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Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that Gregory Lindenmuth has joined Berkshire as executive vice president, chief risk officer, reporting to the bank’s president, Richard Marotta.

Lindenmuth joins Berkshire Bank from the FDIC, where he worked for 24 years, most recently as a senior risk examiner for the Division of Risk Management Supervision. Through this position, he has gained expert understanding of capital markets, including investments, derivatives, securitizations, market risk, liquidity/funds management, and mortgage banking. He also excels in modeling profit plans, establishing budgets, and setting strategic objectives. In his new role, he will lead the loan workout, credit, and enterprise risk management teams.

“Greg’s broad banking knowledge and significant expertise in capital markets, interest-rate risk, mortgage banking, and overall risk management position him to provide important strategic direction as Berkshire continues to grow,” Marotta said.

Lindenmuth holds a bachelor’s degree in operations management from the Plattsburgh State University of New York and an MBA in corporate finance from Clarkson University. With the FDIC, he was a capital markets, mortgage banking, and fraud specialist and a member of the National Examination Procedures Committee. He also co-developed and co-presented the FDIC’s technical-assistance videos on interest-rate risk and has been an active speaker at New England Directors’ Colleges.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Department of Sport Management and Recreation recently received reaccreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions (COAPRT) for its recreation management major. This award was the culmination of a year-long process led by Recreation Management Program Director Ariel Rodriguez.

COAPRT grants accreditation to academic programs that meet or exceed stated criteria of educational quality. In the U.S., accreditation of professional preparation curricula is conferred by non-governmental bodies, which are often closely associated with professional associations in the field.

The recreation management major prepares students for administrative and managerial positions in a variety of recreation organizations, including not-for-profit, municipal, campus, private for-profit, and resort and commercial industries. The department also offers majors in sport management and therapeutic recreation management.

“We are very excited about the future of our Recreation Management program,” said Springfield College Department of Sport Management and Recreation Chair Kevin McAllister. “COAPRT has recognized us for the program’s educational and professional excellence, which is a testament to Rodriguez’s vision for the program.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C., a full-service law firm representing individual and business clients throughout Massachusetts and New England, announced that the firm has been honored with nine top-tier rankings by The Best Lawyers in America.

This year Robinson Donovan, P.C., was awarded top-tier rankings in nine different practice areas, across three different tiers in the Springfield metropolitan area. They include Tier 1 rankings in corporate law, personal-injury litigation – defendants, real-estate law, and trust and estate law; Tier 2 rankings in employment law – management, family law, tax law, and litigation, specifically in labor and employment; and a Tier 3 ranking in personal-injury litigation – plaintiffs.

“Attaining so many distinctions across numerous different practice areas speaks volumes about the talented attorneys at the firm,” said Partner James Martin. “These top-tier rankings not only positively reflect on our legal competence as a firm, but also on our proficiency.”

Best Lawyers is the oldest legal peer-review publication. A Best Lawyers selection is broadly regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting comprehensive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. Lawyers are not allowed to pay any fee to be included.

The rankings are based on an evaluation process that includes both client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from leading attorneys in specified practice areas, and final reviews from law firms as part of the formal review process and selection. To qualify for the tier rankings, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metropolitan area.

Daily News

WORCESTER — Thirty-seven Massachusetts employers were awarded a total of $533,149 to help train nearly 4,400 employees in workplace safety and the prevention of injury, illness and death, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced today.

“Worker and workplace safety is an important priority for companies and employees across the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to award this funding to ensure companies are able to provide training to educate their workers and keep them safe on the job.”

The Department of Industrial Accidents administers and manages the Workplace Safety Training and Education Grant program to promote safe, healthy workplace conditions through training, education, and other preventive programs for businesses and employees covered by the state workers’ compensation law. In fiscal year 2016, the Baker-Polito administration will award a total $700,000 for the safety grant program.

“We are pleased that thousands of workers in the Commonwealth receive training each year in order to make themselves and their work environments safer day to day,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said.

Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker made the announcement with the management and employees of Sweet Kitchen Bar, a restaurant, dessert bar, and caterer in Worcester, and one of the grant recipients.

The maximum grant amount per employer is $25,000. Businesses are awarded training grants through a competitive application process. The Department of Industrial Accidents is opening another round of applications soon.

In Western Mass. organizations that received grants include:

• Center for Human Development Inc., Springfield, $9,630. CHD, a nonprofit organization, delivers a broad array of critical social and mental health services. Training will include CPR/first aid;

• Environmental Integrity Company, LLC, Holyoke, $6,527. Environmental Integrity is a full-service electronic recycling and data-destruction company providing green electronic solutions to small, medium, and enterprise customers. Its proposed training includes driver safety, warehouse safety, job-safety analysis, and industrial truck/forklift; and

• Maybury Associates Inc., East Longmeadow, $8,830.20. Maybury is a full-service provider of material-handling products and services. Training will include OSHA 10 & 30.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) has launched its Capacity Program, which was created to promote a vibrant nonprofit sector in the Pioneer Valley. The program provides resources and support so that organizations can maximize their missions and, in turn, enrich the quality of life of people in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.

