Be prepared for the worst by being the best prepared

By Barb Rapoza and Holly Merrill, Marketing Managers, SERVPRO

With September being National Preparedness Month it’s important to have a game plan in place whether it be for you personally or your business. National Preparedness Month is a campaign led by FEMA and many other agencies that provide emergency assistance and hop on board to help educate others to be prepared before it’s too late.

How ready are you? Ask yourself these questions:
If severe weather were to strike, who would be at risk?
Do you have an effective way of reaching everyone in your facility?
Has everyone been briefed on the best way to report an emergency?
If a crisis occurs, what is the expected impact on the organizations supply chain?

Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed if you do not have a plan in place. Many people do not.  Through our day to day work with SERVPRO, we often ask people if they have a plan and are used to the non-verbal clues that someone does not, but is afraid to say just that. The thought of a disaster occurring, as well as putting a preparedness plan together, can be overwhelming. Too many times in our line of business we hear, “If only I had known what to do, maybe this would not have happened to me or the damage would not have been as severe”.

It’s not too late to get your plan ready. Since SERVPRO is a national sponsor of the American Red Cross Ready Rating program, we are versed in what they offer for proactive assistance. The Ready Rating program is a free, web-based program and is designed to help organizations become better prepared for emergencies. Through the website,, organizations can complete a 123-point self-assessment of their level of preparedness for weather-related or other emergencies. The program allows individuals to assess their readiness for a disaster so they can take all necessary steps before disaster strikes to protect their property from damage and loss.

The American Red Cross also offers some great apps you can download to assist you in case of an emergency, located at The Emergency App in particular is an “all-inclusive” app combining severe weather and emergency information in real time to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Not only does your family and business need a contingency plan should disaster strike, but your facility also does too.  SERVPRO offers an Emergency READY Program (, and can establish an Emergency READY Profile (ERP) for your facility. The ERP is a comprehensive document containing critical information about your business, including emergency contact information, shut-off valve locations and priority areas. In the event of an emergency, the ERP can help minimize business interruption by having an immediate plan of action in place for your facility.

The ERP is a no-cost assessment; all it requires is a little time, making it a great value that could save you time and money in the future. As many as 50% of businesses close down following a disaster, according to the latest research. Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place.

Help yourself, your loved ones and business by being the best prepared. What are you waiting for, get started today!

Contact Barb or Holly for further information. Barb can be reached at: and Holly at

Posted in Member Articles | Leave a comment

Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) to Host Annual Fall Social on October 22 on Portland’s Waterfront

When:  October 22, 2015 | Time:  5:00 – 7:00 PM

Where: Hilton Garden Inn, Portland Downtown Waterfront, 65 Commercial St., Portland, ME

About the Event:
MEREDA’s networking events attract key players in Maine’s real estate industry.  Join us for hors d’oeuvres, spirits, and lively conversation with colleagues, friends and other industry professionals on Portland’s Waterfront. A great forum to put a face with a name as well as make new business connections!  This must-attend event sells out every year, so be sure to register early!  MEREDA’s networking events are not only fun — they are an extremely valuable business development tool.

Registering for this Event:
Your RSVP is requested by October 15, 2015. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after October 17.

Ticket Prices:
Members: $45.00 per person
Non-Members: $60.00 per person
Prices increase by $10 after October 15.

Visit to register online.

Sponsored by:

fall social sponsors


Posted in Business, Events | Leave a comment

MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event:  Practical Considerations for Major Redevelopment Projects – and What’s Next in the City of Bangor


Join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) for breakfast on October 6 from 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM at Hollywood Casino Hotel in Bangor to hear the inside scoop on what may be next for the City of Bangor.


Tanya Emery, the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Bangor will speak about major redevelopment projects in the City.  Topics include public/private partnerships, assembling a good team, etc. From here, we will transition to the forward-looking portion of the discussion focusing on where the next big projects for Bangor might be, and where developers, bankers, lawyers, consultants might be looking for the next opportunities.

