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Cover Story
Bill Ward Has Spent His Career Focused on the Big Picture: Jobs

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Bill Ward has a wide assortment of photographs adorning the walls and shelves of his office in downtown Springfield.
There’s one of him conferring with Sen. Edward Kennedy, for example, and also one that puts him in a group with, among others, Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son team famous for their exploits in marathons and triathlons. There are others featuring a host of local, state, and national political leaders, and even a framed copy of the story announcing him as one of the first winners of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers award.
But maybe the one he’s most partial to shows him sharing the podium with Herb Almgren and Ben Jones. They were the first two chairmen of an organization called the Private Industry Council (PIC) — which would later become the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County — and individuals who would set a tone for the important work that Ward and those agencies would undertake.
It was Almgren, the long-time president of Shawmut Bank, who aggressively recruited Ward to be the first director of the PIC in 1981, later convinced Jones (who wasn’t even on the board at the time) to follow him as chair, and worked tirelessly to convince other business leaders of the need for workforce-development initiatives.
“He was very persuasive,” Ward recalled. “Thanks to him, people got the message that this was important work.”
And it was Jones, then-president of Monarch Life Insurance Co., who gave Ward a line he’s repeated dozens of times over the course of his career. “He was the first one to say to me that ‘a job is the best social program you can put in place,’” Ward recalled. “And he was certainly right about that.”
While Ward, who is “transitioning his career to its next phase” — that phrase has become his substitute for ‘retiring,’ because he said the latter is not at all accurate — is looking mostly ahead these days, and to what will come next, both for him and the region, he was compelled by BusinessWest to look back.
Indeed, as he prepares to leave the REB, probably by the end of the year if a successor has been chosen by then, he was asked to reflect on his career, the progress he’s seen in the broad realm of workforce development, the changes that have come to this region and its business community, and the many challenges looming for Greater Springfield — and his successor.
He started by going back to his days working at the Hampden County Skills Center, later known as the Mass. Career Development Institute (MCDI), where, for more than two years, he conducted extensive assessments of people who came to that organization seeking assistance and a path to a better life through gainful employment through training programs.
“I personally interviewed 2,000 low-income individuals, mostly women and adults, to gain perspective on their aspirations and goals,” he said, adding that some had been laid off from jobs, but many had never been in the workforce. “What I got from that was an incredible sense of the human potential in the city that was going to waste in part because people were not given the educational foundation or the training opportunities to make a better life for themselves and contribute to the workforce.”
And while reducing this wasted potential was never his official job description, it nonetheless became his career’s work. And he believes he can measure — in one way or another — what amounts to tangible progress.

Bill Ward, at right

Bill Ward, at right, is seen at an early annual meeting of the Private Industry Council with Herb Almgren, center, and Ben Jones.

“From a strategic point of view, there’s been a true buy-in at all levels on the absolute importance of workforce development to economic and community development,” he noted. “It happened here [in Greater Springfield] first, almost more than any other place, as a wholly embraced principle of economic growth.
“There’s been a really focused effort by the business community, and a level of collaboration has developed on how to address these workforce issues,” he went on. “What I see today is a better, stronger alignment in efforts to build a workforce; that’s been a major accomplishment.”

Hire Purpose
Before addressing a single question from BusinessWest, Ward spent probably half an hour reflecting on the words, deeds, and advice of Almgren, Jones, and many other individuals captured in the photos on his walls.
He did so to illustrate that what has been accomplished over the past three decades hasn’t resulted from the work of one man, but rather from the contributions of a wide array of individuals — from staff members to elected officials to volunteer board members.
Among the many anecdotes he offered was one concerning Jones a few months after he became chair of what was still the PIC.
“He was a very busy guy, and I remember going to his office one time to talk about a problem … like literacy within the community,” Ward recalled, noting that he didn’t remember the specific challenge in this case. “We talked for a long time, and finally he said to me, ‘Bill, from now on, if we’re going to meet for a half-hour, I want you to spend a maximum of eight to 10 minutes on the problem, and then I want you to spend the next 22 minutes on proposed or possible solutions, and what business can do about it.’
“That’s an interesting formula,” he went on. “And it impacted me. It forced me, in life going forward as I worked here, to look at a problem and say, ‘let’s get it defined quickly, and then let’s spend more time identifying solutions.’ That way, you don’t get into that ‘ain’t it awful’ game all the time.”
Ward said that story and many others help him explain how his career has been a series of personal and professional learning experiences that have made him a better administrator and helped him, his staff, his board, and supporters achieve positive results in many aspects of workforce development.
These range from a successful summer jobs program for young people to efforts to bolster adult basic education programs; from broad efforts to train workers for the region’s growing healthcare sector to programs aimed at having a pool of workers ready for the casino that will soon become part of the Western Mass. landscape.
And it all began very humbly, he recalled, adding that Almgren and others recognized the work he was doing at the Hampden County Skills Center and saw him as the potential leader of a new, federally funded initiative called the Private Industry Council, which involved the business community in efforts to help individuals become part of the workforce.
“He [Almgren] sensed that I was a willing learner,” said Ward. “I wanted to understand the dynamics between business people and the community at large. When you’re a willing learner, sometimes the teacher sees that potential and draws it out, and that’s what he did.”
The PIC started with a budget of $60,000, one full-time employee in Ward, and a part-time secretary. Today, the REB has 25 employees and a $15 million budget.
Ward credits both Almgren and especially Jones with giving the PIC, and then the REB, credibility in the community and something ultimately more important, access to business leaders who could drive change and progress.
“It was never said this way, but people felt that if Ben was involved with something, it was important work and things would get done,” he told BusinessWest. “And if he asked someone to come on the board, the response was almost always ‘yes.’”

Work — Force
Over the past 32 years, Ward said, the PIC and then the REB have achieved real progress in the broad realm of workforce development, with much of it coming in the form of answers to a nagging and somewhat perplexing problem that has dogged the region for most of his tenure — the so-called ‘skills gap.’
As the name suggests, this connotes the gap between the skills employers are demanding and those possessed by those seeking employment. In some ways, the gap is exaggerated by employers, but, by and large, it’s real, said Ward, adding that it is particularly acute in certain industry sectors, such as healthcare, precision manufacturing, and financial services.
And some of the REB’s most intriguing success stories have come in those sectors, where collaborative efforts involving industry players, academic institutions (especially the area’s community colleges and UMass Amherst), and REB officials have produced tangible results.
“We coined a phrase — we called it ‘sector strategy,’” Ward told BusinessWest. “What we’ve learned is that bringing these collaboratives together and getting agreement on a common mission and ways to identify progress is critical.”
Through such programs, said Ward, the REB and its various partners have succeeded in taking that word ‘collaboration’ out of the category of buzzword and making it something people can comprehend — and aspire to.
And one of the real challenges moving forward, he went on, is to make these collaborations between industry, higher education, and workforce-development groups more impactful.
“We need to touch more people and forge collaborations that create more and better jobs,” he explained, “so that, at least in several key industries, jobs will not go begging.”
Taking a big-picture perspective, Ward reiterated that perhaps the most significant and positive development during his tenure at the REB has simply been broad recognition of the fact that workforce development is, in fact, economic development.
While this may sound simple and logical, he went on, convincing legislative, business, and academic leaders of this hasn’t historically been easy.
And some of the most significant progress has come in efforts to engage the county’s two community colleges – Holyoke and Springfield Technical — in workforce-development efforts, he said, adding that, in many respects, this region is ahead of the rest of the state in this regard.
“Years ago, schools like this saw the workforce-development system as the stepchild,” he said, adding that, until recently, most community colleges were more focused on transferring students to four-year schools than preparing them for the workforce. “That’s all changed, and they see the other piece now, and there’s a huge alignment there.
“The first college that I know of to ever hire someone as the director of workforce development was Holyoke Community College,” he went on. “Years ago, these colleges thought of workforce development as something that limited their role, which they thought was to educate people and give them degrees. Now, they fully embrace their role in workforce development.”

