BusinessWest Accepting Nominations for Women of Impact Awards
SPRINGFIELD — BusinessWest has launched a new recognition program to honor a specific segment of the local population: women who are making an impact in and on this region. Nominees who score the highest in the eyes of a panel of three independent judges will be honored at a luncheon in December (date and venue to be determined). “We decided to create a special program recognizing women because, after careful consideration, we decided that this region needed one and that BusinessWest was the right organization to do it,” Kate Campiti, associate publisher and sales manager for BusinessWest, explained. “While women have certainly made great strides over the past several decades, and many women have made great achievements and broken through that proverbial glass ceiling, doing so remains a stern challenge for many.” ‘Women of Impact’ was chosen as the name for the program because, while nominees can be from the world of business, they can also be from other realms, such as the nonprofit community, public service, law enforcement, education, social work, the mentorship community, a combination of all these. Nominations for this honor, due on Aug. 3, should be written with one basic underlying mission: to explain why the individual in question is, indeed, a woman of impact. Nominations should explain, when applicable, how the nominee has made impactful accomplishments or contributions that have positively influenced business or the community; how the nominee demonstrates unwavering passion and commitment for an issue that has made a difference in the lives of others; how the nominee has influenced other women through her actions and contributions; how the nominee exemplifies qualities of spirit, service, compassion for others, or professionalism to achieve accomplishments, and how she may have overcome adversity in order to give back to the community; how the nominee has applied innovative thinking to push the boundaries and find new and better ways to do things; and how the nominee has consistently demonstrated exceptional and progressive leadership. Additional information and nomination guidelines are available at HERE. Nominations may be submitted HERE. For more information about this event, call Bevin Peters, Marketing and Events director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Governor Baker Announces Western Mass. Rail Initiatives
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker joined Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, and local leaders at Union Station in Springfield on June 12 to announce a request for proposals for a consultant team to study the feasibility of east-west passenger rail service, the launch of a pilot for passenger rail service between Greenfield and Springfield, and one-seat service through Springfield to Hartford and New Haven, Conn. The RFP will enable the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to carry out an extensive study over approximately 18 months, analyzing many aspects and options for potential east-west passenger rail service. In addition to studying potential passenger service from Springfield to Boston, the study will look at potential origins farther west such as Pittsfield and Palmer. This will include engaging with stakeholders and evaluating the potential costs, speed, infrastructure needs, and ridership of potential passenger rail service throughout this corridor. The administration also announced that a term sheet has been finalized with the Connecticut Department of Transportation which will enable the start of passenger rail service between Springfield and Greenfield beginning on a pilot basis in spring 2019. Under the agreement, MassDOT will fund the cost and management of the pilot service, which will be operated by Amtrak and conclude in fall 2021. The pilot will provide two round-trips each day and make stops at stations in Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield. Southbound service will be provided in the morning hours, and northbound in the evenings. This pilot service will leverage the MassDOT-owned Knowledge Corridor, which is currently used by Amtrak’s Vermonter service, and the recently renovated Springfield Union Station. Meanwhile, the new 62-mile Hartford Line began operating on June 16, with trains running approximately every 45 minutes between Springfield and several cities and towns in Connecticut, including Windsor Locks, Windsor, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, and New Haven.

Greylock Works Transforming Mill with Help from MassDevelopment
NORTH ADAMS — MassDevelopment has provided a $1.1 million loan to Greylock WORKS LLC, the developer of the Greylock Mill, a former cotton-spinning mill campus in North Adams that Greylock WORKS is transforming into a mixed-use commercial development. The organization will use loan proceeds to continue renovations of the Weave Shed, which includes a 26,000-square-foot event venue and commercial kitchen where the owners have been producing regional festivals and dance parties, as well as hosting weddings and other private events. This loan builds on significant support from the state and MassDevelopment, including nearly $4 million in MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program funding for North Adams. The two awards enabled the city to complete public infrastructure improvements necessary for the development’s ongoing construction. The Greylock Mill is a 240,000-square-foot former cotton-spinning facility that stretches 700 feet along Route 2 in North Adams. Plans for the building’s campus include wholesale scaled artisanal food production, a boutique hotel, housing, and event space. The Baker-Polito administration, through MassDevelopment, has worked with the developer across numerous aspects of the project, providing pre-development funding and grants through the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, the Site Readiness Program, and the Collaborative Workspace Program.

Employer Confidence Surges in May
BOSTON — Business confidence surged during May to its highest level since the summer of 2000, driven by improving employer outlooks about the state and national economies. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 2.4 points to 66.6 last month after increasing modestly during April. The BCI has risen in five of the last six months and now stands 5.8 points higher than its level a year ago. Confidence remains well within the optimistic range. The only whiff of concern came in the index that measures hiring, which dropped 1.5 points for the month and 0.2 points during the year. Economists believe the weakness in the AIM Employment Index reflects the persistent shortage of workers in Massachusetts that has forced some employers to postpone expansions or to decline new business opportunities.

Springfield Dementia Friendly Coalition Receives Grant
SPRINGFIELD — The newly formed Springfield Dementia Friendly Coalition (SDFC) has been awarded a Dementia-Friendly Capacity Building Grant from the Massachusetts Council on Aging under a Service Incentive Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. The Council on Aging grant will enable the coalition to hold focus-group meetings over the coming months with local government and public officials, first responders, and members of the business community to make them aware of the issues facing individuals living with dementia, their friends, family, and care partners, to give an overview of the movement and elicit their thoughts and engagement in the initiative. In addition, the group will meet with those living with dementia and their care partners and expand the Dementia Friendly website, An estimated 5.7 million Americans ages 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Nearly 60% of people with dementia live in their own communities, and one in seven live alone, creating an urgent need for communities to support people with dementia and their caregivers. SDFC partners include the Springfield Department of Elder Affairs/Council on Aging, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Greater Springfield Senior Services, the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Silver Life Care at Home, Chapin Center, El Grupo de Apoyo, and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing. A calendar of upcoming events is available at For more information or to get involved, contact Scott-Mitchell at (413) 263-6500, ext. 6518, or [email protected], or Carol Constant at (413) 588-5184 or [email protected].