Daily News

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University (WSU) President Linda Thompson has appointed Kevin Hearn as vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Hearn will begin his duties on July 3.

As WSU continues to reinforce and build systems to support the needs of students and the surrounding communities, “Dr. Hearn’s dedication as an experienced, innovative steward of higher education will play an important role in advancing the university’s concept of IDEAS — innovation, diversity, engagement, and advancement — that ultimately leads to student success,” Thompson said. “The breadth of Dr. Hearn’s experience stood out from many qualified candidates, and I look forward to working with him to tell the story of Westfield State University.”

With 30 years of higher-education experience, Hearn’s curricular and co-curricular leadership spans enrollment, student affairs, academic support, and communications.

“I wish to thank Dr. Thompson, the selection committee, and all those who participated in the nationwide search for inviting me to serve in this post at Westfield State University,” Hearn said. “This position will play a critical role in addressing the needs of prospective and current students and in creating a more seamless and vibrant student experience from the point of admission through graduation. During my campus visit, I was impressed with the passion with which Westfield State students, staff, and faculty spoke of the university and their experiences. I look forward to partnering with them, as well as with the board of trustees, local and regional community organizations and businesses, and Westfield State alumni, to foster a culture of innovation and engagement that inspires all campus members to build on the rich history of Westfield State University.”

Hearn most recently served as vice president for Enrollment Management at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, where he was responsible for leadership and management of all staff and operations within the offices of undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and international admissions, as well as the office of Financial Aid.

Prior to this role, he served as vice president for Strategic Enrollment Management at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Niagara University in Lewiston, N.Y., and held leadership roles in Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Dean College in Franklin, Mass.

Hearn earned his doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University in Miami, his master’s degree in counseling and educational psychology from Rhode Island College in Providence, and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — For the tenth year in a row, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) has been recognized for its quality of service by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). This time around, BBBSHC has been named a Gold Standard Award winner.

Every year, the BBBSA Nationwide Leadership Council, made up of local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency leaders and board members, selects agencies for excellence in the organization’s signature one-to-one youth-mentoring program. Out of 225 agencies across the country, BBBSHC is one of 26 organizations to receive this top honor.

The Gold Standard Award recognizes agencies that have increased their revenue and grown the number of mentors (‘bigs’) and youth (‘littles’) who are matched through the program, year over year. In the past year, BBBSHC has served approximately 300 youth and grown its local services by 10%.

“Awards like this are never a singular accomplishment. With a constant focus on program quality and on serving as many of our youth as possible, the BBBSHC team helped achieve a big win for the entire community,” said David Beturne, executive director of BBBSHC. “And of

course, we can’t take all the credit for this achievement. This award couldn’t have happened without the help of our generous donors and our amazing volunteers. Thank you so much to everyone who helped us to defend the potential in Hampden County youth.”

For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been dedicated to igniting potential for at-risk youth, making a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Today, the organization creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships, helping to build self-confidence and emotional well-being and empowering young people on a path to graduate with a plan for their futures and a mentor whose impact can last a lifetime.

“We are extremely proud to honor Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County this year. Their innovative efforts and actions are leading the way in which our Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies empower young people across the country,” BBBSA President and CEO Artis Stevens said. “We congratulate and thank these agencies for the outstanding work they do every day to support the life-changing mentorship matches they form and facilitate.”

The Gold Standard Award winners will be formally recognized at the 2023 Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigger Together National Conference, held June 26-29 in California.

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — When Excel Dryer Inc., manufacturer of the XLERATOR Hand Dryer, was completing its state-of-the-art, green, and health-conscious office renovation in 2021, it included an especially unusual initiative. The company partnered with Best Bees to add honeybee hives on the property to cultivate local honey. On Thursday, June 1 at noon, Excel Dryer will host a free “Meet the Beekeeper” event at its facility on 357 Chestnut St. in East Longmeadow.

“We are very excited to show off this unique feature and give people a chance to learn more about honeybees and the important role they play in supporting our local ecosystem,” said William Gagnon, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Excel Dryer. “These hives help ensure reliable bee health and have a positive impact on the environment. Plus, the honey is delicious.”

In addition to being able to meet the beekeeper, guests will learn fun facts about the fascinating honeybee and ways to help support the local bee population. The event will include the chance to sample local honey produced in the Excel Dryer hives, which recently had a facelift with custom homes to match Excel’s custom hand-dryer covers.

“We are proud to manufacture an environmentally friendly product, so including sustainable resources in our new office was a priority,” Gagnon said. “Other environmentally friendly features include tunable LED lighting, living walls, large windows for natural light, and recycled building materials, among others.”

Gagnon noted that Excel is anticipating strong turnout for this event, including local school children and senior-center members. “This is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation for our local community in an engaging way. We’re planning a fun and interesting event for all ages.”

Daily News

GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Agriculture Ventures (BAV) announced the appointment of Rebecca Busansky as its new executive director, following the successful tenure of interim Executive Director Glenn Bergman.

Bergman’s leadership during a critical period at BAV resulted in significant advancement for the organization over the past two and a half years. Under his guidance, BAV experienced solid growth as he built a team of experts to lead BAV’s programs and successfully secured support for the organization’s initiatives. Bergman will collaborate with Busansky over the upcoming month to ensure a smooth transition.

Busansky was formerly a program director at the Franklin County Community Development Corp. (FCCDC). Busansky joined the FCCDC in 2015, and her work focused on helping local farms thrive and increasing food access. During her time there, Busansky and her team launched the PVGrows Investment Fund, an innovative community-investment vehicle that provides financing and technical assistance to farms and local food entrepreneurs, primarily in Western Mass. She also managed the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, which provides financing to increase the availability of affordable, healthy food in underserved communities across the Commonwealth, since its inception in 2018.

“Rebecca’s experience could not be more aligned with BAV’s mission and offerings,” said Thomas Gardner, BAV board president. “She brings a wealth of knowledge on farming and food systems in our region. While Glenn’s presence and leadership will be greatly missed, we’re thrilled to welcome Rebecca, who we believe is an excellent champion to move forward our mission. We are very excited that she is joining us.”

Since its founding in 2016 BAV has played a critical role in supporting Berkshire-Taconic region farms and local food businesses. Overall, the organization has provided $1.6 million in low-interest loans and more than $85,000 in microgrants, and provided more than $500,000 (equaling approximately 150 hours) in direct technical assistance to more than 90 local farms and agricultural businesses.

“I am honored and excited to take on the role of executive director at Berkshire Agricultural Ventures,” said Busansky, who holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University and has worked in the community economic-development field for more than 30 years. “I look forward to working with the talented team here to build on the organization’s success and together continue to bring new ideas and innovations to our work.”

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Go HERE to view all episodes

Episode 164: May 30, 2023

Joseph Bednar Interviews Erica Swallow, Top-selling Realtor for Coldwell Banker

She’s led social-media efforts at the New York Times, won awards for her journalism, served as marketing lead for numerous high-growth startups, wrote a series of children’s books about entrepreneurship, and is now one of the top-selling Realtors in the world for Coldwell Banker. And that’s not all. Erica Swallow is the highest-scoring honoree in BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty class of 2023, and on this installment of BusinessTalk, BusinessWest Editor Joe Bednar sets out to learn why. In an engaging, wide-ranging interview, this Arkansas native talks about her intriguing career journey, her passion for entrepreneurship and this region, and much more. It’s must listening, so tune in to BusinessTalk, a podcast presented by BusinessWest and sponsored by PeoplesBank.

Sponsored by:

Also Available On

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — ShopOne Centers REIT Inc., a fully integrated, grocery-anchored shopping center investment, management, and operating platform, together with its joint venture (JV) partners, Pantheon and a leading global institutional investor, announced their entry into Massachusetts with the acquisition of Heritage Park Plaza in East Longmeadow, a 117,337-square-foot shopping center anchored by Stop & Shop.

Heritage Park Plaza, which is 98% occupied, is strategically located along Route 83, a heavily traveled thoroughfare, and is serviced by three major highways, Interstates 90, 91, and 291. More than 202,300 people reside within five miles of the center, with an average household income of $88,500. Heritage Park Plaza has benefited from strong and consistent sales from its diverse tenant mix, which includes a variety of leading national retailers and regional brands such as Petco, Orangetheory Fitness, Panera, Dollar Tree, Pure Barre, 99 Restaurant and Pub, and H&R Block.

“Heritage Park Plaza is an institutional-quality asset with a strong and synergistic merchandising mix that is anchored by a high-volume flagship grocer, and is exemplary of the kind of asset we are seeking to acquire to grow our portfolio,” said Chris Reed, chief investment officer at ShopOne. “With its significant barriers to entry for new development, demonstrated tenant success, and established retail trade areas, New England will continue to be a target market for us, and we are very pleased to now have a presence in this region. We look forward to serving consumers in the area and growing our footprint in mature and densely populated markets like this one, as well as in those that exhibit similar characteristics throughout the country.”

Daily News

LENOX — On Sunday, June 25, Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will presents its eighth annual Wild Thing 5K/10K Trail Race and 5K Walk. The race is an important fundraiser for Mass Audubon, and all proceeds will benefit its extensive education programs and conservation efforts throughout Berkshire County.

The races and walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the wildlife sanctuary on West Mountain Road. Both routes feature the single-track trails and scenic carriage roads of nearby Kennedy Park.

All racers and walkers are invited to a post-race celebration outside Pleasant Valley’s big red barn, where they can enjoy light refreshments. During this time, prizes will be awarded to top winners and runners-up of the 10K and 5K races. All race participants will receive a tote bag from Blue Q and are eligible to win prizes donated from local businesses. The first 350 participants will receive a limited-edition Wild Thing sticker.

The entry fee for the races is $30 until Thursday, June 1; $35 until Thursday, June 22; and $40 for day-of registrations. Runners age 12 and under are $10, and ages 13-18 are $20. Race-day registration will be held in person from 7 to 8 a.m. only. This year’s Wild Thing lead sponsor is Interprint, with support from many other local community sponsors.

“Whether you’re a runner or not, the Wild Thing is a ton of fun, with plenty of extras that set it apart from an ordinary race,” said Becky Cushing Gop, regional director for Mass Audubon. “Whether you come for the post-race snacks or the Blue Q runners’ bags, at the end of the day, you are supporting kids getting outside and falling in love with nature. What’s not to love about that?”

For more information, to register online, or to sign up to volunteer, visit www.massaudubon.org/wildthing.

Daily News

AMHERST — A team of engineers at UMass Amherst recently showed that nearly any material can be turned into a device that continuously harvests electricity from humidity in the air. The secret lies in being able to pepper the material with nanopores less than 100 nanometers in diameter. The research appeared in the journal Advanced Materials.

“This is very exciting,” said Xiaomeng Liu, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering in UMass Amherst’s College of Engineering and the paper’s lead author. “We are opening up a wide door for harvesting clean electricity from thin air.”

“The air contains an enormous amount of electricity,” added Jun Yao, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst and the paper’s senior author. “Think of a cloud, which is nothing more than a mass of water droplets. Each of those droplets contains a charge, and when conditions are right, the cloud can produce a lightning bolt — but we don’t know how to reliably capture electricity from lightning. What we’ve done is to create a human-built, small-scale cloud that produces electricity for us predictably and continuously so that we can harvest it.”

The heart of the man-made cloud depends on what Yao and his colleagues call the ‘generic Air-gen effect,’ and it builds on work that Yao and co-author Derek Lovley, distinguished professor of Microbiology at UMass Amherst, had previously completed in 2020, showing that electricity could be continuously harvested from the air using a specialized material made of protein nanowires grown from the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens.

“What we realized after making the Geobacter discovery is that the ability to generate electricity from the air — what we then called the ‘Air-gen effect’ — turns out to be generic: literally any kind of material can harvest electricity from air, as long as it has a certain property,” Yao said.

That property? “It needs to have holes smaller than 100 nanometers (nm), or less than a thousandth of the width of a human hair.”

This is because of a parameter known as the ‘mean free path,’ the distance a single molecule of a substance, in this case water in the air, travels before it bumps into another single molecule of the same substance. When water molecules are suspended in the air, their mean free path is about 100 nm.

Yao and his colleagues realized they could design an electricity harvester based around this number. This harvester would be made from a thin layer of material filled with nanopores smaller than 100 nm that would let water molecules pass from the upper to the lower part of the material. But because each pore is so small, the water molecules would easily bump into the pore’s edge as they pass through the thin layer. This means that the upper part of the layer would be bombarded with many more charge-carrying water molecules than the lower part, creating a charge imbalance, like that in a cloud, as the upper part increased its charge relative to the lower part. This would effectually create a battery — one that runs as long as there is any humidity in the air.

“The idea is simple, but it’s never been discovered before, and it opens all kinds of possibilities,” Yao said, adding that the harvester could be designed from literally all kinds of material, offering broad choices for cost-effective and environment-adaptable fabrications. “You could image harvesters made of one kind of material for rainforest environments, and another for more arid regions.”

And since humidity is ever-present, the harvester would run 24/7, rain or shine, at night and whether or not the wind blows, which solves one of the major problems of technologies like wind or solar, which only work under certain conditions.

Finally, because air humidity diffuses in three-dimensional space and the thickness of the Air-gen device is only a fraction of the width of a human hair, many thousands of them can be stacked on top of each other, efficiently scaling up the amount of energy without increasing the footprint of the device. Such an Air-gen device would be capable of delivering kilowatt-level power for general electrical utility usage.

“Imagine a future world in which clean electricity is available anywhere you go,” Yao said. “The generic Air-gen effect means that this future world can become a reality.”

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, Sony Group, Link Foundation, and the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst, which combines deep and interdisciplinary expertise from 29 departments on the UMass Amherst campus to translate fundamental research into innovations that benefit human health and well-being.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Registration is open for Hooplandia, the Northeast’s premier 3-on-3 basketball tourney and festival, presented by Dunkin’ and hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on June 23-25.

Any four-person team that registers at www.hooplandia.com by Sunday, June 4 will receive one ticket to the 2023 Big E, one Dunkin’ gift card, and one ticket to a Connecticut Sun game for each team member.

Qualifying participants will receive their Big E ticket and Dunkin’ gift card when they pick up their registration packet between Thursday, June 22 and Saturday, June 24. As a benefit of being a Hooplandia team player, the Connecticut Sun will provide participants with a complimentary ticket to any game with the purchase of any other ticket. Registrants will receive a link to redeem their ticket following the June 4 deadline.

The inaugural Hooplandia event will provide playing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities as the focus of a weekend of family entertainment. There will also be food, music, and fun activities for all who attend.

With 19 playing divisions and games on outside and inside courts, there’s a place for everyone, from all-star athletes to those who enjoy a pick-up game with friends. The final registration deadline is Monday, June 19.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced a recent addition to the museum’s iconic exterior, a state-of-the-art LED projection lighting display. The dome, one of the city’s most prominent structures, will be lit up every night and will display an array of festive colors and patterns for holidays and events throughout the year.

“We’ve completed a major renovation on the inside of the Hall, and adding this dynamic lighting package to the building’s exterior demonstrates our ongoing commitment to beautifying the property and enhancing the riverfront area,” said John Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the result and to be able to help light Springfield’s night sky.”

In an effort to honor those who have sacrificed everything in service to the nation, the dome and building will be lit red, white, and blue this Memorial Day weekend, May 25-29.

This summer, the Basketball Hall of Fame will light the night to celebrate the winner of the NBA Finals, Independence Day, Enshrinement Weekend, and more.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB recently announced that Joe Williams has been hired as vice president, commercial lender.

Williams has 12 years of banking experience, including his most recent roles as AVP, business banking officer at PeoplesBank, and AVP, credit officer at United Bank.

He holds a master’s degree in communication from Bay Path University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and finance from Westfield State University. He serves as president of the East Longmeadow Baseball Assoc., as well as treasurer of the East Longmeadow Housing Authority.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Recreation Department announced the soft opening of its new skate park located at 71 Chapman St. The 10,000-square-foot park, designed by Pillar Design and constructed by Mountain View Landscapes with Artisan Skateparks, is nearing completion and will be open for use beginning today, May 26. A formal grand-opening celebration is being planned for Wednesday, June 21, which is National Go Skateboarding Day.

“The park has been a true community effort that has finally come to fruition,” Recreation Director Christy Moore said. “We know the community is very eager to skate this new facility, so now that the contractor’s work is mostly complete, we are opening the park ahead of the grand celebration slated for the end of June. It’s been a long time coming, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

While the park will open for use beginning today, the public is reminded that additional site work may continue into the weeks ahead. The park will be open daily from dawn until dusk, and skaters are asked to abide by all park rules, which are posted.

The new park is designed for all ages and abilities and features many street-style elements, including ramps, stairs, rails, hubbas, a pier seven, a flip bank, and a vert wall that resembles Greenfield’s own Poet’s Seat Tower. The tower was painted by local artist Suzanne Gale with financial support from the Greenfield Local Cultural Council. Additional park elements include a shade structure, benches, a water fountain with refill station, and a Lyra solar charging station.

The park, which broke ground in September 2022, has been long-awaited by Greenfield’s skate community, which has been petitioning for a new park since 2010, when the city’s former park closed. After more than a decade, skateboarders will now have a safe environment to participate in their sport.

The park would not have been possible without financial contributions from the Commonwealth’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, an appropriation through Greenfield’s Capital Improvement Program, and American Rescue Plan Act funding, as well as significant donations from the late Lewis Scott, the Kiwanis Club of Greenfield, Greening Greenfield, Friends of Greenfield Recreation, and the fundraising efforts of the skate community. More details about the park’s grand-opening celebration will be released in the weeks to come.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Mortgage is hosting three first-time homebuyer seminars on Tuesday, June 6; Wednesday, June 7; and Tuesday, June 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at 7 Campus Lane in Easthampton.

