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As Key Votes Loom, Palmer Casino Backers Put Their Chips on the Table

Casino Rendering

Casino Rendering

For years now, casino backers, including those pushing for a resort operation in Palmer, have said it’s a question of when, not if, such gaming operations are approved. They’re saying it again this year, and with a House vote to support casinos already secured, and confidence that the Senate will follow suit, attention is now focused more than ever on where casinos will be located. Mohegan Sun, which would develop the $1 billion Palmer facility, believes it has a winning hand, because it maintains that the state needs what it calls a “Western Mass. outpost.”

The storefront has been open for just over a year now. In fact, an open house was recently staged to mark the anniversary.
It’s right in the middle of Main Street in Palmer, clearly visible to those approaching downtown from Route 32. The Mohegan Sun sign is large and prominent in the window.Visitors to the former retail space — now decorated in the motif of the casino in Uncasville, Conn. operated by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, complete with a few seats from the arena where the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun play — have a few primary objectives, said Paul Brody, vice president of development for that organization.
Some want to pose questions about the potential impact on their homes or businesses from a proposed $1 billion casino complex on land just off the exit 8 interchange of the Turnpike. “They want to know about traffic and how that will be and how it will be mitigated,” he said. But most are inquiring about jobs and, more specifically, what kinds of opportunities will be created. Mohegan Sun isn’t taking job applications, but it is signing people up, with the intent of calling them back if the complex becomes reality.
“And some others … they just want to know what’s going on with this thing,” said Brody, one of four Mohegan employees who staff the storefront. “They want to know if this is going to happen, and when — whether it will be one year, two years, or more.”
And Brody says he tells them basically what he also told BusinessWest when it stopped by the office: that these are certainly critical times for those who support — and oppose — organized gaming in Massachusetts, and especially for those who have invested considerable time (several years), energy, and emotion in Mohegan Sun’s proposed complex, which would be built on a hill high above the pike and Route 32 and include a 164,000-square-foot casino, a 600-room hotel, 12 restaurants, and 100,000 square feet of retail space.
The state House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for two casinos and several slot operations at racetracks (called racinos by some), and the Senate is due to vote on its own version later this month. There is strong sentiment that the Senate will also vote to support some kind of gaming package, but the devil is in the details, and Brody acknowledged that, while he is not conceding anything regarding the broad vote to green-light casinos, he said the conversation is, in many ways, shifting to where they’ll be located, not if.
And thus, Brody also tells visitors, as he told BusinessWest, that, in response to a request for data that might help legislators determine where, Mohegan Sun commissioned a study that shows that a casino in Palmer, or “Greater Palmer,” as she called it, would benefit the state more than one built in another proposed location (Milford), assuming that the second casino is built at the Wonderland complex in Boston.
The study, conducted by Morowicz Gaming Advisors, LLC, concludes that a casino in Palmer, instead of Milford in Central Mass., would result in $43.8 million in additional gaming revenue annually to the state, and nearly $100 million more in out-of-state dollars coming to the Commonwealth, primarily because it would lure more New York State residents than one farther east.
The study — which, to no one’s surprise, is being questioned by the backers of a Milford casino, who have a different take — is one of many ways backers of the Palmer resort are trying to build momentum at a time that many consider critical to the town’s future.
They’re presenting the proposal as more than a casino, but also as a way for an economically beleaguered community to replace manufacturing jobs that have left over the past two decades and provide long-term stability, while also bringing other types of development to nearby vacant or underutilized real estate. Meanwhile, they’re presenting it as the state’s best bet for a secondary resort outside Boston.
“This is not just a singular project on the hill, but potentially other kinds of development that will blend with the flow of traffic,” said Leon Dragone, president of the Northeast Resort Group, which owns the proposed casino property and leases it to Mohegan Sun, and now also occupies the space two doors down from Mohegan on Main Street. “There are several other properties we’re looking at.”

The Hand That’s Been Dealt Them
There’s a cluster of signs greeting motorists getting off the exit 8 interchange, most of them directing them to businesses and attractions in Palmer, to the right down Route 32, or in Ware, a few miles to the left.
But there are three relatively new additions that, along with a smattering of lawn signs along Route 32 supporting the casino effort, tell of the sense of urgency in Palmer these days and the importance of the casino to the town’s fortunes.
There’s the ‘Mohegan Sun — A World at Play’ sign in bright yellow, flanked by two signs of support, one for each of two recently formed groups: Palmer Businesses for a Palmer Casino and Citizens for Jobs & Growth in Palmer.
Robert Young is a member of both groups. He owns a landscaping company and has lived in Palmer most of his life, or at least long enough to see most manufacturing jobs leave and nothing of any substance to fill the employment void. Indeed, as he listed the manufacturers that have departed, including Tambrands, Zero Corp., Pearson Industries, and others, he said efforts to attract different kinds of employers, including those in high tech and the biosciences, have not met with success.
He acknowledged that the former Tambrands complex, seeking new tenants for more than a decade now, has attracted some new businesses, but few if any that are large employers.
“Palmer is a town that’s dying, and it’s been dying for a long time,” he said, noting that the ease with which Mohegan Sun and Northeast found vacant storefronts in the middle of downtown says something about the deterioration of the central business district. “We’ve lost tons of manufacturing jobs and support jobs, and nothing has materialized to replace them.
“We have no more jobs for a lifetime,” he continued, noting that, in his view and in the opinion of those who undertook a study on the subject at UMass, casino jobs are the new factory jobs that can support families for decades.
But jobs are not the only component of the argument being proferred by the support groups and other Palmer-site backers, who say a casino could lead to other kinds of economic development in the community and, in the process, fill a number of vacant parcels in and around Palmer with everything from additional hotels and restaurants to golf courses.
“There are a number of sites that could potentially be developed,” said Dragone, citing a 30-acre parcel once proposed for a Lowe’s and a 95-acre parcel in Ware as just two examples.
He said a North Carolina-based firm is being considered to create a master plan for nearby undeveloped parcels. Speaking broadly, he said a casino in Palmer could do for the town and surrounding region what the resort in Uncasville has done for Mystic, Conn., about a half-hour down the road, known for attractions such as its aquarium and Mystic Seaport.
“It’s quite legendary what’s occurred there, which has been a direct result of the blossoming of the gaming industry in the southeastern part of Connecticut,” he said. “It’s become much more of a year-round tourist attraction, where before, it was mostly seasonal.”

