Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) recently announced that the Client Select Series of the NextGen College Investing Plan® (NextGen) is now the nation’s second-largest advisor-sold Section 529 college savings plan, according to Strategic Insight, a mutual fund industry research firm. Administered by FAME in conjunction with Program Manager Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, NextGen has over $8 billion in assets under management between the advisor-sold plan and the direct-sold plan as of June 30, 2014.
“We are very pleased by NextGen’s growth and success,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak. “The investment choices have made NextGen a good fit for many families around the nation saving for college, and the matching grants and other benefits created specifically for Maine residents are among the most generous available.”
Also, effective June 9, 2014, NextGen significantly decreased fees in the Client Direct Series, the direct-sold plan. Total annual asset-based fees were reduced by ten basis points in all Client Direct Series actively managed portfolios, and by five basis points in all Client Direct Series iShares exchange traded fund (ETF) portfolios. As a result, annual asset-based fees in the Client Direct Series now range from 0 to 69 basis points, with the passively managed iShares ETF portfolios ranging from 30 to 51 basis points.
“We are pleased to be reducing fees within NextGen,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “We are able to offer these enhancements due to the program’s success, and we’re grateful to Merrill Lynch, the Program Manager, for their cooperation in reducing their fees. It is important for the program to remain competitive with other Section 529 plans around the nation while offering a variety of choices for investors. FAME and its Advisory Committee on College Savings, which is chaired by Maine State Treasurer Neria Douglass, continually evaluate NextGen to identify opportunities to enhance and improve the plan.”
NextGen was established by the state of Maine in 1999 as a qualified tuition program under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. NextGen is a tax-advantaged investing program designed to help families prepare for qualified higher education expenses. Anyone at least age eighteen years of age can open an account, regardless of income or state residency, and assets can be used at any accredited U.S. post-secondary institution. Matching grants are available to eligible accounts. 529 plans can be opened directly with the plan (direct-sold) or through a financial advisor (advisor-sold).
To learn more about NextGen, please visit www.nextgenplan.com. For information specific to the benefits available to Maine residents for NextGen accounts, please contact FAME at 1-800-228-3734 or visit www.famemaine.com/nextgen.
FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine people and businesses pursue educational and business opportunities. To learn more about FAME, please visit www.famemaine.com.
The NextGen Plan is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Please remember there’s always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities. Before you invest in the NextGen plan, request a NextGen College Investing Plan Program Description from your Maine bank or financial advisor, or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734 and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in the NextGen plan, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.
Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates nor the Finance Authority of Maine provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Investors should consult their legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.
Monday, July 28, 2014
At its July 17, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) approved enhancements to FAME’s popular and successful OnLine Answer (OLA) Program, which provides a financial institution an immediate answer regarding its request for FAME’s Commercial Loan Insurance. OLA’s new loan insurance limit has been increased from $250,000 to a total exposure per relationship of up to $375,000.
FAME’s OLA Program is a faster, easier, and lower-cost way for authorized lenders to apply for loan insurance. Loan insurance insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution. The OLA Program has been in operation for over six years, and is now responsible for approximately 80% of all FAME loan insurance applications. OLA is FAME’s fastest growing product and popular with its lender partners and their customers.
Until now, OLA allowed for up to $250,000 in insurance for up to 75% insurance coverage. OLA’s new loan insurance limit has been increased to a total exposure per relationship of up to $375,000 at 75% insurance. The new insurance exposure equates to a lender’s loan in the amount of $500,000. The change takes effect immediately.
“FAME is pleased to increase the amount of loan insurance available to our lending partners through OLA,” stated Bruce Wagner, Chief Executive Officer of FAME.
“We know how important it is for our customers to obtain quick responses to their applications, and to be able to partner with us to help other businesses succeed.”
FAME implemented enhancements to the program after obtaining input from its Lender’s Advisory Group, which is comprised of representatives from various Maine lending institutions. The group meets regularly to advise FAME on its products and on the lending environment in Maine. OLA relieves a financial institution of having to prepare applications utilizing FAME’s paper application process.
In May of this year, FAME also launched improvements to OLA’s online features. The new features provide for a better customer experience, with easier user interface and a variety of enhancements. The modifications also help to ensure consistency among users. The enhancements include: one scrolling entry screen, automatic calculation of debt service coverage, user support screens, and streamlined entry. Also available through the Website is an enhanced OLA training tutorial and user manual.
Monday, July 21, 2014
At its July 17, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) certified Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program applications related to investments planned for a biomass electricity facility, which is connected with a wood pellet company in Athens. FAME’s actions will help spur investments in the Maine economy totaling more than $30 million and help to create and retain more than 200 Maine jobs in the Somerset County area.
“FAME is pleased to assist Athens Energy, LLC, with certification of Maine New Markets tax credit investor applications as the company moves forward with its plans to attract low-cost capital and enhance their operations. Our hope is for a stronger Maine economy through the creation and retention of Maine jobs,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner.
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 FAME in cooperation with Maine Revenue Services and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
“FAME’s certification of these projects is an important step to spur further investment in this Maine-based business,” said Paul Hoffman, Managing Director of CCG Community Partners, LLC. “The expected tax credits will not only help create jobs directly at these sites, they should also encourage other business development in the surrounding communities.”
CCG Community Partners, LLC, was previously approved by FAME for tax credit allocation under the Maine New Markets Capital Investment Credit Program. The board in this case approved certification of applications by three subsidiaries of CCG: CCG Sub-CDE 25, LLC; CCG Sub-CDE 29, LLC; and CCG Sub-CDE 31, LLC, for investments totaling $30.3 million in Athens Energy, a sister company to the adjacent wood pellet manufacturer known as Maine Woods Pellet Company, LLC.
The proposed investments have been certified by FAME to be eligible for state tax credits totaling $12,133,333.33. A portion of the investments is also eligible for federal new markets tax credits. The investments will be in the form of loans to Athens Energy to be used for construction and equipping of a biomass electricity generator and the payment of transaction costs. The investments also will help to expand the associated wood pellet production facility. The tax credits will not be issued until the actual investments are made.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
At its May 15, 2014 meeting, the Board of Directors of FAME approved loan insurance on two Camden National Bank loans to Valley Bowl Corporation to assist with a planned bowling center, restaurant, and sports pub in Carrabassett Valley near Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. In partnership with Camden National Bank, FAME’s financing is expected to help create approximately fifteen full-time, year-round Maine jobs.
“FAME is pleased to support Valley Bowl Corp. with its development plans in Carrabassett Valley,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak. "We hope this financial support not only assists in the direct creation of new jobs, but assists the Carrabassett Valley community's efforts to enhance its year-round economic vitality."
Valley Bowl Corporation, d/b/a The SugarBowl, plans to construct and operate an 11,165 square-foot complex to include a ten-lane computerized bowling center, as well as a seventy-five seat restaurant and sports pub, arcade, and golf simulator on Route 27 in Carrabassett Valley. FAME has agreed to insure two loans to help fund the purchase of land and existing buildings and help fund construction of the development.
FAME’s Commercial Loan Insurance Program insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution.
“We very much appreciate FAME’s support for the project and for the company’s plans for a new entertainment center and restaurant in Carrabassett Valley,” stated Kerry Audet, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Valley Bowl Corporation. “The SugarBowl will provide much-needed food and entertainment, as well as jobs, to the Sugarloaf area.”
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
“FAME is pleased to lend its support to the commercial financing package approved for Franklin Processing,” stated FAME Board Chair Ray Nowak. “Their plans are a very positive development for the local economy in the Hancock County area, and for the wild blueberry industry overall.”
FAME’s Commercial Loan Insurance Program insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution. FAME approved 90% pro-rata insurance on two loans totaling $1.7 million by Camden National Bank to the company. The financing will help Franklin Processing to develop the processing plant and obtain a working line of credit for operations.
“Camden National is happy to be partnering with FAME on this important project,” stated Derek Hayes, Vice President, Commercial Regional Manager at Camden National Bank. “This reinvestment in blueberry processing in the Franklin area will lead to good jobs and further strengthen the local economy.”
“We very much appreciate FAME’s support for the project and for our company’s plans to process blueberries in Maine,” stated John Collins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Franklin Processing, Inc. “We look forward to being a good community member and to leveraging the skills and work ethic of local Mainers as we expand into the global market.”
Also at the monthly board meeting, FAME approved bond financing totaling $103.4 million for MaineHealth, a nonprofit healthcare provider based in Portland. MaineHealth is the state’s largest healthcare provider and operates Maine Medical Center and a number of other hospitals and medical service providers throughout the state. FAME approved the issuance of non-recourse (or conduit) tax-exempt bonds to help finance a portion of the costs of implementing a new electronic medical records system to be used at all MaineHealth locations. The new system will help MaineHealth better manage its various information systems and better care for its patients. The project does not involve any liability or credit enhancement by FAME, and the bonds will be privately placed with TD Bank.
