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Daily News

BOSTON — The state’s October unemployment rate was down 2.4 percentage points at 7.4% following a revision to the September rate at 9.8%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 11,400 jobs in October, following the previous month’s revised gain of 36,400 jobs. Over the month, the private sector added 15,600 jobs as gains occurred in trade, transportation, and utilities; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; manufacturing; financial activities; and other services. Government lost jobs over the month.

From October 2019 to October 2020, BLS estimates Massachusetts lost 340,200 jobs. Losses occurred in each of the private sectors, with the largest-percentage losses in leisure and hospitality; other services; construction; and education and health services.

The October unemployment rate was 0.5% above the national rate of 6.9% reported by BLS.

The labor force decreased by 155,600 from 3,764,000 in September, as 55,200 fewer residents were employed and 100,400 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 4.6%.

The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — dropped to 63.7%. Compared to October 2019, the labor-force participation rate is down by 4.3%.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Resinate Inc. — a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated cannabis company — opened its second retail location at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton on Nov. 20.

“We are very excited to serve the community of Northampton,” Resinate founder and CEO Peter DeCaro said. “We feel it is a perfect match. Northampton is rich in culture, arts, music, and all the things that create and enrich community. Resinate was founded on the principle of unity, that people from all walks of life can benefit from medical and adult-use cannabis to improve their overall wellness.”

Resinate, which also has a facility in Worcester, is opening its second location during an unprecedented period with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will strictly adhere to CDC and Commonwealth guidelines to keep its staff and patrons healthy. Resinate Northampton offers online pre-ordering, in-store pickup, and limited parking. Additional parking is available at the E.J. Gare parking garage and the Armory lot. Metered on-street parking is also available.

For more information about Resinate, product offerings, and dispensary hours and locations, visit www.iresinate.com or e-mail [email protected].

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each.

Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College.

Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

Harold Grinspoon, founder of the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative, joined the Zoom call with some pointed advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship is about how you process your thoughts,” he said. “We encourage you to stay with your skills as an entrepreneur.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) was honored by the MassEVolves consortium for taking steps to expand the use of electric vehicles (EV) on campus.

The third annual MassEVolves recognition ceremony was held on Nov. 18 to highlight Massachusetts leaders in the adoption of electric vehicles. The virtual event was co-hosted by the national nonprofit Recharge America, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

HCC was one of 19 Massachusetts organizations and colleges singled out during the ceremony, including just three others from Western Mass.: Hampshire College, UMass Amherst, and Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

“The work you are all doing is critical to the future of the Commonwealth and critical to us making this important transition” to the state’s goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2050, EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said, adding that a key piece of “bending our emissions curve” will be electric vehicles.

To receive recognition, MassEVolves participants create and execute an EV action plan that outlines steps they are taking to help Massachusetts residents gain greater access to electric vehicles, which may include installing EV chargers, holding educational events, and more.

HCC has an EV station in the parking lot outside its Center for Health Education and Simulation on Jarvis Avenue in Holyoke along with spaces allocated for zero-emissions vehicles in the visitor parking lot by its Campus Center, where wiring already exists to install EV charging stations.

“We have been working with MassEVolves to come up with a plan to install more charging stations and encourage EV adoption,” said Narayan Sampath, HCC’s vice president of Administration and Finance. “We are also looking to purchase at least one electric vehicle with grants or subsidies from the state. These efforts are not only good for the environment but will also help us realize significant cost savings.”

Increasing the number of electric vehicles in Massachusetts is expected to revitalize local economies in Massachusetts and across the country. Recharge America has shown that EVs can deliver more than $1,000 per year, per vehicle in local economic-development benefit to communities where they reside.

“We congratulate each of our 2020 MassEVolves honorees for the work they’ve done and the commitments they’ve made toward the adoption of electric vehicles in Massachusetts,” said Kirk Brown, CEO of Recharge America. “The initiatives undertaken by MassEVolves participants will benefit their employees, customers, and all residents of the Commonwealth for the years and decades to come.”

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, 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.

Episode 40: Nov. 23, 2020

George Interviews Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition

Eugene Cassidy

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition. The two discuss the pandemic and its impact not only on the Big E, but the region’s large and very important tourism and hospitality sector. They also discuss ways businesses like the Big E have pivoted and created new revenue streams, such as the Big E’s hugely successful Golden Ticket campaign. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

 

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Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank announced the following nine promotions.

Christina Bordeau has been promoted to assistant vice president, banking center manager for the High Street, Holyoke location. She has more than 24 years of financial-services and banking experience, having served in various retail banking roles.

Michael Gay has been promoted to vice president, banking center manager for the Amherst location. He has more than 20 years of retail and banking experience.

Jacquelyn Guzie has been promoted to vice president and regional manager. She has more than 20 years of financial-services and banking experience, having served in various retail banking roles, including managing the Suffield Banking Center.

Clare Ladue was promoted to vice president and regional manager for the Holyoke region. She has more than 25 years of financial-services and banking experience, having served in banking center management, administration, and commercial lending. She previously served as banking center manager for the Hadley Banking Center and was promoted to assistant vice president, regional manager, in 2019.

Aneta Lombardi was promoted to finance officer. She has more than 15 years of financial-services and banking experience, including serving in various positions in the finance division, most recently as financial analyst.

Nicole Nelson was promoted to banking center manager at the Windsor Locks location. She has more than eight years of banking experience, including serving as assistant manager of both the East Longmeadow and Windsor Locks banking centers.

Steve Parastatidis was promoted to first vice president, commercial banking. He has 16 years of banking experience.

Brenda Rodriguez was promoted to assistant vice president, banking center manager of the Chicopee location. She has more than 14 years of financial-services and banking experience, having served in various retail banking roles, including most recently as banking center manager for the St. James Avenue, Springfield location.

Danielle Rosario was promoted to vice president, banking center manager, for the Chicopee location. She has more than 17 years of banking experience.

