• Join your peers at SSTI's 2024 Annual Conference!

    Join us December 10-12 in Arizona to connect with and learn from your peers working around the country to strengthen their regional innovation economies. Visit ssticonference.org for more information and to register today.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

VC and Renewable Energy Measures Win Legislative Support in Maine

April 28, 2010

Maine's 2010 legislative session wrapped up last week, ending on a relatively high note for tech-based economic development (TBED). Actions supporting TBED include a measure signed by Gov. John Baldacci to encourage venture capital investment in innovative companies and the legislature's approval of a bond package that includes $11 million for ocean wind energy demonstration sites through the University of Maine System.

LD 1, An Act to Stimulate Capital Investment for Innovative Businesses in Maine, allows the Maine Public Employees Retirement System to invest up to $20 million in innovative companies through venture funds. The goal of the program is to attract more venture capital and spur more innovative startups in the state. A larger Fund of Funds measure was pocket vetoed by the governor in 2008 because of its potential liability for the state, according to Gov. Baldacci (see the May 14, 2008 issue of the Digest).

A companion bill, LD 1666, to expand the existing seed capital investment tax credit, died in the Appropriations Committee. Although the tax credit likely would have paid for itself with increased economic activity, it was rejected because of its estimated cost of $500,000 in the next fiscal year, reports the Bangor Daily News.

Legislators also approved a bond package that includes modifications to economic development and energy investments for the June and November ballots. Lawmakers cut about $13.5 million from the current June ballot, a bulk of which came from funds for weatherization and energy efficiency programs. Other modifications include:

  • A $5 million increase ($11 million total) for the University of Maine System to develop one or more ocean wind energy demonstration sites. Funds are provided for R&D, product innovation, and robotics equipment to accelerate wind energy components manufacturing in the state; and,
  • A $1 million reduction ($4 million total) for the Small Enterprise Growth Fund to provide Maine companies and entrepreneurs access to sources of venture capital.

Additional investments through the Department of Economic and Community Development, including $3 million for the Maine Technology Institute (MTI), remain intact (see the July 1, 2009 issue of the Digest).

The supplemental 2010-2011 biennial budget that eliminates a $310 million shortfall was signed into law last month. The bill reduces funding for MTI by $384,071 in FY10 and $384,872 in FY11.

Gov. Baldacci also signed an "Act to Implement the Recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force." This legislation will support the development of ocean wind, tidal and wave power and states a policy preference for a transition to the use of renewable ocean electric power to meet Maine's heating and transportation needs, reports Progressive States Network.

Broadband measures signed into law this session include LD 1646, which sets goals to expand broadband access by establishing policies to promote universal broadband access and provide the necessary infrastructure, and LD 1778, a measure to facilitate Maine Fiber in building its dark fiber network throughout the state.