Jeff Hutchins, mortgage loan originator at Hometown Mortgage, along with other real-estate professionals, will lead this certified course recognized by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and MassHousing. This workshop will help attendees qualify for special mortgage products, provide tips to improve their credit, and prepare them as they approach this important life decision.

The cost to attend one of these first-time homebuyer seminars is $50 for two adults in the same household. For more information and to register for one of the upcoming events, visit valleycdc.org.

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

By Mark Morris

Molly Keegan

Molly Keegan co-founded the Hadley Business Council to address the needs of local companies.

Each spring, the town of Hadley attracts attention for its asparagus crops, as well as its crowded hotels and restaurants due to college graduations in surrounding towns.

This year’s asparagus crop is strong, and the Asparagus Festival is back and bigger than ever (more on that later). Graduations are all on schedule, too. Getting to all those events — well, that can be a challenge.

Route 9 — Russell Street in Hadley — is undergoing a reconstruction of two and a quarter miles of roadway, which involves replacing infrastructure below the road as well as upgrading and widening at the surface.

In most towns with just over 5,300 residents, a road project would present only a minor inconvenience. But Hadley’s geography places it in a unique situation because Route 9 serves as the main artery connecting it to Northampton, Amherst, and several other towns. Between the universities and businesses in the area, traffic through Hadley — a largely rural community both north and south of Russell Street — can easily top 100,000 vehicles a day.

To keep things moving, communication becomes essential. With college graduations scheduled for the latter part of May, followed immediately by Memorial Day, Carolyn Brennan, Hadley’s town administrator, said mid- to late May is among the most challenging times.

“Once we get through the next few weeks, that will be huge,” Brennan said, noting that traffic becomes more manageable once the colleges empty out for the summer.

The week of May 7 proved particularly disruptive, as town projects were scheduled on several side roads — the same side roads drivers were using to avoid the Route 9 construction.

“We felt like there are issues unique to Hadley; the widening of Route 9 is a perfect example.”

“We called it the perfect nightmare,” Brennan said, adding that police got involved to encourage residents to sign up for daily notices about where construction was taking place. “I’m so proud of the Hadley Police Department for taking a proactive approach to send out alerts every morning to residents so they know what streets will be impacted.”

While it’s helpful when the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) issues weekly updates on Route 9 construction, Molly Keegan, Hadley Select Board member and co-owner of Curran and Keegan Financial, felt businesses in town needed more.

As an active member of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Keegan felt Route 9 construction created several issues for Hadley businesses that did not affect chamber members in other towns. So she and Kishore Parmar, whose Pioneer Valley Hotel Group owns two hotels in Hadley, formed the Hadley Business Council.

“We felt like there are issues unique to Hadley; the widening of Route 9 is a perfect example,” Keegan said. “Not everyone on the Amherst Area Chamber is keenly affected by the construction in the way that Hadley businesses are.”

Kelly Tornow

Kelly Tornow says cannabis companies like HadLeaf need to use every means to get the word out, as advertising is strictly regulated.

After reaching out to the DOT and Baltazar Contractors, the Ludlow-based construction company doing the roadwork, Keegan and Parmar met with town department heads. The purpose of all these meetings was to make everyone aware of the business council and to encourage better communication in all directions.

“We are trying to find ways to leverage the business council so we are all talking, rather than having it be a complaint department,” Keegan said. “Anyone can complain; we’re looking to leverage these relationships.”

Now that the entity has been established, there are already conversations about how it may address future opportunities for Hadley businesses. Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber, has suggested the Hadley Business Council could look at designing a map that would promote agricultural tourism. Stops along the way would be ice cream at Flayvors of Cook Farm, petting a cow at Mapleline Farm, and more. Keegan noted that farmers in Hadley are looking for ideas like this to promote agri-tourism.


Green Days

Located on Route 9, HadLeaf Cannabis is one business accustomed to working through challenges. The group that started HadLeaf signed its community host agreement in February 2020, allowing it to start building the dispensary. Weeks later, COVID-19 shut everything down and caused huge delays. A planned opening for early 2021 was pushed back by delays until HadLeaf was finally able to open in October 2022.

“We had quite a few hiccups to get where we are, just to open,” said Matt McTeague, regional manager for HadLeaf. “Everyone we’ve dealt with from the town has been welcoming and helpful as we worked throughout the process.”

Kelly Tornow, general manager of HadLeaf, has worked in retail for most of her career. Since joining the operation in February 2022, she was part of the effort to get the dispensary up and running.

“We had quite a few hiccups to get where we are, just to open. Everyone we’ve dealt with from the town has been welcoming and helpful as we worked throughout the process.”

“This is the first time I’ve been involved with launching a retail operation from the ground up,” Tornow said. “The biggest challenge was learning all the laws and regulations that come with cannabis.”

To overcome situations like road construction, most retail businesses simply increase their advertising, but advertising cannabis is strictly regulated.

“We’re trying all the avenues that are open to us to get our name out there,” Tornow said, noting that membership in the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce is one avenue that has been successful. “Because we’re members of the chamber, we have a presence at their golf tournaments and other community events.”

Because podcasts are allowed under the advertising regulations, an informational podcast wil launch soon at hadleafuniversity.com. “We will produce it in the store with different speakers and vendors,” Tornow explained. “The idea is to educate consumers about different aspects of cannabis.”

The HadLeaf name has been a positive marketing tool as well. McTeague said many people compliment him on the creativity of the name. “We wanted something that would be relevant to cannabis and identify with the town of Hadley. We tried a couple combinations, but HadLeaf really stuck.”

But the term ‘Hadley grass’ has nothing to do with cannabis; that’s another name for the crop that has made Hadley the asparagus capital of the world.

For decades, Hadley asparagus has had the reputation of being served in fine restaurants across the globe. According to mediterraneanliving.com, for many years Queen Elizabeth II served Hadley asparagus at her annual Spring Fest.

Asparagus Festival

More than 8,000 people came out to last year’s Asparagus Festival, set for June 3 this year.
Photo by Erin O’Neill

New England Public Media (NEPM) sponsors the annual Asparagus Festival, scheduled this year for Saturday, June 3 on the Hadley Town Common. While the event is in its ninth year, the festival was not held for two years during COVID-19. Before the pandemic, the event drew between 6,000 and 7,000 attendees. Last year, an estimated 8,000 people came out on a sunny Saturday to enjoy the return of the festival. Vanessa Cerillo, NEPM’s senior director of Marketing, Communication, and Events, expects the same kind of crowd this year.

“The Asparagus Festival is about celebrating the wonderful agricultural heritage of Hadley,” Cerillo said. “We’re excited to produce the event and partner with the town of Hadley for the year-long planning that goes into the event.”

More than 100 local food, crafts, cultural, and agricultural vendors will be represented at the festival’s Farmers and Makers Market. Local breweries will set up in the Beers and Spears tent, while food trucks will be on hand with traditional fare as well as fried asparagus and even asparagus ice cream.

For the first time this year, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) will take part in the festival, offering free bicycle valet service.

“Everyone who rides their bikes to the festival can leave it with a valet, where it will remain secure while they enjoy the festival,” Cerillo said. “The festival gets so packed with cars that we are encouraging people to ride their bikes to it, if they can.”

Festival attendance is free with a suggested $5 per person (or $20 per family) donation to support public media in Western Mass.


Worth the Wait

In addition to approving a new budget at the Hadley town meeting held in early May, the community unanimously approved expansion of ambulance service. Action EMS provides primary ambulance coverage for Hadley. A second ambulance run by the town will shortly be added due to the call volume, which is affected by those 100,000 drivers who use Route 9 every day.

“We certainly benefit from the entire commercial district along Route 9,” Keegan said. “Because of the high traffic volume, we need to provide services like we are a small city and not a rural hamlet.”

To staff the ambulance, the town will hire two additional firefighters trained as EMTs. Brennan said the ambulance is scheduled to be ready by July 1.

“There’s quite a lot involved when you put an ambulance into service,” she explained. “We spent all of last year outfitting the ambulance, training the staff, getting state approvals, and more.”

Hadley at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1661
Population: 5,325
Area: 24.6 square miles
County: Hampshire
Residential Tax Rate: $11.54
Commercial Tax Rate: $11.54
Median Household Income: $51,851
Median Family Income: $61,897
Type of Government: Open Town Meeting, Board of Selectmen
Largest Employers: Super Stop & Shop; Evaluation Systems Group Pearson; Elaine Center at Hadley; Home Depot; Lowe’s Home Improvement
* Latest information available

One long-term project Brennan discussed involves increased maintenance on the West Street levee along the Connecticut River that plays a vital role in flood control for the town.

“The levee is doing its job, but we are continuing to work with engineers to make sure it provides protection well into the future,” she said, adding that the ultimate goal is to achieve FEMA certification, which is a multi-year process.

More immediate town business involves compensation and succession planning. In order to make sure Hadley is paying its employees comparable wages, the town has hired a consulting firm to study compensation. The firm has also been charged with developing a succession plan.

“We have people in key departments who will be looking to retire soon,” Brennan said. “Like many small towns, we have several one-person departments, so we’re getting ready for the number of retirements that are likely to happen in the next few years.”

Another long-term project involves what Keegan called “a big conversation” about housing.

“We are taking a more focused look at our master plan, working with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and with UMass,” she said. “If we are going to expand our housing, we need to figure out where should it go and what should it look like.”

The old Russell School, located across the street from Town Hall, will undergo a feasibility study to figure out the best options for possible reuse. Like many Western Mass. towns with older buildings, the cost of rehabilitation to bring it in line with today’s public building codes can exceed millions of dollars.

“The Russell School is a beloved building with a good number of people who want to preserve it and others who don’t want to spend the money to keep it,” Brennan said, noting that the study will look at options for the town to keep the school, pursue a public/private partnership, or sell it outright to a private entity.

Meanwhile, Route 9 construction continues, with the work moving along on schedule — even if vehicle traffic slows, at times, to a crawl. The project is expected to be completed by 2026.

Despite the current headaches, the investment is necessary, Brennan said, with a wider road and new infrastructure transforming Route 9 in ways that will benefit the town for years to come.

Keegan agreed. “I keep telling people, it will be worth the wait.”


Smoke Show

Bill Fletcher

Bill Fletcher shows off a few dozen full racks of ribs that are still a few hours from being ready for prime time.
Staff Photo

Unlike many people in the restaurant industry, Bill Fletcher did not grow up in the business. And it was never really his dream to put his name over the door to an eatery.

Indeed, Fletcher ventured instead into the advertising industry, becoming co-owner of a firm, to be called Domani Studios, that eventually grew to 50 employees with offices in Brooklyn and Chicago.

“That was a great time … we did award-winning stuff, all digital-marketing stuff that was new to everyone at the time,” he recalled, noting that this was the start of this century. “All the major advertisers were still trying to figure out how to build a website, and Facebook was just coming into being.”

But while he was helping clients tell their stories, his — career-wise and otherwise — was starting to change, and in a big way.

“On the side, I just started really getting into barbecue,” he told BusinessWest, adding that this interest started small, on the weekends in the backyard, where he would cook for friends and neighbors. Eventually, though, it took him to competitions, mostly in the Northeast, where he would pit his ribs, chicken, pork, and brisket against friendly rivals from across the country.

“I was just obsessed with all that; I would do all this test cooking and travel around the Northeast competing,” he said, referring to the various competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. “They were all-weekend-long things, and they were a party.”

He fared well against those rivals, winning enough prize money — and accolades — to convince him to bid farewell to advertising, sell his share of the company, and use the proceeds to open Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ in its namesake borough of New York City.

Skipping ahead a few chapters in this intriguing story — we’ll go back and fill in the gaps later — he has opened Fletcher’s BBQ Shop & Steakhouse at the site of the former Rinaldi’s in Longmeadow. It was an almost-two-year journey from conceptualization of this enterprise to the first day of operation on April 30, and it was a difficult process, he told BusinessWest.

“We were selling out early of a lot of stuff, which is a unique and tricky thing with barbecue, because it takes forever to cook it, so whatever I had is all I had — you can’t make more.”

But just a few weeks in, he’s already seeing the fruits of his considerable labor.

The new restaurant drew large crowds opening weekend, which became a learning experience on many levels when it came to what people liked — and what he needs to cook more of moving forward.

“We’re still learning the cadence — what sells,” he explained. “We were selling out early of a lot of stuff, which is a unique and tricky thing with barbecue, because it takes forever to cook it, so whatever I had is all I had — you can’t make more.”

Bill Fletcher adds some wood

Bill Fletcher adds some wood to one of the barbecue pits at his new restaurant in Longmeadow, one of his many responsibilities as pitmaster.

Overall, Fletcher is off to a solid start, but, limited by staffing issues, as most all restaurants are, he is easing his way into the local restaurant, and not by choice.

Indeed, his original plan was to be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. For now, it’s just dinner, Thursday through Monday — Mondays, because few of the area’s restaurants are open that day.

“That’s OK … it’s nice to start off slow,” he said. “We can make sure we’re doing everything right.”

For this issue and its annual Restaurant Guide, BusinessWest talked with Fletcher about the road to his new venture on Longmeadow Street and where he believes that road will take him.


Taking it Slow

As he talked with BusinessWest about his venture at one of the front tables in the bar area of the restaurant, Fletcher took a quick break to tend to the fires in the two barbecue pits in the kitchen.

As he opened the bottom door to one of them to add more wood (sugar maple and red oak), he said simply, “I’m the pitmaster — this is my job.”

“I realized that I was spending all my time thinking about barbecue and not being a good president and leader of my crew in advertising. So I spoke to my partner and said it was time for me to get out; I decided I wanted to make this my career.”

Actually, it’s just one of many, he said, as he showed off five dozen full racks of ribs that had been slow cooking for several hours and still had a few more to go before they were ready for prime time.

Fletcher said his days at the restaurant start at 5 a.m. and generally run late into the evening. During that time, he and his team are preparing and then cooking meat, getting appetizers and sides ready for the coming night, and, overall, preparing to welcome guests to what it is in many ways something new and different for the region.

This is the life Fletcher has chosen. Actually, as noted earlier, it chose him as his passion for barbecue moved from the backyard to those competitions across the Northeast to the restaurant he opened in Brooklyn.

It was while taking part in those competitions that Fletcher said he learned that barbecue wasn’t just a hobby, and it wasn’t just a business in waiting. It was, and is, as he put it, “community.”

“You go to these different competitions, and you see some new faces, but a lot of old faces,” he explained. “It’s probably anywhere between 30 and 100 teams competing, and you stay up all night. It takes forever to cook barbecue, so everyone is up all night, sleeping in shifts. It was hard work, but we had a lot of fun and collected a lot of memories.”

it took nearly two years of feasibility studies and buildout

Bill Fletcher says it took nearly two years of feasibility studies and buildout, but his new restaurant is now a reality.
Staff Photo

Making a long story somewhat shorter, Fletcher said he started spending more and more of his time at these competitions, to the detriment of his ad agency.

“I realized that I was spending all my time thinking about barbecue and not being a good president and leader of my crew in advertising,” he explained. “So I spoke to my partner and said it was time for me to get out; I decided I wanted to make this my career.”

He took the proceeds of his buyout and opened Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ in the Gowanus neighborhood of the borough in 2012.

Actually, he was part of a wave of barbecue to hit Brooklyn — three new restaurants opening at roughly the same time — a movement that put his restaurant in the food section of the New York Times within weeks of opening.

“We all opened up within a month of each other,” he recalled. “Pete Wells, the New York Times restaurant critic, wrote a piece about us, saying ‘big league barbecue hits New York City,’ and reviewed us all. That was exciting, to be in the New York Times restaurant review in your first month of being open. That was unexpected, and he had some kind things to say about us; that was fun.

“And we won all kinds of awards there — it was a really great run. I was there for a decade … so many great people and great food,” he went on, adding that one key to the restaurant’s success was its operating model, whereby it served as a hub (he called it the ‘hive’), supplying barbecue to other pop-up or market locations.

“We would cook everything in one central location and then send it out to a number of satellites,” he explained, adding that the model worked well, especially in that metropolitan area. “You’re not building five restaurants; you essentially have a commissary, and you’re just sending food out. It was a great model for us.”


Meaty Issues

Eventually, though, Fletcher closed the location. First, he decided he had enough of Gotham and moved upstate. He kept the restaurant going, managing from afar. He then “started dating,” as he put it, and upon “not finding anyone in Upstate New York to my liking,” expanded the search to 100 miles (far for a dating app), which included Longmeadow, where he found what — and who — he was looking for.

“I met my future wife through Tinder,” he explained, gesturing with his hand to indicate that she lived just a few minutes from where he was sitting. When the relationship reached a degree of seriousness, he started looking at where he could open a restaurant in the area.

And after some hard searching and then some “feasibility studies,” as he called them, he eventually settled on the location of the old Rinaldi’s.

“When I walked in here, this place was completely gutted,” he said, adding that a restaurant was planning to move into the site, but those aspirations were derailed by COVID. “I’m completely independent — I don’t have any backing, so I was really concerned about the dollars going into it and whether I could actually pull it off.”

Eventually, the numbers worked, even if the project went 25% over budget, by his estimate, and the restaurant opened more than two years after the first negotiations on a lease began.

Before the opening, Fletcher handled a few pop-up events, including the town’s annual Fall Festival, that provided a taste of what he was getting into — literally and figuratively — as well as some encouraging signs.