Daily News

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Jennifer Carmichael to executive vice president and chief internal audit officer. She previously served as senior vice president and audit manager at the bank.

In her role, Carmichael will continue to lead all aspects of Berkshire’s internal audit and independent SOX testing programs. She is responsible for providing independent and objective assurance to management and the audit committee on the adequacy and effectiveness of governance and internal controls to support the achievement of organizational objectives as well as promote and facilitate continuous improvement as part of the third line of defense. She reports directly to the audit committee of the board of directors and administratively to acting CEO Sean Gray.

“Jennifer is a proven leader whose strategic perspective, commitment to operational excellence, and accountability will accelerate our transformation into a 21st-century community bank,” Gray said. “Her work in this expanded role will ensure the bank adheres to the highest ethical standards, serving our company, our customers, and our shareholders well. I am very pleased to welcome Jennifer to the bank’s executive leadership team.”

Carmichael previously served as senior vice president and audit manager at Berkshire Bank. She joined Berkshire in 2016 from Accume Partners, where she served as senior audit manager to several clients in the New York and New England regions, including Berkshire. She began her career in the community-banking sector in internal audit roles and previously served several years at Ballston Spa National Bank, including as assistant vice president, compliance and BSA officer and assistant auditor. In addition to her professional achievements, she also serves as a member of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the Vermont Veterans Home board of trustees, where she serves on the strategic planning committee.

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS — The Division of Graduate and Continuing Education (DGCE) at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will hold a virtual information session on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. This information session will offer details about MCLA’s bachelor’s degree completion program; master of business administration, master of education, and teacher licensure programs; and the MCLA Leadership Academy.

Members of the community interested in pursuing a postgraduate degree, advancing in their education careers, or completing their undergraduate degree are encouraged to attend. Representatives from each postgraduate program will present information and answer questions about degree paths, enrollment, balancing responsibilities while pursuing a degree, and more. For more information or to register, visit mcla.edu/infosession.

Daily News

BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts increased slightly in the first nine months of 2020 compared with the same time last year, according to preliminary data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). In the first nine months of the year, there were 1,517 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths, an estimated 33 more deaths than in the first nine months of 2019.

The estimated uptick coincides with the extraordinary public-health challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic that led the Commonwealth to swiftly enact overdose-prevention efforts, including expanding telehealth services, reducing barriers to treatment, expanding naloxone distribution, and receiving federal approval to permit licensed treatment programs to provide take-home doses of medications for opioid-use disorder.

“As we battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to continuing our work to address the opioid crisis and support our residents,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “We recognize that the stress, anxiety, and social isolation brought on by COVID-19 can be especially hard on those dealing with substance-use disorder, and we remain focused on serving those in need with our multi-pronged strategy to overdose-prevention treatments, services, and supports.”

In response to reports of increases in opioid-related overdose deaths that may be tied to isolation and other pandemic-related factors, DPH distributed more than 75,000 naloxone kits from March through September to opioid-treatment programs, community health centers, hospital emergency departments, and houses of correction. For individuals recently released from incarceration, the naloxone kits included information on medications to treat opioid addiction and other critical community resources.

DPH received a two-year, $113.9 million federal grant in August to continue its aggressive response to the opioid epidemic by increasing access to all FDA-approved medications for opioid-use disorder, reducing unmet treatment need, and reducing opioid-misuse and overdose through prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery initiatives. This grant includes nearly $57 million a year in federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through September 2022.

“We continue to aggressively target resources that are critical to responding effectively to the opioid crisis,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “We will continue these efforts and work with treatment providers to reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths.”

Overall, opioid-related overdose deaths dropped 5% in 2019 since their peak in 2016, when 2,102 people died, preliminary data show. Fentanyl has been a persistent factor in many of these deaths. In the first half of 2020, the rate of fentanyl present among opioid-related overdose deaths where a toxicology report was available was 93%. Despite the growth of fentanyl use, the 2020 opioid-related overdose death rate of 29 per 100,000 people is approximately 5% lower than the 30.6 per 100,000 in 2016.

In the first six months of 2020, the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in opioid-related overdose deaths was 16%, continuing a downward trend since 2014. After fentanyl, cocaine continues to be the next-most-prevalent drug among opioid-related overdose deaths, present in toxicology reports at a rate of 46% in the first half of 2020.

Toxicology screens indicate that benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and prescription opioids in opioid-related overdose deaths have remained stable.

Daily News

GREENFELD — Kevin O’Neil, chairman of the board of directors of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, announced the promotion of Anthony Worden to president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2021. This promotion is in anticipation of the retirement of current President and CEO Michael Tucker.

Tucker is relinquishing his title as president, but will remain CEO until his actual retirement in January 2022, when Worden will take over that role as well. Tucker will remain as a director of the bank and holding company. O’Neil noted that this transition schedule is part of an overall succession plan for the bank that the board adopted some time ago.

“Tony is highly qualified for this role, and has 22-plus years experience in community banking,” O’Neil said. “He has been part of Greenfield Coop’s leadership team since 2009 and has been one of the drivers for our success. We look forward to his leadership of the bank in the coming decade.”

Worden has worked closely with Tucker in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic within the bank and its local communities. Tucker also noted he has complete confidence in Worden’s ability to lead the bank into the future.

“Tony has already been leading a large part of our bank team,” Tucker said. “This includes his recent work to ensure the bank was able to offer Paycheck Protection Program loans for businesses of all sizes during this pandemic. He has also played a key role in helping the bank reach out to consumers and businesses to keep GCB focused on the future of our local communities and our bank.”

Worden said he is honored and excited to take on his new role at the bank. “GCB has long been a supporter of small business and consumers in Hampshire and Franklin counties, and more recently business customers in the Hampden County market. It is my intention to continue this tradition.”