Work in Progress
One of the challenges moving forward, he went on, is determining how to capitalize on this phenomenon to get the most responsive training programs for a host of industry sectors.
“Those leading the community colleges would be the first to say that their work is far from done, but there have been pockets of success,” he noted, adding that programs involving the wide spectrum of jobs in healthcare have, collectively, been the most visible and impactful initiative.
There will be plenty of other challenges for his successor and others involved in economic development when it comes to putting people to work, said Ward.
He put the economy at the top of that list, noting that, despite the best efforts of the REB and other agencies like it, unemployment will persist if employers lack the confidence and wherewithal to hire individuals — or if they persist in their desire to search for what has come to be known as a ‘purple squirrel.’ That’s a metaphor used by HR recruiters to identify the unrealistic expectations of a client company for the type of employee they desire.
“I think the phrase was born in the IT industry,” said Ward, adding that it now crosses all sectors and is certainly a factor in why unemployment remains high. “There is no such thing as a purple squirrel, but you keep searching for one anyway. Sometimes employers want a perfect person, and if they think there’s one coming in the door tomorrow, they’ll wait, and wait, and wait.”
Technology is another challenge, he said. As it advances, jobs are sometimes threatened because companies can do more with less, meaning fewer workers. Still, businesses can’t be afraid of technology, he said, and must instead embrace it to allow themselves — and the region as a whole — to become more competitive.
And the casino that eventually comes to Western Mass. will obviously be a challenge as well, he said, noting that workers will have to be trained for that work — the community colleges have already put programs in place — and, in the meantime, existing employers must prepare themselves for what 2,000 to 3,000 new jobs will mean for the employment landscape.
As for his own employment status, Ward said he’s seen a number of business leaders he’s worked with over the years struggle with the concept of retirement, and these tribulations have become yet another learning experience.
And that’s why he uses the term ‘transition phase.’
Meanwhile, he doesn’t like ‘consulting’ or ‘consultant’ much, either, but those words approximate what he will do and become — most likely in the fields of education and workforce development.
He expects he’ll do some advising (the term he much prefers) perhaps 10 hours a week, while also doing some volunteer work and getting back to golf and especially tennis, two sports he once enjoyed but put aside, especially after knee-replacement surgery five years ago.
“I’m transitioning to a different style of work,” he said, adding that his preference would be project work and, more specifically, initiatives with a beginning and an end. “I’m certainly not ready to fully retire.”

Developing Story
Look closely at the photo of Ward, Almgren, and Jones, and you’ll see three people seemingly looking out together in the same direction.
That’s obviously a photographer they’re looking toward, but it might as well be the region’s future.
The three men, and countless others, many of them captured in other pictures in Ward’s office, came together over the past three decades and embraced his overriding philosophy that workforce development is economic development.
Or, as Jones so eloquently put it, ‘a job is the best social program you can put in place.’
Bill Ward spent a career proving him right.

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

Creative Economy Sections
Indian Orchard Mills Creates a Community for Artists

Sarah Concannon

Sarah Concannon is a very recent addition to the tenant population at Indian Orchard Mills, but she is already enamored with the sense of community she says exists there.

Sarah Concannon is an artist with a mission.
She calls it “The People in Your Neighborhood,” and it involves painting a portrait of a resident (of her choosing) from each of Springfield’s 17 recognized neighborhoods.
At this point, she’s still in what would be considered the planning and fund-raising stages of this endeavor. While contemplating a process for selecting her subjects, she’s also going about the task of amassing the nearly $7,000 she estimates she’ll need to complete the project; she recently ventured onto Kickstarter, a website that provides a vehicle for crowd-funding creative initiatives via the Internet.
“This is probably the only way I’d be able to fund a project like this,” she told BusinessWest, adding that she recently took one big step forward with this initiative — and what amounts to a fledgling business venture. That would be her move, just a few weeks ago, into a 100-square-foot studio at the Indian Orchard Mills in Springfield.
This step up, from a studio (of sorts) in a small spare bedroom in her home in Springfield, provides her with the physical space with which to flex her creative muscles while she continues her day job as an inventory-control analyst for Baystate Health. But it also gives her much more.
Indeed, she’s now part of what can only be called a community of artists at the sprawling mill complex, one that is fueling the economy in many respects, and also providing a strong support network for artisans trying to make dreams come true and, in many instances, turn passions into successful businesses.
There are now more than 50 artists in the 300,000-square-foot, 12-building mill complex, said Charles Brush, who used that term to describe individuals creating everything from jewelry to furniture to exhibits for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Brush bought the landmark in 1998 and has committed himself to continuing — and expanding — the work started by the mill’s previous owner, Muriel Dane.
Her name is on the 2,000-square-foot gallery in the mill, which is one focal point of twice-yearly open studio events, said Brush, noting that what Dane created, and he took to a higher level, is much more than physical space in which to paint or sculpt.
“You’ll never see an environment like this anywhere else,” he noted, “because I work with the tenants, and we all work with, and for, each other, with one goal in mind, and that is just to get it done and make it right, whatever ‘it’ happens to be.
Todd Harris

Todd Harris’ company merges engineering and art to create unique museum exhibits like this larger-than-life eagle’s nest bound for a Connecticut learning center.

“This doesn’t happen by accident or because you’re giving the place away — art is business, but consistency is the key to any business, doing the same thing all the time,” he went on, adding that the mill’s mission is to provide a mailing address, but also an atmosphere, where artists can create, collaborate, and thrive.
The story being written in each of the studios is different in some respects, although there are common denominators — a passion for art and a desire to be part of this community of artisans.
For some, like Peter Barnett, a fine landscape and portrait artist and retired systems analyst at MassMutual, his work is still mostly a hobby, albeit a full-time pursuit.
“I paint things that turn me on, clouds and rocks,” he joked, adding, “I don’t personally need to sell work to keep food on the table, but I do love to sell work, and I really like the community, the interaction, I find here.”
For others, like Todd Harris, the mill has become home to a new business venture. He left a lucrative career as an engineering consultant to start 42 design fab, which creates exhibits for museums and nature centers across the country.
“We’re trying to make this work as a business and support the whole creative-economy thing because you should be able to make a living for a team of people that come to work every day and have fun doing creative things,” he said. “Our growth plan is about pushing our boundaries artistically and making it work as a business.”
For this issue and its focus on the region’s burgeoning creative economy, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at one of the most recognizable — and successful — manifestations of that phenomenon, the Indian Orchard Mills, a landmark that speaks to the region’s past, but is now a symbol of its future.

Brush Strokes
Crystal Popko says people will invariably have two questions when they first encounter her jewelry made from butterfly wings.
“‘Are they real?’ and ‘what happened to the butterfly?’ — that’s what everyone wants to know,” she said, adding that the answer to the first query is ‘yes,’ and the response to the second is that the insect died naturally. (She acquires the wings from a nearby butterfly conservancy.)
Popko, who also works with fused glass as well as feathers, leaves, and other products from nature, is typical of the dozens of artists who now call the mill complex home.
Like many artists aspiring to turn their talent into a business, she started working out of her house. She would spend summers working, seven days a week, as a waitress on the Cape, trying to earn enough to spend her winters making and selling jewelry.
Three years ago, she decided to make her art a career, knowing that she would need, among other things, a studio where she could create and clients could see her work. She said she was drawn to the mill by its location, attractive lease rates, and, most importantly, that aforementioned community of artists already doing business there.
Carol Russell, a creator of stained-glass art, moved in for the same reason.
“I came here for the sense of community,” she told BusinessWest, “and being around other people and their energy.”
‘Community’ and ‘energy’ are words one hears often while walking the hallways of the mill complex, said Brush, who has a background in finance and manufacturing, but admits to being initially overwhelmed by the mill, its size, and all that goes into its upkeep.
But he was too intrigued by its vast potential to walk away when he started thinking about acquiring the mill in 1997. And he has no regrets about what most would consider a risky undertaking.
“It looked like it would be fun, and it’s really been a blast,” he said. While a number of industry groups (from asbestos abatement to precision manufacturing) are represented on a tenant list that now numbers more than 130, he noted, the growing number of artists — and the wide diversity of that constituency — is what has given the mill much of its identity.
“Everybody has a different definition of art,” he noted, adding quickly that his is quite broad, largely because of what he sees happening on each of the mill’s five floors. “Some people think artists stand at easels or over a lump of clay — and we have those in droves — but in my mind, arts is the creative, like the guy [Harris] that makes the museum exhibits. Yes, it’s manufacturing, but there is a lot of art that goes into what they do.
“What our woodworkers do with raw materials, what leaves here — the cabinetry, the furniture — is all art,” he went on. “We are a creative-industry complex, and as far as I’m concerned, the industry is just as artistic as traditional art.”
In his role as landlord, Brush says it’s his job to give all of his tenants an environment in which they can thrive. And when it comes to the artists — of all kinds — this means providing the space and the opportunity to create, collaborate, and feed off that aforementioned energy.

