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Company Notebook

Marcella Named to 2022 Inc. 5000

NORTHAMPTON — Marcella, a mission-driven, ethically made direct-to-consumer designer fashion brand committed to advancing women and girls globally, experienced a 909% jump in revenue from 2018 to 2021 and has been listed on the annual Inc. 5000 list as the fastest-growing company in the retail sector in New England, 35th in retail nationally, and 689th overall. The Inc. 5000 is a ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. In addition to impressive growth, the companies on the 2022 Inc. 5000 have also demonstrated resilience amid supply-chain woes, labor shortages, and the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Headquartered in Northampton and founded by husband and wife duo Siyana and Andy Huszar, Marcella’s edgy, affordable women’s minimalist basics are designed in New York and handcrafted in Europe. Core to the brand’s DNA is a commitment to benefiting women and girls around the world: for every design Marcella sells, the company supports three days of school for a marginalized girl around the world, with the goal of supporting 8.5 million school days by the end of 2024. In pursuit of this mission, Marcella partners with CAMFED, the global NGO revolutionizing how girls’ education is delivered. Since April 2021, Marcella has already supported more than 600,000 school days for girls in need. Marcella takes a holistic approach to sustainability that respects both people and the planet. Its original designer apparel and accessories are priced accessibly. Every individual involved in the production of any Marcella product enjoys a truly living wage, generous benefits, and free healthcare. Additionally, the brand’s innovative ‘just in time’ production cycle minimizes the global fashion industry’s typical inventory overproduction and waste, enabling Marcella to sell more than 99% of what it makes and dramatically reducing its ecological footprint. “Marcella began as an Etsy shop and quickly transformed into a successful global e-commerce business fueled by our ‘design that matters’ philosophy of accessible prices, ethical production, sustainability, and social impact,” added Andy Huszar, co-founder and CEO of Marcella. “We moved Marcella’s headquarters from New York City to Western Massachusetts in 2017 because we saw unlimited potential in the region for supporting the growth of a global e-commerce brand. We’re honored to be recognized by Inc. and excited to continue to deliver on our mission to create sustainable fashion that reflects our brand values.”

 

Community Action Pioneer Valley Receives Workforce-training Funds for Formerly Incarcerated Citizens

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced $1.68 million in Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program grants awarded to 14 organizations, including one in Western Mass., Community Action Pioneer Valley in Greenfield. Funds will place formerly incarcerated citizens re-entering the workforce into new occupations, where they will receive on-the-job training. “The efforts of these community organizations, which includes their ability to locally connect individuals and employers, helps improve workforce readiness for those re-entering society,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “These re-entry grants are focused on evidence-based outcomes that best prepare those who have served their time to find employment that helps support themselves and their families.” Community Action Pioneer Valley will receive $160,000 to work with both the Franklin and Hampshire county sheriff’s offices to implement a training program focused on the manufacturing industry. Successful program graduates will be placed into production-occupation roles at Deerfield Packaging, Hillside Plastics, Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, or Quabbin Wire & Cable Company Inc. The Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program is an outcome of the Baker-Polito administration’s Task Force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment, chaired by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. The Task Force found that individuals within prison populations experienced complex needs that require intensive interventions for them to be successful in securing and maintaining employment. Access to adequate re-entry services was identified as a barrier to employment that disproportionally impacts the target populations and leads to greater recidivism. “Providing the formerly incarcerated with opportunities for on-the-job-training is an important way to address inequities in the Commonwealth’s workforce,” Acosta said. “Partnering with community organizations through these grants helps those with chronic high rates of unemployment find meaningful career pathways in Massachusetts.”

 

 

Chicopee Cupboard Food Pantry Moves to New Location

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) hosted a ‘new home’ celebration for the Chicopee Cupboard Food Pantry on Aug. 16 at 226 Exchange St. in Chicopee. The Chicopee Cupboard, powered by the United Way of Pioneer Valley, provides shelf-stable food, fresh produce and dairy items, and frozen food to anyone in need. These items are available thanks to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, grants, and donations. “We are honored to be able to battle any and all food insecurity in the great city of Chicopee,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our team is eager to provide our clients the best services possible.” To make an appointment, call Lee Drewitz at (413) 693-0213.

 

Joe Andruzzi Foundation Marks One-Year Anniversary of Food Security Assistance Program

NORTH ATTLEBORO — The Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF), providing help and hope to New England cancer patients and their families through financial support when it is needed most, announced that its Food Security Assistance Program is entering its second year of helping cancer patients across New England access healthy and nutritious foods to sustain them during treatment. Since its inception in 2021, the program has raised $436,850 for 1,867 cancer patients across New England. In December 2020, JAF conducted a pilot Food Security Program, which provided aid outside the financial-assistance grants already provided to cancer patients throughout New England, with the support of a $50,000 grant from Stop & Shop. The program pilot funded 199 households to support 478 patients from December 2020 through March 2021. Overall, nearly half (47%) of the grants distributed during the pilot program helped families who reported annual household income losses between 50% to 100% due to a cancer diagnosis. After a successful pilot, JAF formally launched its Food Security Assistance support for patients on August 11, 2021, with ROI Communications as its presenting sponsor. Additional support was received from Oncopeptides, Bearingstar Insurance, and the Dunkin’ Joy Foundation. Through the program, JAF sends grocery-store gift cards directly to the patient to be redeemed at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Big Y, Hannaford, or Market Basket. Donations to assist New England cancer patients and their families can be made online at joeandruzzifoundation.org/ways-to-give/donate.

 

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Forges Partnership with Kyiv School of Economics

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has signed a series of memoranda of agreement with the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) to assist students and scholars affected by Russia’s war with Ukraine. UMass Amherst’s new multi-level partnership with KSE will establish several modalities for Ukrainian students and scholars to be part of the UMass academic community. An academic exchange program for students will enable undergraduate and graduate students from Ukraine to study at UMass for a semester or academic year with nearly all costs waived.

In conjunction with the academic exchange program for students, a non-resident, virtual Scholar in Residence program will be created for scholars affiliated with KSE. Selected Ukrainian scholars will collaborate with centers, departments, and faculty at UMass Amherst on relevant research topics virtually and will receive a stipend through the KSE Foundation.

The agreements were finalized between March and July 2022 by KSE President Tymofiy Mylovanov and Rector Tymofii Brik and John McCarthy, now emeritus provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for UMass Amherst. Anna Nagurney, professor and the Eugene M. Isenberg Chair in Integrative Studies in the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, played a central role in driving these collaborative efforts. As a longstanding member of the International Academic Board at KSE, and now also co-chair of the board of directors at KSE, Nagurney was instrumental in nurturing the relationship between the two institutions. Most recently, Nagurney has been a leading expert in providing insights on Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.

 

Arrha Credit Union Opens New Branch in Enfield

ENFIELD, Conn. — Arrha Credit Union announced the opening of a new branch at 231 Hazard Ave. in Enfield, Conn. “Arrha Credit Union will bring hometown banking back,” said Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO. “This location is perfect to make that happen. Rockville Bank, also known as the Savings Bank of Rockville, once held this location, and they had the same style of hometown, superior customer-service banking. We are excited to welcome these customers back and become members, part of the Arrha financial family. This means offering home-style banking to meet the personal and business needs for families, individuals, and businesses.” Amanda Howie, the branch manager, is sought after for her advice on vehicle lending, low-interest credit cards, free checking with convenient app downloads, online banking, and virtual deposits, Ostrowski noted. Adam Baldwin is the assistant vice president, regional branch and Business Development manager. With more than eight years of banking experience, he has been recognized throughout his career as a rising star with superior service awards. He is a Rotarian, on the board of the Enfield Food Bank, and actively involved in the community. Anthony (Tony) Franco is the vice president of Commercial Lending. With more than 25 years in the financial-services and commercial-lending industry, he has been helping area businesses achieve their goals and direct them to what commercial deposits and lending services work best for them.

 

Springfield Thunderbirds Named AHL’s Team of the Year

SPRINGFIELD — The American Hockey League (AHL) announced the Springfield Thunderbirds as the winner of the President’s Award for the 2021-22 season during the Board of Governors’ annual meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Bestowed upon the team that demonstrates overall excellence both on and off the ice, the Thunderbirds captured Team of the Year honors following a historic season that set team records across a wide range of business categories, including average attendance (5,375), season tickets sold, overall ticket revenue, and corporate sales revenue. The T-Birds achieved these milestones while winning the AHL’s Eastern Conference Championship. This marked the franchise’s first-ever playoff appearance and Springfield’s first trip to the Calder Cup Finals since 1991. See page 4 for much more about the Thunderbirds’ recent success.

 

Hazen Paper Wins Gold Leaf Award for 2021 Hall of Fame Yearbook

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. was presented a Gold Leaf Award by the Foil and Specialty Effects Assoc. (FSEA) at Amplify: the Print, Finishing, and Embellishment Event, held recently by FSEA and the Assoc. for PRINT Technologies in Minneapolis. Hazen garnered recognition in the category “best use of overprinting foil” for the 2021 enshrinement yearbook produced for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Hazen used custom holography to replicate the brilliant LED lighting of the iconic Hall of Fame dome, employing edgeless Hazen-Lens technology to create a pulsating play of light in front of a brilliant radial burst of two-channel holography. Treatment of the Basketball Hall of Fame logo also utilized holography to emphasize the basketball’s pebbled texture against the smooth reflective sphere of the dome. The holography was registered to a tolerance of 1/16” for near-perfect alignment during printing. Hazen originated the holography for the yearbook completely within its vertically integrated Holyoke facility. The custom holograms were created in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, then micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto smooth, 12-point WestRock Crescendo C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. Agency GO of Hartford, Conn. designed the limited-edition yearbook cover, which was printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston. Hazen also received a Silver Leaf Award from FSEA for “best use of foil/embossing in a calendar (industry)” on the holographic Hazen 2022 calendar “Here Comes the Sun.

 

Berkshire Bank’s Foundation Gives $205,000 to Nonprofits

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank recently presented a total of $205,000 in funding to Springfield non-profit organizations during Berkshire’s BEST Community Comeback Tour. The grants aim to help power the financial potential of the local communities the bank serves through organizations impacting the areas of gender equality, small-business technical assistance, housing, neighborhood stabilization, and education. The grants included $75,000 to the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, $25,000 to Revitalize CDC, $5,000 to Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence, and $100,000 to Common Capital, a subsidiary of Way Finders.

 

Berkshire United Way Renews Funding to 40 Programs

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire United Way (BUW) announced renewal funding of $1,029,500 for 40 programs across 24 community partner organizations, providing a much-needed additional year of support. This funding will be for a one-year period, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, and will continue to stabilize BUW’s three main community-impact areas: early childhood development, positive youth development, and economic prosperity. Visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/our-impact to learn more about the 40 programs. BUW’s investments in these programs support family well-being and address gaps in services in the community. Programs generate a whole-family, integrated approach focusing on educational advancement and economic mobility. A new round of funding requests will be announced in early 2023. To donate to BUW’s fundraising campaign, visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/donate.

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge Successfully Hosts Comedy Fundraising Event

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles recently welcomed the community to its lounge, hosting a successful fundraising event, Beauty Batlles Moving Forward. About 60 guests were in attendance, and all had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction, raffles, and 50/50 drawing, all while enjoying a cash bar and food at the comedy show. With support from clients, family, local business owners, and others in the community, the event raised about $4,000 that will assist Beauty Batlles in its move. The facility will now be able to offer a larger scale of services to its clients and offer new job opportunities at the new location. Beauty Batlles Lounge offers microblading, waxing, lash lift tint, facials, brow lamination, BB glow, and body-sculpting services. It uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to each client’s specific needs. The goal is to deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with different insecurities, and the support the community has continued to show will help the facility expand to its new location, allowing it to service the community more effectively.

 

PeoplesBank Named Top Charitable Contributor by Boston Business Journal

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank’s record-setting charitable contributions in 2021 earned recognition from the Boston Business Journal, as the bank secured a spot on the region’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors list for the 15th year in a row. In 2021, while focusing on food insecurity, housing, and literacy, PeoplesBank announced record donations reaching $1,315,000, with a total of close to $11 million donated since 2011. The bank has doubled its donations in the last five years. “It is a big part of who we are as an organization, our employees, and how they volunteer in the community,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “I see 2022 as a tremendous opportunity for us to give back and be committed to the communities that we serve.” PeoplesBank’s associates donate 10,000 volunteer hours per year, and 74 of them have served on 54 nonprofit boards. The region’s top charitable companies will be honored at the Boston Business Journal’s Corporate Citizenship Awards on the Sept. 8 at Revere Hotel in Boston.

 

Company Notebook

Nominations Sought for Super 60 Program

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) is seeking nominations for its annual Super 60 awards program. Super 60 recognizes the success of the fastest-growing and privately owned businesses in the region. Nominations must be submitted by August 5. Each year, Super 60 identifies the top-performing companies in this region, based on revenue growth and total revenue. In 2019, one-quarter of the Total Revenue winners exceeded $30 million, with all the winners combining for more than $720 million in revenue. In the Revenue Growth category, all winners had growth above 21%, and 50% of the top 30 companies grew by more than 50%. To be considered, companies must be independently and privately owned; based in Hampden or Hampshire counties or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber; have revenues of at least $1 million in the past fiscal year; and have been in business for at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year. Companies may be nominated by financial institutions, attorneys, or accountants, or they can self-nominate. Along with an application, nominators must provide net operating revenue figures for the last three full fiscal years, signed and verified by an independent auditor. All financial information must be reported under generally accepted accounting principles and will be considered confidential. Nomination forms can be found on the Chamber’s website and can be submitted by faxing to SUPER 60, Springfield Regional Chamber, (413) 755-1322. Nomination forms must be submitted no later than August 5. The Super 60 awards will be presented at the annual luncheon and recognition program on Oct. 28, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The Super 60 award luncheon attracts more than 500 business leaders each year. Super 60 sponsorships are now available. For information, call (413) 755-1309 or e-mail Szynal at [email protected]

 

Greenfield Co-op Reports Solid FY 2022

GREENFIELD — Anthony Worden, president & CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC recently announced the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as announced at the 117th annual meeting of the bank on June 21. Worden reported that FY 2022, which ended March 31, was very successful and the assets of the bank grew by $41.4 million (5%) over the prior year.

Other results include:

• In FY 2022, GCB originated more than $166 million in loans of all types, including $61.3 million in residential mortgages, $92.0 million in commercial loans,

$45.6 million in municipal lending, $9.2 million in home equity loans and lines, and

$1.2 million in MassSave® ‘’zero-interest” energy loans.

• GCB had an increase of $50.5 million in deposits (7.4%) over the past year;

• The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was $4.416 million for the year ended March 31, 2022 and the net income after taxes was $3.454 million;

• GCB’s Tier 1 Capital to average assets is 10.5%. The bank is considered “well capitalized” by all regulatory definitions.

• As a result of these solid earnings, the bank and its employees were able to contribute more than $180,000 to 200 community groups and charities throughout both Hampshire and Franklin County during the past fiscal year.

 

AIC Partners with HCC with Signing of Articulation Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has signed an articulation agreement with Holyoke Community College (HCC), formally establishing a close academic relationship between the two-year college and the four-year institution. The accord between AIC and HCC aligns academic programs that enhance the seamless transition of HCC graduates and qualified candidates from HCC, and promotes a smooth, successful transfer to AIC. This articulation agreement offers time and cost savings for students by recognizing the coursework pursued at the community college and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of both AIC and HCC to the community and its students, by ensuring that educational pathways are created for all those who wish to consider a degree in higher education. At AIC, the program is referred to as Direct Connect. Direct Connect, transfer students automatically receive a $4,000 scholarship in addition to their earned merit scholarship, before any need-based aid is awarded. This means Direct Connect students can earn up to $18,000 in financial gift aid, not loans, before being evaluated for additional need-based aid. And, unlike some other transfer articulation agreements, the Direct Connect program at AIC allows students to study and major in their area of interest while attending their community college.

 

Westfield Bank Supports Camp Atwater Capital Campaign

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank President and CEO James C. Hagan recently presented Springfield Urban League CEO Henry M. Thomas III with a $100,000 contribution to help launch a $7.5 million capital campaign to ensure the future of historic Camp Atwater. The Urban League has owned and operated Camp Atwater, located in North Brookfield, since 1921, making it the longest operating Black-owned summer camp in the nation. In its many years of service, Camp Atwater has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives and careers of the vast majority of the camp’s more than 55,000 alumni. Galvanized by the needs of the Black community in Massachusetts and beyond, the Urban League is embarking on the $7.5 million Centennial Campaign to reimagine and reconfigure Camp Atwater so that it may continue as a foundational experience for campers for the next hundred years. Already recognized for its significance by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Urban League is seeking to capitalize on the opportunity for Atwater to provide the preeminent camp experience for the African American community, and to develop ongoing generations of leaders by providing a unique blend of enriching programs and activities within a setting that is at once nurturing and challenging, while fostering self-discovery and growth. With Westfield Bank’s support, as well as that of other early donors, significant work on the Camp’s buildings and grounds is scheduled to begin this summer and continue onward so that Atwater can welcome overnight campers back in the summer of 2023.

 

Funders Reach Million-dollar Milestone in Awards to Local Farms

AGAWAM — The Local Farmer Awards, a funding initiative launched in 2015 by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF) and Big Y Foods, reached the million-dollar milestone in May. Over the past eight years, more than 470 grants have been made to farmers in Western Mass. and the Berkshires. Along with the Big Y and HGCF are 25 generous community and individual donors including Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, PeoplesBank, DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Farm Credit East, HP Hood LLC, Audrey & Chick Taylor, Baystate Health, Country Bank and others. Last month, 74 farmers primarily located in Western Massachusetts received the 2022 awards — checks of up to $2,500 for infrastructure improvements. Totaling $165,500, these grants help sustain robust projects related to growing, harvesting, and processing. Program director Cari Carpenter said that the publicity generated by the Local Farmer Awards draws much needed attention to the productivity of all farms in the region, whether or not they have been award recipients. “We want to celebrate and encourage every farm in Western Mass and the Berkshires, not only our winners. The program returned in March to an in-person appreciation party, including all 120 farms within our applicant reach this year. Donors were able to grasp the impact of what they are doing — and the potential to do even more!”

 

W.F. Young Receives Visionary and Visibility Awards

EAST LONGMEADOW — W.F. Young, a global leader in animal health products such as Absorbine® and The Missing Link®, received two awards at the 2022National Animal Supplement Council Annual Conference, the NASC Visionary Award, acknowledging the animal wellness company as an originating/founding member, and the Visibility Award, for Outstanding Promotion of the NASC Quality Seal. The National Animal Supplement Council is a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals and horses throughout the United States. Founded in 2001, NASC is an all-industry association of stakeholders concerned with the issues surrounding the supply of health supplements for animals not intended for human consumption, such as dogs, cats, and horses. The 2022 NASC Annual Conference took place recently in St. Louis, Mo. at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel. The event featured networking opportunities for all the attendees, breakout sessions for science, compliance, business, and marketing, as well as exhibiting from sponsors, and a dinner and awards gala. Audra Mulligan, director of Regulatory Affairs and Development, was present at the ceremony and accepted the awards on behalf of W.F. Young.

 

Bella Foodie, Fogbuster Coffee Launch Bella Foodie’s Private Label

SPRINGFIELD — Bella Foodie LLC, in partnership with Fogbusters Coffee, celebrated the launch of its custom private label coffee blend with a special coffee tasting event at Open Square in Holyoke. “Let’s face it, anyone that knows me knows how much I love my coffee! I am so truly happy that Bella Foodie will be having its own custom blend under Fogbuster Coffee,” said Ashley Tresoline, Owner of Bella Foodie LLC. “This partnership has been a dream come true for me and the Pierce brothers are so wonderful to work with. We all understand the value of what we put in our bodies and that it should be only of the highest quality. Their organic, air-roasted coffee is one of a kind and I am so excited for everyone to try it.” Said Sean Pierce, owner of Fogbuster Coffee Works, “we here at Fogbuster Coffee Works are very excited to partner up with Bella Foodie. We have worked closely with Ashley, to develop a special Bella Foodie Blend. One that encompasses both Bella Foodie and Fogbuster Coffee Works philosophies around all foods.”

 

Whittlesey Celebrates Community Day

HARTFORD — More than 90 Whittlesey team members across Connecticut and Western Mass. celebrated Community Day on June 17, an annual day of service representing the firm’s year-round commitment to giving back to local communities. For the past 12 years, hundreds of Whittlesey volunteers have put aside their daily work to partake in various projects ranging from painting classrooms to building homes. This year, the firm focused on efforts related to environmental sustainability. Alongside ReGreen Springfield, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, and Springfield Forestry, team members planted a pollinator garden in Forest Park. Also, teams joined the Bushnell Park Foundation and the United Way of Greater New Haven to plant community gardens, weed, and lay mulch.

 

EforAll Berkshire County Awards Prizes to Accelerator Companies

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County awarded nearly $10,000 in prizes to the Spring 2022 Business Accelerator Cohort at a recent awards ceremony held on Zoom. The celebration and gala began with remarks from state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who emphasized the robust public-private partnership that supports EforAll’s regional efforts and lauded the efforts of the 12 businesses that completed the program. The class speaker, Rachel Hailey of DEI Outdoors was chosen by her colleagues and shared many of the lessons of the program for future EforAll participants.

The awards were granted as follows:

• Jenny Gitlitz of Berkshire Family Advocates received the Paula Buxbaum Award, established in honor of a member of the Fall 2021 cohort who died in a car crash in October 2021. The award is granted to an individual making a career pivot and incorporating a social mission into their business;

• $1,000 to Rachel Hailey for DEI Outdoors;

• $2,300 to Deirdre Horan (Great Barrington) of Dri Ocean Products;

• $2,500 to Jackye Stoddard (Hudson, NY) for Hierba Buena Foods; and

• $3,500 to Elizabeth Heller (Pittsfield) for The Kids Super Journal.

The virtual event was also simulcast on Pittsfield Community Television. The recording is available to view here: https://youtu.be/yTeFMsVcB-4

EforAll’s next accelerator class will begin in September; applications are due at www.eforall.org before August 25.

 

Pare Corporation Opens Facility in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Pare Corporation, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, recently staged a well-attended grand opening for its facility in Holyoke, its third office in the region. “The Pioneer Valley is very community-focused and I appreciate the warm welcome the leaders of the Holyoke community have given us,” said Pare Vice President David Loring. “Because Holyoke is a hub point to the region, it is a perfect location for our new office. We look forward to meeting additional members of the community now that the office is open.” As part of the ceremony, a proclamation was presented by the office of Senator John Velis, who grew up in Holyoke and maintains strong ties to the region. Established in 1970, Pare Corporation has more than 130 staff serving the eastern United States. In addition to Holyoke, Pare has offices in Rhode Island and Foxboro, Mass. Pare has experience designing public and private facilities and the infrastructure that supports them. Clients and markets include state transportation departments, water and wastewater authorities, K-12 and higher education facilities, biotechnology and life science companies, and dams and marine facilities ranging to a wide variety of municipal, industrial, institutional, and commercial developments.

Company Notebook

HNE, Peoplesbank Donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and Health New England have partnered to donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community (GTC) of Springfield. The money will support the non-profit’s urban garden, farm store, youth leadership program, and other programs. The companies’ collaborative donation came about as representatives from each were discussing needs in the Springfield community and the non-profit organizations each supports. Both support GTC and, knowing that more than 15% percent of children in Hampden County are food insecure, the two companies agreed to help. “We believe that this donation from two of our most valued corporate partners is an investment in our organization, economically and spiritually. It is especially appreciated during this time of rising food costs, as we work to bring forth a just food system that works for all,” said Liz O’Gilvie of GTC. “We will use the funds to support our efforts to grow food that’s affordable while we help our young people to understand the inequities in our food. system.” Said Matthew Bannister, senior vice president of marketing and corporate responsibility for PeoplesBank, “PeoplesBank and Health New England are like-minded in our belief that companies have a responsibility to improve the communities in which they do business. In working with Health New England as our health plan, we found that we both supported several of the same area non-profits, including Gardening the Community. We decided to demonstrate our partnership with this combined donation.” Keith Ledoux, vice president Commercial Line of Business and Business Development for Health New England, agreed. “Both Health New England and PeoplesBank know that our companies are part of a larger ecosystem – our community – and when it thrives, we thrive. Together, our support of Gardening the Community will not only fight hunger and promote good health but will bring opportunity to the Mason Square neighborhood.” Gardening the Community (GTC) grows organic food on formerly empty lots increasing access to healthy food in food-insecure areas. They emphasize youth leadership development, racial justice, and intergenerational relationship building in all their work. GTC serves Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, a low income, predominantly Black and Latinx community as well as residents from across the city.

 

Florence Bank Donates $5,000 to Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield

Florence Bank has donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield to help bolster the nonprofit’s 2022 Change a Child’s Future campaign. The club serves members ranging in age from 2.9 months to 18 years. This year’s $50,000 campaign goal will raise funds for financial aid to families in need and allow the club to enhance programming for before- and after-school programs, expand the Little Futures Preschool, purchase art and S.T.E.M. materials, and offer a variety of sports clinics. To learn more visit www.wsbgclub.org. “Florence Bank is committed to ensuring our local youth have the opportunity to become productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Michael Moriarty, Florence Bank senior vice president, commercial team leader and chairman of the Boys & Girls Club. “The funds we provide to the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club help support a variety of programs as well as families in need of financial assistance.” Sarah G. Calabrese, the club’s resource development director, said, “Florence Bank’s support of our mission will help to enable all youth to reach their full potential. We are proud to call Florence Bank a partner in supporting us so that we can ensure all children and teens have the opportunity for a great future.”

 

Big Y Implements Pay Increases

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Foods Inc. is investing in its store teams in order to show appreciation for their hard work, and customer service. This multi-million dollar investment will increase starting pay rates for all clerks, customer service, fresh food and center store specialists, and assistant department managers as of June 26. Almost three fourths of the company’s retail workforce will receive a pay increase which will assist them with the rising cost of living. These hourly store operations teams work in the Big Y Markets, Table & Vine, and Big Y Express Gas and Convenience Stores. Once implemented, all retail Big Y employees will be paid above minimum wage in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Members of upper management are not included in this increase. “We are proud to be investing in our store teams who have been on the front lines these past two years to support our customers and our community,” said Charles L. D’Amour, Big Y president and CEO. “We know that household budgets are being squeezed by inflation- we hope that by boosting their hourly rates, we will help them to weather these tough times as we recognize and appreciate their efforts and their loyalty.”

 

TRE Olive Wins Gold at Competition

EAST LONGMEADOW — TRE Olive, located in East Longmeadow, is a Gold Award winner for a second time at this year’s 2022 New York International Olive Oil Competition. TRE Olive won the Gold Award for its TRE Olive Select. In 2020 TRE Olive won a gold and silver award for both its TRE Select & Campo Dieci brands. “It’s very humbling and rewarding to receive such a prestigious award from some of the top olive oil experts in the world. Our team in Italy and here in the U.S. are committed to producing a premium extra virgin olive oil for our customers and this validates all the hard work and commitment it takes.” said Joe Maruca, co-owner of TRE Olive. In addition to its award-winning extra virgin olive oil, TRE Olive also offers corporate gifts and a tree-adoption program. When an olive tree is adopted, the recipient will receive an adoption certificate, a gift box, a photo of their tree, a welcome brochure, and three tins of olive oil to get started. The tree is also tagged with the adoptee’s name for one year. TRE Olive has been featured on the TODAY Show, as well as in the Real Simple and Eating Well magazines as top gifts for the foodies in your life.

 

GCAi/New England Corporate Video Helps Nativity School Fund Free Tuition

Darcy Young and Mary Cate Mannion, producers for New England Corporate Video (NECV), recently completed a pro bono video series for the Nativity School of Worcester. The feature video was shown at a fundraising event that raised a record-setting $340,000 which will ensure that the school can continue to provide a tuition-free education. The Nativity School is an accredited, independent, Jesuit middle school that provides an education to underserved boys of all faiths. Young and Mannion are two of the most experienced female video producers in New England and experts in brand journalism and corporate video production. Young is an award-winning video producer and Mannion is a former award-winning news anchor and reporter. Their pro bono video work includes videos for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Willie Ross School for the Deaf, where Mary Cate serves on the board of directors, The Children’s Study Home, where Darcy serves on the executive board, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services. ECV is a recently launched division of Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), which was co-founded by Young and Mannion. The NECV Nativity School video can be viewed at https://bit.ly/nativityvideo22.

 

Founders of Park Square Realty Celebrate 35th Anniversary

Carolyn Coughlen and Kate Cheever, two of the three founders of Park Square Realty are celebrating 35 years with the company. The two were recognized at the recent Park Square Realty Awards and Recognition Event held at Tucker’s Restaurant in Southwick. They are still actively practicing real estate. Natives of Westfield, the founding brokers desired to use their real estate experience to open what many called a “boutique” real estate firm in 1987, to serve the area with excellent service to clients and a local connection. Over the years Park Square Realty has stayed true to the vision that the founders had and has grown with 56 agents and two offices in Westfield and West Springfield.

 

United Way of Pioneer Valley Partners with Stop & Shop for Fundraiser

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley is partnering with local Stop & Shop stores to fight food insecurity by hosting a fundraiser the entire month of June in support of the Chicopee Community Cupboard (CCC). Stop & Shop shoppers can purchase a Bloomin’ for Good Bouquet at the local Stop & Shop. From the purchase price of each bouquet, $1 will go directly to the Chicopee Community Cupboard, a United Way owned and operated food pantry located at 32 Center Street in Chicopee. The Chicopee Community Cupboard opened in the spring of 2021 to help create food security for the residents of Chicopee and all those in need throughout Western Mass. Extensive community research into gaps of services in basic needs was done prior to its establishment to support impoverished persons. “We cannot thank Stop & Shop of Chicopee enough for their generous time and support of our Chicopee Community Cupboard,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “We service over 300 families in the City of Chicopee alone and these donations will greatly help combat the need.” Anyone facing food insecurity can visit the Chicopee Community Cupboard between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Currently clients are requested to fill out an application and schedule a monthly appointment, but all those in need will be served.

 

Whittlesey Celebrates Community Day

HARTFORD — More than 90 Whittlesey team members across Connecticut and Western Mass. celebrated Community Day on June 17, an annual day of service representing the firm’s year-round commitment to giving back to local communities. For the past 12 years, hundreds of Whittlesey volunteers have put aside their daily work to partake in various projects ranging from painting classrooms to building homes.

This year, the firm focused on efforts related to environmental sustainability. Alongside ReGreen Springfield, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, and Springfield Forestry, team members planted a pollinator garden in Forest Park. Also, teams joined the Bushnell Park Foundation and the United Way of Greater New Haven to plant community gardens, weed, and lay mulch.

“As community members for more than 60 years, we care deeply about our neighbors and the environment where we live and work,” said Drew Andrews, CEO and managing partner at Whittlesey. “Our commitment to service is rooted deeply in the fabric of our firm, which is why we sponsor several community-driven events throughout the year. Working with many incredible nonprofit organizations across the region for the past several decades has been a privilege. I am proud of the impact our team has continued to make by working collectively to give back.”

 

Company Notebook

Monson Savings Bank Elects New Corporators

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the election of five new corporators. At the bank’s recent annual meeting, it was announced that Nikki Burnett, Cesar Ruiz, John Zienowicz, Ciara Speller, and Christian D’Amour had been elected by existing corporators. Burnett is the executive director of Educare Springfield. She also sits on national committees for the Educare Learning Network, such as the Educare Policy Work Group, the Collaborative Fundraising Advisory Board, and the Red Nose Day Advisory Board. Additionally, she is a trustee for the Community Foundation of Western Mass., and serves on the Distribution Committee as co‐chair; the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee; and the Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Baystate Community Benefits Advisory Council. Ruiz is the founder, president and CEO of Golden Years Home Services. He was the first Hispanic popularly elected official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving on the Springfield School Committee from 1980-1986. Prior to founding Golden Years, he worked in banking at Region’s Bank. He was recently recognized as one of business’s most influential Latinos by Hispanic Executive magazine. Zienowicz is the executive director of the Ware Council on Aging. Furthermore, he sits on the board of directors for the Quaboag Hills Community Coalition, the Ware Cable Access Television, and the Advisory Board for BHN Carson Center. He is a member of the Bay State Eastern Region Community Benefits Advisory Board, the Quaboag Region Coordinating Council, and the Quaboag Hills Substance Use Alliance. Speller is a weeknight news anchor for Channel 22 WWLP. She serves as a board member for local nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds, is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, volunteers for the Miss Western Massachusetts Scholarship Assoc., and is a panelist for Girls Inc. of the Valley. Additionally, she was the recipient of the “Leadership in Broadcasting Award” from Bay Path University in 2019 and a 2021 Boston/New England Regional Emmy Winner. D’Amour is the director of E-Commerce at Big Y World Class Market and a third-generation member of Big Y Foods’ founding D’Amour family. Prior to working at Big Y, he worked at Delta Dental of Rhode Island as a sales and marketing representative. Additionally, he holds a B.A. from Saint Michael College.

 

HNE Offers $100,000 in Grants for DEIB in Maternal/Infant Health

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England is offering $100,000 in grants for non-profit organizations that address inequities to improve maternal and infant health. The company’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) grants will award up to $10,000 per organization. The DEIB grants will fund non-profits whose programs address health equity and focus on engaging at least one social determinant of health (SDOH). SDOHs are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that affect health, quality of life, and life expectancy. These may include socioeconomic status, food insecurity, education, access to health care, safe housing, discrimination, violence, and trauma, etc. Registered 501(c)(3) non-profits focused on communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties are eligible. Eligible organizations can find out more and apply for the grant here. Submissions are due by midnight on May 30.

Mercy Medical Center Earns Fourth Consecutive ‘A’ Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center has received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022. This national distinction recognizes Mercy Medical Center’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital. This latest recognition marks Mercy’s fourth consecutive “A” safety grade. The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization, assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on over thirty national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries, and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harms to patients. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually, in the fall and spring.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $83,750 in First Grant Funding Round of 2022

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $83,750 to 12 Berkshire area organizations and an additional grant to Pittsfield Public Schools in its first-round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 to support their local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences.

The following organizations received funding:

• Berkshire Center for Justice;
• Berkshire Community Diaper Project;
• Berkshire Concert Choir;
• Berkshire County Arc;
• Berkshire Historical Society;
• Berkshire Family YMCA;
• Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity;
• Community Access to the Arts;
• Great Barrington Public Theater;
• Greenagers;
• Roots Rising; and
• The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Concert Choir, Berkshire Historical Society, and Great Barrington Public Theater. Additionally, Lee Bank Foundation announced a $16,000 grant to the Pittsfield Public Schools — $1,000 for each school serving children and adults in Pittsfield, to coincide with the groundbreaking of the new Lee Bank branch on South Street. The deadline for the next round of 2022 Foundation funding is June 1. The application and more information can be found on the Community Impact section of Lee Bank’s website (https://www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html). To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in our region. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas: education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship and “school to work” initiatives; and arts and culture

 

Marriott Brand Restored on Downtown Springfield Hotel

SPRINGFIELD — The Marriott brand has been restored to a downtown Springfield hotel in preparation for a planned September opening. The Marriott ‘M’ logo was attached to the Tower Square Hotel recently, a milestone in a nearly four-year-long effort to restore a brand name that was lost in 2017. Extensive renovations of the property, projected to cost $40 million, are ongoing, with a grand reopening planned for this fall. The new Marriott will have 266 rooms.

 

North Brookfield Savings Named Among ‘Top Extraordinary Banks’

NORTH BROOKFIELD — North Brookfield Savings Bank, was recently named among the top extraordinary banks in the United States by The Institute for Extraordinary Banking. This award comes on the heels of the Community Choice Central Mass. Best Bank Award it received for 2021. North Brookfield Savings Bank was recognized with the institute’s Banky Award for its commitment to strong community banking. This recognition is given to top community banks across the country to help people find the best banks in their communities.

 

Massage Clinic to Open at Asnuntuck Community College

ENFIELD, Conn. — The public is invited to make a reservation for a massage through Asnuntuck Community College’s massage clinic. Massages can provide physical and mental benefits. Massage can loosen tight muscles, lower blood pressure, and assist in recovery from injuries and illness. Students enrolled in ACC’s Massage Therapy program provide the massages for the clinic. The appointments begin May 23, and run until August 16 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Appointment times are 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Rates are $30 for 50 minutes, and $60 for 100 minutes. Gift certificates are available. Tipping is not allowed by state law. Reservations are required. Visit https://asnuntuck.edu/massage/ to learn more about the clinic.

 

Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care Named to ‘Elite List’

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced that Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care, one of its subsidiary organizations, has made the 2022 Hospice Honors Elite list. Hospice Honors is a prestigious annual national program from HEALTHCAREfirst that recognized hospices that continuously provide the highest level of quality care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. HEALTHCAREfirst is a leading provider of billing and coding services, CAHPS surveys, and advanced analytics. It acknowledges the highest performing agencies by analyzing the performance of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) hospice survey satisfaction measures. Award criteria were based on Hospice CAHPS survey results for an evaluation period of October 2020 through September 2021. Award recipients were identified by evaluating performance on a set of 24 quality indicator measures. Performance scores were aggregated from all completed surveys and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a National Performance Score calculated from all hospices contained in the HEALTHCAREfirst’s Hospice CAHPS database. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst national performance score on 20 of the 24 evaluated questions. HEALTHCAREfirst holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on all 24 of the evaluated questions.

 

‘Together HCC’ Raises $192,000 for Scholarships, Student Aid

HOLYOKE — Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Holyoke Community College led a historic day of giving last month, raising more than $192,000 for student support programs during its one-day ‘Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives’ campaign. Organizers had set a goal of 300 donors for the 24-hour, April 26, fund drive. The final tally was 418, a 41% increase from 2021. Auto dealer Gary Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, led the way with a $5,000 challenge when the campaign met its goals of securing 300 donors. Another alumni donor was Dylan Pilon, ’12, of Springfield, a former scholarship recipient who graduated from HCC debt free, which allowed him to start his own company, Cloud 9 Marketing in East Longmeadow. In addition to Rome and Pilon, Peg, ’58, and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, ’59, trustee Robert Gilbert, Foundation board member Carl Eger, ’56, and Shirley Eger, and HCC President Christina Royal all posed matching and challenge gifts for the campaign.

 

‘Parklets’ Come to Downtown Amherst

AMHERST — The Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) has received an $80,750 grant from the Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) for outdoor seating accommodations on Amity Street and South Pleasant Street that have been dubbed ‘parklets.’

The grant is funded through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and is being administered through the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. It will cover the materials, labor, and insurance costs.

Each parklet will be located in front of a designated food-and-drink establishment for that establishment’s use, and the sidewalk next to each parklet location will be maintained as a pedestrian pathway. These ‘parklets’ will also be accessible to those with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design.

