Monday, March 24, 2014
At its March 20, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) approved bond financing for St. Croix Tissue, Inc., which is located in Baileyville. The proceeds will be used to partially finance the purchase and installation of two new, large tissue-making machines. FAME’s actions will help St. Croix and a related company, Woodland Pulp, LLC, create and retain approximately 450 Maine jobs.
“FAME is pleased to support St. Croix tissue with its plans for growth and success” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “We know how important it is for the company to invest in value-added products and remain competitive in the global market. FAME’s financing should also help provide a much-needed boost for the Washington County economy.”
St. Croix Tissue, Inc. will operate on a portion of the Woodland Pulp, LLC mill site in Baileyville. Its parent company, International Grand Investment Corporation, which also owns Woodland Pulp, recently announced plans to invest over $120 million in the new tissue machine project at the Baileyville mill, of which the FAME financing will be a part.
FAME approved the issuance of a $7.5 million taxable bond supported by the moral obligation of the state through its Major Business Expansion Program. The financing will help to create eighty direct jobs at the mill and an additional eighty indirect jobs in the area. It also will help its related company to retain the 300 existing jobs at the Woodland Pulp facility.
FAME’s Major Business Expansion Bond Program provides long-term, credit-enhanced financing up to $25 million for certain eligible businesses. An applicant must be determined by FAME to be creditworthy and there must be a strong likelihood that the bonds will be repaid through the revenues of the project and any other sources of revenues and collateral pledged to the repayment of those securities.
“We very much appreciate FAME’s support for the project and for the company’s plans for growth and success in the worldwide tissue market,” stated Bert Martin, Director of Woodland Pulp and St. Croix Tissue.
This is not the first financing FAME has approved for the project. In November 2013, FAME authorized the issuance of Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program tax credits for three Qualified Community Development Entities planning investments in St. Croix Tissue, Inc. The credits, in total exceeding $15.6 million, are part of the overall financing package being used to fund the expansion and renovation of a building at the mill complex and to install the two tissue-making machines.
Also, in April 2011 FAME approved loan insurance on a Machias Savings Bank construction loan for Woodland Pulp, LLC to build a natural gas pipeline connector and convert the mill from oil to natural gas. The loan insurance was never used by the company, however, and the construction was completed without the FAME assistance.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Maine Senate recently confirmed Gov. LePage’s six nominees (two reappointments and four new members) to the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) Board of Directors. The six board members are: Jonathan A. Block of Portland; Reis Hagerman of Standish; James G. Howard of Topsham; Gregory E. Miller of Old Town; Rosaire Pelletier of Madawaska; and James P. Violette, Jr. of Waterville. Upon swearing in, the new members will join the fifteen-member FAME Board.
Jonathan Block of Portland is a tax attorney and partner with the law firm of Pierce Atwood, LLP. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from the University of Maine School of Law. He also earned an L.L.M. in Taxation at Boston University School of Law. Block does extensive work helping business and individual clients navigate the tax code and various economic development incentives.
Reis Hagerman of Standish is Dean of Campus Life at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. He received his B.A. from Saint. Joseph’s College and earned an M.B.A. from Rivier College. Hagerman recently completed his first term on the FAME Board and has over twenty-five years of higher education experience. He is a former Director of the former Maine Education Assistance Division at FAME.
Jim Howard of Topsham has more than thirty years of experience building businesses and employing Maine people. He is the president and chief executive officer of Priority Real Estate Group and is active in his community. Howard has a keen understanding of the lending industry and economic development.
Greg Miller of Old Town is currently working in student affairs at Eastern Maine Community College. He earned a B.A. from Wagner College and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Maine. Miller previously was employed at the United Technologies Center in Bangor where he was Dean of Students and later Director. Miller has been heavily involved in the development and operation of The Bridge Year Program. He is a Registered Maine Guide and active in his community.
Rosaire Pelletier of Madawaska currently serves as Senior Forest Products Advisor for the state within the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. He has more than forty years of experience in financial management of the pulp and paper industry. He is being reappointed to the FAME Board following completion of his first term.