Peter Barnett

Peter Barnett has enjoyed the creative interaction of the artists at Indian Orchard Mills for two decades.

And nowhere is this more evident than at the Dane Gallery and the two open-studio events, he said.
The gallery is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and it features works created by many of the mill’s tenants. Open year-round, the gallery allows each artist the opportunity to produce their own show for a month; Concannon’s “The People in Your Neighborhood” is expected to be ready for display in the gallery next year.
As for the open studios, they are, as the name suggests, events where tenants open up their studios to the public, with works on display and for sale.
Now in their 21st year, these events have drawn thousands of visitors to the mill (necessitating their expansion from one-day affairs to two) and, in so doing, have inspired a number of artists to join the community at the mill.
Such was the case with Concannon, who took in one of the open studios several years ago and began formulating plans to one day be one of the artists greeting guests. That day became reality a few months ago, when she and her husband, Greg Matthews, determined that they had the financial wherewithal for her to make her painting more than a part-time pursuit.
“It’s so inspiring to be a part of a community where people speak the same language and can offer critiques of your work if you want it,” said Concannon. “I can’t wait to get started because I know how good it will feel to be painting again and what a sense of accomplishment awaits if I’m able to make this project successful.”

His Nest Eggs
As he talked with BusinessWest, Harris showed off a larger-than-life eagle’s nest, complete with three oversized eggs, that is in the final stages and bound for the Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center in Bristol, Conn.
It’s an example of how his company has merged engineering and art to create unique learning experiences, and also one of the hundreds of unique and diverse forms that the creative economy takes in the region — and especially Indian Orchard Mills.
There, tenants haven’t just created works of art. They’ve created a community — and real momentum in the efforts to make this sector an economic driver.

Elizabeth Taras can be reached at [email protected]

Opinion
The Creative Economy Drives Growth

When Easthampton’s leaders designated Easthampton City Arts+ as an official municipal committee in 2011, it recognized the work ECA had already been doing for several years to leverage the considerable local arts culture and connect it to broader economic development.
And by ‘considerable,’ ECA’s coordinator, Burns Maxey, points to some 240 artists and creative businesses among the group’s membership — and says that number only scratches the surface. Before ECA, she said, “Easthampton had a lot of storefronts that didn’t have businesses in them. This was a potential economy they could tap into.”
Those efforts have borne considerable fruit (see story, page 15), as evidenced by thriving arts districts like Cottage Street and former mills like Eastworks, where creative individuals are having a considerable impact on the city’s economy — with benefits that spill over into businesses of all kinds. “It’s economic development,” she said, “but a creative way of looking at it.”
Easthampton isn’t alone. Holyoke recently created the job of ‘creative economy coordinator’ and hired Jeffrey Bianchine, a photographer who lives and works on Main Street, to fill it. His roles will include connecting the various artists and cultural activities in Holyoke, forging links among creative businesses, and using the presence of arts-related enterprises to boost economic development.
“The state’s number-one issue is business development, and that’s what we’re starting with,” Bianchine told BusinessWest earlier this year. “We want this to be the region’s hub for creative industries. Art is too small a term for what’s going on here. It’s about exporting product — intellectual product, cultural product.”
Meanwhile, Westfield is working to cultivate its creative economy in an organized way as well. “We’re in the infant stages of this,” said Kate Phelon, executive director of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, recently. “We applied for a grant to take inventory of the creative economy in the city. That can drive economic development, and the chamber is happy to be a part of that.”
These cities can look to nearby Northampton for inspiration; just 30 years ago, that city was beset by empty storefronts downtown, but dramatically transformed itself into an arts, retail, and dining destination that sent property values soaring, boosted economic development, and branded the city as a cultural mecca.
In this issue, BusinessWest delves into what municipal and business leaders often call the ‘creative economy,’ with an indepth look at what is happening in Easthampton, as well as a virtual tour of Indian Orchard Mills, a 12-building complex in Springfield that’s bustling with an eclectic mix of businesses, including more than 50 artists.
Cities recognize that success stories like Indian Orchard Mills, Eastworks, and Holyoke’s Open Square complex don’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — standalone success stories, but integral weaves in the overall tapestry of development. The actions of officials in Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, and elsewhere clearly show that they’re taking the potential of the arts seriously — not just as a quality-of-life measure, but as a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to building an economically thriving region.
Speaking of Easthampton, “the whole city has changed. The city has a different image, which attracts visitors, which attracts new businesses and even new residents,” said Jean-Pierre Pache, a local artist and business owner. “In 12 years, I’ve been able to witness a lot of changes. It was happening before I got here, and it’s still happening now, but there’s a lot of momentum now.”
Momentum. That’s not a word that was often used to describe the economy during the Great Recession and its aftermath, but it’s one increasingly associated with the growth potential of the arts — if city and business leaders choose to embrace it.

Opinion
And Then, There Were Two

Voters in West Springfield sent a loud, clear message on Sept. 10.
Not only did they become the first residents of a community to defeat a casino at a public referendum under the state’s casino law, they did so convincingly, with 55% of those who went to the polls saying ‘no’ to Hard Rock’s proposal to create a casino at the site of the Big E.
This outcome, and especially the margin of the defeat, was a surprise to many, but in hindsight, perhaps it should not have been. While West Springfield is not an affluent community, it does have more affluent neighborhoods than Springfield — and they are, by and large, less prone to support gaming facilities. Meanwhile, this community has displayed its resistance to change before, especially when it comes to traffic and convenience issues; it took several attempts to win support for a proposal to extend the Big E to its current 17 days.
Perhaps the defeat can be summed up best by one of the leaders of the opposition — Nathan Beech — who told the press that he believed the vote showed that the city simply never believed that it needed Hard Rock, the $18 million it pledged to give the community annually, and the thousands of jobs it would create.
Time will probably tell if the voters were right — those jobs will go somewhere in Western Mass., and perhaps just over the Memorial Bridge — but the West Springfield vote showed the merits of the casino legislation passed nearly two years ago. That measure gave individual communities the right to control what goes on within their borders, at least, and the voters in West Springfield took full advantage of that caveat.
And while we won’t back off our general philosophy when it comes to casinos — that, if someone wants to spend $800 million in your community, you let them — we’re inclined to think that the voters in West Side made the right decision.
Their vote means that the race for the Western Mass. casino license, which once featured four players and the possibility of others, is now down to two. Springfield endorsed MGM’s proposal to build a casino in the city’s South End early this past summer, and Palmer is set to vote on Nov. 5 on Mohegan’s Sun’s plans to build on a tract just off exit 8 of the Mass Pike; passage there is expected, and by a wide margin.
These are two communities where most residents do see a need for the dollars and jobs a casino would bring, and if Palmer votes as expected, it will set up an intriguing final chapter in the contest for the Western Mass. license.
Indeed, this will be a classic urban-versus-rural casino tussle that will give the members of the state’s Gaming Commission plenty to think about. Both proposals have merit, and, assuming all other things are equal, the commission will have to decide whether the best option for the Commonwealth is a casino in the middle of the state’s second-largest city — one that certainly needs an economic stimulus of some sort — or a more remote outpost that might better fit the term ‘resort casino.’
In the meantime, the West Springfield vote creates a stern challenge for the Big E, which considered a casino within its borders not only a tremendous revenue source that would ensure long-time economic survival, but a business partner of sorts, rather than a competitor potentially threatening its existence.
A casino in Palmer or, especially, one across the Connecticut River in Springfield, would certainly be considered the latter. So the focus must shift at the Big E, from being a landlord for a casino to somehow forging partnerships with the entity that wins the casino license to ensure the long-term viability of the Western Mass. landmark.
We hope they succeed in that mission because, while the Big E probably would not have been an effective location for a casino, in the minds of many, it remains a potent economic force in the region, and not just for those 17 days each fall when the fair dominates the landscape.