The Amherst BID is managing this project with support from the Amherst Planning Department staff. The parklets are being constructed by Keiter Corporation, a Florence-based construction company. Additionally, Evan Jones from Cowls Building Supply, located in Amherst, worked with the BID to procure the materials at a reduced cost.

“The main goal of this project is to help activate the downtown streetscape by providing extended sidewalks to serve as outdoor dining spaces, to attract residents and visitors and support local businesses. As the town explores urban design standards and streetscape designs for the downtown, this pilot project is an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to learn from and enjoy,” said Maureen Pollock, Amherst planner.

The parklets are expected to be fully constructed by Saturday.

Company Notebook

State Awards $30 Million to STCC to Relocate Health Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College has received $30 million in state funding to move healthcare programs out of an aging building on campus that has outlived its usefulness. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the award on Wednesday. College officials in December asked the state for the maximum amount of $30 million to vacate Building 20, which houses 18 degree and certificate allied health programs as well as the acclaimedSIMS Medical Center. STCC has secured $11.5 million from other sources for the $41.5 million project. The award announced by the governor comes from the state Division of Capital Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). Constructed in 1941, Building 20 is past its useful life and has a history of expensive emergency repairs. The healthcare programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation educate more than 700 students per semester and employ more than 120 faculty and staff. The STCC Board of Trustees committed $6 million from the college’s budget to the project. Trustees Chair Marikate Murren said, “We’re thrilled and grateful to Gov. Baker and DCAMM for their support to make this move possible. The relocation of the programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation will allow STCC to continue to prepare students for healthcare careers. The investment in this project represents an investment in the City of Springfield and the region. To best summarize the outlook for the College, Cook said, “I am delighted for our students and faculty as this ensures that STCC stays on the leading edge of healthcare education; the future of STCC is bright.”

 

Monson Savings Launches 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign

MONSON — The celebratory planning for Monson Savings Bank’s 150thanniversary continues, with the bank pledging to show extra support to nonprofits and have an extra level of community participation throughout the year. A large and very fun part of that support comes in the form of theMonson Savings Bank 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign. For this campaign, MSB will be purchasing more than $20,000 worth of children’s bicycles and helmets from the Family Bicycle Shop in East Longmeadow, with guidance from the shop’s owner Ray Plouffe. To gear up for the campaign, Monson Savings Bank has also teamed up with five local non-profits to identify children who are in need of a bicycle: the YMCA of Greater Springfield; the YWCAof Western Massachusetts; I Found Light Against All Odds; Educare Springfield; and the South End Community Center. Beginning this spring, MSB will be planning events hosted with each nonprofit. The bank’s team members will assemble the bikes, when possible alongside the very children who will be receiving them. Nonprofit employees will be welcomed to join the activity, and representatives from the Family Bicycle Shop will be on site to assist and ensure children are properly fitted with helmets and training wheels. Monson Savings Bank will provide and share a meal for attendees. “When exploring the various ways we could celebrate Monson Savings Bank’s 150thAnniversary, there were so many ideas,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank.“We wanted to be sure to do something that would make a difference on many fronts and spread some joy. With the 150 Build-a-Bike campaign, we are able to connect with the vital community nonprofits and their leaders. Our team gets to work together on hands-on projects to further foster our culture of teamwork and community support. Plus, we are able to provide the children with the experience of building and riding a bike, a joy-filled activity, and something they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience. I could not think of a better way to commemorate our 150thAnniversary.” To see a full schedule of events for MSB’s 150th anniversary, visit www.monsonsavings.bank/anniversary.

 

Big Y Express Launches New Downtown Format

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y has announced plans to build a new concept Big Y Express Fresh Market at 1500 Main St. as part of Tower Square in Springfield. The new, 10,000-square-foot Big Y Express Fresh Market will be tailored to fit the needs of the city’s downtown community. Currently, there are workers and area residents who are eager to have access to delicious, nutritious and affordable offerings that are not currently available in a convenient way, said Colin D’Amour, senior director of Big Y Express. “Between the UMass classrooms, YMCA daycare, area office workers and downtown residents, many are looking for an option to meet their food needs.” While not a complete supermarket due to its size, this location will have a full assortment of items from each department, he said. The offerings will include prepared meals and sandwiches along with natural and organic products and everyday necessities. In addition, there will be an inhouse sushi chef preparing fresh sushi daily. “We are excited to bring an entirely new concept to downtown Springfield,” said D’Amour. “We know that there has been an appetite for Big Y’s fresh and local foods for many years now. We are confident that customers will enjoy our many offerings. We are working diligently with our contractors to establish a timeline for opening and are excited to be a part of the downtown community.”

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Purchases Nine New Stores in Ohio

SPRINGFIELD –Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, has purchased the nine Ohio-based Handyman Ace Hardware stores, which have been family-owned and operated since 1939. The new Ohio stores are located in Dayton, Fairborn, Xenia, Centerville, New Carlisle, Kettering, Springfield, and Miamisburg. Rocky’s Ace Hardware now has 47 locations in nine states. “It is very exciting for us to be expanding into a new state and continuing the family-owned values and service Handyman customers have come to expect,” said Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone. “We are also family-owned and share many of the same values as Handyman, including putting the customer first in all business actions.”alcone noted that customers will see the same faces from Handyman at Rocky’s, and former owner David Grimes, who is retiring, will be integral in the transition. Falcone also said customers will benefit from some exciting changes over the next few months including expanded Ace Rewards features, product selection and online capabilities. “We plant roots in each of our neighborhood locations and intend to maintain this community focus in our Ohio stores,” he said. “We’re excited to be a part of the greater Dayton community.”

 

Baystate Health Awards $1 Million in Better Together Grants

SPRINGFIELD —Baystate Healthhas awarded $1 million in Better Together Grants to five community initiatives with partner organizations as part of itsCommunity Benefits Program. “Baystate Health is proud to invest our Determination of Need (DoN) Community Health Initiative (CHI) funding in the communities served by our four hospitals. It is an honor to partner with these very deserving local non-profit organizations over the next three years,” said Annamarie Golden, director, Community Relations for Baystate Health

This year’s recipients, who submitted requests for proposals in January 2022 include: Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation in partnership with the Town of Ware, The Care Center in partnership with Greenfield Technical Community College, Westfield State University in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College, Montague Catholic Social Ministries in partnership with The Brick House Community Resource Center, and the Western Mass. Training Consortium in partnership with the Bridge Program community organizations — The Recover Project, The Salasin Project and The Wildflower Alliance. “Baystate’s Community Benefits Program, in partnership with our hospital Community Benefits Advisory Councils (CBACs) and Grant Review Teams, is making investments through Better Together grants that will have lasting and meaningful impacts on health outcomes, health equity, and social determinants of health throughout the Pioneer Valley,” said Golden. Funding for the Better Together grants is made possible through the Mass. Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) Determination of Need (DoN) requirements related to the replacement of Baystate Medical Center’s Operating Rooms approved in November 2020. Although this project was unique to the hospital, Baystate Health’s goal is to equitably distribute the Community Health Initiative funds for grant making to all four Baystate Health hospitals. This was an intentional step toward health equity, recognizing that Baystate’s community hospitals historically have lower likelihood of accessing DoN CHI funds. The aim of the Better Together grant opportunity is to develop approaches that by targeting the social determinants of health, will improve people’s overall well-being and make our communities healthier places to live in, while complementing the health care system’s current offerings. In addition to funding the grantees, Baystate Health has also contracted with the Public Health Institute of Western Mass. to provide technical assistance and evaluation support to the grantee cohort over the next three years.

 

OneZo Opens in the Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall has welcomed, OneZo, with its unique house-made boba, to the shopping center. Boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with sweet balls or “pearls,” made from tapioca starch and can be made from milk tea, green tea or fruit tea. Established in Taiwan in 2015, OneZo was the first café in the world to make their own boba in-store.Their goal is to serve the freshest boba drinks and use their creativity to develop new boba flavors. Some of the more popular flavors include Brown Sugar Bubble Latte, Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Strawberry Slush Milk Tea, Grapefruit Green Tea, and Thai Tea.

OneZo tea can be found in 17 countries and has several locations in Massachusetts including Quincy and Worcester.Holyoke Mall guests can experience freshly made bubble tea in their new location in Café Square.

 

CDK Global Named Presenting Sponsor for Tom Cosenzi Driving for The Cure Golf Tournament

HADLEY — The 14th Annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will take place Sept. 27 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, and will be joined by presenting sponsor, CDK Global. The 14th Annual Driving for the Cure Charity Golf supports neuro-oncology research in honor of Tom Cosenzi, a successful businessman and father of four who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009 at 52. Since its inception, this annual golf tournament has raised more than $1.3 million with its partnership with the Jimmy Fund, one of the largest organized golf programs in the U.S. All proceeds support Dr. Patrick Wen and his team of researchers in the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana Farber Cancer Institute “My brother Tom and I started this charity golf tournament to honor the legacy of our dad,” said TommyCar co-owner, Carla Cosenzi. “His vision was that no other family would experience the pain that he and his family endured. It was Tom’s wish that his family and friends continue to raise money for Neuro Oncology Research so the burden of Cancer can be eliminated for patients and their families. We’re so thankful to CDK Global for their partnership and we are proud to be able to support the world class research that is ongoing at Dana-Farber.” The scramble style tournament features a “Tee off against Cancer” shotgun start. Players will enjoy 18 holes of golf at one of the area’s top private golf courses, lunch, on-course activities, an evening cocktail reception with live entertainment, a gourmet dinner, raffle prizes, and silent and live auctions. For more information on the Tom Cosenzi Driving For The Cure Charity Golf Tournament visit www.TomCosenziDrivingForTheCure.com.

 

Leadership Pioneer Valley Accepting Applications for LEAP Class of 2023

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) is now accepting applications for enrollment in the LEAP class of 2023, a regional leadership-development program. This year’s class is expected to have a fully in-person experience. Applicants are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The LEAP program engages the Pioneer Valley’s most promising emerging leaders through learning, exploration, and connecting. Participants are trained in applied leadership skills by experts. They also explore critical community issues by connecting with local leaders and visiting businesses and local towns across the region. The upcoming program runs from September through May. In its 12th year, more than 350 individuals representing more than 125 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated. The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region. Fifty-three percent of alumni have a new leadership role at work, 64% have joined a new board of directors, and 99% made new, meaningful connections. LPV is seeking applicants from all over the Pioneer Valley, including Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, representing different employment sectors. The program is made for those in nonprofits, businesses, and government who are eager to increase their leadership skills and take action to better the region. Applicants are considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying. The deadline for LPV class of 2023 applications is July 1. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

 

Veritas Prep Charter School Establishes Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund

SPRINGFIELD — Veritas Prep Charter School(VPCS) has been awarded $53,883from theMass. Teacher Diversification Pilot Program, a state-funded grant program that provides approximately $2 million in competitive funding to support local school and district efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. VPCS is using this grant to establish the Veritas Prep Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund to help educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color enter or remain in education by removing common financial barriers. Candidates can apply for access to funding for education, MTEL test fees, relocation assistance and tuition and loan reimbursement. New and current associate teachers and lead teachers are eligible to apply, and Teach Western Mass (TWM) residents can also apply for TWM tuition coverage. Recipients must commit to working at Veritas Prep middle or high school for three years. All recipients will receive access to free MTEL test preparation, if applicable. Launched in April 2019, the Massachusetts Teacher Diversification Pilot Program provides tuition assistance to support enrollment into an approved-educator preparation program and MTEL preparation and examination. Schools and districts may also use grant funds to enhance teacher recruitment and retention efforts. Educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color can learn more about the Veritas Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund and apply for support here: veritasprepma.org/teacher-diversification-fund/.

 

Former Landsdowne Dormitories Renovated into Apartments

WESTFIELD — Shawna Gutowski and Maritza Zavala, of the Slope to Shore Team of William Raveis Real Estate, announced that the former Landsdowne Dorms in Westfield have been fully renovated and are officially on the market for lease under the name Landsdowne Place. “We’re excited to make these beautifully-renovated apartments available in downtown Westfield, where residents can shop, experience downtown events, and enjoy quick access to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail right outside their door,” said Project Manager Anthony Leroux. The newly renovated apartments are a mixture of one bedroom/one bath and two bedroom/two bath units, which were formerly used as housing for Westfield State College students. The complex also features gym and laundry facilities on-site, as well as access to the bike trail. Apartment leases start at $1,400 per month and will require first, last, security, and credit check.

Company Notebook

The Marketplace Opens Great Barrington Location

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Marketplace, known for its menu of specialty foods, celebrated the grand opening of the Marketplace Specialty Food Shop, its newest location at 265 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, earlier this month. Led by chefs David Renner, Kevin Schmitz, Douglas Luf, and Christopher Brooks, the Marketplace offers a variety of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a large section of prepared foods such as entrees, sides, soups, and chili. With a fully staffed pastry department, the Marketplace offers cookies, brownies, pies, custards, and cake as well as special-day custom cakes. The specialty shop also features artisan cheese. The full menu, specialty food offerings, catering options, and cafes can be found at marketplacekitchen.com. The 265 Stockbridge Road location is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Berkshire Bank Aids Humanitarian Efforts in Ukraine

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced several actions it will take with its employees and customers in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. As a first step, the Berkshire Bank Foundation will make a $50,000 contribution to the Ukrainian Federation of America, one of the oldest Ukrainian organizations in the U.S., which is working to deliver humanitarian and medical aid. In addition, Berkshire’s donation will be leveraged in collaboration with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island on 401Gives Day, a statewide day of giving in Rhode Island on April 1. The bank selected 401Gives Day because it is a time-sensitive campaign that provides Berkshire the opportunity to make a greater impact by inviting the public and business community to match the bank’s contribution. In addition to its significant financial contribution, Berkshire Bank has implemented several actions to harness its entire business to support those impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Efforts include matched employee contributions, a supply drive and employee volunteering, and customer support, refunding outgoing wire-transfer fees to individuals sending money to family and nonprofit organizations in Ukraine.

 

Sourcepass Adds Suite3 to Its Portfolio of Companies

EASTHAMPTON — Sourcepass announced it has added Easthampton-based Suite3 to its portfolio of IT companies focused on serving small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). The deal is Sourcepass’ second acquisition in 30 days and will not only boost the company’s solutions targeting the financial-services industry, but also grow the company’s reach in the Northeast, expanding its footprint into 43 states. Suite3 provides managed network, cloud migration and management, cybersecurity, and IT support services to more than 6,000 managed customer endpoints. Its clients span more than eight industries, with a strong focus on financial services. As part of the transition, Suite3’s current employees will join the Sourcepass team. They will also receive institutional training and growth opportunities. In addition, the core Suite3 leadership team will remain, with new roles to help Sourcepass with its growth into the financial-services industry and culture of customer engagement. Current Suite3 clients will also see benefits from the new agreement. Sourcepass will extend its interactive web portal to enable 24/7, on-demand, omni-channel support to Suite3 customers, and they will have access to Sourcepass’ broad portfolio of technology solutions.

 

Pare Corp. Opens Holyoke Office

HOLYOKE — Pare Corp., a multi-disciplinary civil, structural, geotechnical, transportation, and environmental engineering firm, announced it is growing with the opening of its third office. Strategically located in Holyoke to serve the greater Pioneer Valley and the central and western areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut, Pare’s office is in the Whitney Place Business Center, which provides easy access to the Mass Pike and Interstate 91, as well as accessibility to biking and local bus routes. From this location, Pare will be able to quickly respond to the many growing needs of clients and communities throughout the area. Pare will provide a full range of engineering and consulting services from the Holyoke office. The firm is currently working on a variety of public- and private-sector projects, including the Belchertown State School Carriage Grove redevelopment, the Singing Bridge redevelopment project in Chicopee, traffic-light signalization and roadway improvements for Brightwood/Lincoln School in Springfield, and traffic-engineering design for Fort River Elementary School in Amherst. The office will also allow Pare to expand several growing practice areas, including its water and wastewater engineering, highway and bridge engineering, bike paths and recreational ballfields, and geotechnical and dam services.

 

MassDevelopment Bond Helps Gándara Buy New Corporate Offices

SPRINGFIELD — MassDevelopment has issued a $4.3 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Gándara Mental Health Center Inc., which used the proceeds to buy and renovate a 13,200-square-foot office building at 933 East Columbus Ave. in Springfield. The organization will relocate its corporate offices from West Springfield into the new, larger building, where it can meet increased demand for its innovative, culturally competent behavioral-health, prevention, and education services that promote the well-being of Hispanic, African-American, and other culturally diverse populations. Gándara’s services include outpatient mental-health and substance-abuse treatment for underserved communities, as well as residential and preventative services for children, adults, and families throughout Massachusetts. The organization recently began renovations and expects to move into the facility by late spring 2022. Westfield Bank purchased the bond, which will also be used to refinance previously issued debt.

 

Colebrook Brokers Sales of Sites in Northampton Industrial Park

NORTHAMPTON — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced it has brokered the sale of 168 and 178 Industrial Dr. in Northampton. The firm announced the sale of approximately 58,443 square feet of class-A industrial/flex space in the Northampton Industrial Park, along with a 12,000-square-foot R&D building and a 2.10-acre adjoining land site. Kissell Inc. and PVC West Inc. sold the properties to GMS Realty LLP. The properties, which represent a significant portion of the park’s available industrial space, are highly strategic assets located along Interstate 91, with the Mass Pike interchange just 15 minutes south. The properties have been fully leased to strong local manufacturing and service companies for many years. Mitch Bolotin and Ben Bolotin of Colebrook represented the seller of the property and sourced the buyer. Inquiries about the sale of 168 Industrial Dr. and 178 Industrial Dr. may be directed to Bolotin at [email protected] or (413) 781-0066.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley

Wins Victory for Worker’s Rights

SPRINGFIELD — On March 25, the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board issued a major ruling concerning worker safety. In the underlying case, Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley (PSRB) attorneys Thomas Downey and Ronald Kidd claimed their client suffered severe, disabling injuries as a result of the employer’s serious and willful misconduct. After a hearing, the judge awarded the injured employee double compensation under Section 28 of the Workers’ Compensation Act on account of the employer’s misconduct. Section 28 claims are rare and often unsuccessful because of the requirement to prove a willful act or failure. The Reviewing Board affirmed the judge’s double-compensation award. “This was a case in which an employee, in the normal performance of their duties, was badly injured by a machine he was cleaning. The action stems from the fact that the owner of the business did not inform the worker about an emergency shut-off switch which was in place to prevent this exact sort of accident,” Downey said. “The willful disregard for safety by the owner allowed us to recover double compensation for our client. This is an uncommon occurrence and shows the strength of our case, the disregard for worker’s safety, and the ability of our team to work on behalf our injured client.”

 

Balise Supports Square One’s

Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Balise Auto, a longtime Square One supporter, recently raised $4,000 to support the nonprofit agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids. The funds were raised through Balise’s “Tires to Inspire” initiative, through which donations were made to Square One when customers purchased a set of new tires. “Square One does so much to set local children and their families up for success,” said Alex Balise, director of Marketing for Balise Auto. “Education and community development are at the core of our charitable giving philosophy, so we couldn’t be happier to highlight their amazing programs and continue to support Square One in their mission.” Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids is a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst College of Engineering Receives $10 Million Gift

AMHERST — The UMass Amherst College of Engineering (COE) has received a $10 million gift from Jerome and Linda Paros aimed at accelerating its cutting-edge work in atmospheric research and hazard mitigation by enabling a new center of excellence. The gift is the largest ever received by the college. The gift will support the translation of ongoing and future research into improved hazardous weather predictions, alert systems, and policies that will save lives as the world continues to experience increases in the intensity and frequency of storms and other extreme weather events that stem from climate change. The $10 million gift will provide discretionary support for the new Paros Center for Atmospheric Research, funding for the Paros Fellows/Scholars Endowed Fund for graduate fellowships and undergraduate scholarships, and to establish the Paros Chair of Atmospheric Research and Hazard Mitigation. Building upon UMass Amherst’s leadership in the field through the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) — an engineering research center housed at UMass and established through prior National Science Foundation funds — this new funding will enable UMass researchers to expand CASA’s original mission to explore new frontiers in atmospheric measurement, science, and technology. Jerome Paros, a 1960 UMass Amherst alumnus, is a leader in the field of geophysical measurements. He holds more than 50 patents and is the founder, president, and chairman of Paroscientific Inc., Quartz Seismic Sensors Inc., and related companies based in Redmond, Wash. These companies use the quartz crystal resonator technology he developed to measure pressure, acceleration, temperature, weight, and other parameters. His work has improved the measurements of geophysical phenomena such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and severe weather, and enhanced knowledge about the complex earth, air, and ocean processes that produce climate change. In the mid-2000s, Jerome and Linda Paros endowed a fund in measurement science at UMass Amherst, with the goal of creating synergy in this field of study between the COE and the College of Natural Sciences.

 

HCC Lands $147,000 Grant to Buy Mobile Culinary-arts Lab

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded a $147,000 Skills Capital Grant to purchase a truck for its culinary-arts program that will be used as a mobile kitchen for community outreach and education. The funds, from Gov. Charlie Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, are part of a new, $3.3 million package of grants to 20 educational organizations in Massachusetts for updating equipment and expanding student enrollment in career education programs. According to the award letter, HCC will use the $147,000 to purchase and outfit a mobile food lab that will support both credit and non-credit culinary-arts programs and also incorporate other areas of study, including nutrition, health, business, and entrepreneurship. HCC’s grant application notes that residents of Holyoke face a high level of food insecurity and that downtown Holyoke has been identified as a ‘food desert.’ The mobile food lab will be used to engage community partners such as the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club and area food pantries. Students will meet with representatives from area organizations to create menus based on ingredients of their choice or what might be seasonally available. Once the truck arrives — sometime later this year — food-truck operations will be worked into the current culinary-arts curriculum in both credit and non-credit courses such as event planning and line-cook training. Students will have to learn to cook in a much smaller space than they are used to in the kitchens at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute; they’ll also have to learn food-truck logistics, such as how to dispose of dirty ‘grey’ water, replenish the kitchen with fresh water, and maintain a stable power source.

 

McGovern Auto Group Opens McGovern Chevrolet of Greenfield

GREENFIELD — McGovern Auto Group, which operates 19 dealerships across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York, announced the opening of McGovern Chevrolet of Greenfield. The new dealership, which replaces Dillon Chevrolet, employs 25 people across its sales, leasing, and maintenance teams, with plans to increase headcount to at least 40 by the end of 2022. The opening was enabled by McGovern Auto Group’s acquisition of Dillon Chevrolet, located at 54 Main St., from longtime owners Tom and Jay Dillon. Under the McGovern brand, the new dealership will feature a lot with more than 125 new and used cars, plus a completely reimagined customer experience including comfortable, clean, and modern waiting areas with free coffee and high-speed WiFi. To mark the transition to new ownership after 60 years in the Greenfield area, McGovern Chevrolet is also offering all Greenfield area residents an express detail — a $100 value — with any service. Founded in 2016, McGovern Auto Group is a full-service dealer group with four collision centers in addition to a commercial and municipal division. Known for luxury vehicles such as Ferrari and Porsche, the company also brings deep expertise working with brands including Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Hyundai, Honda, and Toyota.

 

Bulkley Richardson Supports Baystate Children’s Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the course of a year, the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Baystate Children’s Hospital cares for more than 800 newborns. These babies are fighters, but they require essential care. Many have come into the world too early; others emerge with medical challenges that need to be addressed in the moments after birth. All of them deserve the best chance for a healthy life. Bulkley Richardson, a Springfield-based law firm, recently made a $10,000 gift to support that essential care through the purchase of a transcutaneous CO2 monitor. This device provides a non-invasive and efficient way to monitor newborns’ exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) when they require a ventilator to assist their breathing. It also allows the team to review and respond to important health details in real time instead of through multiple painful blood draws. With one in 10 families needing the NICU in their lifetime, this type of equipment will be used by many and provide a more comfortable experience for Baystate’s youngest patients.

 

DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology Adding Nail & Esthetics Programs

WEST SPRINGFIELD — DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology is getting a makeover. The school, which opened its doors in 2002, will be renovating and expanding this spring to add a nail program and an esthetics program. Paul DiGrigoli, owner and CEO of the DiGrigoli Companies, first opened DiGrigoli Salon in 2000 on Riverdale Street in West Springfield. A couple years later, he added the fully accredited and award-winning DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology, which has produced hundreds of cosmetologists in the Western Mass. area and beyond. Due to the expansion of the school, DiGrigoli Salon officially came to an end on Feb. 26. The extra space from the salon will allow for larger facilities and amenities for both students and clients of the new DiGrigoli School. Renovations will begin in spring, and details of the new programs and enrollments will be available by fall 2022. The currently running cosmetology program will continue uninterrupted, with its next class starting on May 3. Former clients of DiGrigoli Salon are welcome to visit the school’s student salon, which offers a variety of hair and basic manicure services. Appointments can be made by calling (413) 827-0037 or on a walk-in basis.

 

AIC Named to 2022-23 Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has earned the 2022-23 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2022-23 survey, with 665 recognized for going above the standard. The 2022-23 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May and October issue of GI Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. Methodology, criteria, and weightings were determined by Viqtory with input from the Military Friendly Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan-default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

 

Home City Development Signs Land Disposition Agreement for South End Townhouses

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) has signed a land disposition agreement with the city of Springfield to develop up to 40 for-sale residential units on the former Gemini site in the South End of Springfield. This townhouse development will serve low- to moderate-income households earning between 70% and 100% of adjusted median income. The residential zoning change was approved in October, and Mayor Domenic Sarno signed the land disposition agreement in January. The team is working closely with funders to make sure the project is developed and managed appropriately to serve the community. The HCDI team continues to meet with the South End Citizens Council, receiving valuable input. HCDI has received a preliminary commitment from MassHousing for the majority of the public financing necessary and has applied to the city of Springfield for the remaining funds. Once these funds are in hand, construction could start as early as the fall of 2022. Designs are being finalized by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow and Torres Engineering of Wethersfield, Conn.

 

Pioneer Moving Launches Program to Turn Food Waste into Donations

SOUTH HADLEY — When people move residences, they typically do a lot of purging before moving day. One common area to clean out is the pantry, resulting in large amounts of wasted food. Pioneer Moving is on a mission to use this practice to benefit to those in need though the company’s newly launched Pioneer Program. The Pioneer Program collects non-perishable food from residents who are getting rid of items they don’t need and distributes it to shelters and food banks. The program is 100% free to everyone involved and is simple to participate in. Consumers can obtain a Pioneer Program box from a real-estate agent, rental office, or another local business. The participants fill up their box with non-perishable, non-expired food. Then they can call the Pioneer Program to promptly pick up the box from them. The Pioneer Program team will distribute the food to a local food pantry or homeless shelter. Pioneer Moving donates the boxes and labor time collecting and delivering the food. Brian Clark, owner of Pioneer Moving, founded the Pioneer Program when he noticed a large amount of food being tossed in the trash by residents on moving day that could be donated. Knowing that people who are moving are typically rushed for time to get everything ready for the movers, Clark immediately recognized that residents would be more than happy to have someone help them easily get rid of items they no longer want or need.

 

KeyBank Announces Support for Humanitarian Efforts for Ukraine

CLEVELAND — KeyBank announced several steps it is taking to support humanitarian efforts currently underway for the people of Ukraine. In a message to employees, Chris Gorman, KeyCorp chairman and CEO, announced $150,000 in grants from KeyBank Foundation and a 1:1 employee matching-gift program. KeyBank Foundation will give a $100,000 grant to the American Red Cross to support its efforts to provide food, water, and other essential items and services to the people of Ukraine. The Red Cross has teams on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries helping families and working to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities with medicines and equipment, and support families with food and hygiene items. KeyBank Foundation will also make a $50,000 grant to UNICEF for its work supporting children and families impacted by the war in Ukraine. In addition, KeyBank is launching a 1:1 employee matching-gift program through KeyBank Foundation that will help amplify and raise the collective voice of teammates in support of Ukraine. As part of this program, KeyBank Foundation will prove a dollar-for-dollar match for all employees up to $5,000, for several organizations supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, including Americares, CARE, Project Hope, Save the Children, and World Central Kitchen.

 

Pioneer Valley Credit Union Donates to Friends of the Homeless Shelter

SPRINGFIELD — Pioneer Valley Credit Union donated $100 worth of thermal layers, hats, socks, sweaters, and sweatpants and an additional monetary donation of $500 for a grand total of $600 to Clinical & Support Option’s (CSO) Friends of the Homeless Shelter in Springfield. The warm-clothing collection efforts were made at the Sixteen Acres and East Springfield branches throughout the month of February in addition to the option to donate over the phone. CSO’s Friends of the Homeless program is more than an emergency shelter. In addition to offering more than 1,000 individuals with a warm bed and hot shower each year, the program also assigns case workers to each guest. It also serves three community meals each day, offers a robust resource center, and operates low-income housing units for those in need.

Company Notebook

Country Bank Gives Back with $1.1 Million in Donations in 2021

WARE — Country Bank reported that its community donations for 2021 totaled more than $1.1 million. The bank’s philanthropic efforts supported local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves, with more than 300 organizations receiving grants in 2021. In addition, the bank’s staff volunteered 478 hours of service. The bank’s annual meeting at Polar Park created a buzz when it surprised the executive directors of two regional food banks by pledging a total of $1 million to the Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The bank didn’t stop there; recognizing the need to address hunger throughout its markets, in addition to the $1 million pledge, it provided an additional $100,000 in donations to food programs throughout the region. Other organizations receiving donations included Behavioral Health Network, Hanover Theater, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Revitalize Community Development Corp., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Children’s Trust, Provision Ministry, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Ronald McDonald House, and YWCA. During its annual Season of Giving campaign, Country Bank supported more than 2,500 local individuals with gifts of meals, toys, winter hats, mittens, and other essential items for those in nursing homes, shelters, and local schools.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Gives $596,800 to 87 Nonprofits in Q4

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced $596,800 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the fourth quarter of 2021. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. The investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. Eighty-seven local nonprofit organizations received grants at the end of last year to assist with a wide range of critical projects in the areas of housing, education, economic revitalization, and health. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunity for economic prosperity.

 

Valley Vodka Supports Ukraine; Founder Paul Kozub Visits Border

HADLEY — Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced it will donate $1 for every bottle sold in the month of March, according to founder Paul Kozub. Kozub also visited the V-One distillery located in Kamien, Poland on March 6 and brought $5,000 directly to the border to support refugees. The distillery is located about two hours from the Ukraine border. “My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft-vodka business,” Kozub said. “In 2019, I purchased a distillery in Kamie, Poland. It is just a few hours from the Ukrainian border. I feel compelled to do something to help the people of Ukraine.” V-One Vodka has been crafting small-batch vodka in Eastern Poland since 2005, and in 2019, it purchased its own distillery in Kamien, about two hours southeast of Warsaw.

 

Three Western Mass. Firms Take Home Impact Awards

WATERTOWN — MassEcon, the state’s private-sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, recently announced its 18th annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award winners, recognizing 14 companies for their outstanding contributions to the Massachusetts economy, including three based in Western Mass. The companies were selected for establishing new operations in Massachusetts or expanded existing operations. Each employer added new jobs and facility investment; pursued social impact through community involvement or philanthropic efforts; and embraced equity, diversity, and inclusion practices. The winners will be honored at Gillette Stadium on April 7. The winning companies from Western Mass. include Big Y Foods of Springfield (gold), which, since January 2020, has added 52 new jobs and invested $50.9 million in a 232,000-square-foot expansion in Springfield for its Fresh & Local Distribution Center; White Lion Brewing Co. of Springfield (silver), which reactivated 8,000 square feet of space that sat vacant for more than 15 years and on-boarded an additional 3,000 square feet of storage, marking a total expansion of 11,000 square feet in Springfield, as well as adding 13 new employees and donating close to $25,000 to the community; and United Aircraft Technologies of Pittsfield (bronze), which plans on investing in 7,000 square feet of vacant office space in Pittsfield and is looking to hire four new team members in 2021 in addition to the five already onboarded earlier this year.

 

Phillips Insurance Agency Named 2021 Elite Agent by Liberty Mutual

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. was named a 2021 Elite agent by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The award recognizes the contributions of the top-performing agencies in the country. Phillips is the only agency in Massachusetts to win the award for 15 straight years, and was recognized at the President’s Club award ceremony at the Four Seasons in Kapolei, Hawaii in December. Phillips Insurance Agency, established in 1953, is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 31 professionals and the largest independently owned agency in Western Mass. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the Northeast.

 

Pittsfield YMCA to Modernize, Expand Child Care

PITTSFIELD — MassDevelopment has partnered with Lee Bank, Adams Community Bank, and Greylock Credit Union to provide $6.5 million in loan financing to Berkshire Family YMCA, which is using the proceeds to renovate and expand its main facility at 292 North St. in downtown Pittsfield. Constructed in 1909, the historic building’s last major renovation took place in 1981. As part of this new renovation, Berkshire Family YMCA is building an accessible indoor track for exercise and rehabilitation purposes for use by people of all abilities, adding a youth basketball court, and upgrading its fitness center. The organization is also creating newly configured program spaces and updating restrooms, improvements that will increase capacity of its nationally accredited child-development program to serve an additional 25 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. MassDevelopment provided a $5 million loan, with Adams Community Bank, Greylock Credit Union, and Lee Bank each providing $500,000 loans. The project is also supported by a $1 million Massachusetts Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) grant. Berkshire Family YMCA consists of three branches serving Berkshire County and Southern Vermont: the Pittsfield branch at 292 North St., a Northern Berkshire branch located at 22 Brickyard Court in North Adams, and the Bennington Recreation Center branch located at 655 Gage St. in Bennington, Vt.

 

BFAIR, Greylock Federal Credit Union Promote Brain-injury Awareness

NORTH ADAMS — BFAIR and Greylock Federal Credit Union have partnered together to raise awareness during the month of March to promote brain-injury awareness. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. In the U.S., more than 5.3 million children and adults have a brain injury, or about one in 60. Acquired brain injuries (ABI) are those that happen after birth and can result in physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive impairments. The primary causes of ABI are trauma, stroke, tumors, degenerative diseases, alcohol and other toxins, and lack of oxygen to the brain, according to the Brain Injury Assoc. of America. With support from presenting sponsor Greylock Federal Credit Union, BFAIR will be distributing bike helmets to promote brain health and safety. More information on distribution will be available on the BFAIR website at www.bfair.org/brain-injury-awareness-month.

 

Amherst College Music Department Donates Steinway Piano to the Drake

AMHERST — The Drake, the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s (DAF) soon-to-open arts and cultural venue, will be the permanent home of a Steinway & Sons piano, thanks to a gift from the Amherst College Department of Music. The department donated the instrument after the college made a $100,000 gift to the Drake project in January 2022. Steinway pianos are widely recognized as the best pianos made. The specific model the college is donating, the Steinway B, is considered the finest high-resolution piano in the world, and is generally used in mid-sized venues like the Drake, according to the Steinway & Sons website. The instrument will arrive after construction is complete in April. The Downtown Amherst Foundation is in the final stages of fundraising for the Drake, Amherst’s first dedicated live performance and music venue. In addition to the music-loving supporters who have donated to the Drake’s Patronicity page, Amherst College, the town of Amherst, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development have offered support to the project.

 

Bradley International Airport Welcomes Back Air Canada

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Air Canada will restore its non-stop service between Bradley International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport this summer. The airline last operated the flight in the spring of 2020, before international travel was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting June 1, the flights will operate daily, year-round. “After nearly two years of international travel disruptions, we are thrilled to welcome back Air Canada to Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Air Canada has been an important partner for many years at our airport, facilitating seamless connectivity between our regions. The resumption of the Toronto service is a major milestone on our road to recovery. Today, we extend our thanks to Air Canada for their continued commitment to Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the importance of this route with their return to Connecticut.”

Company Notebook

Pride Stores Sold to ArcLight Capital Partners

SPRINGFIELD — Eight months after announcing plans to sell the chain, Pride Stores CEO Bob Bolduc announced a sale to ArcLight Capital Partners. The 31 stores — with several more in development — will keep the Pride name, and the company’s customers and 525 employees will see little change in day-to-day operations, Bolduc told local news outlets, which is one of the reasons ArcLight won out over several other interested parties. In 1976, Bolduc bought a self-serve gas station in Indian Orchard and gradually expanded his business over the years, creating the chain of stores known today as Pride. He also developed a reputation as an industry innovator by marrying the self-service station with another emerging phenomenon, the convenience store. Other innovations would follow; Pride would eventually become the first chain in Western Mass. to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in the stores, and the first to incorporate a Subway. But where the company has really made a name, in recent years, is with its own fresh-food production, supported by the Pride Kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters on Cottage Street in Springfield.

 

TD Bank Center Sold to New Real-estate Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The 240,000-square-foot, class-A office complex located at 1441 Main St. in Springfield, known as the TD Bank Center, has been sold. The property, located at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue, was sold by an affiliate of TD Bank to a limited-liability company comprised of the principals of Colebrook Realty Services and a company controlled by Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Auto Group. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Originally known as Center Square, the property was developed in the early 1980s by a subsidiary of SIS Bank in a project led by Colebrook CEO Jack Dill. Colebrook has managed and leased the building since its opening in January 1982. Most recently, Colebrook partners Mitch Bolotin and Kevin Morin have had responsibility for leasing and managing TD Bank Center. Balise and Colebrook have worked together for nearly two decades on Balise real-estate projects, represented by Bolotin.

 

 

Western New England University Cited Among Top Online Programs

SPRINGFIELD — In newly released rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Western New England University (WNE) was again recognized among the 2022 Best Online Programs. Among online MBA Programs, WNE made significant gains, jumping 71 places and ranking 153rd (up from 224th in 2021); among Online Graduate Business Programs (Non-MBA), the university ranked 110th (up from 129th in 2021); and among Online Master’s in Engineering Programs, it ranked 79th, up from 104th. The rankings place Western New England University in the top 10 in Massachusetts for accredited online MBA and graduate business programs and in the top three in Massachusetts for accredited master’s in engineering programs. For the 2022 edition, U.S. News & World Report assessed 1,728 online degree programs and ranked 1,646, both all-time highs. Best Online Programs rankings credit schools for long-term investments in designing and scaling their student services, technologies, curricula, and instructor training toward distance learners. The Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Online Master’s in Engineering Programs category. For the 2022 Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs rankings, U.S. News ranked ABET-accredited schools using five categories: engagement, faculty credentials, and training; expert opinion, services, and technologies; and student excellence. The College of Engineering offers several full master’s programs online: MS in industrial engineering, MS in engineering management, and MS in electrical engineering. The colleges of Engineering and Business offer a dual-degree master of science in engineering management and an MBA that can be completed entirely online.

 

Holyoke Community College to Introduce Free Child-watch Service

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will soon introduce a free, drop-in child-watch program for parents who need safe and affordable supervision for their children while they tend to their college studies. When the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch opens in March, HCC will be just the second community college in the state — and the only one in Western Mass. — to offer a child-watch service for its students. The Itsy Bitsy Child Watch will offer free, short-term care to children 6 weeks to 12 years old, provided their parents sign up in advance and remain inside on the Homestead Avenue campus. Parents will be given a restaurant-style pager to alert them to return if necessary. The pilot phase is being funded through a $100,000 allocation in the 2022 Massachusetts budget secured by state Sen. John Velis. HCC is in the process of hiring an interim director to get the child-watch program up and running. Many of the details still need to be worked out, such as days and hours of operation.