The first offering of the Capacity Program will be a four-session training program for organizations interested in enhancing their organizational effectiveness. CFWM is bringing additional nonprofit experts to the Pioneer Valley to assist local organizations to better support their missions. Since space is limited to 12-15 organizations, CFWM conducted a competitive application process to select participants, which will be eligible to receive a $3,000 mini-grant to address a specific organizational need. Applications are now closed.

This spring, as part of the Capacity Program, the CFWM will promote philanthropy across the Pioneer Valley with Valley Gives Day on May 2. This will be the fifth edition of Valley Gives. Last year’s spring event was successful in bringing new donors into philanthropic giving, as 47% of all donors had never participated in Valley Gives previously.

“Valley Gives is a practical way for people living in the Pioneer Valley to show their support for the many organizations that make our region a great place to live,” said Valley Gives organizer Michael DeChiara. “This is an opportunity for people and businesses to invest locally to support our quality of life.”

Mary Lynn Sabourin, development director for Franklin Land Trust, said the trust received numerous new donors during last May’s event.

“The Franklin Land Trust has participated in Valley Gives for the past four years,” she said. “We consider our participation hugely successful for our nonprofit, raising over $50,000 in 2016, with close to half of the 286 donors being brand-new to the organization. We are excited to be part of a regional giving day that strengthens the Valley that we call home.”

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts is celebrating 25 years of encouraging generosity in the region this year. The foundation has given more than $140 million in grants, scholarships, and loans since 1991 in addition to promoting nonprofit sustainability.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest magazine, in conjunction with Presenting Sponsor Comcast Business, will present the sixth annual Western Mass. Business Expo on Thursday, Nov. 3 at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.

Now a fall tradition for the region’s business community, the show will feature more than 100 exhibitors, more than 2,000 attendees, dozens of educational seminars, special presentations, breakfast and lunch programs, and much more. Some of the myriad highlights to this year’s show include:

• The Springfield Regional Chamber’s kickoff breakfast featuring keynoter Laura Masulis, MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Fellow for Springfield;

• Demonstrations of virtual-reality technology that will allow Expo attendees to see for themselves;

• Robotics demonstrations and a ‘First Stronghold’ competition, presented by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology);

• Seminars on a wide range of business topics ranging from motivating Millennials to putting virtual reality to work for your company; from taking full advantage of Big Data to using robotics programs to stimulate interest in STEM careers;

• The Professional Women’s Chamber’s November Luncheon featuring Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis;

• A pitch contest, presented by SPARK Holyoke, featuring several startup companies;

• A ‘Where Are They Now’ program featuring several participants in Valley Venture Mentor programs;

• The day-capping Expo Social, and much, much more.

“There are a great many challenges to doing business today, from harnessing the latest technology to recruiting, developing, and retaining young talent, to creating an environment where several generations can work, and thrive, together,” said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti. “Expo organizers have created a full day of programming designed to help businesses cope with these challenges and grow their ventures.”

For more information on the Expo or to register, visit www.wmbexpo.com.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Combining the celebration of creativity with the generosity of giving, the United Way of Franklin County is holding its 17th annual Art & Leisure Auction on Friday, Nov. 18 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenfield Community College Dinning Commons.

Thanks to the generous support of local artists, businesses, and individuals, this year’s auction will feature more than 200 items, including Springfield Thunderbirds tickets; two $1,000 Southwest Airlines gift certificates; a one-week stay in Stowe, Vt.; a day trip for two to Martha’s Vineyard by private airplane; a season pass to Silverthorne Theater; gift certificates from numerous area business; handcrafted works of art; framed prints, paintings, and photographs; Tom White Pottery, fabric arts; and jewelry.

Featuring state Rep. Paul Mark as guest auctioneer, the event will feature leisure items and gifts from the Pioneer Valley and beyond for live and silent auctions. The United Way Art & Leisure Auction is presented by Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Greenfield Savings Bank, Steve Lewis Subaru, WAHI/Bear Country, and the Recorder.

The event will benefit the United Way of Franklin County and its 27 partner agencies. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments are included included in the cost of admission, which is $20 per person in advance or $25 at the door. To purchase advance tickets, visit www.uw-fc.org, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 772-2168.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced it has once again received a Tier 1 ranking in five different practice areas for the Springfield metropolitan area by The Best Lawyers in America.

The firm was recognized for its excellence in arbitration, employment law in management, labor law in management, labor and employment litigation, and mediation. Notably, all of these practice areas received Tier 1 rankings, signifying a score within a certain percentage of the highest-scoring firms in the metropolitan area.

“We do our best every day to present our clients with legal advice that reflects an understanding of each of their unique businesses,” said Partner Timothy Murphy. “I think the firm’s high degree of expertise and proficiency is demonstrated in our continued ranking as a Tier 1 law firm by Best Lawyers.”

