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Company Notebook

Baystate Academy Charter Public School Wins Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Academy Charter Public School received a grant to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs from Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. More than 10,500 schools across the country offer PLTW programs to millions of students. According to Tim Sneed, executive director of Baystate Academy, “these funds will allow us to expand our biomedical sciences programs as we prepare students to enter the field of healthcare.” Baystate Academy is just one of 73 schools across the Commonwealth to receive the grant, which is supported by the Baker-Polito administration, the One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub. “It is essential that we engage our students throughout their K-12 school years with hands-on lessons in science, engineering, computer science, technology, and math,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Baystate Academy will use grant funds to strengthen its PLTW program with biomedical science. Funds from the grant will also support teacher professional development and the purchase of materials and equipment that will be used in the hands-on, activity-, project-, and problem-based courses. “We are proud to partner with Baystate Academy to empower students to develop the in-demand knowledge and transportable skills to thrive in our evolving world,” said Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO.

Molding Business Services Announces Acquisition of Gros Executive Recruiters

FLORENCE — Molding Business Services of Florence has acquired Gros Executive Recruiters of Franklin, Tenn. Both firms provide recruiting and executive search services to the plastics industry. Molding Business Services (MBS) was founded in 1998, and during those 20 years, its recruiting division has focused almost exclusively on the injection-molding segment of the plastics industry. Gros Executive Recruiters was founded in 1989 and serves the packaging, plastics-processing, and plastics-machinery markets. MBS brings a deeper injection-molding network to Gros, while Gros provides MBS with penetration into the packaging and plastics machinery markets. Additionally, merging the two already-extensive industry databases produces a network of talent that will benefit the combined firms’ clients. Together, MBS and Gros have recruiting staff located across the U.S., in Massachusetts, Illinois, Tennessee, Vermont, and California. “The synergies between the two firms are numerous, and our visions and goals couldn’t be better aligned,” said MBS President Jonathan Soucy. “We are excited about enhancing our reach and capabilities for our clients, especially at a time when the demand for talented individuals in our industry has reached critical levels.” Former Gros Executive Recruiters owner and industry veteran Dennis Gros has been appointed president of the combined recruiting business. “The combination of MBS’s recruiting division and Gros Executive Recruiters is great news for hiring managers and for professionals who seek a career change,” he said. “In combining our resources, we will offer new programs designed to energize hiring in the plastics industry.” Gros Executive Recruiters will become the sole recruiting brand of the combined entity and will operate as a molding business services company.

Radiothon Raises $245,367 for Children’s Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Generous donors pledging their support of Baystate Children’s Hospital resulted in a grand total of $245,367 raised during this year’s 17th annual 94.7 WMAS Radiothon, which ran March 6-7. “The tremendous response from listeners to the 94.7 WMAS Radiothon is a testimonial to our talented staff of caregivers who are dedicated to improving the lives of children throughout the region,” said Dr. Charlotte Boney, chair, Pediatrics, Baystate Children’s Hospital. “It takes a team effort to hold a successful Radiothon even before the first telephone rings. We couldn’t do it without the many listeners who called in to pledge their support to our Children’s Hospital, or without the assistance of the volunteers, corporate sponsors, Baystate staff, and the Kellog Krew at 94.7 WMAS who all gave so generously of their time.” There is still time to make a donation to Baystate Children’s Hospital by visiting the Radiothon webpage at www.helpmakemiracles.org/event/wmas or texting WMASkids to 51555.

AIC Named to Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been named to the list of “Better for Veterans” organizations across the country, earning the 2018 Military Friendly School designation by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs. Now in its 16th year, the Military Friendly Schools list provides a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. For the first time, student survey data was taken into consideration for the designation. More than 1,300 schools participated in the 2017-18 survey, with 849 earning the designation. “American International College is proud to assist those men and women who serve our country,” said AIC President Vince Maniaci. “The college recognizes the value of the many educational and leadership experiences that occur in the Armed Forces, and the excellent foundation that military experience provides. In turn, we give veteran students transfer credits for service in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, helping service members and veterans get a head start on earning their degrees.”