 

Forest Park Zoo Again Honored for Education Programming

SPRINGFIELD — For the second time in six months, the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center is being recognized for its innovative education programming. Most recently, the zoo received the 2021 Educational Award of Excellence, presented by the Zoological Assoc. of America for its Kids Go Wild programming. Kids Go Wild provides a fun, interactive way for school-aged children to learn about various animal species while exploring diets, habitats, adaptations, daily zoo life, and more through cross-hatched science, literacy, and art lessons. Each lesson also meets state education standards set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in at least one or more of the aforementioned disciplines. These lessons were created, developed, and ultimately implemented by the zoo’s director of education, Caroline Cay Adams. The one-on-one, hands-on interactions offered as part of Kids Go Wild bring the typical textbook science lessons right off the page. Kids Go Wild goes beyond single-program learning objectives by encouraging groups to book multiple programs that are implemented over a longer period of time. This ensures that the educator can scaffold lessons to incorporate themes, vocabulary, and topics from previous lesson plans, as well as offer plenty of opportunities for participants to engage with ambassador animals. Examples of lessons include Animal Adaptations; the Food Web; Living Dinosaurs; and Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores. In August 2021, Adams also received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Assoc. of Zookeepers for her work on Kids Go Wild.

 

Berkshire Bank Earns Top Marks in Corporate Equality Index

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced that it received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Berkshire joins the ranks of more than 840 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year. “We are honored to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Gary Levante, senior vice president, Corporate Responsibility. “Our goal at Berkshire is always to be a shining example of how a purpose-driven organization can be successful while lifting up everyone in our community. Our Pride Employee Resource Group has been steadfast in their work to create a more equitable workplace, and this honor is a testament to their tireless efforts. We hope that this recognition and our culture will inspire more members of our LGBTQIA+ family to join the Berkshire team as customers and employees.”

 

MCLA, Habitat for Humanity Partner to Offer Free Tax Assistance

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and its Department of Business Administration will once again partner with Habitat for Humanity to offer free tax-preparation services to local residents in need through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Habitat for Humanity administers VITA, a program of the IRS, to assist taxpayers with disabilities or limited English-speaking skills, those 60 years of age or older, and individuals who make $57,000 or less per year. MCLA students will be available to complete both basic and advanced returns, including those with itemized deductions. The students who participate in this program undergo a rigorous training, become IRS-certified, and will work under the supervision of MCLA Professor of Accounting Tara Barboza, an enrolled agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a certified public accountant (CPA). In addition to meeting a significant need in Northern Berkshire County, participating in the VITA program is an opportunity for students to gain valuable, hands-on preparation experience. They will earn college credit, and accounting students can use this credit toward the requirements for the CPA exam. Interested individuals should call Habitat for Humanity offices at (413) 442-0002 or (413) 442-3181 to find out if they qualify and schedule an appointment. Hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in Murdock Hall on the MCLA campus in North Adams. The program will continue through April 13.

 

Company Notebook

Legacy Counsellors, P.C., Gove Law Office Merge

EASTHAMPTON — Legacy Counsellors, P.C. and Gove Law Office announced the merger of their firms in order to expand the estate- and tax-planning and real-estate services they offer to clients. The Gove Law Office team will complete the transition to join the existing Legacy Counsellors, P.C. firm in January. This merger also creates the new division of Legacy Title & Escrow, to handle residential and commercial real-estate transactions. Legacy Counsellors, P.C., founded in 1994, focuses on helping clients protect and perpetuate their savings and assets. Its mission is to empower clients to preserve their legacy through services including trust, estate, and asset-protection planning, elder law and Medicaid planning, and probate administration. Gove Law Office has provided practical, solutions-oriented guidance to clients in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, business representation, and family law since 2013. The expanded firm of Legacy Counsellors, P.C. and Legacy Title & Escrow includes four attorneys, along with paralegals and client-services coordinators. Attorney and Legacy founder Kevin Quinn will remain president, with attorney and Gove Law Office founder Michael Gove joining as vice president and partner. The merged firm has five office locations throughout Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester, and Hartford counties.

 

Original Car Detailing Open for Business in Agawam

AGAWAM — Original Car Detailing and its mobile auto-detailing operation recently pulled into shop space at 71 South Ramah Circle in Agawam. The move has allowed owner Nick Riccitelli and his team to expand their operation and provide more services this winter. Original Car Detailing (OCD) has an expanded menu that includes ceramic coatings, remote starters, heated seats, winter prep packages, and vehicle cleaning and sanitizing, along with its continued mobile detailing services. A shortage of new cars and trucks has put an emphasis on vehicle maintenance, as people are now keeping their cars longer than ever. Protecting and enhancing the appearance of customers’ vehicles, including commercial fleets and equipment, allows for a much longer service life, reducing overall costs to the owner substantially, Riccitelli noted. Original Car Detailing offers trade-in reconditioning packages to provide more leverage for its customers when selling or trading in their cars or trucks. The packages also minimize any additional condition fees when turning in leased vehicles.

 

Boston Bud Factory Questions Springfield’s Cannabis Process

SPRINGFIELD — Boston Bud Factory has filed a Freedom of Information request with the city of Springfield Procurement Department, specifically requesting documents related to phase 2 of adult-use applications and Cannabis RFP/Q No. 21-107. Boston Bud Factory submitted a proposal for a retail store in East Forest Park, along with all the required documentation related to RFP/Q No. 21-107. Boston Bud Factory would like to better understand the ranking process and the scoring system for each submission, as well as which proposal was improperly scored. Boston Bud Factory is a participant in the state’s social-equity program and was the first social-equity establishment to open in Western Mass. Boston Bud Factory co-owners Frank Dailey and Carlo Sarno live in Western Mass., and the business has no outside investors or startup financing. Dailey was born in Springfield, is an economic-empowerment applicant, and previously served on the East Forest Park Civic Assoc. board. He is also an active volunteer at several local charities, including the Springfield Rescue Mission. In addition, Boston Bud Factory has been very active educating the community and the city of Springfield, holding the first cannabis educational event in East Forest Park in 2017 and then going on to host four local and successful Pioneer Valley Cannabis Industry Summits.

 

Hazen Paper Captures International Holography Award

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) honored Hazen Paper for the second year in a row for Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the 2021 Excellence in Holography Awards. The awards, presented at the Holography Conference Online, recognize “outstanding achievement … in holographic products or techniques which represent the best in the industry for innovation and commercial potential.” Hazen captured the judge’s attention with the 2020 enshrinement yearbook produced for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. The award-winning yearbook employed holography to create a dynamic, three-dimensional image of the Hall of Fame’s iconic dome and spire and its panoramic interior, which was overprinted with a collage of the year’s inductees in action. The combination of two contrasting yet complementary techniques served to amplify the engaging power of holography, as well as to draw attention to the honorees in the foreground. The back cover featured eye-catching holographic treatment of Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, the location of the enshrinement ceremony. Hazen produced the unique cover holography wholly within its vertically integrated facility. The custom hologram was originated in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto 12-point WestRock Tango C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. Envirofoil is manufactured with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, reuses the film carrier multiple times, and is recyclable as paper. Agency GO of Hartford, Conn. designed the limited-edition yearbook cover, which was printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo 5500 digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston.

 

Bousquet Mountain Opens First Floor of New Base Lodge

PITTSFIELD — Bousquet Mountain is opening the first floor of its new base lodge today, Jan. 7, for ski operations. Tickets, rentals, bootup and warmup areas, and restrooms will be available in the lodge from noon to 9 p.m. today. Food trucks will be available at the mountain until food and beverage service in the building launches. The 17,500-square-foot building features a multi-purpose area for comfortable breaks from the slopes, a quick-service dining option in addition to the full-service restaurant, a rental shop with full-service ski-tuning operation, and retail space. Multiple high-definition screens are featured throughout the lodge, enabling live streaming of on-mountain races along with viewing of high-profile sporting events. Heated walkways, firepits, and a large patio area provide numerous options for outdoor enjoyment of the base area in addition to the second-floor outdoor deck. Bousquet will launch Lift Bistropub, a full-service bar and restaurant, on the second floor of the lodge in early February. Open year-round, Lift Bistropub expects to provide service to both indoor and outdoor seating, with the second-floor deck providing panoramic views of the mountain. The lodge is part of a substantial investment in the nearly 100-year-old ski area by Mill Town, the owner of the mountain. Other new features this year include new terrain, added tubing lanes, upgraded lighting, and a full overhaul to the mountain’s snow-making system.

 

Thunderbirds, Peoples United Bank Continue Community Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, have carried on their mission of being pillars of the Springfield community, with continued support from People’s United Bank. Since the start of the 2021-22 regular season, the Thunderbirds have made more than 60 appearances in the community, in addition to charitable initiatives such as Hockey Fights Cancer, Toys for Tots toy drives, and Teddy Bear Toss donations. Many of these events have featured interaction in the community from the team mascot, Boomer. In the month of November, the Thunderbirds went lavender across their platforms to spotlight the NHL and AHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Proceeds raised throughout the month went on to benefit a wide array of local cancer-based charities, including the Sister Caritas Cancer Center, CHD’s Cancer House of Hope, Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Hockey Fights Cancer charity itself. Highlighting a busy month of December, the Thunderbirds collected more than 5,000 stuffed animals in the club’s annual Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 11. In a showing of holiday spirit, Thunderbirds staff and Boomer delivered donations of those bears to a wide range of area charities, including the Springfield Boys & Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, YMCA of Greater Springfield, CHD, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center. Furthering the team’s heartfelt gestures, Thunderbirds captain Tommy Cross, together with teammates Michael Kim and Drew Callin, also provided a meaningful gesture at holiday time when the trio purchased a plethora of presents for three local families who were recently displaced from their homes. This marked the second time in his two Thunderbirds seasons that Cross has led such a mission. Boomer and the team were active in numerous other charitable affairs throughout the fall and early winter. The T-Birds partnered with local elementary schools for yet another successful kickoff to the team’s Stick to Reading program, with support from MassMutual. The initiative promotes literacy among elementary-school students in the Western Mass. community. Schools participate in a six-week reading program during the Thunderbirds’ regular season, with a reward of tickets to a game for students who complete their reading goals.

 

Greater Northampton Chamber Announces New Gift-card Kiosk

NORTHAMPTON — The Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce has installed a new, state-of-the-art gift-card kiosk on the second floor of Thornes Marketplace in downtown Northampton. The kiosk allows shoppers to buy a Northampton Gift Card or check the balance on an existing card any time Thornes is open to the public. The Northampton Gift Card program, which has been celebrating its 15th anniversary all year long, enables card holders to redeem their cards at more than 70 participating restaurants, retailers, salons, and other services throughout the Great Northampton area. Since its inception, the program has infused almost $5 million into the local economy. The new self-service kiosk at Thornes is the latest investment and replaced the previous machine, which was at least 12 years old. Another big investment in the program earlier this year was Keiter Corporation’s $10,000 donation and the ‘Keiter Card’ promotion that allowed shoppers to buy a $50 gift card for just $25.

 

Jewish Family Service, Yad Chessed Partner to Help Jewish Households

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) is partnering with Yad Chessed to expand its offerings to Jewish individuals and families in Western Mass. struggling with financial insecurity. As a social-services agency rooted in the Jewish values of kindness (chessed) and charity (tzedakah), Yad Chessed is committed to helping those in need navigate a path toward financial stability while preserving their privacy and dignity. This partnership will bring new resources to the Western Mass. community, including emergency financial aid, monthly food cards, and ongoing support. In 2020, JFS was the recipient of a Jewish Poverty Challenge grant from the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and has been working to build a sustainable response to Jewish poverty in Western Mass., including food insecurity, unemployment, childcare and health crises. With the goal of raising awareness and building partnerships, JFS is excited to be partnering with Yad Chessed. Individuals or families in need of assistance should contact Rosalind Torrey at [email protected] or (413) 737-2601.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Receives $55,000 from Community Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received two grants worth $55,000 from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. A $30,000 Flexible Funding Grant awarded to the STCC Foundation will be used to boost the student-empowerment fund, which was created as a resource for students facing a variety of barriers standing in the way of their ability to complete their education. Students in need of support for short-term housing, transportation, childcare, academic program resources, and nutritious meals can apply for the help they need through the empowerment fund, freeing them to focus on their studies and complete their programs. A separate $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation will be used to fund the STCC’s COVID-19 vaccine video. STCC has created a video to promote vaccinations. All community colleges in the Commonwealth are requiring students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated by the start of the spring semester in January. This vaccine requirement is aimed at ensuring the safest learning and working environment possible for all members of the STCC community. The STCC Foundation, a nonprofit organization, helps STCC meet its goals and commitment to provide superior educational opportunities to the community.

 

U.S. Tsubaki Supports Innovation, Entrepreneurship at WNE

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) announced that Chicopee-based U.S. Tsubaki Automotive (USTA) made a gift of $12,500 to support the university’s colleges of Business and Engineering’s Product Development and Innovation (PDI) course over the next five years. Taught in the fall semester, PDI is comprised of business and engineering students who develop an idea at the onset of class and grow the concept into a limited, functional prototype supported by a business plan. Student teams demonstrate their project innovations at the annual PDI Showcase held the first week of December. Attending the event are members of the university’s board of trustees and several area economic-development leaders and investors. The attendees invest ‘Golden Bear investment dollars’ into the innovations they believe have the most commercial potential. Some of the innovations continue as senior design projects, while others compete in the Grinspoon Spirit Awards and the Draper Competition. The university patents select innovations that have the most potential.

 

Springfield WORKS Wins $100,000 Grant in Partnership with Home City Development

SPRINGFIELD — A $100,000 Urban Agenda Grant was recently awarded to Springfield WORKS, the lead applicant in a team including Home City Development Inc. as the primary partner. The funds will be used to facilitate a community-wide collaboration, with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council to manage, coordinate, and support the work of numerous participating program partner organizations, in efforts to help families in Springfield achieve economic stability. The funds will go toward the 2Generation/Whole Family Approach to Pathways to Careers and Home Ownership Program, which is a holistic, creative, and collaborative approach that helps low-income families access career-development tools and training to successfully position individuals on a positive career trajectory. This program will focus on adults and children, addressing the gaps and barriers within multiple systems, including the ‘cliff effect,’ which makes transitioning out of state assistance programs challenging. This project also brings a gender- and racial-equity lens to workforce strategies. Home City Development is the main partner in this project, which means all program participants are Home City Development residents. The program will incorporate the Springfield WORKS’ 2Generation/Whole Family Approach with Home City Development’s HUD Family Self Sufficiency program. Other partners include Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts, HCS Head Start, EforAll, Families First, Springfield Partners for Community Action, and MassHire Springfield. Springfield WORKS leverages employer partners including Baystate Health, MGM Springfield, United Personnel/Masis, Springfield Public Schools, and others for career pathway opportunities.

 

MCLA Department of Business Administration Earns ACBSP Accreditation

NORTH ADAMS — MCLA’s Department of Business Administration has earned accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This accreditation covers all the department’s business-degree paths, as well as the college’s MBA program. A global accreditation agency, ACBSP focuses on recognizing teaching excellence, determining student learning outcomes, and a continuous improvement model. ACBSP’s student-centered teaching and learning approach, which is measured and analyzed for quality, ensures that students gain the right skills from their educational investment. Institutions with programs accredited by ACBSP are committed to continuous improvement that ensures their business program will give students the skills employers want. MCLA’s Department of Business Administration already has an excellent track record for job placement. Recent graduates have secured full-time work at major national companies like BDO Consulting, General Dynamics, and Google. MCLA accounting majors who sit for the certified public accountant exam currently have a 100% pass rate.

 

Hancock Associates Acquires Sherman & Frydryk

DANVERS — Hancock Associates, a leading provider of land-surveying, civil-engineering, and wetland-science services, recently announced it has acquired Sherman & Frydryk, LLC, a land-surveying and civil-engineering firm located in Palmer. With roots dating back to 1950, Sherman & Frydryk’s long list of clients includes residential and commercial developers, municipalities, service utilities, MassDOT, hospitals, and more throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties and the surrounding areas. Sherman & Frydryk will operate as a division of Hancock Associates. Don Frydryk will serve as regional office manager, and the current staff will continue to be part of the Sherman & Frydryk team. The acquisition assists Hancock in expanding services to Central and Western Massachusetts. It also adds historical survey records from W.H. and H.W. Brainerd, John Casey, Nathaniel Clapp, Charles Dingman, R.O. and G.F. Dingman, Kenneth Sherman, Sherman and Woods, Sherman & Frydryk, Richard Stowe, and Arthur Sullivan to Hancock’s collection of land-surveying and civil-engineering resources.

 

Junior Achievement Gets Support from Balise Auto Group

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts is getting assistance from a local auto dealer for one of its educational programs about car ownership. Balise Auto Group volunteers will present JA All About Cars, a Junior Achievement program that explores the personal-finance considerations that go into purchasing a vehicle, to nearly 200 students in six area high schools during December. JA All About Cars programs are funded by a grant from American Honda Finance Corp. Through the program, students make a real-world connection to the car-buying experience, motivating them to make good financial decisions when buying or leasing. Following participation in the program, students will be able to consider whether a dream car is a realistic purchase for most people, explore their driving needs and things to consider when choosing a car, identify a car that meets their needs, and research the cost and understand the pros and cons of financing or leasing a car.

 

Frontier Launches Non-stop Service From Bradley to Cancun, San Juan

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of new, non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Cancun, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico on Frontier Airlines. The service to Cancun International Airport will commence on Feb. 17 and will operate seasonally, three times a week. The service to San Juan Airport will commence on Feb. 18 and will operate year-round, three times a week. To view flight times and booking options, visit www.flyfrontier.com. In addition to the service to Cancun and San Juan, Frontier offers non-stop service from Bradley to Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham. The airline has been operating at Bradley since 2018.

 

Company Notebook

HCC Culinary Arts Program Ranked Among Best in U.S.

HOLYOKE — The Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been ranked among the best in the U.S., according to Best Choice Schools, an online college resource guide. HCC placed 50th among the Best Culinary Schools in America for 2021, a list that also includes such esteemed institutions as the Culinary Institute of America, which has branches in New York, California, and Texas. HCC’s culinary program ranked third in New England after Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and Southern Maine Community College in Portland. In particular, HCC was cited for the quality of its one-year certificate and two-year associate-degree programs in culinary arts, as well as its 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which opened in downtown Holyoke in 2018. The program summary notes that the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute is equipped with four modern kitchens, a bakery, a hotel lab, and a student-run dining room. Since it opened, the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street has become a favorite host site for college, community, and regional events. Best Choice Schools also notes that HCC is the only public college or university in Massachusetts with a culinary-arts program accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

 

Polish National Credit Union to Merge with Premier Source Credit Union

CHICOPEE — Polish National Credit Union (PNCU), headquartered in Chicopee, and Premier Source Federal Credit Union (PSFCU), headquartered in East Longmeadow, have signed a definitive merger agreement. PNCU will be the continuing credit union and acquire PSFCU’s 4,526 members and nearly $70 million in assets. The PSFCU headquarters will become the East Longmeadow branch of PNCU. This year, PNCU celebrates 100 years of service and has approximately $700 million in assets. Upon completion of the merger, PSFCU members will enjoy full use of PNCU’s seven full-service branches and access to business banking services, investment services, and insurance products. Having negotiated a definitive merger agreement, both credit unions will now seek regulatory approval from the Massachusetts Division of Banks, the National Credit Union Administration, the Mass. Credit Union Share Insurance Corp., and their memberships. The merger is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.

 

UMass Dining Services Awarded $319,000 to Support Use of Kelp

AMHERST — UMass Dining Services has been awarded $319,000 by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation for its “Strategies to Onboard Kelp into College Dining Programs” project. Between 2013 and 2020, the Kendall Foundation’s gift of $1,395,000 supported UMass Dining’s commitment to local, healthy and sustainable sourcing. As an example, the Real Food Challenge initiative of 20% ‘real food’ by 2020 — a goal UMass Dining exceeded, achieving 29% — was supported by this funding. In addition, the grant supported infrastructure improvements, relationship building, promotional campaigns, local partnerships, innovative programs, and regional convening for key stakeholders. This two-year project will introduce nutrient-dense, regeneratively grown New England kelp into the UMass Dining program as a choice for students and an opportunity for climate action. UMass Dining is partnering with New England-based Atlantic Sea Farms on the project as an innovative leader in the kelp industry on the East Coast. Atlantic Sea Farms offers not only kelp products, but expertise in the climate impact of growing and eating kelp, as well as the volume necessary for a large campus dining program. This partnership with Atlantic Sea Farms will drive normalization and inclusion of kelp on university menus. Along with recipe and concept development, UMass Dining plans to engage students by integrating kelp into its Low Carbon Dining campaign and its Diet for a Cooler Planet campaign. This project aims to lay the path for replication so that kelp can be introduced to menus in college and university dining programs across the country.

 

WNEU Offers New MS Program in Pharmacogenomics

SPRINGFIELD — The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Western New England University (WNE) announced a new master of science degree in pharmacogenomics degree starting in the fall of 2022. Pharmacogenomics is a fast-growing field that helps medical practitioners prescribe personalized treatment plans to patients based on how they may respond to medications due to their DNA sequence. Pharmacogenomics supports personalized or precision medicine, which explores a patient’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle as a way to craft a treatment plan that will best suit the patient. The goal of this modern approach to medication therapy is to limit adverse effects while optimizing response and beneficial outcomes. The master of science in pharmacogenomics degree from WNE — the only degree of this type in New England — prepares graduates for careers that will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare and make the most of emerging opportunities from basic laboratory research to clinical implementation of personalized healthcare.

 

HCC Jump Start Program Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of Jump Start, the college’s job-training and placement program for people who receive public assistance. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2022 Bellwether finalist. This is the second year in a row HCC has been named a Bellwether finalist. HCC’s “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign was selected as a finalist for 2021. For more than 20 years, HCC’s Jump Start program has been creating sustainable career pathways for individuals who were previously unemployed or had limited education and work experience. Jump Start offers workforce training for jobs as culinary workers, nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, customer-service representatives, preschool workers, production technicians, and bus and truck drivers. Finalists for Bellwether Awards are invited to join the consortium and take part in workshops, events, and other activities. Award finalists will undergo a rigorous second and final round of review before the winners are announced in January.

 

Comcast Acquires Russell Municipal Cable TV

RUSSELL — The town of Russell has a new broadband, video, and voice services provider, as Comcast announced it has acquired Russell Municipal Cable TV. Comcast plans to transition residents and businesses to its Xfinity and Comcast Business suite of services through the end of the year. Comcast is now available in 248 communities across Massachusetts and employs local residents at its Xfinity Stores in Springfield and Holyoke, and in several business and technical operations centers across the state, which serve residential customers and businesses.

Company Notebook

Health New England Awards $400,000 to Three Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England (HNE) awarded $400,000 in grants to help three nonprofit organizations improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in Western Mass. The grants, made via HNE’s Where Health Matters grant program, will allow Wellspring Cooperative’s GoFresh Mobile Farmers’ Market, Girls on the Run of Western Massachusetts, and the Care Center’s Roqué House Program to expand needed programs focusing on food, girls’ health, and supporting mothers seeking college educations, respectively. The Wellspring Cooperative’s GoFresh Mobile Farmers’ Market aggregates fresh local produce and delivers it through pop-up markets at low-income housing sites, senior centers, health clinics, and community organizations. The three-year, $150,000 grant will enable Wellspring to double the number of people it provides access to fresh, healthy, local foods; enact a pilot program to expand the GoFresh farmers market throughout winter (the current program operates from May to October), providing year-round access to health foods; partner with local health clinics to establish a food-referral program that meets the needs of patients with chronic conditions through education and access to healthy foods; and continue to support minority and immigrant farmers via the Wellspring Harvest greenhouse program in the Indian Orchard neighborhood. Girls on the Run of Western Massachusetts helps girls develop essential social, emotional, and physical skills to successfully navigate life experiences and prepares them physically and mentally to participate in a celebratory 5K run. The two-year, $100,000 grant will enable the organization to double the number of chapters of the popular program and expand into Holyoke and Chicopee. The Care Center’s Roqué House Program provides stable housing for young parents, primarily women of color, working toward a college degree, as well as their children. The three-year, $150,000 grant will fund an artist in residence and counselor for families who live in Roqué House. Health New England’s Where Health Matters grant program, now in its fourth year, has invested $1.2 million in nonprofits in Western and Central Mass. Health New England also partners with each awardee via volunteering and advising to help them thrive.

 

Smith Brothers Insurance Acquires Oxford Insurance

EASTHAMPTON — Effective Nov. 1, Smith Brothers Insurance, with an office in Easthampton, has acquired Oxford Insurance Agency, an independent insurance agency in Oxford. The acquisition expands the company’s footprint in Massachusetts and allows Oxford Insurance to maintain its local presence while leveraging the resources of Smith Brothers Insurance. Brian Ravenelle, who was CEO of Oxford Insurance, will become a partner of Smith Brothers Insurance and will stay fully engaged in client service, business development, and in serving clients with the same team of insurance professionals. All Oxford Insurance team members will be joining Smith Brothers. Smith Brothers Insurance has more than 200 team members in locations across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

 

HCC Named One of State’s Top Women-led Businesses

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named one of the top women-led businesses in Massachusetts for 2021 by the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports female business leaders. The Institute’s 21st annual rankings of the “Top 100 Women-led Businesses in Massachusetts” were announced on Nov. 5 during a Zoom celebration attended by HCC President Christina Royal. Royal and HCC were ranked at number 50. The full list was published Nov. 6 in a special “Women and Power” edition of the Boston Globe Magazine. Royal has been the president of HCC since January 2017. She is the fourth president in HCC’s 75-year history and the first woman to hold that position. Also on the list at number 55 is HCC alumna and Westfield native Linda Markham, president and chief administrative officer of Cape Air and Nantucket Airlines, based in Hyannis. To compile the list, the Commonwealth Institute examined revenue or operating budgets for each organization as well as other variables, including number of full-time employees in the state, workplace and management diversity, and innovative projects.

 

YMCA of Greater Springfield Awarded $25,000 Comcast Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield, in partnership with Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, announced it received a $25,000 grant from Comcast to support digital-literacy programming and access to the internet at the YMCA’s North End Youth Center, which also features a Comcast Lift Zone. Comcast has installed more than 1,000 WiFi-connected Lift Zones across the country, with 64 located across Massachusetts. These Lift Zones, which are based in community centers like the YMCA of Greater Springfield, have helped students stay connected and get online to do their schoolwork and more. Free WiFi connectivity is essential to many youth in Springfield, including the teens the YMCA serves at its North End Youth Center on Dwight Street. “This grant from Comcast will support technology programming and digital skills training for teens here at our North End Youth Center technology lab,” said Dexter Johnson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield. “Our goal is to teach virtual coding and robotics in our after-school teen program, components of which include computer programming, information technologies, and video-game design.” The after-school teen programming at the YMCA is funded by community support and hosts more than 300 teens each year. There will be at least 60 openings available for teens to participate in the upcoming coding and robotics program.

 

Forbes Names Big Y Best-in-state Employer

SPRINGFIELD — For the third year in a row, Big Y has been recognized as a Forbes Best-in-state Employer for 2021. Forbes America’s Best-in-state Employers have been identified across all industries based upon an independent survey of employees who anonymously recommend their employers for this award. Employers such as Big Y have no knowledge of which employees are polled, nor do they have the ability to influence the results in any way. According to Forbes, employees are asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family. Employees are also asked to give their opinions on a series of statements surrounding work-related topics such as working conditions, salary, potential for development, and company image regarding their current employer. Big Y’s award spans 25 different industries. Big Y has also been named among Forbes Best in State for Diversity, Forbes Best Employers for Women, and Forbes America’s Best Large Employers.

 

Springfield College Launches $50 Million Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College hosted an official kickoff event for Advancing Humanics: The Campaign for Springfield College on Nov. 12 at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Center Court. Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper officially introduced the comprehensive campaign, which supports the Springfield College Humanics philosophy, which is to educate the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. Cooper provided an overview of the campaign goal of $50 million. Advancing Humanics is being co-chaired by trustees Gregory Toczydlowski and Michele Megas-Ditomassi. Trustee emerita Helen Davis Blake, co-chair of the last Springfield College campaign, is serving as the honorary campaign chair. Gifts collected during the Advancing Humanics campaign will have a direct effect on every aspect of campus life, and the financial support will provide immediate assistance to the most critical needs of Springfield College, including scholarship resources for students and the new Health Sciences Center.

 

U.S. News Bestows Best Law Firm Designation to Three Area Firms

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. News & World Report selected three Springfield-based firms for its 2022 Best Law Firms listing. Bulkley Richardson was named a Best Law Firm in the Springfield region in the following 11 practice areas: bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, banking and finance law, commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense: general practice, criminal defense: white-collar, litigation – labor and employment, medical malpractice law – defendants, personal injury litigation – defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin has been recognized for Tier 1 metropolitan designations in Springfield in the areas of banking and finance law, bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, corporate law, elder law, and trusts and estates law. It is also recognized for Tier 2 metropolitan designations in Springfield in the areas of business organizations (including LLCs and partnerships) and tax law. Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. was awarded a Metropolitan Tier 1 ranking in employment law – management, labor law – management, and litigation – labor and employment. Law firms that are honored on the U.S. News Best Law Firms list are ranked based on a careful evaluation process that includes the collection of evaluations from lawyers and clients, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and other additional information that law firms provide as part of the formal submission process.

 

Freedom Commits $15,000 to BFMC’s New Department of Family Medicine

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union has made a $15,000 commitment — $3,000 per year over five years —to support a new family-medicine residency program designed to attract and retain young physicians to Franklin County. Led by founding Chair Dr. Robert Baldor, the Department of Family Medicine is a partnership between Baystate Franklin Medical Center and UMass Chan Medical School – Baystate. The residency will be housed at the Greenfield Family Medicine Practice at 48 Sanderson St., which is adjacent to Baystate Franklin Medical Center and easily accessible to the Greater Greenfield community. Family medicine physicians are trained to treat all members of a family, from children to adults and seniors, diagnosing and treating a wide range of ailments and providing preventive care. Four new residents will be welcomed annually into the three-year training program (12 in total). They will learn from the physicians at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and specialists from Franklin County and other Baystate Health facilities. The first class of four residents will arrive in June 2022. Freedom’s $15,000 donation is among $245,700 that has been donated in support of the hospital’s $4.2 million investment in creating a state-of-the-art clinical/teaching facility at 48 Sanderson St. Two education grants from the federal government will support the program as well, including a $750,000 Health Resources & Services Administration grant and an Area Health Education Center grant for $100,000.

 

Uvitron International Launches New, Enhanced Website

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Uvitron International Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-performance UV light curing systems and accessories, recently launched a new website — uvitron.com — offering streamlined navigation and improved quoting capabilities, among other features. Uvitron was established as a developer and manufacturer of switch-mode power supplies for light curing systems, developing the first electronic arc lamp power supply. The company has since evolved into a total solutions provider of light curing systems and accessories. In addition to enhanced navigation and quoting capabilities, the new site also features more comprehensive product information, applications by industry, and information about services and capabilities, such as application analysis, sample testing, and demo units.

 

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $5,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a grant of $5,000 from Westfield Bank’s Future Fund Program to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank, a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids, established the Future Fund in 2002 as a response to overwhelming community needs and the shrinking sources of corporate philanthropy. It prioritizes funding to 501(c)(3) educational, recreational, cultural, and social-service programs that serve Westfield Bank’s market area. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences Nets $93 Million

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced that, as part of Robert and Donna Manning’s recent historic $50 million gift to the University of Massachusetts, $18 million will endow the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences. At the same time, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a $75 million commitment that will enhance and expand the college’s facilities. The state grant, which will be allocated over the course of multiple future capital plans, is backed by a $30 million commitment from the campus for the expanded physical footprint of the college. These combined investments will allow the college to continue to grow and fuel new discoveries in computing research. It will attract top faculty, increase access to its nationally ranked program, and offer scholarships, bridge programs, and peer mentoring to foster a diverse and ethical future workforce. Since 2018, the college has committed to doubling the amount of undergraduate and graduate students, and the gift and grant will help accelerate that goal. The Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences ranks among the top 20 computer science programs in North America and boasts the 11th-ranked artificial intelligence (AI) program. United around a revolutionary vision for computing research and education, known as Computing for the Common Good, the college is driving scientific discovery in key areas such as healthcare, sustainability, cybersecurity, quantum information systems, and human-centered technology. Its research is focused on some of the most demanding challenges of today, including ensuring that AI is equitable, safe, and applied in positive ways, creating technologies that protect personal privacy and safeguard children from online predators.

 

Eastern States Exposition Receives Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President and CEO Eugene Cassidy was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Robert Nelson, director of the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) Massachusetts District Office, on Oct. 25 to announce that ESE is the recipient of a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG). These federal grants are given to venues in the entertainment realm such as concert halls, theaters, and other attractions that suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair in 2019, did not take place in 2020. “For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, the Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season, resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of the Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to the Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”

 

Country Bank Opens New Office in Tower Square

SPRINGFIELD — Country Bank opened a business office on the 17th floor of Tower Square in Springfield at the end of October to support its continued growth in the markets it serves. The new business office will support local businesses and allow the Country Bank team to become ingrained with the companies and nonprofits in Springfield. Bringing more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, Senior Vice President Ben Leonard will lead the Springfield team. He has spent more than a decade fostering relationships in Western Mass. with both community and business leaders while he was with Wells Fargo. Leonard serves on the board for Revitalize CDC in Springfield. In 2018, he was a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree and is a graduate of Wells Fargo’s Credit Management Training Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas.

 

Level Two Studios, LLC Opens in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Level Two Studios, LLC a new all-inclusive production facility, recently opened in Springfield, offering an optimal environment for professional, full-scale video production and photography. Located on the second level of 155 Brookdale Dr., the studio’s expansive, 2,000-square-foot space accommodates creative media production with numerous amenities. The many features of Level Two Studios include a 25-by-11-foot white or green screen corner cyclorama wall — the only one available in the region — as well as blackout walls for seamless filming. The studio also boasts flexible standing sets that provide endless customization options, sound suppression, full lighting, a state-of-the-art video-editing suite and audio studio for post-production, a green room, and ample accommodations for private wardrobe, makeup, meetings, and other preparation. The facility can accommodate production crews of all sizes and is available for both full- and half-day rentals.

 

Barron & Jacobs to Move Office Location

NORTHAMPTON — Barron & Jacobs Associates will move its offices in November from Old South Street in Northampton to 420 North Main St. in Leeds. After 17 years in its current location, the company has decided to move to a new spot. The existing building was purchased by the company’s prior owner from Historic Northampton, and Barron & Jacobs restored the home to its original glory. Company owner Chris Jacobs said the new site offers a great location, is well-suited for the business, and is more energy-efficient. Barron & Jacobs is a full-service design/build remodeler. In business since 1986, the company’s projects include kitchens, baths, porches and decks, attic and basement conversions, whole-house renovations, exterior work, and more. For more information or to schedule a design consultation, visit barronandjacobs.com.

 

Angels in Adoption Honors Friends of Children

HADLEY — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is celebrating Friends of Children as a 2021 Angels in Adoption honoree for its outstanding advocacy for foster-care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which coordinates the Angels in Adoption program, honored Friends of Children on Oct. 20 in a virtual gala. According to Markey, Friends of Children was nominated as an honoree this year due to its relentless advocacy for children despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. “Even in our nation’s darkest hour, as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fought tirelessly for the children and families impacted by foster care and involvement in the juvenile justice system and have shown great fortitude in the face of adversity,” Markey said. Jane Lyons, executive director of Friends of Children, said accepting the nomination shines an important light on the invaluable work the organization provides. “To be recognized by the CCAI with this award is really exciting and underscores the value placed on our independent child advocacy for kids in the foster-care system.”

 

Lesser Presents $1,000 Earmark to Springfield Science Museum

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed state Sen. Eric Lesser on Oct. 25 to announce a $100,000 earmark from the Commonwealth to help fund the International Space Station exhibit in the Springfield Science Museum. The Springfield Museums is constructing a fully immersive representation of the International Space Station module Destiny. The gallery will have an ‘airlock’ entrance and dynamic view of Earth from the exhibit’s bay-window cupola. The vestibule is nearing completion and will include a facsimile astronaut suit as well as interactive features that help visitors better understand the science of space exploration. Plans are also underway for a facilitated, roving ‘space cart,’ which will include items from an astronaut’s gear that visitors can touch. A facilitator will be available to answer questions and share information about space travel. Currently on view outside the gallery is an interactive screen donated by NASA. Visitors can touch the image of the International Space Station to find out more information about its function.

 

Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember

WARE — Country Bank recently supported the Ride to Remember, the 100-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters. This year, the event was rerouted to include a round-trip ride from Springfield to Worcester to pay tribute to the lives lost by the Worcester Police and Fire departments. Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully, who previously participated in the ride, presented a $10,000 donation to the Ride to Remember with funds directed to the Manny 267 Foundation in Worcester. The Manny 267 Foundation was established after the city of Worcester suffered the loss of officer Manny Familia, a five-year veteran who responded to the 911 call of a 14-year-old boy in distress at Green Hill Pond. Unfortunately, neither Familia nor the boy survived. The goal of the foundation is to raise funds to provide rescue tubes for every police cruiser and, with the collaboration of the YMCA, provide proper training for police to perform water rescues. In addition, they want to offer swimming lessons and water-survival skills for kids and teenagers in the Worcester community. Finally, their goal is to donate a ‘Manny tube’ to every police department in the U.S. and to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again.

 

Excel Dryer Renews Support for Square One Program

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, Excel Dryer is lending its support to Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative, donating $5,000 to provide supplies and meals to the agency’s preschoolers. “We are proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to provide early-education services to children in our area,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer. “This organization is a vital part of our community, providing a safe and educational space for young children. We hope our donation can help provide much-needed meals and resources for these students.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.

MSB Asks Community to Vote for Their Favorite Nonprofits

MONSON — With the season of giving right around the corner, Monson Savings Bank (MSB) is reaching out to the public and requesting they submit their votes for the bank’s 2022 Community Giving Initiative. For more than a decade, MSB has been seeking the help of the community to plan the bank’s community-giving activities by inviting members of the community to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during the upcoming year. Everyone is welcome to participate and can cast their vote at www.monsonsavings.bank/connect/community-giving.html. Voters may provide the names of up to three organizations they would like the bank to donate to in 2022. The only requirements are that the organizations be designated a nonprofit and that the organizations provide services within the bank’s geography. Voting ends on Friday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Monson Savings Bank pledges to support the top 10 organizations that receive the most votes. The 10 organizations will be announced by mid-January, and donations will then be distributed.

