AUGUSTA – Maine’s economy is “booming,” according to the Philadelphia branch of the Federal Reserve. Business Insider recently highlighted the news from the Reserve’s monthly coincident index for each of the 50 states. Governor Paul R. LePage today reminded Mainers how much the State has improved its business climate since 2010 when the unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in Maine and nearly 10 percent nationally.
“When we took office, Maine’s economy was a mess, workers were losing their jobs in droves, and our state budget was a nightmare after years of liberals who advocated for tax increases, out-of-control government spending and the use of one-time money from the federal government,” Governor LePage said. “We’ve come a long way in the nearly three years since then. Our economy is growing, and over 8,000 more people are working since 2011.”
The Governor notes that while this report only covers a three-month period, it is still welcome news for the State of Maine. “This is all good news, and we’re headed in the right direction, but we’re not done. Our Administration is working to reform welfare to provide Mainers with job training to enable them to become self-sufficient, and we are continuing to improve Maine’s business climate so more jobs are available.”
Recent news has shown many positive signs for Maine’s economy, including:
•Maine moved to one of the ten best in the nation in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s leading index forecast for economic growth over the next three months. The indexes are released a few days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases the employment data for the states.
•From January 2013 to August 2013, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) certified 12 businesses anticipating 267 new jobs, generating $14.2 million in payroll and nearly $70 million in new investment.
•Over the same period in 2012, DECD certified 14 businesses anticipating 128 news jobs, generating $6.3 million in payroll and just over $157 million in new investment.
•In the first eight months of 2013, DECD’s Maine Made Program certified 61 new small businesses.
•The first three years of private-sector job growth under Governor LePage were the best three years for Maine in over a decade.
•Maine’s four-week average of initial weekly unemployment insurance claims is at its lowest level since 2008.
•Maine’s unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, below the national average of 7.3 percent.
For the complete report: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/regional-economy/indexes/coincident/
December 2, 2013
POLAND — Bath is in but Farmington is out. Both Lewiston and Auburn made the cut, but Bridgton and Lubec did not. Biddeford and Saco are in but Jay and Rumford apparently didn’t have what it takes. Paris officials hope they’ll make the list and they’re working to make it so. So far, only 25 of Maine’s 492 towns and cities have been certified “Business Friendly” by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration. State officials say only 35 have applied for the designation by filling out a seven-page application that includes narrative answers and letters of recommendation from local businesses about why a given town should be dubbed business friendly. Among other things, communities are evaluated on how long it takes to get a building permit or business license, their customer service, their involvement with business attraction efforts and how well they collaborate with others in the world of economic development in Maine. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)
One of the best-recognized commercial characters on Maine TV – “The Marden’s Lady” – will have to find herself a new place for “bahgains.” Karmo Sanders of Scarborough, the playwright and actress who has portrayed the slightly crazy shopper Birdie Googins on commercials for Marden’s Surplus & Salvage for at least five years, said Wednesday that the Waterville-based chain has decided it will no longer use her in advertising. Sanders said she didn’t have a contract with Marden’s but had been making at least four commercials a year for the chain, usually one per season. She said she was told in January that she would no longer be used for commercials. But since Marden’s never announced its departure from the Birdie Googins commercials, Sanders said she didn’t feel right announcing it herself. So she kept silent until asked about it by a reporter on Wednesday. “If you want my humble opinion, I think it was a little rude of them not to announce it. I was wicked popular and one hell of a real deal for Marden’s,” said Sanders, sounding somewhat like Googins as she talked. No one from Marden’s was available for comment. (read more at Kennebec Journal)
PORTLAND — Maine Medical Center plans to offer voluntary buyouts to about 400 employees, according to a memo sent to employees by the hospital’s top executive. The memo was obtained by the Press Herald, and confirmed by hospital officials. In the letter, Richard Petersen, president and CEO of Maine Medical Center, wrote that “financial challenges” have caused the hospital to look into ways to reduce “all labor and non-labor expenses” to “improve our financial stability moving forward.” “We’re going to offer incentives for voluntary early retirements for about 400 people across Maine Medical Center. More information will be communicated about this program next week,” Petersen wrote. (read more at Kennebec Journal)