“The community was so supportive,” he recalled. “I was selling out in two hours, when it’s supposed to last six. Those events were really encouraging, and I was super excited to be part of all that.”

As noted earlier, Fletcher said he’s still learning what people like most — the ‘cadence,’ as he called it. There’s a note on the restaurant’s website that states hours and then a notation: “please come early, we sell out daily.”

“Trying to figure out what the demand is going to be is part of the trick,” he explained. “And that will take us a little bit of time to figure it all out.”

The menu includes the staples of barbecue — beef brisket, pork (pulled pork and hot links), spare ribs, and chicken, as well as platters with two or three different meats — but also steaks (New York strip, ribeye, and filet mignon) and other choices such as catfish and grits, barbecue ramen, Cajun pasta, pulled pork sandwich, and brisket cheesesteak. Bar snacks and starters include barbecue wings, barbecue nachos, barbecue fries (the menu describes them as a “cult favorite”), hot links with pimento cheese, and spicy shrimp hush puppies.

As for those steaks, Fletcher says they’re unlike anything he believes is offered in the region.

“We’re cold-smoking them 10 to 15 minutes,” he explained. “So they come out raw — they’re just taking in some of our smoke flavor. And then, we’re searing them to order. It is a really complex flavor; it’s really unique. It might not be everyone’s liking, it’s a little smoky, but I think it’s outstanding.

“We’re a little weird,” he went on. “It’s kind of a fancy place — marble tabletops and brass everything — but you can get some sticky ribs and nachos next to a filet mignon and a glass of champagne.”

Looking ahead, Fletcher said he will continue the process of easing his way toward that schedule he originally put on the drawing board.

That means eventually adding lunch, maybe another night or two of dinner, takeout, and catering. He said he will not take the Fletcher’s act to the Big E this year, but will explore making that part of the equation moving forward.

For now, he’s settling in while also keeping the fires stoked — he’s going through two cords of wood a month.

As he noted, barbecue isn’t just food, it’s community, and that’s what he’s bringing to Longmeadow — and the region.

Creative Economy

Collective Soul

By Mark Morris

Hannah Staiger

Hannah Staiger displays her jewelry at the Sawmill River Arts Gallery.

The artists at Sawmill River Arts Gallery in Montague have taken a creative approach — not just to their art, but to how they run their business.

Organized as an artist collective 12 years ago, Sawmill River Arts consists of 15 member artists who run the business and 22 guest artists who display their work on consignment. The distinction between the two is significant. While guest artists share 40% to 50% of their sales with the gallery, member artists make a deeper commitment and receive a larger return.

Each member artist contributes to the rent and agrees to staff the gallery at least three times a month. Members also agree to serve on committees such as finance, marketing, and others that contribute to running the business. In return for their investment in time and expertise, each member artist enjoys a permanent space in the gallery and receives 100% of the sales when someone buys their work.

“All the tasks that one business owner might do, we have 15 people able to do these things,” said Hannah Staiger, a member artist and owner of La Boa Brava jewelry studio. “The gallery is our space that we own and operate together. We all have keys to the front door.”

“We’ve been here for 12 years, and we’ve been successful and growing. Now we’re in a position where we are a full-fledged business, and we have to treat it as such.”

As part of the creative process, artists tend to work alone for long periods of time. Staiger said being a member artist is a welcome opportunity to occasionally get out of her home basement studio and experience life not covered in dust and dirt from making jewelry.

“I get to put on nice clothes and come here to talk with customers and my co-workers,” she said, adding that having member artists also serve as the staff gives the gallery a unique positioning. “When you walk through our door, you interact with the artists who made the work that’s in the gallery. Staffing this way allows us to collectively maintain the store and provide a vital resource for all the members, as well as the 22 other local artists who sell their work here.”

To keep things running, the cooperative holds monthly meetings, but for the daily concerns that come up, email is the main communication tool.

Lori Lynn Hoffer

Lori Lynn Hoffer specializes in oil paintings of landscapes and botanical scenes.

“It can be a challenge to get consensus from 15 people via email to make a change to the gallery or vote a new member into the group,” said Lori Lynn Hoffer, member artist and owner of Waterlily Design, specializing in oil paintings of landscapes and botanical scenes. “While email is time-consuming, we do it to make sure all 15 of us are on the same page.”

As a customer of Sawmill River Arts for many years, Hoffer applied for membership in the collective last year after seeing it go through a positive transformation and deciding that she wanted to be part of that effort.

“I was willing to do the work of staffing the gallery and taking part on the committees because it’s so worth it,” she said. “It’s extremely unusual to be able to get 100% of the selling price for your artwork. When you exhibit at a commercial gallery, they take half of your sales.”

On the day BusinessWest visited Sawmill River Arts, it was Roy Mansur’s day to staff the store. In between helping customers, he was removing storm windows to prepare the gallery for spring and summer traffic.

A nature photographer for three decades, Mansur — a member artist at Sawmill River Arts for the past 10 years — explained why he joined the collective after years of displaying his work in different galleries, stores, and fairs. “The chance to have a wall of my own where I can choose what I want to exhibit was the first big pull to joining the gallery for me.”


Focus on Growth

In early 2020, Staiger applied to become a member artist just before the pandemic lockdown closed thousands of businesses, including the gallery. She wanted to become active with a local gallery when it became apparent that the types of fairs and markets where she usually sold her jewelry weren’t going to open for quite a while.

“I contacted the collective and suggested they reach out to the public during the lockdown,” she said. “I offered to help with online and social-media outreach, which was something they needed.”

Roy Mansur

Roy Mansur was drawn to the collective by the opportunity to display his photographic works in whatever way he chooses.

According to Hoffer, having 15 member artists seems to be the right number to keep the gallery growing. Two new members were recently added after one passed away and another retired. A new-member search committee takes on the job of finding people to apply to be part of the group.

“There’s a whole process involving interviews, deciding who is a good fit based on their art, and what strengths they bring to operating the gallery,” Hoffer said, noting the online experience Staiger brought to the group when she joined. “Hannah is far savvier about social media and online marketing than most of us in the group. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been looking to bring in younger members.”

As an example of new types of art featured at the gallery, Staiger called attention to a rack of printed T-shirts.

“The patterns are from hand-carved wooden blocks that are printed on to the T-shirts,” she explained. “We haven’t had something like this before. This type of art speaks to a younger crowd, and we’re excited to have this artist join us.”

Thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the gallery will look to upgrade its logo and branding. Staiger described it as a bit of a facelift to reintroduce the gallery to the community.

“We’ve been here for 12 years, and we’ve been successful and growing,” she said. “Now we’re in a position where we are a full-fledged business, and we have to treat it as such.”

The group is working with the Homegrown Studio, a local marketing agency known for its work with local farms and small businesses. Homegrown will create a new logo and a new look for the gallery. “Our vision is to create a modern local art gallery,” Staiger said.

Hoffer added that part of the branding effort will involve reaching out to locals as well as out-of-towners to make it easier to find Sawmill River Arts.

“From the universities to the prep schools, it’s not unusual to see students and parents who are not from the area,” she said. “We have an extraordinary destination, and we love it when they visit.”

The art gallery is one of several businesses located in the Montague Bookmill complex. In addition to the art gallery and the bookstore, there are two restaurants — the Watershed (sit-down dining) and the Lady Killigrew Café (pub atmosphere) — as well as a music shop, Turn it Up! The entire complex faces the Sawmill River, which can be heard rushing by in the background.

“We have art, music, books, and the river,” Hoffer said. “With lots of outdoor seating, it’s a real draw for people who want to get out of the house and see other people who also care about all these things.”


Picture This

Staiger said the mill complex is an iconic New England location makes people feel like they’ve stumbled upon it.

“Many people who come here for the first time feel like they’ve discovered this oasis in the middle of Western Mass.,” she said.

If all goes to plan, many more people will be discovering Sawmill River Arts, and the entire mill complex, for themselves … and maybe bringing home a unique piece of local art, too.

Nonprofit Management

Things Are CLICing


Jennifer Connelly shows off the wall

Jennifer Connelly shows off the wall in the wall that is the symbolic start of work to create JA’s new Career, Leadership & Innovation Center.

It was officially called a groundbreaking, but Jennifer Connelly says it was more of a “wallbreaking.”

Indeed, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, representatives of the many sponsors involved with the project, and other VIPs took turns swinging a large sledgehammer at a wall just off the entrance to the Tower Square offices of Junior Achievement (JA) of Western Massachusetts.

The hole they left behind is still there more than a month later, a poignant symbol of the work — at least the physical construction work — soon to commence on what is being called the Career, Leadership & Innovation Center, or CLIC, a facility that will focus on those first three words with a number of intriguing programs.

Indeed, the center will help students identify career options and make smart decisions regarding post-secondary education; expand their thinking and skill development, thus better preparing them to be future leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators; and provide them with the skills and knowledge that will allow them to make informed and effective decisions with their financial resources.

“For the past 10 to 15 years, the board has talked about having a center where people could come and learn about careers.”

JA is creating the center in collaboration with MassHire Hampden County, the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, other agencies, and several area employers, said Connelly, and is designed to address a gap when it comes to educating young people about careers and the paths to them.

“We found that there’s a piece missing in the pipeline when it comes to inspiring young people to have careers here in the region,” said Connelly, adding that the center will enable students to learn about and then explore options in fields they may not have been thinking about. In that respect, it will help open doors for young people while also helping to put workers in the pipeline for businesses across every sector of the economy, from healthcare to manufacturing.

In a way, this is a groundbreaking (there’s that word again) new initiative for JA of Western Massachusetts, said Connelly, and in another way … it isn’t. Indeed, while the CLIC is new, it’s also a throwback of sorts to what JA was decades ago — a place where young people could come to learn about business, actually make and then sell products, and gain financial literacy.

An architect’s rendering of the new Career, Leadership & Innovation Center.

“This is what JA used to be — and that’s what I like best about the center; this will be a place that students can come to,” she said, adding that, while JA of Western Massachusetts has been going into area schools for decades now, it hasn’t had a site that young people can come to since the ’80s.

Work on the CLIC is set to commence in the coming weeks, and the facility is scheduled to open in mid-September. Over the first nine months or so of operations, more than 750 junior-high and high-school students (up to 25 at a time) are expected to visit the center, spend the better part of a day there, and gain new insight into careers, how to attain them, and much more.

The project has drawn a number of supporters, including the city of Springfield, Beveridge Family Foundation, Balise Auto Group, M&T Bank, Country Bank, PeoplesBank, TD Bank, and Savage Arms, who have helped meet the $400,000 cost of the project.

A capital campaign will be staged over the next several months to raise the balance of what’s needed for the initiative, Connelly said, adding that the agency is hoping to gain the support of more area businesses, and is scheduling site visits for those interested in learning more about its mission and how it will be carried out.


Learning While Doing

Connelly told BusinessWest that the CLIC was conceptualized in the fall of 2021 amid what she considered an obvious need for a facility that would not merely take JA back to its roots in many respects, but also help to better prepare young people for life, careers, and the many challenges involving both.

And the need has been there for some time, she went on.

“For the past 10 to 15 years, the board has talked about having a center where people could come and learn about careers,” she said, adding that the idea came off the drawing board and into reality with the help of those aforementioned sponsors and a desire for JA to play a pivotal role in helping to solve the workforce needs of employers while also putting young people on a path to not just jobs, but careers.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno takes a swing at the wall that will be coming down to make way for the new center.

As plans for the CLIC began to materialize, she said, a search commenced for a space. Many options were considered, but eventually those at JA concluded they had everything they needed — space-wise, at least — in its suite of offices on the mezzanine level at Tower Square.

The 3,045-square-foot facility will be reconfigured and furnished for the new center, she noted, adding that the CLIC will include a number of components, including:

• A learning lab that will provide student groups with what Connelly called a “starting point for their career exploration journey.” It will also be a space to promote JA’s financial-literacy curriculum;

• A collaboration hub, which will provide groups with a space for interactive work, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking. The space will include modular seating, whiteboards, breakout laptops and tablets, and a leadership library; and

• A manufacturing lab, a makerspace that will provide young adults with the tools and programs to explore and accelerate a career in the manufacturing industry. The CLIC steering committee is currently working with local manufacturers to determine the best resources for the space, Connelly said, adding that equipment may eventually include 3D printers, a flow forge, a Cricut suite, hand tools, soldering kits, and STEM kits.

Overall, the CLIC will provide experiential learning opportunities for middle- and high-school students, said Connelly, adding that, by engaging students in hands-on experiences and reflection, “they are better able to connect theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real work situations.”

And such connections are needed at a time when many young people need exposure to careers and the paths to them, she noted, adding that, for middle-school students, visits to the CLIC may help them with the all-important decision of deciding which high school to attend.

As she talked about a visit to the CLIC, Connelly said it will be preceded by completion of JA Inspire Virtual, a career-exploration program designed to highlight careers and educational opportunities in the region. At the center, students will participate in a seminar led by guest speakers from local businesses, and then rotate through the modular-based learning experiences at the learning lab, collaboration zone, and manufacturing space — followed by a working lunch with financial-literacy activities.

The center will also be open after school for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial interests by operating their own student company. And in the evening, the center will be available to community organizations and local employers as a hub for learning and collaboration.


Bottom Line

Turning back the clock maybe 50 years or so, Connelly noted that what is now JA of Western Massachusetts was an agency, but also a place where young people from schools across the area could come and, through its ‘company’ program, form a business, make a product, and sell it.

Through the CLIC, JA will be able to provide that kind of experience again, she said, adding that, while the center is a blast from the past in some respects, it is really all about the future — as in the future of thousands of area young people and the area businesses that will, hopefully, employ them.


— George O’Brien

Daily News

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Business Assoc. (GBA) has hired Hannah Rechtschaffen as its newest association coordinator. With an extensive background in business development and creative placemaking, Rechtschaffen brings fresh energy to this crucial role in Greenfield’s business community.

Rechtschaffen will focus her efforts on growing membership for the GBA — partnering with the city of Greenfield, the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, and others — to further define the role and value of the association in the greater ecosystem. As the county seat, the health of Greenfield’s business sector is a vital beacon for how the county as a whole continues to keep and attract residents, tourists, and business owners alike.

Growing up in Northampton, Rechtschaffen left in 2002 to attend college in Ohio and was away for almost 17 years. “When I returned to the Valley in 2018, I fell in love with a house in Greenfield, and I have never regretted locating here,” she said. “I have been waiting for the right time to make a professional move to this community, and I am thrilled to now be with the Greenfield Business Association, working directly for the growth and vitality of my city.”

Rechtschaffen did not wait for this position to open up to get involved in her community. She currently chairs the Sustainable Greenfield Implementation Committee, which supports the use and implementation of the city’s master plan. She is also a member of the Downtown Greenfield Alliance and the Local Cultural Council.

For the last four years, Rechtschaffen worked as director of Placemaking for W.D. Cowls, growing the Mill District project in North Amherst through events, social-media marketing, commercial tenant engagment, community development, and the opening of a local artist gallery. As a Greenfield resident, she is thrilled to bring her skills home to her city, getting to know the business owners and organizations more extensively and working for the sustainable advancement of the local economy.

“Big things are happening in Greenfield, and I am honored to be part of the momentum,” she said. “Keep an eye on us up here.”

Rechtschaffen is a former member of the Amherst Chamber Board, a member of the BusinessWest 40 Under Forty class of 2022, and a graduate of the Leadership Pioneer Valley class of 2021.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation shattered its annual Together HCC one-day giving campaign record in 2023, raising $251,859 in 24 hours for HCC scholarships and student-support programs.

Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the college led a historic day of giving on April 25 during the third annual campaign.

Organizers had set a goal of 400 donors for the one-day fund drive. The final tally was 506. Last year, the Together HCC campaign raised $192,000 from 418 donors, itself a record.

“For the third straight year, the Together HCC campaign has exceeded expectations as our network of alumni, faculty, staff, and friends continue to show how much they care about HCC students,” said Julie Phillips, HCC’s interim director of Development. “With so many people giving what they can, it shows our students that we are invested in their success.”

HCC alumni made up the majority of donors at 43%, followed by HCC faculty and staff at 27%, with 18% from friends of the college, 5% from parents, and 4% from students. Donors gave from as far away as California and Hawaii. Together, they unlocked more than $140,000 in challenge pledges.

One of those came from campaign partner Gary Rome, owner of Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke and Gary Rome Kia in Enfield, Conn., who donated $5,000.

“I am thrilled to celebrate yet another successful year of partnering with HCC for its Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives campaign,” Rome said. “It is truly remarkable to witness the generosity of our community as we come together to ensure that a college education remains accessible to all. I hope my example encourages others to help build a stronger community.”

HCC alum Arien Monti, who graduated in 2022 with her associate degree in marketing and business administration, said a scholarship from the HCC Foundation and a stipend from the President’s Student Emergency Fund were critical to her success at HCC.

“The student emergency fund helped with one month’s rent after my son and I had been homeless when I was a new student and rebuilding my life,” Monti said. “I am graduating this fall with my bachelor’s degree and am building my career in marketing and real estate thanks to HCC and the many alumni and friends who support students like me.”

Anyone who missed this year’s day of giving and still wants to contribute can do so at hcc.edu/drive.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson welcomed three law students to its 2023 Summer Associate Program. The robust program will introduce law students to the inner workings of a law firm, where they will receive mentorship from lawyers ranging from firm leaders and retired judges all the way through the ranks to junior associates, and gain exposure to real-life legal matters.

