GAMING

Oxford casino outperforms its counterpart in Bangor

The Oxford Casino in Oxford continued to outperform Hollywood Casino in Bangor, increasing its take of the $1.2 billion wagered in slot machines last year, according to the Maine Gambling Control Board’s annual report. Slot machines at Oxford Casino raked in $796.6 million in 2017, up $62 million from the year before, the board said. The Hollywood Casino’s slots took in $408.4 million, down $28 million from 2016. The Oxford Casino earned $68.7 million overall, while Hollywood Casino earned a $41.6 million profit in 2017. Both casinos appeared to have entered 2018 with different strategies: Oxford added 97 slot machines and Bangor unplugged 39. Between wagers on slots and the less popular table games, the state collected $54.5 million in gaming taxes from both casinos to distribute to more than a dozen groups, outlined by statute. Read the story.

ENERGY

Massachusetts officials working with CMP on transmission line

Massachusetts energy officials ended talks Wednesday with the developer of a proposed transmission line from Quebec through New Hampshire and said they would seek power agreements using an alternate line through Maine. Massachusetts Clean Energy issued a statement saying that the state’s electric utilities had terminated the conditional selection of the Northern Pass project and now are working to conclude negotiations with Central Maine Power Co. for its $950 million New England Clean Energy Connect line. The action comes after a siting committee in New Hampshire rejected the Northern Pass proposal, and the developer was unable to gain approval by a March 27 deadline set by Massachusetts. Avangrid, CMP’s parent company, said it is working to conclude power contract agreements with three Massachusetts utilities and plans to submit them to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities by an April 25 deadline. The project has already garnered opposition from environmental groups and some power generators. Read the story.

COMMERCIAL FISHERIES

Canadian company scouting site for lobster logistics hub

Canadian company Live Stor America is scouting for a location in southern Maine to build its first U.S. holding and distribution hub, where lobster bought from dealers in Maine would be stored in high-tech, remote-monitored crates and containers until they are moved by forklifts onto trucks, train cars and cargo vessels bound for the U.S. West Coast, Europe and Asia. The company wants to employ the new technology to ship live lobsters longer distances at lower costs. Live Stor America plans to work with a local fisherman and lobster dealer to test a 3,500-pound holding system in Maine over the summer. Once the technology has been proven, the company plans to build a million-pound holding facility and distribution center in the Portland area, eventually hiring a half-dozen people to run that hub. Read the story.

MANUFACTURING

Scarborough company tests backpack protoypes on Kilimanjaro

A waterproof, high-tech backpack made by a Maine-based company was tested in one of the world’s harshest laboratories – the flanks and summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. A team of climbers assembled by Flowfold, a company based in Scarborough, took nearly six days to climb the mountain, while testing protoypes of a hiking pack it expects to sell in L.L. Bean in 2019. The company, which has been making wallets and tote bags of composite materials, is expanding its product line. Co-owner James Morin, who was part of the group that summited Kilimanjaro, said the prototypes performed exceptionally well on the trek and now the company is working on refining the pack’s design to ready it for production. Read the story.

REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION

Maine Med expansion project gets planners’ endorsement

The Planning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an expansion of Maine Medical Center’s campus in Portland’s West End neighborhood. The $512 million project is expected to get underway in May and will require a one-block section of busy Congress Street to close for eight weeks beginning May 7. It’s the first phase of a project that is expected to continue for the next five years. The full expansion will create a front entrance on Congress Street, new surgical units and a new employee parking garage. The project approved Tuesday would move the hospital’s helipad and add two floors with 64 new oncology patient rooms on the hospital’s East Tower, while also adding three levels, totaling 225 spaces, to the visitor parking garage. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Lawmakers endorse tax break for Bath Iron Works

A bill that would continue providing tens of millions of dollars in state tax breaks to Bath Iron Works won approval in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill faces more legislative action before being sent to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The latest version of the bill, approved 25-9 in the Senate, would provide $45 million in non-refundable tax credits over 15 years, down from $60 million over 20 years, as originally proposed. The bill would prevent BIW from qualifying for Pine Tree Development Zone benefits, another state tax incentive program. The House approved the bill on Tuesday, on a vote of 117-31. The shipyard, which employs 5,500 workers, says it wants to stay competitive against Ingalls, a Mississippi shipyard, as it bids to build as many as 20 frigates to supplement its contracts for larger destroyers. The shipyard has said it plans to use the millions of dollars that would otherwise go to the state to maintain its facilities and invest in its workforce. Read the story.

Owners of two luxury inns file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The owners of the Danforth Inn and the Camden Harbour Inn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday, a day before the inns were scheduled to be sold at foreclosure auctions. Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest, owners of the two luxury inns, are being represented by Sam Anderson of the Portland law firm Bernstein Shur Sawyer & Nelson. Timothy Norton of Portland law firm Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman, is representing the inns’ creditor, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust. The bankruptcy filings were made under the inns’ corporate names. Tempo Dulu LLC owns the Danforth Inn at 163 Danforth St. in Portland and Breda LLC owns the Camden Harbour Inn at 83 Bay View St. in Camden. The Camden Inn is a Relais & Chateaux property that includes an award-winning restaurant, Natalie’s. Read the story.

BANKING & FINANCE

Six companies divvy up $6 million in federal grants

The Maine Technology Institute helped six companies receive more than $6 million in federal grant money. Each company received an award from the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer program. The programs offer grants from 11 federal agencies for early stage, high-risk, technology-oriented research and development that could lead to the commercialization of new products and services. The recipients were Alba-Technic of Winthrop, Compotech Inc. of Brewer, Eldertide of Dresden, Home Care Business Services Inc. of Falmouth, Introspective Systems of Portland and The Montalvo Corp. of Gorham. Read the story.

Credit unions continue growth in members, assets, lending

With a growth rate of nearly 3 percent, the combined membership of Maine’s 56 credit unions reached a record of over 686,000 members in 2017, according to year-end statistics released by the Maine Credit Union League. The popularity and growth of credit unions, which are nonprofits, showed no signs of weakening last year, the league said. Membership growth was particularly strong among millennials, where the 18- to 25-year-old demographic increased by more than 10 percent over the past three years, said league President Todd Mason. For the 12-month period ending Dec. 31, combined assets at Maine credit unions grew by more than $265 million to $7.55 billion, the league said. Lending at Maine credit unions grew by $355 million, nearly 7 percent, to $5.5 billion. Read the story.

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