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of September 2013.

AGAWAM

Robert Fagin
700 Silver St.
$175,000 — Install new roof system

CHICOPEE

AM Lithography
694 Center St.
$58,000 — Exterior renovations

City of Chicopee
115 Baskin Ave.
$85,000 — Remodel DPW offices

First Spiritualist Church
465 Granby Road
$22,000 — Install new fire alarm system

Fishman Realty Trust
639 Memorial Dr.
$785,000 — Construct new drive-thru restaurant

HCS Headstart
30 Griffith Road
$6,000 — Interior renovation

HD Development
655 Memorial Dr.
$65,000 — Remodel bathroom

Lady of the Elm’s
291 Springfield St.
$158,000 — Interior renovations

Riverbend Medical Group
444 Montgomery St.
$96,000 — Renovate existing space

Riverbend Medical Group
444 Montgomery St.
$150,000 — Remodel dermatology area

EASTHAMPTON

Donald Lamoureaux
60-62 Main St.
$14,000 — Install exhaust system for commercial kitchen

Kevin Perrier
123-133 Union St.
$29,000 — Tenant space build out

Russell Braen
82 Park Hill Road
$88,000 — Addition for accessible toilets

Peter Tobin
54 O’Neil St.
$56,000 — Re-roof

SOUTH HADLEY

New State Inc.
69 Lathrop St.
$4,000 — Repairs

NORTHAMPTON

Coca Cola Company
45 Industrial Dr.
$443,000 — Construct wastewater treatment facility

Colvest/Northampton, LLC
327 King St.
$1,200,000 — Interior tenant fit out for Baystate Health

Edwards Church of Northampton
279 Main St.
$58,000 — Interior renovations

Emerald City Partners
17 New South St.
$322,000 — Renovate third floor office space

HS Gere & Sons Inc.
115A Conz St.
$220,000 — Construct foundation only for a hotel

Middle Hampshire Development Group
70 Main St.
$1,475,000 — Construct 4,800-square-foot addition

Northampton Holdings, LP
180 North King St.
$202,000 — Replace existing roof at Walmart

Old School Commons Limited
17 New south St.
$95,000 — Replace slate roof

Smith College
79 Elm St.
$11,005,000 — Phase 1B, Interior renovations

Smith College
100 Green St.
$95,000 — Install solar panels in Ford Hall

Smith College
144 Green St.
$168,000 — Install replacement windows

Smith College
129 West St.
$203,000 — Install replacement windows in the Facilities building

PALMER

Eric Sanderson
2 Wilbraham St.
$39,000 — Commercial roofing

SOUTHWICK

Pride Stores, LLC
198 College Highway
$250,000 — Build new gas station

SPRINGFIELD

Baystate Health
759 Chestnut Ave.
$47,000 — Install nurse reception area

Dinesh Patel
851 E. Columbus Ave.
$4,284,000 — Construct new six-story building

Eastfield Associates
1655 Boston Post Road
$8,000 — Renovate 585 square feet of space

Jewish Community Center
1160 Dickinson St.
$114,000 — New roof

Northstar Pulp and Paper Company
89 Guion St.
$75,000 — Install new overhead doors

Springfield Housing Authority
82 Division St.
$17,000 — Interior renovations

WESTFIELD

FRP Holdings, LLC
64 Main St.
$9,000 — Interior repairs

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Town of West Springfield
1 Unico Way
$901,000 — Building upgrades at the Unico building

Slavic Pentecostal Church
2611 Westfield St.
$16,000 — Renovate existing room into coffee bar

Town of West Springfield
385 Morton St.
$27,000 — Erect pavilion at Cook’s Playground

Banking and Financial Services Sections
Why Life Insurance Is Important for Small Businesses

By BILL WALTHOUSE

In any business, the death of a key person can seriously cripple stability.
Therefore, securing a life-insurance policy is an essential part of a business plan regardless of the industry served, and for many reasons.
For example, with life insurance in place, the business can use the death-benefit proceeds to help cover the expense of finding, hiring, and training a replacement, which is often a burden for even healthy companies after a loss.
Meanwhile, with many small businesses, oftentimes the key person is also an owner of the company. If an owner were to die, a life-insurance policy can help protect the remaining owners or employees from losing control of the business.
Another common use of life insurance for a small business is funding of a buy-or-sell agreement. Once an agreement is reached to sell business ownership from one party to another, the buyer can insure the life of the seller, so that if the seller dies before the planned completion of the transaction, the sale may be completed and the business survives.
Under a slightly different agreement, partners may insure the lives of each other, so that the surviving partner may buy out the interest of the deceased partner. This helps both the deceased partner’s heirs and the surviving partner. It also allows the business to continue.
Life insurance is also important for small businesses in need of collateral for loans.  Lenders often require the business owner to pledge personal assets while applying for the company’s business financing. Assigning the proceeds of a life-insurance policy can fulfill part of this need. When the loan is paid off, the assignment can be dropped, and the owner can keep the policy and change the beneficiary.
Small businesses use life insurance in their employee-benefit packages, too.  Whether it is a group policy for all employees or a deferred-compensation arrangement for key employees, life insurance can be a part of a benefits package that attracts and retains good employees.
It is easy to see that life insurance can be very important to a small business. Equally important for such companies is to work with an agent who understands these concepts and takes the time to gather enough information to help identify and recommend the best solutions.
As these examples clearly show, life-insurance policies do more than just provide a death benefit. Certain policies can address financial concerns such as cash for business needs or emergencies. Policies that accumulate cash value offer a combination of income-tax advantages, including tax-deferred cash-value growth, tax-advantaged distributions, and, of course, an income-tax-free death benefit.
Having the right protection and coverage with life insurance can bring peace of mind to any business owner. The right coverage will have different definitions depending on the stage a business is in. A business-protection plan and succession plan will vary through the company’s startup stage, growth stage, maturity stage, and, finally, transfer stage. Every small business should be able to answer the question, “do you have any plans for transferring your ownership of your business at retirement or at time of death?” Also, as the value of the business changes over time, ask, “have those plans been updated appropriately to keep in line with those changes?”
When was the last time you and your business had a thorough analysis of your insurance needs and a review of your existing insurance policies? September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. It is certainly a great time for small businesses to evaluate their needs.

Bill Walthouse, a producer for the Dowd Insurance Agencies, provides a broad range of insurance and protection strategies, including life, disability, and long-term-care insurance. Licensed to sell property and casualty products, he also manages client relationships, health plans, and employee benefits; (413) 538-7444; [email protected]

Creative Economy Sections
Easthampton Becomes a Mecca for Creative Businesses

Amber Ladley, left, and Macey Faiella

Knack, which Amber Ladley, left, and Macey Faiella recently opened at Eastworks, is just one of hundreds of creative businesses and artists that call Easthampton home.

