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Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Greater Holyoke and Greater Easthampton chambers of commerce have partnered to host a Tourism Luncheon on Friday, April 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

The keynote speaker, state Rep. Michael Finn, vice chair of Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development, will discuss the effects of visitor-generated tax revenue in Western Mass. Other speakers include Mary Kay Wydra, president, Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau; Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel, MGM Springfield; and Michael Mathis, president and chief operating officer, MGM Springfield. Discussions will focus on the region’s tourism and how it impacts the Pioneer Valley’s economic growth.

Community leaders, CEOs, managers, and sales professionals are encouraged to attend the luncheon and to join the discussion on the community’s role in tourism.

“I am very proud of the great strides our region has made over the years,” said Maureen Bellevue, executive director of the Easthampton Chamber of Commerce.

Added Kathleen Anderson, president of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, “we look forward to sharing highlights and results, while getting the community excited about new ways we can work together to really make a difference.”

The event is sponsored by Resnic, Beauregard, Waite & Driscoll, United Bank, and Yankee Candle. Tickets cost $30 for chamber members and $35 for the public. To register, visit business.holyokechamber.com/events or call the Greater Holyoke Chamber at (413) 534-3376 or the Greater Easthampton Chamber at (413) 527-9414.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Central Cultural District (SCCD) has issued a call to artists for a unique placemaking opportunity in downtown Springfield. The Cultural District is searching for artists to submit their ideas and designs to beautify 20 utility boxes scattered throughout the downtown footprint.

“We had two boxes beautified in Stearns Square Park during our Springfield Under the Stars movie nights last summer, and the reception was amazing. We want to continue that momentum,” said SCCD Executive Director Morgan Drewniany.

Programs to create non-conventional murals are not new; cities such as Boston, Northampton, and Easthampton have all carried out similar beautification programs in their cities, to great success. The SCCD is funding this program by matching local businesses and organizations to artists that pique their interest.

The theme all artists are asked to adhere to is ‘unexpected beauty,’ piggybacking on the SCCD’s tagline, ‘experience the unexpected.’ Artists are invited to submit their ideas to paint the boxes to the director. The chosen artists will be paid for their time and reimbursed for materials. Applications are due Tuesday, May 3.

The Springfield Central Cultural District encompasses an area of the metro center of Springfield, and is membership-based, involving many of the downtown arts institutions. Its mission is to create and sustain a vibrant cultural environment in Springfield.

The request for proposal and more details on this program can be found at springfieldculture.org/artistresources. Any questions can be forwarded to Drewniany at [email protected] or (413) 781-1592.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce has named Jessica Roncarati its new president. The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve her appointment, and she began work on April 25.

Roncarati, a lifelong resident of Chicopee, most recently served as executive director of the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts Inc. She has held both professional and volunteer leadership positions with a number of local nonprofits, including Bay Path University, Women in Philanthropy of Western Massachusetts, Hawthorn Services, and the Springfield Museums Assoc. She is a member of Business West’s 40 Under Forty class of 2012. She is a graduate of chamber member Elms College, and received her master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy from Bay Path University.

As president, Roncarati will work with the chamber’s staff and constituents to further its mission to advance economic and civil well-being for all citizens of the Greater Chicopee area. She believes her most immediate focus is to build relationships among local businesses, government, and citizens in order to promote a sense of community.

“By connecting with the chamber, businesses have the chance not only to network and advertise their services, but to make Greater Chicopee an even better place to live and work,” she said. “We have an increasingly diverse business base to build upon, and events that we collaborate with the city on, such as the Tree Lighting, Halloween Costume Walk, Block Party, and 5k Run, bring more patrons to the area each year. It’s an exciting time to be a chamber member, and I look forward to making connections that will promote our local businesses.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — On Monday, the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) board of trustees recommended John Cook, vice president of Academic Affairs at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, to succeed the retiring Ira Rubenzahl as STCC president. The state Board of Higher Education will vote on Cook’s selection in June.