Doubling Down
While the Palmer casino support groups present their arguments about the benefits of resort casinos in general and a Palmer facility in particular, Mohegan Sun is devoting most of its efforts now toward pressing the case for a Western Mass. casino, said Brody, who is now splitting his time between Palmer and Boston, where he and lobbyists hired by the firm are trying to gain the ear of lawmakers.
The Morowicz Gaming Advisors’ numbers already have the attention of many legislators. They show that if there was one casino in Boston and a second in Palmer, the total gross slot and table revenues for the state in 2014 would be $1.168 billion, as opposed to $1.124 million for a Boston/Milford mix. Meanwhile, total out-of-state money coming into the Commonwealth would be $216.4 million with a Boston/Palmer scenario, compared to $119.1 million with a Boston/Milford combination.
The former numbers result from a Central Mass. facility essentially “cannibalizing” (the report’s authors’ word) the Eastern Mass. casino and racinos, while the latter is due largely to Palmer’s proximity to New York, resulting in reduced drive time for New York residents traveling to Palmer, as opposed to Central Mass.
Those in the industry say individuals will generally drive no more than two hours to frequent a casino, said Brody, which puts a Palmer resort in reach for people in Albany, Schenectedy, and Troy, and a Milford facility less so.
While Milford-resort backers have questioned the study’s results, Brody said that, objectively speaking, they are hard to argue with.
“There’s no outpost in the western portion of the state to attract the gaming revenue from this area and the New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire area,” he explained, adding that, in addition to that geographical logic, it’s clear, to him at least, that a Central Mass. casino would be far more vulnerable to cannibalism from existing facilities and ones that could come on the drawing board.
“What happens if New Hampshire launches gaming in the next few years at Rockingham and Seabrook?” he asked rhetorically. “That will have a profound impact on that whole Central Mass./ Eastern Mass. area. There’s a huge concentration of either existing or proposed facilities, all in or near Eastern Mass., and that’s why the math from this study is so compelling.”
Time will tell if the numbers and words coming out of the Mohegan camp will sway the decision makers in Boston, but Brody remains cautiously confident, and conveys this to visitors to the company’s storefront.
He said the volume of traffic increases when “something happens” like the House vote or when a key player endorses casinos. And that means the facility is quite busy these days.
“People sense that this is closer to reality than ever before,” he said. “We see it in the community, and we see it right here. There is still a ways to go, but people are excited; they sense that this is real.”

Roll of the Dice
Brody told BusinessWest that Mohegan Sun opened its storefront on Main Street to provide a resource for those with questions, opinions, and desires to land one of the projected 3,000 jobs to be created at the proposed resort. Meanwhile, the company wanted to provide a highly visible way of showing that, in some ways, it was already part of the Palmer community.
Whether Mohegan eventually assumes an exponentially greater presence and occupies a hilltop rather than a 1,000-square-foot storefront remains to be seen. The Legislature still has to decide if it will give the go-ahead for casinos, and then, if it does take that step, where to put them.
The Palmer site’s backers think they have a good hand, but they’re working hard to improve their odds in any way they can.
And in only a few weeks, they should find out if that hand is a winner.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Sections Supplements
NTS Takes Its Problem-solving Approach into the Greater Springfield Market

New Technology Systems (NTS), the East Hartford-based technology-solutions company, has always had a portion of the Western Mass. market, but never really a strong presence. Things are changing, with the opening of a new office in Monarch Place and an aggressive effort to grow market share by being visible and selling the company’s partnership-focused approach to doing business.

