Maine Newspaper’s Owners Make Portland An Offer It Can’t Refuse

The owner of Maine’s Portland Press Herald met with Portland city officials asking for a financial incentive to stay in the city, the Press-Herald reports.

MaineToday Media Inc. bought the Portland Press Herald, Maine’s largest newspaper, plus two smaller dailies and a news web site, from The Seattle Times Co. last month. On Friday, MaineToday sold the Press Herald’s office building to a developer, who plans to gut and renovate the building within six months.

Publisher Richard Connor said that the company is looking for the same kind of incentive the city would give any business thinking of relocating to Portland.

“We would be interested to get some kind of help from the city or incentive to stay here,” Connor told the Press Herald. “[W]e don’t want to get punished financially to stay in Portland.” Without an incentive, the company is considering a move to South Portland.

The city has said it’ll examine MaineToday’s proposal but will treat the newspaper just like any other company.

The difference, we think, is that these incentives are supposed to be offered as carrots to companies thinking of bringing new jobs and development to a city. They’re not supposed to be demanded as ransom from a company that’s already sold its building. This feels like the 200 employees who work there are being used as pawns.