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Government officials mark improvements for Thompson's Point development

City, state and federal officials on Friday joined representatives from the Thompson's Point Development Company, Inc. to break ground on the $3.8 million off-site public infrastructure improvements for the Thompson's Point project.

The beginning of this work paves the way for the $110 million development project to proceed, a city press release reported. The improvements include the widening of the Thompson's Point Connector Road to three lanes, Fore River Parkway multi-use trail improvements, I-295 Exit 5A ramp improvements, new Sewall Street sidewalk and street lighting, and Congress Street traffic calming, ADA improvements and re-striping. In addition to the $3.8 million improvements, the project includes up to $1 million for rail crossing improvements.

"It's great to be here today for this significant milestone," City Manager Mark Rees said, according to the city press release. "We are standing on the site of a major gateway to our city, one that is quite visible from every mode of transportation, and one that has been blighted for too long. But I'm excited to say that because of our public-private partnership, that will soon change, and we will welcome a thriving transit-oriented development."

Funding for the off-site public infrastructure improvements represents a city, state, federal and private partnership between the City of Portland, the Maine Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and the Thompson Point development team. The total funding break down includes $1.5 million in EDA funds, $525,000 in State DOT funds, $90,000 in federal transportation funds, and $1.68 million in private developer matching funds provided to the state and city.

"Collaboration is key to getting things done in the city," Mayor Michael Brennan said. "In order for us to fulfill our vision for increased economic growth, we must all work together. And I'm proud to say that's exactly what happened here. Portland continues to attract national attention and private investment like this because of our unique quality of life."

The mixed-use project recently received its master plan approval from the city. The plan calls for redeveloping roughly 30 acres of former industrial land off Congress Street near I-295 into a thriving transit-oriented commercial and residential complex. Specifically, the project is expected to bring a new outdoor event venue, sports and event center, hotel, restaurants, office building, circus conservatory, an art and cultural center, up to 300 residential condominiums, and walking trails and water access. The project will be built in phases over several years.

With the start of the off-site public infrastructure improvements, the development team is also beginning work on the conversion of an existing brick building into office, café and retail space, followed by the creation of a multipurpose outdoor live event space within the existing 14,000-square-foot structure at the end of the point. This space will host the Beer Camp Across America Festival on Aug. 1 as well as other events to be announced.

Officials on hand for the ceremony Friday included Portland City Manager Rees; Mayor Brennan; Portland City Councilors; Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt; Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho; U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA Rep. Alan Brigham; and Chris Thompson from Thompson's Point Development Company, Inc.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:06

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Lift-off at Bixby & Co.

For Bixby & Company in Rockland, Maine, "reinventing chocolate" was the inspiration for bringing to market a healthy and wholesome array of better-for-you candy bars. Though founder Kate McAleer already has succeeded in making and marketing her line-up through Whole Foods Markets and other large retail outlets, she recently came face-to-face with an entrepreneur's daydream/nightmare. Payne-bw-blogger

Having recently secured a meeting with one of the nation's largest wholesale distributors of natural food products, Kate made her pitch to get onto their list of suppliers for just a small share of their regional distribution. Even though her pitch went straight over the plate, the answer she received was unexpected — yes, they wanted her Bixby & Co. chocolate bars for nationwide distribution.

With that story in hand, last week Kate stood before several hundred people at the University of Southern Maine as a finalist for the second annual $30,000 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad Award — an amount of money that would enable her to ramp up production to meet demand for her organic confections.

Her initial application, along with 129 others, had been reviewed by a cast of highly qualified judges before becoming one of a dozen finalists for the cash award. The stories of the dozen young companies were then posted to the Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad web site where friends, family, customers, advocates and just-plain-interested folks could review all the companies' pitches and vote for their favorite.