On bustling Cottage Street in Easthampton — a corridor at the base of Mount Tom dotted with eateries, quirky retail shops, and scores of artists — sits Nash Gallery.
The shop — which showcases and sells work primarily by local painters, sculptors, and other creative folks — has called the address home for almost two decades, said its owner, Marlies Stoddard, or since her mother opened the gallery 18 years ago.
“She had no background in art, no retail background,” Stoddard told BusinessWest. “But she owned the building, and she was sick of tenants moving in, painting the place purple, and moving out after six months after paying only three months rent.”
At the time, her mother saw Easthampton as “an old mill town with empty storefronts,” but she did recognize the Cottage Street area as home to a growing cluster of artists, and saw potential in catering to that scene.
Through the intervening years, Stoddard said, as artists throughout New England were beginning to recognize the city’s creative scene, it remained under the radar for many locals. “Everyone else was looking in on Easthampton and saying, ‘wow, what a place you have; what a mesh of blue collar and the arts.’ But often, the local townie doesn’t necessarily see it.”
That image is gradually changing, however, as Easthampton is cultivating a reputation as a thriving cultural mecca, with artists and creative entrepreneurs at the forefront of a creative-economy sector that is benefiting businesses of all types.
Burns Maxey

Burns Maxey says municipal leaders and businesses have increasingly come to value what the arts bring to Easthampton.

Take, for example, Art Walk Easthampton, an event held the second Saturday of every month, when galleries — and many businesses normally unrelated to the arts — collectively open their doors to showcase visual-art exhibitions, live music, and other performances.
“We get an average of 350 to 500 people coming out for the art walk,” said Burns Maxey, coordinator of Easthampton City Arts+ (ECA), a quasi-public organization tasked with consolidating and promoting the local creative economy. “It started off as a way to bring people to the city, by having all the exhibitions open. Since then, we’ve added themes to each art walk.”
For instance, last month’s walk was subtitled “Sights & Sounds” and featured more than 15 musicians and performers busking on Union Street. The history-themed Oct. 12 walk is dubbed “Know Thy Past.”
“Some restaurants have exhibitions or gallery space, or host performances or musicians or readings, and it really activates the whole city,” Maxey said. “There’s a buzz about what’s going on.”
Stoddard said she was involved in managing the monthly walk before ECA took it over. “It was great because we transformed these non-traditional venues. If you’re a coffee shop or whatever, you can be an art venue for three hours and have fun getting people through the doors. If you’re an insurance agency by day, for three hours on Saturday, you could be a gallery. People had a lot of fun with the Art Walk, and it’s still really thriving.”
‘Thriving’ would be an accurate term to describe both the creative culture in Easthampton and the efforts of ECA to leverage them into an effective force for economic development. For this issue, BusinessWest sits down with Maxey and several local business people to discuss why this city’s arts scene is being held up as an example for other communities to emulate.

Grin and Bear It
Easthampton City Arts began in 2005 as a group of artists and business owners who recognized the impressive number of creative people working in Easthampton and saw opportunities for revitalization efforts stemming from promotion of the arts. The + was added to the name several years later to reflect increasing participation from neighboring Southampton and Westhampton.
Before ECA, Maxey said, “Easthampton had a lot of storefronts that didn’t have businesses in them. This was a potential economy they could tap into.
“A lot of things happened between that time and now,” she continued. ECA received an Adams Arts grant from the Mass. Cultural Council, which looks for projects that work toward community-revitalization efforts through the creative economy. A coordinator was hired, Maxey said, and one of the first things she did was map out the city’s creative assets. “And there was a lot going on under the surface.”
For example, more than 100 creative businesses, the vast majority of them solo artists, call the sprawling Eastworks complex home, and more than 60 others are located along the Cottage Street corridor.
“That was the starting point,” Maxey said. “They created a directory, and also an online directory, for all these artists and creative businesses. That was really the first stepping stone.”
Another key development was the success of Bear Fest in 2009, when life-sized, fiberglass bears were painted and otherwise decorated by a host of artists and displayed outdoors, throughout the downtown area, for public viewing. Another Bear Fest followed in 2012.
“Doing Bear Fest was huge because it showed not only that Easthampton has the potential for being a destination for people to visit, but businesses saw the impact of people coming to Easthampton. That was a major step,” she said.
“I think businesses questioned it, at first,” she continued, “but when they saw so many people — thousands of people came through the city the first day alone — they really saw the potential.”
Since then, Maxey said, that spirit has reverberated in many public events and projects centered on the arts.

Jean-Pierre Pache

Jean-Pierre Pache says the city’s growing profile as an arts mecca has attracted more businesses and residents.

Recognizing the economic-development potential of the arts, in 2011 Easthampton designated ECA a city committee. Today, it’s funded through the municipal budget, state grants, and private donations, and Maxey works out of the remodeled former town hall, along with a few other creative businesses.
Jean-Pierre Pache was the first tenant in the remodeled building, moving Eastmont Custom Framing — a business he started in 2001 — as well as a small art studio, to the historic property. As one of the more than 240 artists active with ECA, he said he has seen the town’s creative community boost more than just its own profile.
“I think what’s more important is that the whole city has changed,” he said. “The city has a different image, which attracts visitors, which attracts new businesses and even new residents.”
He insists that such progress has been greatly enhanced by ECA’s efforts to more prominently position the arts and the creative economy as one of the town’s core strengths.
“I’ve seen the differences; in 12 years, I’ve been able to witness a lot of changes,” said Pache. “It was happening before I got here, and it’s still happening now, but there’s a lot of momentum now. That’s one of the strengths of ECA, and I give them a lot of credit.”
He noted that Meri Jenkins, program manager of the state’s Adams Arts Program, has often held up ECA as an example to other fledgling groups of not only effectiveness, but longevity.
“Many [arts organizations] suffer from burnout, since they’re all volunteer-based,” Pache said. “But this keeps growing and reinventing itself and finding new energy. We’re very lucky to have this in our town.”
Maxey agrees. “My position is through the Planning Department, and it makes a huge difference when you have a person tasked with looking at the creative-economy efforts. It’s economic development, but a creative way of looking at it.”
Added Stoddard, “we’re really lucky the city is putting value in this. A lot of us have been working very hard, and Burns is very much our leader.”

Knack for Business
Former mill complexes like Eastworks and Paragon Arts and Industry, both located on Pleasant Street, as well as One Cottage Street, have become home to vibrant artist communities. Amber Ladley and Macey Faiella saw the potential of Eastworks when they conceived of Knack, the ‘creative-reuse’ store they opened in the complex over the summer.
“We’ve gotten an amazing, fantastic response. The community itself has been very welcoming,” said Ladley, noting that the pair met Maxey early on, and met other artists through networking events organized by ECA.
“Through all that, we knew we wanted to be in Easthampton or Northampton. We still looked all throughout the Pioneer Valley; we really wanted to have a convenient location with parking, and we looked all over the place. When we saw this space in Eastworks, we felt it was the right space, and that Easthampton would be a good area for us.”
Ladley and Faiella, each the mother of two boys, were Easthampton residents when they met about 10 years ago. When Ladley read an article about creative reuse, she and Faiella began talking about a business that deals in reusable, ‘upcycled’ materials for creative projects.
“I knew Macey is very thrifty, always finding fun stuff at the side of the road and decorating her house with it,” Ladley said. “We started chatting and loved the idea, so we kept going.”
Faiella said she was surprised that such a store — which caters to all ages, from young crafters and Pinterest-obsessed teens to idea-seeking teachers and senior citizens with creative hobbies — didn’t exist in the Pioneer Valley, with its emphasis on all things ‘green.’
“In such an artsy community, it seemed like a perfect fit,” she said. “Everything is donated, much of it from artists in the area — we’re lucky to be in an area where artists are everywhere. A lot of it is from people cleaning out their closets, moving on to different hobbies. A kitchen-remodeling company was going out of business and had tile samples they were going to throw away in the dumpster; we saw the potential for them.”
The shop simply oozes inspiration. When a registry of deeds donated some microfilm reels, they were turned into cupcake stands. One woman bought a collection of rusty wrenches with the intention of turning them into wind chimes.
“We have great things for kids to use, and when people walk in, even if they’re not a crafter or creative person, they’ll still find stuff they want to do,” Faiella said, adding that a recent Art Walk saw about 70 people stop by. “People are really craving that kind of thing and getting more involved in the arts and what’s available. It’s been a nice fit for us, and we definitely feel that vibe — that this is a town that supports that kind of thing.”
To bring more such life to Eastworks, the complex is partnering with ECA on an endeavor called MAP, or the Mill Arts Project. “We’re working together to offer space to artists or creative people or creative business owners who want to try out an idea for a month or two,” Maxey explained.
“It could be a pop-up shop, it could be a performance space or an exhibition space, and we give them educational tools for how to connect with businesses and how to market their work,” she continued. As part of the deal, “they have to be open a certain number of hours or have events open to the public. It’s really a learning tool, and hopefully it will show them the potential to perhaps open a business or continue their idea in the city, particularly in Eastworks.”