This year’s summer associates are:

• Alexandria Abacherli, who is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Law. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College, where she double majored in government & law and international affairs;

• Andrew Loin, who is currently attending Western New England University School of Law, where he is on the WNE Law Review. She earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and business: entrepreneurship from the University of Rochester; and

• Nicole Palmieri, who is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she is on the Connecticut Law Review and is a University of Connecticut Scholar. She received a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in American studies from Christopher Newport University.

Each summer associate anticipates a spring 2024 law-school graduation.

“We are honored to have another group of talented law students who have chosen to spend the next few months with us,” said Mike Roundy, who oversees Bulkley Richardson’s Summer Associate Program. “We continue to expand and adapt our program to provide in-depth legal training and exposure to a wide range of legal matters.”

Bulkley Richardson continues to accept résumés for its 2024 Summer Associate Program, as well as recent law-school graduates and attorneys considering a lateral move. Visit bulkley.com/current-openings for more information.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Max Tavern at the Basketball Hall of Fame is excited to announce the continued success of its networking event, Max on Monday. The next event will take place on Monday, June 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. and will offer attendees the opportunity to connect with other professionals while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will be available for beverages.

Max on Monday is an ideal opportunity for those who have been working remotely to reconnect with their colleagues and find inspiration in the company of others. Each event features a selection of local businesses. This month’s featured businesses will include Liberty Bank; Burgess, Robb & Grassetti; Dowd Insurance Agencies; and Bacon Wilson, P.C. Representatives from these businesses will be able to network with one another and share information about their organizations.

In addition, the monthly event features a local charity. The featured charity for June 5 will be Ronald McDonald House. Max on Monday also showcases a local artist, calling that portion of the event “Discover an Artist.” Attendees can enjoy watching an expert in motion.

For more information about Max on Monday or to register to attend, RSVP to AnnMarie Harding (413) 244-4055 or [email protected].

Cover Story Creative Economy

Playing in Harmony


Springfield Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Paul Lambert

Springfield Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert left a long career with the Basketball Hall of Fame in early 2022 to become interim director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

He said his family has often asked him why. Incredulously. Like … really, Paul, why?

To answer that question, he first notes that he loves music, but that’s only part of why he took over an institution that was still emerging from the pandemic and a long stretch without concerts at Symphony Hall — and embroiled in labor strife with Local 171 of the American Federation of Musicians, which, absent a new contract, had filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

But Lambert, who shed the interim tag and was named president and CEO of the SSO earlier this year, saw the value in righting the ship, working toward labor peace, and re-establishing — or at least re-emphasizing — the organization’s importance to not only downtown Springfield, but Western Mass. in general.

With the announcement on May 4 of a new, two-year labor deal between the SSO and the union — which calls for a minimum of eight concerts per year at Symphony Hall, annual raises for the musicians, and possibly other community and educational concerts around the region as well — Lambert, the SSO board, and the musicians are all breathing easier as they plan the 2023-24 season.

“Everyone had been reading the negative stories in the press about the labor issues. People were aware of the global pandemic issues. People were aware of all the challenges facing the SSO. And we had to rebuild people’s confidence.”

“I was very aware of the talent on stage and a great appreciator, if that’s the correct word, of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,” Lambert said of his career change last year. “But I also was aware of the fact that it was a very challenging time.”

In fact, even long-time supporters in the community, including corporate sponsors, were growing anxious, Lambert admitted.

“Everyone had been reading the negative stories in the press about the labor issues. People were aware of the global pandemic issues. People were aware of all the challenges facing the SSO. And we had to rebuild people’s confidence that not only would we perform, but perform on a first-class basis, and then come back with a full season, with real concerts and real energy with our musicians working with us.”

Beth Welty, the union’s president, called the past few years a “demoralizing” time in many ways, but said everyone is feeling grateful now.

Union President Beth Welty

Union President Beth Welty said the musicians are relieved to have a new contract but hope to increase the number of performances in coming seasons.

“There are a ton of people throughout the organization that want to work together,” she told BusinessWest. “The musicians want to work with Paul and the staff and the board, and we are working together. We’ve got to come together and put the past behind us and work for a much better future.”

Lambert agreed. “This has been a very challenging time for the SSO on a variety of fronts. Certainly, the labor issues that have been in place for some years, on top of the global pandemic, which shut everything down and badly affected all performing-arts organizations for some time, were very real. And to get ourselves into a new beginning, a fresh start for all concerned around this labor deal, was critically important.”


Developments of Note

That said, as in many negotiations, no one got exactly what they wanted. For one thing, Welty said the musicians have been clamoring for more performances.

“When I joined the orchestra 40 years ago, we probably did three times the number of concerts we do now. For years, they’ve been constantly cutting and cutting; it felt like no number was small enough for them. They wanted to keep cutting, and we felt like we had to take a stand on that.”

She said the musicians were looking for more than 10 shows, the SSO wanted to go as low as five at one point, and they settled on eight — six classical and two pops.

“We’re not happy about that, but we’re looking to build back up from eight, and now there are some new board members interested in growth,” Welty noted. “You can cut yourself out of existence; the less we play, the less people know we exist.”

“The idea now is to put ourselves in a safer place to see what we can do together, to see what revenue streams we can create, where we can create new opportunities to play.”

Welty did have appreciative thoughts for Lambert, saying it’s clear he understands where the musicians are coming from. And Lambert told BusinessWest that eight concerts is not a hard ceiling, but only the minimum.

“That was a critical point in the negotiations: let’s see what we can do,” he said. “Let’s see what the market will bear. Let’s see what funding is available and what opportunities present themselves. We have to be very creative and open-minded as we work together to see what’s available.”

Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall will host eight SSO performances in 2023-24: six classical and two pops concerts.

Revenue is the big sticking point, he added, noting that, if the SSO sold every ticket for every performance, it would still be running a deficit without increasing external support.

“The challenges that face the Springfield Symphony Orchestra are hardly unique to Springfield. The industry as a whole — traditional, classical symphonic orchestras — is challenged right now,” he explained. “Those audiences, demographically, are aging and fading, and the folks who go to those concerts on a regular basis, and donors and corporations who support those concerts, have been a shrinking pool around the country. There are a lot of orchestras that are really struggling right now to make ends meet.”

He noted that many cities with wealthier populations and deeper corporate pockets than Springfield don’t even have symphonies.

“The idea now is to put ourselves in a safer place to see what we can do together, to see what revenue streams we can create, where we can create new opportunities to play. The whole idea, of course, is to play, to create opportunities for people to hear the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in a variety of formats.”

To that end, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO), the organization formed by SSO musicians during the labor unrest to perform smaller concerts across the region, will transition into a newly named entity, the Springfield Chamber Players, and will continue to present chamber-music concerts, including the long-standing Longmeadow Chamber Series.

Performances like these, Lambert said, will help build a larger audience pool. “They allow new people to come in, who, perhaps, have not listened to the music on a regular basis, and will be exposed to the symphony orchestra and say, ‘wow, this is beautiful. I didn’t know they played this.’”

He and Welty noted that the new season of full-orchestra performance at Symphony Hall, and seasons to follow, will feature a healthy mix of what might be called ‘the classics’ and newer works by more recent composers.

Springfield Symphony Orchestra

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, boasting 67 musicians, is the largest symphony in Massachusetts outside of Boston.
Photo by Chris Marion Photography

“People love the classics, but you have to bring in living composers and composers of color and women composers, and represent everyone at concerts,” Welty said. “We really started to do that this season. It was more diverse and inclusive. In terms of the repertoire we’re doing next year, it’ll be the same type of year; we’re really excited about that programming, which is going to be more diverse and interesting. We’re still going to do a good dose of the classics — we’re not abandoning them — but we are combining them with stuff that was written in our lifetime.”

Lambert was also excited about this broadening of choices. “We want to certainly maintain and nurture our core audience, the folks who have grown up with us for many years, the subscribers and the bedrock of our audience who love the classic repertoire of classical music. But at the same time, there’s all kinds of music.”

He feels like that’s an important element in bringing in younger, more diverse SSO fans, who will continue to support the organization in the coming decades.

“We happen to live in a very diverse community and region,” he said. “So I think it’s really important that we find ways to reach all those audiences, let them know that the Springfield Symphony Orchestra is for everybody, that it’s music for everyone. We really are excited about those opportunities for people to come in and hear this beautiful music and these wonderful musicians.”


Sharp Ideas

The other key element in expanding the audience, of course, is connecting with young people. To that end, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that the city of Springfield will provide $280,000 over two years in financial support for SSO to create educational programming for youth.

“As the Springfield Symphony and its talented musicians turn a fresh page of music in our beloved Symphony Hall, I cannot stress enough how important Springfield’s talented youth are to the success of this new beginning,” the mayor said in announcing the grant. “Creating a younger, more diverse, and more inclusive classical-music ecosystem should be a top priority of the symphony organizationally. The success of these efforts will ultimately be reflected in the diversity of the music that is played, those represented on stage, and those in the audience.”

Lambert said outreach to youth had been a big success, but stopped happening over the past few years. “As I talked to folks out in the business community, so many people said to me, ‘the first time I ever heard a symphony orchestra, I was in fourth grade … I remember going to that concert, and it changed how I looked at the symphony.’ So I said to the board on more than a few occasions, ‘that’s just not discretionary, that’s mandatory; we have to start redoing that.’ It opens the door for so many people, for the first time in their life, to hear a symphony orchestra live on stage.”

“As I talked to folks out in the business community, so many people said to me, ‘the first time I ever heard a symphony orchestra, I was in fourth grade … I remember going to that concert, and it changed how I looked at the symphony.”

Welty wants to go beyond those experiences, hoping to not only bring kids to Symphony Hall, but for small groups of musicians to visit area schools.

“We used to go play for kids in the classrooms. We probably stopped doing that in the early 2000s, but we did hundreds of those concerts,” she recalled. “I loved it. We interacted directly with the kids; there were Q&A sessions. I want to get back to that as an educational resource.”

She also fondly recalls the days when the symphony toured New England. “I understand that a lot of financial repair has to happen, and we can’t afford to take the whole orchestra, but we can take a quartet out. We can take a quintet out.”

Such traveling shows, like the two series of performances MOSSO staged at the Westfield Atheneum over the past two years, are another way to grow the SSO’s fanbase, she added. “It’s not just great for the audience, but a great marketing tool for the SSO. We hope to keep expanding that.”

As for corporate sponsorship, Lambert said it was a tough year, scheduling live performances on the fly under the old contract’s terms while building up the staff, negotiating with the union, and keeping supporters on board.

“There was a lot of work being done trying to convince people to trust us and come on board. Some folks started to do that when MassMutual came back and was willing to support us; that was critically important. There are other folks we need to embrace that. We’ve had some really wonderful response from a core group of sponsors — I hope there’s a lot more.”

As for growing new audiences, Lambert is confident that those who attend a concert — whether a full symphony performance in Springfield or a chamber concert in Longmeadow, Westfield, or elsewhere — will be “blown away,” and not only want to attend more shows, but perhaps support the SSO as a sponsor or donor. “We need everybody to work together.”


In Tune with the Community

After a couple years of performing concerts under the old contract’s terms, Welty is relieved the musicians can focus on the positive impact of what they do.

“For this community to thrive, it really needs a vibrant art scene. It’s a real economic driver,” she said, noting the impact of downtown events on restaurants and other attractions — not to mention on the ability to grow a business.

“If you’re a CEO or business person looking to be based in the Springfield area, and you want to attract the best talent to come work for you, Springfield has to be an appealing place to live — and the arts are so important to that,” Welty added. “Local sports teams are important, but the arts are just as important. If you think you’re living in a cultural desert, you won’t get the best people to come work for you.”

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, boasting 67 musicians, is the largest symphony in Massachusetts outside of Boston — which is impressive in itself, Lambert said.

“The fact that Springfield, Massachusetts has a symphony orchestra in 2023 is kind of a miracle at this point. There are much bigger places that don’t have this great gift,” he told BusinessWest. “I think it’s really important that we all get together and recognize how this adds to the quality of life here in Springfield, how it adds to the reasons that people might want to live and work here and come downtown.”

Which is why Welty is encouraged by what the new labor agreement promises, and what it may lead to in the future.

“On paper, there’s less guaranteed work, but there’s more energy on the board to create new concerts, new programming,” she said. “I think, in the end, we will start building back and offer more to the community.”


Features Special Coverage

News That’s Fit to Print

Jim and Kelly Sullivan

Jim and Kelly Sullivan
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher

At first, Jim and Kelly Sullivan thought the email was junk or a hoax.

“It was an invitation to us from the president to go to the White House to sit in the Rose Garden with him and the vice president for a remarks ceremony,” Kelly recalled, adding that the missive was followed shortly afterward by an email from the Small Business Administration (SBA), essentially letting them know that the email from the White House was real, and they should reply — soon.

They did, and when they gathered in the Rose Garden with the other 49 Small Business Persons of the Year for each state, as recognized by the SBA, they managed to get within a few feet of the president, but didn’t fight the crowd to get any closer.

This gathering, which came during National Small Business Week, has been part of a nearly month-long whirlwind for the Sullivans, owners of Millennium Press in Agawam, the Small Business Persons of the Year from Massachusetts.

There was an awards ceremony in Washington that came just after the White House visit, and, earlier this month, another small-business awards ceremony in Massachusetts, at which they were recognized for their accomplishments in business — and for their perseverance through a series of challenges over the past 34 years.

There was an appearance on a Bloomberg podcast — “I was terrifed; I’m a printer, and they’re firing questions at you left and right,” Jim said — and, just a week ago, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who directed the Sullivans to SBA funding, and other officials toured Millennium’s facilities to get a look at its cutting-edge technology and talk with its team of 18 employees.

“Never in a million years did I ever think we would ever win anything like this — I’m still in awe that we did get it.”

As they spoke with BusinessWest at their shop in Agawam, the Sullivans talked a little about their awards, meaning the physical awards (they each got one) they received from the SBA. They are glass, large, quite heavy … and, for now and probably for a long while, “safe at home, under lock and key,” as Jim put it.

“You don’t want to ever break something like this,” he said. “Never in a million years did I ever think we would ever win anything like this — I’m still in awe that we did get it.”

But mostly they talked about what’s behind the award and the wording on it, and how they were chosen over the 700,000 other small businesses in Massachusetts to receive it. Specifically, it would be more than 30 years of hard work, sacrifice, making those large investments in technology, coping with and overcoming adversity — from several downturns in the economy to the Great Recession to the pandemic — and, in short, doing what they had to do to keep the doors open and the dream alive.

“I feel that we did a lot of good things with these SBA programs,” said Jim, adding that, personally, the couple did everything they were asked to do to qualify for such programs, including reducing their income and even buying a smaller home.

the team at Millennium Press

Jim and Kelly Sullivan, center, with the team at
Millennium Press.
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher

SBA District Director Robert Nelson said essentially the same thing as he remarked on the Sullivans and their achievements.

“The Millennium Press story demonstrates how small businesses can persevere when faced with extraordinary challenges,” he said. “The Sullivans didn’t give up on their dreams and kept working toward sustainability with support from public/private resources, including the SBA and its lender network that help stand by your side through the toughest challenges.”

For this issue, BusinessWest talked with the Sullivans about the SBA award, what it means to them, and why it embodies their approach to doing business and managing a workforce.


Don’t Stop the Presses

To say the Sullivans started small with their venture would be a huge understatement.

Indeed, they launched their business in a garage — and it wasn’t even their own garage.

“Our house didn’t have one, so we used Kelly’s brother’s garage,” said Jim, a printer by trade who was working at a shop in Holyoke at the time, but started printing short runs of specialty forms for different customers at night and on weekends, a part-time job that quickly became full-time.

Indeed, the Sullivans, who quickly became partners in the venture, said they recognized a growing need for printed forms that could be produced inexpensively and quickly. With an Apple computer, a two-color press, and a collator that would put the forms together — Kelly would handle the desktop publishing, and Jim ran the printing press — they started adding customers and achieving a foothold in the competitive printing business.

Over the course of the next 30 years, they would continue to grow the company, establishing a full-service, one-stop printing and mailing business operating out of a 20,000-square-foot building in the Agawam Industrial Park that they would eventually purchase and expand.

From the beginning, Jim recalled, they understood the importance of investing in new equipment and staying on the cutting edge of improving technology, knowing that doing so would open new doors for them.

Small Business Persons of the Year for Massachusetts in 2023

Jim and Kelly Sullivan pose with an award they recently received at the recent SCORE Boston awards breakfast, where they were recognized as Small Business Persons of the Year for Massachusetts in 2023.

This was especially true with the installation, in 2007, of an automated, six-color Heidelberg press, the XL 75, a more than $2 million investment that included not only the press, but also Heidelberg software to automate all the company’s processes, from estimating to shipping.

This was the first such installation in the U.S., he told BusinessWest, and it came on top of a $1 million expansion of the building and a number of existing equipment loans.

The acquisition of the XL 75, and those other investments, were a well-thought-out business strategy, and the equipment was expected to enable Millennium to take a major step forward, he went on. However, the timing was unfortunate, to say the least.

Indeed, just a year later, the words ‘Great Recession’ were working their way into the local lexicon. The Dow was cratering, the economy was in freefall, and businesses large and small were hunkering down and simply trying to survive the onslaught. And, by and large, no one was printing anything.

“In 2008, we saw sales drop. People weren’t purchasing as much printing — annual reports, mailings … they just weren’t doing the volume of printing they were in the past. Yet, our expenses were at their highest point.

“In 2008, that was the first year we didn’t turn a profit,” he went on. “And the banks … they want to know who you are at that point.”