Barry Kelly says he had a simple, three-word set of instructions for Stan Bates as he was joining East Hartford-based New Technology Systems (NTS).
“I told him to go conquer Springfield,” said Kelly, who founded the technology-solutions company with his brother in 1981 and, until very recently, focused the vast majority of his time and energy on the Greater Hartford area. Over the years, he picked up several clients on this side of the border, but he never really made Western Mass. a strong priority.
Until now.
Or, to be more precise, until Bates took on the role of business development manager for NTS and started talking up Western Mass. as a potential growth area.
“He was and is very bullish on Springfield,” said Kelly, adding that he’s giving Bates the room (a new office on the second floor of Monarch Place) and the resources to be aggressive in Greater Springfield and grow market share here.
And as he sets out to conquer Springfield, he says he’s selling the company’s full roster of products and services — hardware, software, and consulting — but what he’s actually offering to potential clients is partnerships. That’s the word he chose to describe how NTS goes about its work — with all customers, but especially the SMB (small to medium-sized business) clients, or those who don’t have an IT manager, let alone an IT department.
Describing his approach with clients and potential clients, Bates says he spends time and energy getting to understand someone’s business, and, from an IT perspective, identify their “pain points,” and reduce or eliminate them.
“I really try to think outside the box with technology and find ways to help people use technology more effectively, while also keeping their costs under control,” he explained. “We had one client who had a whole bunch of laptops that he couldn’t afford to upgrade with the recession — but he needed to do something. With the latest technology in hard drives, we were able to significantly increase the performance of his laptops, but at a fraction of the cost of upgrades. That’s what we mean by working in partnership with the client.”
Kelly and Bates say these partnerships are made stronger by the relationships NTS has forged with manufacturers, vendors, and service providers, including Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Intel, Cisco Systems, and many others. Products handled include everything from copiers and printers to computer networks.
Over the past few months, NTS has hosted a number of events featuring some of these manufacturers and their latest products, and more will be scheduled. They’ve been successful, said Bates, because busy business owners often need an education in the latest products that can help them do what they do better and faster than before. What’s more, after pushing most major investments, including those in IT, to the back burner during the economic downturn, many business owners and managers are ready to spend again, or soon will be ready.
“We’re seeing things picking up somewhat … people seem to have more confidence in the economy now,” said Bates, adding that there is a lot of new technology for business owners to consider as they look at their needs and their budgets and try to determine what to do next. “Besides the new operating systems and new equipment that’s much faster and better, there’s new technology that we have to educate our clients on.”
For this issue and its focus on the technology sector, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at NTS, and why Kelly and Bates believe the timing is right for its expansion into the Springfield market.

Technically Speaking
Tracing the history of NTS, Kelly said the company got its start in the Hartford area and, like most technology-solutions companies 30 years ago, had to work hard to establish itself and grow its client list.
The venture grew largely on the strength of handling all-sized accounts, but especially the large insurance companies that give that city its identity, or ‘enterprise businesses,’ as Kelly called them. NTS still has many in its portfolio, but its bread and butter has always been small to medium-sized businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
And it is this market that Bates has essentially been hired to penetrate in the Greater Springfield area, where NTS has always had a presence — it has handled work for several enterprise businesses over the years — but not a large share of the market.
Since arriving late last year, Bates, working closely with Kelly, has expended considerable time and energy making introductions to business owners and IT managers in Western Mass., and keeping NTS visible.
For example, he secured a major role for NTS in something called the MassISS, or Massachusetts Information Security Summit, a comprehensive program outlining the state’s new information-security regulations, staged on Jan. 27.
“We brought a lot to the table for that event, and it was a major success for us,” said Bates, noting that the company was able to not only introduce itself to the business managers and IT professionals who dominated the audience, but also gain some business, on both the new security law and other matters.
The company also staged an elaborate open house in early May to mark the opening of downtown Springfield office, as well as other events to put the NTS name out and educate its target audience about what’s new in technology. However, most all of the portfolio-building work is done the old-fashioned way, said Bates, through pavement-pounding and earning the kinds of word-of-mouth referrals that bring new business to the door.
From the beginning, the company has worked with that ‘partnership’ mentality, said Kelly, as he talked about how NTS works with clients find ways to get the most out of advancing technology to work better and smarter.
And most companies need a partner to handle those assignments properly, said Kelly, noting that most very small companies don’t have a designated IT person, and even in larger businesses, IT staffs are thin, to say the least.
“You’ll have some companies with 300 employees, and they’ll have one person in IT who’s not even full-time,” he explained. “It’s pretty hard to stay on top of technology under those circumstances.”
Bates agreed, noting that companies in that category, and there are many of them, need assistance with everything from coordinating break-fix work to determining when, how, and with what to upgrade technology.
“You go in looking for the pain, saying, ‘how can I help this customer?’” he said. “Then you work the problem and essentially try to make that pain go away.”
Elaborating, Bates and Kelly said company representatives work with a company’s managers and IT directors to first identify and quantify problems, and then generate solutions. The key to successful outcomes, they said, is asking the right questions, listening carefully to the answers, and creating solutions that serve the client, not the company selling products.
“We try to get the C-level, where we can help those managers lower the cost of technology, or to the IT directors themselves, who might need a little bit of a helping hand getting their network to the next level,” said Bates. “And we approach things with the mindset of forging a long-term relationship.”
Kelly concurred, and said that a client’s representatives will have one eye on managing and reducing costs, and the other on efficiency and optimizing the technology that’s on the market. NTS works on both sides of the equation.
“IT people are all about performance, while the C-level folks are focused on dollars and cents — if it’s going to save them money, on power or cooling, for example, they’re all about that,” said Kelly. “As for the IT people, if you’re solving problems that are keeping them up at night, that’s huge.”
While helping the tech people sleep better, NTS is focused on educating clients and prospective clients about new technology, how it works, and how it can help companies with everything from sales to marketing.
“Things like digital signage,” said Bates, referring to the LCD, LED, plasma displays, or projected images that are becoming more commonplace. “People are aware of the technology, but many don’t know how they can take advantage of it. I have five or six potential clients coming in to meet with us and some professionals on that subject who will be teaching them the pros and cons of digital signage.”
The company also staged informational events like one on May 13 at the Sheraton in Springfield, where attendees were briefed on Windows 7 and learned about HP business-notebook innovations and HP client virtualization, and it has more planned, said Bates, adding that these are true win-win-win scenarios. Clients and potential clients benefit from the education they’re receiving in new technology, while NTS and the manufacturers involved gain exposure and business.