Cottage Industry
Meanwhile, the Cottage Street neighborhood continues to thrive with its eclectic mix of enterprises, from Luthier’s Co-Op, where patrons can buy stringed instruments, take in live music, and drink a local brew; to New England Felting Supply, which offers workshops inside its brightly colored walls; to Popcorn Noir, a restaurant, bar, and performance space that also hosts mixology classes.
“It’s interesting because there were so many empty storefronts in that location, but in the last couple of years, it’s filled up quickly,” Maxey said. “There’s an immense amount of art-making happening. These are people who have small businesses; they’re making money from it, but they’re not the typical businesses we’ve thought about for so long since the 1950, like shoe stores and investment companies — although those are there, too.”
Meanwhile, Stoddard is currently sponsoring the sixth annual Paint Out, a project for which local artists paint outdoor scenes from around Easthampton, which will be displayed and put up for sale.
“We have around 55 painters, which is really great,” she said. “It creates this snowball effect, where people driving by turn their heads and say, ‘what’s going on here?’ when they see four or five painters set up in the same field. It creates a sense of wonder. And we have such an incredible wealth of local artists.”
Successful events are springing up elsewhere as well, such as the second annual Art in the Orchard running through October at Park Hill Orchard, featuring temporary installations from 22 sculptors — and a schedule of music and dance performances — throughout the grounds during prime apple-picking season.
“The location is stunning, the art is compelling, and that appeals to a lot of different people, from toddlers to grandparents,” said Pache, who is organizing the event, adding that between 100 and 150 visitors stop by on a typical day. “The art is supporting the orchard, and the orchard supports the arts at the same time. It provides a very unusual setting for the artwork.”
Speaking of live performances, Maxey said ECA is trying to raise the profile of such events in Easthampton by building an online database of venues. “Anyone can come to it and research where to hold an event. We’re excited to put that together.”
She credits much of her organization’s success to the enthusiasm of the local arts community, noting that the 240 artists who call themselves ECA members are probably only a fraction of the total working locally.
“This is a tight-knit community, and people are excited about what’s going on here,” she told BusinessWest. “I moved here from Northampton in 2007 and immediately fell in love with Easthampton because of the community of people.”
Stoddard noted multiple reasons why Easthampton is an attractive landing spot for artists and creative business people. “We have endless real estate for studio space, and we have a large body of people who come here and appreciate their anonymity — and we respect that as well.”
Maxey added that “there is absolutely a buzz about what’s going on here. I think the quality of the artists in this location — in Easthampton and the Pioneer Valley as a whole — is immense. Go outside our area, and you can really recognize the quality of art made right here — that’s everyone from artisans to fine artists; performers to sculptors and installation artists. There’s a little bit of everything. We have a great community here.”

No Place Like Home
Stoddard said thriving business districts have a societal benefit that can be long-lasting, and creative enterprises have driven much of the recent growth in Easthampton.
“I have customers coming in with their kids and actively teaching them the values of shopping locally and supporting their local downtown,” she said. “That mentality has really changed — the appreciation for small businesses. I feel it all the time; I never feel slighted. I constantly have people coming in saying, ‘thank you for being here.’
“It’s a great feeling, and it makes being a business person in my hometown really rewarding,” she concluded. “I didn’t have that feeling back in 1995. When I was 18, I wanted to get out of here. But it’s a great place to come back to.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Community Profile Features
Deerfield Touts Tourism, Agriculture, Business

Deerfield, MassBela Breslau opened Bela’s Bed and Breakfast in June, and the Deerfield entrepreneur has already had guests from as far away as Korea.
“I’ve met the nicest people. They have come here from New York City for a wedding and for events such as school graduations,” she said, adding that her business has done well and she has received support from area residents. “The town officials here are positive to work with, and everyone has been very thoughtful because they want you to succeed.
“Deerfield is a really good place to do business,” she added, explaining that she and her husband, Stephen Bliss, also own and operate a martial-arts school on their property, where they teach the Japanese body movement known as shin tai do.
The couple moved to Deerfield from San Rafael, Calif. in 2004, and they love the town. “It’s a beautiful place with a lot to do and see,” Breslau said.
Carolynn Shores Ness, who was on the town’s Planning Board for 21 years, has had a seat on the Board of Selectman for 11 years, and is chair of the Board of Health, says the Breslaus’ story has been repeated many times in this community, and location is one of many reasons why.
“A lot of traffic comes through town, and we have a lot of tourist attractions,” she said, noting that Deerfield is a crossroads for Interstate 91, Routes 5 and 10, and Route 116.
Max Hartshorne agrees. “We really do promote Deerfield as a tourist destination,” said the former owner of GoNomad Café, who now owns a travel publishing business he operates from his Deerfield home. “Tourism here is strong. Yankee Candle is the number-two destination in the state, Historic Deerfield is legendary, and Deerfield Academy is really pretty.”

Gideon Porth

Gideon Porth says Deerfield’s access to highways and land availability are two factors that make it an attractive location for agricultural businesses.

Shores Ness said that, while the town has but 5,100 residents, 2 million people visit Yankee Candle each year. She also cites Historic Deerfield, which includes the Memorial Hall Museum and Flynt Center of Early New England Life, which feature constantly changing exhibits and workshops; Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory and Gallery; and Mount Sugarloaf Park in South Deerfield, “which has absolutely wonderful views and allows people to walk the length of Pocumtuck Ridge,” as other popular tourist attractions.
In addition, there are the annual Old Deerfield Craft Fairs, which take place every spring and fall and draw between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors, along with the town’s Music in Deerfield chamber series and its gun clubs.
“The Franklin County League of Sportsman’s Club is here, and the South Deerfield Rod and Gun Club are also important to the community,” said Shores Ness, adding that the latter holds fishing events and turkey shoots. “There are also a lot of cultural activities that happen here year-round. And we have three boarding schools with a lot of activity, as well as many nonprofits.”

Room for Growth
Many of the town’s businesses have expanded over the past few years, and an expedited permitting process for a town-owned, 16-acre tract of land with sewer and water hookups has been approved for commercial or industrial use.
Opportunity also exists in a variety of other areas. “There are empty buildings downtown, and plenty of space is available,” Hartshorne said. “Although it’s a very sleepy downtown, a lot of traffic passes through it.”
He added that Mosaic Café is set to open this month at the site of the former, well-known Elm Farm Bakery, while Hillside Creamery, which sells ice cream and food, also opened on Elm Street. In addition, there is a new empty building across the street, which would make a great store, he said. “It has post-and-beam construction and a large parking lot.
“Plus, the Bank of America branch on Sugarloaf Street also closed recently, which has a vault and drive-through and would make a great location for another bank,” Hartshorne continued. “Permitting here is really easy, and people are friendly and helpful. It’s a crossroads town, taxes are really low, and the town officials are interested in helping new businesses grow.”
Shores Ness said space and buildings are also available in the town’s industrial park.
And although the tourist business makes up a large part of the town’s economy, the East Railroad Yard has undergone tremendous growth.
The town’s agricultural base has always has been strong, and Hartshorne said town officials are looking to the future. “Some farmers have approached them about growing marijuana, and their response has been positive.”
Shores Ness added that UMass has active agricultural and turf programs in town. “They have really ramped up, and there are a lot of experimental fields and classroom research being done in Deerfield,” she told BusinessWest.
Gideon Porth agrees. In 2004, he purchased three acres of farmland in Deerfield and began an enterprise known as Atlas Farm. It has doubled in size every year, and Porth recently purchased an additional 45 acres and opened a year-round farm stand that sells the organic produce grown on his 95-acre property, along with other local products.
“Business has been good, and we have definitely exceeded our sales estimate,” he said, adding that the town’s access to highways and resulting proximity to metropolitan markets such as Boston, where he does a lot of wholesale business, makes it an even more attractive place to establish a farm.
“The town is very supportive of agriculture, and this is one of the few spots in New England with prime land and soil for growing vegetables,” said Porth, who came to the area from Boston when he was a graduate student at UMass Amherst.
In addition, the town takes a proactive stance on capital improvements. Current projects include the replacement and relining of sewer lines as well as streetscape planning being done for the village of South Deerfield.