O’Neil noted the board was pleased to be able to select someone like Worden who already knows and values GCB’s traditions and internal culture. A Pioneer Valley resident for the past 30 years, he is a director, executive committee member, and chair of the governance committee for the United Way of Franklin County; a former director of the Franklin County Community Development Corp.; and a former director of the Berkshire Brewing Co. of South Deerfield. He received his bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and his MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, and he is a graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — Eric Ohanian, structural project engineer at Tighe & Bond Inc., was named a 2020 Young Professional of the Year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA). This award recognizes the accomplishments of young engineers by highlighting their interesting and unique work, and the resulting impact on society.

Ohanian has been a key contributor to the successful rise of Tighe & Bond’s bridge-design and assessment practice over the last few years. His extensive experience and knowledge of engineering design have greatly contributed to the service the firm provides to municipal and DOT clients, including assisting numerous towns with applications for more than $3 million in grant funding for bridges. Beyond bridge design, his work includes business development, project management, marketing, mentoring, and engineering.

His hard work was recognized early in his career with Tighe & Bond when he was selected to join the first year-long Aspiring Leaders Program. This provided an opportunity to work directly with senior leadership and solve upcoming challenges. His contributions to the program resulted in the development of a new internal quality management committee, of which he is an active member.

“Eric is not only an exemplary leader, but he also embodies Tighe & Bond’s philosophy of giving back to the community,” said Bob Belitz, president and CEO of Tighe & Bond. “He has organized numerous office-wide programs that allow employees to be involved in charity events and a variety of service projects. I am looking forward to seeing him continue to strengthen his community service and have a positive impact on our firm and the engineering industry.”

Ohanian’s extensive volunteerism has led him to hold many leadership and committee roles with professional organizations such as Structural Engineers of Massachusetts and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. He also started an annual charity mini-golf tournament out of the firm’s Westwood office to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank. The engineers turned the office space into a mini-golf course for an evening and constructed holes for the course. Donations for the food bank were collected in the form of ‘greens fees’ at each player’s discretion. Ohanian then organized an outing to present the group donation and volunteer as a group at the Food Bank, sorting 22,000 pounds of food to provide 15,000 meals to people across Eastern Mass.

Ohanian will be honored by ACEC/MA alongside other award recipients at its 2021 awards gala.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — FutureHealth announced it has entered into an agreement with Insurance for Students, located in Delray Beach, Fla., to combine their expertise as one company. They have developed and will be distributing the next generation of student insurance products and services.

Pat White, president and founder of Insurance for Students, has been designing, marketing, and administering comprehensive student accident and health plans for colleges and universities for more than 40 years.

Kevin Saremi, president and founder of FutureHealth, has been providing online health-education programs that address mental health and other health-related issues within the student market. Prior to starting FutureHealth, he founded Consolidated Health Plans (now Wellfleet), a third-party administrator for student health-insurance products for more than 20 years, before selling the company to Berkshire Hathaway.

“The opportunity to enhance our portfolio of products and services will provide our clients with benefits not traditionally associated with broker services,” White said.

Added Saremi, “through Pat’s extensive broker background and our proprietary platform of mental-health and wellness programs, we are providing benefits that one would not typically expect from their insurance company.”

Daily News

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) and Hartford HealthCare announced a new drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 conveniently located on the Bradley International Airport property. The site, which will open Monday, Nov. 23, will be available to the public without appointment, and will also add capacity for Bradley passengers.

Testing will be provided daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m in a specially equipped tent in the airport’s Parking Lot 3 on Schoephoester Road.

“Hartford HealthCare is proud to help our state take another step forward in the fight against this pandemic,” said Jeffrey Flaks, the health system’s president and CEO. “The addition of this site at Bradley International will vastly expand testing capabilities and offer more convenience for residents in the northern part of our state, as well as passengers at the airport.”

Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, added that “we are very pleased to partner with Hartford HealthCare in bringing their expertise and added testing capacity to Bradley International Airport. The CAA firmly believes that testing is an important element as the world adjusts to the new way of traveling, and this new site helps ensure adequate testing availability and convenience for residents in the region as well as our passengers.”

No pre-registration or doctor’s order is required to obtain a COVID-19 test at this location, and testing is safely provided without leaving one’s vehicle. Tests, which involve a small nasal swab for both nostrils, take less than five minutes to administer, and results are usually provided within 72 hours. Billing for the test is handled through individuals’ insurance plans, and residents of Massachusetts may use this site to be tested.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Out of an abundance of caution, and at the advice of area healthcare leaders, some of whom were among those slated to be honored, BusinessWest and the Healthcare News have decided to postpone the Healthcare Heroes event slated for Wednesday, Nov. 18 to a future date.

This difficult but necessary decision was made as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the region and across the country, and as area hospitals see a surge in admissions due to the virus.

“Given what’s been happening the past several days, those of us at BusinessWest and the Healthcare News decided that this was certainly not the time to be staging any kind of live event, even one with the few dozen people that were slated to be in attendance,” said George O’Brien, editor and associate publisher of the sister publications. “This year’s honorees deserve a moment in the spotlight, and we will provide them that moment. But at this time, when local, regional, state, and national healthcare leaders are encouraging people to avoid gatherings of any size, we decided the prudent and responsible move is to postpone our event.”

This year’s honorees, who will be recognized on a date to be determined, include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield.

The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

Daily News

BECKET — A fire on Tuesday on the Jacob’s Pillow campus in Becket destroyed the Doris Duke Theatre. Firefighters arrived around 7 a.m. and remained on campus until midday, and the fire did not spread to any of the other buildings on the Jacob’s Pillow grounds. No one was injured in the incident, and a cause has not yet been determined.

“While we have lost some precious, irreplaceable items, those experiences and memories will last forever. We are heartbroken, and we are relieved that no one was hurt,” said Pamela Tatge, Jacob’s Pillow executive & artistic director. “On behalf of everyone at the Pillow, we are grateful for the firefighters and officials who have responded so quickly to this devastating emergency on our grounds. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world we have already received. We will rebuild.”’

