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GLASTONBURY, Conn. — CMIC, a leading member-owned medical professional-liability insurance company, announced that Stephen Gallant of Glastonbury, Conn. has joined the CMIC Group team as the new chief operating officer.

Gallant has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of MMG Insurance Co., a property and casualty carrier headquartered in Maine. Additionally, he worked for MMG Insurance Co. as the vice president of Marketing and assistant vice president of Accounting. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his master’s degree in business from Husson College in Maine. He also completed executive-development programs at Dartmouth College, Tuck Business School in New Hampshire.

“Stephen brings a long, successful history of managing a variety of departments to CMIC Group,” said CEO Denise Funk. “His proven track record of growth and expansion will prove to be an asset to the company as we continue to enhance our services to our current membership and expand our services to cover new regions and policyholders.”

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LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced it is launching its first doctoral program this fall, initiating its Occupational Therapy doctorate program.

Since its founding in 1897, Bay Path has evolved into an on-site and online university offering a four-year residential campus for women, the innovative on-ground and online American Women’s College for women seeking an undergraduate degree, and master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines for women and men. The new doctoral program will be available to women and men.

“This is a historic moment for Bay Path University, an institution with over a century of experience in meeting students where they are,” President Carol Leary said. “The launch of the Occupational Therapy doctorate offers yet another avenue where Bay Path is helping to meet workforce demand within the growing field of occupational therapy, while providing our students a career-focused curriculum and pathway in the field. The addition of this doctorate program, fully online and led by Dr. Julie Watson, one of the nation’s experts in the field of education for those in occupational therapy, helps us meet the needs of today’s students in one of the fastest-growing fields within healthcare.”

According to Watson, coordinator of the new doctorate program, the all-online format is designed to make the program available and accessible to individuals looking to advance in their career in occupational therapy and may be particularly appealing to those in mid-career and raising a family. “Having experienced pursuing an advanced degree as a working parent, I understand just how important the online program design is for those living very busy lives, looking to improve their skills and advance in the field of occupational therapy,” she noted.

The program will offer career tracks that are relevant and applicable in the industry, including a pathway to occupational-therapy instruction at the college level, where there is a shortage of instructors needed to train the next generation of occupational therapists; occupational-therapy administration; and a career pathway to work in the mental-health field, where there is an increasing need for occupational therapists.

The program, which is being introduced on the 100th year since the establishment of the occupational-therapy profession, offers 12 courses, including “Utilization of Research in Evidence-based Practice,” “Application of Occupational Science,” “Community Practice, Program Development, and Entrepreneurship,” “Bioethics,” “Leadership and Advocacy,” capstone projects, and courses specific to a student’s chosen track. Those interested in enrolling should click here.

Bay Path has educated occupational therapists for more than 20 years, and has 850 alumni in the OT field. In 2015 Bay Path established a campus location in East Longmeadow with its Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, which is home to the Occupational Therapy graduate program. The 58,000-square-foot facility provides state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, and study areas, creating an innovative campus experience for its students.

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SPRINGFIELD — As she worked as a Pathlight fellow in Valley Venture Mentors’ (VVM) accelerator program this spring on technology designed to offer fire-safety guidance to individuals with intellectual disabilities, Lili Dwight learned she needed to tweak some components of her product. Having access to test audiences provided by Pathlight, VVM and other organizations were key in the learning, she said.

An entrepreneur and a founder of Galactic Smarties in Deerfield, Dwight’s app was originally called Fire Drill, and it was intended to tell the user such things as where the fire is and the best route to safety. As part of VVM, Dwight and her business partner, Kristin Harkness, put the software through the paces and learned it needed to have more focus on the fire-drill process itself. They have changed its name to FireGuide and are now seeking funding to bring it to market.

“I’m a geek,” Dwight said. “My skill and joy is in sitting at my computer solving problems, writing code, designing databases — that kind of work. But for my product, I had to learn to go out and talk to people — people who will be using it. I had to communicate my ideas. The process forced me to focus 120% on my markets. I learned a lot about markets.”

Dwight’s journey as a Pathlight fellow in VVM’s four-month, intensive Accelerator program came to a close on May 25 at an awards event. She was one of two Pathlight fellows to take part in work focused on individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“We were excited to watch the ongoing progress and thrilled that the work of these entrepreneurs will help bring increased independence to individuals with intellectual disabilities,” said Ruth Banta, executive director of Pathlight. “We very much appreciate the dedication and commitment of these talented business owners, and we are pleased that being able to communicate with those who we serve helped impact their work.”

Pathlight, headquartered in Springfield, has served people with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout Western Mass. since 1952, while VVM offers support to business startups. The two nonprofits collaborated on the Pathlight Challenge to encourage entrepreneurs to consider people with intellectual disabilities when designing new products. The Pathlight Challenge was supported in part by a grant from the Westfield Bank Future Fund.

