Business and Economy

Business news

With Portland’s rental and real estate markets continuing to price out some longtime residents, Mayor Ethan Strimling is proposing an array of new restrictions on city landlords’ ability to raise rent and evict tenants.

Strimling says he wants to limit rent hikes to only once a year and bar them if a landlord owns any housing that doesn’t meet code, limit the number of no-cause evictions a landlord can impose on tenants who lack a lease and require landlords to accept tenants who receive housing vouchers.

Fred Bever / MPBN

An epochal transformation in the way energy is made, delivered and used in the U.S. is under way, and in Maine an experiment in what’s called a “non-wires alternative” could disrupt electric utilities’ traditional business models by averting the need to build expensive new transmission infrastructure.

AUGUSTA, Maine - State labor officials say Maine job numbers out this week are something of a mixed bag.

Unemployment rose slightly from June to July, to 3.9 percent.  But Department of Labor Economist Glenn Mills says that's not really a reason to worry.

Mills says more reliable numbers, like the much-larger payroll survey, show that the number of jobs in the state is increasing, especially in a few sectors:  "Health care, education, retail trade, finance and professional services."

Fred Bever / MPBN

More than a decade ago, Maine voters gave the green light to slot machine gambling in the state. In making their case to voters, supporters vowed that some of the revenues would prop up the state’s ailing harness racing industry. But recent data show that since then, more than $100 million dollars in slot machine proceeds have gone to the industry in Maine — and it’s still struggling.

A summerlong public relations battle between two competing trash-to-energy companies is heading to court.

Maryland-based Fiberight and its Ellsworth partner, the Municipal Review Committee, or MRC, want to build a biogas, organic trash disposal facility in Hampden. But on Friday, the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, or PERC, filed an appeal in Kennebec County Superior Court, challenging the validity of the state permits issued for the project by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Maine will join the growing number of states that will consider legislation next year to regulate fantasy sports gambling.

Fantasy sports gambling is big business. Players select their fantasy teams from real professional sports teams, pay an upfront amount and win money back based on how those players perform.

Pro football dominates the online leagues, run by websites such as FanDuel and Draft Kings. So far eight states have adopted laws regulating the fantasy sports leagues for contests that run a day, sometimes as long as a week.

PORTLAND, Maine - Traffic on the Maine Turnpike is busier than ever this summer.

"It's so heavy that we're having to interrupt our contractors who are doing paving and bridge painting," says Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills.

Mills says since the MTA prioritizes drivers over construction, it's had to send contractors home for the day on more than one occasion.

Summer is always a busy traffic season in Maine, but Mills says this isn't just seasonal traffic - it's also local drivers using the turnpike for short trips.

PORTLAND, Maine - Portland Press Herald owner Reade Brower says he would require that readers pay for online news, as one of the changes he'll make upon purchase of two Vermont newspapers.

Brower told Vermont Public Radio that it's just common sense. "You know, you have to have some sort of a paywall that makes sense, because, you know, news is your core product. And  if you're giving it away, as some of our competitors continue to do, I just don't understand the monetary model that works.  So that's the simple answer."

The owner of the Portland Press Herald is expanding his newspaper operations in New England.

Reade Brower and partner Chip Harris of New Hampshire have entered into an agreement to purchase two newspapers in Vermont from the the family that has operated them for decades.

The Mitchell family has owned the Rutland Herald since 1947, and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus since 1964. But mounting financial pressures, says Rutland Herald Editor in Chief Rob Mitchell, have finally forced his family to sell both papers.

Jennifer Mitchell / MPBN

Four farmer-owners, originally from Somalia, are starting a new 30-acre cooperative farm on College Street in Lewiston.

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's wild blueberry crop is headed for another big year despite dry weather that has caused some nervousness in the state' blueberry barrens.

Maine is by far the biggest wild blueberry producer in the country, and the industry is coming off back-to-back bumper crops of over 100 million pounds.

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine says this year's total will likely be closer to 90 million. That's still much more than the crop averaged a decade ago.

Maine Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa has denied an appeal from Progressive Insurance that sought to increase car insurance rates for Mainers who turn 65.

The company’s plan would have applied only to new customers, but Cioppa concluded that it would violate the state’s insurance code, which prohibits increases in rates based solely on a customer reaching a certain age.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine fishermen have for the first time exceeded the state’s quota on capturing a second-favorite type of lobster bait amid a shortage of herring.

The Portland Press Herald reports that officials have closed the fishery for pogies, the local name for Atlantic menhaden, after fishermen exceeded the state’s quota, set at about 166,000 pounds annually, by July 31.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre holding a pack made at the factory in Biddeford.
Murray Carpenter

A decade ago, Mike St. Pierre was an adventurous hiker who was frustrated with the ultralight backpacking gear on the market. So he began designing and making his own. Now his company, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, has a factory in an old textile mill in Biddeford, employs more than 30 people and is scrambling to find skilled workers to meet the demand for backpacks and tents.

Sappi North America is moving ahead with its plans for a $25 million capital project to update its Somerset Mill woodyard in Skowhegan.

The global paper and packing products manufacturer will be modernizing its wood debarking, chipping and chip distribution systems.

Tony Ouellette, managing director at the Skowhegan mill, says it will be the first upgrade in that aspect of the operation in 40 years.

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