American Eagle Supports Asnuntuck Food Pantry

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) revealed the recipients of $25,842 in total donations from the latest round of the credit union’s popular Cash Back to the Community program. The third quarter’s winners — three nonprofit organizations from AEFCU’s service area that earned the most community votes — will each receive $8,614 from American Eagle. The latest winners are the Asnuntuck Community College Food Pantry in Enfield, the Southington Girls Softball League, and Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford. Through the Cash Back to the Community program, American Eagle has donated $76,571 to local organizations in 2021 alone, and $162,996 since the program first launched in January 2020. AEFCU donates 1% of its credit- and debit-card interchange income to three nonprofit and/or 501(c)(3) organizations each quarter through the Cash Back to the Community program. In addition to American Eagle’s donations through the Cash Back to the Community program, AEFCU employees donated $3,461 to the United Way and $8,339 to the American Eagle Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. AEFCU employees have provided $33,827 in total donations in 2021. Funds are generated through voluntary payroll deductions throughout the year and distributed to local organizations that American Eagle and its employees support on a quarterly basis.

 

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $5,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a grant of $5,000 from Westfield Bank’s Future Fund Program to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank, a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids, established the Future Fund in 2002 as a response to overwhelming community needs and the shrinking sources of corporate philanthropy. It prioritizes funding to 501(c)(3) educational, recreational, cultural, and social-service programs that serve Westfield Bank’s market area. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp.

 

Company Notebook

Amherst Couple Gives $1 Million to Cooley Dickinson Hospital ED

NORTHAMPTON — Dr. Lynnette Watkins, the new president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, announced the receipt of a $1 million gift from John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst to support the hospital’s Emergency Department. The Armstrong’s gift will support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $15.5 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation which will allow the hospital to meet the ever-evolving emergency medical needs of community members, from infants to older adults. Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department is 40% undersized to meet the community’s needs and cares for many patients who require critical medical attention. The number of patients visiting the department has grown from 17,000 annually in the 1970s to nearly 34,000 in recent years. For those patients, Emergency Department teams treat approximately 300 traumatic injuries per year; last year alone, over 6,000 patients needed to be admitted for further care. Gifts to the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department will support more and better designed spaces and increased privacy for patient care, faster access to computerized tomography (CT) scans, improved coordination of care to allow face-to-face communication between providers and nurses, and more patient rooms. Other planned improvements include enhanced geriatric care, a larger behavioral-health pod, a pediatric observation unit, and a streamlined admission process. The groundbreaking for these renovations is expected to occur at the end of 2022.

 

Balagan Cannabis Opens Doors in Downtown Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Balagan Cannabis, a boutique, adult-use cannabis dispensary located at 235 Main St. in downtown Northampton, officially opened on Oct. 16. The enterprise is owned by a team of four partners, including native Northamptonite Rachael Workman, daughter of Danny Workman, the former long-time owner of Jake’s. Her partners are veteran cannabis retailer Adi Nagli, New York-based financier Itamar Alpert, and Gil Sasson, who has been running operations next door at Cafe Balagan, the dispensary’s sister outfit, which opened six months ago. The name Balagan (pronounced bah-lah-gone) is a Hebrew slang term translating loosely to ‘a beautiful chaos’ and pays tribute to the partnership’s strong Israeli roots. In the three years since Mayor David Narkewicz signed Balagan’s host agreement, the team took on a hefty gut renovation of the former Sam’s Pizza space and relocated two of the partners’ families to the area (one from as far away as Israel). The last year has been dedicated to designing a signature retail space with the help of interiors expert Sarah Zashin-Jacobson. Sweitzer Construction provided design-build general contracting services.

 

Belt Technologies Recognized at Manufacturing Awards Ceremony

AGAWAM — Belt Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of custom metal belt conveyor solutions for more than 50 years, was honored at the sixth annual Manufacturing Awards Ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up event. More than 600 people attended the event, which was organized by Mass Tech Collaborative and held at Polar Park in Worcester on Sept. 28. “We were honored to be recognized as a leading manufacturer in Massachusetts,” said Denis Gagnon, CEO of Belt Technologies. “We have been innovating for more than five decades and fortunate to have grown, adding several jobs here in Massachusetts over the past year. Thank you to Senator John Velis for seeing the great work we do and nominating us for this award.”

 

State-of-the-art [email protected] Training Center Established

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). [email protected] is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The [email protected] facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation.

 

Legislators Announce Funding Secured for Zoo in Forest Park

SPRINGFIELD — On Oct. 1, state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Carlos González were joined by members of the Springfield legislative delegation, and Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center, to announce $50,000 in funding secured for annual operations. Lesser acted as lead budget sponsor in the Senate in securing this earmark in the FY22 budget along with House sponsor González. The FY22 budget was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July. These funds will help sustain the annual operations of the Zoo in Forest Park, which includes daily care of more than 240 animals 365 days per year, including several endangered species; educational opportunities for youth and adults across Western Mass.; camps during summer and school vacation weeks; collaborations with other local nonprofits, including Square One in Springfield and Girls Inc. of the Valley in Holyoke; job training and internships in the fields of biology, veterinary medicine, and animal care; tourism and marketing initiatives that encourage visitors to spend time and money in the city and our region; and opportunities for individuals and local businesses to get involved in their community through volunteer projects.

 

Jewish Family Service Receives Multi-year Grant to Promote Refugee Economic Independence

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS), in partnership with HIAS, has been awarded a four-year, $250,000-per-year Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The IDA program is a matched-savings program that assists individuals and families to save toward an asset that will increase financial independence. Refugees can save for one of four assets — to start or support a business, to purchase a vehicle to obtain and maintain employment and education, to increase capital to purchase a home, or to invest in post-secondary education or training. Individuals can save up to $2,000, and households can save up to $4,000, and have their savings matched dollar for dollar. The IDA program provides asset-specific training, financial-literacy classes, and technical assistance to increase participants’ capacity to increase self-sufficiency, become financially stable, and achieve their savings goals. By enrolling participants in IDA, HIAS and JFS will help refugees establish savings accounts; create regular saving habits; promote participation in the financial banking system; increase knowledge of financial topics, including developing a household budget, building and maintaining credit, and saving; acquire assets to build individual, family, and community resources; advance education opportunities; purchase homes; gain access to capital for microenterprise development; and foster community economic development by which the historically marginalized are now accessing resources and opportunities.

 

YMCA Golf Classic Raises More Than $70,000 for Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield held its 2021 Golf Classic on Sept. 20 at the Longmeadow Country Club, with local businesses coming together in a round of golf to support the mission of the YMCA. Dexter Johnson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, said the event raised more than $70,000, which will support before- and after-school programs, child care, early-learning opportunities, summer camp, swim lessons, and health and wellness programs. Wellfleet Insurance sponsored this year’s Golf Classic.

 

KC Law Celebrates Five-year Anniversary

WESTFIELD — Attorney Kevin Chrisanthopoulos is celebrating the five-year anniversary of KC Law, which specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice. Since leaving a large Springfield firm in 2016 to start out on his own, Attorney Chrisanthopoulos has been named to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list and included in America’s Top 100 Medical Malpractice Litigators. He has guided numerous families through the loss of a loved one and advocated for those dealing with significant injuries. He is a graduate of Western New England University and Roger Williams School of Law. His bar admissions include Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit. In addition, he is a member of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., Massachusetts Bar Assoc., and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. Over the past five years, he has litigated numerous complex medical-malpractice and wrongful-death cases while providing countless hours of pro bono services to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Chrisanthopoulos’ community involvement includes assisting in the creation a foundation to raise money for the Clarke School, which specializes in educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing. He also serves as president of the board of trustees for Amelia Park Arena & Memorial Garden and has spent significant time coaching hockey.

 

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. Unveils Plans for New Home in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — After a four-year search, Girls Inc. of the Valley unveiled what will become its new home — the former ‘O’Connell building’ on Hampden Street in Holyoke. At a press conference, Girls Inc. leaders announced that the nonprofit had acquired the property and has mapped out extensive renovation efforts and plans to open the new facility perhaps as early as a year from now. Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker told those assembled that, as part of a strategic plan created more than four years ago, the nonprofit has sought a new home that will bring all its programs together under one roof and facilitate growth that will enable it to serve more girls in the Pioneer Valley. The search for such a facility has been a long and sometimes difficult undertaking, she noted, one that eventually brought Girls Inc. to the Hampden Street property, which was the longtime home to the O’Connell Companies, and later law offices after O’Connell built a new headquarters on Kelly Way in Holyoke. Girls Inc. closed on the property late last month, acquiring it for $790,000 with financing from PeoplesBank, said Parker, noting that extensive renovations to many portions of the property will bring the price tag for the project to roughly $3.5 million. A capital campaign — the Her Future, Our Future campaign, which has an overall goal of $5 million — was launched more than a year ago, she said, adding that funds raised through that campaign will be used to cover those costs. The site brings a number of benefits, said Parker, listing a 55-space parking lot and ample room — 16,000 square feet over two floors — for facilities that will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, administrative offices, and more.

 

HCC Receives $1 Million Grant to Build New Engineering Program

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a new engineering pathways program to help boost the numbers of Latinx and women engineers working in the field. The grant — $956,458 over four years — will allow HCC to design an accelerated, one-year engineering certificate program that will culminate in paid internships with high-tech research organizations such as the renowned Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The money comes from the NSF’s program for Hispanic Serving Institutions and is intended to improve undergraduate education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. HCC has been a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, since 2016. Colleges and universities are recognized as HSIs when their Hispanic/Latinx enrollment exceeds 25%. HCC’s partners in the grant include Holyoke High School, Westfield High School, Western New England University, UMass Amherst, the Northampton-based Collaborative for Educational Services, a national association called the 50K Coalition, and the Society for Women Engineers. The main goals of HCC’s new Western Massachusetts Engineering Pathways Program are to increase participation in engineering by members of groups historically underrepresented in the field, to revitalize HCC’s engineering programs to be more responsive to a diverse student body, and to ensure the program meets the needs of regional employers. Through the grant, HCC will hire an Engineering Pathways coordinator to recruit high-school students for the program. After students complete their coursework, they will be placed in paid internships. As a further incentive, each student in their final program course will receive a $1,000 stipend. The grant also calls for a review of HCC’s associate-degree program in engineering in consultation with HCC’s partners to increase employer engagement and improve transfer pathways to four-year institutions. In addition, the grant will facilitate the creation of a chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at HCC. Also in conjunction with the grant, HCC has joined the 50K Coalition, a national consortium of professional engineering societies whose goal is graduate 50,000 women engineers and engineers of color by 2025.

 

Big E Sets Single-day Attendance Record

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Big E closed out its 17-day fair with a bang on its final weekend, drawing 177,238 patrons on Saturday, Oct. 2 — the largest single-day attendance in the event’s history. The total 17-day attendance was 1,498,774, short of the record of 1,629,527 set in 2019. This year’s fair set attendance records on three other days as well; Sept. 21 drew the best first-Tuesday crowd ever (56,769), Sept. 26 was the best-ever second Sunday (136,512), and Oct. 1 was the best-ever third Friday (113,827).

 

Western MA Food Processing Center Named Manufacturer of the Year

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Development Corp.’s Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (FPC) was named Manufacturer of the Year in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester state Senate district. The FPC was nominated to receive this award by state Sen. Jo Comerford through the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, of which she is a member. Located in Greenfield, the FPC was established in 2001 and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in October. The center serves as an incubator space for new and growing specialty food businesses to manufacture their products. The FPC team has helped local businesses prototype and launch a wide variety of different products, including sauces, toppings, salsas, dips, syrups, and frozen meals. It has a wide variety of specialized equipment to help local farms add value to their produce. Additionally, the FPC provides one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to support business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, and more. Currently, the FPC has 50 clients and employs eight full-time staff. During the busy harvest season, it employs several part-time staff, including individuals through the re-entry program of Hampshire County House of Corrections. This harvest season, the FPC team made value-added products, like pickles, pestos, and salsas, for 18 farms and offered dry and cold storage services to another eight farms. The FPC is also home to Valley Veggies, as well as the only individual quick-freeze machine in New England, which processes local vegetables for schools, institutions, and retail. The Food Processing Center is continuously improving its manufacturing capabilities by investing in specialized food-processing equipment, much of which is funded by state and federal grant programs.

 

Uvitron International Receives ISO 9001 Certification

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Uvitron International Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-performance UV light-curing systems and accessories, recently received ISO 9001 certification after demonstrating it met international standards of quality management and quality assurance. “Since we were founded in 1993, we have earned a reputation for manufacturing and selling a quality product supported by a high degree of product knowledge,” said Eugene Mikhaylichenko, Uvitron’s Sales and Marketing director. “This certification underscores our efforts to continue to build on this strong foundation.” Uvitron was established as a developer and manufacturer of switch-mode power supplies for light-curing systems, developing the first electronic arc lamp power supply. The company has since evolved into a total solutions provider of light-curing systems and accessories. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety, and efficiency of products, services, and systems. ISO 9001 standards are based on seven quality management principles: customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management.

 

Country Bank Recognized by Boston Business Journal for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2021 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The magazine annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 9, 98 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year, the honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 55th, employs 215 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. Staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering to a variety of nonprofits. Paul Scully, president and CEO at Country Bank, added that “we are honored to be recognized by the Boston Business Journal for Country Bank’s philanthropic efforts. As a community bank, it is our mission to help make a difference in the lives of others.”

 

Renaissance Investment Group to Open New Downtown Office

LENOX — Renaissance Investment Group, LLC is joining the growing business community in downtown Lenox with a new office at 45 Walker St. The group will leave its current building in the Lenox Commons and plans to move into the Walker Street space in November. Mill Town Capital is the new owner of the building. Renaissance and Mill Town have agreed on a 10-year lease during which Mill Town will serve as the landlord for the building and will fund property improvements. Mill Town also owns and operates the Gateways Inn and Restaurant at 51 Walker St. Mill Town, an impact-investment firm based in Pittsfield, owns and operates numerous properties in the Berkshires as part of its efforts to expand and improve quality of life in the area. The firm focuses on making impactful business investments and community-development efforts.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Five $1,000 Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Five area students were each awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is awarded annually to a union member affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouse or dependent. Applicants are asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of recent community service, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Emma Cowles of Wilbraham, Samantha Franciosa of Granby, Emma Hayward of Pittsfield, Antonia Perakis of West Springfield, and Elizabeth Sarnacki of East Otis.

 

STCC Receives $7.35 Million to Enhance STEM Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to boost student success among Latinx and low-income students in STEM fields, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announced during a visit to STCC. The first grant, titled “Project Acceleration: Re-engineering Pathways to Student Success in STEM,” will run for five years for a total of $3 million. It will allow STCC to create a STEM studies program and develop support services to increase access to STEM careers. The grant is designed to increase enrollment and improve the graduation rates of Latinx and low-income students in STEM majors and help them continue with their studies instead of withdrawing from school. In addition, the grant will allow STCC to help reduce the time it takes male students of color, particularly Latinx, to complete studies. The grant falls under the federal Title V program, which was created to improve higher education of Hispanic students. The second grant announced by Neal is titled “STEM Access and Retention Strategies.” The five-year grant, totaling $4,352,559, will allow STCC to create and enhance support services for Latinx and low-income students. Services and programs supported by the grant include creation of STEM-focused first-year experience courses; utilization of proactive STEM advisors, which would involves bringing services to students rather than waiting for them to ask; and implementation of additional mental-health services. In recent years, STCC created a STEM Center that offers opportunities for tutoring and group study for all students. The college also provides mentoring and coaching. The new federal grant also will allow STCC to enhance professional development for faculty. STCC, the only technical community college in Massachusetts, is federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with 30% of the students identifying as Hispanic. The city of Springfield suffers high unemployment and poverty. Fifty-six percent of STCC students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to students who display exceptional financial need. Hispanic and low-income students enter college with greater developmental math needs and lower retention and graduation rates, on average, than non-Hispanic and higher-income students. Only 11.4% of Hispanic and 14% of low-income students major in STEM. As part of the grant focusing on access and retention strategies, STCC will partner with UMass Amherst and Central Connecticut State University to expand transfer opportunities for students.

 

Springfield Museums Receive Shuttered Venue Operator Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Small Business Alliance Massachusetts District Office Director Robert Nelson to the Quadrangle green on Oct. 7 to announce a $1,200,000 Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As part of the American Rescue Plan, the SVOG program provided more than $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues and was administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Springfield Museums shut its doors for four months, the first time this has happened in its 164-year history. “As a beloved community anchor and an important informal-learning hub, we were overjoyed to reopen in July 2020,” Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson said. “Our visitors make our museums alive with energy and potential, and we are so glad to have them back in our buildings. We are deeply grateful for the funds provided by the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant, which will help us make up for the lost time during that four-month period.”

 

Springfield College, UMass Launch Accelerated Law Degree Program

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts Law School – Dartmouth have finalized a 3+3 agreement that will create new, accelerated opportunities for Springfield College students to attain a law degree. As part of the agreement, Springfield College pre-law students will spend three years working toward their undergraduate degree before enrolling at UMass Law, where they will begin taking law courses that fulfill their remaining undergraduate requirements while beginning their legal education. Springfield College Professor of History and Pre-Law Advisor Thomas Carty was instrumental in forging this pathway for Springfield College students with UMass Law. Students will earn their bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees in six years rather than the traditional seven. These accelerated degree programs allow students to apply credits earned during their first year of law school to their final year of college, saving students thousands of dollars in tuition payments and living expenses. Over the past five years, UMass Law ranks second in the nation, among nearly 200 ABA-accredited law schools, for enrollment growth, while maintaining the smallest first-year doctrinal course sizes among all Massachusetts law schools. UMass Law’s most recent ABA Standard 316 ‘ultimate’ (two-year) bar pass rate is 92% across all jurisdictions. UMass Law has twice been ranked among the best law schools in the country for its program of practical training. The law school also ranks second among all 15 law schools in New England for the percentage of students entering public service.

 

Jewish Family Service Receives Citizenship and Integration Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) has been awarded a competitive two-year $250,000 Citizenship and Integration Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This grant enables JFS to continue its work helping legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. The fiscal year 2021 grants, which run through September 2023, will fund legal services for citizenship applicants and educational programs designed to deepen an applicant’s knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Since it began in 2009, the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has awarded more than $112 million through 513 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Now in its 13th year, the program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. JFS is one of 40 organizations in 25 states to receive nearly $10 million in funding to support citizenship-preparation services. Now in its 13th year, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. A ‘permanent resident’ is a person authorized by the U.S. government to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. Jewish Family Service is a nonprofit social service agency that has developed both substantive legal and programmatic expertise during its 10 years of experience in citizenship and naturalization services.

 

 

State-of-the-art [email protected] Training Center Established

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). [email protected] is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The [email protected] facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation through its capital grant program and is collaborating on more than 60 projects connecting manufacturers with universities and companies. According to CAM, Massachusetts has made a substantial commitment to developing the Manufacturing USA infrastructure within the state’s academic, research, and manufacturing industry. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M212 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. Funded through the M212 program, LEAP is designed to support AIM Photonics, an industry-driven, public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return on investment to the American economy.

 

Company Notebook

Area Colleges, Univerties Recognized in U.S. News & World Report Listings

WESTERN MASS. — Several area colleges and universities were recognized recently in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

• Elms College was named to the list of Best Regional Universities – North. The college moved to 85th out of 171 other northern regional colleges and universities, up from 93rd in 2021. On a new list of Undergraduate Nursing Programs, Elms College School of Nursing ranked 288th out of 694 schools. On the Top Performers on Social Mobility list, Elms ranked 11th among 86 northern regional colleges and universities. This category measures the extent to which schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually).

• For the seventh consecutive year, Springfield College is ranked in the top 30 in the Best Regional Universities – North category. The college is also ranked 16th in the Best Value category of the report, up 10 spots from last year. The consistent ranking in the top tier is spurred by improved graduation rates and improved retention of first-year students.

• Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts rose to seventh on the list of Top Public Colleges, and to 21st as a Top Performer on Social Mobility, first in Massachusetts. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges, and has appeared on the list of Top Public Colleges for nine of the past 11 years.

• Western New England University has been ranked fourth in Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Universities in Massachusetts. The university improved its overall ranking to 213th in the nation this year, moving up 14 places from last year. Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Undergraduate Engineering (no doctorate) program category.

• Finally, Bay Path University is ranked 26th in Social Mobility, increasing its standing by 42 spots from last year. Bay Path also ranks ninth, moving up three spots, on the list of Most Innovative Universities in the North Region. In 2020, 58.3% of Bay Path’s traditional undergraduate students were identified as Pell-eligible.

 

The Dowd Agencies Acquires Wilcox Insurance Agency

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has acquired the Wilcox Insurance Agency, founded in 1923. The two organizations have merged their operations and will now be known as Wilcox-Dowd Insurance. This acquisition adds two more branches in Westfield and Feeding Hills, expanding Dowd’s locations throughout the Pioneer Valley to eight offices. Wilcox Insurance Agency was founded as Westfield Mutual Insurance Agency in 1923 by Raymond Wilcox, who was eventually joined by son Malcolm, grandson Scott, and great-grandson Robert, who now leads the agency under the Dowd Agencies umbrella. The offices in Westfield and Feeding Hills are full-service insurance agencies providing personal, commercial, wealth-management, and employee-benefits products and services.

 

Hampden Papers Building Sold to Green Thumb Industries Inc.

HOLYOKE — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced the sale of the 326,664-square-foot industrial mill building at 100 Water St. in Holyoke from Hampden Glazed Paper + Card Co. to Green Thumb Industries Inc., a cannabis grower and retailer. Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is a national marijuana producer headquartered in Chicago with various brands and business units to its name. The company, which has 13 manufacturing locations and 97 retail sites across the U.S., is growing its footprint in Holyoke. The company was established in 2014 and boasts more than 2,300 employees. The acquisition of 100 Water St. reflects its continued plans for expansion and the positive environment the city of Holyoke has created for cannabis growers, manufacturers, and retailers. The 100 Water St. property was the headquarters of Hampden Papers, a 140-year-old family business that sold in 2020. The company specialized in specialty coated, laminated, printed, and embossed paper products. The mill complex is comprised of five interconnected industrial buildings, some multi-level and others single-story warehouses with high ceilings and several loading docks. The property features convenient access to major interstates, including the Mass Pike and I-91. Mitch Bolotin, vice president of Colebrook Realty Services, represented the seller, and Kevin Jennings of Jennings Real Estate represented the buyer.

 

Western New England University to Launch Women’s Wrestling Team

SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) recently announced the addition of women’s wrestling to its athletics program. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport and the first NCAA DIII women’s wrestling team in New England. The women’s wrestling program is planned to begin its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with Mike Sugermeyer, head coach for men’s wrestling, tasked with recruiting the first official class. The university will hire a women’s head coach prior to the start of the season. There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level. WNE will be the first in Massachusetts, compared to the 140 high-school programs in the state.

 

Hazen Holography Brings to Life Basketball Hall of Fame Dome

HOLYOKE — The cover of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony yearbook appears electrified, the projection-LED-illuminated nine-story dome lit three-dimensionally on the page. To distinguish its ninth time producing the yearbook cover, Hazen Paper Co. used custom holography to illuminate the iconic symbol of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Hazen’s edgeless Hazen-Lens technology was used to create the pulsating play of light in front of a brilliant radial burst of two-channel holography, which refracts ambient light to generate the impression of movement as the book is opened. In front of the dome, the Basketball Hall of Fame logo is rendered three-dimensional with holography that emphasizes the basketball’s pebbled texture, juxtaposed with the sleek, reflective sphere of the dome. The back cover also features a custom hologram to telegraph the excitement of the Mohegan Sun Arena, mimicking the strobe-like effect of lighting washing over the audience in color from the concert stage. Detailed custom holography requires precise registration to deliver a crisp final product through the printing process. The unique Hazen Holography for both sides was registered to a tolerance of 1/16” for near-perfect alignment during printing. Hazen originated the holography completely within its vertically integrated facility. The custom holograms were created in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, then micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto smooth, 12-point WestRock Crescendo C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. The yearbook cover was designed by agency GO of Hartford, Conn., and printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston.

 

PeoplesBank Recognize in Reader’s Choice Survey

HOLYOKE — Thousands of voters chimed in recently for the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Readers’ Choice consumer polls, and PeoplesBank was named a winner in several categories, including Best Local Bank, Best Local Online Banking, Best Mortgage/Home Loan Provider, Best Green Business, and Best Place to Work. PeoplesBank has made significant investments in customer service in recent years, adding new digital and contactless banking opportunities such as VideoBankerITMs as well as expanding its banking-center network in Northern and Central Connecticut. In each market it serves, the bank is well-known for its charitable and civic support. Meanwhile, at the other end of Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal named PeoplesBank a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor again in 2021.

 

Rachel’s Table, Food Bank Join Forces to Fight Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are joining forces to fight hunger. Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport food directly from designated grocery stores to Food Bank agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere. Rachel’s Table’s partnership with the Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, Rachel’s Table and the Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 volunteer drivers from Rachel’s Table rescuing nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 pounds of healthy meat, produce, and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come. People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery, or grocery store that is going to waste, can contact the organization at www.rachelstablepv.org.

 

American Eagle Donates $5,000 to Hampden County Organizations

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) announced $5,000 in total donations for two organizations based in Hampden County. The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action have each been selected to receive $2,500 grants from American Eagle’s donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. “The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action provide tremendous assistance, care, and resources to Hampden County families,” said Dean Marchessault, president and CEO of AEFCU. “It’s our hope these grants will bolster their efforts and serve as a reminder of our team’s admiration for the organizations.”

 

Company Notebook

Basketball Hall of Fame Taps White Lion for Enshrinement Release

SPRINGFIELD — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and White Lion Brewing Co. announced the two will collaborate and release a special ale with a commemorative collector’s label designed to capture the imagery of the Hall of Fame’s annual enshrinement program. The collector’s label melds the Hall of Fame’s iconic dome with the city of Springfield skyline into White Lion’s award-winning brand. “White Lion is extremely honored to partner with the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame for an annual release affectionately dubbed Enshrinement Legend Series, which pays homage to the birthplace of basketball, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and class honorees,” said Ray Berry, White Lion president. “The city of Springfield is the home of this global sport, and we are excited to play a role in the annual enshrinement-ceremony experience.” The Basketball Hall of Fame will present the class of 2021 Saturday, Sept. 11 at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.

Keiter Corp. Donates $10,000 for Northampton Gift-card Promotion

FLORENCE — Keiter Corp. has donated $10,000 to the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce for a promotion that will allow consumers to purchase a $25 Northampton gift card and receive $50 in actual spending power. This investment by Keiter, aimed at helping to continue to boost the local economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be supplemented by a $2,500 contribution from the chamber’s Community Revitalization Fund, allowing for 250 of the double-valued, $25 Northampton gift cards to be sold. Billed as a “Kickstart the Community with a Keiter Card” campaign, the promotion launched on Aug. 12, with the cards sold exclusively at the chamber offices at 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. Based in Florence, Keiter has provided general-contracting and construction-management services in the Valley since 2010 for its commercial and residential projects. Scott Keiter is a member of the chamber’s board of directors and its finance committee, so he is personally aware of the financial hit that local merchants took during the pandemic. Knowing the gift-card program has been successful, he thought an investment focused on it would be a win-win-win for his business, the chamber, and shoppers around the region who have also been hard-hit. The Northampton Gift Card is currently accepted at 65 restaurants, shops, and other establishments.

Asnuntuck, Enfield Partner on Early-childhood Initiative

ENFIELD, Conn. — The town of Enfield’s Family Resource Center, a division of the Enfield Department of Social Services, partnered with Asnuntuck Community College’s Early Childhood Education program last month on a creative collaborative program. The two partners provided an educational experience at the Enfield Public Schools’ Stowe Early Learning Center to preschool-aged children who are entering preschool and kindergarten in the fall, and who have had a limited preschool experience due to the pandemic. The summer program was three weeks long, with three classes of 16 children each going to kindergarten and two classes of 10 children each going to preschool. Funding for the program came from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, and it was partially staffed by teaching assistants who are Asnuntuck students or recent graduates.

Businesses Pull Together to Help YMCA’s Camp Weber

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield reached out to several local business for their help with upgrades at its Camp Weber in West Springfield this past year. Over the course of a few months this spring, various projects were completed to upgrade Camp Weber, including paving, new roofs, painting, landscaping, consulting, new equipment, and more. The YMCA was also fortunate to receive donations and grant awards to help with other expenses on the project. In addition, some community friends came together and helped raise enough money to send nearly 300 kids to one-week sessions of camp. Among those who helped the YMCA make improvements at Camp Weber are Adam Quennville Roofing & Siding, anonymous donors, the Agnes M. Lindsay Trust, Big E Trust – Town of West Springfield, Construction Dynamics, Eastman Chemical Co., Excel Dryer, Graybar Electric Supply, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Kelly Building Group, Kittredge Foodservice Equipment & Supply, Noonan Energy, Nora Roberts Foundation, Ondrick Materials & Recycling, Szlachetka Dubay, P.C., West Springfield Rotary Club, and West Springfield Rotary District 7890.

WNEU School of Law Co-Hosts Workshop to Support Asian-American Women

SPRINGFIELD — More than 100 current and aspiring law professors participated in the inaugural Workshop for Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women in the Legal Academy on Aug. 5-6. The event included workshops focused on professional development, scholarship, wellness, and Asian-American history. The AAPI workshop was co-hosted by Sudha Setty, dean and professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, along with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar; clinical professor of Law; and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park. In addition to providing inspiration, the workshop offered tangible support to individuals from populations that are historically underrepresented in the legal field. Given the workshop’s success in its inaugural year, Wadhia said organizers hope it will be an annual event hosted by a rotating group of law schools across the country. Institutional support, she added, is key to making progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy.

Dam Upgrades, Repairs to Begin at Springfield Armory Site

SPRINGFIELD — The city of Springfield recently announced it is beginning the $3.6 million project to repair and upgrade the Watershops Pond Dam at the historic former Springfield Armory manufacturing site. GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a multi-disciplinary firm providing ecological, geotechnical, environmental, water, and construction-management services, designed and provided permitting support for this major infrastructure project. Watershops Pond, which is created by the dam, is surrounded by several historic industrial buildings that were part of the Springfield Armory, the first federal armory and the primary manufacturing center for U.S. military firearms from 1794 until its closing in 1968. Gardner Construction & Industrial Services Inc. of Chicopee was awarded the general contract to construct the improvements at this high-hazard-potential dam. One of the key elements of the dam-improvement project includes replacing the 65-year-old crest gate. The three-foot-tall, 105-foot-long, flap-like structure can be lowered in advance of major storms and hurricanes to release water and reduce the level of the pond to mitigate potential flooding and protect the safety of the dam and downstream areas.
Several other measures will be implemented to bring the dam in compliance with Massachusetts dam-safety regulations and improve access to the gate-control house for city of Springfield personnel. The project is being funded through a $17 million grant the city was awarded in 2017 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Program. In advance of construction, GZA has facilitated and overseen a controlled draw-down of the 200-acre pond for inspection of the dam and pre-construction activities.

Home City Development Secures Permit for Affordable-housing Development in Pelham

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc., a Springfield-based affordable-housing developer, has received a comprehensive permit from the Pelham Zoning Board of Appeals for the construction of 34 mixed-income rental units. On Aug. 10, the Zoning Board approved the comprehensive permit for the property to be known as Amethyst Brook Apartments. This is the first affordable-housing development approved in the town of Pelham and the first time the Zoning Board of Appeals has awarded this type of permit. Two new buildings will be constructed at 20-22 Amherst Road; 22 Amherst Road will be designed to ‘passive house’ standards, which includes energy-efficiency specifications that drastically reduce the building’s ecological footprint. Notable additions to the site construction include a stormwater-management system and electric-vehicle charging stations. Next, Home City Development will finalize project financing, and construction is expected to be completed within 12 to 14 months after the start date, to be announced. The design team is led by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow. Berkshire Design Group of Northampton will conduct civil engineering and landscape design.

SERVPRO of Hampshire County Celebrates 25 Years in Community

BELCHERTOWN — SERVPRO of Hampshire County, a cleanup and restoration company, is recognizing its 25th anniversary in the local business community. The company will celebrate its milestone with an open house on Thursday, Sept. 16 at its offices at 50 Depot St. in Belchertown. Fall has been in business since Aug. 16, 1996. SERVPRO clients include insurance companies seeking restoration services, as well as commercial and residential property owners who require routine cleaning services. With more than 50 years of experience, the SERVPRO system’s time-tested techniques and proprietary cleaning products have earned its franchises a spot as a leader in the restoration and cleaning industry. SERVPRO of Hampshire County is capable of cleaning and restoring a fire-, mold-, or water-damaged building and its contents, including wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces; furniture; fabric; fixtures; and more. Many franchisees also offer cleaning and restoration of special items, such as HVAC duct systems; building exteriors; electronic equipment, including computers; and documents that have sustained water damage.

New Community Center, Housing Coming to Carriage Grove

BELCHERTOWN — MassDevelopment and the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (BEDIC) announced the selection of Brisa Ventures, LLC to develop a 12-acre parcel of land at Carriage Grove into a new mixed-income residential community featuring approximately 100 units of housing. Brisa Ventures will also preserve and redevelop the existing former Belchertown State School administration building into a community center, museum, cultural space, meeting space, and either a restaurant, brewery, or distillery. Construction of the development is projected to begin by the end of 2022 and is expected to be complete within 18 to 24 months. The sale of this BEDIC-owned parcel and building to Brisa Ventures will represent the first phase of a multi-phased, mixed-use project under negotiation with the company intended to include additional commercial, residential, and community-oriented investments. The new rental housing units will be designed as a mix of two- and three-story apartment- and townhome-style residences and built to ultra-low energy-use standards; they are planned to use solar energy to meet net-zero energy use. The development will also include extensive common green areas with play areas, community gathering spaces, and pathways that connect the housing units to each other and to the neighboring trail network.

Company Notebook

Belt Technologies Receives $45,600 Workforce Training Fund Grant

AGAWAM — Belt Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of custom metal belt conveyer solutions and conveyor systems for more than five decades, has been awarded a $45,600 grant to assist in the training of 24 workers and the creation of at least two new jobs before 2023. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by Commonwealth Corp. More than $8 million was awarded to companies all across Massachusetts, investing in companies from a variety of different industries. Belt plans to use the funds to help employees complete several training programs which will improve their proficiency with tooling, planned maintenance, and lean-manufacturing principles. The company currently employs 39 people in Agawam and plans to add two new manufacturing positions to increase capacity.

 

The Dowd Agencies Restructures Financial-services Division

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, LLC, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has restructured its financial-services division to provide more focused services to its clients. The former Dowd Financial Services has been divided into two divisions: Dowd Wealth Management and Dowd Employee Benefits. Dowd Wealth Management will replace the financial arm of Dowd Financial Services, offering financial consultation relative to retirement planning and investments. Dowd Employee Benefits will center around both group and individual health, dental, life, and an assortment of ancillary products. Both divisions will serve individuals and businesses.

 

Canary Blomstrom Insurance Merges with GoodWorks

AGAWAM — Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency recently became a member of GoodWorks Financial Group, a national network of insurance agencies, according to Canary Blomstrom President Sandy Brodeur. The agency will retain its name, staff, and Agawam location, and Brodeur will continue to serve as president. By joining GoodWorks, Canary Blomstrom will partner with Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington to broaden its insurance offerings locally, regionally, and nationally. Wheeler & Taylor is GoodWorks Financial’s flagship national agency. Canary Blomstrom offers all types of personal insurance, including home, auto, renters’, and boat insurance. It sells life, long-term-care, and disability insurance and annuities. Products for businesses and nonprofits include all types of commercial property and casualty insurance and employee-benefits insurance, including group health and dental plans and voluntary benefits.

 

 

Partner Consulting Joins Pixel Health Family of Companies

HOLYOKE — Partner Consulting has been acquired by Massachusetts-based Pixel Health as part of the company’s continued expansion of its national healthcare technology ecosystem. Headquartered in Middlefield, Conn., Partner joins VertitechIT (infrastructure design and implementation), Nectar (digital health strategy consulting), baytechIT (managed services), Liberty Fox Technologies (software-application development) and akiro (healthcare financial and business-advisory services) as part of the Pixel Health brand. Turning ordinary phone systems into a unified communications tool with bottom-line impact on productivity and collaboration has been the hallmark of Partner Consulting for more than two decades. With experience in assessment, design, implementation, and management of unified communications, mobility, contact-center, and telecom expense-management methodologies, Partner consultants work with healthcare systems, Fortune 500 businesses, utility companies, and state governments in the sourcing and management of telecommunications and mobility platforms. Partner Consulting will continue to service healthcare and enterprise clients from its Connecticut headquarters. Pixel Health is based in Western Mass., with consulting offices in Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania, Vermont, Florida, Tennessee, and Washington.

 

Coca-Cola to Close Bottling Plant in 2023

NORTHAMPTON — Coca-Cola announced it will close its bottling plant at 45 Industrial Dr. in Northampton in the summer of 2023, leaving its 319 employees to find new jobs. “After careful consideration, the Coca-Cola Company has decided to close our production facility in Northampton, Massachusetts,” the company, headquartered in Atlanta, said in a statement. “We did not make this decision lightly and are grateful to have had the opportunity to have been a part of the Northampton community.” The statement added that workers “will be encouraged to apply and be considered for jobs that they are qualified to perform within the Coca-Cola system and at other third-party manufacturer locations. The facility is targeting closure in the second quarter of 2023, and we will support our associates throughout the challenging transition.”

 

Girls Inc. Awarded $10 Million for Equality Can’t Wait Challenge

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc., the national organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has received $10 million in funding as one of four awardees selected by the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to benefit its Project Accelerate program. Project Accelerate aims to expand the power and influence of women in the U.S. by 2030. Building on Girls Inc.’s evidence-based programming, Project Accelerate addresses inequality in the workplace, particularly the absence of women of color in positions of influence and leadership. The program will accelerate young women’s trajectories through college and career entry, leveraging partnerships with corporations and social-impact organizations to ensure both their preparation and their access to positions of influence. Project Accelerate will also reduce the gender gap by working with young women starting as early as their junior year in high school to ensure they have the resources and support to thrive as leaders. Through a network of 78 affiliates, including here in the Pioneer Valley, Project Accelerate aims to lift 5,400 diverse women into corporate positions of power and influence, shifting the equity landscape for generations.

 

Finck & Perras Supports Restoration of Old Town Hall

EASTHAMPTON — Finck and Perras Insurance donated $15,000 to CitySpace in a multi-year pledge for support of the restoration of Easthampton Old Town Hall into a center of the arts for Western Mass. In 2006, beginning with Old Town Hall’s first floor, CitySpace embarked on an effort to create affordable space for arts organizations and creative businesses under one roof in Easthampton’s Main Street Historic District. Now, CitySpace is raising funds to convert the unused second-floor, 3500-square-foot hall into a flexible, accessible, 350-seat space for performances, concerts, and community events. Renovations also will include a new box office, elevator, entryway, theatrical lighting, and sound and projection systems. To date, more than $4.2 million in grants and contributions have been received for the $6.9 million project. CitySpace plans to begin renovations in late 2022 and seeks further support for the project.

