Briefcase Departments


West of the River Chambers Leaves ACCGS; Affiliates with MassCBI
EAST LONGMEADOW — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) recently announced its newly developed management relationship with the Mass. Chamber of Business & Industry Inc. (MassCBI), of East Longmeadow, severing its ties with the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) that go back 40 years. The WRC, which serves the cities of Agawam and West Springfield, will be managed by MassCBI under the leadership of Debra Boronski, whose organization will oversee all of its management needs. “The WRC is the primary advocate and resource for business in Agawam and West Springfield; we felt it was time to take a new direction in the management of our chamber in a way that best suits the needs of our members,” said Remo Pizzichemi, vice chair of the West of the River Chamber. “We will remain a local, independent chamber of commerce representing Agawam and West Springfield businesses and will continue to offer our members the local benefits they have always enjoyed as well as the lobbying and legislative expertise of Ms. Boronski.” The new management relationship with the Massachusetts chamber will extend current benefits by offering WRC members access to the MassCBI monthly Legislative Newsletter which provides up-to-date information on laws and regulations that impact their business. “I am pleased to welcome the West of the River Chamber and its 250 member businesses to MassCBI,” said Boronski, “and look forward to working with the WRC board, committees, and leaders of its member companies, many of whom I have a long history with.” In 2008, the West Springfield and Agawam chambers of commerce were combined to form the WRC. The chamber hosts a number of meetings and events each year, including FoodFest West, a golf tournament, educational seminars, networking events, and debates for candidates in Agawam and West Springfield, and has recently launched a manufacturing committee. ACCGS President Jeffrey Ciuffreda said member businesses that are part of the WRC will continue to be represented through ACCGS until their current membership expires, which is different for each member. “We welcome these businesses to renew their memberships with ACCGS to continue the high level of service they have come to expect from the chamber,” he noted. “ACCGS continues to believe in its original mission and philosophy — the business community is best served by a regional approach, speaking in one voice to government representatives, policy makers, other businesses, and business-related organizations. The ACCGS will continue to speak out with a singular voice on issues facing businesses throughout Greater Springfield. The action taken by the WRC Board of Directors will have no impact on the services, member benefits, educational programs, legislative advocacy, or networking opportunities provided by ACCGS to its member base. Despite the WRC board’s decision, it is business as usual for the ACCGS.”

Caret Named to Lead UMass System
BOSTON — The Board of Trustees of the University of Massachusetts recently unanimously elected Robert Caret president of the five-campus university system. Caret, the president of Towson University in Maryland, will succeed retiring UMass President Jack Wilson, who steps down on June 30. “After conducting an exhaustive search, we selected a president with the qualifications, the character, and the vision to lead our university system forward and to build upon the strengths of our world-class university system,” said James Karam, head of the search committee and acting chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, in a statement. “It is an honor to have been asked to lead this world-class and world-renowned university system,” said Caret in a statement. “The University of Massachusetts is one of the nation’s premier public research universities and provides a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many.  I look forward to building upon its tradition of excellence in academics, research, and public service.” Caret, 63, has been the president of Towson University since 2003. He served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president, and provost of Towson University for 21 years before leaving to assume the presidency of San Jose State University in 1995. Caret is credited with helping to reinvigorate the San Jose State University campus, and he championed a joint city/university effort to build the Martin Luther King Jr. Library there. As president of Towson University, Caret has created partnerships with regional business, nonprofit, and civic organizations in Maryland.  He became a founding member of the Maryland Business Council in 2004 and serves as the honorary chairman of the Maryland Council on Education. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the CollegeBound Foundation, the Board of Governors for the Center Club, the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, and the P-20 Leadership Council.  He also serves on the Board of Directors for 1st Mariner Bancorp and on the Board of Advisors for Evergreen Capital LLC.  He was inducted into the Baltimore County Chamber Business Hall of Fame in 2006 and was awarded the Towson University Hillel Gesher Award in 2010. Caret is a member of the University of Maryland Foundation Board of Directors. He recently served on the NCAA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Intercollegiate Athletics and is a member of its Presidential Advisory Group and Football Academic Working Group. He also has served on the American Flag Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of the American Council of Education (ACE), and the Board of Directors for the American Assoc. of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).  He currently serves on the executive steering committee of the AASCU Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI). Caret has authored many articles on chemistry, chemical education, and higher education for business and professional publications. He is the co-author of four textbooks in the fields of organic chemistry and allied health chemistry. The Maryland Chapter of the American Chemical Society recognized Caret’s achievements by honoring him with the George L. Braude Award in 2005. He is a native of Maine who received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1974 and his bachelor of science degree in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University in 1969.  Caret’s honorary degrees include a doctor of humane letters degree from San Jose State University (2004) and National Hispanic University (1997) and a doctor of science degree from Suffolk University (1996). Current UMass President Wilson is retiring from the presidency after eight years to return to teaching.  He will become the distinguished professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies and Innovation at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