New Prosthetic Center Serves Amputees with Innovative Technology

SPRINGFIELD — O & P Labs recently opened the doors to the Prosthetic Center at 3500 Main St. in Springfield. The local prosthetic company has been serving Western and Central Mass., Northern Conn., and Southern Vermont for more than 30 years. Co-owners Jim Haas and Blaine Drysdale hosted Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and state Rep. Carlos González, along with team members, patients, medical care providers, friends, and family for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 15. González presented a citation to recognize O & P Labs’ “30 years of healthcare service to the people of Springfield, Mass. and your innovative assistance for patients to enjoy productive lives.” The grand-opening event honored the 700 patients with limb loss who have been served over the last ten years since Haas and Drysdale have owned the company. The decision to create this full-service practice space was in direct response to the needs of these patients. “I used to ride a bike [before my amputation], and I still do,” said Drysdale, a certified prosthetist. “We are dedicated to helping every patient through their individual process. That includes before, during, and after an amputation.” The state-of-the-art Prosthetic Center features real-life experiences including a bike trainer, ramp, solo step track system, parallel bars, private rooms, and more. “Our facility does not feel like a white-coat clinic,” Haas added. “We’re here to help people get on with their lives. We strive to empower our patients to reach their similar activity level as prior to limb loss and feel part of a community while doing it.”

Report: HCC Benefits Economy Significantly

HOLYOKE — Students who graduate from Holyoke Community College (HCC) with an associate degree will see an average increase in annual earnings of about $10,000 a year compared to those with only a high-school diploma, according to a new report that calculates the total economic impact of HCC on the Pioneer Valley at nearly $215 million annually. “By comparison,” the report says, “this contribution that the college provides on its own is almost as large as the entire arts, entertainment, and recreation industry in this area.” The analysis of HCC’s economic value was conducted by Emsi, an economic modeling firm whose clients include colleges and universities as well as some of the largest for-profit corporations in the U.S., such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. For this, Emsi based its conclusions on academic and financial reports from HCC, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, and other surveys related to education and social behavior. The study, commissioned by the college, looked at data from 2015-16. For fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30, 2016, the study found that the total economic impact of the college on the economy in the three counties of the Pioneer Valley (Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin) was $214.6 million, or about 0.7% of the region’s gross regional product. That number includes direct spending by the college’s 991 full-time and part-time employees as well as operational spending by the college itself, and accounts for a multiplier effect, which measures how that money works its way through the regional economy. The total also includes short-term construction projects and spending by students who relocate to the Pioneer Valley as well as spending by students who choose to remain in the area for college rather than go elsewhere. In FY 2015-16, HCC served 8,243 credit students and 3,024 non-credit students. The largest impact, though, comes from alumni — former students who continue to live and work in the region: $155.1 million, or enough to support 2,642 jobs, the report notes. The study also examined the economic benefits of HCC from a student’s perspective, noting that those who complete their associate degree could expect to earn an average of $9,600 more per year than those with only a high-school diploma. Put another way, for every $1 students invest in their education (out-of-pocket expenses, interest on loans, foregone income while in school), they will earn $3.2, an average return of 12.7%. The study also concludes that HCC represents a “a solid investment” for taxpayers, generating more in tax revenue than it takes in through state and local funding — $54.6 million compared to $31.6 million, or a benefit-cost ratio of 1.8, an average rate of return of 4.5%. Massachusetts also benefits as a whole from the presence of HCC in two major ways: increased prosperity from an expanding economic base and savings generated by the improved lifestyles of students, most notably in a reduction in medical costs through improved health, reduced crime, and lower employer contributions toward unemployment.

Country Bank Donates $656,000 to Area Organizations in 2017

WARE — Country Bank reported that it donated $656,000 to more than 400 organizations in 2017 through its Charitable Giving Program. Some of the recipients include the Ronald McDonald House, which received $30,000 to support its ‘home away from home’ for children and their families being treated at the Springfield area medical facilities, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which received $10,000 to help continue its mission of providing food to those in need. “Our mission is to grow mutually beneficial relationships with our customers, community, and staff. This is evidenced not only by our commitment to support these organizations with charitable contributions, but also with staff volunteer hours,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO. “In 2017, nearly 800 hours of personal time was given back by members of the Country Bank staff to their local communities. In addition to their volunteer hours, employees also raised more than $33,000 through their own charitable-giving events such as jean days, bake sales, and raffles.