In January, Dwight and Chris Landry, founder and CEO of Habit Stackr, began the Accelerator program as Pathlight fellows; roughly 34 other entrepreneurs chosen from a pool of 200 applicants from around the world also took part. One key benefit to the two chosen entrepreneurs is that they had a built-in test audience in the people served by Pathlight.

“That audience was hugely important for me,” said Dwight, explaining that she did customer interviews with individuals served by Pathlight as well as a like-minded organization in New York, and she also talked with people from New England Business Associates in Springfield and the New England Center for Children. “They helped me reimagine my product.”

Paul Silva, co-founder and chief innovation officer of VVM, said that’s exactly the intention. “What we wanted was to inspire and accelerate innovation geared toward people living on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities. VVM and Pathlight can help make Western Massachusetts a nationally recognized center of innovation not only in the areas of developmental and intellectual disability, but in general.”

HabitStackr is using the science of behavior change to build a tool that will help people blend multiple habits into a daily routine. The company will provide a mobile app combined with a strong user community to help people learn how habits are formed and put what they learn into practice.

Landry said testing the app via the Accelerator program was a remarkable experience. “We came into the program with what we thought was a good idea,” he said. “During the program, we took it all apart and put it together again, based on a lot of feedback from peers, mentors, and potential customers. We left with a lot of confidence in our idea, and we’re grateful to Pathlight for helping make this experience possible.”

When the Pathlight Fellows opportunity was announced last fall for the first time, dozens of startups from across the nation applied for the chance to be a fellow. “There were more than twice as many teams as we had hoped for,” Silva said. “And now, looking back, we can see how participants are light years ahead of where they were just a few months ago.”

Jennifer Bogin is one who applied because she was motivated to develop a product that would serve individuals with intellectual disabilities. While she was not chosen to serve as a Pathlight fellow, her organization, the Field Center, went through the Accelerator program. She said the center is now slated to become the Pioneer Valley’s first multi-disciplinary autism-treatment clinic.

“I want to build a safe and sacred space for people on the autism spectrum and their families,” said Bogin. “This has been my dream — and now it’s being made a reality thanks to Valley Venture Mentors and Pathlight.”

Dwight said being a Pathlight Fellow forced her to focus on business. “It made me stop and ask questions like, ‘how are you going to bring this product to a market?’ ‘How are you going to pay for the design of the interface?’ ‘Who do you want for your team?’ They got me thinking in some very important ways.”

The result is an initial focus on the fire-drill aspect of her product. Although she will ultimately build the navigation feature into her final product, she is hoping to start with a release of the personalized fire drill app.

“In doing my interviews, I discovered that fire drills are the key to the success of getting people out in the event of a fire,” she said. “It turned out that this was especially true for people who have Down syndrome or are on the autism spectrum. Drills remove the crisis from the emergency.”

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HOLYOKE — After creating your business plan, raising capital, and opening your doors, your next task is to make a profit. But once the money is coming in and your operation is sustaining itself, you want to start thinking about growth. How do you achieve growth? The answer is to plan for it, and it is never too early to start, said Jay Seyler, vice president of Business Banking at PeoplesBank. Learning and utilizing one or all three of these growth strategies will help your business take the leap to the next level. (For a video presentation, click here.)

Strategy #1: Building a Solid Foundation

Your doors are open, customers are coming in, and you are starting to feel good about your venture. Now is the time to look under the hood. “Before a business can grow, it needs to have a solid foundation,” Seyler said. ”Owners must ensure operational efficiency and their ability to compete in the market before they invest in growth.” If that foundation isn’t solid, their investment is at risk. Here are two things to work on if you’re thinking about organic growth:

A) Make IT Count. One common lapse of growing companies is overlooking information-technology (IT) systems. As sales orders grow and product range increases, properly implemented IT systems can enable more efficient management of sales pipelines and production planning. Owners should assess whether it’s beneficial to bring someone on staff to handle IT, or outsource to a company that specializes in this area and essentially acts as your organization’s IT department.

B) Mind Your Margins. Even if sales are good, it may not mean margins are growing. “Many times, margins still fall due to higher costs from the increased demand for materials and labor,” Seyler said. Cost-containment exercises are essential in improving margins. “It’s not always easy to know where to make changes first, so if you’re embarking on your first cost-containment exercise, it’s a good idea to work with a professional, such as a trusted accountant.”

Strategy #2: Buying Growth

Another way to fast-track growth is acquisition. Whether it’s to increase market share, gain economies of scale by acquiring a supplier, or entering a new market segment, acquisition can quickly change the growth potential for your business. If you’re interested in an acquisition, here’s what to work on:

A) Build the Right Team. Acquiring a business is a complex and potentially difficult process that requires many professional skills, from business identification to value assessment and negotiation. Sometimes it can help to assemble a team of advisors to aid in the process. It will make for a cleaner transition and allow the business owner to also remain focused on their own business. Assembling this team may require a certain level of funds to pay for their services. This should be factored into any cost analysis or growth planning the owner is preparing.

