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Daily News

HOLYOKE — Thrive, a one-stop financial success center for local college students and residents, will conduct a grand-opening celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m. in room 309 in the Frost building at Holyoke Community College.

Thrive, a collaborative effort between HCC, PeoplesBank, and United Way of Pioneer Valley, will offer financial literacy and coaching, workforce-development services, and public-benefits screening and enrollment. Thrive will provide a valuable support system for anyone in the community (along with necessary skills to achieve long-term financial goals), but especially college students, who may be experiencing financial independence for the first time in their lives.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that most college students don’t have a lot of money and that those who choose to attend community college often do so because of its affordability and their own financial limitations,” said HCC President William Messner.

“What we see, year after year, is that managing money is a huge challenge for students. That financial anxiety is an issue that often impedes their academic performance and sometimes even leads them to drop out of school. Anything we can do to eliminate or at least reduce those financial concerns is going to help our students succeed in the classroom. Healthy financial skills will aid them not only during their college days, but also after they move on, so we are very happy to provide this new resource here at HCC not only for our students, but for members of the community who might also be facing financial issues.”

PeoplesBank has been working to increase financial literacy for years by supporting seminars in the community and teaching personal finance in area public schools.

“Academic excellence and community vibrancy are core principles of our corporate-responsibility efforts,” said Douglas Bowen, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “Supporting Thrive gives us the opportunity to expand on our financial-literacy education efforts. It also provides our associates with another way to volunteer to improve the community and help our future workforce by teaching classes at Thrive.”

Financial literacy is also one of the four impact areas that United Way of Pioneer Valley focuses its fund-raising efforts on, because of the long-lasting results that can be attained with the proper skills and training.

“We’re here to help hardworking families build assets for a successful future,” said Dora Robinson, president and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our partnership with HCC and PeoplesBank has made it possible for our community to ‘Thrive.’”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center announced that Westfield Bank and Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation have pledged gifts of $150,000 and $100,000, respectively, to “Transforming Cancer Care,” the capital campaign for the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center. Westfield Bank’s gift is particularly significant because it reflects the largest corporate gift in the history of the bank.

“Whether we like it or not, every one of us will be touched by cancer, directly or indirectly,” said James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank. “As an employer and as a community member, I recognize the importance of outstanding hospital care for the health of our community. Supporting this expansion is the right thing for economic, humanitarian, and personal reasons. We’re proud to be a part of this worthy project and encourage other area businesses to support the expansion as well.”

Added Chicopee Savings Bank President Bill Wagner, “Chicopee Savings Bank and its charitable foundation have consistently supported the Sisters of Providence Health System and their various efforts. We have long been impressed by the organization’s mission to serve all members of our community. Cancer affects people across the socio-economic spectrum. This expansion will lift the level of care at Mercy to an even higher level, while expanding Mercy’s ability to meet the growing cancer-care needs of this community.”

Mercy Medical Center recently launched a capital campaign to support the $15 million expansion of the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center. Specifically, the funds will be used to consolidate all cancer services into a single, unified space and meet increased demand for outpatient cancer services. In the past two years, the number of patients receiving chemotherapy at the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center has increased by more than 200%. By 2022, the need for outpatient cancer services is expected to grow by 26%.

“Through the years, the banking community has been at the forefront of supporting the Sisters of Providence Health System,” said Diane Dukette, vice president of Fund Development for the Sisters of Providence Health System. “Once again, they are among the first to step forward to support a critical community need. We are grateful for their ongoing generosity and commitment to the people we serve.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A. Boilard Sons Inc., a local, family-owned and operated supplier of quality building supplies since 1936, announced that Matthew Boilard has joined the family business. His appointment as sales associate continues a legacy of family leadership, now in its fourth generation.

“This company has always been a part of my life, and I look forward to adding my own outside perspective to the business,” he said. “I’m proud to have an opportunity to be part of a family business, and my goals are to grow the business and look for new opportunities to help it succeed.”

Boilard is a 2011 graduate of Bentley University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and accounting. While he hopes to advance his career into a financial role, he says it is important for him to start in a sales position to learn the business operations.

“We are thrilled to have Matt here applying his business acumen to our day-to-day operations,” said Mike Boilard, Matthew’s father.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Resorts International announced that MGM Springfield is inviting site-fencing and demolition/abatement contractors to attend meetings to learn more about contractor opportunities for early work.

This outreach follows recent MGM Springfield news of tenant-relocation planning and communications, as well as important changes to parking in the South End. These recent activities reflect a continuum of site preparations for MGM Springfield’s spring groundbreaking, as well as an announcement of its general contractor.

“We are picking up steam as we head into spring,” said Michael Mathis, MGM Springfield president. “Much of the early construction activity will involve preparing the site for initial demolition so we have a productive construction season and stay on schedule.”