Before his role at Manchester Community College, Cook served as assistant dean of faculty for Granite State College in New Hampshire. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., a master’s degree in community/social psychology from UMass Lowell, and a doctorate of philosophy in education (curriculum and instruction) from the University of New Hampshire.

After a national search that drew 40 applicants, Christopher Johnson, chairman of the STCC board of trustees and the 13-member presidential search committee, announced last week that four finalists were being considered to succeed Rubenzahl, who is retiring in June after 12 years at the helm.

Those finalists included Cook; Laura Douglas, provost of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa; Kim McGinnis, dean of students for Miami Dade College Medical Campus in Miami, Fla.; and Julie White, interim provost, senior vice president, and vice president, student engagement and learning support for Onondaga Community College in New York.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — M&M Consulting, LLC, a New England-based risk-management advisor to financial institutions, has named J. Jeffrey Sullivan president and CEO. He succeeds Jay Friedland, who founded the company in 1996 and will now serve as chairman of the company.

M&M Consulting’s clients range from one-branch institutions to regional banks covering multiple states. The M&M team includes a wide range of subject-matter experts in strategy, technology, and operations, including attorneys, CPAs, and other certified professionals. The cross-disciplinary M&M model allows financial institutions a more cost-effective, efficient strategy to handle the increasing complexity of regulatory compliance and risk oversight.

“Community financial institutions are the lifeblood of our local economies,” said Sullivan. “As regulations become more complex and burdensome, firms like M&M Consulting can provide meaningful assistance to help these institutions survive and thrive.”

Sullivan was most recently president and COO of United Bank, a $5 billion regional bank based in West Springfield. He oversaw all facets of the bank’s operations, including enterprise risk management, retail banking operations, and the commercial and consumer lending teams. He was chief lending officer at United Bank for nine years, chaired the bank’s Community Reinvestment Act committee, and was a member of the asset and liability management committee. Prior to United, Sullivan worked for 11 years for a Chittenden Corp. subsidiary, the Bank of Western Massachusetts, and for six years in the BayBank system. A lifelong New England resident, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics from Amherst College and his MBA from UMass Amherst.

“Jeff’s deep background in community banking blends perfectly with the diverse skill sets of our team and will add tremendous value to the managers and the boards of directors that we serve,” said Friedland. “We understand the challenges and complexities of today’s highly regulated and low-rate environment, and Jeff will lead us in maintaining our balance of technical expertise and knowledge of strategic and operational priorities for our clients.”

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Green Miles Lipton, LLP announced that attorney Nicole Bercume has joined the firm as an associate. She most recently was in private practice in Hadley.

After graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management, Bercume pursued her law degree at Ave Maria School of Law. During her time there, she was a senior editor on the Ave Maria Law Review while working in various positions for Collier County.

Bercume is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts and Florida. Her areas of practice are land use, zoning and planning, landlord/tenant, real estate, business formation, estate planning, consumer protection, and personal injury.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Kirk Arnold, CEO of Bedford-based Data Intensity, will address Bay Path University’s 2016 graduating class at its 119th commencement on Saturday, May 14 at 3 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. More than 700 students will be awarded master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Arnold will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree for her extraordinary achievements in leadership. As the CEO of Data Intensity, a high-growth provider of cloud-based services and data analytics, she is a role model for women in the exploding market of data analytics. For more than 35 years, Arnold has been an active member of the technology and business community of Greater Boston. She sits on the boards of Cramer Marketing, EnerNOC, and the Commonwealth Institute. Arnold and Data Intensity were recognized among the Boston Globe’s “Top 100 Women-led Businesses in Massachusetts” last fall. She was also inducted into Bay Path’s 21st Century Women Business Leaders Hall of Fame in 2004, its inaugural year.

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, will also be presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree for his accomplishments as an author, educator, and passionate champion of reading aloud to children. Now in its 7th edition, The Read-Aloud Handbook continues to receive national and international acclaim. Trelease dedicated much of his career to leading seminars and lecturing school groups, parents, teachers, and librarians in all 50 states on the fundamental importance of youthful reading. He was one of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of education in the U.S., a frequent keynote speaker at educational conferences, and is credited with sparking read-aloud movements across the nation. Early in his career, Trelease was also a writer and staff artist for the Springfield Daily News (now known as the Republican).