Keeping Pace
Shores Ness noted that Deerfield is a green community and has signed up with the Hampshire Power Municipal Aggregation group, which will eventually allow the town to buy power at a discounted rate. In addition, a stretch energy code was approved during a recent town meeting; it requires the use of energy-efficient measures in renovations and new construction. “We also encourage conservation throughout the town,” she said.
Measures have also been taken to mitigate the effects of weather emergencies, such as Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and the freak Halloween snowstorm the same year, which had an adverse effect on land and property in Deerfield.
Town officials have applied for grants to do restoration work along the Deerfield River. “And we’re working with FEMA and MEMA to become a more resilient community so we won’t be as affected by weather events. We also offer a free, drive-through flu clinic on Oct. 6 at Yankee Candle,” Shores Ness said, adding that several hundred volunteers work with the town’s medical disaster-response team.
Laurie Nivison, director of marketing for Historic Deerfield, said Champney’s Restaurant inside the Deerfield Inn reopened in April after being closed for 18 months as a result of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
“The restaurant and inn underwent extensive renovations and restorations. We expanded the tavern area from 10 to 20 seats, have a new menu, and are farm to table. We have partnerships with local farms and get our pork and beef from Yazwinski Farm in Deerfield,” she said, adding that they also serve beverages made at Berkshire Brewing in Deerfield as well as other local breweries.
“Even though Deerfield may seem like it’s off the beaten path, people come here year-round,” she continued. “Historic Deerfield gets about 15,000 tourists each year, and it’s a really vibrant community; people don’t realize how much there is to see and do in town. It’s a great place to come and spend the day.”
Hartshorne said the fall is a busy season in town, but winter is also fruitful because people drive through Deerfield or pass by on their way to ski areas in Vermont.
“There are also events such as a bike ride known as D2R2, which attracts about 1,000 cyclists every year,” he said, adding that cyclists have their choice of an 80- or 100-mile route.
In fact, there is so much to see and do that, in 2008, Hartshorne worked with the tourist attractions in town and created the website deerfieldattractions.com to allow people to find out about the fairs, shopping, dining, recreation, museums, and other activities that take place in Deerfield throughout the year. He also coordinated an annual Tag Sale Day that takes place the first Saturday in October.
“We try to get everyone in town who is holding a tag sale to do it on that day,” he explained. “We create a Google map on the website every year so people can find where the sales are.”

Vibrant Economy
Shores Ness says many businesses in Deerfield have formed strong partnerships with the town, and it’s a reciprocal arrangement, as officials do all they can to help them.
“People here communicate well with each other, which is something we have encouraged,” she said. “There is a constant stream of really interesting and exciting things that are always happening in Deerfield. It’s just a wonderful place to live and work, and we welcome new neighbors and want to keep and encourage the businesses that have made a long-term commitment here.”

Banking and Financial Services Sections
Could Mobile Technology Change How We Use ATMs?

Imagine connecting a debit card to a smartphone app and ‘ordering’ cash from your bank at home, then driving to an ATM machine, scanning a QR code with the phone, and receiving the cash in seconds.
That day may not be too far off. ATMs that utilize customers’ mobile devices are already commonplace in Asia, and Americans increasingly rely on their smartphones and tablets for many daily activities.
In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve, in 2012, 87% of mobile-phone users used their device to check an account balance or recent transactions, while 53% used it to transfer money between accounts, and 49% have downloaded their bank’s mobile app. The percentage of mobile users who received text-message alerts from their bank, made a bill payment with their device, or used it to locate an ATM all hover above one in four, while 21% have actually deposited a check using their phone’s camera.
“The explosion of mobile device usage and the burgeoning mobile payments scene may leave some wondering if there’s a need for a simple cash-dispensing device when more transactions are shifting to the digital form,” notes Gary Wollenhaupt, a contributing writer for ATM Marketplace, in a wide-ranging report titled “Five Ways Mobile Technology Will Revolutionize ATMs.”
Shifting delivery of some services to mobile devices, he argues, could cut operational costs, and Alan Goode, an analyst with Juniper Research in England, agrees.
“Data from the U.S. is already pointing to the fact that there is a slowdown in the physical ATM market, and it won’t be changed by the deployment of intelligent mobile ATM solutions that allow mobile users to get statements [and] make payments via their mobile phones,” Goode notes in a report called “Mobile: the ATM in Your Pocket.”
Wollenhaupt notes that major ATM manufacturers have already announced technology that integrates mobile devices with ATM functionality, in an effort to both boost the convenience of ATM use and address the security concerns raised by using a card and PIN code in a public place.
“In effect, the mobile device reproduces an ATM’s keypad and monitor and its ability to authenticate users,” he explains. “Pre-staging an ATM transaction on a mobile device leverages that fact. But is it a real way to make ATMs safer or faster, or is it a technology solution ahead of the marketplace?”
Manufacturers are taking different approaches, he continues. “For instance, the device may incorporate GPS technology to ensure the physical location of the mobile device. Also, systems may trigger a transaction with a bar code or a number sequence. The goal is the same: to provide a cardless, simple-to-use way to get cash at the ATM.”

Five Benefits
But does this get-cash-quick sector of banking need a revolution? ATM Marketplace sets out five specific ways in which mobile technology will change ATMs for the better:
• Pre-staging transactions. Pre-staging an ATM transaction on a mobile device, Wollenhaupt notes, provides a simple, cardless way to get cash at the ATM. For instance, with the software developed by ATM industry giant NCR Inc., bank customers may conduct cash withdrawals without the need for an ATM card, by using an app on a mobile device that’s linked to a bank account.
Well before approaching the ATM, the customer enters a password on the mobile device to initiate the transaction and elects the account and amount of cash to be withdrawn, then completes the transaction using a QR code on the ATM screen. In short, consumers receive cash within seconds without having to use a card or PIN number at the point of the transaction, and an e-receipt for the transaction is delivered by e-mail.
Other ATM manufacturers, including Wincor Nixdorf and Diebold, have also developed mobile ATM solutions.
• Contactless transactions. The ubiquity of such technology in the North American market is still many years down the road, Wollenhaupt maintains, but ATM manufacturers and banks are preparing for that change.
“Thinking further ahead, this kind of contactless technology at both ATMs and point-of-sale terminals may mean the end of plastic cards in a decade or two,” adds Mike Lee, CEO of the ATM Industry Assoc., writing at banknews.com.
• Serving the unbanked. Nearly 60 million Americans are either unbanked or underbanked, yet smartphones allow consumers to carry a virtual financial institution (FI) in their pockets, Wollenhaupt notes.
“The result is that the unbanked have options for many financial services without the need for an FI. However, they may still need ATMs. Prepaid card providers could offer mobile-enabled ATM transactions to give unbanked prepaid card users the same access to cash available to customers with traditional FI relationships.”
• Expanded ATM services. ATMs and mobile digital commerce can leverage technology to improve the customer experience, Wollenhaupt argues.
“Mobile is changing the entire banking landscape, meaning that more transactions are being done by mobile devices, hitting deployers’ margins. The answer to the increase in mobile-device transactions may be to look beyond cash dispensing at the ATM in order to increase ATM usage.”
Some examples, he notes, include lottery tickets, loading prepaid cards, content downloads, device-charging services, and buying prepaid phone minutes or money orders. “In a number of markets outside the U.S., ATMs offer an array of expanded services that provide a revenue stream in addition to interchange and surcharge fees.”
• Expanded ATM/mobile capabilities. “Mobile devices have radically altered consumers’ expectations of what technology can deliver to them,” Wollenhaupt writes. “They expect services beyond simply dispensing cash. FIs could lead the way in providing mobile technology that offers advanced services, as well as ATMs that can do everything from dispensing cash to processing loans.”