 

MCLA to Receive $1.9 Million in ARP Funding for Students

NORTH ADAMS — MCLA will receive $1.9 million to distribute directly to enrolled students from Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) that are part of the federal Ameri can Rescue Plan (ARP). One of the largest investments ever made in American higher education, ARP allocates $40 billion to colleges in order to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third round of pandemic relief for higher-education institutions, the ARP funds are more than double the first two COVID recovery packages combined. HEERF funding, which exists under the umbrella of ARP, is meant specifically for students. MCLA students with the highest need, demonstrated via FAFSA information, will receive the majority of this funding, but all enrolled students will receive a check or the option to use the funds to pay off student debt or pay for future semesters of college. The first disbursement of funds will be to MCLA undergraduates and graduate students who are enrolled for summer classes as well as for the fall 2021 semester. The next disbursement will be to students enrolled for fall 2021. The remainder of this funding will be disbursed to enrolled students in spring 2022.

 

Breeze Airways Launches Three New Non-stop Flights at Bradley

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Bradley International Airport has launched new, non-stop service to Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk, Va; and Pittsburgh with Breeze Airways. These three launches follow the airline’s recent debut at Bradley and its inaugural non-stop service to Charleston, S.C. The new non-stops will operate on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday on single-class Embraer aircraft with a two-by-two seat configuration. Flights are available for booking at www.flybreeze.com.

 

Company Notebook

Country Bank, WooSox Announce Community Giving Campaign

WARE — Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox have announced a community giving campaign to support nonprofit leaders throughout the region. To kick off the campaign, dubbed “WooStars,” Country Bank recognized 11 local nonprofits at Polar Park, including Springfield-based organizations Friends of the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House, Christina’s House, and Habitat for Humanity, along with Worcester-based organizations the United Way, Why Me, Sherry’s House, Provision Ministry, St. John’s Food Pantry for the Poor, the Boys and Girls Club, and Habitat for Humanity. Each nonprofit was presented with a $5,000 check from Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. Representatives of the nonprofits also participated in a television commercial to support the campaign. Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox Foundation will select nine additional nonprofit leaders who have stepped up to the plate to serve their community. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 15. Each winner will receive a $5,000 donation to their nonprofit and will be recognized at a presentation in Polar Park on Sept. 9. In addition, the bank has also launched a Most Valuable Teacher (MVT) campaign that recognizes the outstanding work teachers do every day to educate and support students. The public is invited to nominate a WooStar at www.countrybank.com/about-us/woostars or a Most Valuable Teacher at www.countrybank.com/personal/youth-accounts/most-valuable-teacher.

 

Fontaine Brothers to Tackle Court Square Project

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield-based Fontaine Brothers has been named the general contractor for the long-awaited rehabilitation of 31 Elm St. in Court Square in Springfield into a 74-unit apartment complex. Construction work on the $50 million project is expected to begin in the fourth quarter and take roughly two years to complete. The project represents a partnership between OPAL Development, WinnDevelopment, MGM Springfield, and MassMutual, with funding coming from a variety of sources, including $11.3 million in state and federal historic tax credits. In addition to the housing units, plans call for retail space and a restaurant on the ground level. The project is expected to employ 100 to 120 union construction workers.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Announces $64,500 in Community Funding

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $64,500 to eight Berkshire-area organizations in its second round of 2021 community grant awards. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $2,000 to $12,500 to support their local programming. Organizations receiving funding include Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire County Historical Society, Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Elizabeth Freeman Center Inc., Flying Cloud Institute, Music in Common, New Stage Performing Arts Center Inc., and Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires. To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on funding organizations that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in the region. The next application deadline is Sept. 1. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas, which include education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship, and school-to-work initiatives; and arts and culture. Applicants may submit only one application in a 12-month period. Online applications and information can be found at www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html.

 

Market Mentors Receives Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Certification

SPRINGFIELD — Market Mentors, the region’s largest marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, announced it has received certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive and grow. WBENC certification provides Market Mentors with access to a vast network of support, including targeted business opportunities and increased visibility in corporate and government supply chains, education, and development programs. It is also an approved third-party certifier for the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program. WBENC certification validates that a business is at least 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. One or more women must have unrestricted control of the business, a demonstrated management of day-to-day operations, and a proportionate investment of capital or expertise. To become certified, business owners undergo a thorough vetting process, including review of business documentation and a site visit. After working in media for more than a decade, Abdow founded Market Mentors in her home in 2003. Over the past 18 years, it has grown into a team of more than 20 professionals with multiple areas of expertise and breadth of experience across a range of industries.

 

WSU Receives $1.5M Grant to Increase Healthcare Access

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) Department of Social Work received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for its Integrative Behavioral Health (IBH) Equity Project. The project builds a specialized workforce within rural, medically underserved areas as well as among diverse and historically marginalized populations to address barriers identified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in social determinants of health. This HRSA award will be distributed over the next four years and will train 92 Westfield State graduate students in the master of social work (MSW) program in the following integrative behavioral-health specialties: child, youth, and family; health social work; substance use and addictions; and Latinx community health. These students will receive $920,000 in training stipends over the next four years. Westfield State President Linda Thompson, whose background is in nursing, health sciences, and public policy, noted that the IBH project continues the university’s growth in building important healthcare programs that meet the needs of the Commonwealth. The Field Education Team in Westfield State’s Department of Social Work established IBH/Integrated Primary Care and interprofessional training partnerships across Western and Central Mass. to train students to gain proficiency as they provide in-person and telehealth services to children, youth, and families as well as individuals living with addiction and mental-health issues. It is broadening to include organizations that serve the Spanish-speaking Latinx population. The IBH Equity Project will also increase linguistic and cultural access to social-work education by offering classes in Spanish to impact the structural health inequities that affect students and clients throughout the Pioneer Valley. WSU is the first institution in the area to offer social work courses in Spanish. The project advances the university’s progress toward an institutional goal of gaining the federal Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Achieving the designation is part of a larger commitment by Westfield State to address systemic racism and inequities on the campus, such as in its policies and practices.

 

Professional Drywall Construction Expands into New York State

SPRINGFIELD — Professional Drywall Construction Inc. (PDC), a commercial drywall company headquartered in Springfield, is expanding its footprint into New York State, having recently opened a new office in Malta on July 1. Leading the expansion is Randall Berkebile, who will serve as project executive and New York regional manager at the new branch. “We have been looking into expanding into New York for quite some time, and Malta is a great, centralized location to set up our new shop,” said Ron Perry, owner of PDC. “We brought Randall in to help establish our company in the capital district and beyond. His years of experience and deep contacts in the region will assist in us creating a strong foothold in the community.” Berkebile, a resident of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is a graduate of Ball State University. He has almost a decade of experience in construction-management roles and will be responsible for overseeing projects and growing the New York branch. PDC also has a branch office in Norwalk, Conn.

 

Public Art to Be Installed in Springfield’s Pynchon Plaza

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums and Springfield Cultural Partnership announced the artists chosen to augment the newly renovated Pynchon Plaza. The SPark! Igniting Our Community call resulted in many quality applications. The chosen artists include Roberly Bell (Pelham), artful seating; Lauren Celini (Springfield), utility art; Michelle Falcón Fontánez (Boston) and Alvilda Sophia Anaya-Alegría (Springfield), mosaic art; RT Woods (Springfield), fencing art; Beth Crawford Haydenville), 3D sculptural art; Jeffrey Lara (Springfield), 3D sculptural art; Make-It Springfield, library box; and Outdoor Musical Instruments (United Kingdom), sound sculpture (to be embellished by a local artist). The call was open to all artists, and special consideration was given to installations that include Springfield artists, artists of color, LGBTQA+ artists, and female artists. Funding of these eight projects comes from a combination of public and private monies, including a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program Grant and a City of Springfield Community Development Block Grant. The project is designed to engage city artists, residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions to actively participate to reimagine public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and historical legacies. Competitive proposals will be inspired by aspects of Springfield itself, including its historic and/or present-day people, cultures, places and landscapes, architecture, etc., and can be literal or creative, interpretive representations. The SPark! Art Committee included representation from the Springfield Cultural Council, Springfield Parks, the Apremont Quadrangle Civic Assoc., Skyview Downtown, and the Springfield Technical Community College Carberry Fine Arts Gallery.

 

Company Notebook

ManeHire Awarded $25,000 Power Forward Small Business Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Nicole Polite, the owner of ManeHire, a staffing and recruiting agency, was recently awarded $25,000 through the Power Forward Small Business Grant. This grant is an extension of Boston Celtics United for Social Justice, a multi-focus commitment to addressing racial injustice and social inequities in the Greater Boston area. The program offers recipients the opportunity to be featured on national co-branded platforms and receive marketing and design resources customized to their specific needs to help their business grow and thrive. “It has always been my goal to ensure that the best of the best diverse candidates are well-represented in every executive search we conduct,” Polite said. “We measure and track diversity every step of the way.” With a focus on helping firms realize their potential through workplace diversity, ManeHire believes that a diverse and inclusive workforce enables innovation and that employers should be reflective of the communities in which they serve, she added. “This grant will help us provide workshops and training on ‘Diversity Sensitivity in the Workplace,’ ‘Getting Back to Work,’ and ‘Résumé-building Tips.’ Our community needs this. They need a little extra support to rise up after a challenging year.”

 

Colebrook Realty Brokers Sale of Former Faces Building

NORTHAMPTON — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced the sale of the 33,228-square-foot retail building on Main Street in Northampton between Main Street, LLP and 175 Main Street, LLC, a subsidiary of Redstone. The property is located at 175 Main St. in Northampton. Redstone is a property-management and development company based in Burlington, Vt., that has been investing in properties for nearly 30 years, with a particular focus on commercial real estate, multi-family housing, and student housing throughout New England. The acquisition of 175 Main St. represents Redstone’s affinity for the former Faces building and Northampton’s strong downtown area, said Joe Engelken, senior vice president of Acquisition & Development for the company. “Redstone is delighted to have the opportunity to acquire a prominent piece of Northampton’s downtown and become a part of the community,” he said. “We are excited for the coming years and will strive to recreate the sense of destination that Faces once had.” Half the property has remained vacant since the iconic Faces store shut down in April 2019. TD Bank leases space at the building across from Thornes Marketplace. The sale of the property was handled by Mitch Bolotin and Jack Dill of Colebrook. “The Faces building is an important landmark for Northampton’s Main Street,” Bolotin said, “and Redstone is the right development group to manage the property growing forward.”

 

Bay Path University Joins U.S. Collegiate Athletic Assoc.

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced its membership confirmation to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). The university will sponsor Division I volleyball, soccer, and softball teams in the 2021-22 academic year as members of the USCAA. “This is an exciting time for Bay Path athletics and our student-athletes. Moving from the NCAA to the USCAA provides us with the opportunity to compete at both the regional and national level in new ways,” said Joel Wincowski, vice president for Enrollment Management, Marketing, and Athletics. “In addition, participating at the Division I level enables us to now offer athletic scholarships, which are very attractive to student-athletes and their families when making decisions of where to study and play.” The USCAA’s focus is to enhance member institutions through athletics by providing opportunities for small colleges to compete on an equal level of competition with schools of like size and athletic programs. The USCAA conducts 15 national championships, names All-Americans, recognizes scholar-athletes, and promotes USCAA member schools through various means.

 

Balanced Birch Studio Coming to the Mill District

AMHERST — Balanced Birch Studio — a budding small business that provides experienced, individualized instruction in classical Pilates and Gyrotonic exercise — announced it is joining the diverse community at the Mill District in North Amherst this summer. Located at 77 Cowls Road in North Square, the studio is kitty corner to the Mill District General Store and Hannah’s Local Art Gallery, and across the green from Provisions. Balanced Birch Studio is unique in its approach to individualized personal training for people from all walks of life. From dancers and athletes to the injured and elderly, it offers boutique physical instruction to better a person’s quality of movement, posture, and lifestyle. The studio’s founder, Mary Ellen Liacos, is a certified USPA Authentic Pilates and Gyrotonic method instructor with more than 10 years of teaching experience. She has worked with students of all levels and abilities, specializing in youth and geriatric instruction. She has extensive experience training athletes, particularly pre-professional figure skaters and dancers. She has deep knowledge coaching clients with ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and those who are postpartum or returning from surgical rehab. She incorporates her training as a professional dancer with her Pilates and Gyrotonic practice, integrating these methods through instruction at Balanced Birch Studio. In addition to private, semi-private, and Pilates mat sessions, Balanced Birch also offers several master-class options for the community to partake in throughout the year. Master classes will include Integrative Life Coaching, Self-Massage, Gyrokinesis, Alexander Technique, and more.

 

JA of Western Massachusetts Raises $1,450 with Virtual 5K

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) staged a Virtual 5K Run/Walk on June 11-14 to raise funds to support its literacy, entrepreneurship, and career-exploration programs. A total of 14 participants met the challenge and raised $1,450 for the cause. “The realities of the pandemic prompted us to hold this event virtually, but we are so grateful for the participants who still made the commitment to support us,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. “Every bit helps, as our programs are offered at no cost to schools and youth groups. Our students need financial literacy and work-readiness programs to be prepared for their futures.” Participants paid a $25 entry fee and were encouraged to walk, run, or bike with friends and family and solicit donations through their own fundraising pages. Safety Restore of Westfield was the event’s medal sponsor, and Country Bank was the certificate sponsor.

 

UMassFive Donates Personal-care Items to Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union collected 350 pounds of personal-care items during the month of May and donated them to the pantries of the Amherst Survival Center and Northampton Survival Center. Donations were collected at the credit union’s Hadley and Northampton branch locations, and included incontinence products, toilet paper, diapers, menstrual products, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, sunblock, and many other personal-care items. “We’re so appreciative of our members and employees for donating personal-care items to our annual drive,” said Cait Murray, Community Outreach manager at UMassFive. “We know that personal-care items in the Survival Center pantries may help people avoid making difficult tradeoffs. Nobody should have to choose between food and toilet paper.”

 

Mary Ann’s Dance and More Announces Relocation

EASTHAMPTON — Mary Ann’s Dance and More, a local dance-apparel store, is relocating to make room for a pre-professional conservatory in its current location. The studio will now be located at 163B Northampton St. in Easthampton. Opened since 2007, Mary Ann’s Dance and More offers customers dance supplies, including apparel and accessories, as well as novelty and gift items. An active business in the community, Mary Ann’s Dance and More is recognized as a consistent sponsor of various local organizations. It has also been featured in the national dance retailer magazine Dance Retailer News as a “Retailer Spotlight,” twice on Mass Appeal on WWLP-22News, and in “Lifestyle/Balance Act” in Retail Minded.

 

Visiting Angels of West Springfield Shows Appreciation to Caregivers

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The week of June 14-21 was National Nursing Assistant Week, and Visiting Angels of West Springfield showed its appreciation to all its caregivers for their hard work and dedication with a socially distanced drive-by at the Visiting Angels office with treats and goodies. When a caregiver drove up to the table, the Visiting Angels administrative team presented them with a gift, a choice of treats, and a refreshing beverage. The goodie bags included tea bags, caramel candies, Visiting Angels party favors and tokens, and aromatherapy products for relaxation after a long day of work. Visiting Angels of West Springfield is welcoming new caregivers to its team. Caregivers interested in joining the team can call (413) 733-6900. Visiting Angels offers benefits and flexible schedules designed to adapt to each employee’s specific needs. The home-healthcare service offers senior in-home care, elderly care, and care for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in towns across the Pioneer Valley and the Greater Springfield area, including Springfield, West Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Agawam, Ludlow, Westfield, Southwick, Chicopee, Holyoke, Southampton, and Montgomery.

Company Notebook

HUB International Acquires Assets of Epstein Financial Group LLC

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International Limited, a full-service global insurance broker, announced it has acquired the assets of Epstein Financial Services LLC and Epstein Financial Group LLC. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in East Longmeadow, Epstein Financial is an independent registered investment advisor providing corporate retirement-plan consulting, compliance, and regulatory guidance, as well as wealth-management services. The agency’s experience and resources help clients maintain a successful retirement program that will assist their employees to achieve financial security. Charlie Epstein, principal and founder of Epstein Financial, will join HUB Retirement and Private Wealth in HUB New England. This move continues to strengthen HUB’s retirement and wealth-management services (HUB RPW) with the addition of talent and resources to develop more comprehensive strategies for clients. HUB RPW works to help plan sponsors create an offering that aligns with their business strategy, navigates fiduciary risk, and helps employees pursue their financial goals. The several registered investment-advisory affiliates in HUB RPW provide investment-advisory services to clients whose total assets are approximately $105 billion. Epstein Financial was represented by the consulting firm Wise Rhino Group for the transaction.

 

Paragus IT Launches Division to Support Automation Service

HADLEY — Paragus IT has always defined its core services as the ‘three pillars of IT’: on-demand support, security and compliance, and strategic planning. It announced it has launched a new division to support a fourth pillar: automation. A process can be automated if it is repetitive in nature, doesn’t require logical thinking or human intervention for completion, and has the potential for costly human error or inconsistency. Potential automated processes for businesses include appointment booking, employee scheduling and onboarding, issue tracking and resolution, social-media activity, and much more. “Every business has at least a handful of manual processes that could benefit from being completely automated,” Paragus CEO Delcie Bean said. “Automation can substantially save time and money while increasing accuracy, efficiency, and profitability. We are more than an outsourced IT vendor for our clients — we’re a strategic partner. By lightening their workload and eliminating these time-consuming tasks, we’re helping our clients devote additional time and resources to focusing on more important things.”

 

UMass President Says University to Drive Post-pandemic Recovery

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan said the university system is emerging from the pandemic period “with its academic, research, and financial strengths fully intact” and positioned to play a major role in driving economic renewal and recovery in the Commonwealth. Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the UMass board of trustees, during which the board approved the university’s operating budget for the coming year, Meehan said there are many signs UMass has weathered the COVID-19 storm and is moving forward in its mission of service to the Commonwealth. For example, the five campuses of the UMass system recently awarded 19,000 degrees to students, the vast majority of whom will live and work in Massachusetts. Meehan projects that student enrollment will remain stable and that each of the UMass campuses will be open to students when the new academic year begins in the fall. The university is also on course to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget and projects a 6% increase in its workforce, bringing staffing back to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile it will use $113 million in federal recovery funds to provide emergency grants to students in need while also freezing tuition for most students for a second consecutive year. Meehan noted that, while the university is currently on firm financial footing, the expiration of federal funding after this fiscal year, combined with ongoing disruption in the higher-education industry nationwide, will require continued vigilance and innovative management in the coming years. UMass expects to receive $258.6 million in total federal stimulus funding. In addition to the $113.5 million that will support student emergency grants, the university will strategically invest $145 million of these one-time funds — available through the end of fiscal year 2022 — to create a financial bridge to future fiscal years with the goal of ensuring financial stability for the long term.

 

White Lion Brewing Tapped as Partner at Free Music Fridays

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield announced it will partner with local brewery White Lion Brewing to provide guests a wide selection of craft beer during the resort’s Free Music Fridays concert series at the Plaza. Located in downtown Springfield, the brewing company will activate a bar and beer trailer from 6 to 9 p.m. where guests can tap into local brews while enjoying live music from local musicians. Concerts are scheduled to run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. MGM Springfield kicked off the new concert series on June 4. Local favorites on the schedule this summer include FAT, Brass Attack, Trailer Trash, Darik and the Funbags, and Michelle Brooks-Thompson, among many others. For details on the Free Music Fridays concert series, including lineup updates, visit mgmspringfield.com.

 

Freedom Credit Union Accepting Donations for Food Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at its 11 branches throughout the region to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. Donations will be accepted through Saturday, July 31. Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has helped provide much-needed food to area residents. It sources products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region. Its work allows individuals, families, seniors, children, veterans, and people with disabilities to lead healthy and meaningful lives. Based on the donations received in their previous fiscal year, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was able to provide the equivalent of 12.3 million meals, a significant increase over previous years.

 

Community Foundation Announces $150,000 Grant to Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced a grant of $150,000, spread over the next three years, to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV). The grant represents a significant contribution to the initiative’s capital drive to raise $1 million in commitments now to support and build capacity for the organization over the next three years. The multi-year, strategic grant is part of CFWM’s ongoing commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and promote equitable growth in the region. The funding will support HRIPV’s capacity in engaging communities across the state of Massachusetts in its signature two-day training. HRIPV has been in existence since 2012, and more than 1,000 community members have participated in its programming. Funds from the capital drive have also allowed HRIPV to develop a comprehensive online and virtual series of trainings and programming. The Healing Racism initiative will also be resuming in-person training sessions in July. Members of the community interested in participating can learn more and register online at www.healingracismpv.org. The first $50,000 grant to HRIPV will occur in July 2021. According to the Community Foundation, the multi-year funding approach will guarantee revenue stability while HRIPV meets demands for its services and continues its capital-campaign efforts. The Healing Racism Institute is led by Vanessa Otero, one of the co-founders of HRIPV and an original member of the board until assuming the position of interim director in 2020.

 

Chikmedia Announces Four Scholarship Winners

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to the generosity of Summerlin Floors, Ryan McCollum of RMC Strategies, and the Springfield Thunderbirds, Chikmedia has chosen four $500 scholarship awardees for its 2021 Chik of the Future scholarships. Chikmedia, a boutique firm offering strategic marketing planning and creative PR, launched its annual scholarship this year to support future generations of marketing professionals. Chikmedia offered four $500 scholarships in 2021, and a variety of local businesses decided to match that scholarship amount. These four scholarships are being awarded to Western Mass. women who are high-school graduates pursuing a college degree in marketing, public relations, communications, or business. Shermarie Hyppolite is pursuing a double major in communication and public relations with the hope to one day become a successful public-relations professional specializing in brand building and storytelling. She aims to have her own public-relations agency that can help uplift brands and create a space in the public-relations industry for women and non-binary people of color. Claudia Gonzalez is currently obtaining her degree in marketing with the goal of working in a television and networking company. Additionally, she will be pursuing her MBA this fall at Bentley University. Kimberley Moore is completing her degree in communications with a concentration in human resource management at DeVry University. As a mother of six daughters, she made a commitment early in their life to instill the importance of education, including hard work and dedication. She is proud to say that all have finished or are still attending college, and it is now her turn to do the same. Saniya Stewart is a full-time student at American International College and a dual-enrollment student at a local community college. She simultaneously attends both colleges, working toward her bachelor’s degree and the prerequisites for a master’s degree in healthcare management. Her goal is to open a nonprofit healthcare facility in her hometown of Springfield to be an advocate for those who truly need a person to lean on.

Company Notebook

BETE Fog Nozzle Earns MassHire Workforce Leader Award

GREENFIELD — The MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board awarded BETE Fog Nozzle its 2021 Workforce Leader Award, honoring the company’s contributions to workforce well-being, workplace, and public safety during the pandemic. BETE now employs more than 180 people at its Greenfield facility, designing, casting, and machining spray nozzles. The company garnered headlines earlier in the year for developing an innovative machine for quickly disinfecting school buses after each use with a touchless process employing BETE’s trademark fog nozzles. Working with local bus company F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., BETE engineers designed a button-sized fogger installed in rows along each school-bus ceiling, out of reach of children. The series of spray foggers are linked and connected to a port on the outside of the bus where a mobile compressor machine mixes air and disinfectant that is pumped through a tube to the spray nozzles on the bus interior, sending an aerosol disinfectant mist throughout each bus before rolling to the next one. When the pandemic lockdown shuttered businesses in March 2020, BETE provided paid furloughs to all its employees, and the company offers regular profit-sharing bonuses. BETE is also a founding supporter of the seven-year-old Manufacturing Skills Initiative (MSI) training partnership between Greenfield Community College, the Workforce Board, Career Center, Franklin County Technical School, and area manufacturers. BETE has hired more than a dozen graduates from MSI’s 12-week CNC Operator training program, giving them a solid start toward building a rewarding, high-skill career in precision machining. Company President Tom Fitch is chairman of the GCC Future Work Advisory Council, which brings local chambers, business, employment agencies, and the college together to develop curriculum to provide training that brings additional employment and advancement opportunities to area residents.

 

Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. Announces Acquisition

SPRINGFIELD — Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. has added the Northampton law firm Etheredge & Steuer to its regional law practice. Attorneys Edward Etheredge and Shelley Steuer bring a wealth of talent, knowledge, and expertise to Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin’s business, real estate, land-use planning, permitting, estate planning, and estate administration practice areas. Both firms have deep roots in Western Mass. and similar approaches to providing service to clients. Etheredge, whose practice is principally in real estate, land use, planning, and development, began practicing law in Northampton in 1976. He is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Steuer, whose practice focuses on estate planning and estate and trust administration, has practiced in Northampton since 1990. She is a member of the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, the Hampshire County Bar Assoc., and the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New York, and California, as well as the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Steuer and Etheredge will be joined by members of the Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin team at 64 Gothic St., Northampton. The firm will continue to provide services to clients at 1441 Main St., Springfield.

 

Eversource ConnectedSolutions Earns Program Pacesetter Award

SPRINGFIELD — In recognition of its efforts to help customers reduce energy use and save money through demand response programs, Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions demand-management program received the 2021 Program Pacesetter Award from the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA). The energy company was recognized for surpassing enrollment goals and setting a high bar for energy-demand-management programs. Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions program provides incentives to customers to reduce their energy use at times of peak demand, which helps reduce strain on the electric grid and lowers carbon emissions by avoiding additional power generation of dirtier fossil fuels like coal that still come online in New England when demand is high. Customer enrollment in 2020 across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire surpassed goals by more than 60 MW, reaching a total of 170 MW approved for targeted use during days with the highest energy demand and an additional 6.3 MW of storage capacity approved for daily demand reductions. ConnectedSolutions is significant not only for the large demand reductions that can be achieved, but also for the diversity of customers and devices enrolled, including more than 600 business customers using a range of demand-reduction strategies and more than 33,000 residential devices including Wi-Fi thermostats, electric-vehicle chargers, residential battery storage, and Wi-Fi-connected A/C units.

 

House Earmarks $50,000 for New Manufacturing Program at HCC

HOLYOKE — State Rep. Patricia Duffy announced that $50,000 has been earmarked in the House fiscal-year 2022 budget to seed the development and implementation of a new Manufacturing Training Program at Holyoke Community College (HCC). According to labor and workforce data, 9.7% of jobs in Holyoke are in manufacturing, compared to 6.7% statewide. Meanwhile, at 9.9%, the unemployment rate in Holyoke is the second-highest in Western Mass. after Springfield’s 11.2%, compared to a statewide rate of 6.6% for March 2021. The Manufacturing Training Program will join a robust stable of workforce-development programs at HCC. The program will serve up to 45 individuals in three cohorts by providing approximately 150 hours of remote and in-person, hands-on training combined with workplace experiential learning, and includes skills assessments and pre-training focused on workplace readiness in English and basic math, followed by core training in entry-level manufacturing. The manufacturing component will include modules in communication, teamwork, customer service, digital literacy, general manufacturing processes and principles, blueprints, dimensions, tolerances, instrumentation and measuring; manufacturing workplace math, lean manufacturing, problem solving, quality control, and workplace safety. Regional employers will be invited to participate in curriculum design and delivery as guest speakers, as well as in hosting tours of their facilities when possible. Participants will be connected to area employers and receive job-placement assistance through HCC and MassHire Holyoke.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Event Raises More Than $67,000

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has raised more than $67,000 to date from its Spirit of Girls 2021 event, which will help support ongoing program needs. The virtual event was held on May 6 and was attended by notable women such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Mount Holyoke College leadership fellow and political figure Carmen Yulín Cruz, actress Tequilla Whitfield, WWLP weeknight anchor Ciara Speller, and Girls Inc. President and CEO Stephanie Hull. Girls Inc. of the Valley has had to opt for safer, virtual options, which is why this year’s Spirit of Girls event was held 100% virtually. Attendees heard directly from girls, staff, and notable celebrities regarding the importance of celebrating their place at the table. Girls Inc. of the Valley will be posting a link to a video of the event on its YouTube channel, where it will still accept monetary gifts as well. Girls Inc. of the Valley aims to inspire all girls to see themselves as leaders with the skills and capabilities to improve and influence their local communities.

 

Springfield Museums Offer Sensory Friendly Saturdays

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Museums will present Sensory Friendly Saturdays on the second Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m., starting May 8. Sensory Friendly Saturdays provide less noise, dimmer light, and cool-down spaces for those who have sensory sensitivity. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Springfield Science Museum will open early, with some exhibits modified to provide an opportunity for people with a range of differing abilities to experience what the museums have to offer. Trained staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and, if necessary, direct visitors to a quiet space that provides a chance to cool down and take a break. Sensory-friendly crafts for all ages will be available in the Cat’s Corner. Parents and caregivers must stay with their children at all times. The modifications are enabled until 11 a.m. Preview guides are available for those who would like to explore what to expect before arriving at the museums. If visitors find the Museums too overwhelming and need to leave before 10 a.m., the Welcome Center staff will give the family a voucher to try again on another Sensory Friendly Saturday. The Springfield Museums became universal-participation-designated two years ago as part of a Massachusetts Cultural Council program to help museums, theaters, and other cultural organizations pay particular attention to ensuring their programming is accessible to all people. The staff created preview guides for families to read together before visiting the museums and made decisions about which exhibits they could modify to be more friendly to visitors with sensitivity to noise, lights, and movement.

 

WNEU School of Law Adds Race-related Coursework Requirement for Graduation

SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to incorporate antiracism education and training into the student experience, Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law has added a new Antiracism and Cultural Competency (ARCC) graduation requirement beginning with incoming students in the fall of 2022. This requirement offers students more than a dozen options from substantive courses relating to legal history, structural inequality, intersectionality, discrimination, civil rights, and theories of subordination, focusing on cultural context and cultural competency. The list of eligible courses includes “Race, Racism, & the Law,” “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective,” “Gender & the Law,” “Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession,” and many others. “Western New England University School of Law has a long and proud history of incorporating social justice and antiracism into the education we offer,” said School of Law Dean Sudha Setty. “A cornerstone of our mission is the belief that the study of law must embrace the notion that different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions are critical components of a well-rounded learning environment.” WNEU School of Law currently offers a wide range of elective courses, experiential learning opportunities, engagement opportunities through its Center for Social Justice, pro bono opportunities, student organizations, and vibrant speaker series that serve to broaden students’ knowledge on legal issues related to racial justice, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

 

Springfield Thunderbirds, Mass Lottery Wrap ‘Feed the Frontline’ Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — Each week during the month of April, the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Massachusetts State Lottery teamed up for the “Feed the Frontline” campaign, to thank individuals in the healthcare and service industries. The Thunderbirds worked with several of their food partners to provide lunch to some deserving individuals throughout the Pioneer Valley. Members of the Thunderbirds front office and mascot Boomer visited staff at Mercy Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, USA Hauling, the Springfield Police Department, and the Springfield Fire Department. The Thunderbirds and the Mass Lottery will be collaborating on several initiatives throughout the spring and summer to recognize several individuals within the Western Mass. community. Meals were provided by a number of local food partners, including Nadim’s Mediterranean Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, 99 Restaurant, Uno Chicago Grill, and Theodores’. The Mass Lottery and the Thunderbirds will continue to promote the outstanding work of those in the community throughout the summer when the Hometown Salute campaign launches in May. Individuals who are currently or have served in the military, or those working in the healthcare or public-service industries, may be nominated to be recognized by the Thunderbirds each week.

 

Visiting Angels West Springfield Receives Home-care Accreditation

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels, a private-pay home-care agency based in West Springfield, is among a select group of agencies to earn accreditation from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. The alliance, which represents 180 home-health and eldercare agencies across Massachusetts, has created an accreditation protocol to promote quality services, ethical business standards, and superior employment practices in an industry that lacks meaningful licensure in Massachusetts even as it grows in popularity. The Home Care Alliance launched this accreditation program for private-pay agencies (agencies that are not paid by Medicare or Medicaid) in 2010. Agencies seeking accreditation are required to submit documentation to show that they meet standards established by the organization. The standards were developed over several months in consultation with an advisory task force representing agencies throughout the Commonwealth. Training requirements, administrative protocols, and business practices are among the categories the Home Care Alliance reviews for accreditation.

 

Riley Home Realty Launches Full-service Agency

CHICOPEE — Riley Home Realty announced the launch of its Chicopee-based, full-service real-estate agency. This family-owned and -operated agency will offer residents in the surrounding Western Mass. communities a comprehensive suite of services delivered with expert guidance from a team of dedicated agents. Riley Home Realty services include listing homes for sale, working with home buyers, managing rental properties and listing rental properties, and property management. It was a dream of members of the Riley family to work together to help others realize home and real-estate ownership, the company noted. “Our family-owned and -operated agency is built on the values we as a family embody. We are with each other every step of the way. Our clients get that same dedication and commitment when they work with us. When you work with Riley Home Realty, you’re family.”

Company Notebook

Bulkley Richardson Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Group

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson recently launched a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group to provide solutions for businesses adopting blockchain technology in a complex and changing regulatory landscape. The group’s attorneys have broad-based experience in key areas affecting blockchain technologies, including financial services and banking, intellectual property, securities regulation, emerging businesses, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, and digital privacy and cybersecurity. Blockchain technologies like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are changing the way businesses operate. The rise of the blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation that is disrupting the market and spawning new areas of the digital economy. As blockchain innovation continues to grow and evolve, so do the legal, regulatory, and business challenges. The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group includes attorneys Mark Cress, Dan Finnegan, Scott Foster, Bart Galvin, Lauren Ostberg, Ron Weiss, and Sarah Willey. With a cross-disciplinary approach, Bulkley Richardson aims to assist clients in capitalizing on new business opportunities and meeting the challenges in this rapidly evolving industry.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has once again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services, such as Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Nutanix, VMware, HPI, and HPE, to name a few. CRN, a brand of the Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016 and 2019 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 42 years. While it boasts a diverse customer base from small customers to numerous Fortune 100 companies in a wide array of industries, WCA is one of North America’s leading technology solution providers to healthcare, retail, finance, K-12, higher education, and government agencies on both the state and local levels.

 

Darby O’Brien Advertising Launches Catch & Keep Initiative

SOUTH HADLEY — For more than 40 years, Darby O’Brien Advertising has created and executed innovative branding, advertising, and political campaigns. In recent years, clients have increasingly asked the agency to bring its same out-of-step approach to another important area of business: recruiting. Many businesses, especially in technology and manufacturing, are facing unique challenges in today’s job market. Many have plenty of well-paid positions open but are unable to find the right candidates to fill them. Then, when they find the right people, it can be a challenge to keep them. Traditional headhunters and online hiring services often fall short, offering boilerplate approaches to a problem that needs customized solutions — and offering no follow-up. The agency decided to launch Catch & Keep after developing successful recruiting campaigns for clients including VSS CNC Machining, the Mental Health Assoc., Paragus IT, and Berkshire Real Estate. Case studies and more information on Catch & Keep can be found at darbyobrien.com/recruiting.

 

National Science Foundation Grants $649,000 to WNEU

SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Western New England University (WNEU) $649,111 for a five-year grant to offer scholarships to students. The target populations are students who are high achievers in high school whose family demonstrates they will benefit from financial aid. The grant will create a community-outreach program to increase the number of high-school and middle-school students entering and succeeding in STEM fields. The grant, titled Sustainable Pathways to Success for Low-income STEM Students Emphasizing Research and Innovation, was awarded to Jingru Benner, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and a team of educators from the university including Dean Hossein Cheraghi, Michael Rust, and Anthony Santamaria from the College of Engineering; Raymond Ostendorf from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. Benner will serve as principal investigator and project director. The project will increase the number of high-school students who have access to enroll in the WNEU Mechanical Engineering program. The grant provides funding for an annual need-based scholarship that will be added on top of each student’s WNEU merit scholarship and can be combined with the university’s Women in Engineering or FIRST Robotics Scholarships. In addition, the grant will fund critical resources for students in the program to receive targeted support to help them successfully graduate.

 

Elms College Athletics to Join GNAC This Fall

CHICOPEE — Elms College and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference announced that the Blazers’ GNAC core membership will begin this fall with the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. Last October, both the institution and the league office issued a joint announcement indicating Elms would join the GNAC with the 2022-23 academic year; however, that timeline has since been adjusted. Elms had been a member of the New England College Conference since 2007, claiming 19 league championships while leading the way in All-Academic selections. The Blazers’ swimming and diving programs have been associate members of GNAC since 2006, last competing at the 2020 GNAC championships just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Now all 17 sport programs will compete in the same conference, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, as well as men’s and women’s volleyball. GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh, the conference office, and current members are working diligently to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate the Blazers’ programs, as Elms will now begin its GNAC journey this fall with men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, and women’s volleyball.

 

MCLA Receives $28,000 Grant from Massachusetts DHE

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $28,720 Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which recently announced a slate of $1.7 million in grants for the state’s public colleges. These grants fund initiatives that help colleges work toward racial equity in Massachusetts public higher education. The grant will allow the MCLA Department of Public Safety to work with a consulting firm specializing in improving police departments’ relationships with their communities. The consultant will work with MCLA to develop an interactive training module for the Department of Public Safety with the goal of increasing cultural competency and engagement of its officers and staff with the MCLA community. Most of the grant proposals funded by DHE seek to provide faculty and staff equity training for transforming campus pedagogy, syllabi, curriculum, and campus life, with the goal of making the institution a truly nurturing environment for students of color.

 

UMass Board of Trustees Approves In-state Tuition Freeze for 2021-22

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to approve UMass President Marty Meehan’s proposal to freeze tuition for all in-state undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell for the 2021-22 academic year. The vote marks the second consecutive year of tuition and mandatory fee freezes at UMass for in-state undergraduate and graduate students. The Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses also froze out-of-state student tuition. The net price of a UMass education — price minus financial aid — remains consistent with other New England public land-grant universities and 31% below peer private institutions. In addition to a tuition freeze, the university increased its institutionally funded financial aid to a record high of $352 million this fiscal year. This aid, which is funded directly by the university, accounts for 40% of the total aid UMass students receive and is comprised primarily of scholarships and grants. Since 2015, institutional aid has increased by $116 million, or 49%. At least 25% of UMass students at each campus receive Pell Grants. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund is projected to provide $23 million to UMass to further support students, and last year’s CARES Act provided $23 million in direct aid to students. These grants are not considered or included as financial aid.

 

Brenda Cuoco & Associates to Open Second Branch in Longmeadow Shops

LONGMEADOW — Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage announced the addition of a new flagship office location opening soon in the Longmeadow Shops. The office is currently under construction, with a target opening date of May 1, and will be located at 714 Bliss Road, adjacent to Starbucks. The addition will support the steady and sustained growth that the brokerage has seen in the last several years and will complement the existing office located at 2442 Boston Road in Wilbraham. The brokerage will also actively recruit top-performing agents to help serve this new community. The firm sold 164 properties last year with a volume of $46.8 million.