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) is currently accepting applications for the Employer of Choice award, which recognizes companies and organizations for developing workplaces that value employees, build engagement, invest in training, and reward performance. Applications are due June 24.

Employers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island who have been in business for at least three years and have a minimum of 25 employees are eligible. Both company size and resources are considered in the screening and selection process. Awards are given in two categories: manufacturing and non-manufacturing.

Winners view the Employer of Choice award as a cornerstone of their company credentials and often use it in recruiting and retention, grants and funding, and business development. Winners receive a professional video that spotlights the company’s achievements and is customized to reflect the organization’s targeted initiatives.

In 2015, three area businesses were selected as Employer of Choice Award recipients: Bemis Associates Inc., Big Y Foods Inc. and Cadence Inc.

“We were thrilled to see our applicants focus on employee engagement, often implementing surveys and translating the findings to mission-vision-culture strategies,” said Meredith Wise, EANE president. “Traditional benefits such as tuition reimbursement were still strong, but contemporary offerings from wellness to flexible scheduling to community service were widespread, too. We look forward to learning about more outstanding companies in 2016.”

Learn more and download the 2016 application at eane.org/employerofchoice.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its 10th annual 40 Under Forty program, BusinessWest is taking nominations for its second annual Continued Excellence Award, the winner of which will be unveiled at the 40 Under Forty gala on June 16. The nomination deadline is Monday, May 2 at 5 p.m.

Last year, BusinessWest inaugurated the award to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who had significantly built on their achievements since they were honored. The five finalists for that award last year were Kamari Collins, Jeff Fialky, Cinda Jones, Kristin Leutz, and the eventual winner, Delcie Bean IV.

“So many 40 Under Forty honorees have refused to rest on their laurels,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest. “We wanted to honor those who continue to build upon their strong records of service in business, within the community, and as regional leaders. Last year’s five finalists have certainly done that, and we expect this year’s nominees to be equally inspiring.”

Candidates must hail from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award, in this case, classes 2007-15. The nomination form is available at businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40-under-forty-continued-excellence-award. For your convenience, a list of the past nine 40 Under Forty classes may be found at businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40-under-forty-past-honorees.

Daily News

LOWELL — Gov. Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined public higher education leaders Thursday to announce the ‘Commonwealth Commitment,’ an innovative college affordability and completion plan to help more students achieve the dream of a college degree.

The Commonwealth Commitment, the first agreement of its kind in the nation, was signed by UMass President Marty Meehan, Worcester State University President Barry Maloney, and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry, representing the three segments of the public higher education system, at a ceremony at Middlesex Community College.

The plan commits every public campus to providing 10% rebates at the end of each successfully completed semester to qualifying undergraduate students, in addition to the standard MassTransfer tuition waiver received upon entering a four-year institution from a Community College. Students who meet the program requirements will, depending on the transfer pathway they choose, be able to realize an average savings of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.

Also, as part of the Commonwealth Commitment’s goal to increase cost savings and predictability, tuition and mandatory fees will be frozen for program participants as of the date they enter the program.

Students will begin their studies at one of the state’s 15 community colleges, enrolling in one of 24 Commonwealth Commitment/Mass Transfer Pathways programs that will roll out in fall 2016 (14 programs) and fall 2017 (10 additional programs). They must attend full-time, and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. After earning an associate’s degree in two and a half years or less, students will transfer to a state university or UMass campus to earn a baccalaureate degree.

“I am pleased that our higher education leaders have worked collaboratively to create this program to decrease the cost of a college degree and accelerate on-time completion,” Baker. “Even though public higher education in Massachusetts is already a great value, the Commonwealth Commitment will make it even easier for students to go to school full-time and to enter the workforce faster and with less debt.”