Jay Violette of Waterville is a senior loan officer in the commercial division at TD Bank, N.A. He earned his B.A. at Colby College and earned an M.B.A. in finance from New York University. Violette has more than thirty years of banking experience. He is active in his community and a member of the Waterville Development Corporation.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
FAME is pleased to welcome new Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. The Maine Senate recently voted unanimously to confirm Gov. LePage’s nomination of Bruce to the position, which is for a term of four years.
Bruce has a strong background in business management, development and renewal, having served as W.R. Grace’s President of the Darex Container Products Division, as chief executive officer at Barber Foods, and as chief financial officer at Martin’s Point Health Care. A graduate of Lafayette College, he also has completed advanced management programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at INSEAD, the French international business school.
Bruce directed the MIT-affiliated Center for Quality Management, where he worked with companies as diverse as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Analog Devices, and Martin’s Point Health Care to develop and deploy business strategies and processes that deliver superior business performance. Bruce subsequently founded Traverse CEO, LLC, a business consulting firm specializing in rescuing and renewing businesses. In his role at Traverse, Bruce helped to rebuild Barber Foods in Portland and save Maine jobs, and also helped Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent to create a new operating plan that allowed the hospital to obtain critical financing for a new biomass boiler system.
“I am honored to have been chosen for this important role and look forward to collaborating with FAME’s excellent board and staff to continue and expand the agency’s mission of making business and education work for Maine,” stated Wagner.
Wagner has served on the board of directors of Woodard & Curran, Mercy Hospital, the Portland Community Health Center, and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. He lives with his wife, Kathi, in North Yarmouth, and is the father of four children and has four grandchildren. In his spare time, Bruce enjoys carpentry, playing the piano, recreating in Maine’s great outdoors, and spending time with his family.
“FAME is fortunate to have someone of Bruce’s background taking the helm of the agency. His strong business and financial background, coupled with his integrity and concern for people and FAME’s mission, make him an ideal choice for CEO,” stated Ray Nowak, FAME Board Chair.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) is participating in this year’s “America Saves Week” campaign to help Maine students and families successfully manage their finances, save for the future, and reduce student loan debt.
Observed this year from February 24 – March 1, America Saves Week (www.americasaves.org) is a national campaign designed to raise public awareness about the importance of saving, investing, and preparing for future needs. The national campaign is sponsored by the American Savings Education Council.
To highlight America Saves Week, FAME is reminding Mainers of the availability of its financial education resources, including Maine’s college savings program, the NextGen College Investing Plan® (NextGen®). Throughout the week, FAME will utilize social media to encourage Maine families to save and spend wisely.
To join FAME’s Facebook page, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/FinanceAuthorityMaine.
“FAME offers extensive financial education resources to assist individuals in gaining a better understanding of borrowing, saving, and investing. We encourage Maine students and families to begin saving for college early and to explore all financial aid options as ways to limit student loan debt,” stated Mary Dyer, FAME Financial Education Specialist. Dyer also serves as President of the Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
In partnership with the Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, The Maine Office of Securities, The Maine Credit Union League, and others, FAME is sponsoring the upcoming Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools Conference on May 8, 2014 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. This fifth annual training conference will bring together educators, administrators and counselors who are dedicated to improving the financial capability of Maine students. For more information about the conference, please visit: http://www.jumpstart.org/states-maine.html
Friday, January 10, 2014
FAME has identified some uncertainty over when allocations of tax credit authority awarded to CDE’s under the Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program (the “Program”) will expire and lapse back to FAME for reallocation. This correspondence is designed to clarify this issue.
Allocations made to CDE’s in February, 2012 will expire and lapse back to FAME for reallocation 2 years from the date on the respective original allocation letter (February 22, 2014), at 12 midnight, unless the following has occurred:
A cash investment designated as a Maine QEI has been made by an investor in the CDE by such 2 year anniversary date, and notice of such investment has been provided to FAME within 10 days thereafter.
