City Issues RFQ/RFP for Casino; Consultant Cleared
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield has issued its Phase I request for qualifications/request for proposals for a proposed destination casino resort development to be located in the city. Through this RFQ/RFP process, the city seeks to pre-qualify enterprises desirous of participating in the city’s Phase II process, the purpose of which will be to select one or more enterprises with whom the city will negotiate a host-community agreement for the development, construction, and operation of a destination casino resort project. Upon the successful conclusion of those negotiations, targeted for the end of April 2013, the final host-community agreement or agreements will be submitted to the City Council for approval and then to the city’s voters. Once approved in this manner, the host-community agreement must be provided to the Mass. Gaming Commission by any applicant for a gaming license. The RFQ/RFP can be downloaded at www.springfield-ma.gov/casino. “We are excited to formally launch the casino selection process,” said Mayor Domenic Sarno. “We look forward to a robust competition which will determine the company or companies with whom we will enter into a host community agreement. This is an important first step that we anticipate will result in the largest economic-development project in the city’s history, bringing thousands of good-paying jobs to our great city, along with significant opportunities for our business community and sustainable economic benefits for our residents for many years to come.” In other developments, the state Ethics Commission cleared Springfield’s casino consultant of a possible conflict of interest. The chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission had questioned whether that Shefsky & Froelich — a registered lobbyist in Illinois for Penn National Gaming and MGM Resorts, two of the companies seeking a casino license in the city — could be objective in advising Springfield. “We are pleased with the Ethics Commission’s opinion and thank the commission for its time and consideration of this very important matter,” said Cezar Froelich, chairman of the firm, in a statement. “By filing the disclosure forms required by Massachusetts law, we believe we have fully complied with such law in a manner that allows us to provide unbiased advice to the city.”
UMass Awarded $308,000 for Life Sciences Project
AMHERST — The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced the approval of a $308,000 capital grant to support a research project at UMass Amherst titled “Life Sciences Research & Innovation: Growth Strategy for UMass Amherst in the Massachusetts Bioeconomy.” The project is a formal study of opportunities to catalyze life sciences and life sciences-related economic development in Western Mass. The $308,000 grant will enable UMass Amherst to increase the breadth and depth of industry collaborations; enhance access of other stakeholders to assets at UMass Amherst and in the Pioneer Valley, such as the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute (PVLSI) in Springfield; serve as a connector to the UMass system, the Commonwealth, and beyond; and catalyze the Western Mass. innovation ecosystem, especially in the life sciences. The MLSC is the agency charged with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2007 and approved by the Legislature in 2008. The Life Sciences Initiative targets $95 million in capital funding for UMass Amherst to construct an additional building within its new life-sciences complex, in which the school has already invested $270 million in recent years. The data collected during the project will inform UMass Amherst’s and the center’s future life-science-related investment plans in the region, including the building that is targeted for funding in the Initiative. “Gov. Patrick and I want to see positive development within the life-sciences industry for Western Mass.,” said Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray. “With this planning grant, the information gathered will inform our strategy for life-sciences growth in the region and further strengthen our state’s global leadership in this important field.” Added Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC, “as we pursue our mission of accelerating growth in Massachusetts’ thriving life-sciences supercluster, we are very focused on making investments across the entire Commonwealth, including the western part of the state. UMass Amherst is an important partner in that effort, and we are pleased to award this funding to support their forward-looking plans for life sciences growth in the region.”
Leadership Pioneer Valley Announces 2012-13 Class
CHICOPEE — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) officially kicked off the 2012-13 leadership development class of 40 emerging and established leaders. Leadership Pioneer Valley is addressing the need to build a diverse network of leaders who aspire to work together across traditional barriers to strengthen the region. The new class members will take part in a 10-month program of experiential learning that will take place at locations across the Valley. The field-based and challenge-based curriculum is specifically designed to help the class members refine their leadership skills, gain connections, and develop a greater commitment to community stewardship and cultural competency. “The curriculum builds on the strong feedback from our inaugural class with some adjustments to make this an even stronger program,” explains Leadership Pioneer Valley Director Lora Wondolowski. “The program is divided equally between seminar-style days that will focus on advanced leadership skills and field experiences, where participants will get a hands-on view of communities throughout the Valley. The program also features small-team projects, where class members will address a regional need.” The 2012-13 class members are: Jessica Atwood, Franklin Regional Council of Governments; Jeff Bagg, Town of Amherst; Krista Benoit, Dietz & Co. Architects Inc.; Suzanne Bowles, Alliance to Develop Power/ADP; Nancy Buffone, UMass Amherst; Nicolle Cestero, American International College; Kristin Cole, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce; Ayanna Crawford, YMCA of Greater Springfield; Nicholas Criscitelli, MassMutual Financial Group; Laurie Davison, Westfield Bank; Charity Day, Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority; Roshonda DeGraffenreid, Baystate Health; Kyle Kate Dudley, Drama Studio Inc.; Julie Federman, Town of Amherst; Tony Franco, United Bank; Julie Gentile, Hampden Bank; Jeannette Gordon, New England Farm Workers’ Council; Erica Johnson, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission; Lori Kerwood, Cooley Dickinson Hospital; Dawn Koloszyc, Cooley Dickinson Hospital; Ljuba Marsh, Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School; Dr. Julio Martinez-Silvestrini, Baystate Health; Irma Medina, Holyoke Community College; Donald Mitchell, Western Mass. Development Collaborative Inc.; Georgia Moore, Cooley Dickinson Health Care Corp.; Benjamin Murphy, United Way of Hampshire County; Glenn Posey, Western Massachusetts Electric Co.; Jon Queenin, Specialty Bolt; Jason Randall, Peter Pan Bus Lines; Lidya Rivera, Springfield Housing Authority; Debra Roussel, Town of Amherst; Alfonso Santaniello, the Creative Strategy Agency; Mark Sayre, MassMutual Financial Group; Sarah Schatz, Sarah’s Pet Services LLC; Maureen Trafford, Community Foundation of Western Mass.; Emmanuel Vera, MassMutual Financial Group; Janice Watson, YMCA of Greater Springfield; Tracye Whitfield, City of Springfield; Danielle Williams, GADA; and Anthony Wilson, City of Springfield.