Keys to Success
Time will tell how Bates fares with his assignment to “go conquer Springfield.” For now, both he and Kelly are confident that NTS has the products, services, track record, and excellent timing needed to accomplish that mission.
And as it goes about that work, the company will take the same approach that it does with clients and that process of eliminating pain: in short, NTS is in this for the long haul.

George O’Brien can be reached
at [email protected]

Chamber Corners Departments

ACCGS
www.myonlinechamber.com
(413) 787-1555

n Nov. 2: Springfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Meeting, 12 noon to 1 p.m., TD Bank Conference Center, Springfield.
n Nov. 3: ACCGS [email protected], Making Chamber Connections, 7:15 to 9 a.m., Chez Josef, Agawam. Cost: members $20, non-members $30.
n Nov. 4: WRC Food Fest West, 5 to 7:30 p.m., Crestview County Club, Agawam. Featuring 12 local restaurants, beer tasting, wine tasting, and cooking demonstrations. Cost: $25.
n Nov. 11-20: Italy Trip.
Nov. 12: ACCGS Legislative Steering Committee, 8-9 a.m., TD Bank Conference Center, Springfield.
n Nov. 17: ERC Board of Directors Meeting, 8-9 a.m., the Gardens of Wilbraham, Community Room, Wilbraham.
n Nov. 17: Women’s Partnership Meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Max’s Tavern, Springfield. Cost: members $25, non-members $35.
n Nov. 17: ACCGS Ambassadors’ Meeting, 4-5 p.m., EDC Conference Room, Springfield.
n Nov. 17: Government Reception, 5 to 7:30 p.m., Storrowton Tavern, West Springfield. Cost: members $50, non-members $60.
n Nov. 18: ACCGS Board of Directors Meeting, 8-9 a.m., TD Bank Conference Center, Springfield.
n Nov. 23: WRC Board of Directors Meeting, 8-9 a.m., Captain Leonard House, Agawam.

Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield
www.springfieldyps.com

n Nov. 18: November’s Third Thursday, 5-8 p.m., Pasquale’s Ristorante, East Longmeadow. Cost: free for members, non-members $10. Includes food and cash bar.

Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
www.amherstarea.com

n Nov. 17: Amherst Area Chamber After 5, 5-7 p.m., Cowls Building Supply, Amherst. Cost: members 5, non-members $10.

Chicopee Chamber of Commerce
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101

n Nov. 4: Mine Your Business, 4-7 p.m., Kittredge Center, PeoplesBank Room 303. Two-on-two meetings: your decision maker and your top salesperson meet with another local decision maker and his or her top salesperson. Sponsored by BusinessWest, Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, First American Insurance, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, Holyoke Community College, the Log Cabin/Delaney House, Marcotte Ford,  and Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. To participate, contact Gail Sherman at (413) 594-2101 or [email protected]
n Nov. 17: Salute Breakfast, 7:15 to 9 a.m., Delaney House, Holyoke. Cost: members $18, non-members $25. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce
www.franklincc.org
(413) 773-5463

n Nov. 6 and 7: CiderDays, Sweet and Hard, Shelburne Falls, Colrain, New Salem, and Deerfield. Cidermaking workshops, marketplace, cider salon, tastings, orchard tours, and harvest supper. Some events require tickets; others are free. See www.ciderday.org for more information.
n Nov. 19: FCCC Breakfast Series: “Greenfield Renaissance,” 7:30 to 9 a.m., Greenfield Grille, Greenfield. Moderator: Ted Carmen, Concord Square Planning & Development. Panelists: Jordi Herold, Bank Row buildings; Ed Wierzbowski, Pushkin and Arts Block; and Mark Zaccheo, 30 Olive St. Sponsors: Harmon Personnel Service and Hampton Inn & Suites. Cost: members $12, non-members $15. The public is invited.

Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce
www.easthamptonchamber.org
(413) 527-9414

n Nov. 6: 10th Annual Bowl-a-Thon, 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Canal Bowling Lanes, Southampton. Sponsored by the Greater Easthampton Chamber Holiday Spirit Committee. Pizza, raffles, and free pizza for bowlers. Cost: $100 per five-member team. For more information or to enter, call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.
n Nov. 8: Holiday Lights Cocktail Party, 5 to 8 p.m., Venus and the Cellar Bar, Easthampton. Second annual get-together. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cash bar. Donations accepted toward Chamber of Commerce downtown holiday lights fund.
n Nov. 10: Networking by Night-Business Card Exchange, 5-7 p.m. Hosted & sponsored by Northeast Center for Youth & Families, 203 East St., Easthampton. Door prizes, hors d’oeuvres, and host beer and wine. Cost: members $5, non-members $15.

Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
www.holycham.com
(413) 534-3376

n Nov. 3: Valley Job Fair, 2-5 p.m., Borders/Pottery Barn entrance at the Holyoke Mall. Presented by the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and CareerPoint. Sponsored by the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Cost: $200 for employers, free to all job seekers. WTCC-FM 90.7 will be broadcasting live.
n Nov. 4: Mine Your Business, 4-7 p.m., Kittredge Center, PeoplesBank Room 303. Two-on-two meetings: your decision maker and your top salesperson meet with another local decision maker and his or her top salesperson. Sponsored by BusinessWest, Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, First American Insurance, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, Holyoke Community College, the Log Cabin/Delaney House, Marcotte Ford,  and Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. To participate, contact Doris Ransford at (413) 534-3376 or [email protected]
n Nov. 18: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m. Hosted and sponsored by Eighty Jarvis Restaurant, Holyoke. Cost: members $5, non-members $10 cash.
n Nov. 19: Annual Greater Holyoke Economic Development Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House. Featured speaker: Jack Wilson, president of UMass and chairman of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center. Cost: $25. Call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 for tickets, or reserve online at holycham.com

Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce
www.explorenorthampton.com
(413) 584-1900

n Nov. 3: November Arrive @5, 5-7 p.m., Smith College Art Museum, Northampton. A casual mix-and-mingle with colleagues and friends. Cost: $10 for members.
n Nov. 16: New Member Lunch, 12 noon to 1 p.m., Northampton Chamber of Commerce, Northampton. This is our chance to sit down with you and learn more about your business
and how the chamber can best serve you; to introduce you to people who are active in the chamber; and to tell you about the programs and benefits your membership helps support. A light lunch will be served. The event is free.

Northampton Area Young Professional Society
www.thenayp.com
(413) 584-1900

n Nov. 10: NAYP Dinner with a Purpose, Venus and Cellar Bar, Easthampton.
Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce
www.qvcc.biz
(413) 283-2418
See chamber’s Web site for information about upcoming events.

South Hadley/Granby Chamber of Commerce
www.shchamber.com
(413) 532-6451

n Nov. 9: Third Annual Economic Summit, 8 to 9:30 a.m., Willits-Hallowell Center, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley. Speaker: James Hartley, professor of Economics, Mount Holyoke College. Cost: $15 at the door, including full breakfast. RSVP by Nov. 5.
n Nov. 17: After 5, 5-7 p.m., Cowls Building Supply, Amherst.

Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce
www.threeriverschamber.org
(413) 283-6425

n Nov. 28: Christmas on the Common, 5 p.m., Three Rivers Gazebo. Santa arrives at 6 p.m. Sponsored by Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. Special guests: Palmer High School Chorus and Santa Claus. Cost: Free for all kids and their families.

Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618
See chamber’s Web site for information about upcoming events.

Agenda Departments

NEPM Product Showcase
Oct. 26: NEPM (New England Promotional Marketing) will stage its annual Promotional Product Showcase at Ludlow Country Club. The event will feature products from a number of vendors suitable for holiday gifts, trade-show handouts, or ideas for marketing plans. RSVP is required. For more information or to reserve a seat, call (413) 596-4800.

Developers Conference
Oct. 27: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield will be the setting for the 2010 Springfield Developers Conference, sponsored by the City of Springfield. The conference theme is “Innovate, Grow, Create … Make It Happen,” and will feature opportunities for incorporating new technologies and innovative practices in the building, energy, and information-technology industries to improve one’s business. Exhibitor opportunities are still available. For more information, contact Samalid Hogan at (413) 787-6020.

Get on Board!
Oct. 28: OnBoard, a Springfield-based nonprofit, hopes to connect local organizations with individuals looking to increase their involvement in the community, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will take place at Center Court, where attendees will meet with as many as eight or more organizations. The meetings will be orchestrated using the ‘speed-dating’ format, with individuals spending a few minutes with an organization of their choice, then, on the sound of the basketball buzzer, moving on to the next. Representatives from each organization will discuss their history, mission, goals, and what it is they are looking for in board members. Interested individuals will have the chance to explain what skills and interests they have to make a potential match. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Elizabeth Taras at (413) 687-3144, Brittany Castonguay at (413) 737-1131, or visit www.diversityonboard.org.

EANE Conference
Nov. 4: The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast will host its annual Employment Law and HR Practices Update Conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Publick House in Sturbridge. The conference will be led by professionals in the areas of labor law, safety, employee relations, and unemployment. Conference highlights include up-to-date state and federal employment laws, recent court decisions, agency interpretations and prospective changes, as well as new compensation, safety, and employee-relations practices. For more details, call Karen Cronenberger at (877) 662-6444 or e-mail [email protected]
United in Hope
Nov. 14: New York Times bestselling and two-time Oprah Book Choice author Wally Lamb, will visit Springfield for the second annual United in Hope. He will raise awareness for how reading and writing build voice, and how sharing that voice creates hope for individuals and communities. Lamb will be joined by speakers, performers, and participating organizations and programs that focus on literacy and expression and community engagement. “United in Hope spotlights and models the dedicated efforts of many working together to conquer some of the urban challenges our city faces,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. United in Hope will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the High School of Commerce at 415 State St. in Springfield. The event will be held in the Auditorium and is sponsored by Hasbro Inc. Immediately following the event, from 4 to 5 p.m., there will be opportunity to meet Lamb, purchase books, and browse community-resource tables. The event is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Gianna Allentuck at (703) 930-0243 or [email protected]

Advanced Manufacturing Competition & Conference
Nov. 16: The first highly concentrated, cluster-centric, regional manufacturing conference of its kind will be held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The event, called the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competition & Conference (AMICCON), is being staged in response to growing recognition among area manufacturers and supply chain members that there is an urgent need to find and meet one another. “AMICCON was formed to identify who’s here in manufacturing, expose them to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and procurement, and to make these introductions,” said co-founder Ellen Bemben. “The ultimate goal is to be the advanced manufacturing region in the U.S., where exotic manufacturing, such as micro, nano, and precision, meet higher specifications and tighter tolerances, and short runs are the norm.” Industry sectors to be represented at the event will include plastics and advanced materials, precision machining, paper and packaging, electronics, ‘green’/clean technology, and medical devices. Business opportunities in defense and aerospace will also be highlighted at the event. OEMs and their supply chains are being invited personally to participate. The Mass. Export Center has already produced two programs for AMICCON: an Export Experts Panel, and a seminar, “International Traffic in Arms Regulations for Defense and Aerospace Export.” For more information, visit www.amiccon.com.

