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March 28, 2014

Committee endorses $73M business development bond

A legislative committee has recommended that lawmakers pass a $73 million bond package that would support the state's biotechnology and marine sectors and open more funds to small businesses.

The Portland Press Herald reported the bond proposal cleared the Legislature's Committee on Maine's Workforce and Economic Future in a 13-2 vote. Democratic leaders have backed the bill but Republicans said they are wary of more state borrowing.

The committee vote on the bill Thursday included testimony in its favor from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, small business owners, fishermen and corporate executives, the newspaper reported.

The bond package would include: $15 million for Jackson Laboratory to help build a new biometric analysis lab in Bar Harbor; $10 million for a Maine Technology Institute matching grant fund; $8 million to renovate and improve a lab to help farmers and foresters identify pests and plant and animal diseases at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; $15 million for the Finance Authority of Maine's revolving loan program and $5 million for a loan guarantee program FAME administers for businesses with fewer than 50 employees; $5 million for an expansion project at the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab; and $15 million in grants to marine-based companies.

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