MGM Casino Plan
Includes Union Station
SPRINGFIELD — MGM Resorts International announced that it will include a plan to integrate a revitalized Union Station into its hotel, casino, and entertainment district proposal for downtown Springfield. The newest piece of MGM’s $800 million dining, retail, and entertainment district proposal is in response to the city of Springfield’s initiative to restore the historic Union Station to its full potential. As part of its plan, MGM would locate its regional corporate office and its regional training institute for new employees to Union Station. “Our project isn’t just about one neighborhood or community or interest group,” explained Bill Hornbuckle, MGM’s chief marketing officer and president of MGM Springfield. “It is about helping to create a better future for an entire city, and tying in Union Station is just one example of how we intend to leverage the global strength of MGM to attract new opportunities, growth, and prosperity to every corner of Springfield.” MGM has been meeting with city officials, community leaders, and residents in neighborhoods across the city to discuss MGM Springfield, which was first announced on Aug. 22. Over the course of those conversations, it became clear to the MGM team that restoring Union Station to its former glory was a top priority and major focus for the City of Springfield. “The vision Springfield’s elected leaders and city officials have put forward for Union Station is truly inspiring,” said Hornbuckle. “We’ve heard loud and clear that restoring this landmark is a key priority, and we want to play a leading role in making this a reality.” Hornbuckle said he has personally toured Union Station on multiple occasions, along with Jim Murren, MGM’s chairman and CEO. “The minute we first set foot in that building, we knew this was a place where we had to be,” said Hornbuckle. “We fell in love with the history and architecture, as well as the opportunity to help revitalize passenger rail service in Springfield.”
BCBS Names Leaders in Healthcare Access
BOSTON — Eighteen emerging leaders in healthcare access have been named to the seventh class of the Mass. Institute for Community Health Leadership (MICHL), a leadership-development program designed to help high-potential professionals increase their personal impact and enhance their health organization’s influence in the community and the healthcare system. The 18-day educational program takes place over the course of nine months, offering a highly experiential curriculum that includes classroom work, peer-to-peer exchanges, and collaborative learning. During the program, students develop and implement a project that addresses a healthcare issue impacting low-income and vulnerable people in Massachusetts. MICHL engages participants in exploring the leadership challenges facing healthcare organizations in Massachusetts, identifying and building the capacities and competencies leaders will need to meet the challenges, and fostering collaboration among private nonprofits, public agencies, and academic institutions. The 2012-13 class includes: Rebecca Balder, Health Safety Net director, Division of Health Care Finance & Policy; Melinda Burri, director of Operations, Windsor Street Health Center; Paulette Renault-Caragianes, director, City of Somerville Health Department; Marta Chadwick, director, Violence Intervention & Prevention Program, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Kevin Coughlin, executive director, Greater Lowell Health Alliance; Holle Garvey, nurse practitioner, Sisters of Providence Health System; Katherine Howitt, senior policy analyst, Community Catalyst; Jacqueline Johnson, chief operations officer, Caring Health Center; Stacey King, director, Community Health & Wellness Program, Cambridge Public Health Department; Joanna Kreil, quality initiatives manager, Mass. League of Community Health Centers; Nancy Mahan, senior vice president, Program Services, Bay Cove Human Services Inc.; Matthew McCall, senior consultant, the Home for Little Wanderers; Anne McHugh, director, Chronic Disease Prevention & Control, Boston Public Health Commission; Lenore Tsikitas, health access and promotion coordinator, Mass. Department of Public Health; Rossana Valencia, clinical policy analyst, UMass Medical School; Jennifer Valenzuela, national director of program, Health Leads; Alyssa Vangeli, policy analyst, Health Care for All; and Cathy Wirth, project manager, Healthy Kids, Healthy Future.
Job Gains Remain Elusive in Region, Commonwealth
BOSTON —The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported that the August 2012 seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates in Massachusetts were down in 17 labor areas, unchanged in three areas, and up in two areas over the month. Over the year, the rates are down in all 22 labor areas. Statewide, the August seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.4%, down 0.2% from July. Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate was down 0.8% from the August 2011 unadjusted rate of 7.2%. In August, the Greater Springfield area, which includes most of Hampden County and parts of Hampshire County, saw unemployment fall to 7.8% from 8% in July, and from 8.4% in August 2011. However, the seasonally adjusted statewide August unemployment rate, released on Sept. 20, was 6.3%, an increase of 0.2% over the July figure, and down 1.1% from the 7.4% rate recorded in August 2011. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 4,800 job loss over the month. The national unemployment average, adjusted for seasonality, was 8.1% in August.