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Briefcase

Friendly Is Closing 37 More Restaurants
WILBRAHAM — Friendly Ice Cream Corp. closed another 37 stores recently, including 10 in the Bay State, before emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The chain, based in Wilbraham, has closed about 40% of its locations in Massachusetts and 20% overall (about 100 restaurants in total) since filing for bankruptcy protection last October. Locally, stores in Springfield, Holyoke, and Great Barrington shut their doors. The most recent closings will result in nearly 800 people losing their jobs, the company said. A spokesperson for Friendly said the company restructured leases for some sites, but could not reach agreements with landlords for 37 restaurants and decided to shut them down at the close of business on Jan. 8.

HCC To Acquire
Grynn & Barrett Studio
HOLYOKE — State Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and state Rep. Michael Kane (D-Holyoke) recently announced that legislation authorizing Holyoke Community College (HCC) to borrow $7 million from the Mass. Development Finance Agency for the acquisition and renovation of Grynn & Barrett Studios has passed both branches of the legislature and is headed to Gov. Deval Patrick for his approbation. The bill, which was filed last January, will allow HCC to create a state-of-the-art educational facility for the associate’s degree in Nursing and the Practical Nursing and Radiologic Technology programs at the site currently occupied by the Grynn and Barrett Photography Studios. The building is located across from the college’s secondary access road on Homestead Avenue. These funds will provide an additional 22,000 square feet for specialized and general instruction, and will allow the college to repurpose space on campus freed up by the relocation of these programs. In 2008, the Mass. Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) commissioned a space-reallocation study, which concluded that HCC was tightly packed, and the current campus would not allow for projected increases in enrollment. The college has pledged to continue to work with DCAM to develop strategies to address space issues in the future. “This legislation will allow Holyoke Community College to prepare more students for careers in nursing and health care to meet the growing demand for qualified workers,” said Knapik. “This will not only be a boost for the college but for the Pioneer Valley as whole, as many of the students and former students live and work within our communities.” A major component of the new facility will be the HCC SIMuCENTER. This program will introduce simulation into the nursing curriculum, providing students the opportunity to learn clinical decision-making skills, refine technical skills, gain competency in recognizing and preventing common medical errors, and practice a wide variety of commonly occurring clinical events and situations. The SIMuCENTER program will also provide a unique opportunity for the creation of partnerships with other community-college nursing programs and local health care providers to further educate current employees. The college will enter into a 30-year financing plan with the Mass. Development Finance Agency, with the loan to be paid off through student fees. The college will implement a three-tier surcharge, including a $150-per-semester surcharge for Registered Nursing, Practical Nursing, and Radiological Technician students; a $100-per-semester surcharge for Pre-Nursing, Pre-Health, and Foundations of Health students; and a $1-per-credit charge for all students. Currently, HCC is the second-least-expensive community college in Massachusetts at $4,050 per year. The average for all Massachusetts community colleges is $4,545 per year. Patrick is expected to sign the bill into law.

Nominations Sought for Woman of the Year
SPRINGFIELD — The Professional Women’s Chamber, a division of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, is seeking nominations for its 2012 Woman of the Year Award. The award has been presented annually since 1954 to a woman in Western Mass. who exemplifies outstanding leadership, professional accomplishment, and service to the community. The nominee’s achievements can be representative of a lifetime’s work or for more recent successes. Any woman is eligible for nomination, and a chamber affiliation is not required. For more information and a nomination form, visit www.professionalwomenschamber.com or e-mail committee chair Nancy Mirkin at [email protected] Nomination documents are due by Feb. 10.

Construction-industry
Unemployment Jumps
to 16% in December
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite the addition of 17,000 jobs in December, the nation’s construction-industry unemployment rate jumped to 16% last month, a sharp increase from 13.1% in November, but down from 20.7% at the same time last year, according to the Jan. 6 jobs report by the U.S. Labor Department. For all of 2011, the construction industry added 46,000 jobs (0.8%), representing the best industry performance since January 2007. The average annual construction unemployment rate in 2011 was 16.4%, down from 20.6% in 2010 and 19% in 2009. Non-residential building construction employment stood at 662,200 jobs in December, down by 3,000 jobs compared to November, but up 3,000 jobs (0.5%) compared to the same time one year ago. Residential-building construction employment stood at 567,000 jobs in December, up by 3,000 jobs from the previous month and up 4,000 jobs (0.6%) from the same time last year. Non-residential specialty trade contractors added 20,000 jobs in December and have added 12,000 jobs, or 0.6%, during the past 12 months. In contrast, residential specialty trade contractor employment decreased by 3,000 jobs for the month, but is up by 16,000 jobs (1.1%) from December 2010. Heavy and civil engineering construction employment remained unchanged for the month and has added 11,000 jobs (1.4%) during the course of 2011. Across all industries, the nation added 200,000 jobs as the private sector expanded by 212,000 jobs and the public sector shrank by 12,000 jobs. Year over year, the nation has added 1,640,000 jobs (1.3%). The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5% in December, down from a revised 8.7% level in November and down from 9.4% in December 2010.

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