The upcoming information appointments will take place at the MGM Springfield Community Office located at 1441 Main St. Contractors must schedule an appointment ahead of time to avail a 30-minute slot. Walk-in appointments are discouraged. Site-fencing contractor appointments will be scheduled on Friday, Feb. 6, and the demolition/abatement contractor appointments will be set for Monday, Feb. 9. Call the MGM Springfield Community Office at (413) 735-3000 to make an appointment or for additional information regarding these opportunities.

In order to stay compliant with permitting requirements, demolition of the Zanetti School will begin in the coming weeks, said Mathis, adding that MGM Springfield’s construction-management representatives will interview interested bidders for site-fencing and demolition/abatement services only for the Zanetti School demolition area. Interested bidders will learn about the scope of work for site fencing and demolition/abatement, how to participate in the pre-qualification process, and MGM Springfield’s policy on minority contractors, vendors, and purchasing.

According to Hunter Clayton, executive vice president of MGM Resorts Development, “we will continue to offer these types of opportunities on individual components of the project as they become a priority. That will allow us to set specific terms and expectations and make the best use of everyone’s time. We look forward to meeting potential project partners.”

The construction of MGM Springfield will offer opportunities in a wide range of property components, such as early work and offsite work for the garage, casino, hotel tower, and retail plaza. Each component will allow for various bid opportunities for local contractors, in both prime and sub roles.

Daily News

FARMINGTON, Conn. — First Connecticut Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Farmington Bank, reported net income of $3.1 million, or $0.21 diluted earnings per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2014, compared to net income of $2.5 million, or $0.17 diluted earnings per share, in the linked quarter.

Diluted earnings per share were $0.07 for the fourth quarter of 2013. The bank had net income of $9.3 million, or $0.62 diluted earnings per share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014, compared to net income of $3.7 million, or $0.24 diluted earnings per share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013.

“Despite the low-interest-rate environment which continues to apply pressure to the margin, we continue to generate improved earnings based on our organic growth strategy, coupled with our strategic steps of reducing operating cost through process improvement initiatives,” said John Patrick Jr., First Connecticut Bancorp’s chairman, president, and CEO.

“I am extremely proud of our team for their efforts in 2014, as we have once again prudently grown our asset and deposit base, deepening our market share where we operate. Their effort is evidenced in the improvement in our operating efficiency and annual EPS growth of 158%. We continue to be pleased with the progress of our expansion into Western Massachusetts, and will be opening two branch offices in that market in 2015, as previously announced.”

Also in the fourth-quarter report, net interest income increased $410,000 to $16.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to $16.0 million in the linked quarter, and increased $2.1 million or 14% compared to fourth quarter of 2013. On a core basis, net interest income increased $160,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the linked quarter.

Strong organic loan growth continued during the quarter, as total loans increased $88.4 million to $2.1 billion at Dec. 31, 2014 and increased $318.7 million or 18% from a year ago. Non-interest expense to average assets was 2.39% in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to 2.46% in the linked quarter and 2.80% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Tangible book value per share was $14.57 compared to $14.56 on a linked quarter basis and $14.11 at Dec. 31, 2013.

Checking accounts grew by 2.8% or 1,242 net new accounts in the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 13.1% or 5,248 net new accounts compared to Dec. 31, 2013. Asset quality improved, as loan delinquencies 30 days and greater decreased slightly to 0.75% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2014, compared to 0.78% at Sept. 30, 2014 and 0.85% at Dec. 31, 2013.

Non-accrual loans represented 0.72% of total loans, compared to 0.76% of total loans on a linked quarter basis and 0.81% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2013. The allowance for loan losses represented 0.89% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2014 compared to 0.91% at Sept. 30, 2014 and 1.01% at Dec. 31, 2013.

Finally, the company paid a cash dividend of $0.05 per share on Dec. 15, 2014, and paid a cash dividend of $0.17 per share for the year, an increase of $0.05 compared to the prior year. This marks the 13th consecutive quarter the company has paid a dividend since it became a public company on June 29, 2011.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra’s (SSYO) Winter Concert is set for Sunday, Feb. 8 in Parenzo Hall at Westfield State University.

The introductory Springfield Youth Sinfonia concert program will include Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” Mussorgsky’s “The Fair at Sorochinsk,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz from Swan Lake.” The advanced Springfield Youth Orchestra program will include Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” and Dvorak’s “In Nature’s Realm Overture, Op. 91.”

Jonathan Lam, conductor of the youth orchestra, notes that “the SSYO will be performing two contrasting works. Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture’ will open the concert and display the versatility, warmth, and excitement of the orchestra. Dvorak’s tone poem ‘In Nature’s Realm’ will take the audience through the sounds of the wilderness.”

Tickets are available at the door, and cost $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and youth under 17 years old. Doors open at 2:30 p.m., and the concert begins at 3 p.m.