Company Notebook Departments

Springfield College President Announces Retirement
SPRINGFIELD — Richard B. Flynn, Springfield College’s 12th president, recently announced plans to retire on Aug. 31, 2011. Flynn has served as president since March 1999. He is credited with developing and implementing a strategic plan for the college which led to transforming the campus through new construction and renovations, increasing enrollment, ensuring financial stability, enhancing academic programming, revitalizing the college’s longstanding partnership with the YMCA, expanding recreational programming, strengthening community and international relationships, and leading the most successful fund-raising campaign in the college’s 125-year history. Flynn called his decision to retire “one of the toughest decisions of my professional life.” He added that he is “deeply grateful” to the students, faculty, staff, members of the leadership team, alumni, trustees, and others who have shared their support, commitment, and dedication to the college over the years. A search firm will be selected soon to replace Flynn, and a presidential search committee will be formed, including representation from the board of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and student body. A new president is expected to be identified in the spring of 2011 and to take office at the opening of the 2011 fall semester, according to Sally Griggs, chair of the college’s board of trustees.

Westfield State Expansion Plans Revealed
WESTFIELD — As part of Westfield State University’s 2010 Homecoming Weekend Oktoberfest activities, the dedication of its newest academic space, the Banacos Academic Center, was staged on Oct. 23. The center honors the memory of Westfield State alum Jimmy Banacos, who was an education major and a well-liked, athletically involved student who suffered an injury on the lacrosse field that left him paralyzed from the neck down in 1970. He continued to be active in the college community after his accident and is known for his efforts connecting alumni to the university. In 1982, Banacos was awarded the college’s first honorary bachelor of arts degree. He passed away in 2005. Banacos’ family members and friends are expected to be in attendance for the dedication. The event is open to the community, as are all related Homecoming activities. The center is the home to three academic resource programs, including Westfield State’s Tutoring Center, Disability Services, and the Learning Disabilities Program. In addition to the center opening, college officials also recently announced plans to invest close to $100 million in growth to facilities and services on campus. Growth areas targeted include additional parking, an addition to the dining hall, a new residence hall, and a new classroom building. Trustees will meet in December to discuss the project in more depth. College officials will also present the recommended expansion plans to the Greater Westfield community at a neighborhood meeting as well as with the City Council in the coming weeks.

Firm Establishes Scholarship Fund
SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Robinson Donovan, P.C. recently made a leadership gift to Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Inc. (MCLE) in memory of a friend, former partner, and colleague, according to Jeffrey L. McCormick, managing partner of Robinson Donovan. MCLE has established the John C. Sikorski Scholarship Fund in memory of John C. Sikorski, who served Robinson Donovan for 25 years. Sikorski was a senior partner who specialized in labor and employment law. Scholarships from this fund will benefit legal services staff attorneys, private practitioners who accept pro bono cases, and other lawyers who, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend MCLE programs, including those in the areas of labor and employment law and trial advocacy. For more information about MCLE’s scholarships, visit www.mcle.org.

STCC Opens Center
for Veterans and
Service Members
SPRINGFIELD — A new lounge area was recently dedicated at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) for the approximately 250 students who are veterans or service members. The center is furnished with computers and comfortable furniture for studying or relaxing. The furnishings were donated by area businesses, particularly Balise Motor Sales, Hampden Bank, and NewAlliance Bank, as well as faculty and staff. Also available for veterans’ use is an administrative office with additional computers and adaptive technology for use by the visually impaired or hearing-impaired. A counselor is also available to talk with veterans.

Firm Sells Portion of
Wealth-management Arm
FARMINGTON, CT — Kostin, Ruffkess and Co., LLC recently announced the sale of a portion of its wealth-management business to a group of former employees of KR Wealth Management, LLC. KR Wealth Management, LLC is wholly owned by the partners of Kostin, Ruffkess and Co., LLC. Kostin, Ruffkess continues to operate KR Wealth Management, serving high-net-worth individuals, families, and businesses. KR Wealth Management clients will continue to receive the personal attention they are accustomed to and benefit from the CPA-financial advisor team relationship, which is unique to the marketplace, according to Richard Kretz, managing partner of Kostin, Ruffkess & Co.

MassMutual to Be
Honored by BBA
SPRINGFIELD — Highlighting its ongoing commitment to a diverse and inclusive legal profession, the Boston Bar Assoc. (BBA) will honor the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) with the BBA’s first Beacon Award on Nov. 9 in Boston. The Beacon Award was established to recognize organizations or individuals who have had an exceptional impact in advancing diversity and inclusion in one or more of these areas: legal scholarship, recruitment and retention practices, pro bono representation, community service, legal advocacy, and legislative advocacy. The award recipient must either be located in Massachusetts or have had a significant impact in Massachusetts and/or the Greater Boston community. When the award was established several months ago, an overriding goal was to identify models of excellence to inspire continued innovative programs and initiatives. The award reception is free to members of the legal community.