B) Do Your Due Diligence. “Any business considering an acquisition must conduct due diligence on their prospective targets to assess the risks and opportunities of a proposed transaction,” Seyler said. Proper due diligence will spot conflicts of interest, evaluate the merits of the deal, identify potential negotiation issues, and help you make the final decision.

C) Craft a Post Plan. While post-merger integration work is often complex, it doesn’t need to be daunting. The first 100 days are the most important period in terms of integrating your two organizations. Craft a communications plan to share your vision, manage expectations, and motivate employees to embrace the culture.

Strategy #3: Growing Through Diversification

Tight competition in your market may mean it’s time to think about new geographic markets, product areas, or industry sectors. “More businesses are looking to diversification as a core business strategy,” Seyler said. “Planning and preparation are essential in addressing knowledge gaps and mitigating the risks that entry into new markets or product areas can present.”

A) Select the Right Market. Companies thinking about expansion need to answer serious questions to ensure the move and, specifically, the location match the goals of the organization. Two very important questions to ask are: “where can I find reliable data to compare alternative sites?” and “how can I establish any new operations in the quickest and most cost-effective way?” Once you have those, you can objectively analyze and score the financial and non-financial elements against the specific factors to make the best decision.

B) Assess the Risks. “In terms of risk assessment, think short- and long-term,” Seyler said. “Many business owners seeking long-term growth often overlook how much goes into the initial investment. A company may have the appropriate amount of cash available to fund the initial investment. If a certain level of borrowing is needed, this is also a possibility; however, the owner should maintain a disciplined approach toward borrowing during a growth period to avoid a strain on cash flow. No matter how good the long-term opportunity may appear, if it puts a serious bind on your current business, it’s probably not the right move.”

Building a solid foundation, buying a competitor or supplier, and diversifying markets or products are all excellent strategies for taking a business to the next level. To pay dividends, however, they need as much or more planning than when you started your business. When you make the right decision, you don’t just put yourself in a position to make more profit, you position yourself to truly make the leap into something bigger.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Phil Beaulieu and Sons Home Improvement Inc. will make a donation to Revitalize CDC on Friday, July 28 at the Valley Blue Sox game at Mackenzie Stadium, 500 Beech St., Holyoke.

Phil Beaulieu and Sons Home Improvement has been a season-long sponsor of the Valley Blue Sox, placing a huge banner in the outfield. Any time a batter hits a ball over the PBHI banner, a donation is made to Revitalize CDC. Home season games started June 8, and the last regular-season home season game is July 28. The Blue Sox clinched a playoff spot on Thursday.

The check will be presented to Revitalize CDC at 6 p.m. at home plate, and the game begins at 6:35 p.m. Revitalize CDC CEO Colleen Loveless, will accept the check.

Revitalize CDC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992. It performs critical repairs, modifications, and rehabilitation on the homes and nonprofit facilities of low-income families with children, the elderly, military veterans, and people with disabilities.

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EASTHAMPTON — Chemetal, a manufacturer of metal designs and laminates, has partnered with Solect Energy of Hopkinton to install a 201.6-kilowatt solar-energy system on the roof of its Easthampton manufacturing plant. The array consists of 560 photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are projected to produce 210,686 kilowatt hours of energy annually. Chemetal anticipates the array will provide up to 33% of its facility’s annual electricity use.

Solect carefully examined Chemetal’s energy-usage patterns and other factors in order to design the optimum solar-energy system. Solect then worked to make sure that Chemetal would achieve maximum ROI through myriad solar incentives. Chemetal is projected to save approximately $25,000 annually on its electricity bill, and is able to take advantage of state and federal tax and financial incentives, including SRECs (solar renewable-energy certificates), which are financial incentives based on the amount of solar energy the system generates. Electrical utility providers in Massachusetts purchase SRECs to help them meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable-energy sources.

“We began seriously considering solar when we doubled the size of our facility in 2016,” said Geoff Schaefer, creative director and president of Chemetal. “The incentives, including tax credits and accelerated depreciation, were beneficial, as was the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint with renewable energy. Solect did a great job making a complicated proposition clear and straightforward. Their pricing was competitive, and they were very helpful in shepherding us through the process.”

Chemetal is one of the world’s largest sources of metal designs and laminates for commercial and residential building projects. The 50-year-old, family-owned business has a strong commitment to green practices. Many of its metal products are made entirely of aluminum, the most recycled material on the planet. Some of its aluminum finishes contain up to 85% recycled content, offering builders and architects LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits. LEED is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings.