“MaineHealth greatly appreciates FAME’s assistance in helping to finance this important medical information system,” stated Francis G. McGinty, Executive Vice President and Treasurer of MaineHealth. “Our new Shared Electronic Health Record (SeHR) System will help us realize our vision of ‘one patient, one record,’ and thereby help lower costs and improve the overall health of our patients.”
FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine people and businesses pursue educational and business opportunities. To learn more about FAME and its resources, please visit www.famemaine.com
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority have been selected through a competitive RFP process to participate in the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) Redesigning Student Aid in New England (Redesigning Aid) project, funded by Lumina Foundation.
NEBHE will help project participants explore the possible redesign and alignment of their student financial aid policies and programs by:
- Conducting research to assess the impact of current state financial aid policies and programs on New England students and families;
- Hosting regional meetings on student financial aid redesign and facilitating regional dialogue on financial aid and college affordability; and
- Contracting with nationally recognized financial aid redesign consultants to provide additional support to project participants in their redesign efforts.
Additionally, NEBHE plans to invite other New England states to regional student financial aid gatherings to engage in a broader conversation about college affordability and the redesign of policies and programs that support greater student access and completion
“FAME is pleased to have been chosen to be part of this important project,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “In an age of increased college costs, limited state investment in financial aid programs, and the ever-growing importance of higher education attainment, we are eager to maximize Maine’s student aid programs for the benefit of Maine students. We are grateful to both NEBHE and Lumina Foundation for this opportunity.”
"NEBHE is enthusiastic about working with these three organizations to identify strategies for using state aid programs to strengthen college affordability," said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas. "We appreciate the interest and commitment of these three states and recognize Lumina's generous support for this groundbreaking work."
FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that provides innovative financial solutions to help Maine people and businesses pursue educational and business opportunities. To learn more about FAME and its resources, please visit www.famemaine.com
Founded in 1955 by six visionary New England governors, NEBHE brings together leaders of education, higher education, government, business and labor to forge partnerships and advance ideas that enhance the economy and quality of life in the six-state region and around the world. NEBHE works to increase the education opportunities for New England residents and to promote collaboration among the region's colleges and universities to expand access, success, affordability and the economic impact of higher education.
About Lumina Foundation:
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60% by 2025. Lumina's outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. For more information, visit http://www.luminafoundation.org.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
“FAME is pleased to offer an improved OLA application process for our lending partners,” stated FAME Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wagner. “We know how important it is for our customers to obtain quick responses to their applications. OLA is FAME’s fastest growing product and quite popular with our customers.”
FAME’s Commercial Loan Insurance Program, utilizing the OLA product, insures up to 75% of up to $250,000 of FAME insurance exposure for a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Board of Directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) today approved new financing for Thermogen I, LLC, an entity with plans to develop a black pellet mill at the former Great Northern Paper mill in Millinocket. The project is expected to help to create 55 direct jobs and approximately 281 indirect jobs in the region.
Thermogen I, LLC, a subsidiary of Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an energy company with plans to construct a black pellet mill using a thermal treatment process.
Members of the FAME Board noted that the project has the potential to boost the area and state economy while supporting Maine’s traditional natural resources and manufacturing industries. The $16 million taxable bond will be supported by the moral obligation of the state.
“FAME is pleased to be part of the financing for this new project, which makes use of innovative technology and Maine’s natural resources, and further promises considerable export value,” stated Bruce Wagner, FAME’s Chief Executive Officer. “We wish Cate Street and the people of the Katahdin region every success as the project moves forward.”
The $16 million in authorized bond financing utilizes FAME’s Major Business Expansion Bond Program. Administered by FAME, the program provides long-term, financing with interest rates enhanced by the support of the moral obligation of the state for businesses creating or retaining fifty jobs.
In considering an application under the Major Business Expansion Bond Program, the Board is required under the governing statute to find that the applicant is creditworthy and that there is a “strong likelihood” that the securities will be repaid through the revenues of the project and any other sources of revenues and collateral pledged to the repayment of the bond securities.
Among the conditions imposed as part of the approval by the FAME Board are the requirements that any outstanding property taxes owed to the towns of Millinocket and East Millinocket be paid, and that any other liens against collateral for the bond be satisfied.
In August 2013, FAME authorized the issuance of up to $15.7 million dollars in state New Markets Tax Credits for the Thermogen project’s investors, and in December 2012, FAME approved $14 million in New Markets Tax Credits to investors in the related GNP East Millinocket mill project.
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.