Make plans to join us on October 6th for what is sure to be an exciting and informative event!

Registering for this Event:
Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after October 1, 2015.

Member: $25 pp | Non-Member: $35 pp
Prices increase by $10 after October 1

Visit for more information and to register.

This MEREDA “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank, Webber Group, Rudman Winchell, City of Bangor.

Posted in Business, Events | Leave a comment

Department of Justice Best Practices on Cybersecurity: Guidance for Smaller Organizations

William L. Roberts, Preti Flaherty

Protecting your business from cyber breaches can be a daunting task. This is especially so with limited budgets and personnel. Most know of the horror stories, some think “it will not happen to my company”, “we’re too small to care about”, “we’re not vital to the industry”, “we have adequate security”. . . . Even so, many executives still worry about the business interruption, customer data loss, company reputation, the cost of protecting cyber information and possible litigation.

The U.S. Department of Justice has recently issued a cybersecurity “best practice” guidance document written for smaller organizations which provides helpful, cost efficient practices. It was drafted with smaller, less resourced organizations in mind; but, even larger organizations with more experience in handling cyber incidents may benefit from it.

What is important about the DOJ cybersecurity guidance for smaller organizations is that, if followed, it may well serve to help mitigate litigation expense while providing a cost effective means to enhance your organization’s cybersecurity program.

We understand that many smaller energy organizations may have in place hardware and software to protect their corporate computer systems. We also understand that many smaller organizations may have some systems in place to address data security and client data protection.

Nevertheless, we have learned that prudence dictates that all organizations have in place cybersecurity “programs”, not just protection hardware and software, but written cybersecurity “programs” that meet some recognized standard for their corporate computer systems and computer systems that may contain client information. The DOJ cybersecurity “best practices” for smaller organizations may well serve as a recognized standard and thus help protect your organization and mitigate expensive litigation.

Highlights from the DOJ Cybersecurity “Best Practices” Document – Version 1.0 (2015)


Any Internet-connected organization can fall prey to a disruptive network intrusion or costly cyber attack. A quick, effective response to cyber incidents can prove critical to minimizing the resulting harm and expediting recovery. The best time to plan such a response is now, before an incident occurs.

This “best practices” document was drafted by the Cybersecurity Unit to assist organizations in preparing a cyber incident response plan. It reflects lessons learned by federal prosecutors while handling cyber investigations and prosecutions, including information about how cyber criminals’ tactics and tradecraft can thwart recovery. It also incorporates input from private sector companies that have managed cyber incidents. It was drafted with smaller, less resourced organizations in mind; however, even larger organizations with more experience in handling cyber incidents may benefit from it.

U.S. Department of Justice – Cyber Incident Preparedness Checklist

Before a Cyber Attack or Intrusion

  • Identify mission critical data and assets (i.e., your “Crown Jewels”) and institute tiered security measures to appropriately protect those assets.
  • Review and adopt risk management practices found in guidance such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber security Framework.
  • Create an actionable incident response plan.
    • Test plan with exercises.
    • Keep plan up-to-date to reflect changes in personnel and structure.
  • Have the technology in place (or ensure that it is easily obtainable) that will be used to address an incident.
  • Have procedures in place that will permit lawful network monitoring.
  • Have legal counsel that is familiar with legal issues associated with cyber incidents.
  • Align other policies (e.g., human resources and personnel policies) with your incident response plan.
  • Develop proactive relationships with relevant law enforcement agencies, outside counsel, public relations firms, and investigative and cyber security firms that you may require in the event of an incident.

During a Cyber Attack or Intrusion

  • Make an initial assessment of the scope and nature of the incident, particularly whether it is a malicious act or a technological glitch.
  • Minimize continuing damage consistent with your cyber incident response plan.
    • Collect and preserve data related to the incident.
    • “Image” the network.
    • Keep all logs, notes, and other records.
  • Keep records of ongoing attacks.
  • Consistent with your incident response plan, notify—
    • Appropriate management and personnel within the victim organization.
    • Law enforcement.
    • Other possible victims.
    • Department of Homeland Security.
  • Do not—
    • Use compromised systems to communicate.
    • “Hack back” or intrude upon another network.