Elaborating, he said the couple had a great 19-year relationship with a bank (he chose not to name it) that was sold to a larger bank, an entity that saw Millennium’s declining debt-to-income ratio and essentially said, “you’re not for us.”

The Big Picture

The Sullivans said they knew they needed to create a plan to slash debt, both business and personal. They altered their lifestyle and borrowed a significant portion of their retirement money to retain employees and pay down debt to keep the business open. They also sought help from the SBA, working with the agency’s lending team to refinance their building and business debt and essentially save the business.

And for the next decade, until 2020, the company continued to be profitable, pay down debt, and even build a reserve fund, said Kelly, adding that, by the end of 2019, they approached a traditional bank about a loan to pay off all their existing SBA debt.

“Our numbers were good enough, our equity was good enough, our debt was right where it needed to be, and they approved us in March of 2020,” said Jim, adding emphasis when noting the month and year, and for obvious reasons. That was the start of the pandemic.

“The bank came back and said, ‘we’re going to have to put your financing plan on hold,’” he went on, adding that the company saw more than half of its customers shut down, a staggering loss that forced Millennium to lay off 75% of its workforce, although the Sullivans continued to pay for their health insurance after they were laid off.

Even with a skeleton crew — the Sullivans and a few others — the company was chewing up its reserve fund at a rate that was not sustainable, Kelly said, adding that PPP loans and EIDLs (Economic Injury Disaster Loans) from the SBA not only helped Millennium, but also enabled other businesses to regain their financial footing and buy services — like printing.

“Those two products from the SBA helped jump-start the economy,” she said, adding that, by the fall of that year, Millennium was able to bring back all of its employees. The winter of 2022 brought another slowdown and more “scary” times, she added, but a second round of PPP enabled the company to retain its workforce and make it through the whitewater.

The company was also able to take advantage of an SBA debt-relief program for its outstanding loans from the agency, Jim said, noting that the SBA made payments on those loans during the pandemic — payments that did not have to be repaid.

“In 2008, we saw sales drop. People weren’t purchasing as much printing — annual reports, mailings … they just weren’t doing the volume of printing they were in the past.”

All this support had the company back to “almost normal” by the end of 2021, he went on, adding that he and Kelly again approached the bank that had approved their financing plan but put it on hold because of the pandemic — and this time it was approved, just before interest rates started climbing at a precipitous rate.

Milennium’s involvement in many SBA programs had the effect of “putting us on the agency’s map,” said Kelly, referring to recognition programs such as Small Business Person of the Year.

But what won the Sullivans this honor, in her opinion — and Jim’s — has been its willingness to invest in cutting-edge technology, its commitment to supporting its employees through the many difficult times, and to do everything they had to do keep the company on the track they set in on back in 1989, even through extreme hardship.

“To do the amount of work we do, we would probably need more than 30 employees — if we didn’t invest in the technologies we have,” Jim said. “And we have technologies that no one in this area has, especially at the small scale that we are; we’re Heidelberg’s most advanced print shop with fewer than 20 employees in the United States.”


Bottom Line

Jim and Kelly’s email now comes with a signature, courtesy of the SBA, identifying the sender as a 2023 Small Business Person of the Year State Winner.

Behind those words, printed on a gold banner above storefronts depicting small businesses, is a compelling story, one that involves sacrifice, perseverance, determination, and, as Nelson noted, a firm commitment not to let go of a dream.

All that has earned the Sullivans those large, glass awards they are keeping safe at home. But it has earned them much more than that — the ability to keep writing new chapters to a remarkable and inspirational success story.


Restaurants Special Coverage

A Lot on His Plate

Andrew Brow outside Jackalope

Andrew Brow outside Jackalope in downtown Springfield.

On his long and winding road to being a serial restaurateur, Andrew Brow says he’s had many inspirations, role models, teachers, and even an “idol.”

The latter would be Claudio Guerra, the now-legendary restauranteur — think Spoleto, Mama Iguana’s, the Del Raye, Paradise City Tavern, and many others — who gave Brow, like so many others, much more than a job.

“What I got from Claudio is what I wanted — I wanted to be a restaurant owner,” he explained. “It just seemed like this glamourous, fun, wonderful thing — not always, but Claudio made it something to aspire to.”

But there were others who had an impact as well, including Bill Collins, who also worked for Guerra and later hired Brow to be his executive chef at the restaurant he opened in East Longmeadow, Center Square Grill. Then there was Therri Moitui, the owner and chef of a French restaurant on Cape Fear River in North Carolina, where Brow worked for a time after leaving his native Western Mass. to find, well … something else.

“I thought I was God’s gift to the kitchen at this point, when I was 24 years old,” Brow recalled. “And, sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently, he let me know that I was not God’s gift to the kitchen and that I still had a lot to learn. And he proceeded to teach me.”

Today, Brow — owner of HighBrow, a wood-fired pizza restaurant in Northampton, and Jackalope, which just celebrated one year of bringing ‘creative American’ food to downtown Springfield — is still absorbing lessons from others, but he’s also the one passing on knowledge, experience, and keen insight to those who work for him.

His most important bit of advice, if that’s what it is: “if you stop learning, you’re no good.”

This is an operating style that has dominated his career and his time as a restaurant owner, which has been marked by overcoming adversity — as in extreme adversity in the form of the pandemic — and seizing opportunity.

As for the pandemic, it nearly cost him his dream just a few months after he opened HighBrow, but he persevered, knowing that one doesn’t get many opportunities like this one, and it might be his only opportunity.

focus is on ‘creative American’

At Jackalope, Andrew Brow says the focus is on ‘creative American’ and presenting food that is different and unique.
Staff Photo

“It was an interesting time,” he said with a large dose of understatement in his voice. “The first thing is, you feed into that fear — this is my first restaurant, this is basically my one shot; if I fail here, there probably wouldn’t be a second chance. I didn’t come from money, and without money, you can’t really do much. This was my one shot at making it out of being someone else’s chef and being my own guy.”

As it turns out, and largely because of that perseverance, HighBrow wasn’t his only shot. He seized another opportunity with the opening of Jackalope just over a year ago at the site of the former Adolfo’s on Worthington Street. At first, he didn’t want any part of downtown Springfield, thinking the city and its restaurant section had seen its day.

But a visit to the soft opening of Dewey’s nightclub, next door to Adolfo’s and owned by a friend, Kenny Lumpkin, changed his mind.

“I went back the next day because I had enjoyed myself that night, and I was standing on the patio and thinking, ‘maybe I could do something over there,’” he said, adding that this ‘something’ is Jackalope, which he described as a place where could “create and plate whimsical, fun, different things.”

That list includes everything from grilled pizza to mac & cheese to prosciutto-wrapped rabbit saddle. And on the appetizer side, there are his now-famous ‘sticky ribs,’ braised baby-back pork ribs cooked in a host of secret ingredients and juices and then made crispy.

‘Sticky ribs’ are becoming part of the local culinary lexicon — his restaurants go through more than 1,000 pounds of ribs per week — and Brow, one of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty honorees for 2023, is one of the rising stars in the region’s galaxy of restaurateurs.

His is an intriguing story of someone who forged a dream when he was just in high school and then, thanks to hard work and lessons from those mentors and idols, made it happen.


A Different Breed

The jackalope, by most accounts, anyway, is a mythical creature, a jackrabbit with antelope horns — hence the name — said to be ferocious and quite deadly. Stories about them have appeared in many cultures worldwide.

By now, Brow has become an expert on the subject.

“A Jackalope drinks bourbon and beer and eats bologna — and they get enraged,” he explained. “And they would go and attack hunters, who would wear stovepipes on their legs so they wouldn’t get ripped up.”

But he admits that, in this case, the chosen name for his restaurant (after he put aside plans to resurrect the name Caffeine’s) was more a nickname for an old friend who “would drink beer and act crazy in the woods,” than anything else.

“I was having coffee with my wife one day, and she said, ‘when’s the Jackalope moving back up?’” he recalled, adding that the name resonated, and he eventually chose it. Today, there are stuffed jackalopes on his walls, and the logo is on everything from the door to the menu to T-shirts.

Andrew Brow recalls thinking downtown Springfield had seen its day

Andrew Brow recalls thinking downtown Springfield had seen its day, but a few visits to the area convinced him he wanted to be part of the scene there.

The road to opening Jackalope, his second restaurant, has been a long and winding one, with, as noted earlier, countless lessons and influences on his life and career along the way.

Our story begins in Northampton, where Brow grew up in the “projects,” as he put it. Anxious to climb out, he sought work as soon as he could. That was age 15, when, with the proper paperwork, he could work at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

This was a location that was still making its own donuts, rather than having them shipped in from a commissary, so Brow was able to get real experience making things in the kitchen. His work at Dunkin’ came during his freshman year at Smith Vocational in Northampton, and it inspired him to enter the culinary-arts program there, which fueled more interest in cooking as a career.

His first job in a restaurant, at age 16, was as a dishwasher at La Cazuela, owned by Barry and Rosemary Schmidt, who became his first real mentors and role models.

“They were two of the coolest restaurant owners I ever met,” he recalled. “They were kind of like ’60s hippie people, and for them, everything was from scratch and quality. They would fly down to New Mexico and Mexico, and they would meet chili farmers and buy wholesale dried chilis from these farmers; that showed me the passion behind actually loving what you do. It was very inspirational.”

From the dishes, Brow moved up to the pots and pans, which means he also got to prep some of the rice and beans, shred the cheese, and fry the tortilla chips. “It was grunt work, but I thought that was the coolest thing ever, and a few months later, I was a line cook.”

From there, he did a stint at the landmark Joe’s Pizza as a pizza cook, and then a job at the recently opened Spoleto Express, one of several restaurants owned by Guerra, as a sauté cook. There, he met Collins, and the two quickly bonded.

“We became like brothers,” Brow said, noting that he worked for the Spoleto Restaurant Group for close to a decade, helping to open several new restaurants along the way. “I was like the young, rising chef in the organization; I lived the restaurant business.”

He took that passion with him to North Carolina as he sought to get away and do something different somewhere else. “I grew up, I’d spent all my time here, I didn’t go to college … I got out of a long-term relationship, and I was like, ‘why am I still where I was born?’ I wanted to go see something different and new.”


Food for Thought

Brow stayed in North Carolina for two years, learning butchery, charcuterie, French techniques, French sauces, and much more, before returning to Western Mass. to tend to his ailing grandmother.

He first took a job at Springfield Smoked Fish Company, and soon took on some part-time work at the recently opened Center Square Grill. Eventually, he became executive chef there and stayed in that position for four years before he fulfilled that lifelong dream to own a restaurant, buying a wood-fired pizza restaurant from Guerra and renaming it HighBrow.

Pizza wasn’t exactly his passion, he admitted, but this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. And, as things turned out, it was a godsend because, as noted earlier, Brow became a restaurant owner just a few months before the pandemic reached Western Mass.

Pizza was a model that lent itself to delivery and pickup more easily than other types of restaurants, he explained, adding that he was able to pivot in many different ways, including by partnering with other businesses to bring meals to frontline workers, including those at hospitals and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.

“I started off with just myself — I laid everyone off,” he recalled. “I told them to be on standby until we knew what the world was going to look like. Later, it was me and one of my cooks, Carlos. We would come in every day, and we’d go to Restaurant Depot every morning. We would have a limited menu; he would cook pizzas, and I would cook sauté and salads and appetizers. Eventually, I slowly introduced more staff as we were getting busier and I could justify putting more people back on payroll.”

Brow said he wasn’t exactly looking to open a second restaurant when Lumpkin implored him to take a hard look at the Adolfo’s site, but eventually he warmed to the idea of being part of the scene — and part of a comeback — in the central business district.

Over the course of his first year, there has been some change — and pivoting — there as well, he said, adding that he started off focusing primarily on fine dining, but has shifted and evolved, as he put it, and is now offering “more approachable things — but done with the detail we would use if we were plating a filet Oscar or something with delicate construction.”

For instance, with the mac & cheese, he offers a unique pasta with a cheese sauce made with many different types of cheeses, topped with crushed Goldfish crackers instead of the usual breadcrumbs.

“I try to be unique — I don’t like to do anything the same as anybody else around me is doing,” he explained. “I try to be different.”

And, like the name over the door, he is.

Unlike the jackalope — or Claudia Guerra, for that matter — Brow is not the stuff of legend. Yet. But he is getting there — one sticky rib at a time.


Nonprofit Management Special Coverage

Confidence Games

Girls on the Run


Alison Berman recalls a girl who finished her first 5K with Girls on the Run last year.

“This was a girl who had never even walked three miles, which is true for many of our kids. And it took her two hours. I mean, everything was being packed up, and when she finished, it was the most moving thing when she came across that finish line. Her aunt was crying. It was just … something that she never thought that she could possibly do.”

That, in a nutshell, is why Girls on the Run (GOTR) really isn’t about running — at least, not in the sense that competitive runners think about a 5K.

“You have the kid who can do it in 20 minutes and the kid who can do it in two hours,” said Berman, council director of Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts. “It’s not timed. They keep their own goals.”

So, if running isn’t the main focus, what is Girls on the Run about?

In a nutshell, it’s a physical activity-based, positive youth-development program that uses running games and dynamic discussions to teach life skills to girls in grades 3-8. During the 10-week program each semester, girls participate in lessons that foster confidence, build peer connections, and encourage community service while they prepare for a celebratory, end-of-season 5K event.

“The goal, really, is for them to increase their confidence and be able to achieve something they haven’t achieved before.”

Berman explained that each session features a social-emotional life-skills lesson drawn from a nationally distributed curriculum. “There are lessons on how to stand up for yourself, lessons on choosing friends, lessons on identifying and expressing emotions, on stopping to take a breather, empathy, gratitude.”

Meanwhile, each team — there are 75 of them in the Western Mass. council — tackles a community-impact project to give back to their community, Berman explained.

“They could write letters to children’s hospitals, or they can make things for animal shelters. We have one school in Chicopee that did a project in their girls’ bathroom because it was so gross; they made all these amazing signs for it.

“And then, all the while, they’re also training to run a 5K,” she went on. “But running is really secondary to the social-emotional part of it. They can run, they can walk, but the goal, really, is for them to increase their confidence and be able to achieve something they haven’t achieved before.”

The Western Mass. council of GOTR launched in 2015 with 90 girls on six teams. Now, the chapter boasts 75 different teams — 1,030 girls in all — and 285 volunteer coaches. Molly Hoyt, the nonprofit’s program director, started out as a coach herself and can speak to why these women — about half of them teachers by trade — volunteer.

“I think it touches the heart of a lot of people, thinking about themselves at that age and what they needed and probably could have benefited from and didn’t have. So I think they’re filling a gap, and they want to give back” she explained. “And I think teachers see a lack of social and emotional learning in schools. The days are so busy. So it’s a way to give this kind of education to some kids.

From left, Molly Hoyt, Alison Berman, and Coleen Ryan

From left, Molly Hoyt, Alison Berman, and Coleen Ryan say Girls on the Run changes not only the participants’ lives, but often the culture of their schools.

“They also learn stuff from this,” Hoyt went on. “I think the reason we have coaches come back season after season is because they are also benefiting from it. I love coaching. I feel like I learned a lot from it. And there are lessons that are really great at any age; they work for all the coaches too.”


Keeping on Track

The end of the fall and spring seasons end with a 5K celebration, with the spring event typically being the larger of the two. That will take place on Saturday, June 3 at Western New England University, where about 4,000 runners, families, coaches, and supporters are expected to gather.

Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., fun events get underway at 9:30, a group warmup begins at 10, and the walk/run steps off at 10:30. The registration cost is $30 for adults and $10 for youth and includes an event shirt. Volunteers are still welcome to sign up. For more information about the event, how to register, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.girlsontherunwesternma.org.

“We have families come with coolers and lawn chairs and signs, and they set up like they’re tailgating,” Hoyt said. “It’s really fun. It’s a very special day … it’s very unifying. They feel like they’re part of something bigger.”

“It’s a group of girls around the same age going through the same things together. And when you put caring adults with them, it kind of holds them in this vessel and allows them to take risks and lean in a little bit and have these discussions.”

She emphasized that the 5K, like other GOTR activities, is not about achieving a time, but about personal growth.

“I feel like this redefines what running means to them. I think that a lot of kids think, if they’re a runner, it means they have to run marathons or win races. Here, they start understanding that anyone can be a runner because it’s super individual, and what you get out of it is what you want.”

Hoyt said her daughter took part in the program and had never been a runner, and now she runs cross country at school.

“We hear that from a lot of kids; they just did the program and really weren’t into the running piece while they were doing Girls on the Run, but discovered that actually they can do it if they want to. So I do think it redefines the whole concept of being physically active and what running is.”

Coleen Ryan, program manager at GOTR Western Massachusetts, added that, once girls develop a love for running, they find it’s an always-available pastime. “Running doesn’t cost money. Anybody can go out their door and run and be successful.”

She added that the groups at each session are kept to a healthy coach-to-child ratio, so when they’re having discussions or doing laps, they get a lot of individualized attention. “That makes a difference.”

While the girls’ personal growth is exciting, Berman said, perhaps even moreso is the impact of those changes on their families and schools.

“A lot of our coaches who are teachers tell us that they see the kids using the curriculum in the classroom, and they’re becoming leaders in school, like standing up for their friends. So we see the impact at a community level as well. We’ve had some of our teachers, coaches, and principals talk about how it’s also changed the culture of their school and how it’s even gotten guardians and parents more involved.”

end-of-semester 5K events

The end-of-semester 5K events are always celebratory, not competitive.

And it’s not only the girls who are internalizing lessons and deploying them outside of Girls on the Run, Hoyt said — so are the coaches.