MassMutual Financial Group is the official season sponsor of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra. Disability Management Services, PeoplesBank, and Baystate Children’s Hospital are the sponsors of the SSYO. The SSYO is also funded in part by the Amherst, Belchertown, and Westfield cultural councils. For more information, call (413) 733-0636, ext. 19.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership is a position, a perspective, and a process. In today’s fast-paced, global environment, leaders need to be equipped with proven tools and techniques for leading their organizations’ teams. Successful leaders are masterful in crafting a vision, building alignment, and championing execution. Research shows there are proven best practices that leaders can develop.

“Essential Skills for 21st Century Leaders” is an executive briefing culminating six years of research into the drivers and best practices that support leadership success. It will be held at American International College (AIC) on Thursday, Feb. 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Sprague Cultural Arts Center. The event is sponsored by the new AIC Master of Science in Leadership program and Leadership Pioneer Valley. This interactive session addresses real-world demands that face today’s leaders.

“Leaders need more than just vision. They need to be able to align people, processes, and projects with their organization’s mission. They then need to take action to make things happen. That’s the goal of this program,” said Dawn Sherman, director of the leadership program at AIC.

The briefing is designed for leaders in industry and organizations. Leadership faculty and students are also encouraged to attend. Participants will learn about their own leadership priorities, strengths, and blind spots.

According to Leadership Pioneer Valley Executive Director Lora Wondolowski, “with all the changes in our region and the world, leaders need to be forward-thinking, collaborative, and visionary. Leaders aren’t born; they’re educated. We are excited to be offering a program that provides critical insight and strategies for new and seasoned leaders.”

Leadership expert and team coach Ingrid Bredenberg will present the research results and facilitate interactive discovery and discussion. Bredenberg, who will serve as an adjunct professor in the MS in Leadership program at AIC, works in conjunction with Leadership Pioneer Valley and consults with business, healthcare, and government organizations around the country.

To register, contact Sherman at (413) 205-3106 or [email protected].

Daily News

WESTFIELD —The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, which serves Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland, Westfield, and Woronoco, has slated its second annual Legislative Luncheon for Feb. 27 at Tekoa Country Club.

Invited state legislators include Sens. Benjamin Downing and Donald Humason and Reps. Nicholas Boldyga, Peter Kocot, Stephen Kulig, William Pignatelli, and John Velis. A host of sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Tickets for the event are $25 for chamber members and $35 (paid in advance) for non-members. For more information on tickets and sponsorships, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Karen Curran, CFP and Molly Keegan, CPA are pleased to announce the opening of a Northampton office of Family Legacy Partners Inc., an established financial-advisory firm headquartered in Greenfield. The new office is located in a historic property on Round Hill Road.

Family Legacy Partners is an independent financial-services firm offering financial planning and investment management. Securities are offered through Bolton Global Capital Inc. in Bolton, Mass. Advisory services are offered through Bolton Global Asset Management, a SEC-registered investment advisor.

Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia between December 2013 and December 2014, while construction employment increased in 38 states and D.C. between November and December, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by Associated General Contractors of America.

“Part of the reason for the positive December construction employment figures was the exceptionally harsh weather in much of December 2013 and November 2014 and milder-than-normal weather in December 2014,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Nevertheless, the underlying trend is very positive, with construction employment expanding at more than double the rate for total non-farm payroll jobs.”

Texas added more new construction jobs (47,500 jobs, 7.7%) between December 2013 and December 2014 than any other state. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (34,300 jobs, 8.9%), California (26,000 jobs, 4.0%), Illinois (20,200 jobs, 10.6%) and Washington (14,100 jobs, 9.5%). North Dakota (25.7%, 8,300 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Utah (13.4%, 10,100 jobs), Wisconsin (12.7%, 12,400 jobs), and Arkansas (12.6%, 5,800 jobs).

Ten states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months. West Virginia lost the highest percentage (-9.1%, -3,000 jobs). Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include Mississippi (-7.5%, -4,000 jobs), Hawaii (-4.5%, -1,400 jobs), and Arizona (-3.4%, -4,300 jobs). Arizona lost the most construction jobs between December 2013 and December 2014, followed by Mississippi, West Virginia, and Ohio (-2,500 jobs, -1.3%).

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between November and December. New York (6,400 jobs, 2.0%) added the most jobs, followed by Illinois (6,000 jobs, 2.9%), Texas (5,100 jobs, 0.8%), and North Carolina (4,100 jobs, 2.3%).

Association officials said the latest construction employment figures are consistent with the optimism many contractors expressed in the association’s recently released annual “Construction Hiring and Business Outlook.” According to the outlook, 80% of contractors report plans to add new construction jobs in 2015. In addition, a majority of contractors expect demand for most construction-market segments this year to grow.

“The construction industry appears on track to add many new construction jobs in 2015,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO.