The Travis Mills Foundation will receive a $500,000 donation from Lerynne West, 51, of Dexter, Iowa, was one of two winners of the third-largest Powerball jackpot of $687.9 million last month. West, who said the foundation has a special place in her heart, announced her donation on an episode of “Ellen” last week. In 2016 the foundation reported $1.55 million in annual revenue, according to its tax records. Read the story.

Maine’s GDP growth trails nation’s

Maine’s economy grew by 3.4 percent in the second quarter of the year, a performance that ranks 36th nationally.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Tuesday that Maine posted strong growth in real estate, rentals and leasing along with health care and social assistance during the April-June period. The biggest drags on the state economy were the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; non-durable manufacturing; transportation and warehousing; educational services; and finance and insurance sectors, all of which declined during the quarter. Maine’s economic growth was tied with Vermont for third in New England. Growth of 4.6 percent in New Hampshire led the region, followed by Massachusetts (4.0 percent). Connecticut (3.1 percent) and Rhode Island (2.8 percent) trailed in New England. Read the story.

Financial adviser convicted of fraud for bilking widows

A securities agent and former state legislator has been convicted of defrauding two widows out of more than $3 million in what authorities said was one of the worst cases of elder financial abuse in the state. Robert Kenneth Lindell, 53, was convicted by a Penobscot County Superior Court jury last week on 15 counts of securities fraud, intentional evasion of Maine income tax and failure to pay Maine income tax. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Lindell has 22 years of experience as a financial agent. He has been sanctioned nine times since 2001, and in 2017, he was barred from operating as a broker for an indefinite period after the criminal charges were lodged against him and Lindell failed to respond to FINRA’s requests for information. Read the story.

Athenahealth sold to private-equity firm

Private-equity firm Veritas Capital and Elliott Management Corp. will acquire athenahealth Inc. for $135 per share, ending a months-long, sometimes-contentious process to push the health records company into a sale. The all-cash transaction values athenahealth at about $5.7 billion, the firms said in a statement announcing the transaction Monday. Jonathan Bush, nephew of former President George H.W. Bush, co-founded athenahealth in 1997 as a cloud-based alternative to software systems used by medical offices for billing. The company opened offices in Belfast in 2008 and is now among the largest employers in Waldo County with about 950 workers. Read the story.


R&D costs restrain ImmuCell earnings

Portland-based ImmuCell Corp. increased its sales revenue in the third quarter from a year earlier but still experiencd a net loss because of research and development expenditures, the company reported Tuesday. ImmuCell, which develops, manufactures and markets products that improve the health and productivity of dairy and beef cattle, generated revenue of about $2.2 million during the quarter, compared with about $2 million in the third quarter of 2017. The company reported a quarterly net loss of $250,000, or 5 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $339,000, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier. Read the story.


Sinclair settles suit over ads

Some of the biggest names in broadcast television have reached a settlement with government regulators after the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that the companies shared private information with one another in ways that allowed them to subtly manipulate ad prices. The settlement covers six companies: Sinclair Broadcast Group, Raycom Media, Tribune Media, Meredith Corp., Griffin Communications and Dreamcatcher Broadcasting. It forbids them from sharing nonpublic information about ad sales for seven years. Sinclair owns WGME in Portland, which broadcasts on Channel 13. Read the story.


Planet Dog store remains locally owned

Although Westbrook chew toy maker Planet Dog’s wholesale and manufacturing operation has been sold to a Denver-based pet products distributor, its retail store in Portland will remain locally and independently owned, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday. Most of Planet Dog’s 13 corporate office employees in Westbrook have been offered jobs in Colorado, but the 15 retail store employees will stay put, said Elizabeth Fagan, the company’s director of marketing. In addition, Planet Dog’s manufacturing operations in Maine and New York will continue to operate as usual under the new owner, Fagan said. Planet Dog was purchased by The Kyjen Co. a private-equity firm based in Boston. Read the story.


Ski resorts open for season

Both of Maine’s largest ski mountains were scheduled to be open on a daily basis by the end of last week, while smaller ski areas across the state also were gearing up for the season. After getting 10 inches of natural snow in Carrabassett Valley over last weekend, Sugarloaf Mountain was planning to open Friday, according to Noelle Tuttle, marketing and communications manager. At Sunday River in Newry, communications director Karolyn Castaldo said five trails on Locke Mountain have been open since Oct. 19, but on weekends only. The mountain opened Nov. 9 on a daily basis and will be open daily now for the season. Read the story.


Oyster farm application draws opposition

An application to expand an oyster farm in Casco Bay has drawn intense opposition. Mere Point Oyster Co. owners Doug Niven and Dan Devereaux have applied for a 10-year, 40-acre lease in Maquoit Bay. If approved, it would expand the area of their operation by about 160 times, possibly producing more than 16 times the oysters they harvested this year and growing to 5 million oysters by 2023. The expansion proposal has drawn opposition from members of the Maquoit Bay Preservation Group – 40 or 50 property owners concerned about the greater implications of the lease. There is not enough information out there, they argue, to adequately determine the ecological effects of an operation this size, which would be the second largest in Maine. A hearing on the application that began Thursday will resume Monday. Read the story.