This does not require that the QLICI have already been made by the CDE, out of the QEI, by such deadline. Rather, the CDE will have to make the QLICI within 24 months of the initial credit allowance date of the QEI. As has been our practice, FAME will not certify a QEI or issue tax credit certificates, prior to the QLICI being made.
Accordingly, FAME will send notices of expiration out to CDE allocatees shortly after March 4, 2014. Thereafter, we will develop and publish a process for reallocation.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), in partnership with the Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, recently launched a new web tool that offers a searchable list of financial education services available in Maine. The tool was developed to assist educators and community members locate Maine-based financial education providers and resources. FAME’s tool is the first of its kind in Maine and enables educators and individuals to identify and take advantage of resources in their local community and statewide.
The tool encompasses financial education course information, services, and workshops provided by a variety of organizations and institutions. Exclusively Maine-based, the information provided covers the entire state and almost every county. All resources and services listed come at little or no cost to the end-user.
“Improving access to financial education is at the core of FAME’s mission. By introducing a searchable list of financial education services, FAME is providing a vital, interactive tool to enhance Maine citizens’ ability to access financial education resources,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Beth Bordowitz.
Ready for immediate use, the tool may be accessed through FAME’s financial education webpage at the following address:
FAME will continue to partner with Maine-based financial education providers to update and add listings. Any organization offering free or not-for-profit financial education interested in including an entry should contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, November 18, 2013
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) celebrated its 30 Anniversary at its annual meeting and awards event, Showcase Maine, on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at Portland’s Holiday Inn By The Bay.
Showcase Maine is FAME’s annual celebration of its successful partnerships with Maine’s business, lending, and higher education communities.
The evening featured a reception, including a showcase of exhibits by Maine businesses and educational organizations that partner with FAME; a dinner and awards presentation; and a keynote speech by Richard Hackett, Esq.
Hackett, a former partner with Portland’s Pierce Atwood, LLP, discussed his tenure at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, D.C., where until recently he served as assistant director for the past two years. Hackett oversaw installment lending markets, including auto and student lending regulation.
“We enjoyed celebrating the successes of the past thirty years with our partners in Maine’s business, higher education, and lending communities” said Beth Bordowitz, FAME’s Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to showcase Maine businesses and educational organizations, and it was a privilege for us to honor some of Maine’s innovative leaders.”
This year’s award recipients included:
- Hodgdon Yachts (Business at Work for Maine Award): The company was recognized for its innovation and adaptability over the years, as well as its advancement of Maine’s forest products and maritime heritage. It is currently the oldest, continuously operated boat-building company in the United States.
- Jim Wellehan and Lamey-Wellehan Shoes (Education at Work for Maine Award): Jim Wellehan and Lamey-Wellehan Shoes were honored for their “Maine Difference Scholarship,” which annually assists Maine students who focus their studies on the ecology or economics of Maine as they strive to maintain a healthy state both environmentally and economically.
- Camden National Bank (Financial Institution of the Year Award): Camden National Bank was honored with this award for a fourth time. Over the past year, Camden National partnered with FAME on forty-eight loans totaling over $13.4 million. This in turn helped to create 134 Maine jobs and retain an additional 450 jobs.
- Hon. Mary Nelson of Falmouth (Dirigo Legislative Champion Award):Nelson, a state representative from Falmouth, serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. She is a strong supporter of FAME’s mission, especially with respect to providing higher education opportunities for all Maine students.
Prior to the dinner and awards ceremony, the FAME Board met for its monthly meeting and authorized the issuance of up to approximately $16 million in state New Markets tax credits for three Qualified Community Development Entities proposing investments in St. Croix Tissue, Inc., in Baileyville. These include $4.5 million to CCM Community Development LVII, LLC (U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.); $8.1 million to Enhanced Capital New Market Development Fund XXXVII, LLC (Wells Fargo Community Investments Holdings, LLC); and $3.3 million to USBCDE Sub-CDE 90, LLC (U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.). St. Croix Tissue, Inc. operates the Woodland Pulp, LLC mill in Baileyville. The company will use the funds to expand and renovate a building at the mill complex and to install two new tissue-making machines. The funds are expected to help to create and retain more than 300 Maine jobs.