“The nice thing about coaching as a parent or a teacher is that you are learning the same language that the girls are during practice, so you can really support them, at home with your own child or in the classroom with kids in the program. You have that common language and start the lessons from the same page. I think it allows adults to support kids better when they go through the experience with them.”


Mission Accomplished

As one girl stated in a video created by GOTR Western Massachusetts, “one thing I love about Girls on the Run is that it’s about body positivity and showing that I’m who I am.”

It’s a message, among many others, that has caught on over the years. The national Girls on the Run organization was formed in 1996 and has since reached more than 2 million girls, with at least one council in every state; three call Massachusetts home.

GOTR claims to make a stronger impact than organized sports and physical-education programs in teaching life skills such as managing emotions, resolving conflict, helping others, and making intentional decisions. There are separate curricula for grades 3-5 and 6-8, so the lessons are age-appropriate. And the girls keep journals to track their personal goals and progress.

“That progress is what’s important,” Hoyt said. “It’s not really about how fast anyone is or how far anyone’s running, but that they’re making individual progress.”

That sense of personal growth — Girls on the Run describes itself as developing joyful, healthy, and confident girls — is an attractive quality when so many negative factors are weighing on kids’ mental health these days, Berman said.

“We’ve definitely tapped into a need. There’s a huge child mental-health crisis right now. And whatever’s going on with them, Girls on the Run is giving them this extra layer of skills to support them. And it’s not just the lessons, but having these caring adults that are outside of their school and their parents, who are hopefully building up their resilience.”

Hoyt agreed. “It’s a group of girls around the same age going through the same things together. And when you put caring adults with them, it kind of holds them in this vessel and allows them to take risks and lean in a little bit and have these discussions.”

Berman emphasized that the coaches aren’t trained in running; instead, they’re skilled in the truly important things. “They’re more trained in how to hold a group of kids and how to facilitate discussions and be aware of some mental-health stuff that might come up — because, obviously, there’s a lot of behavioral stuff that comes up in the groups as well. And they have to know how to handle that.”

Because of the importance of the program, Berman said 65% of participants are on full or partial scholarships, which defrays the $160 cost based on ability to pay. “We don’t turn anybody away for financial need. And we also provide shoes for anybody that doesn’t have shoes. We also provide a snack for everybody.”

GOTR relies on fundraising to support its work, including grants and business sponsorships, to help pay for not only the 10-week program twice a year, but also, starting this July, an annual week-long summer camp in Chicopee.

But before that is the not-so-small matter of hosting 4,000 people at Western New England University on June 3 for the region’s most celebratory 5K.

“Normally you might be cheering someone on to win,” Ryan said, “but this is just like, ‘you did it. Everybody, you did it!’”

Commercial Real Estate Special Coverage

The Last Big Piece of the Puzzle


Lee Pouliot

Since he’s only 37, Lee Pouliot has only known the buildings on the Uniroyal site as empty shells. With the request for proposals, that may finally change.


Lee Pouliot says he’s always had what he calls a bit of a fascination with what is known simply as the Uniroyal property in Chicopee — although there is nothing simple about it.

He grew up the city, but, because he’s only 37 (and a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty winner in 2020), all he’s known of the buildings — most of them, anyway — is as empty shells, the subjects of stories that almost every long-time resident of this community tells about working at the tire-manufacturing complex, or being related to someone who did.

While he was earning a master’s degree in landscape architecture at Cornell more than a dozen years ago, Pouliot took this fascination to a higher level, engaging himself and a few of his classmates in a final project — one that would create a development plan for the complex of buildings for the Uniroyal and adjacent Facemate properties, located in the center of the city.

Later, as an intern in the Chicopee’s Community Development office and then as a staffer in that office, he worked with city leaders to move a project to redevelop that complex, through a series of critical next steps.

“The reality is that there are a number of developers who have considerable experience with mill conversions. And so, in some ways, the city is trying to target developers who have this kind of experience, in the hope that we can see something creative done with those buildings that keeps them standing.”

And now, as city planner, a position he’s held since 2015, Pouliot is playing a lead role in writing what is essentially the final chapter in a long, complicated story that has, in some ways, been more than 40 years in the making.

This chapter involves a 9.58-acre parcel at the Uniroyal site, one of two yet to be developed, the other a 10-acre parcel being eyed by the city for recreational uses. A request for proposals was recently issued for the first of those parcels, which includes four buildings, including one that served as an administration building.

Those requests are due back on July 21, and Pouliot, like everyone else in the city, is anxious to see what the development community has in mind for this parcel, which is being marketed as RiverMills at Chicopee Falls, and especially the four remaining buildings on it, which the city opted not to demolish, in part because of their structural soundness.

the former Uniroyal buildings

This drone shot shows demolition of one of the former Uniroyal buildings. A request for proposals has been issued for the still-standing structures at the top of this image.

“The reality is that there are a number of developers who have considerable experience with mill conversions,” he explained. “And so, in some ways, the city is trying to target developers who have this kind of experience, in the hope that we can see something creative done with those buildings that keeps them standing.”

The bid package issued by the city touts this as “one of the largest contiguous areas of former industrial properties poised for redevelopment in Western Massachusetts.”

Further, the big package notes, “unlike other comparable sites, most of the costly and lengthy procedures required to prepare for redevelopment have been completed, reducing the risk and uncertainty typically associated with brownfield redevelopment.”

It is hoped that these amenities, if they can be called that, will trigger the imaginations of developers and yield some intriguing proposals, said Pouliot, adding that there are many possible uses for the buildings and the property. Housing is still a priority for the city and region, and the buildings, with some work, will lend themselves to that purpose. But there are other potential uses as well, he said, including retail, hospitality, and service businesses.

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest talked with Pouliot about the long journey that Chicopee has taken to reach this critical juncture with the Uniroyal property, and what might happen next.


Where the Rubber Meets the Road

When asked what it was like, personally and professionally, to see the project reach this important milestone, Pouliot exhaled, glanced toward the ceiling, and then shook his head a few times.

“Housing is still a priority. I think anyone looking at the state of housing in the Commonwealth, or this country, would be foolish not to consider housing a likely piece of redevelopment here.”

The body language spoke volumes about the length and complexity of this project, which has been ongoing — in some respects, anyway — longer than he’s been alive and has involved several different mayors, planners, and Community Development directors.

“In some ways, it feels odd that we’re nearing the end because so much of our time has been focused on getting to this point,” he said. “But it’s also significant — this has been no small feat for a community of Chicopee’s size; this is a huge milestone for the city.”

Recapping the Uniroyal story quickly, Pouliot said it starts back in the late 1800s, when that the land was first used for manufacturing. From 1896 to 1898, the property was owned by Spaulding and Pepper Co., which manufactured bicycle tires. Fisk Rubber Co., which later changed its name to United States Rubber Co. and then to Uniroyal, manufactured bicycle, automobile, and truck tires and adhesives at the site from 1898 to 1981.

a shift change at the Uniroyal plant

This photograph, taken some time in the 1930s, shows a shift change at the Uniroyal plant, which employed more than 3,000 people in its heyday.

Uniroyal closed its plant in 1980 and sold the property — which stretched over 65 acres and included 23 buildings — to Facemate Corp., located adjacent to Uniroyal, in 1981.

Fast-forwarding, he said the city spent years working to acquire both the Uniroyal and Facemate property (Facemate went bankrupt in 2003), and did so in 2009, soon embarking on a massive cleanup that would cost more than $40 million and involve federal, state, and local money, while also planning work for development.

Eventually, individual parcels on the site were developed; the initial redevelopment project involved construction of the RiverMills Senior Center. Later, a private developer built River Mills Assisted Living at Chicopee Falls on a three-acre parcel. A third, four-acre parcel has been optioned to Brisa Development LLC of New York, which plans to build a mixed-use development that includes a 107-unit apartment building, an indoor sports complex, and a brewery and restaurant.

The 9.58-acre parcel that is the subject of the request for proposals is essentially the last big piece of the puzzle, said Pouliot, adding that it’s dominated by the four remaining Uniroyal buildings.

One is the administration building, or Building 26. The city has an agreement with the Massachusetts Historical Commission to try to see that structure redeveloped, he explained, adding that it is eligible for listing on the National Historic Register.

There is also a smaller building, what Pouliot called a retail shop for Fisk Rubber Co., where it sold and even installed tires, as well as two large manufacturing buildings, numbered 27 and 42, that are considered to be in “structurally decent condition,” he said.

“Instead of incurring the cost of demolition, which would have been a few million dollars more than what we were paying for cleanup, we decided to preserve them and see if there was appetite within the development community to do something with them,” he explained, adding that, if there is no appetite for taking them on, the city will look at what developers are proposing and decide the best course from there.

“We’re not going to predicate a decision on just whether or not all the buildings can be reused,” he said. “Certainly it is the city’s intention to sell the land and see something happen; this is just one of the criteria we’re looking at to see what the development community can respond with.

“There are a number of developers who would prefer raw land, but the reality with this site is that it’s not raw land,” he went on. “You could consider this an industrial archaeological site; there are going to be limitations on development regardless of whether the buildings are standing or not.”

Elaborating, Pouliot said he’s learned much about the property — and tire manufacturing — over the years, including the fact that, at some point between the two world wars (exactly when he’s not sure), the U.S. government began to oversee rubber production to make sure there would be enough tires for the war effort.

This government involvement helps explain why many of the buildings at the Uniroyal site, including Buildings 27 and 42, were built to withstand aerial bombing, he went on, adding that the structures are still sound a century or more after they were built, in some cases, which may become a factor in whether those in the development community want to try to do something with them. “Their structural capacity is incredible.”

Returning to the matter of what the city would like to see by way of development, Pouliot said priorities were spelled out in the River Mills Vision Plan, the development plan created for both the Uniroyal and Facemate properties combined.

“We were looking for redevelopment that reconnected these properties to the Chicopee Falls neighborhood and supported the neighborhood with appropriate-scale development,” he said of the overarching objective, adding that there hasn’t been any connection, other than history, for many years.

aerial shot from 2008

This aerial shot from 2008 shows the Uniroyal complex before the start of demolition of many of the buildings at that site.

This effort would ideally be a mixed-use project that can connect people with the river, he went on, adding that housing was, and still is, a need within the city.

“Housing is still a priority,” he said. “I think anyone looking at the state of housing in the Commonwealth, or this country, would be foolish not to consider housing a likely piece of redevelopment here.”

When asked for a timeline for the project, Pouliot said the city will likely take six to eight months to review the submitted proposals before eventually choosing a preferred developer. That developer will then need time to secure the various forms of financing that will be needed, he said, adding that it will likely be two to four years before work actually commences.


View to the Future

Returning to that project that he and a few of his classmates took on at Cornell, Pouliot said that, while creating that development plan — one that in many ways mirrored the one crafted by the city — he and the others involved worked to get a “feel for the community’s relationship with this property, its context within the city, and what they wanted to see.

“And one of the big takeaways, even for me, having grown up in this city, was just how many families had someone who worked at this property throughout history,” he went on. “So many people could tie themselves back to a sports league or working there, or the shift changes — we heard so many stories about how loud and noisy Chicopee Falls was when that plant was operating, and the volume of people.”

For the better part of 40 years now, most all talk concerning Uniroyal has been in the past tense. But if the request for proposals yields the imaginative concepts that city officials are hoping for, that will soon change — and people will start talking about what’s happening there now, not what happened a half-century or more ago.

As Pouliot noted, it’s odd in some ways to be at this point in the process. But it’s also quite rewarding. There’s plenty of work left to do, but a milestone has been reached.


Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Two longtime downtown businesspeople, Lauren Gunther and Alex Feinstein, have together purchased two stores in Thornes Marketplace: Cedar Chest, which is in its 75th year, and Stay Golden, a new business on the first floor.

Gunther, previously the merchandise manager for both businesses, and Feinstein, the former owner of GoBerry in Northampton and Amherst, purchased the stores in mid-April from Rich Madowitz, who is also a co-owner of Thornes. Gunther and Feinstein are both natives of Hampshire County.

Feinstein closed his Amherst shop early in the pandemic, and the GoBerry in Northampton closed in January 2022. He has been doing pandemic-related financial consulting in the region and had been actively looking for his next challenge when Madowitz connected the two new co-owners late last year because he thought their skillsets were a great fit for joint ownership.

“We’re excited to move forward and be able to involve our staff in the transition,” Gunther said.

Feinstein added that “I’m pleased to step into businesses that are already doing awesome work and see what our energy can bring to them to make them do more.”

Gunther has been with Cedar Chest for 13 years. Feinstein came into the mix in early December 2022 in a consultant role.

Cedar Chest, an eclectic gift store, carries everything from home décor to stationery, loungewear, bath and body products, and holiday items. Its new sister store, Stay Golden, which opened in October 2022, offers primarily casual and business clothing for women along with jewelry and other accessories. About 30 associates work at the shops, with a half-dozen dedicated to Stay Golden.

Gunther and Feinstein said they do not have plans to make changes to merchandise in the stores, but they will be looking at creating efficiencies that will allow them to make their staff team stronger.

“I love to find efficiencies and document and implement systems,” said Feinstein, who grew up in Northampton and Easthampton. “I’ve been on board for five months now and have a new scheduling system, email platform, and digital invoicing system in place. Finding tools that work across departments and help people collaborate is what I bring to the table.”

Gunther’s expertise is in merchandizing. She grew up in Williamsburg and shopped in downtown stores as a young person, later working at Faces for a time as well. “It’s interesting to be among those helping two of these shops to evolve,” she said. “It’s unique to have two entrepreneurs of similar age who grew up in the area and are now really involved in downtown and Thornes. That’s fun and unique.”

Daily News

HATFIELD — The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will host “Voices in Food Equity: A Gathering for Emerging Leaders” today, May 24, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke. The free event is designed for anyone who is passionate about advancing food justice and creating a more equitable food system for the people of Western Mass., and will feature speakers, networking, and learning to create awareness about food equity and advance initiatives that help end hunger in the region.

Featured speakers include:

• Ileana Marie Carrion, a young professional working in public health. She has been dedicated to the Western Mass. community, ensuring residents can obtain adequate health resources and healthy culturally relevant foods. She previously worked for the Holyoke Planning & Economic Development office;

• State Rep. Pat Duffy, who represents Holyoke;

• Liz O’Gilvie, a self-described 60-year-old black produce farmer and wannabe public-health policy wonk based in Springfield. While developing 40 Acres Farm as a cooperatively managed venture, she serves as director of the Springfield Food Policy Council and the interim director of the youth-driven, urban agriculture organization Gardening the Community;

• Ashley Sears Randle, a fifth-generation dairy farmer who was sworn in as the 21st commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) by Gov. Maura Healey on March 6; and

• Lee Drewitz, who for the past 10 years has served Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties, as well as Erfurt, Germany, on empowering members of the community to build a sustainable life for generations of their families.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.

“Voices in Food Equity” is made possible by the support of sponsors Instacart, Norcom Mortgage, Alekman Ditusa Attorneys at Law, Sun Bug Solar, and Rovi Homes.

Daily News

AMHERST — The Yiddish Book Center announced it has been awarded a capital grant in the amount of $100,000 from MassDevelopment and Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund. This grant will support the center’s crucial infrastructure project to replace its aging boilers and heating system.

Founded in 1980, the Yiddish Book Center has been preserving and promoting Yiddish language and culture for more than four decades. Located on a picturesque, 10-acre apple orchard adjacent to the Hampshire College campus in Amherst, the center opened its current facility in 1997.

The replacement of the original boilers, which have been in service since 1996, is essential to ensure the ongoing safety and functioning of the facility. The project will involve installing high-condensing, low-fire, energy-efficient boilers; updating piping, valves, and controls; and integrating the system with the existing geothermal HVAC controls. Additionally, the project will include the replacement of circulating pumps and pneumatic control systems with more efficient Ecocirc pumps, as well as the elimination of the compressor, reducing the need for regular service and inspections. The replacement of the boilers will significantly enhance energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and support the center’s ongoing efforts to maintain an environmentally responsible facility.

“We are immensely grateful to MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their generous support of this project,” said Susan Bronson, executive director of the Yiddish Book Center. “Capital improvements and major maintenance projects pose significant challenges in terms of funding. It is not easy to raise funds for behind-the-scenes projects like boiler replacements. This grant will ensure the continued functionality and sustainability of our facility, allowing us to serve our community and fulfill our mission for years to come.”

Funded annually through the governor’s capital spending plan, this round of cultural facilities grants is supported by a $10 million capital bond appropriation approved in 2022. The Healey-Driscoll administration has also proposed a $10 million appropriation in its second supplemental budget to support an additional round of the program.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union will once again offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork.

In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering its free Community Shred Day at two of its branches on Saturday, June 3: from 9 to 10 a.m. at 58 Union St., West Springfield; and from 11 a.m. to noon at 959 Springfield St., Feeding Hills.

The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding.

Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. There is no charge for this service.




Girls on the Run isn’t about running.

Sure, running is a big part of this program for girls in grades 3-8; participants learn to enjoy running and build endurance so they can keep at it longer — and become healthier in the process.

But the heart of this organization (see story on page 30) isn’t physical endurance; it’s emotional resilience. It’s about social-emotional health, developing confidence, and finding joy.

And those can be challenges for young people today.

“We’ve definitely tapped into a need,” Alison Berman, council director of Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts, told us. “There’s a huge child mental-health crisis right now. And whatever’s going on with them, Girls on the Run is giving them this extra layer of skills to support them.”

