HEALTH CARE

Rumford hospital votes no confidence in owner’s CEO

Less than a week after Bridgton Hospital medical staff passed a no confidence vote in Central Maine Healthcare CEO Jeff Brickman, Rumford Hospital medical staff have voted no confidence as well. Staff members who were at the meeting but asked to remain anonymous said about 15 to 20 people participated in the vote Tuesday night. A few abstained. The rest voted no confidence. Rumford and Bridgton hospitals are part of nonprofit CMHC, which also owns Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and a collection of medical practices in 15 communities. Tuesday’s meeting means staff at two of CMHC’s three hospitals have now voted no confidence, a symbolic move meant to convey unhappiness to the CMHC board. CMMC staff members in Lewiston have said they plan to hold their own vote, possibly this week. Read the story.

Maine Med is buying nearby pizzeria for future possibilities

Maine Medical Center is buying the building that houses Pizza Villa, a neighborhood institution in Portland’s West End for more than 50 years, as part of its $512 million expansion. The hospital said it has no immediate plans to change the property and will work with longtime owners Tony and Phil Regios, who are planning to retire, to find a new operator. Hospital officials said they entered into a purchase agreement with the Regios brothers to acquire the restaurant and its three-story building for an undisclosed sum. The closing is scheduled for March 2019. Although Maine Med has no immediate plans, the building’s upper floors could someday house medical offices or other uses. Read the story.

Maine Medical Center and Tufts extend education partnership

Maine Medical Center and Tufts University are renewing a 10-year medical education partnership for another decade, the hospital and university announced on Wednesday.

The new agreement – financial details of which were undisclosed – will take the partnership to 2029 and allow for the program to expand. Currently, students in the program spend the first two years at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston before coming to Maine for the final two years. Starting in 2019, students will come to Maine Med to learn in their second year. The partnership, called Maine Track, is capped at 40 students per graduating class, but the idea is to grow the graduating classes beyond that. How much the program would grow has not yet been determined. Read the story.

REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT

Redevelopment project delayed by commission

A $40 million mixed-use development proposed for Saco Island has been delayed following a vote by the Saco River Corridor Commission. The commission, a quasi-state organization whose purpose is to protect the environment along the Saco River corridor, voted Wednesday night to table the application of The Waters, an ambitious project proposed by developer Bernie Saulnier. The commission meets again in August and the project cannot move forward until it receives permits from the commission. Read the story.

Large solar installation planned for former mill in Biddeford

Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill Campus, a sprawling former mill complex that includes residential units, plans to install the largest privately-held solar energy project in Maine, according to a news advisory. The large-scale solar array will produce enough electricity to more than meet the needs of the campus’s residential units, according to an announcement from U.S. Sen. Angus King’s office. It was not known Thursday how many panels will be installed, when or at what cost. Read the story.

Maine home prices see double-digit spike in June

The median sale price for existing, single-family homes in Maine increased by 11 percent in June compared with a year earlier, while the volume of home sales increased by nearly 3 percent. According to a report issued Monday by the Maine Association of Realtors, the median sale price in June was $227,500, compared with $205,000 a year earlier. The number of homes sold statewide in June was 1,937, compared with 1,889 homes sold in June 2017, it said. For the three-month period ending June 30, the median home sale price in Maine increased by about 11 percent from the same period a year earlier to $218,500, while the volume of home sales increased by nearly 3 percent to 4,641 sales. Read the story.

GENERAL BUSINESS

Maine posts anemic growth in first quarter

After a dramatic swing last year, Maine’s economy started 2018 on a sluggish note, posting one of the slowest state growth rates in the country. The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported last week that the state’s economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.6 percent in the first three months of this year, 46th in the nation. Last year, the state’s gross domestic product – the measure of the output of goods and services in Maine – grew 1.4 percent, below the national growth rate of 2.1 percent and the New England regional growth rate of 1.6 percent. But the economy swung wildly last year, from a 2.8 contraction during the April-June quarter to 6.8 percent growth in the following three months. TD Bank forecasts that economic growth in Maine will pick up for the rest of the year and end up by 1.8 percent. But that’s well below the 3 percent growth rate forecast for the rest of the country in 2018, according to a senior economist for the bank. Read the story.

Entrepreneur buys two more newspapers

Reade Brower, who already owns six of Maine’s seven daily newspapers, including the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, and many weeklies, has purchased two additional weekly papers in Hancock County. The Ellsworth American reported Wednesday that Brower, of Rockland, has purchased that paper and its sister paper, the Mount Desert Islander, from longtime owner Alan Baker. Details of the sale, which closes Aug. 31, were not disclosed. Collectively, the two weeklies have a staff of 60 and a combined print circulation of nearly 13,000. The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander will continue to operate independently. Read the story.

Bovine health company sells technology to U.K. firm

ImmuCell Corp. of Portland has sold some of its technology to a British firm for $700,000, the company said Wednesday. The sale includes intellectual property related to a diagnostic test ImmuCell developed in the 1990s to detect the presence of the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium in drinking water, the company said in a news release. The buyer is TCS Biosciences Ltd of Buckingham, United Kingdom. The technology was originally developed by the company as part of an initiative to develop a passive antibody product for humans and a water test for the U.S. market, which it said has since been discontinued. Read the story.

ENERGY

CMP deal offers $50 million to aid low-income Bay Staters

Central Maine Power has agreed to give $50 million to energy-assistance programs that will benefit low-income electric customers – in Massachusetts. CMP will provide $50 million over 40 years to several programs and initiatives in Massachusetts, as a condition of winning the bid to build a high-voltage transmission line from Quebec through Maine that will carry hydroelectricity to the Commonwealth. The disclosure comes as CMP is under multiple investigations and lawsuits over allegations it overcharged Maine ratepayers. None of the money for the program will come from ratepayers in Maine or Massachusetts, according to Avangrid, CMP’s parent company. It will be taken out of profits. Read the story.

LABOR

Workforce strategies dominate report’s recommendations

Maine needs to increase the size and skill level of its workforce to keep businesses in the state and attract new companies, three development groups said Thursday. A report issued jointly by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Development Foundation and Educate Maine said the state’s quality of life, its workforce and its natural resources are all important factors that keep businesses in the state and attract others. But the report, “Making Maine Work 2018,” said the state’s workforce is shrinking because of an aging population and because too many workers lack the skills needed in the current economy. The report also calls for expanding broadband access in the state; calls on lawmakers to work to contain health care costs while expanding insurance access; and suggests the state develop a comprehensive economic strategy. Read the story.

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