The Board also authorized the issuance of up to $4.2 million dollars in state New Markets Tax Credits to Stonehenge Community Development LXII, LLC (U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp.), an investor in Press Hotel, LLC, which plans to purchase and renovate into a 110-room hotel the former offices of the Portland Press Herald, located at 390 Congress Street in Portland. 70 new jobs are expected to be created during the construction-renovation process, with an additional 80 new jobs expected once the hotel is built.
The Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program provides refundable state tax credits of up to 39 percent to investors in qualified community development entities (CDEs) that reinvest in certain businesses in eligible low-income communities in Maine. The program is modeled after the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program, and is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine, in cooperation with Maine Revenue Services and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) will celebrate its 30 Anniversary at its annual meeting and awards event, Showcase Maine, on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Portland’s Holiday Inn By The Bay.
Showcase Maine is FAME’s annual celebration of its successful partnerships with Maine’s business, lending, and higher education communities.
The evening will feature a reception, including a showcase of exhibits by Maine businesses and educational organizations that partner with FAME; a dinner and awards presentation; and a keynote speech by Richard Hackett, Esq.
Hackett, a former partner with Portland’s Pierce Atwood, LLP, recently departed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, D.C., where he was assistant director for the past two years. Hired by the office to oversee installment lending markets, he was the bureau's point person on auto and student lending regulation. He will discuss his tenure at the CFPB, including the bureau’s role with respect to students and businesses, as well as the role of markets offices and approaches to data at the bureau.
“We look forward to celebrating the successes of the past thirty years with our partners in Maine’s business and higher education communities,” said Beth Bordowitz, FAME’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to showcasing current Maine businesses and educational organizations, as well as looking back at FAME’s success stories over the past three decades.”
This year’s award recipients include:
- Hodgdon Yachts (Business at Work for Maine Award): Hodgdon Yachts of East Boothbay has been launching world-class vessels in East Boothbay since 1816. The company is being recognized for its innovation and adaptability over the years, as well as its advancement of Maine’s forest products and maritime heritage. It is currently the oldest, continuously operated boat-building company in the United States.
- James Wellehan and Lamey-Wellehan Shoes (Education at Work for Maine Award): Jim Wellehan and Lamey-Wellehan Shoes will be honored for their “Maine Difference Scholarship,” which annually assists Maine students who focus their studies on the ecology or economics of Maine as they strive to maintain a healthy state both environmentally and economically. The company will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014.
- Camden National Bank (Financial Institution of the Year Award): Camden National Bank will be honored with an award for a fourth time. Over the past year, Camden National partnered with FAME on forty-eight loans totaling over $13.4 million. This in turn helped to create 134 Maine jobs and retain an additional 450 jobs. The bank also is committed to the communities it serves, supporting a variety of businesses, community, and non-profit organizations. The bank sponsors Community Spirit of Giving, a community outreach program that helps raise money to help area families in need at the holidays.
- Hon. Mary Nelson of Falmouth (Dirigo Legislative Champion Award): Nelson, a state representative from Falmouth, serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. She is a strong supporter of FAME’s mission, especially with respect to providing higher education opportunities for all Maine students.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) continues to maintain impressively low cohort default rates for Maine student loan borrowers. According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, FAME’s federal Fiscal Year 2011 official cohort default rate was 5.6 percent of borrowers. By comparison, the national two-year average was 10 percent, up from 9.1 percent the previous year. Last year’s national average for guaranty agencies was 7 percent.
Cohort Default Rates measure the percentage of all federal Stafford Loan borrowers entering repayment in a given federal fiscal year who default on their loans before the end of the following fiscal year. FAME’s Fiscal Year 2010 cohort default rate was 4.9 percent of borrowers, while its FY 2009 rate was 6.1 percent and its FY 2008 rate was 5.9 percent.
“FAME’s ability to maintain a low default rate benefits lenders, schools, and, most importantly, Maine students,” stated FAME Board Chair Susan Snowden. “FAME’s default rate is the result of expanded college access, financial education and debt management services that support financial aid offices and educate borrowers.”
“These results show the value of the personalized financial education and default prevention efforts of guaranty agencies like FAME and our lender partners. FAME’s emphasis on default prevention rather than on post-default collection is the right one for students and families doing their best to pay back their obligations and for taxpayers,” stated FAME CEO Beth Bordowitz.
FAME believes strongly that financial education is the cornerstone of debt management and default prevention. Last year FAME launched SALT, a first-of-its-kind collaboration with American Student Assistance that delivers financial education and debt management services free-of-charge to Maine students and alumni. Currently, 82% of Maine college students have access to SALT’s proactive debt management services. FAME’s CAFÉ Team also provided financial education to 6,320 Maine citizens, an increase of 124 percent over the previous year. In 2014, FAME will continue its commitment to providing financial education by co-sponsoring “Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools,” a financial literacy conference for Maine teachers, administrators, counselors and others.
Friday, October 04, 2013
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) recently notified twenty-five Maine schools and non-profit education organizations that they have been selected to receive sub-grants totaling $957,933 through the Maine College Access Challenge Grant (MCACG) administered by FAME. The awards range from $9,900 to $69,932.
“FAME is pleased to announce these sub-grants for the MCACG Program,” stated Beth Bordowitz, Chief Executive Officer of FAME. “These much-needed funds will help FAME and its partners throughout Maine strengthen our college access and financial education efforts to help Maine students and families achieve their postsecondary education goals.”
The College Access Challenge Grant was awarded to FAME by the U.S. Department of Education. Awards are to be used by states on efforts to increase college access and success among underserved student populations, particularly low-income and first generation college attendees. FAME will provide a one-third required match.
FAME’s sub-grants were awarded on a competitive basis to eligible Maine schools and non-profit organizations. All recipients and their project descriptions are listed online at FAME’s Web site: www.famemaine.com
Grant recipients include several programs that are focused on adult learners. College for ME-Androscoggin, through its Resiliency is the Key Program, will leverage the experience and partnerships of more than forty organizations to provide group mentoring, develop multi-generational outreach for families about college-going, financial literacy, and debt management, and deliver joint professional development for K-16 and adult education instructors focused on student writing skills. The Regional Adult Education Partnership (RAP), comprised of RSUs 9, 52, and 73, which are located in Franklin and Androscoggin Counties, and in collaboration with RSUs 58 and 78, which are located in Franklin County, will create a plan for adults who desire to attend college. The work will culminate in preparation for sustainable employment, which will be achieved through academic preparation, student advising, and business networking.
Other grantees will focus on college, high school, and middle school students. MCACG funds will provide support to the University of Maine at Farmington’s PAID Program, a peer-educated financially literacy program that addresses the negative impact that financial issues, including student loan indebtedness, have on student success in college. Grant funds also are being provided to the Lake Regional Vocational Center to support high school students through the College Success Program, a forty-five-hour class delivered after school two days per week. Students learn strategies to reach their maximum potential while in college and persist until graduation and may earn high school and college credits through an approved dual credit articulation agreement with Southern Maine Community College. The New Surry Repertory Theatre and Acting School, Inc. will use MCACG funds to collaborate with the Blue Hill Harbor School, the Reach School, and the Blue Hill Consolidated School to increase the post-secondary attainment of students who are less likely to pursue higher education using recognized best practices in college access, as well as provide self-esteem enhancement and confidence building through effective and engaging improvisation and role-playing workshops.
Another grant recipient is Good Will-Hinckley’s Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS). The school will offer academic support services to youth who are aging-out of foster care and wish to attend college. Their planned Step-Up Program will provide housing, academic and life skill supports to cohorts of seven to ten students per academic year. The goal of the program is to increase degree attainment and financial independence of former foster youth in Maine.
The FAME College Access and Financial Education (CAFÉ) Team includes professionals who not only work with high schools, middle schools and elementary schools, but also coordinate with colleges, adult education centers, and college access programs to reach students and parents. The free services provided are available to all Maine citizens, regardless of income.