The campus has been comparatively quiet since March, when it announced the annual summer dance festival would be cancelled due COVID-19. Studio and housing spaces recently opened up to a small number of artists this fall for COVID-compliant Pillow Lab residencies.

The Doris Duke Theatre opened in 1990, the second of the Pillow’s two indoor theatres on its 220-acre campus.

Daily News

HADLEY — TommyCar Auto Group, which operates five car dealerships in Hampshire County, is expanding into the auto-body business with the opening of its new TommyCar Collision Center in Northampton. The center, which is now open, is located at 32 Damon Road, next door to the auto group’s Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership.

“This is a natural extension of our existing services,” said Carla Cosenzi, who co-owns TommyCar Auto Group with her brother, Tom. “We are known throughout the area not just for the quality and selection of our brands, but for the exceptional customer service we provide through our sales and service departments. Our comprehensive auto-body shop offers access to an additional level of expertise.”

TommyCar Collision will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free estimates. Services will include, but are not limited to, automotive glass replacement; body and bumper repair; detailing; frame straightening; full-service mechanical services; painting; paintless dent repair; repair after hail damage; repairs for scratches, dents, and door dings; and windshield repair and replacement

To learn more or schedule service, call (413) 517-3855 or visit tommycarcollision.com.

Daily News

LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge, Founder of Contribution Clothing LLC, launched the mission-driven online boutique, www.contributionclothing.com, in June 2019. The boutique, which retails new women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations that share a vision of empowering women and girls. The woman-led boutique is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts.

This holiday season, Contribution Clothing is promoting Gifts That Give Back, a holiday gift-guide collection featuring select items each week leading up to Christmas. The collection will include pre-sale items not typically available at the boutique, with price points of $50 and under to keep holiday shopping affordable.

“With the pandemic still among us, this will allow me as a small-business owner to provide my customers with a wider variety of items to gift to their loved ones this holiday season,” Partridge said. “Each week, the holiday collection will provide different gift options with hopes of making holiday shopping easier while also spreading awareness around female empowerment and the importance of supporting small business.”

Since the launch of the website, Contribution Clothing has provided monetary donations to a variety of organizations, such as Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations a Cure for Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Girls on the Run, Christina’s House, the Care Center, Bay Path University, and Safe Passage. The ambitious clothing line hasn’t stopped there, also supporting many community-based events and fundraisers, such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendars for Girls Inc. and Girls on the Run, and the Unify Against Bullying Fashion show, and Partridge even created her own volunteer event in support of Christina’s House this past quarter.

Daily News

BOSTON — Revenues at Massachusetts’ three casinos dipped slightly as coronavirus cases climb and the state faces more restrictions ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Gross gaming revenues at the state’s casinos totaled about $69 million in October, down about $1 million from September, according to the state’s Gaming Commission.

MGM Springfield generated about $17.5 million in total revenues in October, while Encore Boston Harbor reported about $40 million, and Plainridge Park reported roughly $10 million. The revenues generated nearly $20 million in tax collections for the state.

Monthly revenue numbers at each of the facilities have remained relatively unchanged since they reopened this summer following the statewide economic shutdown imposed at the start of the pandemic, but the totals are down from what the facilities were generating prior to the pandemic. For example, in January, the three casinos generated about $80 million in gross gambling revenues, delivering nearly $22 million in state tax revenue.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — In what might be the biggest promotion in the 104-year history of the Big E, the fair is selling ‘Golden Ticket’ lifetime passes to the annual event for just 100 customers.

The tickets will be sold on the fair’s website, www.thebige.com, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. until the 100 tickets are gone. Each $1,000 ticket will offer lifetime admission to the Big E for its holder and an accompanying guest, along with free parking and a host of annual surprises and benefits.

“The Golden Ticket offers a lifetime of wonder for its lucky purchasers and their guests, offering years and years of the fair as a VIP forever,” said Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition. “This is the time of year we typically put one fair to bed and begin the long, exciting road to the next one. With the unfortunate derailment in 2020, we are fully committed to making the 2021 edition our greatest yet. The Golden Ticket is the ideal promotion to get under way with style and sizzle.”

Purchased tickets will be delivered to recipients in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

The Big E has already begun to announce plans for 2021, including a headlining concert with country superstar Brad Paisley.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Silverscape Designs announced Monday it will be going out of business, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported. A going-out-of-business sale at the store begins Tuesday, Nov. 24.

In May 2019, Silverscape Designs put the 8,000-square-foot building up for sale for $2 million. Silverscape Designs owner Wally Perlman told the Gazette at the time that his family intended to keep the business going. But the 77-year-old owner has now decided to close the high-quality jewelry business with his retirement. Perlman took over the business after the passing of his late brother, Dennis Perlman, a jeweler and the company’s founder, who died in 2000.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — The monthly virtual Lunch and Learn series at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence announced that on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Michele Feinstein, an elder-law attorney with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, will talk about how to protect one’s elders, including how to safeguard their wishes in the event of incapacity.

Feinstein brings more than 30 years of experience in elder law and will address the planning that should be undertaken and the resources available to help safeguard a parent’s choices and wishes.

“Protecting Your Elders: What Tools Do You Need in Your Toolbox?” will begin at noon and will be followed by a question-and-answer session, a raffle, and a virtual tour. RSVP to Christina Tuohey at (413) 567-6212 or [email protected]. A confirmation and Zoom invite will be e-mailed to registrants prior to the meeting.

Daily News

SHEFFIELD — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation announced a new grant program to support community-building efforts that can bridge differences and drive positive change at the local level. “Bridging Divides, Healing Communities” will support activities by organizations and groups that are embedded in their communities and bring together residents to build and strengthen relationships, especially among people who may hold different views or come from different backgrounds.