 

AIC to Name Renovated Basketball Locker Room in Honor of Frank Oppedisano

SPRINGFIELD — The American International College (AIC) men’s basketball locker room will enjoy a much-needed makeover with help from friends in the community. Earlier this year, a group of alumni expressed an interest in doing something meaningful to help AIC men’s basketball in memory of their friend and former teammate, Frank Oppedisano, class of 1967. In addition to their fundraising effort, AIC Athletics engaged alumni and supporters during Athletics Giving Week last month. Donors were asked to consider giving to a general fund or team of their choice, with proceeds from the campaign earmarked to benefit student-athletes and athletic programs at the college. The new locker room will offer additional locker space, new flooring, and Yellow Jacket branding throughout, and will be named in honor of the Springfield native who was a four-year member of the basketball program. Before his passing in March 2020, Oppedisano was a regular at AIC men’s basketball home games and routinely provided congratulations after a win or unconditional support in defeat.

 

Bradley Debut Non-stop Service to Atlanta on Frontier Airlines

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of non-stop service from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Frontier Airlines. The service will commence on June 11 and will operate four times per week. To view flight times and booking information, visit www.flyfrontier.com. With the debut of non-stop service to Atlanta, Frontier Airlines will now offer five non-stop destinations from Bradley International Airport this summer. The airline’s other destinations include Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham.

 

Company Notebook

WNEU Center for Social Justice Receives HNE Mini-grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice was awarded a $6,000 DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) mini-grant from Health New England (HNE). The grant provides funding to local nonprofit organizations that are actively addressing racial health equity and disparities, and at least one of the CDC’s social determinants of health (SDOH). These are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes; these include healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment. The grant seeks to dismantle systemic racism in two ways. The project will first educate the WNEU community about the connection between racism and health disparities and the structural barriers to equity that exist across society, and then will work to facilitate racial healing and relationship building between the institution and the local community through healing-circle conversations. Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has been a key stakeholder in the pursuit of social justice in its community and beyond. In the last year, the center has sponsored or hosted more than a dozen events, including various know-your-rights trainings and programming, panel discussions addressing the racial disparities of COVID-19, and lawyering in the time of Black Lives Matter, as well as speakers like Evan Wolfson, who is considered an architect of the marriage-equality movement. Its work is entirely grant-funded from supporters like HNE and MassMutual, as well as individual donors.

 

Visiting Angels West Springfield Wins Provider of Choice Award

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels West Springfield received the 2021 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice Award, which is granted to the top-ranking home-care providers in North America according to Home Care Pulse. The Provider of Choice Award recognizes Visiting Angels’ dedication to client satisfaction and commitment to offering quality, affordable in-home care services. Visiting Angels West Springfield was established in 1999 and has served the elder population of Western Mass. for more than 20 years. It has grown to provide more than 70,000 hours of care annually by helping seniors to maintain a sense of independence, dignity, and quality of life in their own home. Visiting Angels strives to foster lasting client-caregiver relationships by offering family-like compassionate care and dependability.

AIC Named to 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. The 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources within a logic-based scoring assessment. The institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan-default rates for all students are measured.

 

Team 413 Moves to William Raveis Real Estate

EAST LONGMEADOW — Shawna Gutowski and Heidi Pafumi, founders of Team 413, announced their move to the East Longmeadow office of William Raveis Real Estate. Team 413 finished 2020 top five in sales volume for all real-estate transactions in Hampden County. When asked why they decided to move their team, Gutowski noted that, “as we quickly grew from two to 16 agents, we realized a partnership with a name and reputation like William Raveis was the next step. Using their structure, technology, and years of experience, we plan to continue to exponentially grow.” In the previous four years, Team 413 has consistently ranked in the top 1% of Hampden County teams, with more than 500 transactions and $100 million in closed volume. The team has sold homes in more than 30 towns across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. Team 413 prides itself on its cultural diversity, as well as its extensive resources, spanning from contractors to interior designers.

 

ACC Designated as 2021-22 Military Friendly School

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College announced that, for the 14th year, the college has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. Asnuntuck has had nearly 300 active-duty and/or veteran students enrolled during the last three years. The college offers a multitude of services to these students. Asnuntuck and other campuses in the North-West Region worked with Resilience Grows Here to each offer a “No Wrong Door” training at the campuses last year. Asnuntuck, in partnership with Tunxis Community College, has done community outreach by sponsoring the Hartford Yard Goats Military Family of the Game for each of the baseball team’s home games.

 

Holyoke Hummus Food Truck Comes to Resinate Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Holyoke Hummus and Resinate Northampton recently announced a new partnership. The Holyoke Hummus food truck is now serving in the parking lot of Resinate at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton and is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. Holyoke Hummus serves falafel, hummus, and other Middle Eastern treats. Delivery and online ordering are available at holyokehummus.com. The truck is also available for special events and catering.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Amelia Peabody Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a $145,000 grant from the Amelia Peabody Foundation, which will enable the organization to further develop its virtual programming, help prepare for the time when in-person programs may resume, continue its Learning Pod collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools, and ultimately bring staff together in one building, fostering even greater creative and collaborative synergies. The foundation awarded $25,000 to Girls Inc.’s general program and $120,000 to its comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This commitment will help Girls Inc. to establish a new, permanent home and provide the space, resources, and opportunities needed to enable more girls to participate in the transformative Girls Inc. experience. The grant will support both program planning and implementation; funds will be used for staffing, expanded outreach, and program supplies. Additionally, the grant will facilitate bringing all Girls Inc. staff together under one roof to create greater collaborative and economic efficiencies.

 

Christina’s House Gets a Hand with Giving a Hand Up

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis Foundation recently awarded Christina’s House with a $15,000 grant to do what it does best — giving a hand up to homeless and near-homeless women and their children. A largely underserved population, these women and their families will stay with Christina’s House for 18 months to two years while they establish healthy living habits, become employed, and earn a GED or job training for upward mobility in the workforce. Paul Belsito, executive director at the Davis Foundation, and Magnus Monroe, grants and project manager, met with the organization in early fall to better understand how the foundation could support Christina’s House. The Davis Foundation, long known in the community for its educational agenda, found a fit, and the board voted to approve and provide much-needed funds to help the organization through a tough year. Christina’s House provides transitional housing and social services for homeless or near-homeless mothers and children. It educates, embraces, and encourages families in the program with the life skills needed to become self-sufficient as they transition from homelessness to stable environments. The organization also helps each mother seek, obtain, and maintain employment once accepted into the program, and promotes occupational advancement through résumé writing and job-skills training.

 

Bradley International Airport Named in USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that USA Today has named Bradley International Airport a winner in its 2021 10Best Readers’ Choice travel contest in the “Best Small Airport” category. Bradley placed seventh out of 15 airports that were selected by industry experts as the best across the nation. In response to COVID-19, the CAA has continued to enhance services at Bradley International Airport over the past year, aimed at providing a safe, clean, and comfortable travel experience. More information about the safety measures undertaken and what travelers can expect can be found at www.bdlcares.com. On its website, USA Today noted that Bradley International Airport “ranks as the second-busiest airport after Boston Logan, yet it remains a convenient option with on-site parking, lots of charging stations, free wi-fi, and proximity to both New York and Boston.” Bradley was chosen by a panel of industry experts for inclusion in the USA Today contest, which was followed by four weeks of public voting nationwide. This is the airport’s second national recognition within the year after placing as a top-10 airport in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice survey.

 

Company Notebook

Princeton Review Recognizes UMass Amherst for Graduate Entrepreneurship Studies

AMHERST — For the first time, UMass Amherst has earned recognition in Princeton Review’s annual selection of Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs. In the publication’s 2021 list, the university ranks 40th among 50 colleges and universities. Based on survey data from more than 300 schools, the rankings encompass a broad range of entrepreneurial activities inside and outside the classroom. The catalyst for student entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. The center serves the entire campus through a wealth of activities and resources. Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center, noted that entrepreneurship courses and scholarships, faculty who focus on entrepreneurship, student competitions, student mentorship by entrepreneurs, and ventures by alumni and non-alumni all fall within the center’s purview. Its annual Innovation Challenge propels student startups through pitch contests and a final competition judged by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Last year, the finals awarded $65,000 in seed money to student startups. The center brings student innovators together from different disciplines for entrepreneurial collaborations and offers networking and mentorship with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, as well as an incubator space for student startups.

 

Furnari Jewelers Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — In time for holiday shopping, Furnari Jewelers recently opened its doors at Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Furnari carries fine gold and silver jewelry, wedding sets, gemstones, pearls, watches, and more, and has a gold and silversmith on premises who can do repairs while customers wait. Furnari also offers customers the ability to design their own ring for a special touch. Known in the region for decades, Anthony Furnari opened his first store 40 years ago and says it was built on the foundation of customer service. Anthony’s son, Joey Furnari, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Starting with an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, Joey went on to become a certified bench jeweler at the American School of Jewelry, and opened his first store in May 2012 in Enfield, Conn. The 1,400-square-foot Furnari Jewelers is located on the upper level of the mall, near Apple. The store was formerly occupied by Kay Jewelers until Kay relocated its store earlier this year to the lower level, next to Round1 Bowling & Amusement. Furnari has hired seven employees for this location. Furnari joins a list of new tenants at Holyoke Mall over the last five months, including Cinnabon, which opened in June; EA Teriyaki, which opened in October; and Wings Express, which opened in November.

 

Tighe & Bond Receives ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Award

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond was recently recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT) with an Engineering Excellence Award. The project team received the award for the design of phosphorous-removal upgrades at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) in Plainville, Conn. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection set new phosphorous limits after it was determined the nutrient was negatively affecting water quality in the state’s freshwater rivers and streams. While phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that is an essential nutrient to support plant growth, excessive amounts contribute to dense growth of algae and suffocation of marine life. This meant the Plainville WPCF needed to reduce the amount of phosphorous leaving the facility by 88%. In anticipation of these changes, Tighe & Bond prepared a phosphorus-removal plan to determine how best to meet the new phosphorus limits. The plan recommended the addition of a filter building that would house new, multi-point chemical-addition and disc-filtration processes to reduce the amount of phosphorous from the facility’s water. The design also included cost-effective improvements to the existing WPCF, including a larger sludge-processing system, raising the facility’s existing UV disinfection system for improved flood resiliency; new flow-equalization tanks to stabilize the effluent from the facility’s sequencing batch reactors (SBRs); and filter influent pumps to lift the flow up to the disc filters. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule and $1 million under budget. The upgrades have enabled the town of Plainville to meet its phosphorous limits. The new system continues to remove phosphorus from the treated water the facility discharges daily into the Pequabuck River, which joins the Quinnipiac River and Long Island Sound. The renovations to the WPCF also meets all state and federal environmental regulations and ensures the protection of surrounding bodies of water. Tighe & Bond and its project partners will be honored at the ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in June.

 

Big Y Announces Additional Bonus Pay for Employees

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y announced it will pay additional holiday bonuses to its front-line and distribution-center associates, including full-time, part-time, and casual employees. This holiday bonus is part of the company’s ongoing recognition and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of employees, which was instituted last March. Thank-you bonuses are expected to continue during the first part of 2021. “We continue to be grateful to all of our employees for their valiant efforts throughout this pandemic,” said Charles D’Amour, president and CEO. “They have all taken their role as essential workers both nobly and carefully in order to continue to provide for and support our friends and neighbors in our communities. I am so very proud of their resilience and dedication to serving our customers during this past year. This bonus pay is just one way that we show our appreciation to our team of 12,000 who work so hard and tirelessly every day.”

 

Bay Path University Community Donates to Christina’s House

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s annual holiday party and employee-recognition event has been a long-standing tradition for faculty and staff. The pandemic prevented the normal gathering, but technology came to the rescue and provided a platform to connect remotely. Highlights of the event include naming a charity to be the recipient of Bay Path’s generosity, as well as employee recognition for years of service at the university. For 2020, the designated charity is Christina’s House, a Springfield-based nonprofit and Christ-centered ministry that provides transitional housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children who are homeless or near-homeless. More important, Christina’s House provides emotional, spiritual, physical, and education support as families transition from homelessness to permanent, stable living environments.

 

Grants Will Provide 100,000 Meals for People Across Western Mass.

HATFIELD — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington and Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency of Agawam are providing major support to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Two rounds of funding, one now and a second round in the spring, will pay for about 100,000 meals. The Food Bank provides food to 165 food pantries, shelters, and meal sites in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Wheeler & Taylor and Canary Blomstrom are members of GoodWorks Financial Group, a network of common-ownership insurance, real-estate, and financial firms. With the pandemic, demand for food has grown exponentially. The Food Bank is serving 109,500 people a month in 2020, up 16% from 2019. The organization distributed 11.1 million pounds of food from March through October, a 30% increase. It estimates that about one in six residents in the region, including 40,000 children, or one in four, are food-insecure.

 

Springfield Museums Distributing 495 Literacy Activity Kits to Children

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to funding from MEFA and the U.Fund College Investing Plan, Springfield Museums are distributing 495 literacy activity kits to children throughout Springfield and beyond. Ten programs — including the Gray House, Home City Families, Raising a Reader, and Head Start — will benefit. The literacy activity kits contain a consumable activity, a reusable building toy, colored pencils, a Dr. Seuss clipboard, and an early-reader book: Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Springfield Museums are committed to helping children and their caregivers explore literacy in its many forms — literary, science, historical, art — while also having fun. The museums have also tripled their hands-on learning spaces over the past few years. The Art Discovery Center, the Cat’s Corner, and Spark!Lab are all spaces for people to engage in hands-on learning to gain skills and build competency in a variety of subjects. Since the onset of the pandemic, the museums also worked to share activity kits so that those unable to visit in person could still have access to learning.

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Accreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport has received the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI) World. The organization’s Airport Health Accreditation program evaluates new health and safety measures and procedures introduced at airports worldwide in response to COVID-19. During the comprehensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures in the context of the entire passenger journey, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverages, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border-control areas and facilities, the baggage-claim area and the arrivals exit. Among other things, ACI recognizes Bradley for cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger facility enhancements. In addition to these safety measures, Bradley International Airport has also prioritized other initiatives to enhance the passenger journey, including contactless parking check-in/check-out availability (pre-registration required); renovated restrooms with touchless faucets, hand dryers, and light signals to indicate stall availability as well as added privacy and surfaces that promote more effective cleaning; terminal-wide air-purification technology, which will be in place in early 2021; and expanded mobile ordering in partnership with our restaurants, also to be introduced in 2021.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates More Than 1,000 Stuffed Animals

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation announced a donation of more than 1,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to local charitable partners, the culmination of a successful drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas and held on Dec. 12 outside the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds’ mascot, Boomer, along with staff members, then made deliveries of hundreds of stuffed animals to Square One, the Center for Human Development (CHD), the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Teddy Bear Toss event was much different than in previous years. Instead of tossing the bears onto the ice after the T-Birds’ first goal during a home game in December, fans brought their new teddy bears or stuffed animals and ‘tossed’ them out of their vehicles as part of the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss at the MassMutual Center. Boomer, the Nicebox Icebox, and front-office staff were present to collect donations and properly package and sanitize them. Those that couldn’t make it that day also donated at the Thunderbirds office, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas in Chicopee, the Springfield Visitor Center, or at New Valley Bank’s headquarters in Monarch Place in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds thank their partners that stepped up and were able to make this event a reality, including Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, Balise Auto Group, Western Mass News, the Springfield Business Improvement District and downtown Visitor Center, New Valley Bank & Trust, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as their tedd- bear delivery partner, BMW of West Springfield.

 

American Eagle Donates $3,000 to Diaper Banks

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — In the spirit of the holidays and to reinforce its long-term commitment to assisting families in need, American Eagle Financial Credit Union awarded $3,000 in grants from its donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to three nonprofit diaper banks in Connecticut and Western Mass. Square One Diaper Bank in Springfield, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, and Gentle Love Diaper Pantry, a youth-led nonprofit organization at Manchester (Conn.) High School, each received $1,000 to purchase and distribute diapers to needy families in their respective communities this holiday season. “More than ever, our families are struggling to meet their basic needs. The cost of diapers can be as high as $100 per month for some families,” said Dawn DiStefano, executive vice president of Square One. “Thanks to the generosity of American Eagle Financial Credit Union and other community partners, we can continue to lessen this burden by supplying emergency diapers to those in need.”

 

Company Notebook

‘Together HCC’ Campaign Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption. The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist. After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students. For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

 

Robinson Donovan, P.C. Makes Food Donation to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. made a donation of 100 pounds of side dishes to the Gray House to help ensure food on the table for local families this Thanksgiving. “We’ve partnered with the Gray House for several years for the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, and wanted to do something extra this year, knowing how many people have been deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Partner Jim Martin said. “The Gray House is an invaluable community institution that we are proud to support.” Through the help of individuals and businesses like Robinson Donovan, the Gray House is able to provide turkeys and accompanying food for families in need on Thanksgiving.

 

Country Bank Supports Communities in Need

WARE — Country Bank announced a series of initiatives to help support local communities during the 2020 holiday season, especially those affected by the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic. As part of these initiatives, Country Bank teamed up with Old Sturbridge Village to offer 750 free meals to families in need this Thanksgiving. Meals were delivered to St. John’s Food for the Poor, the YWCA, Abby’s House, Veterans Inc., and Elm Street Congregational Church. On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, the Country Bank retail banking team will support local small businesses by purchasing 400 gift cards from businesses throughout its markets. These gift cards were distributed in Country Bank branch locations on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. The corporate-office team will also partner with Provision Ministry and assemble 250 backpacks filled with essential care items to be delivered to the Springfield Rescue Mission. Throughout the month of December, the famous red kettles will be visible at several Country Bank branch locations to help fill the void the Salvation Army will experience this year, in part due to the pandemic. Country Bank has donated $10,000 toward this meaningful cause. Finally, as part of its Community Cares program, the staff participated in its own Boston Marathon by ‘walking the distance’ via a downloadable app. This virtual challenge brought people together while supporting charities of their choice with a $500 donation. A total of $30,000 will be granted to charities.

 

Demore’s Automotive Owner Makes Holidays Brighter

PALMER — Jay Demore, owner of Demore’s Automotive in Palmer, believes in supporting the community. This week, more than 300 people in Palmer will have Thanksgiving meals thanks to the efforts of Demore; his sister JoAnn, operations manager at the auto shop; and a few customers who have come to the shop with checks for as much as $200 and $300. Demore, who has operated the auto-repair shop since 1997, will provide prepared meals from Palmer restaurants, 80 of which will go to elderly residents in town. For families that prefer to make Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll make sure they have a turkey and the ingredients for stuffing, side dishes, and desserts. Anyone in need was encouraged to message Demore privately through social media; customers and local residents who knew of a family in need reached out to let him know. The plan to help began last Easter, as restaurants and families began to be affected financially by the pandemic. That’s when Demore began purchasing gift cards for Palmer restaurants and giving them to town residents in need. Demore has taken his support of Palmer restaurants on the road with the Stand Out Truck, a mobile digital billboard. He purchased ads on the truck for his own business and, after seeing results, began purchasing ad space and sponsoring restaurants. He is also offering to help any families in need at Christmas — and not just with meals. Demore and his sister have already purchased some big-ticket toys, such as a remote-control Jeep, which he says will be decked out with the Demore Automotive logo, as well as boys’ and girls’ bikes, a play kitchen, and a Nintendo Switch.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Donates 250 Turkeys to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated and helped distribute 250 frozen turkeys to aid the Gray House in its efforts to feed families in Springfield. “The mission of the Gray House is critical to our community,” Partner Earl Seeley III said. “We wanted to do what we could to further their efforts and help make Thanksgiving brighter for the people they serve.” Partner Charlie Casartello added that “the need to help people overcome food insecurity is more acute now than ever. Everyone deserves a great Thanksgiving dinner, and we were happy to have the opportunity to pass out the turkeys to our neighbors and wish everyone a happy holiday.” Attorneys from the firm were on hand to personally distribute the turkeys to individuals who had signed up with the charity to receive one. Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley is a law firm of more than 15 lawyers who devote their practice to protecting the rights of injured individuals.

 

Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, Claire Teague Senior Center Team Up on Thanksgiving Meals

GREAT BARRINGTON — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance in Great Barrington teamed up with the Claire Teague Senior Center to give local seniors a complete Thanksgiving dinner they could easily prepare at home. J. Scott Rote, president of the insurance agency, bought oven-ready turkey breast with gravy kits at a local supermarket. He and his staff added vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed-potato mix, dessert, and four KN95 face masks to each package. In all, the packages will yield about 300 to 350 meals. Polly Mann-Salenovich, director of the Clare Teague Senior Center in Great Barrington, delivered them to a local senior-housing complex and individual seniors. Separately, Kimberly Briggs, account manager at Wheeler & Taylor, who is also the secretary of the Junior League of Berkshire County, spearheaded employee fundraising for the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. In total, Wheeler & Taylor employees donated 10 boxes of groceries that were delivered to the pantry by Briggs and Rote.

 

Asnuntuck Accredited as American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College recently became the first American Welding Society (AWS) accredited test facility (ATF) in Connecticut. Students enrolled in Asnuntuck’s welding program will have an opportunity to earn certifications. According to Richard Munroe, one of two certified instructors at Asnuntuck, the program establishes minimum requirements for test facilities, their personnel, and equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and qualify welders. AWS’ website explains that entrusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies are increasingly realizing the shortcomings of self-qualification and are switching to AWS accredited test facilities to test and qualify their welders. ATFs help them save money, improve productivity, and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to experts. The Asnuntuck Community College welding program began in 2004 at Windsor High School and was moved to the Asnuntuck campus in 2008. Now known as the welding and fabrication program, it has graduated approximately 1,000 students since its inception. The college has dedicated 10,000 square feet to welding instruction in a state-of-the-art facility on the Enfield campus, which includes 75 welding booths.

 

Golden Years Home Care Services Gives Care Packages to Veterans

EAST LONGMEADOW — Golden Years Home Care Services partnered with Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts Inc., Commonwealth Care Alliance, and Springfield Pharmacy to deliver “Appreciation for Your Service” care packages to veterans in Springfield on Nov. 24. Thanksgiving is a time when most people think about what they are thankful for. Staff at Golden Years say they are thankful to veterans for all the work they have done for this country, but, while providing home-care services to veterans, they noticed that not all veterans have the basic necessities most take for granted. The partnership among the organizations supplied veterans with toothbrushes, gloves, hats, socks, shampoo, hand sanitizers, masks, deodorant, soap, razors, and more supplies. They also received a turkey provided by Golden Years Home Care.

 

FutureHealth to Combine Forces with Insurance for Students

SPRINGFIELD — FutureHealth announced it has entered into an agreement with Insurance for Students, located in Delray Beach, Fla., to combine their expertise as one company. They have developed and will be distributing the next generation of student insurance products and services. Pat White, president and founder of Insurance for Students, has been designing, marketing, and administering comprehensive student accident and health plans for colleges and universities for more than 40 years. Kevin Saremi, president and founder of FutureHealth, has been providing online health-education programs that address mental health and other health-related issues within the student market. Prior to starting FutureHealth, he founded Consolidated Health Plans (now Wellfleet), a third-party administrator for student health-insurance products for more than 20 years, before selling the company to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

Resinate Inc. Opens Second Dispensary in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Resinate Inc. — a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated cannabis company — opened its second retail location at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton on Nov. 20. Resinate, which also has a facility in Worcester, is opening its second location during an unprecedented period with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will strictly adhere to CDC and Commonwealth guidelines to keep its staff and patrons healthy. Resinate Northampton offers online pre-ordering, in-store pickup, and limited parking. Additional parking is available at the E.J. Gare parking garage and the Armory lot. Metered on-street parking is also available. For more information about Resinate, product offerings, and dispensary hours and locations, visit www.iresinate.com or e-mail [email protected]

 

TommyCar Collision Opens in Northampton

HADLEY — TommyCar Auto Group, which operates five car dealerships in Hampshire County, is expanding into the auto-body business with the opening of its new TommyCar Collision Center in Northampton. The center, which is now open, is located at 32 Damon Road, next door to the auto group’s Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership. TommyCar Collision will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free estimates. Services will include, but are not limited to, automotive glass replacement; body and bumper repair; detailing; frame straightening; full-service mechanical services; painting; paintless dent repair; repair after hail damage; repairs for scratches, dents, and door dings; and windshield repair and replacement. To learn more or schedule service, call (413) 517-3855 or visit tommycarcollision.com.

 

Liberty Mutual Lends Support to Square One Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Mutual Insurance is the latest corporation to lend its support to Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids — a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The $3,000 gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, family childcare offerings, and family-support services.

“The vital services the Square One team provide to the community on a daily basis have taken on a whole new level of importance during this unprecedented time,” said Beth Green, Liberty Mutual Insurance Contact Center Operations associate. “Early education is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s long-term security and well-being, and the services offered by Square One are core to Liberty Mutual’s values of being there for people when they need us most. We are honored to help them fulfill their commitment to provide high-quality early education and a safe and healthy community for Springfield’s children.”

 

Contribution Clothing Supports Nonprofits with Holiday Gift Guide

LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge, Founder of Contribution Clothing LLC, launched the mission-driven online boutique, www.contributionclothing.com, in June 2019. The boutique, which retails new women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations that share a vision of empowering women and girls. The woman-led boutique is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts. This holiday season, Contribution Clothing is promoting Gifts That Give Back, a holiday gift-guide collection featuring select items each week leading up to Christmas. The collection will include pre-sale items not typically available at the boutique, with price points of $50 and under to keep holiday shopping affordable. Since the launch of the website, Contribution Clothing has provided monetary donations to a variety of organizations, such as Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations a Cure for Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Girls on the Run, Christina’s House, the Care Center, Bay Path University, and Safe Passage. The ambitious clothing line hasn’t stopped there, also supporting many community-based events and fundraisers, such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendars for Girls Inc. and Girls on the Run, and the Unify Against Bullying Fashion show, and Partridge even created her own volunteer event in support of Christina’s House this past quarter.

 

Local College Students Compete in Online Grinspoon Pitch Contest

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each. Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College. Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Company Notebook

Elms College Establishes St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced the creation of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture (CERC), thanks to the generous support of three foundational donors. A seven-figure naming gift from an anonymous donor and two six-figure contributions, from Carolyn Jacobs and B. John and Collette Dill and family, will help the college launch the center. The CERC will examine the most pressing and complex questions related to ethics, religion, and culture in today’s society and lead the regional community in thoughtful, engaging discourse. From an academic perspective, programming for the CERC will focus on the infusion of ethical leadership across the curriculum, the integration of ethics within the healthcare and business fields of study, and the provision of innovative experiential learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. “The creation of the CERC reflects the college’s goals of training the next generation of ethical leaders, sharing the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, encouraging interfaith dialogue, and promoting our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Peter DePergola II, associate professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Elms College and a member of the CERC advisory board. An official launch of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture will take place in late October and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held virtually.

 

MassMutual Center, UMass, AIC to Co-host 2024 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional

SPRINGFIELD — The National Collegiate Athletic Assoc. (NCAA) announced that the MassMutual Center, in conjunction with American International College and UMass Amherst, has been selected to host the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional, marking the first time the event has been held at the MassMutual Center. The two-day regional will feature four teams competing in two first-round games, with the winners advancing to the regional final the following day. The winner of the regional final will advance to the 2024 Frozen Four, which will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. “We are incredibly proud to partner with American International College and the MassMutual Center for a 2024 regional,” said Ryan Bamford, director of Athletics at UMass Amherst. “We have been privileged to see first-hand the passion that fans in this region have for college hockey, and we are looking forward to playing a part in hosting a first-class event in Springfield during one of the most exciting weekends on the college hockey calendar.” Added Jessica Chapin, interim director of Athletics at AIC, “we are thrilled to be awarded the bid for the Division I Ice Hockey Regional with UMass and the MassMutual Center for 2024,” “This will be a wonderful opportunity to add to the storied history of hockey in the Springfield, Massachusetts area.”

 

Northern Tree Service Transitions to Employee Stock-ownership Plan

PALMER — Northern Tree Service Inc. announced it has transitioned the ownership of its business lines over to an employee stock-ownership plan, or ESOP. The Lazear Capital Partners team worked with the management of Northern Tree Service to design a custom solution that included employee benefits, financial flexibility, and maximum tax advantages. Founded in 1932 by Walter Cambo, the company was first established to service state and municipal tree work in Eastern Mass. Under the leadership of Paul Cambo, Northern Tree Service grew to provide land-clearing services for the ever-expanding energy grid in the Northeast. Furthering Northern’s expansion, now under the leadership of Paul’s son, Philip, Northern Tree Service has continued its growth to become one of the most diversified tree-care companies in the industry, servicing all New England and surrounding states. “The ESOP was the choice we made to maintain the business’s current direction while simultaneously rewarding the 250-plus employees that have been so critical to the business’ success,” President Timothy LaMotte said. “We have a very specialized and highly skilled group of professionals focused on safety and integrity, and we are excited to see that continue.” With the new ESOP in place, both Philip Cambo and LaMotte will continue their current roles for the foreseeable future and gradually hand over the business’ operational control to the next generation of leaders.

 

Berkshire Bank Enhances Leave for Employees Experiencing Gender-based Violence

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced enhanced protections that will provide its 1,500 employees with paid and protected leave to manage the consequences of intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Berkshire Bank has partnered with FreeFrom, a nonprofit creating pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence, to increase its existing leave policies to benefit its employees. The enhanced policy gives employees 15 days of leave a year to seek medical care, attend court proceedings, and relocate — all without missing a paycheck or depleting their accrued sick or vacation days. Since 2014, Berkshire Bank has had a domestic-violence leave policy in compliance with relevant state laws. These new enhancements go beyond the mandated requirements of state laws to offer additional support for survivors and their families impacted by this type of abuse. Berkshire Bank employees will also now have access to FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a tool designed to assist survivors of domestic abuse in understanding whether they are eligible for compensation to cover some of the costs of the harm they experienced. In addition, the bank plans to collaborate with FreeFrom as part of its Survivor Safety Banking Initiative to explore how to design products and policies to better support customers that have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse. This approach eliminates barriers to access for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences by providing innovative financial solutions, including an online account-opening experience that will help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. “I am a strong proponent of in-person learning, and I applaud the efforts of Square One to reopen its preschool programs back in June, with appropriate protocols in place,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer Inc. “However, not all children have been able to return to school in the fall, which has created additional expenses to provide these children with remote learning support.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. “The past few months have greatly reinforced the demand for our programs and services,” said Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication at Square One. “With that growing demand and the unanticipated COVID-related expenses — including providing full-day support during remote learning — we have a tremendous need to expand our donor base.” Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Company Notebook

bankESB Earns Recognition for Quality, Community Commitment

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB was recently honored for overall quality and commitment to the community. The bank earned the number-one spot for Overall Quality in Western Mass. in the 2020 New England Banking Choice Awards. The awards are presented annually by American Business Media, publisher of Banking New England, and are based on the results of the Rivel Banking Benchmarks, the largest and most comprehensive measure of banking customer experience in the world. The 2020 results are based on more than 11,000 interviews and 300,000 reviews of nearly 300 Massachusetts institutions. The bank also was named an honoree by the Boston Business Journal in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. Companies qualify for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year.

 

Florence Bank Gives $10,000 to Amherst Survival Center

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently donated $10,000 to the Amherst Survival Center, which connects residents of Hampshire and Franklin counties to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts. Since mid-March, the Amherst Survival Center has focused its resources on food and nutrition programs, ensuring its ability to provide hot meals to go, daily access to fresh produce and bread, and full grocery shops from its food pantry in as safe a manner as possible. This summer, the center established a strategic plan to address the steady rise of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their plan entails doubling the food provided by the food pantry while also expanding grocery offerings to roughly two weeks each month. Additionally, the center will expand its staff in order to implement evening and weekend hours and integrate deliveries into the schedule with a goal of delivering food to 1,000 to 1,500 area residents per month. These efforts have been fueled by generous donations like the one from Florence Bank.

 

ValleyBike Share Offers Discount to Area Students

PIONEER VALLEY — ValleyBike Share has begun offering a special discount to all area students with an .edu e-mail address. The pass costs $60 for an annual membership that includes unlimited 45-minute rides. ValleyBike Share is the all-electric-assist bike-share program of the Pioneer Valley, which includes Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and the UMass Amherst campus. Students can use ValleyBike Share to explore the Pioneer Valley without a car. The electric-assist bikes can go from one town to another with ease within the system, which makes them perfect to use if a student has classes at any of the other colleges in the service area. To join, visit www.valleybike.org. ValleyBike is open from approximately April 1 to Nov. 30, weather permitting.

 

UMass Donahue Institute Wins $14 Million Contract

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a five-year, $14 million contract to provide training and technical assistance to Head Start and Early Head Start programs for all six New England states. The grants allows the institute to continue to work with local Head Start programs on their educational, health, and family services as well as management systems to strengthen their ability to serve children and their families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide comprehensive services that support the development of children from birth to age 5, and their families, in centers, childcare partner locations, and their own homes. Early Head Start also provides services to pregnant women. Head Start and Early Head Start services include early learning, health, and family well-being. The contract was awarded by the Office of Head Start in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationally, Head Start/Early Head Start is divided into 12 regions. UMass Donahue Institute will be the sole provider of training and technical assistance to Region 1, which includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The institute was first awarded the New England training and technical assistance grant in 2003.

 

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 10, 107 companies — a record number — qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year’s honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 60th, employs 209 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. In 2019, staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering more than 1,100 hours of community service.

 

AIC Receives High Marks for Teaching and Education Degrees

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is ranked 17th among the top 50 colleges and universities for teaching and education degrees, as ranked by learn.org for academic year 2020-21. Established in 2003, learn.org provides free resources for students and working professionals to research potential schools and degrees by providing information on career opportunities and institutions of higher education that help individuals reach their goals, including school connections, scholarships, and online college planning for quality and affordable education. Citing AIC, learn.org highlights the college’s master’s programs, including its master of education in early childhood education and a master of education in middle or secondary education. The organization additionally notes that AIC offers a doctoral program with multiple tracks, the doctor of education in teaching and learning, and called attention to students’ ability to take part in a practicum or field-based research to ensure preparedness for future careers. The organization also credits the School of Education with employing “top-notch staff and faculty members, many of whom hold terminal degrees in their field.”

 

Square One Responds to Need for Remote-learning Support

SPRINGFIELD — As working parents continue to navigate the unchartered territory surrounding remote education, Square One is answering the call for help. The agency is now providing full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to expanded offerings for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Enrollment is available at three Square One early-learning centers in Springfield, as well as the agency’s network of home-based child-care providers who operate throughout the region. Through the generosity of funders, including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and Square One’s corporate and individual donors, all locations are outfitted with the technology and staffing needed to accommodate each student’s remote-learning needs. All guidelines surrounding social distancing, cleanliness, and personal protective equipment will be strictly enforced. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. For more information, parents are urged to contact the Square One enrollment office at (413) 732-5183. With the growing demand for programs and services at Square One comes a greater need for additional financial support. Donors are asked to support the Campaign for Healthy Kids by texting ABC123 to 4432, visiting www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mailing Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication, at [email protected].

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Contributes More Than $1 Million in COVID-19 Relief

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Bank Foundation announced that, due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has contributed more than $1 million to collaborative efforts supporting nonprofit organizations responding to community-based needs. Guided by the foundation’s mission of investing in those living and working in its local communities, the total relief provided represents an additional $1 million over the foundation’s $3 million total annual grant budget. The organizations supported in the Pioneer Valley through Berkshire Bank Foundation’s contributions include the Mental Health Assoc. Inc., YMCA of Greater Springfield, the SCORE Foundation – Western Massachusetts SCORE, and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, among others. The foundation’s grants this year have supported community-based organizations to help local families in the areas of affordable and safe housing, food security, health supplies, students in distress, and assistance to small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The foundation has also allowed nonprofits to utilize funds given for specific programs to help cover general operating costs and extended requirements and/or reporting deadlines where needed.

 

Beveridge Family Foundation Partners with Innovation Accelerator

WEST NEWBURY — The Beveridge Family Foundation provides support to nonprofits within Hampden and Hampshire counties. While continuing that critical work, it has started investing directly into social-impact projects and ventures. By leveraging its endowment, the Beveridge Foundation is significantly increasing the amount of funding it can deploy. Local organizations with proposals for economically sustainable programs can now apply for investments of up to $250,000. These proposals must be at the pilot stage or later and already have significant evidence of demand and viability. Innovation Accelerator trains nonprofits to develop high-impact social ventures. Alumni have gone from sticky notes on a whiteboard to live programs that have raised more than $1 million in seed funding. Each team that participates in the flagship accelerator program generates mission-aligned ideas, gathers concrete evidence, and receives direct feedback from the Beveridge Foundation and other funders.

 

Education Equity Focus of Grant to Holyoke Community College

HOLYOKE — When Holyoke Community College (HCC) unveiled its four-year strategic plan in 2018, one of its top priorities was increasing success rates of students of color. That aligned with goals established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which in the same year made equity the top policy and performance objective for the entire state public higher-education system. To support those ongoing efforts, the Lumina Foundation recently awarded the Massachusetts DHE grants worth $1.2 million, with half the money earmarked for six state colleges and universities, including HCC. HCC’s $100,000 award will be used to further the work of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion task force and expand mentorship programs that focus on students of color. Through its Talent, Innovation, Equity, and Equity Institution grants, the Lumina Foundation seeks to dismantle systemic barriers to student success and degree attainment, particularly for black and Latinx students. Massachusetts was only the fifth state to receive grants from the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Indianapolis. Latinx students participating in HCC’s ALANA Men in Motion program show a fall-to-fall retention rate of 75%, compared to 45% for Latinx students not participating in ALANA, an academic support, mentoring, and counseling program for African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American men. HCC’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group focuses on making sure students of color succeed at the same rate as their white peers, using benchmarks such as retention and college completion rates.

 

United Way Distributes PPE to Area Nonprofits, Municipalities

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its COVID-19 response efforts, United Way of Pioneer Valley has distributed a round of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related items to multiple area nonprofits and municipalities. Recipients of PPE to date include the Agawam Department of Public Health, Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, Chicopee Food Force, Granville Fire Department, Granville Police Department, Granville Public Library, Link to Libraries, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Ludlow Senior Center, Ministry en Motion, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, One Holyoke CDC, Quarry Hill Community School in Monson, Southwick Senior Center, Tolland Fire Department, and Westfield Senior Center. Distributions include various sizes of hand-sanitizer bottles, hand-sanitizing stations, disposable masks, gloves, face masks, face shields, cleaning wipes, and countertop sneeze guards. Donations also included hula hoops and pool noodles to help young children learn about social distancing.