Interestingly, we spoke with Berman and her team members during Mental Health Awareness Month, just a few days after we visited Springfield Central Library for another program aimed at young people and their emotional wellness.

Specifically, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center partnered with the Holyoke Public Library and Springfield’s city libraries to encourage awareness and conversations on the topic of mental wellness. Displays of books and other materials have been prominently set up to promote understanding around mental health and to encourage such collaborations for libraries to become better resources on the topic — for visitors of all ages, including (and, perhaps, especially) youth.

María Pagán, Holyoke Public Library director, said she hopes that, by making educational materials about mental health and substance use more accessible, the effort will eventually encourage people to learn about these conditions, recognize them, and seek any needed assistance.

Jean Canosa Albano, assistant director for Public Services at Springfield Central Library, said librarians don’t judge what people read. “The same thing goes for if you were to come into a library and ask a question that concerns mental health or emotional wellness. We don’t judge that. We’re here to help you no matter what.”

The displays, she said, might help visitors find something they need, and realize that “this is a safe place to ask questions, including about your emotional wellness.”

Meanwhile, just a few months ago, the Springfield Youth Mental Health Coalition, convened by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, launched “I Am More Than My Mood,” a new awareness campaign that aims to normalize healthy conversations about mental health and encourage youth and their caregivers in Greater Springfield to discuss stress, anxiety, and depression as common challenges that everyone goes through.

These are just a few examples, but the message is clear: mental-health issues are common — and were certainly exacerbated during the pandemic, especially for young people — and the time is always right to talk about them (as in the case of the library partnership and the coalition campaign) and give kids healthy alternatives to achieve personal wellness (as Girls on the Run and other youth-serving nonprofits do).

Pagán, for her part, agrees with Canosa. “No judgment. You might read something because you want to, you’re curious, or because you know somebody that might benefit, and you could help if you learn about it. Information is power.”

So is talking about mental health. So let’s keep talking.



By Rick Sullivan


The Western Massachusetts Anchor Collaborative (WMAC), founded by the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) in partnership with Baystate Health, provides comprehensive, systemic, and locally led solutions to regional women- and minority- owned businesses and workforce challenges. The WMAC was initiated to propel hiring and career pathways for BIPOC and marginalized populations.

The WMAC has successfully established multi-year targets to increase local procurement opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses, and are developing an ‘Anchor-ready accelerator’ that will cultivate a resilient local supplier pipeline for targeted goods and services. The accelerator will provide wrap-around services and resources to prepare and scale vendors for contracts with Anchor institutions.

WMAC institutions seek to address inequities that have resulted from historic patterns of disinvestment and bias related to neighborhood, race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status in Western Mass. These institutions have more than 18,000 employees, with nearly 3,000 residing in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in Western Mass.

Collectively, Anchor Collaborative institutions currently spend more than $2 billion in goods and services and have committed to annually increasing the percentage of spending toward local and diverse businesses. Bridging the gap between Anchor institutions and the local community is a key ingredient to successful and positive economic impact.

The Anchor Collaborative aims to foster equitable communities and strong local economies, pilot career-pathway programs, align support for entry-level and low-wage employees from disadvantaged neighborhoods, cultivate jobs and promote healthier employees and residents, and leverage each institution’s purchasing and hiring power

The WMAC chooses smaller businesses that have historically not had the opportunity to enter supply chains, or get capitalized, underwritten, etc. It coordinates workforce-development strategies with Springfield WORKS, an EDC community initiative, to create training opportunities for career pathways to living-wage jobs. WMAC institutions provide a mentorship role to smaller businesses to allow them to scale up and help them grow. Big Y has been an influential leader in this initiative, supporting local greenhouses and farmers. It even offers a reusable food-wrap product, Z-Wrap, on its shelves.

Data will be regularly collected and analyzed to set effective targets and monitor progress. The goal is to design an internal process that allows for accessible professional development and growth, leading to promotions and careers within each institution. We aim to enhance our impact and drive regional economic equity and financial vitality for our communities.


Rick Sullivan is president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council;

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]


Royal Sendoff

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, elected officials, and community members gathered at Holyoke Community College on May 3 to celebrate the leadership and legacy of retiring President Christina Royal. Among those in attendance was Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia (pictured below right with Royal), who delivered a proclamation recognizing her service to the city. Royal’s last day at HCC will be July 14. George Timmons will begin his service as HCC’s fifth president in June.

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia with Royal

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia with Royal


from left) state Sen. John Velis, Holyoke Director of Planning and Economic Development Aaron Vega, and state Rep. Pat Duffy.

from left) state Sen. John Velis, Holyoke Director of Planning and Economic Development Aaron Vega, and state Rep. Pat Duffy.



Kentucky Derby Party

On May 5, the Armory at MGM Springfield was the setting for hats, horses, and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the 149th Kentucky Derby. The annual fundraiser for Square One was presented by lead sponsors PeoplesBank, USI Insurance, Alekman DiTusa, Baystate Health/Health New England, and Meridian Industrial Group. (Photos by Chris Marion Photography)

From left, Jenny MacKay of USI Insurance Services and Rob DiTusa and Ryan Alekman of Alekman DiTusa

From left, Jenny MacKay of USI Insurance Services and Rob DiTusa and Ryan Alekman of Alekman DiTusa


Jennifer Yergeau of PeoplesBank (left) with Kristine Allard, Square One’s vice president of Development & Communication

Jennifer Yergeau of PeoplesBank (left) with Kristine Allard, Square One’s vice president of Development & Communication



Exciting Chapter

On May 4, Link to Libraries hosted its signature biennial fundraising event at the Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition to raising $109,000, this year’s celebration marked a huge milestone for the nonprofit: the donation of its 1 millionth book to a child and school in need.

Susan Jaye-Kaplan, co-founder of Link to Libraries

Susan Jaye-Kaplan, co-founder of Link to Libraries, presents the millionth book to Mary Fitzgerald, librarian from Springfield’s Warner School, which was the first school to receive books from Link to Libraries when it was founded in 2008


U.S. Rep. Richard Neal with Laurie Flynn

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal with Laurie Flynn, president and CEO of Link to Libraries



Dealer of the Year

On May 4, Gary Rome Hyundai hosted the TIME Dealer of the Year Celebration, a reception honoring the company, which TIME magazine chose from a field of more than 16,000 dealerships nationwide. (Photos by Ivy Pohl)

Gary Rome (center)

Gary Rome (center) with Gary Gilchrist, vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Assoc., Jeff Jenkins and Keith Cail of Ally, Robert O’Koniewski of the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Assoc., and, of course, Daisy


Rome greets (from left) Sister Mary Caritas SP, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, and his Chief of Staff Jon D’Angelo

Rome greets (from left) Sister Mary Caritas SP, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, and his Chief of Staff Jon D’Angelo




Court Dockets

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




Emanuel Diaz and Netsy Diaz v. Saltmarsh Brothers Construction Inc.

Allegation: Breach of contract: $61,500

Filed: 4/12/23



Xiao Xin Zhang v. Springfield Area Transit Authority Inc. d/b/a Satco

Allegation: Negligence causing personal injury and property damage: $179,479

Filed: 4/12/23


Trickstar Trumbling & Fitness LLC v. Westmass Area Development Corp.

Allegation: Breach of lease: $100,000

Filed: 4/13/23


Faspac Plastikes Inc. v. East Baking Co. Inc.

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $173,512.67

Filed: 4/17/23


Homestesd Baking Co. v. East Baking Co. Inc.

Allegation: Money owed for goods sold and delivered: $204,357.36

Filed: 5/2/23


Ken Lansing SC LLC v. Whiting Building LLC, Friedman Real Estate, and CWFS-REDS LLC d/b/a Realinsight Market

Allegation: Breach of real-estate contract: $104,742

Filed: 5/12/23



Free Music Fridays

May 26 to Sept. 8: Live music returns to MGM Springfield with the new and expanded Free Music Fridays concert series. Every Friday from May 26 to Sept. 8, some of the area’s most popular bands and national artists will perform on the Plaza at MGM Springfield in the city’s South End, starting at 7:30 p.m. (weather permitting). Kicking off the 2023 series is the popular Pink Floyd tribute band Brain Damage. Additional local favorites such as Trailer Trash, Brass Attack, Back in Black, and Aquanett, among others, are scheduled to perform throughout the summer. MGM Springfield will also welcome new additions to the Free Music Fridays lineup, including local light Brynn Cartelli, season 14 winner of The Voice. Also debuting on the Plaza stage is Zac Brown tribute band Zac N’Fried; Springfield based R&B, soul, and hip-hop group Malado!; and national pop and hip-hop band LFO. MGM Springfield will continue its partnership with White Lion Brewing Co. to provide guests with a wide selection of craft beer during each Free Music Fridays concert. The series will also feature local food trucks, including North Elm Butchers Block, Batch Ice Cream, Cousins Maine Lobster, Las Kangris, and many more.


You Ball Fundraising Gala

June 1: The Springfield Pride Parade organization announced the inaugural You Ball Fundraising Gala, taking place at 6 p.m. in MGM Springfield’s Aria Ballroom. With a Met Gala-inspired Fabergè egg theme, the You Ball will celebrate the diverse beauty, uniqueness, and prestige of the LGBTQIA+ community. The gala will feature music, dining options, performances, and conversations with parade organizers and Springfield city officials. Proceeds from the You Ball Fundraising Gala will directly support the Springfield Pride Parade organization’s Safe Space program, which provides Springfield public-school students with a safe environment to effectively communicate, build self-confidence, work on their social and emotional skills, develop healthy relationships, and focus on community engagement. Sponsored by MassMutual, MGM Springfield, Springfield Technical Community College, and the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, the event aims to be an inspirational evening to celebrate and honor the region’s LGBTQIA+ and ally business owners, professionals, and community leaders. For more information on You Ball tickets, table sponsorships, and gala program marketing inquiries, visit www.springfieldprideparade.org/youball.


Hospice of the Fisher Home Golf Tournament

June 2: Hospice of the Fisher Home will host its seventh annual par-3 golf tournament at Amherst Golf Club. Tee times will be scheduled beginning at 1 p.m. Tournament sponsors include Greenfield Savings Bank, Kuhn Riddle Architects, Amherst Insurance Agency, Florence Savings Bank, Studley Do Right Cleaning, M.J. Moran, and Northampton Cooperative Bank. The tournament is one of Hospice of the Fisher Home’s largest fundraisers, supporting the compassionate, comprehensive, and supportive end-of-life care it provides to individuals and their loved ones, in their homes or at the Fisher Home’s nine-bed residence in Amherst. According to Maria Rivera, executive director of Hospice of the Fisher Home, support of this year’s golf tournament is especially important because funds raised will also go toward the replacement of the home’s HVAC system. Visit www.fisherhome.org/event-info/7th-annual-golf-tournament-registration-4 for sponsorship information or to register a foursome.


Purse & Power Tool Bingo Fundraiser

June 2: Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) will hold a Purse & Power Tool Bingo fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on 371 Washington Road, Enfield, Conn. Event participants will enjoy 10 rounds of bingo, each with the opportunity to win a designer handbag or a power tool. Registration fees will support JAWM programs and events for youth throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. Guests are welcome to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy, and there will be a cash bar. Registration costs $40 per person, which includes 10 bingo cards and a dauber. Raffle tickets and extra cards will also be available for purchase. Admission must be purchased in advance through paypal.me/2MomsOnAMission or via Venmo @Two-MomsOnA-Mission. Include the date of the event when purchasing tickets.


Western Mass Eldercare Conference

June 8: The 31st annual Western Mass Eldercare Conference will take place at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. Registration is open at jgslifecare.org/wmecc. All workshop descriptions are on the website so attendees can plan their day. Keynote addresses include “Cultural Humility: Moving Beyond the Principles and into Authentic Practice” by Dora and Frank Robinson and “Old Age Ain’t for Sissies” by Judith Black. Organizations with multiple people attending can pay by check if they want to; all checks need to be postmarked by May 31 in order to be registered for the conference. This program has submitted for approval to meet the requirements of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing at 244 CMR 5.00 for six contact hours.


Free Shred Days

June 10, Sept. 23, Oct. 14: Monson Savings Bank announced it will once again host free community shred days in 2023. All are welcome to attend. As in previous years, Monson Savings Bank is partnering up with PROSHRED of Wilbraham for this series of events welcoming the public to discard their documents in a safe and secure manner. This is an ideal opportunity to dispose of unwanted documents such as tax returns, bank or credit-card statements, bills, and medical records. Pre-packaged refreshments and giveaways will be available while supplies last. Shred days are scheduled for Saturday, June 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hampden branch, 15 Somers Road; Saturday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Ware branch, 136 West St.; and Saturday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Wilbraham branch, 100 Post Office Park.


40 Under Forty

June 15: BusinessWest will host the annual 40 Under Forty Gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. One of the most anticipated events of the year, the gala will celebrate the class of 2023, which was announced and profiled in the May 1 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. The gala will feature a VIP hour for the honorees and sponsors, networking, the presentation of the Alumni Achievement Award, and introduction of members of the class of 2023. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit businesswest.com. This year’s 40 Under Forty presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, and the 40 Under Forty Alumni Achievement Award presenting sponsor is Health New England. Partner sponsors include Comcast Business, Live Nation, the Markens Group, MGM Springfield, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management, and Webber & Grinnell Insurance.


sheLEADS Conference

June 16: The Chamber of Greater Easthampton announced its upcoming women’s leadership conference, sheLEADS, to be held at Williston Northampton School, 19 Payson Ave., Easthampton. This year’s conference will feature a lineup of inspiring speakers who will share their personal stories and insights on leadership, career development, and understanding the power of knowing one’s worth. This year’s conference features two keynote speakers: Sabrina Antoine Correia, vice president of Public Engagement and Corporate Responsibility for New England, JPMorgan Chase; and Lindsay Barron LaBonte, branch manager, Applied Mortgage. Correia will discuss “Advocating for Yourself and Your Ideas,” and LaBonte will discuss “How I Found My Worth.” Other topics to be discussed during the conference include “Is Money Power,” a thought-provoking discussion featuring panelists Karen Curran of Curran & Keegan Financial, Diane Dukette of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Ashleigh Beadle of Sourcepass, and Joanna Ballantine of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Attendees will also participate in the interactive workshop “The RACI Side of Communication and Collaboration,” led by Tiffany Espinosa from Teal Executives, Mount Holyoke College. Event tickets cost $119. To register, visit business.easthamptonchamber.org/events.



June 23-25: Registration for Hooplandia, a 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, is now open at www.hooplandia.com and includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. The tournament, presented by the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will take place on the grounds of ESE in West Springfield June 23-25, with special games at the Hall of Fame in Springfield. Dunkin’ was recently named presenting sponsor of the event, which is expected to attract thousands of fans and players as hundreds of games take place across more than 70 courts. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. With brackets that include veterans, first responders, youth, wheelchair athletes, college elites, and many more, there’s a spot on the court for everyone. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at www.hooplandia.com. Team fees range from $75 to $190, with children under 8 and participants in the Special Olympics category being free of charge. Anyone interested should email [email protected]. Hooplandia welcomes participation from youth team referees, scorekeepers, Fan Village contest facilitators, and volunteers for myriad duties to help make this inaugural year a success. Those interested in participating in this groundbreaking event can fill out the volunteer form at www.hooplandia.com.

People on the Move
Candace Pereira

Candace Pereira

Florence Bank promoted Candace Pereira to the role of vice president, commercial lender. Since 2018, she has worked at Florence Bank as assistant vice president, commercial portfolio manager in the Commercial Lending department. In her new role, she will concentrate on commercial and industrial lending, as well as lending to women-owned businesses. Pereira holds an associate degree in finance from Springfield Technical Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. She is currently pursuing an MBA from Isenberg as well. She began her career in banking in 2003 and has held various roles at mutually held and stockholder-owned banks in Western Mass., in both residential and commercial lending. Recently named an ambassador for the Springfield Regional Chamber, Pereira is also a member of the BusinessWest 40 Under Forty class of 2017, and she attended the Springfield Leadership Institute. She has served on various local boards over the last several years and has also volunteered as an athletic coach in East Longmeadow, where her daughter is a student.


Dennis Gober, a longtime executive in hospital management, has been named chief operating officer of MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. Gober served previously as CEO in Oklahoma of Cedar Ridge Behavioral Hospital, whose campus in Oklahoma City provides inpatient psychiatric and residential services to children and adolescents, and its Bethany campus, which serves the mental-health needs of adults. Cedar Ridge is part of Universal Health Services, one of the largest providers of hospital and healthcare services in the country. Gober, who holds a master’s degree in community counseling, has held several other senior-level positions, CEO for Acadia Healthcare’s Rolling Hills Hospital in Ada, Okla., which provides mental-health and substance-use services for adolescents, adults, and seniors, and division director of community-based youth services for the state of Oklahoma. As a licensed behavioral practioner, Gober also served as the Director of the Community Works’ Norman Academy Day Treatment Program leading treatment teams, and providing individual, group, and family therapy. He received a master of education degree in community counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma.


Leanne Martin

Leanne Martin

BFAIR announced it has promoted Leanne Martin to assistant director of Day Habilitation. Martin began working for BFAIR in 2014 as a direct-care professional at the agency’s Day Habilitation program located in North Adams. In 2020, she was promoted to case manager for the Community Based Day Services (CBDS) program and later to the Day Habilitation program in the same role. In her new role, Martin is responsible for the everyday operation of the Day Habilitation program, which is designed to support members and their unique needs to increase independence and socialization, helping them participate as active and fully integrated members of their community.