“The social fabric everywhere is being stressed, and long-term consequences in our region are possible if we do not work together,” said Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. “This new grant program aims to create opportunities for productive discourse and engagement to bridge differences, build trust, and promote reconciliation.”

Berkshire Taconic will award grants between $500 and $2,500 to support small-scale, community-based actions such as virtual forums, service projects, and artistic and cultural activities. Applicants should consider how their projects will create new or strengthen existing relationships among people of different backgrounds, experiences, or beliefs; forge connections around a shared experience through which participants can explore different points of view; and bring residents together to pursue a common goal. Compliance with state guidelines will be required for any in-person activities. Berkshire Bank is providing funding support for these grants.

Eligible applicants include nonprofits, schools, municipalities and local government, and faith-based organizations (for non-religious activities) located in Berkshire County in Massachusetts, Columbia County and Northeast Dutchess County in New York, and Northwest Litchfield County in Connecticut. Community groups may also apply through a fiscal sponsorship with an eligible organization.

The first deadline for applications is Tuesday, Dec. 1. To apply, visit www.berkshiretaconic.org/healing.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign.

HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative.

The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption.

“We realized pretty quickly that our students needed extra financial help and support to get through this stressful and challenging time,” said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, whose office spearheaded the campaign. “Community colleges serve some of the most vulnerable populations, and COVID-19 has amplified existing inequities in society and highlighted critical needs the ‘Together HCC’ campaign was created to help address. It’s very satisfying and encouraging to see the campaign celebrated as a national model.”

The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist.

“The Bellwether College Consortium prides itself on identifying and celebrating replicable, scalable, and results-based programs and models and disseminating these highly lauded examples of institutional success to peer institutions,” said Rose Martinez, director of the Bellwether College Consortium.

After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students.

For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

“Together HCC wasn’t just about providing financial support,” Sbriscia said. “It was also about providing moral support and reminding students and other members of the college community that we are all in this together.”

Finalists for Bellwether Awards are invited to join the consortium and take part in consortium workshops, events, and other activities. Award finalists will undergo a rigorous second and final round of review before the winners are announced at the virtual 2021 Community College Futures Assembly in January.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Elms College Graduate Admission Office will hold virtual open houses on the following dates: Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. — information on graduate programs in education (MED/MAT); and Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 from 6 to 7 p.m. — information session about all Elms College graduate programs.

These sessions will allow prospective students to meet with program directors, alumni, and graduate admission counselors. Elms College has 30 graduate, post-graduate, and certificate programs offered in a variety of models, including hybrid, online, and on campus.

Register for a session at www.elms.edu/graduate-studies/visit. If you cannot attend the open house and are interested in information or applying, e-mail [email protected], call (413) 265-2456, or visit www.elms.edu/grad.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer a four-week online winter session in December, an affordable opportunity for college students whether they’re enrolled at STCC or another school.

The session runs Wednesday, Dec. 23 through Tuesday, Jan. 19. Registration for current students opens Nov. 18. Registration for new students begins Nov. 23.

STCC offers the most affordable online classes in Springfield. Most winter classes are designed for easy transfer to both public and private campuses, saving students hundreds of dollars per course. Some winter classes also save students money with free textbooks.

“Winter-session classes are the perfect opportunity for college students to earn college credit at a reduced cost during the traditional winter-break period,” STCC Dean of Academic Initiatives Matthew Gravel said. “The majority of classes available during winter session can be used as electives at both community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. Our winter classes are taught by faculty who are experts in their fields, and who have years of experience in delivering online instruction.”

The short duration of these classes will result in an intensive, fast-paced learning experience. Motivation, steady participation, and persistence will be key to students’ success in these classes, Gravel added.

To help ensure their success during the winter session, STCC allows students to register for no more than nine credits in winter. Courses include art, biology, college research, computer applications, English, first-year experience, history, management, mathematics, medical assisting, medical lab tech, music, philosophy, psychology, and sociology.

Blackboard orientation sessions to prepare students for online classes will be offered prior to the start of the winter semester.

Registration for winter session ends Dec. 23 and is available online at www.stcc.edu/winter or by calling the Registrar’s Office at (413) 755-4321.

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, 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.

Episode 39: Nov. 16, 2020

George O’Brien talks with Tony Cignoli, president of the A.L. Cignoli Company

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Tony Cignoli, president of the A.L. Cignoli Company, a political consulting firm. The two discuss what happened at the national election earlier this month — and what didn’t happen. They also discuss what the country, and specifically the business community, might expect from a Biden administration and how the president-elect and his team might address the pandemic and the significant damage it has already done to the economy.  It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

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Daily News

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has provided more than $13,500 in donations to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts during 2020. These donations have been facilitated through community giving campaigns in partnership with staff and members of the credit union.

Early this year, UMassFive supported the Food Bank by donating $1,000 to help offset the increase in demand presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit union also sponsored and participated in the Food Bank’s annual Will Bike 4 Food event. A team of 11 UMassFive employees raised money and rode bikes as part of the event, which took place virtually, resulting in donations of $3,422.

In the interest of supporting the community, UMassFive also encouraged participation from those who bank at the credit union. A campaign called “Share Your Story” allowed members to choose a local organization to receive a $25 donation from UMassFive on their behalf. A total of $5,000 in donations was split between five local organizations, of which $1,300 was donated to the Food Bank. Members were also encouraged to redeem their earned Buzz Points — a debit-card spending reward program — as charitable donations, which has contributed the equivalent of $2,830 in donations to the Food Bank this year.

UMassFive’s latest endeavor was a “Spend and Give” campaign, which involved a collaboration with its members and credit-card servicer PSCU. During the month of July, 1% of every purchase made on an eligible member’s UMassFive credit card was donated to the Food Bank. Based on member purchases, the credit union met its goal of raising $2,500 and unlocked a matching grant from PSCU, resulting in a $5,000 overall donation to the Food Bank. This donation brought UMassFive’s total contribution to the organization so far in 2020 to $13,552.