Berkshire Hills Plans Acquisition
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp. Inc. recently announced plans to acquire Rome Bancorp Inc. for approximately $74 million in cash and stock. Rome has five branches and, as of June 30, about $330 million in assets. Berkshire has 46 locations in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York, and continues to grow its business in the Utica and Syracuse markets, which have a combined population of about 1 million. Acquisition terms include 70% of the stock to be exchanged for Berkshire shares at a rate of 0.5658 share for each Rome share. The other 30% will be bought for $11.25 each.

Normandeau Communications
Moves to New Location
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Normandeau Communications, a telecommunications-solutions provider, has relocated from Florence to larger quarters at 2097 Riverdale St. in West Springfield. Principals Brett Normandeau and Kim Durand said the move was made to give the company needed room to grow and to enable it to better serve customers across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. The company also announced that it will be adding a Technology Training & Demonstration Center to provide informative seminars on ever-evolving telecommunications technology and how to apply it to help businesses operate more efficiently. The company’s phone number, (413) 584-3131, remains the same.

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

FRANKLIN
SUPERIOR COURT
Joan Barry v. Franklin County Home Care Corp., Ari Fleet, Cambridge Integrated Services Group Inc., and American Home Insurance
Allegation: Negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle: $5,660,009.55
Filed: 8/24/10

HAMPDEN
SUPERIOR COURT
Barbara Mackenzie-Rodgers and Robert Rodgers v. Pioneer Spine & Sports Physicians and Michael J. Woods, D.O.
Allegation: Six-year delay in treatment of severe hip fracture leading to permanent disability: $115,508.24
Filed: 8/5/10

Dayna Scott v. Commerce Insurance Co.
Allegation: Breach of contract: $107,500
Filed: 8/20/10

Jeffrey Bradley v. The Golf Group Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment of wages and overtime pay: $95,000
Filed: 8/20/10

Liam & Kate Reynolds, as administrators of the estate of Liam Reynolds v. Blue Fusion Bar & Grille, Tony M. Miller, Edward Taylor Newton III, and April B. Griffin
Allegation: Incident occurred inside the Blue Fusion in which Conor W. Reynolds, a 17-year-old male, was stabbed and died as a result of his injuries: $5 million
Filed: 8/11/10

Maria G. Luis v. The Seajay Group, LLC
Allegation: Cost of cleanup for previous oil contamination in home: $100,000
Filed: 8/18/10

People’s United Bank v. La Cucina de Pinocchio Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment on promissory notes: $673,140.77
Filed: 8/11/10

Phoenix Development Inc. v. Mass. Property Insurance Underwriting Associates
Allegation: Breach of insurance contract: $96,552.41
Filed: 8/11/10

T.D. Bank N.A. v. Neivar Enterprises, Thomas D. Lesperance, and Carol Balakier
Allegation: Non-payment of promissory note: $491,255.97
Filed: 8/17/10

Wall Construction Co. v. City of Chicopee and Chicopee Housing Authority
Allegation: Breach of construction contract: $10,944.09
Filed: 8/23/10

NORTHAMPTON
DISTRICT COURT
Leo Laporte Jr. v. Mill Valley Golf Links
Allegation: Injuries sustained by plaintiff after losing control of a Segway provided by plaintiff: $336,713.97
Filed: 8/19/10

PALMER
DISTRICT COURT
The Bell/Simons Company v. Al’s Heating & Cooling Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $7,791.87
Filed: 9/6/10

SPRINGFIELD DISTRICT COURT
Bank of Boston, N.A. v. A&T Construction Inc. and John C. Auger
Allegation: Non-payment on a small-business term loan and a line of credit: $72,277.61
Filed: 8/11/10

The McGraw-Hill Companies, LLC v. Leadership Prep Academy for Young Men Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $5,885.77
Filed: 8/11/10

Western Mass. Electric v. Canta Napoli Pizzeria Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment of utility services: $5,832.99
Filed: 8/9/10

O.K. Bakery Supply Co. Inc. v. Abrantes Bakery & Pastry Shop
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $7,428.53

O.K. Bakery Supply Co. Inc. v. Elm Farm Bakery
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $7,316.27
Filed: 8/17/10

O.K. Bakery Supply Co. Inc. v. Gourmet Donuts II
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $6,210
Filed: 8/17/10

O.K. Bakery Supply Co. Inc. v. Royal Bakery
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $2,242.65
Filed: 8/17/10

DBA Certificates Departments

The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of October 2010.

AGAWAM

Dream Catchers Café
360 North Westfield St.
Kristin Wampler

Jondani
61 Oak Hill Ave.
Michael Murray

Lunatek LLC
34 Henry St.
Peter Nunnallee

Malone’s Farm & Garden Center
338 Silver St.
Ernest Malone

AMHERST

Clearwater Seafood & Grille
178 North Pleasant St.
Jason Brown

D.P. Dough
96 North Pleasant St.
William T. Rock

The Option Bookstore
Garman Dormitory
John W. Whitney

CHICOPEE

Mutt Cuts
63 1/2 Main St.
Lori Jerusik

The Living Wood
63 Woodbridge Road
Samantha Lavine

Walk-in-Technology
620 Grattan St.
John W. Cote

EASTHAMPTON

Fran’s Fine Editing
6 Cedarwood Ave.
Frances Fahey

Hair It Is
94 Union St.
Jeannie Thibodeau

Integrity Care Association Agency
2 Holyoke St.
Charles Ackerfi

Lynne’s Hair @ Salon O
163 Northampton St.
Lynn M. Dunn

Pepin Farm
491 East St.
Kenneth Pepin

Pierre J. Bechumeur Energy Consulting
11 Holyoke St.
Pierre J. Bechumeur

EAST LONGMEADOW

Alpha Waves DJ’s
84 Oak Brook Dr.
Dan Chrisis

Architecture Environment Life Inc.
264 North Main St.
Kevin Rothschild-Shea

Douglas White Electrical Services
245 Shaker Road
Mario Cardinal

Gebo’s Glass Creations
23 Hazelhurst Ave.
Brian Gebo

Happy Acres Farm
43 South Bend Lane
Ronald I Goldelein

Sleep Management Solutions, LLC
382 North Main St.
Thomas P. Gaffney Jr.