Attaining a Tier 1 ranking in so many different practice areas marks a strong combination of quality law practice and expansive legal experience, and reflects one of the highest levels of respect within the legal community, he added.

The rankings are based on an evaluation process that includes both client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from leading attorneys in specified practice areas, and final reviews from law firms as part of the formal review process and selection. To be eligible for the rankings, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metropolitan area.

Best Lawyers is the oldest peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting comprehensive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for an attorney are positive enough for inclusion in Best Lawyers, that attorney must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain on the list for each edition. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to be included on the lists.

Daily News

BOSTON — Confidence among Massachusetts employers rose for a second consecutive month during October, bolstered by a surprising improvement in the outlook among manufacturers and the continued strong performance of the state economy.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 0.3 points to 56.2 last month, 0.6 points higher than in October 2015. The increase was driven by a 2.6-point jump in the manufacturing index, which has lagged overall confidence readings for the past 18 months as companies struggled with economic weakness in Europe, China, and other key export markets.

The increase came as the Massachusetts unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, its lowest rate since the dot-com boom of 2001.

“Local unemployment rates dropped in 22 of 24 labor market areas throughout Massachusetts during September, which is consistent with gains in the AIM Employment Index over both the month and year,” said Sara Johnson, senior research director, Global Economics, IHS Global Insight, and a member of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors (BEA). “Both sets of numbers indicate that Massachusetts economy continues to perform well. State employment is growing faster than at the national level.”

The AIM Index, based on a survey of 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 Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009. It has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Almost all of the sub-indices based on selected questions or categories of employer were up in October. The Massachusetts Index, assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth, gained 0.9 points to 57.9, leaving it a healthy 3.8 points ahead of the same time last year. The U.S. Index of national business conditions remained unchanged at 49.2, 1.7 points lower than its level of October 2015. Employers have been more optimistic about the Massachusetts economy than about the national economy for 78 consecutive months.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, increased slightly to 56, while the Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, rose 0.3 points to 56.3. The future view is virtually the same as it was a year ago.

The three sub-indices bearing on survey respondents’ own operations also strengthened. The Company Index, reflecting overall business conditions, rose 0.2 points to 57.9, while the Employment Index surged 0.9 points to 55.4. The Sales Index lost ground, however, falling 1.2 points during October and 3.9 points during the previous 12 months.

The AIM survey found that nearly 39% of respondents reported adding staff during the past six months, while 19% reduced employment. Expectations for the next six months were stable, with 38% expecting to hire and only 10% downsizing.

Despite the rise in the Manufacturing Index, non-manufacturing companies still maintain a significantly brighter outlook than manufacturers. The overall Business Confidence Index among non-manufacturers was 59.3, compared to 53.5 for manufacturing companies.

“The year-long weakening of the Sales Index presents some concerns in an otherwise upbeat report since sales ultimately drive employment growth,” said Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University, a BEA member. “In the longer term, concerns remain about the changing demographic structure of the state population, as relatively few young people enter, and a large group of older workers leave — or are poised to leave — the workforce.”

AIM President and CEO Richard Lord, also a BEA member, noted that the economic recovery appears to be benefiting the entire Commonwealth, not just the metropolitan Boston area.

“It’s great to see unemployment falling in areas outside the Boston-Cambridge technology belt, which has been enjoying explosive economic growth since the onset of the recovery,” he said. “One of the key tenets of AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century economic plan for Massachusetts is that lawmakers must make public policy that allows economic opportunity to flourish in all areas of the Commonwealth, from Boston to the Berkshires. We look forward to bringing that perspective to the Legislature when it begins its new session in January.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, Greater Westfield, Greater Easthampton, West of the River, and South Hadley & Granby chambers of commerce have joined forces to present Checkpoint 2016, a legislative symposium on Thursday, Nov. 10. The keynote speaker for this regional event will be Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

Lunch and the keynote speaker will be followed by a panel discussion with local legislators, including state Sen. Donald Humason Jr. and state Reps. Joseph Wagner, Aaron Vega, John Scibak, John Velis, Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Tosado, and Nick Boldyga. The panel will be moderated by Anthony Cignoli, president of A.L. Cignoli Co.

The event will take place at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke. Registration and networking begin at 11 a.m., with lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The panel discussion, with questions from the audience, will take place from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Tickets cost $45 per person for chamber members and $55 for non-members.

For more information or to register, visit the website of one of the participating chambers and look for ‘upcoming events.’ Questions should be directed to event coordinator Lynn Morrissette at the Greater Chicopee Chamber at (413) 594-2101.

Current sponsors include CHD Cancer House of Hope, Dowd Insurance Agency, Easthampton Savings Bank, Freedom Credit Union, Holyoke Medical Center, Health New England, Mestek Inc., PeoplesBank, People’s United Bank, Westfield Bank, and Westmass Area Development Corp./Westover Metropolitan Development Corp.