A member of the local citizen group which supported a resolution opposing the possible flow of “tar sands” oil through the nearby Portland-Montreal Pipe Line said Friday their work is not done, despite a defeat of the resolution at last week’s Bethel Town Meeting. Bethel voters easily rescinded the resolution originally approved at a special town meeting in January. The resolution opposed a potential reversal of the direction of oil flow through a Portland-Montreal Pipeline Co. pipeline that passes through Bethel as it carries crude oil to Montreal. Pipeline officials who attended the January meeting never got a chance to present their case before residents voted. Bud Kulik, who circulated a petition to bring about the revote, told residents last week that if they rescinded the vote, “we can go back to square one. The proponents can always bring it up again, if they wish to do so.” That point was echoed by Larry Wilson, president/CEO of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line. He said resolution proponents “have every right to do another resolution, and all we want to do is try to protect the operations that have been here for 72 years, to come and participate in the discussion, and be happy to accept the results.” Wilson said the resolution, which he acknowledged is not legally binding was intended by proponents “to send a message that all of the community is supporting for the elected officials in Maine to keep oil sands opportunities out of Maine.” (read more at Bethel Citizen)
AUGUSTA – President Obama has appointed the majority leader of the Maine Senate to head the northeast regional post of the Small Business Administration. State Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, was tapped by the Obama administration Tuesday. Goodall is expected to take the position following the end of the current legislative session. The regional administrator of the Small Business Administration is a high-profile post that has been held by several notable Mainers, including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and former Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers. Goodall will head the Region I office in Boston that oversees all six New England states. The office is designed to provide financial assistance and manage program initiatives for an estimated 1.3 million small businesses in the region. (read more at Portland Press Herald)
LEWISTON, Maine — Central Maine Healthcare has purchased the long-vacant St. Joseph’s, the oldest Catholic church in the city, and plans to tear it down. In its place will be 50-60 parking spaces, said Chuck Gill, CMH’s vice president for public affairs. “It’s a vacant building that’s in bad condition right now,” Gill said Tuesday. “It can’t be used for anything, at least the church itself.” The rectory, which sits beside the church on Main Street, could be rescued and renovated. Central Maine Healthcare paid $125,000 for the church, Gill said. Lewiston’s Prince of Peace Parish announced the sale over the weekend. On Tuesday, Monsignor Marc Caron called it “another sad chapter.” “It is a day that we expected at some point,” he said. “From the beginning we said, ‘If it is to close, it is to close to be put on the market.’” It has been on the market for a while. The 156-year-old brick complex at 253 Main St. has been unused since October 2009, when Lewiston Catholics closed it and St. Patrick’s church overlooking Kennedy Park. In both cases, the churches were becoming too costly to operate. (read more at Bangor Daily News)
NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average punched through another milestone Tuesday: its first close above 15,000. The Dow rose 87.31 points to 15,056.20 points Tuesday, a gain of 0.6 percent. It was another chapter in the market’s epic ascent in 2013. Good economic reports, higher corporate profits and support from central banks have eased investors’ concerns that another economic slowdown could upend the market. Two months ago the Dow recovered the last of its losses from the financial crisis. So far this year it’s up 15 percent. Wall Street followed world markets higher Tuesday. U.S. stocks rose after companies including satellite TV provider DirecTV and watchmaker Fossil reported higher quarterly profits. Markets rose in Japan and Europe in response to good news about central bank stimulus and the German economy. (read more at Kennebec Journal)
WASHINGTON — Buy anything on the Internet lately without paying sales tax? In all but a few states, you’re probably a tax cheat. That’s right, even if Internet retailers don’t collect sales tax at the time of the purchase, you’re required by law to pay it in 45 states, including Maine, and the District of Columbia. Here’s the problem for states: hardly anyone pays the tax, and there’s not much states can do about it. The Senate is expected to pass a bill Monday making it easier for states to collect sales taxes for online purchases. Some of the nation’s largest retailers are rejoicing. But small-business owners who make their living selling products on the Internet worry they will be swamped by new requirements from faraway states. “It’s a huge burden for a company like ours,” said Sarah Davis, co-owner of Fashionphile.com, a California-based company that sells high-end pre-owned handbags and purses. “We don’t have an accounting department, we’ve got my father-in-law.” (read more at Kennebec Journal)
LEWISTON — Local leaders are planning to announce a business expansion on lower Lisbon Street that will add as many as 150 jobs. Lincoln Jeffers, director of Economic and Community Development for Lewiston, issued a statement Monday about a news conference planned for 11:45 a.m. Thursday in the Armand A. Dufresne Jr. Plaza. No details are being released on the name or nature of the business. The new jobs are part of a business expansion that involves a renovation to 64 Lisbon St., site of the former McCrory’s Department Store. (read more at Lewiston Sun Journal)