Bixby & Co. would have to go head-to-head with four other finalists:

Chimani, developers of a computer app for outdoor enthusiasts. The young company has completed downloadable apps for several national parks that offer travelers a chance to plan, navigate and understand the history of the parks in ways that make a visit far more enriching. The cash would be used to leverage additional funding to expand the offerings about other national parks.
Flowfold, a manufacturer of ultra-light wallets and totes produced from pre-consumer waste. They needed the cash to take their online and distributor sales to the next level.
Double Blue Sports Analytics, an advanced video and metrics platform for optimizing athletic performance. The brain child of a former professional hockey player, the initial application helps goalies track shots-on-goal and, therefore, train for the shots that come their way. The technology also has applications for tennis players and others who compete in a defined area against talented, but now more predictable, opponents. They needed cash to hire more programmers.
Garbage To Garden, a highly integrated composter of biodegradable household and commercial waste. This company not only is reducing the waste stream that would otherwise be bound for precious landfill space but also uses bi-products to fuel their vehicles and wash their reusable buckets. The cash award would help implement a software route-management program to expand their business.

Gorham Savings Bank inaugurated the competition last year in an effort to "help fund the launch of a business idea that may not otherwise take flight. One of the biggest barriers for entrepreneurs can be the lack of funding. LaunchPad not only celebrates great ideas but provides the resources to help bring these ideas to life."

The live event allowed three judges to listen and query the presenters. Their decision was based on the business model, the need, the passion and the viability of the competing companies. In the minds of the judges, Kate's pitch once again came straight across the plate and was rewarded with a home-run by the judges.

As new companies aspire higher, all need to have an involved conversation with an insurance agent about the risk associated with running the business, their services or the making of the products. For example, consultants need professional liability; premises need property/casualty coverage; and manufacturers need product liability to name just a few of the coverages to be discussed and understood.

With an economy that is slowly recovering, more and more Maine entrepreneurs will be bringing their best ideas to market. Be sure a risk analysis is in place to protect your journey into the exciting stratosphere of a successful enterprise. Three, two one ... LAUNCH!

Note: Gorham Savings Bank is a minority shareholder in Clark Insurance.

(Tony Payne is business development director at Clark Insurance. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 207-523-2213)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 01:14

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Clark Insurance welcomes Sullivan in business insurance section

Kristine Sullivan, an insurance agent and underwriter with more than 25 years of experience in Maine and New Hampshire, has joined Clark Insurance as a senior account executive in the Business Insurance Department, the firm reported.
Sullivan has experience serving clients in manufacturing, retail, social services, banking, the public sector, accountants and engineers, a press release noted. She has earned designations as a certified insurance counselor and management liability insurance specialist. Sullivan lives in Scarborough and is currently a board member for the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 01:04

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Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation honors Center for Grieving Children

The Center for Grieving Children, based in Portland, was honored by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, as part of its sixth annual Community Spirit Awards held Monday afternoon at its offices in Wellesley, Mass.4-9-14-center-children
The center, which serves more than 4,000 grieving children, teens, families, and young adults annually through peer support, outreach and education, will receive a $250 grant from Harvard Pilgrim Foundation, the foundation reported in a press release.
Since its founding in 1987, the Center for Grieving Children has served more than 66,000 children, teens and their families, the press release stated. Today the program serves over 40 children each year from an array of countries including Honduras, El Salvador, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Congo, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq, Uganda and Haiti. The program is offered in collaboration with Portland Public Schools.
The fountain honored five individuals and organizations in the region "for their significant and sustained volunteer contributions to charitable organizations in their communities."
"Each year, as a reflection of Harvard Pilgrim Foundation's commitment to community engagement, we recognize our colleagues and community partners who personify giving and volunteer service," said Karen Voci, president, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. "These recipients are nominated by their co-workers and are an inspiration to us all."
Other designations included: Manager of the Year: Carleen Tucker, Supervisor of Customer Service, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Quincy; Volunteer of the Year: Oscar Cabrera, Sales Support Associate, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Wellesley; Team of the Year: Care Management, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Project Leader: Susan Crowley.
The Community Hero award went to 2020 Vision Quest, Nashua, N.H. "2020 Vision Quest inspires people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals — personal, professional and philanthropic," the press release explained. "It began with Randy Pierce, who is blind, and his Guide Dog, Quinn, climbing all 48 of the rugged 4,000 plus foot peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains."
Created in 1980, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim's mission in health care.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 02:26

Hits: 230

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