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Difference Makers Nominations Due Nov. 20

WESTERN MASS. — Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in the Western Mass. region?
BusinessWest invites you to nominate an individual or group for its eighth annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2016 must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Nov. 20. Nominations can be completed online HERE and clicking ‘Our Events.’ Difference Makers was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize the contributions of agencies and individuals who are contributing to quality of life in this region.

Four Nonprofits to Share Space at GCC’s Downtown Center

GREENFIELD — Four nonprofit organizations that serve Western Mass. will share office space at Greenfield Community College’s Downtown Center as a base for building stronger relationships with the people and organizations of Franklin County. The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, Leadership Pioneer Valley, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts will each staff the office one day a week. “In general, the idea behind this partnership is that we are stronger together,” said Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Western Mass. (CFWM). “We’re all better, more effective, and more well-informed when we can share our resources, information, and energy.” She noted that the Community Foundation has had an office at the GCC Downtown Center since January 2014. “GCC President Bob Pura generously provided us with a space where we could hold regular office hours, offer training opportunities, and have donor conversations that would be more convenient for those we served in the Upper Valley. This has resulted in many, many more conversations and, thus, more learning about the specific issues and needs in Franklin County.” Allan Zobel continued, “we realized that other organizations serving the Pioneer Valley without offices in Franklin County might also benefit from using this space. Since the CFWM was only using the office one or two days a week, it seemed obvious that others could benefit from sharing the space with us. Bob agreed. After several conversations, the groups selected days of the week each would hold office hours and one day a month when all the groups would gather to update each other on work and to explore possible collaborations.” Pura, applauding the new collaboration, added, “this is a win for each organization, a win for the community, and especially a win for those who will benefit directly from this collaboration. As I have said on many occasions, this community is a best practice for collaborations, and this adds to that body of evidence.” Lora Wondolowski, executive director of Leadership Pioneer Valley, noted that “Leadership Pioneer Valley is committed to the whole region, but having a primary address in Springfield can be offputting for those in Franklin County. We look forward to expanding our presence in the community and to getting beyond the traditional boundaries that separate Western Mass. counties and organizations. I believe there is power in this collaboration that will be greater than the sum of what each organization is doing individually.” Added Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council, “it is important to have a physical presence in Franklin County and to build working relationships with the leaders, businesses, and citizens of the County. Bob Pura has been very helpful in providing this opportunity for our four organizations to have a base in Franklin County.” Finally, Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the Women’s Fund, said that “Franklin County residents can teach us a lot about how to work together for greater impact. This partnership with like-minded organizations is a terrific example of how we are deepening our understanding of the region and each other.”

EANE Announces Findings of Salary & Budget Survey

AGAWAM — The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast announced its findings from the 2015-16 Salary & Budget Survey, with close to 100 companies participating from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The survey results include numerous breakout reports to meet employers’ diverse data requirements for compensation planning, including salary and pay increases based on industry segment, job category, and more. The survey addresses salary increases for the period of July 2014 to June 2015, and also forecasts salary changes for July 2015 to June 2016. Overall, manufacturing employers participating in the survey indicated employees received, on average, a 2.7% increase for 2014-15, while non-manufacturing participants averaged a 3.0% increase. Both categories are holding steady with the forecast for pay raises. Manufacturing participants projected an overall 2.8% increase for 2016, while the non-manufacturing group forecasted a 2.6% increase, on average. Factored into the data are companies that reported there would be no increase or decrease. “Given the multitude of other factors competing for funds — from healthcare and other benefit costs to capital investments — it is not surprising to see limited increases,” said Mark Adams, director of HR Solutions for the Employers Assoc. “That said, we know that employers want to give raises to keep top talent.” For a full summary of results, visit eane.org/salary-budget-survey-results.

Redevelopment Authority Approves Two Proposals

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority (HRA) board reviewed and accepted two private investment proposals at its Oct. 21 meeting, directing Planning & Economic Development staff to negotiate and finalize agreement terms over the next few weeks in accordance with the city’s Urban Renewal Plan (URP) titled “Connect. Construct. Create. — A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke.” The first proposal, by WinnDevelopment, would create approximately 100 units of mixed-income housing for rent at 216 Appleton St., with on-site parking on the first level of the building, community space, and on-site leasing offices for tenants. The development concept for the property will seek funding through historic preservation and housing tax credits over the next two years, which Winn has abundant experience securing for similar mill-redevelopment projects throughout Massachusetts. The project is estimated to represent a $38 million investment. The second proposal, submitted by Bueno y Sano/Good & Healthy Inc., intends to temporarily lease land between Main and Race streets along the second-level Canal Walk to establish a mobile-food-truck operation that would produce a new line of smoked-meat menu items, for sale both on site and at its stores in Northampton, Springfield, West Springfield, Amherst, and Acton, as well as Burlington, Vt. Bueno y Sano is a Western Mass.-based, family-owned restaurant business serving burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and salads. The operations are expected to be set up during the spring of 2016. “We’re happy to be part of the excitement in Holyoke,” said Bob Lowry, owner of Bueno y Sano/Good & Healthy Inc. “There is a strong sense of possibility and purpose. That is a great combination.” Mayor Alex Morse praised the Redevelopment Authority for its actions, noting that “the success in attracting projects like these isn’t a coincidence. It takes many years of aggressive marketing and hard work to make sites ready for private interest and successfully execute the city’s Urban Renewal Plan. I thank WinnDevelopment and Bueno y Sano for their interest to invest here and look forward to welcoming them to Holyoke.”

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