“UMassFive has been a dedicated supporter of the Food Bank over the years and has stepped up their support over this challenging year,” said Food Bank Corporate Relations Officer Jillian Morgan. “UMassFive’s contributions through their various campaigns have raised enough funds to provide over 50,000 meals to neighbors in need. We are grateful for their continued commitment to ending hunger.”

This November, UMassFive will be encouraging its members to support Monte’s (Masked) March put on by WRSI/the River. Members will be able to donate their Buzz Points to the Food Bank as part of this effort.

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Center for Teaching and Learning will present a virtual event with Robin DeRosa, co-director of the Plymouth State University (PSU) Open Learning and Teaching Collaborative, on Monday, Nov. 23 from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. With a talk titled “Zooming Humans: A Framework for Teaching During Times of Crisis,” DeRosa will discuss how educators can respond to the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This event, geared toward faculty, staff, and the MCLA community, is also open to the public, and local educators are encouraged to attend. For more information and to register, click here.

DeRosa is a national leader in open pedagogy and an advocate for public infrastructures and institutions for higher education. She was a professor in the English Department at Plymouth State University for 15 years before becoming the director of the Interdisciplinary Studies program, a position she held for four years. As the new director of the Open Learning and Teaching Collaborative, she works with students, faculty, staff, and administrative colleagues on exploring learner-driven architectures for projects, courses, partnerships, and programs at PSU.

COVID-19 has pushed students, faculty, and institutions into new learning patterns. These patterns are at various times exciting, exhausting, and exasperating. As we struggle to navigate unfamiliar online environments and the fallout of maintaining educational continuity during a global pandemic, we may find ourselves adrift in a sea of technology tools and a sense that our core mission as educators and learners is lost in the chaos of just making it through each week. In this presentation, DeRosa will present a framework for organizing educational responses to crises like coronavirus, and help faculty and staff find a practice-based rudder to guide the development of assignments, courses, and institutional structures. Ultimately, she will suggest that how we respond to the challenges that COVID-19 presents can set us on a path for an educational future that is more adaptable, connected, and equitable — and more humane — for learners.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center at Holyoke Community College (HCC) will hold an online cannabis-industry roundtable for employers on Friday, Nov. 20 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. over Zoom.

Featured presenters will include representatives from Elevate Northeast, HCC’s community and workforce training partner, and officials from other Massachusetts-based cannabis businesses and organizations. They include Cara Burnham-Crabb, director of Education, Elevate Northeast; TaShonda Vincent Lee, director of Community Outreach, Elevate Northeast; Beth Waterfall, executive director, Elevate Northeast; Gene Ray, vice president of Laboratory Operations, Garden Remedies; Tim Shaw, chief operating officer, MariMed; and Marion McNabb, CEO and co-founder, Cannabis Community Care and Research Network.

Discussion will focus on workforce challenges, business outlook, and training needs of cannabis employers as well as the services, supports, and programs offered by the Cannabis Education Center. Breakout rooms will concentrate on specific industry areas, including cultivation, culinary, medical, retail, and processing.

To register for the roundtable, visit hcc.edu/cannatable-11-20.

The Cannabis Education Center has also announced its spring training programs for people who want to work in the cannabis industry. The center will offer an intensive, two-day Cannabis Core Training program over Zoom on Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, 2021. Students who complete the core training can then register for spring 2021 classes in one of four cannabis industry career tracks: Cultivation Assistant (Feb. 6-21), Extraction Technician (Feb. 27 to March 14), Culinary Assistant (April 3-18), and Patient Services Associate (May 1-16).

The cost of the two-day core training session is $595. Each career-track program is $799. To register for the January Cannabis Core Training class, visit hcc.edu/cannabis-core.

Daily News

WARE — Country Bank recently donated $10,000 to Behavioral Health Network (BHN) to assist with the Under 5 Thrive program and the Kid Stop Child Center based in Ware. BHN serves nearly 50,000 people annually in 40 locations throughout Western Mass. in areas including mental health, children’s services, and addiction and recovery.

“Thank you so much for this important contribution to our children’s services in Ware. This will go a long way toward helping local families with resources and assistance to keep their children safe and healthy in the coming year,” said Susan West, senior vice president of BHN.

Over the past eight years, Country Bank has donated a total of $315,000 to support the work BHN offers to the region.

“The pandemic has certainly placed a strain on our local communities; child care has been one area that has been hugely impacted and has left families trying to balance childcare needs with work schedules,” said Shelley Regin, senior vice president, Marketing at Country Bank and advisory board member at BHN. “It has not been easy for anyone throughout the last several months, and we are so grateful to have these places right here in our community to help support local families. The essential programs that BHN provides aligns perfectly with Country Bank’s mission to help improve the livelihood of those in our communities.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest will honor its third annual class of Women of Impact on Thursday, Dec. 10 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel.

This year’s class, like those in 2018 and 2019, demonstrates the sheer diversity of the ways women leaders in our region are making an impact on the worlds of business, nonprofits, health, and the community, even — and perhaps especially — during this particularly challenging year. Profiled in the Nov. 9 issue of BusinessWest, they are:

• Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center, who has led by example, with a servant’s heart, in both her healthcare career and in her ministry;

• Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, who is using her influence to help other women find — and use — their voice;

• Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield, whose vision of a healthier community includes social equity;

• Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts, who continues to be both a role model and advocate for women and girls;

• Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney, who set out to transform her region’s criminal-justice system and has done so, in myriad ways;

• Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing, who has transformed organizations through empathy-based leadership;

• Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College, whose leadership has been tested and sharpened by the challenges wrought by a pandemic; and

• Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet, who has grown her agency dramatically by recognizing needs and welcoming innovative ideas to meet them.

