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Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce Announces 2019 A+ Awardees

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced the A+ Award winners, to be given at its annual A+ Awards Celebration to be held at Hadley Farms Meeting House on Thursday, Oct. 3 starting at 5 p.m.

Each year, the Amherst Area Chamber takes a moment to collectively celebrate the outstanding achievements of community members and entities that contribute to the growth and well-being of the place they choose to live and work.

“Much of this year’s categories capture the changing spirt of business in the 21st century,” said Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. “The themes are more universal, from those that represent the human experience to those that capture state-of-the-art innovation and movement.”

The awardees include:

Pioneer Valley Hotel Group/Parmar Family (PVHG), a family-owned and -operated hotel-management company that owns five hotels in the Pioneer Valley area and the Hadley Farms Meeting House in Hadley, will receive the Lifetime Achievement award. PVHG has an impact on the region with 104 active part-time and full-time employees in Hadley alone. The Parmar family partners with local vendors such as North Hadley Sugar Shack, KMA Glass, Atkins Farms, and V-One Vodka; hires only local construction crews for all new projects and renovations; and invests in sustainable practices, including working with PV Squared to place more than 500 solar panels on the roof of Homewood Suites, its newest addition in Hadley.

Amherst Innovative Living is the winner of the Leader in Innovation award. The goal at Amherst Innovative Living is sustainable, place-based development that is both environmentally and economically responsible. As leaders in the field of sustainable development, each of its projects seeks LEED certification. The result is quality projects with increased density, increased respect for the environment, and increased financial performance. The firm’s properties currently include AmherstWorks, One East Pleasant, Boltwood Place, Kendrick Place, and Olympia Place.

This year’s Leader in Sustainability  is Laura Draucker, director of Sustainability at Amherst College. In that role, she helped lead the creation of an ambitious Climate Action Plan that was adopted by the Amherst College board of trustees in January. The plan commits the college to carbon neutrality by 2030, a bold goal. Draucker helped compose and champion the plan. She is also the inaugural chair of the town of Amherst’s new Energy and Climate Action Committee.

The Young Professional award goes to Carolyn Forcade, Operations & Student Engagement specialist at the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst; and founder of the Travel Unicorn. In her role at the Berthiaume Center, Forcade brings a depth of knowledge to her work with student startups and works hard to ensure that each student she meets has every opportunity to grow their business. The Travel Unicorn is an LGBTQ+ travel guide that connects travelers to safe destinations across the world.

The award for Community Service will be given to Lisa Solowiej and Jocelyn Potter, who developed and implemented the Neighborhood Food Project at the Amherst Survival Center. The project has allowed an increasing number of people to volunteer their services through bimonthly food drives at the neighborhood level. The Neighborhood Food Project has yielded thousands of additional pounds of food at each collection, which is going into the hands of those who most need it.

This year’s Chamber MVP is Jessye Deane, drector of Communications & Development for Community Action Pioneer Valley and the owner of F45 Training Hampshire Meadows. Community Action Pioneer Valley is the area’s largest anti-poverty agency, serving more than 28,000 lower-income neighbors.F 45 Training is the fastest-growing fitness network in the world, and F45 Training Hampshire Meadows is the first F45 in Massachusetts. In its first year, F45 has donated more than $38,000 in cash and in-kind services to 19 local nonprofits.

Amherst Media will be creating video tributes for each awardee. The event’s presenting Sponsor is PeoplesBank. BusinessWest continues as media partner for this annual event.

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