Company Notebook

Elms Receives $1 Million to Expand Two Programs

CHICOPEE — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently joined Elms College President Harry Dumay to announce a $1 million earmark to expand the education and social work programs at Elms College. The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the U.S. Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. With this funding, Elms College will address community workforce development by expanding its education and social work programs. This expansion will include investments in the Center for Equity in Urban Education at Elms College, which was created to bolster educator talent and diversity through innovative programs that target existing and aspiring educators. Funding will also be used to invest in the master’s in social work program in an effort to address the shortage of social workers in the Greater Springfield community.


AIC Signs Housing Agreements to Benefit HCC, STCC Students

HOLYOKE — Representatives from American International College (AIC) and Holyoke Community College recently signed a historic agreement that will allow HCC students to live in residence halls and apartments on the AIC campus in Springfield. In addition, a new agreement between AIC and Springfield Technical Community College will allow STCC students to reside in the AIC campus residence halls and apartments. The agreements call for AIC to discount its room rates for HCC and STCC students. The housing option will be offered to all students 18 and older who are enrolled full- or part-time and in good academic standing. According to the agreements, HCC and STCC students who opt to live at AIC will have access to other amenities there as well, including health services, the college library, laundry facilities, and a gym. Dining and parking plans are also available for an additional cost. There is no age limit for students, couples can live together, and campus apartments are also a possibility.


WNE, BCC Sign Joint Admissions Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — Berkshire Community College (BCC) signed an articulation agreement with Western New England University (WNE) on May 8, allowing BCC students to transfer seamlessly to WNE. The joint admissions program, which is consistent with the individual missions, policies, and regulations of each institution, seeks to strengthen the academic and student-support partnerships between BCC and WNE, facilitate student access to baccalaureate and graduate education, and provide barrier-free movement for students enrolled in an associate-degree program at BCC to the baccalaureate graduate degrees at WNE. Students will be informed about the opportunity to participate in the joint admissions program at the time they are applying to BCC. Students who satisfy the requirements of the joint admissions program are eligible for guaranteed acceptance to WNE, provided they complete an approved associate-degree program at BCC and meet the requirements of the joint admissions program and major-specific requirements; guarantee of junior status at WNE upon matriculation with an associate degree; and guarantee of 60 transfer credits, with some stipulations.


Chris Marion Celebrates Grand Opening of Studio

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield native Chris Marion celebrated the grand opening of his new Chris Marion Photography studio, located at 270 Albany St. in Springfield, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 18. The ceremony included brief remarks, with appearances by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, City Council President Jesse Lederman, and other local dignitaries. Marion said he chose the 1,000-square-foot space to be a part of the surging Gasoline Alley section of the city and its proximity to downtown Springfield. He has also recently hosted photography workshops in the new studio.


UMassFive Donates Items to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced the success of its personal-care-items drive, which was held during March in its Hadley, Northampton, and Springfield branches. The drive collected more than 365 pounds of personal-care items, which were donated to three local organizations: Amherst Survival Center, Northampton Survival Center, and the Gray House in Springfield. UMassFive is committed to supporting the communities it serves, and this drive was just one example of its ongoing efforts to give back. Members and staff at all three branches enthusiastically participated in the drive, donating a wide variety of items, such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, menstrual products, diapers, and more.


Local Farm Awards Distribute $225,000 for Projects in 2023

AGAWAM — The Local Farmer Awards distributed grants totaling $225,000 to 97 farms in Western Mass. this year, a 30% increase over the number of 2022 recipients. These grants of up to $2,500 empower farmers to purchase essential equipment for planting, growing, harvesting, and processing. All projects include a funding commitment by the farm as well. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with 12 other funders, provide financial support for these Local Farmer Awards. Other community sponsors include Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Audrey and Chick Taylor, PeoplesBank, the DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Farm Credit East, HP Hood, Eastern States Exposition, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Franklin First Federal Credit Union, and bankESB. This year the Local Farmer Awards received a record 182 applications. Roughly two-thirds of this year’s awards went to farms in Hampshire and Franklin counties, with the remainder split between Hampden and Berkshire counties, and a few awards going to farms just across the Massachusetts border that participate in Massachusetts farming programs. About 25% of the recipients were new farmers (five or fewer years in business), and another 34% have been in business more than 20 years, many being multi-generational farms. The largest number of winners focus on vegetables and meat, while others include maple, fruit, dairy, and flower farms.


WSU, HCC Announce Nursing-degree Partnership

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Westfield State University (WSU) will announce a new pathway for individuals to earn both an associate and a baccalaureate degree in nursing simultaneously or in a streamlined manner by combining the curricula of both programs. The concurrent program is the first in the Commonwealth. Beginning one’s professional life as an RN with all the demands on new nurses in a post-COVID era can make it challenging to go back to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This program provides an opportunity for students to earn both their ASN and BSN credentials simultaneously before entering the workforce. The ADN-to-BSN pathway creates efficiency for students as it incorporates a joint admission process, thereby eliminating the need for students to submit a separate application for admission to the university. By facilitating the attainment of a BSN, this pathway helps to meet the evolving demands of the healthcare industry. The concurrent nursing program will help address the nursing shortage by increasing the number of students who can get into a bachelor of nursing program and allow them to earn their degree faster.


MassHire Franklin Hampshire Announces New Location

GREENFIELD — MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center and Workforce Board, the leading workforce-development agencies providing employment and training services to job seekers and employers in Franklin and Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin area, are moving to a new location in Greenfield. Doors will open to customers at the new location at the Greenfield Corporate Center, 101 Monson St., Suite 210, on Thursday, June 1. The new MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center features 13,000 square feet of modern space with state-of-the-art resources to provide in-person, virtual, and hybrid services and allows MassHire Franklin Hampshire to provide even better service to more customers. Partner agencies with a staff presence at the Career Center include the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Literacy Project, the Center for New Americans, International Language Institute of Massachusetts, Westover Job Corps, Greenfield Community College, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and Community Action Pioneer Valley. Core partner Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission already has office space at the Greenfield Corporate Center.


The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.


Adams Street Fair Corp., 31 Winter St., Adams, MA 01220. Leann O’Brien, same. Hosts charitable events.


Lebeau Boudoir Inc., 20 Mountain View Dr., Belchertown, MA 01007. Ashley Lebeau, same. Photography services.


DD General Services Inc., 15 Sunnymeade Ave., Chicopee, MA 01020. Estrella Vasquez, same. General construction services including carpentry, remodeling, and renovations.


Easthampton Music Boosters Inc., 62 Briggs St., Easthampton, MA 01027. Shelby Hyvonen, same. Corporation is organized and will be operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.


GJB Productions Inc., 696 South Egremont Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Gideon Brown, same. Video post-production services.


Changing the Narrative Inc., 98 Lower Westfield Road, Holyoke, MA 01040. Anthony Basile, same. A nonprofit organization created to provide a safe, private, musical space for children who have experienced tragic events; cultivating positive experiences by providing outings to sporting events.


Law Office of Carolyne Pereira, P.C., 125 Letendre Ave., Ludlow, MA 01056. Carolyne Pereira, same. Law practice.


Anointed to Restore Family Christian Center Church Ministries, 1430 Main St., Palmer, MA 01069. Natanael Lopez Ozuna, 1 Beacon Ave., Holyoke, MA 01069. Reaching Massachusetts, the U.S., and around the world with the message of hope and compassion of Jesus Christ.


No Starch Press Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. William Pollock, same. Any lawful business purposes.

Big Wave Dog Rescue Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Sydney Fitzpatrick, 49 Clarissa Road, Chelmsford, MA 01824. Nonprofit organization established to reduce the population of homeless and euthanized dogs in overcrowded animal shelters; fund veterinary care, rehabilitation, and training to animals to ensure a successful adoption; provide temporary housing for animals through a volunteer foster-based program; and support local animals in need of rehoming, rehabilitation, and veterinary interventions.

Uni-Structures Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Wesley Barnes, same. Manufacturing and installation of signs and awnings for quick-service restaurants.


Excelone Ministries, 90 Nelson Circle West, Springfield, MA 01089. Janet Poi, same. Offers community-outreach services to marginalized individuals and families through a support network platform for leaders and their leadership teams within the Christian community.

AMG Solutions Inc., 115 State St., #403, Springfield, MA 01103. Yariseliz Diaz, same. Management and business consulting services.


DSG Enterprise Inc., 1321 Morgan Road, West Springfield, MA 01089. Daniel Giustina, same. General construction services.


M Jude Stirlacci Inc., 8 Meadow View Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Michael Stirlacci, same. Carpet-cleaning services.


DBA Certificates

The following business certificates and/or trade names were issued or renewed during the months of April and May 2023.


150 Fearing St., Units 101-104
Sara Russell

Cheeky Moon Design
677 Station Road
Merlina Wehman-Brown

Epic Remodel & Repair
52 Chapel Road
Julian Albo

Massage Therapy by Angela Morsbach LMT
441 West St.
Angela Morsbach

Powell Family Home Improvement
149 Pomeroy Lane
Michael Powell

Shine Acupuncture
19 Research Dr., Suite 5
Jack Mattrey, Stephanie Mattrey


A.C.K. Therapy
123 Union St., Suite 300
Alison Kinsey

Amy Thompson Avishai Photography
116 Pleasant St., Suite 032
Amy Thompson

Chris Korczak, Bookseller
1 Cottage St., #307
Chris Korczak

Mitra: Healing Centered Yoga
2A Pine St.
Angelica Lopez

OM Valley Farm Inc.
128 Northampton St.
Falguni Patil

Paws to Smell the Roses
10 Clinton St.
Lauren Adams

Precision Painting by Papy LLC
68 Pleasant St., Apt. 1L
Guy Mbangu

RKR Design
10 Chapman Ave.
Rachel Keenan Roberts


D&B Mechanical Inc.
631 North Main St.
Daniel Murray

Dutko Electric LLC
50 Heatherstone Dr.
Andrew Dutko

East Village Taver
53-55 North Main St.
Joseph Sullivan

Forastiere Smith Funeral & Cremation
220 North Main St.
Frank Forastiere

Kieu Nail Artist
30-34 Shaker Road
Kieu Nguyen

Marvelous Me Aesthetics LLC
280 North Main St.
Hannah Hubacz

Meadows Motor Cars
179 North Main St.
Meadows Motor Cars

Pediatric Dental Associates
52 North Main St.
Vincent Trimboli

Richard A. Calvanese CPA
200 North Main St., #201
Richard Calvanese

Silverson Machines Inc.
355 Chestnut St.
Stacey Nuzzolilli

Site Welding Services
475 Somers Road
Justin Howell


American Specialty Designs
77 West State St.
Emelie Lyszchyn, Paul Lyszchyn

Deere Creek Farm
193 Amherst St.
Jonathan Szymonik, Naomi Szymonik

Jaime’s Cat Sitting Service
97 New Ludlow Road
Jaimelee LeBreton

Lazer Automotive
114 School St.
Charles Lofland

Prospective Energy Solutions Inc.
14 Pinebrook Circle
Rachel Hall

Reeds Coffee
141 Taylor St.
Bandhana Sinha


Berkshire Compost
307 North Plain Road
Melissa Beeson

MGH Management Co.
205 Blue Hill Road
Marion Gilliam

Stonybrook Farm Garden Design
206 Blue Hill Road
Marion Gilliam


200 Venture Way
Diagnostic Equipment Service Corp.

Buck Brothers Enterprises
340 River Dr.
Leonard Buck

Courtyard by Marriott
423 Russell St.
Russell Hospitality LLC

Jefferies Wealth Planning
4 Bay Road, Suite 100
Kevin Jefferies

Next Barn Over
17 Lawrence Plain Road
Next Barn Over LLC

Niedbala Farms
136 East St.
Niedbala Farms LLC

Rodrigues Towing
10 Mill Valley Road
Adylson Rodrigues

Whole Foods Market
327 Russell St.
Whole Foods Inc.


Divine Restoration Behavioral Health
98 Lower Westfield Road, Suite 101
Amdonne Mbouadeu

Ergonomic Collaboration Group
337 High St.
Martin Rodgers, John Maslar

Frank Storage
19 St. James Ave.
Francisco Marrero

Holyoke Tax Service
295 High St.
David Yos

Jan Transport
36 Hampden St.
Juan Morales

Lane Bryant
50 Holyoke St.
Lane Bryant Brands OPCO LLC

Mo’s the Clean Freak Services
31 Beacon Ave.
Monica Goucher

Paper City Car Wash
990 Main St.
Michael Marcotte, Michael Filomeno

Premium Brands
50 Holyoke St.
Premium Brands Services

Rejuven8 Painting and Powerwash
116 Waldo St.
Anel Serrano

Route 22 Liquors
518 Westfield St.
Vimal Patel, Shivani Patel

Stacy Wright, Therapist
164 Rock Valley Road
Stacy Wright

Unity Financial & Insurance
330 Whitney Ave., Suite 300
Robert Houle

Western Mass Appliances LLC
2291 Northampton St.
Jason Brazee, Donald Dumais


ABC Trucking
17 Holmes Road
David Pill

Andy’s Carpentry Group
82 Wendell Ave.
Andy’s Carpentry Inc.

Babe Botanics
5 Daytona Ave.
Brooke Moore

Berkshire Foundations
996 Pecks Road
Berkshire Pools & Patio Co. Inc.

C&M Carpentry and Contracting
55 Oxford St.
Carl Morrison

CMD Lawn Maintenance
90 McIntosh Dr.
Christopher Dadak

Cozy Amenities LLC
82 Wendell Ave.
Christopher Fowler

The Elevate Group
82 Wendell Ave.
Think Strategy LLC

Harvest Handarts
177 King St.
Things That Work

Jem Cleaners and Property Management
100 Thomas Island Road
Joseph Merriam

JZC’s Graphic T-Shirts and E-Scooter Rentals
76 Hollister St.
James Sevigny

Lure Looks by Jessy
1450 East St.
Jessica Perrault

76 Foote Ave.
Piyachat Ardia, Matthew Ardia

Olivia by Paradox
82 Wendell Ave.
Paradox Inc.

Pro Finish Auto Body
1589 East St.
6 Giovina Dr.

3 Federico Dr.
Brilliant Graphics Group

Room at 267
267 Holmes Dr.
Nate Buller

TC Group Inc.
82 Wendell Ave.
Yifan Jiang

Walden Village Club
20 Alcott Lane
Walden Village Club Inc.


Delaney’s Market
459 Granby Road
Delaney’s Market

Doneright Cleaning
15 Pershing Ave.
Doneright Cleaning

Forbes & Son Painting & Staining
63 Laurie Ave.
Brad Forbes


Berkshire Muse
53 Interlaken Road
Lauren Fritscher

Ride-N-Shine Mobile Detailing
3 West Stockbridge Road
Andrea Bailly


A&J Motorsports LLC
51 Monson Turnpike Road, Lot 1019
Adam Holbrook

DragonWolf U.S.A.
98 Greenwich Road
Debra Monday

Fontaine Consulting Solutions
47 Babcock Tavern Road
Jennylyn Fontaine

Swistak Stump Grinding
131 Church St.
John Swistak

5 Anna St.
Mark Smith


504 Holyoke Road
Anthony Deven

34 Tekoa Trail
Lawrence Foard

Hannoush Home Designs LLC
99 Springfield Road, Suite 1
Tiffany Hannoush

Healthy Flavors LLC
217 Root Road
Health Flavors LLC

Jack Pots Hotdogs
16 Fowler St.
John Symmons

Potholes Magazine
66 Ridgeway St.
Jacob Fleron

Silverfox Creations
23 Sherwood Ave.
Wendy McCann

TJ Networks
7 Nancy Circle
Thomas Jarry

Ur Prfct Bowl
45 Meadow St.
Roselyn Cedeno


Audiology Services Co. USA LLC
95 Post Office Park
Lisa Mulligan

LML Enterprises LLC
17 Cooley Dr.
Maissoun Jackson

Nouveau Aesthetics LLC
40 Dumaine St.
Jean Brodwski

Pink Door Interior Design
913 Stony Hill Road
Michelle Patrick

Verdon’s Restoration
65 Main St.
Real Verdon


The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

Arnould, Meghan M.
90 Lovefield St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/26/2023

Beauregard, Jeffrey B.
16 Maple Crest Circle, Apt. H
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/26/2023

Bellucci, Robert Alan
Bellucci, Dorka
a/k/a Domador, Dorka
329 North Main St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/24/2023

Beltran Suren, Felix
1342 Bay St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/26/2023

Caulton, JaJuan Robert
24 Lorimer St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/19/2023

Cembura, Joseph J.
959 Westhampton Road
Florence, MA 01062
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/20/2023

Dimartini, Katherine
178 Glendale Road
Southampton, MA 01073
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/17/2023

Gauthier, Roxanne
1794 White Pond Road
Athol, MA 01331
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/19/2023

Malafronte, Michelle L.
a/k/a Larkins, Michelle L.
2 Pidgeon Dr.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/26/2023

Meyers, Todd C.
Meyers, Christina M.
a/k/a Bailey, Christina M.
48 New Broadway
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/19/2023

Montalvo, Melquisedec
Burgos, Melquisedec
24 Knollwood St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Date: 04/17/2023

Proulx, Jeremy J.
1 Belden Court, Unit E3
Agawam, MA 01001
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/17/2023

Rex, Daniel B.
Rex, Doreen M.
6 Cleveland Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/20/2023

Richards, Janet
116 Fieldston St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/25/2023

Tollis, Alexander
Dagostino-Tollis, Annalisa
15 Deerfoot Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/26/2023

Wisniak, Mark John
221 North Orange Road
Athol, MA 01331
Chapter: 13
Date: 04/18/2023