The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), and WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor). Tickets cost $90 per person. To reserve a spot, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100; e-mail [email protected]; or visit businesswest.com.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair, has been named to the “Best of the Best” listing for 2020 by the American Bus Assoc. The listing includes events and attractions from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“Best of the Best” honors outstanding travel-industry members who go above and beyond for the group-tour industry. Categories include Adventure, Culture, Entertainment, Festivals & Events, Food & Beverage, Lodging, and Shopping.

The Big E, which has also been named a “Top 100 Event” and an “Internationally Known Event” by the ABA in recent years, is featured in the Festival & Events category. Bright Nights at Forest Park was also named in this category.

“We are honored to be named among the ‘Best of the Best’ by the American Bus Association,” said Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition. “We have had a long relationship with the ABA and annually host 800 or more motor coaches at the Big E. Because our bus business is so important, we constructed the Gate 1 Transportation Center to serve guests who depend on buses to visit the fair. And we can’t wait to welcome people back.”

Plans are underway for the 2021 Big E, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. A concert by country superstar Brad Paisley was announced last month. For more information, visit www.thebige.com.

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — In June, Monson Savings Bank announced its plan to open a full‐service branch located at 61 North Main St. in East Longmeadow. While opening a new location during the height of the COVID‐19 pandemic may seem like an uncommon move, the bank’s leaders felt it was important to serve the East Longmeadow community.

“Where we are seeing other banks pulling back and closing locations, like in East Longmeadow, we see it as an opportunity to expand, to fill a need for personal and business banking in a community,” said Steve Lowell, CEO of Monson Savings Bank, which recently opened the East Longmeadow location. “As a mutually chartered bank, we were incorporated to serve the community. So, when new opportunities become available that allow us to serve our customers even better, no matter what the challenges, we always make them a priority.”

The newly renovated East Longmeadow branch features an open-concept lobby layout, a team of knowledgeable and friendly banking professionals, two drive‐up lanes, a 24‐hour drive‐up ATM, and a coin machine. It also has offices specifically for mortgage lending, investment, and business-banking specialists who will be available to customers on site or by appointment.

“While we love seeing our customers when they visit our branch lobbies, we also understand that some may not be comfortable in the current environment,” Lowell said. “We are also serving customers through drive-up, by appointment, and with cutting-edge digital banking options.”

Added Aimee Kohn, branch manager, “the team here at the East Longmeadow branch is very excited, and we look forward to providing residents and business owners with banking solutions to make their lives better. We have a lot of customers living in East Longmeadow already, and we are very eager to welcome them to the branch, as we know they are happy about our new office here.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will host a wellness and fitness retreat and an event featuring women leaders on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 18 and 19, at 12:15 p.m. The free virtual online Zoom events are open to the community as well as STCC students, faculty, and staff.

Lidya Rivera-Early, director of Community Engagement at STCC, said the wellness and fitness retreat on Nov. 18 will be an opportunity to learn tips for improving mental and physical health.

“It can be difficult to keep your spirits up during the ‘new normal’ we are living through, when many people are working from home and not seeing friends,” she said. “Anxiety levels tend to increase. We want to help people find ways to feel better physically and mentally. The retreat will offer an opportunity to engage in mind and body workouts and engage in a conversation about self-care.”

Rivera-Early invited Latoya Bosworth, a life coach and writer, and Karla Medina, a master trainer, fitness entrepreneur, and business owner, to speak and present at the retreat.

The next day, on Nov. 19, STCC will host the second part in the “We the Women” series, which highlights women leaders in the community.

“The three women participating all have a connection to STCC,” Rivera-Early said. “They all work at STCC in different capacities and come from different backgrounds, but they bring the same passion for creating opportunities for our students.”

The event will feature a talk by Kiyota Garcia, interim assistant dean of Student Initiatives at STCC, and Darcey Kemp, assistant vice president of Student Affairs at STCC. The third speaker, Lakisha Coppedge, works as student liaison in the Early Childhood Education Department at STCC.

To register for the wellness and fitness retreat, visit stcc.io/wellness. To register for the “We the Women” event, visit stcc.io/wethewomen2020.

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the recent hiring of Kandra Tranghese as vice president and chief financial officer.

“We are so pleased to welcome Kandy to the Monson Savings Bank team,” President Dan Moriarty said. “With Kandy’s education and comprehensive years of experience within the banking industry, including the auditing of financial institutions, we know that she will be integral in the continued success and growth of the bank.”

In her role as vice president and chief financial officer, Tranghese will be responsible for planning, directing, and controlling the bank’s financial plans, policies, and accounting practices.

Tranghese most recently served for 23 years as senior audit manager for Wolf & Co., P.C., a regional CPA firm providing financial accounting and audit services. In this role, she was responsible for managing a team of professionals and providing audit and other assurance services to financial institutions.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fairfield University and is a licensed certified public accountant (CPA), as well as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.

An active participant in the community, Tranghese currently serves as treasurer for the Wilbraham Hampden Academic Trust and previously was president of the Children’s Study Home. She looks forward to participating with Monson Savings Bank on future community-outreach initiatives.

“I am very happy to join Monson Savings Bank,” she said. “As an auditor for over 20 years, observing financial institutions and how they work, it is exciting to be a part of the team involved in making the behind-the-scenes decisions — decisions that ensure Monson Savings Bank continues to be a staple in the local communities.”

Daily News

HADLEY — Valley Vodka Inc. announced that its V-One Original and its new V-One Peppermint were honored with two of the highest awards, the Double Gold medal, at the Warsaw Spirits Competition this month.

Now in its third year, the number of entries and producers in the Warsaw Spirits Competition was record-breaking, with hundreds of alcoholic beverages from more than 25 countries in this year’s tasting. Because of COVID-19, all alcohols were blind-tasted over a 45-day period.

“V-One Vodka has won numerous awards over the last 15 years, but to be rated Double Gold at such a prestigious tasting in the birthplace of vodka is mind-blowing. Poland has an over 700-year history with vodka production. It is like creating a champagne and winning best sparkling wine in France,” said Paul Kozub, owner and founder of V-One Vodka. “I started V-One with $6,000 and a dream of creating the world’s most drinkable vodka; winning this award is beyond my wildest expectations.”

At age 27, Kozub started crafting vodka in the basement of his Hadley home to honor his recently deceased Polish grandfather and entrepreneurial father. Two years later, he took his recipe to Poland, where it has been crafted since 2005. In the summer of 2019, Valley Vodka Inc. completed a multi-million-dollar purchase and 12,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s own distillery in Kamień, Poland, about two hours southeast of the capital of Warsaw and just a few miles from the birthplace of vodka.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a donation of 90 backpacks for their elementary-school girls from the Junior League of Greater Springfield (JLGS).

Girls Inc. of the Valley aims to inspire all girls to see themselves as leaders with the skills and capabilities to improve and influence their local communities. This donation from JLGS, a nonprofit organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, allows both organizations to accomplish their missions.

The Junior League of Greater Springfield is committed to the promotion of literacy and serving women and children in the community. With the backpack-donation project, its volunteers recognized an urgent need for the girls of the Pioneer Valley and jumped into service, Assistant Treasurer Jaime Margolis said. “It has never been more important to us to help lift and support young women in our community. We hope to continue to build on the relationship between Girls Inc. of the Valley and Junior League of Greater Springfield for a long time to come.”

JLGS aims to improve the lives of children and families in the community by collaborating with other organizations to assist families in need and to promote literacy and education. This directly aligns with the mission of Girls Inc. of the Valley, helping both parties accomplish their goals.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will host a virtual event that explores gender stereotypes and healthy relationships on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. Titled “The Heart of a Father,” the Zoom event is free and open to the public. Register and find more information at stcc.io/heart.

Thursday’s event is the second in a three-part series created this fall to engage men in important conversations that impact communities of color as well as provide a space to connect male students with leaders in the community, said Vonetta Lightfoot, Multicultural Affairs operation manager at STCC.

Lightfoot and Cynthia Breunig, Violence Prevention coordinator at STCC, created the series. Thursday’s event will feature a moderated discussion with each panelist followed by a dialogue with the audience.

Some of the panelists in the series include M. Quentin Williams, author, educator, international speaker, former FBI agent, former federal prosecutor, and former NFL and NBA executive; and Kevin Powell, author, activist, writer, and entrepreneur.

The final event in the series, “Black and Blue: A Dialogue on Police Violence and Men of Color,” is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

Daily News

BOSTON — Massachusetts employers remained pessimistic during October amid conflicting signals from the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost four-tenths of a point to 46.2 last month, up from a low of 38.4 in April but still 14.7 points lower than a year ago. The report was compiled prior to the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Overall business confidence was dampened by darkening views of both the state and national economies. The confidence reading for the Massachusetts economy has tumbled 24.9 points during the past 12 months.

The report comes a week after MassBenchmarks reported that the Massachusetts economy grew at a record 37.7% clip during the third quarter, regaining some of the ground it lost when the Commonwealth imposed a broad lockdown during the early months of the pandemic. But the specter of lockdowns also reappeared in October as the U.S. hit a daily global record with 100,000 new COVID-19 cases.

“Massachusetts companies in many sectors have continued to generate products and services through the ups and downs of the pandemic. But they realize that surging caseloads and the expiration of federal stimulus will slow the economy again as we move into the fourth quarter,” said Raymond Torto, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors (BEA).

One participant in the confidence survey noted that “there is a big divide between growth industries and industries such as travel and tourism, which continue to suffer.”

The AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 140 Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative.

The constituent indicators that make up the Index were mixed during October. Employer confidence in their own companies rose slightly to 49.3, nearly 10 points lower than in October 2019. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth lost 1.2 points to 42.9, while the U.S. Index measuring conditions nationally declined 2.4 points to 40.2.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, was essentially flat at 44.0. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, fell 1.8 points to 48.4.

The Employment Index increased 0.9 points to 49.5, just short of optimistic territory. Despite the COVID-driven economic downturn, many employers continue to report challenges with hiring skilled workers.

Small companies (46.6) were slightly more bullish than medium-sized companies (46.2) and large companies (45.8). Non-manufacturers (47.0) were more bullish than manufacturing companies (45.5).

Barry Bluestone, retired professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, noted that the economy continues to be whipsawed by seemingly contradictory trends.

“More than 60,000 renter households in Massachusetts currently face the prospect of eviction, while, at the same time, the average price of a single-family home in Massachusetts surged 19.5% during September,” Bluestone said. “It mirrors what we see in the overall economy, where there is a clear disparity by industry in the consequences of the economic downturn.”

AIM President and CEO John Regan, also a BEA member, said the ability of Massachusetts to moderate the spread of COVID without repeating the devastating spring lockdown is essential to maintaining positive economic momentum.

“Hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors remain out of work, staring at bleak prospects during what is shaping up to be a long winter,” he noted, adding that the employers who make up AIM’s reopening task force, many of whom have operated as essential businesses throughout the pandemic, “continue to work closely with the Baker administration to ensure that the Commonwealth is able to balance public health and safety with economic survival.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that attorney Joshua Woods has joined the firm. Woods is an associate and a member of the firm’s business and commercial law team, and is licensed in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Prior to joining Bacon Wilson, Woods practiced law in Hartford, Conn. and also in the Boston area, where he handled a wide variety of business matters including all aspects of corporate formation, franchising, joint ventures, leasing, and business and commercial litigation. He attended Western New England University School of Law, earning his juris doctor in 2017, and earned a BBA from Hofstra University in 2013. He will practice primarily from Bacon Wilson’s office in Springfield, working with clients throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.