Business and Economy

Business news

Hannaford Supermarkets in Maine are recalling sunflower seeds due to possible bacterial contamination.

The store issued the recall on Tuesday after being notified by the supplier that the seeds might contain Listeria bacteria.

The seeds in question are roasted, salted, shelled sunflower seeds found in the store’s bulk bins.

Listeria can cause serious intestinal illness, especially in vulnerable populations such as the elderly.

BANGOR, Maine - A Maine company has made it to the second round of competition to develop new shock absorbing materials to save lives.

Alba-Technic is one of five winners out of more than 100 applicants of the Head Health Challenge, a collaboration of the NFL and a number of other entities to try and improve helmet and body shield technology to prevent injury.

"We are in the stage where we're trying to create a solid product that is easy to manufacture and one that is sleek and thin enough that everyone will wear it," says Nathan Hayes, a developer with Alba-Technic.

BANGOR, Maine - The city of Presque Isle will lose its second big box retailer in a year with the closure of the Kmart department store - one of the major anchor stores at the Aroostook Center Mall.

According to Sears Holdings - which owns Sears and Kmart - the Presque Isle store will close in August as part of expense reductions announced at the start of 2016.

Last year, the Sears store in Presque Isle, also an anchor store at the same mall, pulled out, affecting some 60 jobs. It's not immediately clear how many jobs would be lost in the Kmart closure.

PORTLAND, Maine - Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington is laying off about two dozen full time employees and consolidating some operations after facing $15 million in losses over the past five years.

In a press release, interim CEO Timothy Churchill says one of the major factors contributing to the Farmington hospital's financial losses are Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements that don't cover the full cost of care.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — U.S. Sens. Angus King and Shelley Moore Capito are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase broadband speed definitions for a grant program that serves rural communities.

The senators sent a letter to the USDA requesting that the agency modernize the Community Connect Grant Program with increased broadband speed and service definitions.

The USDA’s website says it provides the grants to help rural areas extend access where broadband service is the least likely to be commercially available.

MADISON, Maine — A union official says the Madison Paper Industries mill will cease production on May 28, and workers will begin losing their jobs two weeks later.

Mike Croteau, president of the United Steel Workers Local 36, tells the Morning Sentinel that the 200 workers will stay on until June 12 before being dismissed in increments.

Croteau said severance packages are being finalized.

Fred Bever / MPBN

This year’s mild winter was tough on Maine’s recreational economy, but there was an upside: the state and municipalities saved a bundle in their plowing and salt budgets. At the same time, the price of asphalt has dropped lower than it’s been in years. Put the two together, and you get a go-go paving season.

LEWISTON, Maine  - Team USA is going to be sporting red, white and blue boat shoes made in Maine at the summer Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Sun Journal reports that team uniform maker Ralph Lauren has contracted with Rancourt & Co. in Lewiston to produce the casual, leather shoes that athletes will wear at the opening and closing ceremonies.

PORTLAND, Maine - Scientists will study northern New England's key lobster fishing areas in an attempt to protect the crustaceans from the kind of collapse they have experienced farther south.

Lobsters' populations have plummeted off of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the South Coast of Massachusetts.

Maine Department of Maine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher has called for research to help prevent a similar scenario off of his state.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland city councilors unanimously voted to approve a lease agreement with a ferry line to resume service from the city to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The Portland Press Herald reports Monday’s vote clears the way for new operator Bay Ferries Ltd., which will pay the city $150,000 for the next two years to operate the service from June 1 to Oct. 15.

Bay Ferries will utilize a high-speed catamaran called "The Cat" to make the five-hour trips up to Canada. The Cat is 349 feet long and can carry as many as 866 passengers.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

Second chances often don’t come easily for those getting out of prison. Combine a criminal record with a history of addiction, and finding a job can seem impossible. But that’s where MaineWorks comes in.

LEWISTON, Maine — A Maine college student appalled at the dorm furnishings his Bates College roommates were leaving behind his freshman year has started a booming business recycling dorm room refrigerators.

Twenty-two-year-old Mitch Newlin of Brunswick, Maine, now buys dorm refrigerators at the end of the school year and sells them to incoming students at the beginning of the year.

Maine’s top utility regulators are considering a proposal to increase the region’s gas pipeline capacity — and who would pay for it.

Natural gas powers half of the region’s electricity plants, and three years ago rising natural gas prices and constricted supplies drove wintertime electricity prices to surprising highs.

That drove the Legislature to act, directing the Public Utilities Commission to study whether Mainers could benefit if the state secured long-term contracts for gas supply.

Most professionals in highly skilled careers already know where to go to look for a job — agencies, trade publications, job fairs or the organization itself. What comes after they land the job is less clear, but just as crucial.

Carin Sychterz of the networking group Maine Career Connect says all too often, a new hire is left to figure everything out on his or her own. So she helped organize a summit in Bangor to try to shed some light on the hidden challenges that newly arrived workers face when they come to Maine, or even switch communities.

PORTLAND, Maine - Unemployment fell in all three of Maine's metropolitan areas last month. Figures out today from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that joblessness in greater Bangor fell from 4.3 percent in February to 4.1 percent in March.   

In Portland and South Portland, the unemployment rate fell from 3.3 percent in February to 3.1 percent last month.  Lewiston-Auburn saw the biggest decline - from 4.1 percent to 3.8 percent.