 

Company Notebook

Big Y Expands Legacy of Helping Farmers and Small Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — In 1936, Paul and Gerry D’Amour were passionate about providing fresh local food to their customers at the Y Cash Market in Chicopee. Today, close to 85 years after its founding, Big Y World Class Markets have more than 500 partnerships with local farmers like Meadowbrook Farms and local food producers like Millie’s Pierogi. The passion of its founders continues with Big Y announcing the Fresh & Local Distribution Center, which provides local farmers and food producers with an efficient, one-stop location that saves them the time and cost of delivering to individual stores. It also features state-of-the-art technology and temperature controls to help Big Y maintain and deliver food at the peak of freshness to customers. Currently, through Big Y’s Fresh & Local Distribution Center, 70 farmers — accounting for more than 9,000 acres of farmland in the region — supply Big Y’s stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut with 1,200 types of native fruits and vegetables each year. For many farmers, this partnership helps them grow their business and preserve farmland and open space in area communities. More that 3,000 different products from local food producers can be found at a typical Big Y supermarket. Big Y actively searches for new craft-food artisans to bring into their stores and can provide them with support for marketing and packaging, help with barcodes, or even advice on business matters like insurance. The new Fresh & Local Distribution center has close to 425,000 square feet of space and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is located adjacent to Big Y headquarters at 2145 Roosevelt Ave. in Springfield.

Elms College Climbs U.S. News List of ‘Top Performers on Social Mobility’

CHICOPEE — Elms College improved its ranking by 30 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Top Performers on Social Mobility” in the northern U.S. region. The list ranks schools for enrolling and graduating large proportions of students who have received federal Pell Grants. Elms College improved its ranking dramatically, moving to seventh among 89 regional universities in the region, up from 37th in 2020. On U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Best Regional Universities,” Elms College retains its ranking in the top 55% among 176 other colleges and universities in the northern U.S. region. U.S. News ranks Elms College as a university because of changes to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s basic classification system and the number of graduate programs Elms offers. The Carnegie categories are the accepted standard in U.S. higher education. The U.S. News “Best Colleges” rankings are designed to help students and their families find colleges that offer the best academic value for their money. The list provides at-a-glance breakdowns of each institution and ranks them based on such indicators of excellence including value and first-year student retention rate. The full rankings are viewable at www.usnews.com/colleges.

MCLA Ranked a Top Ten Collegeby U.S. News & World Report

NORTH ADAMS — For the third consecutive year, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is ranked as a Top Ten College by U.S. News & World Report. MCLA ranks ninth on the organization’s list of top public colleges and also appears on U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges. The college also is ranked among the top 50 public and private schools on U.S. News’ Top Performers on Social Mobility list, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000. Only eight other public colleges are ranked higher than MCLA on this list. The college has appeared on U.S. News’ list of top public colleges for eight of the last 10 years. This year, during the pandemic, MCLA was also able to distribute more than $257,000 to students who found themselves dire economic circumstances due to COVID-19 through the MCLA Resiliency Fund. MCLA was also awarded a federal TRIO grant, which will provide $1.3 million to enhance our support for under-resourced students for the next five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, faculty, and financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

WSU Among Top Public Universities in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University (WSU) is again one of Massachusetts’ top public universities among its peers, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2021 list. The rankings underscore the university’s commitment to accessibility, affordability, and intentional outcomes. In this year’s release, Westfield State is ranked 90th among 170 institutions in “Regional Universities – North.” It is ranked ahead of its peer Massachusetts state universities in both that category and U.S. News’ Best Public Schools, where it placed 26th. Rankings were determined by a number of factors, including a peer assessment, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, class sizes, student/faculty ratio, student selectivity, and alumni-giving rate.

HCC Awarded Grants to Support Childcare Professionals

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $1 million to continue educating and training early-childhood educators and supporting the programs they work for in Western Mass. Both the Career Pathways Grant, for $680,000, and the Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant, for $360,000, come from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which licenses public and private childcare programs in the state. HCC is the lead agent on a six-month Career Pathways Grant that will allow the college to continue its free Childhood Development Associate Plus (CDA-Plus) certificate program. The program was created to help early-childhood educators already working in the field attain their national CDA credential or enhance their certification level, and is offered at no cost to participants. Greenfield Community College and Berkshire Community College are HCC’s partners in the Western Mass. consortium. The three colleges each have their own CDA-Plus programs and collaborate on implementation and support. HCC launched its CDA-Plus program in 2019 after an initial, year-long grant of $2 million to the consortium from the EEC. Students who complete the program are awarded a CDA-Plus certificate and can apply the credits they earn toward an associate degree in early childhood education from HCC. The grant covers all tuition, fees, books, and a $425 CDA credentialing fee, and includes a stipend of about $500 for unexpected costs. HCC graduated its first class of CDA-Plus students in June. A second group started in January 2020 and will complete their program in November. The new funding will pay for a third class set to begin their studies this month. The $360,000 Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant follows an initial award in 2019, establishing HCC as the EEC’s professional-development center for Western Mass.

Local Bus Company First to Use New Disinfectant System

GILL — F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., a family-owned school transportation provider since 1925, is the first and only transportation company in the country to use a new system designed specifically for disinfecting buses. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, the bus company approached Bete Fog Nozzle Inc. in Greenfield about developing a system which would quickly, consistently, and accurately apply an EPA- and CDC-approved disinfecting agent to the interior environment of each of its more than 100 school buses. Working closely with Ted Toothaker, systems engineer at Bete Fog Nozzle, testing and development began in early May. The system, dubbed Bete FastPASS (public area spray system), ends the need for manual spraying and was specifically designed to eliminate human error. Using high-pressure nozzles and air compressors, two buses are treated in just three minutes. Each bus is treated twice a day.

Collaboration Between UMass, IntelliVen Supports Lifelong Learning

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced a new collaboration with IntelliVen, a leading executive-team-development organization, to provide interactive remote-learning programs designed to raise the performance and effectiveness of leadership teams. IntelliVen offers immersive programs designed to help an organization’s core leadership team tackle the unique challenges of managing a growing organization, especially in today’s turbulent markets. IntelliVen’s proprietary set of course modules enables an interactive, remote learning experience that leaders take along with their teams to unlock their true potential to perform and grow. “IntelliVen teaches leaders, teams, and organizations to set direction, achieve team alignment, implement strategy, and make the change they want to grow faster and perform better,” said Peter DiGiammarino, managing partner. Members of the university community will receive a discount on the standard price of IntelliVen’s leadership-development immersion programs.

JetBlue Adds Four New Non-stop Routes at Bradley

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced non-stop service to four new destinations from Bradley International Airport on JetBlue, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cancún, Mexico. The new service to Cancún is slated to commence on Nov. 19, while service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all slated to begin on Dec. 18. This new service will compliment JetBlue’s existing non-stop routes from Bradley to numerous Florida destinations as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. “JetBlue is an important partner for us, and we are very pleased to see that the airline recognizes the potential of the Bradley Airport market,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Grant Helps Fund WNEU Student Startup

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Western New England University (WNEU) College of Business are working together to help students expand their entrepreneurship education beyond the classroom. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WNEU works to develop students’ entrepreneurial mindset. Through co-curricular efforts, such as Startup Weekend and the cross-disciplinary business/engineering “Product Development and Innovation” course, students are able to create ideas, products, and services that have market potential. PeoplesBank is taking this one step further by providing grant funding to advance qualifying startups that show promise and demonstrate success. Joseph Ferrera, a 2020 graduate of the Entrepreneurship program at Western New England University, is the first recipient of a PeoplesBank grant. He founded Double O Joe, a Ludlow-based videography startup, in his sophomore year and continued to advance the business model through his entrepreneurship courses at WNEU. He is currently serving several small businesses in the Greater Springfield area. The grant funded a more advanced drone and camera in order to continue to grow his customer base and video offerings.

STCC Launches Certificate in Social-media Strategy, Design

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer a new social-media strategy and design certificate this fall in the Department of Technical Arts and Design. The coursework is designed to prepare students for the planning and implementation of a promotional strategy using a variety of social-media platforms, including social networking, microblogging, photo sharing, and video sharing. In addition, students will take courses in graphic design, motion graphics, marketing, and advertising to blend social-media strategy and design, a combination that is very much in demand, said Professor Philip Ruderman, a faculty member in the Graphic Communications & Photography program at STCC. Ruderman called the program a vehicle to help students promote their talents, showcase their work, and develop relationships that will grow their employer’s business, or their own. The new social-media tools course offered this fall will focus on the basic elements needed to create and maintain a successful social-media campaign, including social-media marketing basics, social-media mix, social marketing process, analysis, strategy development, program and communication design, and implementation. This online course will put students on the path for self-promotion and promotion of businesses. The training enables them to build awareness within the marketplace and to target and engage online viewers and build a community of followers. An online search for social-media jobs in the region will yield a number of results, including digital content creators, digital content producers, social-media designers, and social-media specialists. In addition, a number of marketing positions requiring social-media skills can also be found. Nine courses, or 27 credits, are required to complete the program, which could be completed in as few as two semesters. To learn more about the program, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/smsd.coc. For questions, call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $10,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it received a grant of $10,000 from Westfield Bank to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank has been a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp. Due to COVID-19, this summer Kamp for Kids is being held virtually in order to provide a safe camp experience for the campers and their families. The virtual camp is open to all who wish to participate and offered free of charge, and consists of recreational activities, nature time, and arts and crafts. To register and participate in virtual camp, visit www.bhninc.org/kamp-kids. The camp has created three themes for this year’s activities: “In My Backyard,” “Only in New England,” and “All Around the World.” Kamp for Kids has also continued its partnership with the Westfield Cultural Council and Berkshire Hills Music Academy, a music-based program for people with disabilities in Franklin County, to offer musical programming for participants.

LPV Announces New Path Forward

SPRINGFIELD — Last month, Leadership Pioneer Valley’s (LPV) board of directors approved a plan for the next six months. The plan creates new leadership-development options aimed at addressing the needs of the wider community. Because leadership in a pandemic necessitates both a statewide and national perspective, LPV will continue to collaborate with programs across the Commonwealth and participate in the National Leadership Alumni Network — a first of its kind. It will also continue offering sessions exploring creating more equitable workplaces and communities. These programs and others in the works are designed to address the needs of LPV alumni and the wider community. LPV’s signature LEAP program, a nine-month regional leadership-development program for emerging leaders, will be pushed back to January 2021, and will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person programming that prioritizes safety while building engaging connections. This fall, LPV will offer a number of new opportunities including small Leadership Luncheons, a Leader Roundtable series, and a new Adaptive Leadership series. All sessions will begin virtually and transition to in-person when feasible.

HCC Unveils New Academic Programs for Fall Semester

HOLYOKE — Cannabis cultivation, beer and cider brewing, and winemaking are just a few of the new academic programs being offered this fall at Holyoke Community College (HCC). All three were developed as one-year, 24-credit certificate programs through the college’s Sustainability Studies department. One new course, “Cannabis Today,” provides knowledge of the growing part of the industry. Other requirements for the certificate include classes in agriculture, marketing, and entrepreneurship. The college also developed the brewing and winemaking certificates with an eye on expanding industries. Another new course, “Fermentation Science,” explains the scientific processes of fermentation as it applies to both brewing and winemaking. This fall, HCC is also unveiling new certificate and associate-degree programs in a range of other academic areas, including behaviorial neuroscience (degree), critical social thought (degree), geoscience (degree), child development (certificate), mental health (certiificate,) and veterinary assistant (certificate). The fall semester at Holyoke Community College begins Tuesday, Sept. 8. To enroll for fall, visit hcc.edu/admission, call (413) 552-2321, or e-mail [email protected].

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Six Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Six area students were each recently awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name, Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is an award that goes to a member of a local union affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouses or dependents. Applicants were asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of their community-service activities, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Corey Bryant of Springfield, Alexandria Barnard-Davignon of Longmeadow, Anna MacDonnell of Longmeadow, Lindsay Marjanski of South Hadley, Sarah Meunier of South Deerfield, and Taryn Morse of Hatfield.

Hazen Paper Pioneers New Type of Custom Holography

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. has created an innovative, two-sided promotion to demonstrate cutting-edge holographic technologies. Hazen’s team designed the artwork on both sides to showcase specific visual effects with nano-holography that delivers an even more dramatic three-dimensional effect than lenticular printing. The front features a fire-breathing dragon with minutely detailed glittering scales. The effect of a blast of moving flames was achieved with registered, custom color-motion and multi-channel holography. On the back, a shimless random repeat custom hologram, ‘random burst,’ creates a moving, three-dimensional flash backdrop for a flock of butterflies. Originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in its Holyoke facility, the project was realized on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Sub-micron transfer-metallized Envirofoil uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate and a recycled film carrier, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks by AM Lithography of Chicopee. Vertically integrated, Hazen can take production from design to holographic paper in less than two weeks.

WSU Teacher-education Program Accredited with Commendation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) teacher-education program has received full, seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Assoc. for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, growing work in anti-racism education. WSU is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization. The WSU Education Department’s teacher-education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by several pillars, including critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset. These principles — which undergird the Teacher Education program — set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K-12 schools, and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for WSU students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers. The Accreditation Commission also commended the university’s education programs for their concerted and deepening work in anti-racist education, as these efforts permeate the preparation of educators, are embedded in and impact the wider campus culture, and reach into the community through campus- and program-based partnerships. All education students participate in annual Anti-Racist Education Town Hall events featuring relevant themes like the School-to-Prison Pipeline, share common readings across courses, and participate in guest lectures on campus.

WNEU, Big Y Pharmacy Residency Program Accreditated

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) College of Pharmacy Health Sciences and Big Y Foods, Inc. Community-Based Residency Program has received accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Assoc. (APhA). The accreditation establishes criteria for training pharmacists for the purpose of achieving professional competence in the delivery of patient-centered care and in pharmacy services. The purpose of the post-graduate year one (PGY1) Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program is to build upon the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) education and outcomes to develop community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills who are eligible to pursue advanced training opportunities, including post-graduate year two (PGY2) specialized residencies and professional certifications. ASHP’s Commission on Credentialing extended the accreditation of the residency program through 2024. The accreditation means the program meets or exceeds the national standards set for a residency training program. The WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Big Y Foods Community-Based Residency Program is the only such university-based initiative in Western Mass. This year, the residency program graduated its fifth resident. Three of the graduates are Big Y pharmacists who have created new pharmacy services, and two graduates went on to pursue PGY2 ambulatory-care residencies. WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also offers a PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program with Walgreens. This program began in 2014 and is also accredited by ASHP and APhA.

Multiple Sclerosis Center Opens at Mercy Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Trinity Health Of New England announced the opening of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mercy Medical Center. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the Greater Springfield area are now able to access their healthcare needs in one central location with a team of specialists dedicated to every aspect of their care. The Mandell Center, located at 175 Carew St. in Springfield, offers a combination of cutting-edge treatments, groundbreaking research, and innovative rehabilitation programs, and provides an all-inclusive treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the model will include a nationally recognized team of MS specialists including neurologists, neuropsychologists, urologists, physiatrists, social workers, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, speech pathologists, physician’s assistants, and nurses. The Mandell MS Center at Mercy is partnered with the world-renowned Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Centers at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Conn. and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes a disruption in the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells. MS is a long-lasting disease that can affect a person’s brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, causing problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. Thus, having a variety of specialists in one location is invaluable for MS patients.

Company Notebook

First American Insurance Acquires Morin & Foy

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced it has acquired Morin & Foy, a property and casualty firm situated in Brimfield. Located on Route 20, Morin & Foy serves its surrounding communities by providing clients with personal and commercial insurance. The joining of the two companies allows for the growth of First American Insurance Agency’s portfolio and building the business client groups. First American Insurance Agency is acquiring only the Brimfield location. “When I first met Sharon and the team in Brimfield, it was clear from our very first conversation that First American Insurance Agency could build on what we both have in common: the client-first mentality,” said Corey Murphy, First American president. Added Sharon Morin, manager at Morin & Foy, “we are a dedicated team committed to serving our community and treating people with respect and kindness. I know that First American Insurance will continue to build and grow that culture.”

St. Germain Named to List of Top Registered Investment Advisers

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, St. Germain Investment Management has been named to the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers (RIA). The 2020 list recognizes top independent RIA firms from across the U.S. This is the seventh annual FT 300 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on the asset-management industry. RIA firms applied for consideration having met a minimum set of criteria. Applicants were then graded on six factors: assets under management (AUM), AUM growth rate, years in existence, advanced industry credentials of the firm’s advisers, online accessibility, and compliance records. There are no fees or other considerations required of RIAs that apply for the FT 300. The FT 300 is one in series of rankings of top advisers by the Financial Times, including the FT 400 (DC retirement-plan advisers) and the FT 400 (broker-dealers).

Gift From Bulkley Richardson Gives Parents Peace of Mind

SPRINGFIELD — During COVID-19, the world has turned upside down. For parents with babies at the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Baystate Children’s Hospital, the pandemic brings especially tough choices. Due to the coronavirus, Baystate Health’s NICU allows just one parent to visit at a time. To ease the stress of separation, the NICU team keeps families connected through personal webcams attached to many of the bassinettes. Using a unique password, parents can log onto a secure website anytime, day or night, to visit their baby virtually. Recently, Bulkley Richardson generously donated $10,000 to support the purchase of additional cameras. Peter Barry, former managing partner at Bulkley Richardson, knows firsthand the difference these resources make for families. His grandchild was in the care of Baystate Children’s Hospital Neonatal Continuing Care Unit when he was born. “The skill and caring of the team were truly impressive,” Barry said. “These cameras will make a very difficult situation a bit easier for parents and grandparents. Bulkley Richardson is proud to provide philanthropic support for this level of life-saving expertise in our region.” The Davis Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the only one of its kind in Western Mass., providing the highest level of care available for sick or premature newborns. NICU patients often have prolonged hospital stays of weeks or months.

UMass Amherst to Make Standardized Tests Optional

AMHERST — Beginning with the spring 2021 term, and continuing for each spring and fall term through spring 2023, UMass Amherst will make standardized tests optional for its first-year entering applicants. For the past several months, the university has monitored how possible, safe, and secure it will be for students to take the SAT or ACT. In recent weeks, said James Roche, vice provost for Enrollment Management, it has become obvious that the challenges to testing presented by the coronavirus pandemic will persist in the months ahead. Historically, UMass Amherst has used a holistic review to evaluate applicants. The quantitative assessment component of that review was done using a formula that combined the applicant’s high school GPA and the best combination of test scores. Roche said the university’s research shows that, of the separate components, the high-school GPA is a stronger predictor of student performance, persistence, and success; however, it is also known that the combination of the two components provides an even stronger predictor than either the GPA or test score alone. The university has analyzed three years of data and more than 100,000 applicant records to develop a formula for its test-optional assessment that uses the high-school GPA as the base. For applicants who either have or will submit test scores, UMass Amherst will compare the result of the formula with and without the test score included and give the applicant the highest value of the two. This test-optional approach applies to all majors. As it always has, UMass Amherst will continue to consider the rigor of students’ high-school coursework in its assessment, especially for courses that apply most directly to the applicant’s intended major.

STCC Launches New Water-distribution Course

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer an online course this fall to prepare students for careers in the drinking-water industry and to help those working in the field enhance their skills. The course, called “Concepts & Practices of Drinking Water Distribution,” is being offered through the Workforce Development Center at STCC in partnership with the Massachusetts Water Works Assoc. and the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission. The training, which runs from Sept. 14 to Dec. 4, is free for students enrolled in any community college in Massachusetts. Individuals not enrolled at a community college, as well as employees at water utilities, can register for the class for a fee. This is the second in a series of courses designed for careers in the water industry. Last fall, a water-treatment course was offered in a similar self-paced online format. Students who completed the training last fall touted the course’s effectiveness and flexibility. The water distribution course will include weekly videos, readings, discussion topics, and quizzes. The 12-week training will help prepare students to take the Massachusetts Drinking Water Operator Grade 2, 3 and 4 Distribution license exams. Licensure is necessary for beginning a career in the drinking-water industry. This course is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Drinking Water Operators. Material covered includes hydrology, source waters, basic math and chemistry, regulations, water sampling, hydraulics, distribution-system components (pipes, valves, pumps, tanks, meters), equipment operation and maintenance, safety, and administrative duties. Someone with a Massachusetts water operator distribution license can work in such positions as water construction and repair technician; construction foreman; equipment operation and maintenance specialist; water-quality technician; SCADA, GIS, or instrumentation specialist; or water-systems manager. Students who complete the water course can consider continuing their education in fields such as civil engineering, urban studies, software development, business administration, and more. To enroll online, visit stcc.edu/water. To enroll in person or for more information, call (413) 755-4225 or e-mail [email protected]

Wellfleet Launches ‘Back to Work’ Educational Series

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet has launched a “Back to Work” education series, offering virtual programs designed to give business leaders from all sectors advice, ideas, and best practices for returning to the office — and to a sense of normalcy. Wellfleet’s “Back to Work” series, a collection of live and on-demand webinars and online resources available at wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork, kicked off this spring with a “Healthy Buildings” webinar featuring Dr. Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Allen shared valuable insights on how business leaders can improve workplace buildings to enhance productivity, engagement, and retention among employees, and offered a hierarchy of controls for a safe, multi-faceted approach to repopulating office spaces. Worried parents can get peace of mind from Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, whose on-demand webinar offers perspective, strategy, and support to parents-turned-educators navigating long-term social distancing and the potential for continued remote learning this fall. Parents can also take advantage of Wellfleet’s Summer Education & Activity Pack, a resource rich with activities, tips, and tools for keeping kids educated and entertained over the summer. Insurance-industry-specific webinars round out the “Back to Work” series offerings, including a conversation on “Overcoming Challenges Facing Voluntary Benefits Engagement & Enrollment,” led by Erik Gray, Wellfleet Workplace’s head of Enrollment Experience. For a complete listing of events and to register, visit www.wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork.

Common Capital Approved as Lender for Community Advantage Recovery Loans

BOSTON — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has developed a new, temporary loan product called Community Advantage Recovery Loans (CARL) for eligible lenders to provide technical and financial assistance to support small businesses located in underserved areas. The SBA issued a document in the Federal Register, providing specific requirements for Community Advantage Recovery Loans. In addition to getting funded, the underserved small businesses will also receive technical assistance to build financial resiliency against future business disruptions. Community Advantage Recovery Loans can be approved through Sept. 27 and must be fully disbursed no later than Oct. 1. The CARL Participant Guide is available on SBA’s website and outlines all other loan terms and conditions. “Common Capital appreciates the opportunity to participate in this new program, which will help us increase the flow of loan capital to underserved businesses in Western Massachusetts,” Common Capital President Raymond Lanza-Weil said. “Combined with our existing SBA loan programs, we look forward to expanding our assistance to businesses that have a concrete plan for adapting to the COVID-19 economy.”

New EV Charging Stations Available in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Whalen Insurance, located at 71 King St. in Northampton, now has six new electric-vehicle (EV) chargers installed beneath and powered by its solar canopy. These charging stations are operational and available for public use, charge up to 7.2 kW of power at a cost of $2 per hour, and require no parking fees to access them. The EV chargers and 62.64 kW solar canopy were both installed by PV Squared, a local solar design and installation company based in Greenfield. The EV project was funded primarily by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, as a result of the Volkswagen diesel-emissions settlement. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to secretly and intentionally installing software in vehicles to cheat state emissions tests, which raised the levels of smog-causing nitrogen oxides up to 40 times higher than permitted. Massachusetts received a partial settlement, and the money is being used to increase the amount of EV charging and infrastructure and promote more electric-vehicle usage throughout the Commonwealth. The goal is to increase air quality and reduce particulate pollution by creating a cleaner transportation sector. The EV charging station at Whalen Insurance is contributing to the larger environmental goals of the state, while also directly benefiting the local community. Peter Whalen and Janna Ugone own the EV chargers. In addition to the EV charging station, Whalen has invested in six solar projects, totaling 127.92 kW, on various properties in Northampton. On an annual basis, these solar arrays produce a combined 141,591 kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to 110 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). This translates to an environmental offset of CO2 emissions from 11,265 gallons of gasoline consumed and 110,308 pounds of coal burned. Whalen also loves driving his electronic vehicle.

Company Notebook

Daniel O’Connell’s Sons Tapped for WSU Parenzo Hall Renovation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University, in partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Assets Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), announced the selection of Holyoke-based Daniel O’Connell’s Sons Inc. to serve as construction manager for the university’s $40 million Parenzo Hall renovation project. The construction manager selection committee — consisting of three DCAMM representatives, architect James Loftus of Miller Dyer Spears of Boston, and David Riggles, associate director for Projects and Space Management at Westfield State — received 12 responses to DCAMM’s request for qualifications and eight final proposals for the project. The final construction-manager selection was made based on the firm’s qualifications, experience, past performances, and reviews of performance records in comparison to the others. The university plans to transform the 64-year-old Parenzo Hall — the oldest building on campus — into a state-of-the-art hub for student success and development. Renovations will include the creation of two new centers — the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) and the CoLab (collaboration laboratory). The renovation of swing space to relocate current Parenzo Hall tenants is underway and expected to be completed this winter. Groundbreaking for Parenzo’s reconstruction is anticipated in summer 2021. The renovation is expected to take approximately two years. The CoLab will leverage technology to serve as a nexus for innovative collaboration in Western Mass., partnering with K-12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. It will teach students and community partners how to productively engage in online and hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment. The CoLab will work with community colleges to ease the transfer process by offering financially supported hybrid-style programs and boot camps. It will work with chambers of commerce and economic-development boards to broker relationships, inform curriculum, and secure support. The CSSE will address the university’s goals of increasing retention and graduation rates, as well as reducing achievement gaps and the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. In addition, it will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. New and in-demand certificate programs and advanced study options will be offered to its business partners, utilizing technology. The Commonwealth is helping to finance the project via a $21.25 million spending bill that was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker during a July 2018 visit to campus.

Baystate Health, Kindred Healthcare to Partner on Behavioral-health Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health and Kindred Healthcare, LLC announced plans to form a joint venture that will build and operate a $43 million, state-of-the-art behavioral-health hospital in Western Mass. The 120-bed facility will address the shortage of behavioral-health beds in the region, increasing patient access to Baystate Health’s specialty inpatient behavioral healthcare for adults (including geriatrics), adolescents, and children by more than 50%. Kindred will manage day-to-day operations of the hospital, and Baystate Health psychiatrists and advanced practitioners will provide care under the medical leadership of Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of Psychiatry at Baystate Health. The hospital will be designed specifically for behavioral-health services to foster a better healing environment for patients. The hospital will feature distinct units to meet patients’ varying treatment needs and is expected to employ more than 200 direct caregivers and ancillary staff. Baystate had planned last year to partner with US HealthVest, LLC on a $30 million behavioral-health hospital, but ended that relationship in November following news reports alleging substandard care at other HealthVest facilities, and began searching for a new partner. Baystate Health remains interested in a centrally located Holyoke location and is in discussions with the city of Holyoke regarding the potential acquisition and development of a property on Lower Westfield Road. It is anticipated that, from the time the site is secured, it will be at least two years before the new hospital is operational, pending regulatory and other approvals. Until the new hospital is completed, Baystate will continue to operate its inpatient behavioral-health units at its community hospitals — Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Baystate Noble Hospital, and Baystate Wing Hospital. Upon completion of the new facility, those units will be closed. Emergency-care services will continue to be provided at all Baystate Health hospitals, and the treatment of medically complex patients will continue at Baystate Medical Center in its Adult Psychiatric Treatment Unit.

Elms College Receives Grant to Fund Experiential Learning

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced it has been awarded a $240,000 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation (DEF) in support of its Experiential Learning Mastering Success (ELMS) – Real World Ready! learning initiative. The grant will be dispersed over the next three years. The overall goal of the ELMS – Real World Ready! learning initiative is to provide at least one high-impact experiential learning opportunity to every student during their college career. Experiential learning is one of the five pillars of the college’s 2020-23 strategic plan. Students can participate in internships, research, study-abroad trips, and service learning opportunities. The first-year disbursement of the grant will support hiring a director of Experiential Learning, providing professional development for faculty and staff, and broadening of the college’s third annual Innovation Challenge (IC). The IC is a three-day event in which students work in teams and explore the intersection of social relationships, business economics, public education, and social justice. Over the past two years, Elms students have developed creative ideas to alleviate homelessness and address bullying. The upcoming Innovation Challenge in the fall 2020 semester will expand participation from 60 students to the entire first-year class. The ELMS – Real World Ready! learning initiative and the DEF grant build on the philanthropic scholarship funding currently available to students through the donor-funded Keating Schneider Experiential Learning Fund and the Elms Advantage Internship program.

WNEU to Offer MS Program in Construction Management

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced the addition of a new master of science program in construction management to the list of graduate-degree offerings. U.S. News and World Report ranks construction manager first in “Best Construction Jobs” and 43rd in “100 Best Jobs” with a low unemployment rate of 2.3%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows that the job outlook growth (2016-26) for Construction Managers is 11% (faster than average), with a median salary of $93,370 per year. With courses rooted in civil engineering, industrial engineering, and engineering management, the program strives to provide a well-rounded knowledge base in engineering as it pertains to construction management. Elective opportunities in business and management will give students a perspective into the business world that will prepare them for management and leadership roles. The program is tailored for students to choose from three options to complete the degree. The all-course option allows students to complete the 10 graduate courses that include open electives, choosing from courses in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering as well as engineering management and business. Through the project or thesis options, students will work with a faculty advisor to take a deeper dive in a topic of interest, culminating in a final report and presentation. Applications are now being accepted for the MS in construction management program. Classes begin Sept. 28. To learn more, call the Office of Graduate Studies at (413) 782-1517 or e-mail [email protected].

Dress for Success to Collaborate with the Links Inc. on Mentorship Program

Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts announced a partnership with the Greater Springfield chapter of the Links Inc. Founded in 1946, the Links Inc. is an international, not-for-profit organization that brings together professional women of color to serve their communities through volunteerism and philanthropy. Its ultimate goal is to sustain the culture and economic survival of African-Americans and people of African ancestry. The work of the Links Inc. aligns well with the mission of Dress for Success, specifically the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentor Program. This program, named for a Physics Department secretary from Mount Holyoke College who provided help and encouragement for women entering that male-dominated field in the 1970s, pairs women who are overcoming great odds to achieve economic independence with professional women who volunteer to work with them one-on-one. Together, they establish individual goals and work on self-esteem, résumé building, workplace etiquette, interview skills, work/life balance, and more. By establishing a trusting rapport and sharing the wisdom of experience, mentors helps move their mentees from career readiness to action. Though the mentorships last one year, the impact lasts a lifetime. Beginning on Aug. 14, women from the Greater Springfield chapter of the Links Inc. will serve as mentors to women of color who have been recruited to the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentor Program from both Dress for Success programs as well as their partners in the community. The mentorships will continue until August 2021, when the mentees will be invited to join the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group.

6 Bricks Wins Provisional License to Advance Cannabis Dispensary

SPRINGFIELD — 6 Bricks, LLC was chosen to receive a state provisional license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. Last year, the city of Springfield awarded 6 Bricks one of just four licenses to operate a cannabis dispensary in the city. For more than a year before the award by Springfield, 6 Bricks had been preparing for the city application process, engaging and working with architects, industry and profession experts, security professionals, and others as to how best to propose a community-oriented facility and operation that would include and benefit the city and surrounding neighborhood community. 6 Bricks incurred substantial expense and invested significant time securing data and planning strategies to put forth a winning application to the city and the state, including hiring and working with engineering firm Vanhasse Hangen Bustin Inc. to produce traffic and other studies. 6 Bricks worked extensively with former Springfield Police Officer John Delaney on a security plan for operation; he assembled a team of former law-enforcement professionals who have advised the project from the idea stages to the present. Achieving provisional-license status means 6 Bricks, LLC has moved one step closer to being able to open a facility on Springfield. Of the four Springfield applicants, 6 Bricks is the first to be awarded this status.

Company Notebook

Melanson Heath Rebrands as Melanson

NASHUA, N.H. — Melanson Heath, one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the U.S., announced that the company will begin operating under a new name and will be known as Melanson, effective immediately. This rebranding strategy reflects both the evolution of the company and its vision for the future. Along with this change, a newly redesigned company logo has been revealed, and a new website, melansoncpas.com, has been launched. “As part of our focus on expansion and business development, our leadership team and I believe it was appropriate to rebrand our firm to more specifically reflect who we are,” said Managing Partner Scott Toothaker, CPA. “We are very excited about the introduction of our new company name, Melanson, because it allows us to better represent our business to our clients and community. We are also very happy about the launch of our new website, which features our own employees and better reflects the personality found at Melanson. We are not just an accounting firm; we are a partner for our clients.”

Phoenix Project Launched to Assist Struggling Businesses

PIONEER VALLEY — The DiStefano Group and Seven Roads Media announced the Phoenix Project, a movement to collaborate and create opportunities within the Pioneer Valley business community based on the principles of kindness and understanding. The goal is to provide a broad range of assistance to businesses that are struggling as a result of the unprecedented happenings of 2020. The two companies, in direct response to the inequities and hardships that so many in the community are facing, will seek to gain a genuine understanding of what local business owners need and address those needs immediately and for free. The process will begin with a video interview to gather raw, first-hand knowledge. Seven Roads Media and the DiStefano Group will provide business and media coaching on the spot, but support for the business won’t end there. The Phoenix Project also includes the expertise of an established group of ‘masterminds’ — local professionals at the top of their fields — to provide coaching in banking, marketing, financial management, real estate, photography, hospitality, events, human resources, psychology, IT, and more. Gina DiStefano, president and CEO of the DiStefano Group and Phoenix Project co-founder, explained that “the video is just the beginning. From there, we will connect the business with our group of masterminds, who will continue to provide pro bono advice. We intend to have a real impact on businesses that have been hit hard. We are willing and able to help.” The project’s model will build supportive relationships not just for the chosen business, but among all of the those represented by the masterminds, said the third co-founder, Jess Roncarati-Howe, a nonprofit consultant and coach with the DiStefano Group who formerly served as president of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce. “An entrepreneurial spirit who truly cares about what’s going on around them can foster tremendous impact,” she added. “It is the driving force behind the Phoenix Project. We will help our community to heal — one interaction, one relationship at a time.”

IALS at UMass Amherst Joins Digital Health Sandbox Network

AMHERST — The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) selected six new healthcare research and development (R&D) hubs to join the Digital Health Sandbox Network, including UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). The Sandbox Network program connects digital-health startups to cutting-edge R&D facilities in the Commonwealth and allows Massachusetts startups to apply for funding to test their innovations at one of the networks’ labs, now including IALS. Sandbox R&D facilities provide a range of services supporting validation and testing for digital health companies throughout their life cycles. “Establishing a translational institute at UMass that provides startup lab space; more than 30 industry-friendly, staffed core equipment facilities; and individualized venture-mentoring services creates an exciting environment for digital-health companies in Western Massachusetts,” IALS Director Peter Reinhart said. IALS helps to shepherd and translate fundamental research into new product candidates, technologies, and services that benefit human health and well-being. IALS also helps users address both basic and translational questions, deliver technologies and product candidates more rapidly, and become more competitive in obtaining funding. Facilities include a state-of-the-art test bed for mobile health experiments at scale, the Center for Human Health and Performance, a roll-to-roll fabrication and processing facility, and research laboratory space for lease. In 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker announced $500,000 in funding for the Sandbox program as part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to boost the digital-health ecosystem under the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative.

Captain Candy to Open Second Store in Holyoke

NORTHAMPTON — Levi Smith, owner of Captain Candy in the lower level of Thornes Marketplace, announced he is opening a second store in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. “I’ve survived the COVID-19 shutdown, and I’m excited to be opening a second store in Holyoke,” Smith said. Captain Candy offers eclectic candies that are not the norm in grocery and convenience stores — everything from gumballs to candy cigarettes, wax bottles full of juice, Turkish taffy, Pop Rocks, and Zotz. Smith was contacted in January by the owners of Pyramid Management Group, which owns more than a dozen malls in the Northeast, including the Holyoke Mall. Smith’s Holyoke store opening comes a little over a year after he purchased the Northampton shop from former owner Nolan Anaya. Smith was 18 at the time. Currently, he is a business student at Holyoke Community College. In the early months, Smith will operate the new store to ensure a smooth start, and then he will hire as needed. Currently, he and six part-time employees operate the Thornes location, which opened in 2013.

Smith College Team Wins Ventilator-design Challenge

NORTHAMPTON — The SmithVent team of engineering alumni, staff, and faculty are the winners of the CoVent-19 challenge to design an easily manufacturable ventilator for use during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Grécourt Gate, Smith College’s online news portal. The team’s breathing device was chosen from more than 200 submissions to the competition launched on April 1. “In two months, we went from knowing nothing to having a functional prototype,” said team co-leader Susannah Howe, director of Smith’s Engineering Design Clinic. “To see that trajectory in such a short period of time, with people who are volunteering their time on top of their other jobs, is amazing and heartwarming and so rewarding.” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney added that “I could not be more proud of the SmithVent team for winning the CoVent-19 Challenge. This win speaks volumes about the power of a liberal-arts education, grounded in experiential learning, to find innovative, collaborative solutions to complex, urgent problems. SmithVent is Smith at its best: a lasting example of our community coming together for the betterment of the world.”

Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. Wins $100,000 NEA Grant

SPRINGFIELD ​— National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of $100,000 to​ the ​Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. in partnership with the Springfield Cultural Partnership for Spark!: Igniting Our Community, a project in the newly renovated Pynchon Park to envision and create public art that serves to connect the city, residents, and visitors. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category. Spark: Igniting Our Community is a two-year public art project that will transform recently reopened Pynchon Park into a vibrant public space through innovative multi-media art installations created by local and national artists. City residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions will be involved in a collective process to imagine, select, and commission public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and heritage. The park, closed for 40 years, will use the arts to connect neighborhoods and people, creating equitable partnerships that demonstrate the power of civic engagement for more vibrant and livable communities. The park’s reopening offers an opportunity to continue momentum by celebrating public art in this passageway and creating a programming and civic-engagement space. This project will create a walkable pathway between the museum district and the commercial downtown, spurring retail and public-space projects along these avenues and encouraging greater tourism throughout the city.

Webster Bank Offers Financial Program for Frontline Heroes

WATERBURY, Conn. — Webster Bank became one of the first financial-services companies nationwide to introduce Frontline Heroes, a program for essential healthcare workers and first responders that enhances the financial well-being of those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In gratitude for their selfless service, Webster’s new Frontline Heroes program offers a range of financial benefits, including checking accounts free of a monthly maintenance fee and free checking withdrawals at any ATM through December 2021. The program provides new customers with the ability to earn a cash incentive, as well as additional discounts and benefits. Frontline Heroes includes any full-time or part-time employee currently in essential healthcare, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical and dental practices, and home healthcare. The program is also available to first responders. For every new Frontline Heroes customer, Webster will also donate $250 to United Way COVID-19 Response Funds, making a minimum donation of $100,000.