Splash Belle’s Creations
165 Mountainview Road
Mary Kossick

What’s Cooking, Kids?
41 Maple St.
Dorothy Fleishman

GREENFIELD

Celtic Heels
267 Main St.
Cara Leach

HADLEY

Hadley Dry Cleaners
206 Russell St.
Hyeryong Whang

River Valley Dental
63 East St.
Babak Gojgini

HOLYOKE

Ameerah
50 Holyoke St.
Tarek Farousi

Glamour
119 High St.
Efrain Martinez

Icky Sticky Goo Grueser Enterprises
50 Holyoke St.
William Grueser

International Laser Systems
362 Race St.
Edward Sordillo

Reyes Auto Sales
100 Main St.
Oscar Reyes

LONGMEADOW

Change in Action Inc.
PO Box 60222
Susan Choquette

Interior Inspirations
43 Benedict Terrace
Susan Green

Lisa’s Cottage Cleaning
84 Riverview Ave.
Lissa Stone

Longmeadow Stone & Restoration
115 Dover Road
James Nurse

Maid Tough Cleaning Services
1 Henry Road
Kalee Plasse

Technical-Support-for-Senior-Citizens.com
83 Hopkins Place
Thomas Johnson

NORTHAMPTON

Coffee & Heady
23 Hooker Ave.
Donald P. Coffee

The Green Cab Company
1 Roundhouse Plaza
Peter Pan Bus Lines, Inc.

PALMER

Alladin’s Services
9 Charles St.
Raymond Brodeur

C&C Services
8 Crest St.
Marie Skorupski

Maxim Archery
17 Salem St.
Shawn Doran

Voight Energy Saving Technologies LLC
365 River St.
John D. Voight

SOUTHWICK

Cupcake Consignments
272 South Longyard Road
Jodi Nylund

Moments in Time
43 Berkshire Road
Christine Caruso

SPRINGFIELD

Gus Coelho Auto Repair
390 Main St.
Augusto Coelho Jr.

Heavenly Grooming
1648 Carew St.
Norberto Crespo

Howell’s Reupholstering
75 Mulberry St.
Richard Anthony

ICC Inc.
313 1/2 Eastern Ave.
Daniel Tulloch

J Automotive
149 Rocus St.
Timothy A. Cooper

K.A.M. Technology
203 Ellsworth Ave.
Keith A. Millet

Larochelle Construction
79 Lancashire Road
Danny S. Larochelle

Lennox National Account
90 Carando Dr.
Joseph J. Gennari

Mason Square Insurance Co.
886 State St.
Chester-Chester Inc.

Max’s Catering
1000 West Columbus Ave.
Max’s Catering, LLC

Mindscape Technologies
63 California Ave.
Scott A. Dudas

NJ’s Commercial Appliance
1655 Main St.
Jose G. Barbosa

Page Convenience
500 Page Blvd.
Zahdor U. Haq

Pioneer Valley Legal Association
34 Sumner Ave.
Karen J. Murphy

Ruth Family Day Care
44 Lester St.
Ruthnie Alce

Seven Heaven Pest Control
64 Champlain St.
Wilfredo Gonzalez

T-Mobile
774 Boston Road
T-Mobile Northeast

Tax X-Press
921 Worthington St.
Jamal R. Pressley

The Tessier Law Firm
78 Maple St.
Denise R. Tessier

Tom James of Springfield
191 Chestnut St.
Walter Salyer

World Wide Communication
522 Main St.
Othoniel Rosario

WESTFIELD

Got Junk
51 Washington St.
Mark Gilmore

Mundale Farm
1714 Granville Road
William S. Florek

Paul Jandaczek
549 Russell Road
Paul Jandaczek

Pet Rescueville.com
22 Oakcrest Dr.
Barbara Lynch

Pignatare Farms
380 East Mountain Road
Maria J. Pignatare

Preferred Wood Flooring
15 Cranston St.
Chris J. Roit

Tangles
43 Union St.
Cinda Parnagian

The Grape Crusher
20 School St.
Rosanne Bonavita

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Beauty Gate Salon and Spa
1646 Riverdale St.
Konrad Chmiel

Caring Solutions LLC
680 Westfield St.
Patricia L. Baskin

Carter’s
935 Riverdale St.
Carter’s Retail Inc.

Cleanslate Centers LLC
82 Main St.
Total Wellness Centers LLC

Cutting Edge Pro Consulting
42 Chester St.
Stephen M. Sjostrom

D Berry Services
118 Pease Ave.
Donald Berry

Geraldine’s Lounge
1501 Elm St.
Ares Inc.

Jimmy Larochelle’s Finish Carpentry
164 Lower Beverly Hill
Jimmy Larochelle

Just Blaze Barber Shop
409 Main St.
Jose A. Gonzalez

Physician Care West
274 Westfield St.
Reda Ishak

Tatyana’s Hair Salon
1098 Memorial Ave.
Tatyana Yermakov