Securing Services

A recent report by Mondato, an advisory firm on mobile financial services, notes that mobile-based services at the ATM can hold a variety of benefits, from enhancing the convenience of transactions to reducing security risks related to lost or stolen cards. Meanwhile, entering passwords and other details on a smartphone, rather than on an ATM screen, may better protect the privacy of the user’s personal information.
In addition, “in some deployments, leveraging mobile can reduce the time spent waiting in line for an ATM. For instance, customers can prepare transactions on their phone while in the queue, and then simply scan their phone at the ATM to complete the withdrawal.”
Meanwhile, Mondato notes, integrating mobile channels with ATMs offers long-term advantages for financial institutions, particularly as they increasingly face competition from mobile and online commerce.
In addition, “ATM manufacturers also have an incentive to integrate mobile into their technology, with the rise of mobile cutting into existing revenue streams. For instance, adding mobile channels can enable ATM providers to expand their service offerings and keep up with new technology.”
Richard Bernstein, marketing director of Phoenix Kiosk, writes at Kiosk Marketplace that, while almost everyone carries their mobile phone everywhere they go, making consumer activity easier requires some type of additional hardware, and by integrating banking activity with a device that is already on the person, the problem of available hardware is solved.
“This technology is here and already exists in both hardware and software form. Standardization is the current bottleneck preventing these technologies from rapidly moving forward,” Bernstein notes. “By enabling payments via smartphones, the number of payment options increases.”
The Mondato report concurs. “For mobile technology to spur increased ATM usage, machines with this modernized technology must be ubiquitous across a given network. If this does not occur, consumers may become disillusioned by the entire concept and potentially shift their payment habits to electronic channels. As ATM manufacturers face an increasingly mature market and the rise of mobile payments, it will be in their best interest to support this technology and stay ahead of the curve.”
Added Bernstein, “it will not be too long before mobile payments are the norm in kiosk solutions. Companies should always be looking toward what the future holds and be one step ahead.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Features
Western Mass. Business Expo Features a Full Slate of Programs

1_WMBEstevensSilverSponsor24x18.inddWhen she registered to run in the 1967 Boston marathon, she signed her name ‘K.V. Switzer,’ as she always did. Thus, it wasn’t until the race began that fellow runners, spectators, the press, and race officials realized that the individual wearing bib number 261 was, in fact, a woman.
And when they did so, some of those race officials tried to stop her and rip that number off of her, because no woman had ever run in the Boston Marathon, and none were invited to run in this one.
Kathrine Switzer refused to step off the course, and by persevering and finishing the race, she ran her way into history.
Switzer, known as the ‘Marathon Woman,’ will tell her story — and also convey her inspiring message about creating success in a difficult environment, turning negatives into opportunities, and implementing social and cultural change — during a luncheon hosted by the Professional Women’s Chamber at the Western Mass. Business Expo, slated for Nov. 6 at the MassMutual Center.
And this won’t be the only long-running success story to be highlighted that day. Indeed, Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co. — maker of Samuel Adams — will be the keynote speaker at the Expo breakfast, hosted by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield.
When Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) started his venture, he had a dream, a generations-old family recipe, and a large supply of determination — which he would need, because he didn’t have any bank financing or distributors to carry his product.
He overcame those obstacles to create one of most intriguing success stories in American business history. Today, while continuing to add to the portfolio of flavors his brewery produces, Koch is a motivational speaker and ardent supporter of small-business owners.
The breakfast and lunch programs are just part of an impressive slate of programs now coming togther for the Expo, which will again be produced by BusinessWest, managed by Rider Productions, and presented by Comcast Business.
Also on the schedule is a pitch contest and ‘demo day,’ being presented by Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) and BusinessWest.
Formed more than two years ago, VVM, as the name suggests, matches entrepreneurs with mentors to help businesses get off the ground or to that proverbial next level. VVM leaders will field applications for the pitch contest, selecting as many as 10 to make their cases in front of a panel of experts.
There will be cash prizes for the top three finishers, and also the ‘audience’s choice’ among the contestants.
“One of the keys to the future vitality of this region is its ability to cultivate new businesses, and Valley Venture Mentors is doing inspiring work in this regard,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest. “The pitch contest to take place at the Expo will feature some of the promising new ventures taking shape in our region in what will be spirited competition for both the approval of the judges — and prize money.”
After the competition, those businesses that made pitches will have their ideas on display at the event-capping Expo Social, which is one the region’s premier networking events, said Campiti.
In addition to these programs, the Expo will also feature a number of educational seminars, she noted, adding that subjects will range from the future of sales and marketing to the best and worst uses of social media.
The full slate of seminars has been assembled, and detailed information is available for viewing at www.wmbexpo.com. Here’s what’s on tap:

Sales and Marketing
• “The Art and Science of Cold Calling,” presented by Jim Mumm, CEO of Sandler Training;
• “The Future of Sales: How to Achieve Extraordinary Sales Results in Today’s Crowded Markets,” presented by Duane Cashin, president of Cashin & Co.;
• “Make an Impact with Multi-channel Marketing,” presented by Tina Stevens, principal and creative director of Stevens 470; and
• “Building Smart Websites,” presented by Peter Ellis, president of DIF Design.

Social Media

• “How TV and Social Media Have Affected Media Consumption,” presented by Jay Frogameni, senior director of sales for New England Local, Comcast Spotlight;
• “YouTube SEO,” presented by Alphonso Santaniello, president and CEO of the Creative Strategy Agency;
• “Am I Wasting Money and Time Doing Social Media?” presented by Paul Stallman, the ‘web guru’ at Alias Solutions; and
• “The Emdees: The Best and Worst in Social Media,” presented by Carie Schelfhaudt, director of digital marketing at McDougall & Duval Advertising.

Business Management
• “Leading Change,” presented by Ravi Kulkarni and Lynn Whitney Turner, business growth strategists and executive leadership coaches with Clear Vision Alliance, LLC;
• “The Emerging Workforce,” presented by Sandy Mazur, division president for Spherion Staffing Services;
• “Understanding Immigration Law: Immigration and International Employment Issues,” presented by Joseph Curran, Esq., Curran & Berger LLP; and
• “The New Business of a Nonprofit,” presented by Kirk Smith, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

And That’s Not All

Other programming for the Expo is being finalized, said Campiti, who urged those interested to visit the website regularly and check for updates.
To register for the seminars, visit www.wmbexpo.com. To register for the breakfast, call the ACCGS at (413) 787-1310 or visit www.myonlinechamber.com. To register for the luncheon, call (413) 787-1310 or visit www.professionalwomenschamber.com.
In addition to Comcast Business, the Expo is also being sponsored by ABC 40/Fox 6 (gold sponsor), and silver sponsors DIF Design, Health New England, Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, and MGM Springfield.

Expo Fast Facts

What: The Western Mass. Business Expo
When: Nov. 6
Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.
Show Floor: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Luncheon: 11:30 a.m.
Expo Social: 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: The MassMutual Center, Springfield
Highlights: Breakfast and luncheon programs; pitch contest; educational seminars; Show Floor Theater presentations; free educational seminars; Expo Social; more than 150 exhibitors
For More Information: Visit www.wmbexpo.com or call (413) 781-8600