Company Notebook

UMass to Expand Online Educational Opportunities

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts and Chapman University System announced their intent to form an exclusive strategic partnership between UMass Online and Brandman University to expand educational opportunities for adult learners in Massachusetts and across the nation. This partnership, expected to be finalized later this year, will be launched as millions of adults in Massachusetts and across the U.S. need flexible, high-quality, and affordable online-education alternatives now and as they recover from the economic dislocation caused by COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Based in Irvine, Calif., Brandman was established in 1958 by Chapman University, a 159-year-old private institution in Orange, Calif. Originally founded to deliver high-quality education to active-service military, Brandman has evolved into a widely recognized leader in online education, with a strong record of serving veterans and a diverse range of adult learners. The partnership will augment UMass Online, which now supports more than 25,000 students, strengthening its technology platform and student-support services tailored to adult learners. UMass President Marty Meehan recently cited dramatic declines in the number of high-school graduates and employers’ need for a highly skilled workforce in announcing plans to scale up online programming at UMass. He also cited the “troubling lack of economic mobility” among African-Americans and Hispanics. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has accelerated these challenges, and the need for new online education programs that remove the obstacles adult learners often face is now even more urgent. A key target group for the partnership will be adult learners in underserved communities. According to a Strada Network survey of 4,000 adults, most Americans (62%) are concerned about unemployment, but African-Americans are moreso (68%), and their Latinx and Asian counterparts are even more worried (72%). The same study indicated that 53% of adult learners prefer online education opportunities.

HMC Submits Proposal to Expand Psychiatric Bed Capacity

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has submitted a letter of intent and project proposal to the Massachusetts Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality to expand psychiatric bed capacity. The letter, sent on June 19, notified the Determination of Need Program that HMC will be completing an application for an additional 64 psychiatric beds. If approved, this will increase the hospital’s total capacity to 84 psychiatric beds, which will serve adult and geriatric populations. The 68,000-square-foot Holyoke Medical Center Behavioral Health Pavilion proposal includes 48 adult psychiatric beds, 36 geriatric beds, and 4,000 square feet of shell space for future expansion or uses to be determined later. Population statistics and competitive analysis suggest that there is a need within a 14-mile radius of Holyoke Medical Center for 52 adult psychiatric beds and 36 geriatric psychiatric beds. The proposal also includes a parking analysis and parking-garage study, which could provide an additional 60 to 180 parking spaces. Holyoke Medical Center is partnered with Signet Health Corp., assisting the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing management and consulting services. The Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, will design and build the facility. It is estimated that, once approved by state and local officials, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

Monson Savings Bank to Open New Branch in East Longmeadow

EAST LONGMEADOW — Monson Savings Bank announced the expansion of its branch network into East Longmeadow. This new office, located at 61 North Main St., is expected to open in late summer. The full-service branch will offer an extensive array of consumer and commercial products, traditional banking products, wealth-management products, and several robust digital solutions that have grown more important in today’s environment. It has been the bank’s goal to further expand the markets it serves.

Royal, P.C. Moves to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Royal, P.C. has moved to Springfield. Founded by attorney Amy Royal in 2008, Royal, P.C. is now located in the Indian Orchard section of Springfield, at 819 Worcester St., Suite 2. “Springfield is where I grew up, so it felt natural to relocate my law firm here,” Royal said. “Indian Orchard, with its unique history, has always felt like a special place within the city to me, and its geography otherwise places us in a more centralized location with respect to our Central and Eastern Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut clients.” The telephone and fax numbers of (413) 586-2288 and (413) 586-2281 remain the same. For more information about the firm, visit www.theroyallawfirm.com.

Bay Path Launches Risk Management Degree

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University is expanding its focus in the rapidly growing area of cybersecurity — and helping to bring more women into it — with the introduction of an undergraduate major in risk management. In addition, the university will offer scholarships to women looking to obtain degrees in cybersecurity. Made possible by Strada Education Network, these scholarships will help offset the cost of fall 2020 enrollment in cybersecurity programs. The term ‘risk management’ applies to the forecasting and evaluation of risks alongside the identification of procedures to avoid or minimize their impact. This new program concentration will include coursework in data privacy, project management, crisis management, and incident recovery. With nearly 80% of the organizations surveyed for the 2019 Marsh Microsoft Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey ranking cyber risks as a top-five concern, but only 11% feeling adequately prepared to assess and address those threats, the need for risk managers in the cybersecurity sphere is more important than ever. Within those responding organizations, the majority of board members and senior executives responsible for their organization’s cyber risk management reported that they had less than a day in the last year to spend focused on cyber risk issues.

ValleyBike Share Launches 2020 Season

PIONEER VALLEY — ValleyBike Share — the electric-assist bike-share program of the Pioneer Valley that includes Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and the UMass Amherst campus — has launched the 2020 season in select locations. Remaining stations will be opened over the following weeks. ValleyBike boasts more than 40,000 active members, who have ridden more than 280,000 miles on 126,940 trips. Due to the situation with Covid-19, ValleyBike is urging members to sanitize the handles, seat, and PIN pad before and after using the bikes. Every time the maintenance team touches a bike, it will be fully sanitized, but the public can do their part to keep themselves and others safe. Visit www.valleybike.org for more information and to find out how to become a member.

Art Therapy/Counseling Program Accredited at Springfield College

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Art Therapy/Counseling master’s-degree program has been granted initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), effective immediately. Awarded after a peer review by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education and the CAAHEP board of directors, this accreditation determined the Springfield College Art Therapy/Counseling program was in substantial compliance with nationally established accreditation standards. Students enrolled in the program will have the option to either pursue a master of science or master of education degree. Graduates are master’s-level clinicians who can jump right into the workforce or pursue additional licensure opportunities, which will allow them to earn a license in the mental-health field after graduation and to obtain board certification as an art therapist.

Applied Mortgage Giving Makes $45,000 Regional Donation

NORTHAMPTON — Applied Mortgage Giving announced a new campaign, the Vitality Grant, which will be donated to six local community organizations: Downtown Amherst Foundation (Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and Amherst Business Improvement District), Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Franklin County, and United Way of Hampshire County. These organizations will each receive a portion of the gift to use at their discretion to support their work in the community. The Vitality Grant — sponsored by Applied Mortgage Giving, the charitable arm of Applied Mortgage, a d/b/a of HarborOne Mortgage, LLC — is designed to positively influence and provide opportunities for the success of small businesses and nonprofits in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Applied Mortgage Giving will be partnering with the local chambers and United Ways, hoping to enhance these organizations’ opportunities to meet the specific needs of their communities. For more information or questions regarding the Vitality Grant, e-mail LaBonte at [email protected].

Westfield State Accepting Applications for Addiction Counselor Education Program

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Education is accepting applications for the 2020-21 addiction counselor education (ACE) program. Classes will be held evenings and weekends starting in September 2020 and ending in May 2021. The goal of this non-credit certificate program, offered at the university since 1991, is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and techniques necessary for the successful treatment of individuals and families afflicted by alcoholism and/or other drug addictions. This program has been highly instrumental in the professional development of individuals in Western Mass. who are either working or interested in the growing healthcare field of addiction services. To help with this mission, Westfield State also offers the ACE program at a satellite location, in Pittsfield, to help train potential counselors in the Berkshires area to fill critical positions in treatment facilities that are understaffed and unable to fill open positions. Applications for both programs are available online at www.westfield.ma.edu/ace. For more information, or to receive an application by mail, contact Brandon Fredette at [email protected] or (413) 572-8033.

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank Supports Resilience Fund

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) announced it has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to support its Resilience Fund for Farmers. This new fund was established in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting impact on local farmers, who are hurting right now as stores, restaurants, and other income-generating avenues like farmers’ markets and CSA are closed or operating in different, logistically challenging ways due to the virus. Despite these challenges, many farmers are reaching out to contribute healthy food to the neediest among us and sell as much as they can directly to consumers. The goal of the BAV Resilience Fund for Farmers is to support those who are experiencing business challenges as a result of COVID-19. Zero-interest, forgivable loans and grants will be provided to help farmers adapt to new realities, overcome significant income challenges, and ensure that farms remain viable and sustainable so they continue to meet demand for healthy, local foods. In addition to working with individual farmers, BAV also hopes to support strategies that avoid costly duplication of effort among farmers, such as developing coordinated delivery services. The first grant from the fund helped Roots Rising to pivot and establish the Berkshire County-wide Virtual Farmers Market, which in its first eight weeks served 1,400 households, gave $18,000 to neighbors in need, and generated $50,000 in sales to support the local food system. The grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank represents the first corporate support to the fund, which was established with a grant from a local family foundation. J. Jay Anderson, president and CEO of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, added that the bank “is proud to support the work of the Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the Resilience Fund for Farmers during this extraordinary time. At a time when local food systems and healthy food is important to our communities more than ever before, we thank them for their work.”

MCLA Receives Two Awards from Council for Advancement and Support of Education

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced it has received two awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement. The college received an Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance in the category of Public Liberal Arts Institutions and a Circle of Excellence Award for its 2018-19 President’s Report. This is the first year MCLA has been recognized by this program. The annual Educational Fundraising Awards recognize exemplary development programs based on a blind review of data submitted to the CASE Voluntary Support of Education survey. Winners are selected based on factors and variables that include, but are not limited to, patterns of growth, overall breadth of fundraising, amount raised per student, and alumni participation. The Circle of Excellence Awards recognize institutions whose staff members advanced their institutions through innovative, inspiring, and creative ideas. The awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, and deliver exceptional results. CASE judges commended the 2018-19 President’s Report, which was developed by MCLA’s Department of Marketing and Communications staff, on its theme and narrative flow, effective use of vintage and modern photographs and design elements, concise but not spare use of color, and the overall feeling of community it expressed, among other praise.

Company Notebook

Mill Town Buys Bousquet Mountain

PITTSFIELD — Mill Town, a community-impact investment firm, announced it has acquired Bousquet Mountain, one of the oldest ski areas in the country and a training ground for many top U.S. ski racers, from the Tamarack Ski Nominee Trust and owners Sherry and P.J. Roberts. The sale includes 155 acres across four parcels, including the summit of Yokun Ridge, 22 trails, multiple buildings, and operational equipment. “We are excited to keep Bousquet as a vital recreational resource for the region,” said Tim Burke, Mill Town’s CEO and managing director. “A significant focus of our work is to invest in and improve businesses, real estate, and outdoor recreational assets in Pittsfield to make it a stronger city and an appealing place for families and employers. Bousquet met all of these criteria. We plan to invest in the ski-operation infrastructure and the lodge, and we are excited to work with strong partners to enhance the on-mountain experience.” On that front, Mill Town and Berkshire East Mountain Resort of Charlemont announced a collaboration agreement. As part of this agreement, Berkshire East and Catamount management, including owners Jon and Jim Schaefer, will advise Bousquet on capital and operational decisions and investments. Bousquet will also be a component of the Berkshire Pass, joining Berkshire East and Catamount as the third mountain to be featured as part of this season-pass program. “We are thrilled to partner with Mill Town to ensure Bousquet will be a respected skiing and outdoor-recreation asset for years to come,” Jim and Jon Schaefer said. “Positioned between Berkshire East and Catamount, we feel that Bousquet will provide significant value to Berkshire Pass holders as another great skiing and riding option in Western Massachusetts. We think there is a great future here.”

Springfield College Students Assist with COVID-19 Data Project

SPRINGFIELD — Students from the Springfield College health science major have been working on a national project to track the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Students Yue Li, Ashley Tanner, Alexandra Christine Jones, Brenna Keefe, Dhruvi Patel, and Callie Dowd have been taking part in an internship to assist with this project. Participating students are responsible for tracking historical data and collecting daily data, as well as participating in special-interest team projects that include computer-based automation, data visualization, infectious disease, policy, social media, and fundraising. This internship is part of BroadStreet’s COVID-19 Data Project, a collaboration of more than 200 students, statisticians, epidemiologists, healthcare experts, and data scientists throughout the country, Springfield College Assistant Professor of Public Health Sofija Zagarins explained. The project is a collaboration of more than 40 colleges and universities throughout the U.S., bringing together people who are committed to having the most accurate, community-level data about COVID-19 positive tests and fatality rates. Along with Springfield College, colleges and universities also taking part include Harvard University, Yale University, Boston University, Temple University, and Duke University. Through BroadStreet’s COVID-19 Data Project Internship, healthcare professionals have access to data that can help them to improve how they spend their time and resources on improving community health. “We have been humbled by the outpouring of support, especially from the collegiate community,” BroadStreet co-founder Tracy Flood said. “We know that, right now, students have a unique set of challenges trying to navigate these difficult times. Despite this, we wanted to recognize students who have graciously donated their time and talent to our project.” For more information about the project, visit covid19dataproject.org to follow along with information and updates from the participants.

Eversource Completes Westfield Reliability Project

WESTFIELD — Eversource has completed construction of the Westfield Reliability Project, installing a three-mile-long electric circuit on an existing 115-kilovolt overhead transmission line in Westfield to help ensure the continued and safe delivery of reliable power. Part of the energy company’s work to ensure reliability for customers, the Westfield Reliability Project is one of many transmission upgrades to help meet the electric system’s evolving needs to support a clean-energy future. “With many people continuing to work and learn from home, the safe and reliable delivery of power has never been more essential than it is during these uncertain times,” said Eversource President of Transmission Bill Quinlan. “The completion of the Westfield Reliability Project is an exciting development in our efforts to serve our customers and to support economic growth in the future. As restoration and landscaping continue through the spring and summer, we will maintain close communication and collaboration with our host communities, property owners, and businesses while adhering to social distancing and other best practices to safeguard health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The power lines have been installed on existing structures along the right of way from the Pochassic substation, near Oakdale Avenue, to the Buck Pond substation near Medeiros Way. The Westfield Reliability Project also includes constructing new equipment adjacent to Eversource’s existing Pochassic substation and related upgrades to the Buck Pond substation. Eversource representatives have been working closely with city officials. As the energy company’s crews and contractors work to complete final construction activities, including environmental monitoring and reporting, they continue to follow strict safety precautions, including practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and using enhanced sanitation practices. “We are grateful to our host communities for their input and partnership throughout the planning process, as well as their understanding and patience, as we work together to serve the public during the pandemic,” Quinlan said. “We remain committed to being a good neighbor and environmental steward as this project will deliver benefits to the region for years to come.” This project is one of several designed to strengthen the electric system serving Pittsfield, Greenfield, and surrounding areas.

Area Nonprofits Receive $230,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Foundation

WORCESTER — A total of 25 Central and Western Mass. nonprofits have received nearly $230,000 from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation for COVID-19 relief efforts. Most organizations in the region received a $10,000 grant for supporting community needs during the pandemic, such as food access and meal delivery, services for older adults and immigrant families, social and community services, and emergency response. “Now more than ever, it is so critical to support our communities and organizations who are providing services to those residents of Central and Western Mass. impacted by COVID-19,” said Patrick Cahill, vice president and Massachusetts market lead for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the foundation’s parent company. “The impact of this pandemic is enormous, and right from the start, we responded to the immediate needs facing nonprofit partners and communities. We are very grateful to all who are helping to feed and care for our community members, and we are committed to supporting them in the weeks and months ahead.” Among the 25 recipients, the following 10 Western Mass. organizations received funding as part of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation’s COVID-19 Assistance Fund: Berkshire County Arc (Pittsfield), Gardening the Community (Springfield), Greater Springfield Senior Services (Springfield), Grow Food Northampton (Northampton), Just Roots Inc. (Greenfield), Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry (Chicopee), Nuestras Raices Inc. (Holyoke), Rooting Rises (Pittsfield), Stone Soup Café Inc. (Greenfield), and UMass Amherst. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation committed more than $3.5 million in initial grants for COVID-19 relief efforts in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Company Notebook

Olver Design Building Receives Architecture Institute’s Highest Honor

AMHERST — The American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced recently that the John W. Olver Design Building on the UMass Amherst campus is a winner this year of its highest honor, the COTE Top Ten Awards. Projects “illustrate the solutions architects have provided for the health and welfare of our communities and the planet,” the AIA citation says. Called the most technologically advanced CLT building in the country, the Design Building opened in 2017 to house the campus’s Department of Architecture, Building and Construction Technology Program (BCT), and Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. The BCT program developed some of the CLT technology used and has since been testing native Massachusetts wood species for CLT suitability. The building is named for former congressman and UMass Amherst Chemistry professor John Olver and was designed by Boston architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel. In 2014, Olver attended a talk by associate professor of Environmental Conservation Peggi Clouston of the BCT program. She noted how CLT construction using lower-quality wood was enjoying a comeback. Olver, recognizing an expanded use for regional wood, encouraged campus officials to consider adopting the new technology. Built of CLT timber and glue-laminated columns, the 87,000-square-foot Design Building saves the equivalent of more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon compared to a traditional energy-intense steel and concrete building. It uses 54% less energy than a typical campus building and is one of two in North America to use CLT for wind and seismic resistance. Its footprint once a parking lot, the building now includes a rooftop garden and rain-garden landscaping. A central courtyard highlights natural light while reducing heat loss. Its open central stairway invites visitors to take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Whittlesey Achieves Blue Partner Status with Datto

HARTFORD, Conn — Whittlesey announced it has achieved exclusive Blue partner status with Datto, the world’s leading provider of IT solutions delivered through managed service providers (MSPs). Datto Blue status represents the top 5% of the company’s partners worldwide. “We’ve been partnered with Datto since 2014,” said Mark Torello, partner in charge of Whittlesey Technology. “We’ve been growing with them as they’ve branched out from data backup and recovery products to networking, cloud continuity, and device management. The reliability of their products and services and outstanding customer and technical support have been consistently top‐notch and provided us the resources to accelerate our business growth. It’s an honor to be acknowledged for putting these products and tools to use and demonstrating success.” Whittlesey has exceeded high standards of performance to qualify for Blue status within Datto’s Global Partner Program, the highest classification provided by Datto. Blue status includes many exclusive programs and benefits designed to support further enablement and business growth.

TRE Olive Wins Two Awards at International Olive Oil Competition

EAST LONGMEADOW — TRE Olive, located in East Longmeadow, is both a Gold and Silver award winner at this year’s 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition. The NYIOOC is held each spring in New York and is the world’s largest and most prestigious olive oil contest. Its annual listing of award winners is considered the authoritative guide to the year’s best extra-virgin olive oils, according to Joe Maruca, co-owner of TRE Olive. TRE Olive won the Gold Award for Campo Dieci “Terra dei Nonni,” which means ‘land of our grandparents.’ The Silver was awarded for its TRE Olive Select. In addition to its award-winning extra-virgin olive oil, TRE Olive also offers a tree-adoption program. When an olive tree is adopted, the recipient will receive an adoption certificate, a gift box, a photo of their tree, a welcome brochure, and three tins of olive oil to get started. The tree is also tagged with the adoptee’s name for one year.

Paragus IT Named to Forbes ‘Small Giants’ List

HADLEY — Every year, Forbes publishes its “Small Giants” list highlighting 25 businesses “whose commitment to greatness over fast growth has enabled them to best serve their customers, employees, and communities.” This year, Paragus IT was recognized as an innovator in the small-business world, with Forbes citing the Hadley-based firm’s employee-ownership structure and mission to make IT fun, among other features. “It’s an honor to be included on such a diverse and amazing list of other small businesses around the country,” said Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus IT. “And it’s great that a magazine as prestigious as Forbes is committed to appreciating what makes small businesses great. As an employee-owned company, our employees, or partners, as we call them, were so excited to be recognized for our passion for making IT fun.”

Bacon Wilson Donates $10,000 to YMCA of Greater Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that the firm has recently completed a $10,000 contribution to the capital campaign for the YMCA of Greater Springfield. The pledge originated in the fall of 2019, as Bacon Wilson supported the YMCA’s transition from the former Chestnut Street location to the new Tower Square facility in downtown Springfield. “My partners and I are very pleased to be able to support the Springfield YMCA at this critical moment,” said attorney Kenneth Albano, Bacon Wilson’s managing partner. “Bacon Wilson is pleased to know our contribution will boost the mission and continuing good works of the YMCA of Greater Springfield.”

Bay Path Launches Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology

LONGMEADOW — As an onslaught of complex challenges, and the urgency to develop innovative solutions to meet them, promise to reshape higher education, Bay Path University announces the launch of a new master’s program in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) this fall. The fully online program will tap into Bay Path’s long-standing position as a leader in the use of emerging technologies, creative curricula, and learning analytics to train professionals looking to shape the ongoing evolution of higher education by applying technology to the development of innovative, accessible, and impactful learning processes. Designed by a broadly representative team of Bay Path faculty and staff, the LDT program was launched to give students a students a deep foundation in the tools and theory of learning design, technology innovation, learning analytics, and higher-education leadership, a foundation on which they can create engaging and innovative learning experiences for all students. Students will also have the opportunity to enroll jointly in Bay Path’s doctoral program in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Studies (HELOS) and carry out applied, real-world learning design projects. While the launch comes at a time when the coronavirus has transformed campuses, Bay Path has used technology to pioneer unique teaching and learning formats and offer flexible, dynamic, and personalized educational experiences for 20 years. The university’s diverse student population includes its traditional on-campus undergraduates, online graduate students, and online adult learners obtaining bachelor’s degrees through the American Women’s College. 

Food Insecurity Prompts Big Y to Make Second Round of Donations

SPRINGFIELD — With regional food banks experiencing unprecedented demand, Big Y is providing an additional $125,000 in support to address the rise in food insecurity. With the donations made in March, Big Y has provided $250,000 in financial assistance to area food banks in addition to the healthy surplus food it provides to them on a weekly basis. Using the estimate that every dollar donated provides four meals, the Big Y financial assistance amounts to 1 million meals. The donation will be split equally by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Worcester County Food Bank, and the Greater Boston Food Bank in Massachusetts, as well as Foodshare and the Connecticut Food Bank in Connecticut. As part of its commitment to hunger relief in its neighborhoods and ongoing partnerships with regional food banks, Big Y provided an estimated $11.5 million of healthy surplus food to these organizations in 2019. This food donation amounts to an estimated 5.7 million meals, two-thirds of which include donations of meat and fresh produce as well as bakery and non-perishable grocery items. Frozen food and dairy products account for one-third of the annual donation.

MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge Announces Three Winners

NORTH ADAMS — Although this year’s Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge, held May 4-8, was a virtual affair, the college community still came together to view and vote for the three finalists’ pitches. The finalists, all seniors, who pitched their business ideas via video, were David Flight, Kimberly Granito, and Sierra Lamonde. The students were coached through a series of deliverables — determining a solution to a problem, developing a budget and business plan as the road map for the project or business, and presenting before a panel of judges. Granito’s Detailing Dream won first place, which came with a $7,500 award. Lamonde’s Pyrography Crafts placed second, for a $5,000 award, and Flight’s Settling the States won the $2,500 third-place award. The startup funding awards aim to cover inventory, equipment, and marketing costs for the three new businesses. Granito’s winning business, Detailing Dream, is a car-detailing service meant to cater to people who may think they don’t have the time or money for such a service. Granito’s packages include lower-cost options that other companies don’t offer because they usually cater to luxury cars. Unlike most of her competitors, Granito’s business would also include a mobile option where she would come to the customer, so they could take advantage of the service without leaving their home or office. Second-place winner Lamonde said her business, Pyrography Crafts, aims to bring joy to customers by creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wood burnings of people, pets and other animals, cartoons, and more. Flight’s Settling the States is a company that designs legacy board games inspired by the geographical regions of the U.S. The company’s first product, Settling New England, has players compete against each other to survive the changing seasons to become legend settlers.

Monson Savings Bank Announces New Loan & Operations Center

MONSON — Because Monson Savings Bank continues to grow by adding new positions and new personnel, and has outgrown some of its spaces, some employees are moving this week into a new, 12,000-square-foot office space on the top floor at 75 Post Office Park in Wilbraham. This location will be the new Monson Savings Bank Loan & Operations Center. The following departments will be moving: Commercial Lending, Residential Lending, Collections, Compliance, Retail Administration, Retail Operations, Business Development, Municipal Banking, and E-Banking. The main branch and corporate headquarters will still be located in Monson.

Taylor Real Estate Moving to Liberty Street in Easthampton

EASTHAMPTON — Taylor Real Estate, which is celebrating 65 years of operation this year, announced it will move to a new location on Liberty Street in Easthampton this month. Chuck Conner, a third-generation owner of the business founded by his grandfather in 1955, said the new office space offers convenient off-street parking for clients and staff as well as on-site storage for the firm’s plentiful ‘for sale’ signage, and a newer, brighter workspace for staff. He noted that the move is symbolic of moving the firm into the future, when ownership and operations will be assumed by his daughters, Megan Conner and Danica Achin, both licensed Realtors with the firm. In addition to working with buyers and sellers, Megan handles administration and advertising, and Achin is the rental division manager. Additional change has come in the form of new technology that allows a digital approach to marketing and communication and the execution of documentation. Houses can be shown to potential buyers via virtual visits made possible by professional photography, and closing papers can be signed electronically.

Company Notebook

Country Bank Donates $75,000 as Part of ‘Neighbors in Need’ Program

WARE — As the pandemic continues to disrupt business activities both nationally and in Massachusetts, Country Bank announced a $75,000 series of donations designed to assist organizations on the front lines. As the latest installment in a string of recent financial support, the bank will be facilitating donations to select organizations throughout its market from Springfield to Worcester. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will each receive $25,000 to provide additional grant funding for critical-needs programs. These programs offer support for vulnerable seniors, those without stable housing, with limited English proficiency, and with compromised health conditions, including mental health and drug addiction. Other programs receiving a contribution include: Springfield Rescue Mission and Friends of the Homeless in Springfield; and Abby’s House, Saint John’s Food Pantry, and the Boys and Girls Club in Worcester. These donations will assist in continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in their communities. Many nonprofit organizations are not only combating reduced financial support as many businesses are closed, but also face a lack of volunteers, and have to continually evolve how they support their clients while keeping everyone safe on a limited budget and with limited resources. “This is an uncharted time for our bank, our customers, and our local business community. As part of our effort to assist those most affected by COVID-19, Country Bank has already donated $400,000 to help local hospitals, first-responder recovery centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, children, and community foundations,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We continually look for opportunities where we can help make a difference in the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Westfield Bank Future Fund Announces 2019 Giving Totals

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that the Future Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to supporting local 501(c)(3) organizations that have a positive impact on the region’s educational, recreational, cultural, and social well-being, awarded more than $300,000 to more than 40 organizations in Western Mass. and Northern Conn. in 2019. Grant recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Domus Inc., Farmington Valley YMCA, Friends of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Girls Inc. of the Valley, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Spirit of Springfield, and the YMCA of Greater Westfield. According to James Hagan, and CEO of Westfield Bank, the Future Fund awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to qualifying organizations whose applications are accepted. “There are so many people and groups in our communities that have devoted themselves to making life better for all of us, and especially the young people who represent our future, and we know that supplying needed services presents financial and logistical challenges that grow with each passing year,” he said. “The Future Fund, and Westfield Bank, are dedicated to providing needed support to worthy organizations that enrich and define life in the towns and cities we serve.” In addition to the Future Fund grants, Westfield Bank contributed more than $400,000 to help sponsor community and performing-arts events, youth sports teams, fundraisers, and more. The bank also donated more than $500,000 to local organizations via the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, an affiliate of Westfield Bank. In total, Westfield Bank provided more than $1.2 million in local and regional philanthropic support in 2019.

Springfield College AmeriCorps, Parent Villages Begin Mask Project

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Springfield College AmeriCorps program are partnering with Parent Villages Inc. and other local nonprofits to lead the Village Engagement Matters initiative, a program committed to providing community members with face masks at no cost to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The initial distribution of protective facemasks took place on May 12 at three meal-distribution sites located at Springfield elementary schools. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have been assisting with the production of the masks, and also helping with the planning of the distribution efforts. “Giving back to our community is always something we have done in our family, and we are committed to helping with this project,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps member and social-work student Molly Glynn. “My mom and I started making masks for our family members, but that quickly has turned into helping our community as well. What I like about the Olson mask pattern we are using is, it provides a pattern to make masks for both adults and kids, and the pattern also allows for a pocket on the inside for a micron filter to help those individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.” Added Parent Villages Inc. CEO Lakisha Coppedge, “the Parent Villages organization always tries to stay in touch and learn about items that community members really need, and obviously right now the masks are at a high demand. Springfield College stepped up to the plate to help, and we can’t thank the college enough to make this project a reality, and always being there to help our community members.” During these challenging times of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield College AmeriCorps members continue to seek opportunities to serve the Greater Springfield area, including volunteering their time making sure the Village Engagement Matters initiative is a success. “It really means a lot to have AmeriCorps members finding ways to support others,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Director LaTonia Naylor. “We continue to live our Humanics mission at Springfield College of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. It brings me so much joy to watch people step up and show love and support for our community members.”

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces EFSP Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been appointed administrator for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, which appropriated supplemental funding in the amount of $194,555 for Phase 37 and $277,380 for CARES grants. With a board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV will determine funding allocation through a competitive application process. These funds will be used to supplement existing food and shelter services, and cannot be given to start new programs. Funding for Phase 37 and CARES-funded grants is now available. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Hampden County, South Hadley, or Granby may apply. Allocations are to be applied toward supplementing existing food and shelter services. Applications are due by Friday, May 22 at noon. For information or to apply, contact Nicole Young, manager of Community Investments, at [email protected]

Vann Group Becomes Licensed Practioner of Predictable Success

SPRINGFIELD — The Vann Group, LLC announced that Michael Vann has recently become a licensed practioner of the Predictable Success, a business-growth methodology that over the last 30 years has been used to scale hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Widely recognized as one of the most powerful organizational growth models available, Predictable Success was developed by Les McKeown, a successful entrepreneur and business-growth advisor. McKeown is the author of the bestselling book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, as well as the companion book, The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success. Until recently, access to the full model was available only through McKeown. Michael Vann is part of the first cohort of licensed practioners. “I’ve been working with growth models for the past 20 years but have never come across one as powerful as Predictable Success. It isn’t an academic model or a hypothetical theory; it’s a proven, real-world process that enables any organization to scale successfully,” Vann said. “What I find really valuable about Predictable Success is its ability to get to the root cause of an organization’s issues rather than trying to solve symptoms. It integrates very well with our core methodology and tool set. It has been a great addition for our clients that are looking to grow and build value.” Les McKeown, the founder and CEO of Predictable Success, noted that “I’m absolutely delighted to have Michael join our growing group of licensed practitioners. Michael’s background as a trusted advisor and consultant makes him a stellar addition to our group, and I know his existing client base will benefit enormously from his access to the Predictable Success growth model, especially in these precarious times.” The Predictable Success model is intuitive and non-complex and can easily be implemented with the completion of a workshop. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, the Vann Group has several Predictable Success workshops approved under the Express Grant Program. The program will reimburse eligible businesses for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Contact the Vann Group for additional information.

Pioneer Valley College Students Recognized for Entrepreneurship

AGAWAM — Eighty-six students from 14 local colleges and universities recently received awards for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with 55 unique businesses and business concepts represented. News of the 2020 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards came at about the same time as participating students’ semesters were disrupted by COVID-19. Soon thereafter, the annual entrepreneurship banquet, where more than 450 people were scheduled to attend to celebrate these students, was canceled. The Grinspoon EI class of 2020 received their award checks of up to $1,000 by mail, and they and continue to be mentored by their Grinspoon EI faculty advisors. This year’s entrepreneurial class represents many diverse concepts and businesses. Some examples include:

• Bac-Be-Gone, bacteriocin-based cleaning products (Hadley Beauregard, Hailey Charest, and Bryanna Lexus Freitas, UMass Amherst);

• Keifer Games, a clever tabletop game for creative thinkers (Matthew Kiefer, UMass Amherst);

• Nashion, a new material for salon gel nails (Sona Kim, Amherst College);

• PAL, a prosthetic airliner medical device (Courtney Carlson, Kelsey Hastings, and Olivia Truenow, Western New England University); and

• Slacktyde, eco-art and eco-friendly clothing (Camila Mirow, Mount Holyoke College).

Mary Schoonmaker, Grinspoon EI faculty advisor and assistant professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, noted that “the Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards are foundational to building entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Past and present recipients have appreciated the confidence building and encouragement to advance their innovations.” This year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Award went to Justin Park, founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a direct-to-consumer sports-betting data and iGaming affiliate platform. This annual award is given to a former Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner who has advanced their entrepreneurial endeavors. It is named after Grinspoon’s original business partners, Tom Garvey and Bill Young. “The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation has provided me with encouragement since 2012 to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship,” Park said.

Company Notebook

Community Foundation Gives $341,000 Through Innovation Grant Program

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ (CFWM) Innovation Grant Program has awarded a total of $341,000 to three change-making nonprofit organizations to continue creating innovative solutions around critical issues facing the region. CFWM’s Innovation Grant Program was launched in 2016 to encourage nonprofits to develop and execute novel ideas in partnership with other entities, as well as allow organizations to construct inventive solutions with measurable impact. In January 2018, CFWM awarded first-year funding to Five Colleges Inc., the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity to implement innovative projects that were refined and tested during a planning period in 2017. Now entering their third year of funding, these grantees are seeing the tangible impact of their work. Twenty paraprofessionals of color are making their way toward receiving their licensure to become a full-fledged teachers, food-insecure patients are being identified and referred to healthy-food opportunities, and small homes have been built and are being occupied by first-time homebuyers. Five Colleges Inc. will continue to develop its “Paradigm Shift” initiative and bring in new partners. This initiative is focused on creating a more diverse teacher workforce in Western Mass. by helping para-educators of color overcome obstacles to obtaining licensure to become teachers in area schools. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will spend its third year expanding and analyzing the impact of its Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Initiative that conducts and tracks food insecurity screening and social-service referrals at the Holyoke Health Center and its Chicopee location. Additionally, it will partner with WestMass ElderCare and Springfield Senior Services to address the food needs of patients who screen positive for food insecurity and have a specific medical condition. Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity will continue with a third year of its “Big Enough: the Small Home Revolution in Western Mass.” initiative, which aims to launch more individuals and families into the middle class by empowering them to become first-time owners of small, simple, affordable, energy-efficient homes.

MBK Donates $10,000 to MHA for Crisis-intervention Training

SPRINGFIELD — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., (MBK) recently made a $10,000 donation to the Mental Health Assoc. Inc. (MHA) to fund non-violent crisis-intervention training for MHA’s direct-care staff. “To train in non-violent crisis intervention is an important professional-development opportunity for MHA staff,” said Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA Inc. “MHA does not use physical restraint in any form, so our staff members need skills to safely de-escalate and manage challenging behaviors in a non-violent manner. Our training curriculum from the Crisis Prevention Institute goes further by also helping better equip our staff to prevent difficult situations from escalating.” The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) is an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior-management methods that focus on prevention. Since 1980, more than 10 million professionals around the world have participated in CPI training programs.

HCC Extends Scholarship Application Deadline

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has extended by two weeks the deadline to apply for scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year. The new application deadline is Wednesday, April 8. Students must be currently enrolled at HCC or have been accepted for the upcoming academic year to be eligible for scholarships, which are awarded through the HCC Foundation, HCC’s nonprofit fundraising corporation. Awards totaling more than $200,000 are available for incoming, continuing, and transferring HCC students. Applicants need only to fill out a single online form to be automatically matched with the scholarships they are most qualified to receive. There are scholarships for new students, current students and students transferring to other institutions, scholarships based on financial need, scholarships for students in specific majors, scholarships for residents of certain communities, and scholarships that recognize academic achievement. For the 2019-20 academic year, the HCC Foundation awarded $223,000 in scholarships to 231 students. To begin the application process, visit www.hcc.edu/scholarships. Questions should be directed to the HCC Foundation office at (413) 552-2182 or Donahue 170 on the HCC campus, 303 Homestead Ave.

PTK Honor Society Presents ACC with Awards During Virtual Ceremony

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College’s Alpha Lambda Zeta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was recognized as being the Most Distinguished Chapter for the New England Region during a virtual awards ceremony held last weekend. The chapter and its members were awarded other honors during its first-ever virtual ceremony. These awards included Distinguished College Project Award and Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award. The chapter elected to do its Honors in Action project within a Politics of Identity theme. Working with various departments at the college, as well as outside agencies, including the Jordan Porco Foundation, the students concentrated on the issue of mental-health awareness. They also established an interactive exhibit on mental-health issues at Asnuntuck, with a digitized version, titled “Art|Mind,” available for those who could not make it to campus. The college project focused on getting information into the hands of students through campus brochures and during the college’s orientation. Asnuntuck student Victoria Orifice was awarded first-place honors for being the Distinguished Chapter Officer.

Beta Gamma Sigma at WNEU Earns Highest Chapter Recognition

SPRINGFIELD — For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. According to Beta Gamma Sigma CEO Chris Carosella, earning highest honors “is indicative of a campus where academic excellence is highly valued and where the faculty and chapter leaders work diligently to enhance Beta Gamma Sigma’s stature on campus.” One indicator of this engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide.

Junior Achievement of Western Mass. Receives Five Star Award

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts has been awarded one of Junior Achievement USA’s highest honors: the Five Star Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize staff and boards of JA areas that meet Junior Achievement’s national standards in operational efficiency and through strong representation of the JA brand. Recipients must demonstrate growth in student impact and superior fiscal performance. Achievement against these criteria is certified through JA USA and audited financial statements. Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which serves more than 13,000 students throughout Western Mass. and Vermont, will be presented with the award in July at Junior Achievement USA’s National Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Robinson Donovan Moves to Expanded Northampton Location

NORTHAMPTON — Robinson Donovan, P.C., a full-service law firm, announced it has moved from its previous Northampton office to a more expansive location at 351 Pleasant St. The firm’s phone number, (413) 732-2301, remains the same. “We wanted to make things as convenient as possible for our growing list of clients in Hampshire County,” Partner Michael Simolo said. “We can now meet with them more comfortably. The response from clients has been very positive.” Partner Jeffrey Trapani, added that “our new office in Northampton has plenty of meeting space, free parking, and easier access. Quite a few of our attorneys live in Hampshire County, so having an expanded office in Northampton makes sense for us operationally as well and helps us better serve our clients throughout the Pioneer Valley.”

Behavioral Health Network Receives $15,000 Grant from Country Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $15,000 grant from Country Bank, which will fund direct services for BHN’s domestic-violence programs in Ware. Country Bank’s grant to BHN will be used for innovative support and advocacy services for domestic-violence survivors, which includes partnering with Country Bank employees in offering the economic-freedom initiative known as Money School. BHN’s Money School program is an award-winning, trauma-informed financial-independence initiative designed to create long-term safety and economic security for survivors of domestic violence. The grant will also be used to provide prevention-education work in local schools, and for interruption and prevention services for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Springfield WORKS Programs to Benefit from State Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield WORKS leads local employers, educators, community leaders, and job seekers in developing innovative solutions to meet the economic needs of area residents and local businesses. A founding member in the Springfield WORKS collaboration, Springfield Partners for Community Action, recently received a second $50,000 award from the Baker-Polito Community Services Block Grant Special Projects Fund to support Springfield WORKS financial-wellness strategies. This award comes on the heels of a recent $100,000 Baker-Polito Urban Agenda Grant to Springfield WORKS and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. The funds will enable families to achieve economic stability as they navigate workforce-development training into a career pathway.

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