The United Arc Hosts Annual Coffee & Conversation Event

TURNERS FALLS — On Feb. 23, the United Arc held its annual Coffee & Conversation event, an opportunity for legislators in Western Mass. to hear the stories of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. This year, the Coffee & Conversation event brought together experiences in seeking full community inclusion, from the joys of work to struggles against bullying and for full access to education, to the process of gaining acceptance at school and extracurricular activities. One of the speakers was Tonya Lanpher, parent of a child with autism and a family support specialist at the United Arc. “I think the hardest thing is that people just don’t understand,” she said. “If we can help people understand, then we can create full community inclusion. People don’t understand each other if they don’t spend time together. That’s why full community inclusion is so important.” Event attendees included U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern; state Sen. Stan Rosenberg; state Reps. Steve Kulik and Solomon Goldstein-Rose; Jon Gould, aide to state Sen. Adam Hinds, and Chris Cappucci, research director for state Rep. Paul Mark. They shared their thoughts on full community inclusion and the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The event was co-sponsored by the Greater Athol Area Advocates for Families with Special Needs, and First Light Power Resources was a supporting sponsor. Other sponsors included 2nd Street Baking Co., Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, and Greenfield Savings Bank. John Howland, CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank, and Linda Ackerman, assistant vice president and branch manager of the Greenfield Savings Bank Turners Falls branch, were also in attendance. Founded in 1951, the United Arc provides services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, helping them achieve the universal goals of inclusion, choice, and independence.

Finck & Perras Reports Community Investments

EASTHAMPTON — Genevieve Brough, president of Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc., recently announced that the firm invested roughly $40,000 in the wider community through sponsorships and donations to nonprofits in 2017. Organizations the company supported range from youth sports and recreation programs in Hampshire County to Riverside Industries in Easthampton, Link to Libraries, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County. Brough passes on her philanthropic values to employees, encouraging them to take part in community activism and fund-raising. Finck & Perras has supported the United Way of Hampshire County for 19 years, for instance, encouraging employees take part in making regular donations by offering various incentive programs. Other organizations Finck & Perras supported in 2017 include the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton; the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Springfield; Pathlight, Springfield; TedXEasthamptonWomen; Safe Passage, Northampton; the Northampton Family Fourth Celebration; Nonotuck Community School Inc., Northampton; Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Northampton; and Look Memorial Park, Florence.

Berkshire Bank Foundation Grants Nearly $2M in 2017

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that its foundation awarded a total of $1,995,462 in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the bank’s footprint in 2017. The grants supported a variety of education and community-development initiatives as well as health, human-service, and cultural programs. In all, 556 organizations benefited from the funding. “Our grants impacted more than 5.8 million individuals in 2017 helping to enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for members of our community,” said Lori Gazzillo, senior vice president and foundation director. The foundation offers multiple grant programs, each with their own guidelines, programmatic criteria, and desired outcomes. In 2018, the foundation will again accept proposals for education programs that help individuals become college-, career-, and job-ready. They also plan to accept proposals for economic-development programs that create thriving places to live, work, and raise a family. Applications for these grant programs are due by April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1. In addition to these two programs, the foundation will offer two requests for proposals focusing on nonprofit capacity and basic needs. Additional details about the foundation’s guidelines and application process can be found online at www.berkshirebank.com/giving.

Phillips Insurance Funds Scholarships to American Legion Boys State

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced it is funding three scholarships to the 2018 American Legion Boys State at Stonehill College in June. The one-week, overnight program focuses on understanding one’s responsibilities and rights in the democratic process. Participants establish a mock government, complete courses in economics, and participate in elections. Founded in 1935, past participants include some of the most prominent names in the country, including former President Bill Clinton, movie critic Roger Ebert, and basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Joseph Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance, noted that “my son Connor attended Boys State in 2016 and had a positive experience, so we decided to reach out … and provide the same opportunity to other students so they could benefit from this unique program and help prepare them for college and beyond.”

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