Briefcase Departments

Briefcase

Pair Tapped to Head Tornado Recovery
SPRINGFIELD — Gerald Hayes, vice president for administration and finance at Westfield State University, and Nicholas Fyntrilakis, assistant vice president for community responsibility at MassMutual, have been selected to lead the city of Springfield’s long-term rebuilding campaign following the tornadoes of June 1. At a news conference last week, Mayor Domenic Sarno said both men have extensive credentials in urban development and knowledge of Springfield’s history and character. They will serve at no cost to the public. In the wake of the disaster, 22 buildings in the city were demolished, 171 condemned, and more than 1,000 damaged. Hayes and Fyntrilakis will coordinate the tornado-recovery effort until Dec. 31, at which time the arrangement will be reevaluated. The rebuilding campaign, a public-private partnership that will involve the Springfield Redevelopment Authority and DevelopSpringfield, will operate out of a downtown office and will be advertising for a consultant to write a multi-year plan for recovery efforts. Hayes has more than 30 years of economic-development experience, and Fyntrilakis is a former School Committee member and current chairman of DevelopSpringfield.

PVLSI Collaborates with Seahorse Biosciences
SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) and its Center of Excellence in Apoptosis Research (CEAR) have entered into a translational-research collaboration with Seahorse Biosciences of North Billerica and Chicopee. Dr. Nagendra Yadava will be the principal investigator for the program at the PVLSI and will receive the title of John Adams Investigator, in appreciation of support from the John Adams Innovation Institute to create CEAR. Alejandro Heuck, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UMass Amherst and a collaborator with Yadava on this project, will also be named a John Adams Investigator. The program will foster shared research between PVLSI scientists and industry partners, to accelerate new products to the market and foster regional economic development. The new project uses intellectual property developed at the PVLSI to create a new reagent kit aiding scientists in quantifying cellular bioenergetics using Seahorse’s XF Analyzer, an instrument that measures different aspects of cell metabolism. “I am delighted to extend our relationship with Dr. Yadava, the PVLSI, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst,” said David Ferrick, chief science officer for Seahorse. “The collaborative research and development performed under this agreement will simplify mitochondrial assays and expand our understanding of the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in aging and disease.” D. Joseph Jerry, PVLSI’s science director, added that the agreement “sets the stage for PVLSI scientists to leverage their intellectual discoveries into new products, fulfilling the institute’s mission for translational research.” Patrick Larkin, director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute, added that “this is exactly the type of project we were hoping for when we invested in the PVLSI. It demonstrates the importance of the institute to the region in providing an interface for the life sciences with local advanced manufacturers.” In related news, Yadava was recently named the Western Mass. Mitochondrial Champion by the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, and will serve as an expert on mitochondrial function to researchers and clinicians in the region. Yadava and his team recently published a paper titled “Mitochondrial Dysfunction Impairs Tumor Suppressor P53 – Expression/Function” in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Westmass to Finalize Acquisition of Ludlow Mills
CHICOPEE — Westmass Area Development Corporation (Westmass) recently informed the Ludlow Board of Selectmen it planned to acquire the Ludlow Mills property on or about July 1, according to Kenn Delude, president and CEO of Westmass. With a combination of state grants, private debt financing, and equity investments, Westmass has put into place a finance program that will enable the project’s permitting to commence immediately and allow building utility modifications to be made before winter. “After two years of due diligence investigations, we are now prepared to begin our long-term partnership with the community and start work on the project,” Delude said. He noted that the first visible signs of activity will occur in late summer when the Columbia Gas Co. installs a new gas main along State Street. This work will then be followed by the road reconstruction and other related infrastructure improvements. The goal is to have all the roadway improvements completed by December 2012, according to Delude. The improvements will be funded by a $3.7 million state grant the town received under the MORE JOBS program. “Westmass is committed to seeing that Ludlow Mills once again becomes a major contributor to the economic prosperity of our region,” added Delude. He noted that businesses seeking a new or expanded location, whether to lease or own, are encouraged to contact Westmass for more information.

Grants Available to
West of the River
Chamber Members
WARE — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce is taking its mission of helping local businesses to the next level with the launch of a workforce-education initiative. The chamber will award $500 grants to four businesses which can be used for classes, seminars, and workshops that will develop employees’ skills and ultimately help the business. The idea was proposed by the West of the River education committee and is based on the concept that an educated workforce equals a stronger economy. Grants are open to all members of the West of the River Chamber. The winners will be drawn lottery style at the beginning of August. For an application or more information, call (413) 426-7077 or send an e-mail to [email protected] All applications must be received by Aug. 1. The chamber serves the business communities of Agawam and West Springfield.

Link to Libraries
Donates Books to
Monson Tornado Victims
EAST LONGMEADOW — Link to Libraries recently donated more than 250 new books for youths of all ages to Monson Savings Bank, which will be distributed to tornado victims in town. The books will be distributed to the children left homeless or with tornado damage to homes in the Monson area through the bank, according to Susan Jaye-Kaplan, president of Link to Libraries. “The books donated by Link to Libraries, we hope, will give much needed enjoyment to the families hit by this devastating tornado,” said Jaye-Kaplan. “It is our hope that the children will find pleasure in reading and an opportunity to have time to relax and be relieved of some stress and worry.” The books include reading material for preschool through the teenage years.

Salvation Army Receives Recognition, Financial Gift
SPRINGFIELD — Major Thomas Perks and his wife, Major Linda Jo Perks, both of the Greater Springfield Salvation Army, have been recognized locally with a monetary donation for the organization they manage, as well as by the national office of the Salvation Army. The Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield honored both the Salvation Army and the YMCA of Greater Springfield during its annual meeting on June 15. Both organizations were recognized for their strong business models and community presence that have had a direct impact on quality of life in the Greater Springfield area. Both also received a check for $1,000. In related news, Perks and his wife were recently honored by the national Salvation Army with pins for 25 years of service. The designation illustrates the tireless efforts of the couple and the organization they oversee. In addition to assisting first responders and victims of natural disasters, the local Salvation Army helps more than 30,000 families throughout the year and more than 6,000 families during the holiday season.

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