More State Residents
Lost Homes to
Foreclosure in 2010
BOSTON — The number of completed foreclosures in Massachusetts jumped almost 32% in 2010 to 12,233, up from 9,269 in 2009, but did not surpass the record 12,430 foreclosures recorded in 2008, according to the latest report from the Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. The number of foreclosure petitions, meanwhile, declined 14.3% to 23,933 last year from 27,928 in 2009. “It’s a big concern that more homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in 2010 than in the prior year,” said Timothy Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group, in a statement. “One bright spot is that fewer people entered the foreclosure process compared to a year ago. This is despite a slumping economy and high unemployment. These statistics for petitions to foreclose are skewed by lenders who slowed their foreclosure processing in the last four months of the year. It’s important to remain cautious heading into 2011, and not assume we are out of the woods yet.” Foreclosure petitions — the first step in the foreclosure process in Massachusetts — dropped dramatically in December. A total of 733 starts were recorded, a 64.4% drop from 2,060 in December 2009. Petitions also dropped from November 2010, when there were 1,109 starts recorded. The number of foreclosure petitions exceeded 2,000 for eight months in 2010, falling below that level for the past three consecutive months. In December, there were 481 foreclosure deeds, a nearly 44% drop from 857 deeds recorded in December 2009. Foreclosure deeds represent completed foreclosures. Deeds bumped up in December from a month earlier; there were 418 recorded in November. Foreclosure deeds reached their highest point earlier in the year, peaking at 1,391 in March. Both foreclosure petitions and deeds dropped in the fourth quarter. A total of 2,969 foreclosure petitions were recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010, down almost 53% from the 6,293 petitions during the same period in 2009. Foreclosure deeds dropped to 1,456 in the fourth quarter, a 41.1% decline from 2,473 deeds in the fourth quarter of 2009. The fourth quarter marked the slowest activity for both petitions and deeds this year. Year-to date petitions were down in every county except Nantucket County. A total of 88 foreclosure petitions were recorded in 2010, up almost 9% from 81 in 2009. On the contrary, deeds also increased in every county in 2010, except Nantucket and Dukes counties. There were 12 completed foreclosures in Nantucket County in all of 2010, down from 25 in 2009. Dukes County saw no change in its foreclosure deeds in 2010 — there were 38 completed foreclosures in both 2009 and 2010. The Warren Group also tracked a large increase in auction announcements in 2010. A total of 29,227 auction announcements were tracked in 2010, a 50.6% increase from 19,441 in 2009. Auction announcements in December totaled 1,076, a 50% drop from 2,152 in November, and also declined 44.3% from 1,931 during the same month in 2009.

Director Sought for Leadership Pioneer Valley
SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV), a new regional leadership initiative for the 69 communities and three counties (Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin) that comprise the Pioneer Valley, has launched its search for a program director. The director, who will be the first to hold this position, will oversee an array of LPV program activities, most importantly the recruitment of emerging, diverse leaders to strengthen the region by fostering a sense of community pride, responsibility, and dedication. Leadership Pioneer Valley is an advanced leadership-development program housed within the Pioneer Valley Regional Ventures Center Inc., the companion nonprofit of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. LPV was established last year to recruit, develop, and support succeeding generations of the region’s leaders through dynamic education and civic-engagement programs that foster the skills, collaboration, and commitment needed to build a healthy, vibrant, and culturally competent Pioneer Valley. The new program director will begin work with the aim of recruiting LPV’s first class for fall 2011 and continuing to direct its efforts. The job description for LPV program director is available at Interested candidates must submit a cover letter, résumé, and three references via email by Feb. 1 to Search Committee Chair Ron Ancrum at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; the address is [email protected]

Housing Market Remains ‘Very Volatile’
WASHINGTON — Permits for new homes jumped 16.7% in December compared with private-sector expectations of a 2.9% increase, according to the latest data on new residential construction in December from the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. Scheduled changes in building codes in January in California, New York, and Pennsylvania may have been responsible for much of the December increase, as builders sought to obtain permits ahead of the code change. Housing starts declined 4.3% compared with private-sector expectations that they would remain virtually unchanged. “Today’s data show that the housing market is still very volatile from month to month,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in a statement. “This administration is keenly focused on expanding employment and economic growth, and as job creation progresses, the incomes of the American people will strengthen and help put the housing market back on track.”

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