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SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley and Peter Pan Bus Lines will launch the annual Stuff the Bus campaign with a press conference event on Friday, July 28, 2017 at 10 a.m. outside the Target store at the Holyoke Mall. The campaign will collect new school supplies from July 28 to Aug. 16. The supplies will be distributed in new backpacks to children who are homeless in Chicopee, Holyoke, Springfield, Westfield, West Springfield, and South Hadley.

“All children in our community deserve to enter school feeling confident, proud, and equipped to learn. Yet, in our community, hundreds of children are without homes,” said United Way President Jim Ayers. “United Way and our supporters want to ensure that these most vulnerable children return to school with what they need: their own unique backpack, new supplies, and a symbolic message from our community that we care deeply about them and recognize their potential.”

Individuals are encouraged to donate the following age-appropriate supplies: number-2 pencils, erasers, binders, paper, crayons, highlighters, pencil boxes, pens, glue sticks, rulers, two-pocket folders, and one-subject notebooks.

From July 28 through August 16, 2017, donations can be brought to the United Way of Pioneer Valley, 1441 Main St., Suite 147, Springfield (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Western Mass News, 1300 Liberty St., Springfield (weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Balise Kia, 603 Riverdale St., West Springfield (every day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), or Six Flags New England (Wednesday, Aug. 16 only).

Aug. 16 is National Roller Coaster Day. Donors who provide six to 19 items will receive a $20.17 coupon toward main-gate admission at Six Flags New England. Those who provide 20 or more items will receive a free ticket. This event concludes the Stuff the Bus campaign.

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SPRINGFIELD — Vibrant, multi-media art is coming to downtown Springfield. The Springfield Central Cultural District’s (SCCD) Art Stop program, to be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2, will feature five artists at 1550 Main Street, New England Public Radio (NEPR), the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the TD Bank building, and the UMass Center at Springfield. Residents, neighbors, and employees are invited to join in the free celebration to enjoy art, food, music, and more.

The event will have an independent gallery opening at each stop, with light snacks and drinks, as well as the artist on site to speak about his or her work and take questions. All five galleries will have a completely different feel, surprising the visitor upon arrival.

In NEPR will be Lynn Sisler, with mixed-media pieces inspired by the natural world. 1550 Main will feature Frank Carter, a well-known painter out of Indian Orchard Mills, displaying large, colorful paintings. The UMass Center at Springfield hosts Marcus Hickley, a Springfield native looking at people of color in pop culture. Amanda Tobin, a recent graduate working with acrylic and unusual items like sand, will show at the Community Foundation. Finally, the TD Bank building will display the photography of Joanne Bell, featuring local shots.

Between the galleries, the SCCD has hired street performers with a jazz theme, as an homage to the upcoming Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival. The Eric Bascom Trio, Jeremy Turgeon, Alton Skinner, and Kevin Chaffee will be playing varied styles. White Lion Wednesday, taking place in Tower Square Park, will also provide music and local libations.

Visitors can also take a tour of the NEPR studios, visit the Springfield Symphony’s new box office at 1441 Main Street, and view a video produced by Springfield students with Enchanted Circle Theatre courtesy of Focus Springfield. Tower Square’s permanent galleries — Art for the Soul, Valley Photo Center, and Avis Neigher Gallery — will be open for visitors as well. Sidecar Bakery will be on site slinging coffee and beignets to round out the evening.

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CHICOPEE — Chicopee leaders announced Thursday that DS Development of Weston will build a 95-unit, 72,000-square-foot affordable assisted-living complex on 3.85 acres of the former Facemate property, the Republican reported.

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency also announced it was awarding three grants totaling $600,000 to continue the cleanup of the Uniroyal and Facemate properties. The city has received $2.4 million over the past eight years in EPA grants to remove blighted buildings and clean up hazardous waste on the brownfield site.

The just-announced, $25 million development, called Chicopee Assisted Living, is being structured more like a nonprofit than a for-profit business and funded in part with tax-exempt bonds from MassDevelopment.

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SPRINGFIELD — Square One was awarded $10,000 by Berkshire Bank in support of its Adopt-a-Classroom program.

“We are excited to continue our ongoing support of Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative program,” says Jim Hickson, senior vice president, commercial regional president. “Berkshire Bank is committed to making a difference in the lives of local children and their families.”

Through the Square One Adopt-a-Classroom program, area business and community leaders have the opportunity to partner with Square One to ensure that its classrooms are outfitted with the necessary supplies and tools needed to ensure each child’s success in the classroom. A check presentation and room dedication will be held on Friday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. at Square One, 255 King St., Springfield.

“We are so grateful to Berkshire Bank for their generosity and genuine compassion for the children and families served by Square One,” said Kristine Allard, chief Development & Communications Officer for Square One. “These funds will help to ensure that our children have the proper supplies they need to enhance their early learning experience.”