After Recovering from a Cyber Attack or Intrusion

    • Continue monitoring the network for any anomalous activity to make sure the intruder has been expelled and you have regained control of your network.
    • Conduct a post-incident review to identify deficiencies in planning and execution of your incident response plan.

Preti Flaherty assists organizations of all sizes develop and implement cybersecurity programs for their corporate and operations computer systems. For the full 15-page DOJ cybersecurity “best practices” document, or for additional information, please contact William Roberts at or call 617.226.3800.

Article originally published on on June 16, 2015

Posted in Business, Member Articles | Leave a comment

Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) to Host Annual L/A Fall Networking Social at Baxter Brewing Co.

After the summer break, make plans to join the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston on September 24 from 5-7 pm for its Annual L/A Fall Social.  Located in the historic Bates Mill, Baxter Brewing currently distributes its flavorful and unique craft beers statewide in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Vermont.

MEREDA’s networking events attract key players in Maine’s real estate industry.  Come enjoy great food, Maine-made beer, and lively conversation with colleagues, friends and other industry professionals. A great forum to put a face with a name as well as make new business connections!

Interested in learning about the brewery? A guided tour will be available fifteen minutes before the event at 4:45 pm.

Visit for more information and to register.

This Event is Sponsored by

LA Social 9 24


Posted in Business, Events, Networking | Leave a comment

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Seaport Village & The Inn at Seaport

#1 LC_Seaport120814_001In the third of a 7-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation.  Please join with us in celebrating Seaport Village and the Inn at Seaport in Ellsworth.  A conversation with developer, First Atlantic HealthCare.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

First Atlantic HealthCare:  Construction of the $15.1 million Seaport Village Healthcare campus began in earnest in September of 2013 and through the great work of Foreside Architects and Ledgewood Construction we opened for service 14 months later in early December 2014. The 56,000 square foot project replaced an older smaller facility and is the newest facility to be built and operated by First Atlantic HealthCare. Seaport Village offers private accommodations for Skilled-Nursing Care, Skilled Rehabilitation and Assisted Living.  Noted for its distinctive architecture, high safety standards and person centered care Seaport Village joins seventeen other healthcare properties owned or managed by the firm throughout Maine. The build time of fourteen months was impressive when considering that most of the construction occurred during one of the coldest, snowiest winters in Downeast Maine history.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?

First Atlantic HealthCare:  There are three elements that together made our project possible.

Read more >>>

Posted in Business, Member Articles, People | Leave a comment

Brand Marketing Positions Businesses for Top Price When Selling

by Alexandra Heseltine, President, GCMD – web design + branding + marketing

Often times when a business owner decides it’s time to sell his or her company, revenues are on the decline.

If your business is upside down because debts exceed assets, then all that can really be sold are business assets since there is no positive cash flow. Selling a business under these conditions puts the owner in the worst possible position for earning a return on years of hard work.

As a former marketing manager for a business brokerage firm, I often heard stories about business owners who struggled with the challenge of positioning their business for sale. Many of these owners had invested years into their business only to find themselves needing to sell the business. As business declines, they often made cost-cutting decisions in hopes of recovering, and some of those cuts included reducing or eliminating their marketing efforts. The difficult reality for these business owners to accept is that they really don’t have as much to offer to a potential buyer as they believe.

Sell Your Business Like You Sell Your Home
It would be helpful if the business owner looked at their business from the perspective of the buyer. Exactly what is the buyer purchasing: a business with cash flow, strong customer base, and a return on their investment, or little to no cash flow, business assets, and a lot of accounts receivable? Thoughtfully planned and executed marketing that develops a recognizable brand and a professional image positions a business so that when the time comes, it can be sold for top dollar. To demonstrate this concept, let’s compare the purchase of a business to the purchase of a home.

Think Like a Buyer
Put yourself in the shoes of a homebuyer for a few minutes and imagine looking for a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Maine. As a buyer in a competitive market, you want a home that meets your needs and offers the best value (ROI) over the long term. As you peruse the online listings, you notice the differences in the quality and price of the homes offered. In the same neighborhood, there are two listings for similar style and age homes. The first home appears to be well maintained and updated, professionally staged and photographed with an online virtual tour. The second home appears to need decorating and updating; the snapshot photos show a cluttered interior and minimal preparation for sale. Even though these homes are very similar, which home would you be most likely to offer the higher price?

With a fresh coat of paint, updating and staging, the second home would be much more appealing and be better positioned to sell quickly at the highest price. Professional investors who understand the real estate market and construction will buy the second home at the lowest price possible, do the cosmetics and repairs needed and sell at a higher price for a profit. The same theory applies to selling your business.

Position Your Business for a Profitable Sale
Rather than selling your business at a loss, do what is needed to make your business attractive to potential buyers. Positioning your business for sale by developing a strong brand identity, marketing collateral and online presence will offer a better return on your investment when it comes time to sell. Keep in mind that buyers want a turn-key business when purchasing so they can focus on ownership transition, operations and immediate cash flow. Some tips for preparing your business for sale are:

·        Marketing Strategy Develop a workable strategy that can be rolled out over time and within a reasonable budget.

·        Logo/Brand Image Develop A contemporary, professionally designed logo for quick recognition by current and potential customers. The logo will be used in a multitude of marketing venues and will, over time, develop brand equity which has a price tag.

·        Website Review your website, (if you have one), to make sure it looks contemporary, contains current content and is connected to social media outlets. Your potential clients will want to know who they may do business with so create a positive, professional online presence and keep the site current through use of a content management system.

·        Social Media/Digital Marketing  If your company isn’t involved with social media or online marketing now is the time to start. Online news sources are a great way to get the word out on your company, develop long lasting relationships and do it cost effectively.

·        Marketing All marketing materials and customer touch points should have your logo and message clearly shown. This includes business cards, brochures, sell sheets, email campaigns, personal email signatures, e-letterhead, and signage, to name a few.

·        Consistency Whatever strategy is developed to improve your company’s image, be committed to being consistent about marketing your business—every day, every week, every month. Consistency on a small budget is far better than inconsistency on a large budget.

Implementing these key points will go a long way to positioning your business for sale and getting the best price possible.


Alexandra Heseltine, President of GCMD web design + branding + marketing,  has over twenty years of design and marketing experience working primarily with established small to mid-sized businesses.  Her background includes commercial and residential construction, commercial banking, corporate law, real estate, non-profits and related industries.  See www.GCMD.Agency for more information.

Posted in Business, Member Articles | Leave a comment

MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Series Returns on September 10th – Risk Management at the State House: What you don’t know could hurt you, or help you!

BreakfastLogoEvery year, the Maine Legislature and Governor consider over a thousand bills, and chances are high that some of them threaten to impact your business. Savvy business leaders today stay informed of the current issues, and know how to engage individually and through MEREDA to influence the outcome of issues that could impact their business.  Additionally, MEREDA continues to propose policy changes to improve the real estate development environment in Maine in big and small ways, helping to pave the way to your business success.  Come to this session to learn more about how to be informed about the issues that matter, and how to engage effectively individually and through MEREDA to influence the outcome of those issues of import.

MEREDA is well-known and well-respected in Augusta for representing commercial real estate interests. Our Legislative Committee and Public Policy Counsel work together closely during Legislative sessions to protect your real estate business interests, and to advance them.

Join Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) for breakfast on September 10, 2015 from 7:30 – 9:00 AM at the Clarion Hotel in Portland to hear more about how we do it, as well as how you can easily remain abreast of policy developments and become more involved.

Visit for more information and to register.

This MEREDA “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event is Sponsored by:



Posted in Business, Events | Leave a comment

The First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature was exciting and eventful. Read on for a review of the highlights.

By Andrea Cianchette Maker, Government Relations Attorney, Pierce Atwood LLP, and Public Policy Counsel to MEREDA

Governor Elected with a Strong Vote

Last November Governor LePage was re-elected by a larger margin than expected, securing his second term which started January 7, 2015.  The governor’s first order of business was budget-related. Heading into the next biennial budget cycle, Maine faced a “structural gap” projected to be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Budget Submitted in January, Significant Tax Reform Proposed

On January 9th, 2015, Governor LePage submitted his biennial budget proposal to the Legislature.  This document proposed major tax policy changes, including eliminating the estate tax, reducing the personal and corporate income tax rates, eliminating municipal revenue sharing, transitioning certain business equipment from the property tax reimbursement program to the property tax exemption program, and other property tax-related proposals (including limited taxation of nonprofits).

Democrats Propose Own Tax Reform; Governor Proposes Constitutional Amendment

Democrats then unveiled their tax plan dubbed a “Better Deal for Maine” which focused on cuts to the income tax for the middle class, property tax relief, and investment in education. Meanwhile, Governor LePage called for a constitutional amendment to abolish the state’s income tax. Reduction of the income tax was the center point of this proposed biennial budget, with the governor indicating that if the Legislature failed to eliminate the income tax, the issue would go before Maine voters.

Final Budget Put Together by Legislative Leadership

During the final weeks of June, Legislative Leadership became more involved in the effort to craft a unified budget.  Although the governor proposed a continuing resolution to operate state government past the June 30th deadline, the Democrats responded that such a procedure is illegal in Maine.  Legislative leaders produced a budget that received unanimous approval from the budget committee and, on June 24th, the Maine House and Senate approved a $6.7 billion budget by a two-thirds or greater margin. Despite vastly different priorities, both parties were able to compromise. Republicans had achieved some tax reform and Democrats had achieved additional funding for K-12 education.

64 Line-Item Vetoes, Full Budget Veto, Legislature Overrides All

The governor returned the budget with 64 line-item vetoes adding up to about $60 million.  Both the House and Senate voted to override each of the vetoes.  A few days later, the Governor vetoed the entire budget and the House and Senate again took action to override that veto, passing into law the $6.7 billion budget, and avoiding a government shutdown by 13 hours.

170 Bills Vetoed, 120 Vetoes Overridden

Governor LePage, in response to having his income tax proposal rejected, threatened to veto all bills sponsored by Democrats.  By the end of the 127th First Regular Session, he had vetoed more than 170 bills; more than 120 of those vetoes were overridden.

65 Controversial Vetoes Submitted

A sequence of events led to the creation of 65 controversial vetoes submitted by Governor LePage.  On June 18, the day after the statutory adjournment date, the Legislature voted to extend its session.  No one made any objections to that vote.  On June 30, the Legislature adjourned until the “call of legislative leadership”, contemplating a return date of July 16 to deal with any outstanding vetoes that might be submitted on bills enacted in the last days of the Legislature.  The constitution provides the Governor a 10 day period following legislative enactment to sign or veto a bill, or to allow a bill to become law without his signature.  The Legislature received no vetoes in that 10 day window.  The Revisor of Statutes determined these bills had become law without the Governor’s signature and chaptered them as laws.  When the Legislature convened on July 16 to wrap up their final pieces of work, the Governor submitted vetoes of 65 bills.  The Legislature refused to address the vetoes, claiming that the Governor missed the 10 day deadline.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court Ruled that Vetoes were not Valid

Following a request by Governor LePage, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments on July 31 on whether or not the 65 vetoes submitted by the Governor on July 16 were valid.  The Governor opined that either the Legislature adjourned on June 18 because they did not correctly extend the Legislative session past that statutory adjournment date, or in the alternative, when the Legislature adjourned on June 30 until the “call of legislative leadership” without announcing a future date for reconvening, it was impossible for him to return the vetoes to the Legislature because they were temporarily adjourned.  On August 6, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court issued a unanimous decision finding that the Legislature did correctly extend the legislative session past the statutory adjournment date and that the 65 vetoes in question were not properly before the Legislature.  Acknowledging that the constitutional language is ambiguous, the Court reviewed the context of constitutional language, past tradition and practices of Maine’s Legislature and Governors, and judicial precedents of other jurisdictions for its reasoning.  The Court clarified that a bill is not prevented from being returned by a governor to the originating bodies when the Legislature is temporarily adjourned, whereas an adjournment “sine die” or “without day” which is the vote that terminates a session, does prevent a bill’s return until the next Legislative session is convened.  These 65 controversial  bills have become law, and unless otherwise specified in the bill, will become effective October 15, 2015.

Posted in Advocacy, MEREDA Resources | Leave a comment

IRS Form 3115 and Common Area Maintenance Charges

By Rick Smith, Bernstein Shur’s Real Estate Practice Group and Green Building Team

Is it a tenant-paid repair or a landlord-paid capital expenditure? This is an important question for landlords and tenants with common area maintenance provisions in their leases. The IRS now classifies many items long considered to be capital expenditures as repairs. Brace yourself for a surprise or two.

Many leases use common area maintenance charge provisions that exclude capital expenditures from the expenditures that a landlord may pass through to the tenants as part of their monthly or annual common area fees. For example, expenditures to resurface a parking lot, which might take place every four to six years, might be treated as a capital expenditure under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. However, under the new IRS tangible property regulations, the resurfacing would be a repair, because it is work that would be done more than once during a 10 year period. If a landlord were to take the position that this work now constitutes a repair for purposes of the common area maintenance clause in the lease, the full amount of the expenditure, every four to six years, would be included in the tenant’s common area maintenance bill. Even in leases where capital expenditures are shared to some degree by the tenants, the formula applicable to such sharing could be skewed dramatically if the new IRS definition of capital expenditure were to be used. Similarly, under the new tax rules, any roof repair “above the membrane” is considered a repair and not a capital expenditure, even though this might differ substantially from the understanding that the tenant and landlord had when signing the lease.

For the tax year 2014, many building owners and commercial tenants filed Form 3115 to confirm for the IRS that they are in compliance with these new tangible property regulations. For a thorough discussion of these regulations see “Tangible Property Regulations” by Baker Newman and Noyes’ Stan Rose and Andy Smith. The new regulations are required to be followed for tax reporting purposes but are not required for financial (book) reporting purposes. If an owner or tenant uses book accounting for financial reporting purposes, the new regulations should have no impact. However, if the owner or tenant bases its financial reporting on its tax returns, then the new regulations have an impact on operations because expenditures for repairs and capital improvements must be treated as required by the new tax regulations. The owner or tenant may want to change its financial accounting practices.

What should a landlord or tenant do?

  • If the company books are maintained solely on a tax basis, consult with your accountant and real estate attorney regarding the advisability of using both a GAAP-based and tax system in light of these rules.
  • Regardless of accounting method, landlord and tenant should consider amending the lease to make it clear which set of rules apply to repairs and operating expenses under the common area maintenance provisions.
  • The company, whether tenant or landlord should meet with its lender to determine whether the new tax rules will cause an inadvertent violation of the net income or debt-equity ratio requirements in a loan agreement or mortgage.

Today’s real estate tip is brought to you by Rick Smith, a LEED Accredited Professional and member of Bernstein Shur’s Real Estate Practice Group and Green Building Team. Stay tuned for more useful tips for real estate professionals.  

For more information, contact Rick at or 207 228-7228 or at 603 665-8829.

Posted in Member Articles | Leave a comment