CMP acknowledges accidental data release
Human error in Central Maine Power’s information technology department last year led to the online release of names, addresses and former account numbers of 77,300 customers who were found to be ineligible for low-income bill-paying assistance. The information was discovered during a Google search in May by a customer who alerted CMP, which took immediate steps to shut down access to the data and establish new security measures. CMP’s data network wasn’t hacked or breached from outside, the company stressed, and no other personal data, such as Social Security numbers or financial information, was visible. It did not report the incident until Wednesday. After reviewing the situation, the Public Utilities Commission didn’t find fault with how CMP handled this problem. But another state agency has called for a change in PUC rules that would mandate reporting of all data releases. Read the story.
Industry blasts proposed lobster rules
Maine officials and members of the state’s lobster industry are blasting a new federal report on the endangered right whale, claiming it uses old science to unfairly target the fishery for restrictions. The Maine Department of Marine Resources, the agency that regulates the $434 million lobster fishery, and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, the trade group representing Maine’s 4,500 active commercial lobstermen, question the scientific merits of the report from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which was issued in advance of next week’s meeting of a federal right whale protection advisory team. A letter sent Wednesday to the science center and the regional office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries division details their concerns, and asks the science center to correct and expand the report to include all stressors across the right whale’s range, which extends from Florida to Canada, before the Atlantic Right Whale Take Reduction Team meets in Providence this week.
Regulators consider raft of changes to lobster industry to protect whales
To save the endangered right whale, advocates are proposing major changes that would upend the New England lobster fishery. Proposals to close the fishery in the western Gulf of Maine south of Cape Elizabeth during April, cut the number of seabed-to-surface lines that can entangle whales, and become a ropeless fishery by 2020 are among the ideas to be discussed next week in Providence, Rhode Island, by the team of scientists, fishing groups and animal rights activists tasked with saving the right whale from extinction. The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team will spend the week reviewing seven whale protection proposals and a dire new technical report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that outlines the grim recovery challenges facing the right whale, whose population has been in decline for eight years. A new population estimate is due out later this year, but scientists believe fewer than 450 right whales remain. Read the story.
Windham company sold to South African firm
A Windham company that designs and makes microwave antenna products has been sold to a South African company. Alaris Holdings Limited bought mWave Industries, according to an announcement Thursday by Anania & Associates Investment Co., mWave Industries’ parent company. Alaris Holdings intends to establish its U.S. headquarters in Maine, Anania said in its release. Details of the deal were not disclosed. But in addition to a multimillion-dollar cash portion of the transaction, Anania is expected to receive about 5 percent of Alaris Holdings stock, and Peter Anania, the chair of Anania & Associates Investment, will serve on the Alaris board. Read the story.
Union retailer wins state association award
Union Farm Equipment, one of the largest Kubota dealers in the country, has been named Retailer of the Year by the Maine Retail Association. The award is given annually to a retailer that has grown in employees or sales; committed company resources to community projects; and created a positive work environment for all employees, according to a release from the association. The company was founded in 1949 as a Ford tractor dealer. In 2004, it was purchased by owners Ken and Debby Keiran, who have grown the business to more than 30 employees. Within the last two years, the store has expanded its footprint by nearly 50 percent. Read the story.
L.L. Bean donates $1 million to park project
Outdoors retailer L.L. Bean is providing $1 million to a campaign to create parks. The Trust for Public Land has set a goal of ensuring there’s a quality park that’s within a 10-minute walk of every person in the U.S. regardless of background, income or zip code. The partnership will fund five community projects each year. Read the story.
Technology company closes on $1.25 million round of financing
Davo Technologies, a fast-growing software company in Westbrook that helps small businesses manage collections and payments, has closed on a $1.25 million round of investment led by Anania & Associates Investment Co. The investment will enable Davo to expand while bringing greater depth of experience to its board of directors and management team, the company said Monday in a news release. In addition, the company has relocated to a 5,500-square-foot office overlooking the Presumpscot River in Westbrook. Read the story.
Gelato company moving some production to Michigan
Brunswick-based Gelato Fiasco Inc. is in the process of relocating part of its production operations to a plant in Michigan, a move that the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer said could result in the elimination of about eight positions. Joshua Davis said in a telephone interview Sunday night that the affected workers will be offered jobs in other parts of the company. Nothing else will change, Davis said. Management at corporate headquarters and the production plant, which is called Flavor Foundry, on Industry Road in Brunswick, as well as workers at the flagship store on Maine Street in Brunswick and on Fore Street in Portland’s Old Port district, will not be affected. Read the story.
MEMIC to distribute $22 million in dividends
More than 17,000 Maine employers will receive a record $22 million in dividends this November from The MEMIC Group, the Portland-based workers’ compensation insurer said Tuesday. The MEMIC board of directors authorized the policyholder dividend at its Sept. 28 meeting, the company said in a news release. As MEMIC is a mutual insurance company, eligible Maine policyholders can share in its financial success if workers’ compensation costs remain low. Read the story.
Poland Spring considering Rumford for bottling plant
The Rumford Board of Selectmen has approved a purchase-option agreement on 150 acres of town-owned land off Route 108 to allow Poland Spring to look into the feasibility of establishing its fourth bottling plant there. Poland Spring said in February 2017 that it was is seeking a new site in western Maine for a $50 million water bottling plant that would employ up to 80 workers. Mark Dubois, a Poland Spring hydrogeologist and the company’s natural resource manager, said recently that the company is exploring the feasibility of such a project in Rumford. A special town meeting will be required to ratify the agreement, approved 4-0 by selectmen on Sept. 6. Read the story.
USDA awards over $1 million to farming initiatives
A federal grant of nearly $600,000 has been awarded to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association to help train future generations of farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture made the award through a beginners farmer program. The money will help support training of 116 farmers over the next three years through MOFGA’s existing Journeyperson Training Program and its new Maine Farm Resilience Program, according to a release from the organization. The program provides new and aspiring farmers with hands-on training, support from staff and peers, technical assistance and networking opportunities. Th USDA also awarded a $300,000 grant to the Somali Bantu Community Association of Lewiston for its community farming project, and $180,000 to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service for a program to assist farmers with disabilities. Read the story.
County developing model for municipal broadband projects
Cumberland County is in the process of creating a playbook that communities could use to develop their own municipal broadband internet networks. The county issued a request for proposals Wednesday for a community broadband study that would cost up to $25,000, funded by a federal Community Development Block Grant. A handful of potential bidders already have expressed interest in performing the study, according to a spokesman. The purpose of the study is to create a set of guidelines for communities that want to build their own broadband networks in collaboration with neighboring cities and towns. Read the story.