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SPRINGFIELD — This year’s Women of Impact celebration has a new twist — the selection, through social-media activity, of the People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact.

BusinessWest solicitated nominations from the community for young women who are already making a difference in the community. From several dozen nominations, the five finalists are:

Yosola-Camille Dawou, Founder and Owner of the Black Room in Holyoke

A ballet dancer and entrepreneur, Dawou is a young woman of impact on many levels, but especially through the creation of her venture — the Black Room. Launched in 2020, this business builds and unifies the community through black culture and art. The Black Room offers individuals and businesses the opportunity to tell black community members’ stories and stimulate conversations by commissioning custom indoor and outdoor educational installations of black art, history, and culture to highlight significant cultural contributions of African-Americans.

April Doroski, Environmental Scientist at Tighe & Bond Inc. in Westfield

Doroski is making an impact in her chosen field as well as in the community. An environmental scientist, in 2020 she became a certified professional soil scientist. Within the community, she is active on many levels — as a volunteer for the Connecticut River Source to Sea Cleanup, chair of Tighe & Bond’s STEM Initiatives Subcommittee, the organizer of a book drive for a Westfield classroom, and creator of a unique fundraiser — a nature photography calendar — to raise money for the Clean Air Task Force.

Evelyn Humphries, Student at Longmeadow High School

Following the June 1, 2011 tornado, Humphries, then a second-grader, created a lemonade stand and single-handedly raised $1,215 to support victims of that disaster. Over the past decade, she has consistently built on this track record of service to the community, especially during the pandemic. She is an officer of the Rachel’s Table Teen Board and has continued her efforts to solicit donations for local pantries and soup kitchens. She is also a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Board, the Key Club at Longmeadow High School, and Girls Inc. of the Valley.

Miren Neyra Alcantara, Student at Holyoke Community College

Alcantara is an outstanding student, and in many ways an activist scholar who has a passion for helping others. As president of the Latinx Empowerment Assoc., she has spearheaded many fundraising and community events. Outside of HCC, she actively volunteers within many organizations, including Climate Change Theater Action, Common Share Food Co-op, Gateway City Arts, Wistariahurst, and SPARK Reproductive Justice. In 2020, she took part in the Planting Literacy program, which strives to help immigrants improve their literacy skills.

Tanya Vital-Basile, Owner/Broker at Executive Real Estate in Springfield

Vital-Basile is a successful business owner — she’s taken Executive Real Estate to dramatic and consistent growth — and a young woman of impact on many levels. She has long been active in the community, but has stepped up those efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has organized a number of food, toy, and clothing drives to support those hurt by this crisis and, beyond that, has provided employment opportunties to many people, including some previously unemployed, thus enabling many to find success and better quality of life through her efforts.

The winner will be based on likes and impressions on BusinessWest’s social-media channels on Facebook (@BusinessWestJournal) and Instagram (@businesswest_hcn). To share and drive buzz to a finalist, use the hashtag #BWwomen. Voting will end on Monday, Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m., and the winner will be announced during the Women of Impact virtual event on Thursday, Jan. 28.

This year’s Women of Impact honorees include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet.

The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor), and Chikmedia (social-media sponsor).

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) and four area restaurants partnered in December to raise money to support BBBSHC’s youth-mentoring programs.

The four restaurant partners were located throughout Hampden County and included Springfield’s Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, Hampden’s La Cucina di Hampden House, Wilbraham’s Blue Elephant Restaurant, and Holyoke’s Delaney House.

Staff, board members, and volunteers from BBBSHC delivered close to 100 dinners to more than 40 donors during four Fridays in December. Participants chose from customized menus created specifically for the fundraiser.

BBBSHC Executive Director David Beturne formed the partnerships as a creative way to raise funds for his organization during a trying time that has seen revenues and staffing levels cut by more than half. BBBSHC captured 50% of the revenue, and the restaurant partners captured the remaining 50%. Between the fundraiser itself and a sponsorship from Freedom Credit Union, BBBSHC was able to pull in just over $7,000.

Beturne and the remaining staff at BBBSHC know their work of keeping children in Hampden County connected may look different at this time, but is even more important. There are 219 matches at the moment, with a handful of new matches looking forward to meeting for the first time in the coming weeks. One former pair still get together to bake Christmas cookies even though the ‘little’ is 22, showing just how lasting these connections can be. The staff at BBBSHC continues to keep children in Hampden County connected, even during a pandemic.

Daily News

AMHERST — In partnership with Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, UMass Amherst announced it will expand its role in distributing COVID-19 vaccines, providing vaccinations for the foreseeable future in concert with the criteria and timeline of the state’s phased vaccination plan.

Currently, the Commonwealth is in phase one of vaccine distribution, with first responders, COVID-facing healthcare workers (including college health staff), and congregate care and shelter staff eligible to receive the vaccine at the UMass facility. All eligible individuals must schedule an appointment in advance for the vaccine at www.umass.edu/coronavirus/vaccine.

“We are proud to devote our time, energy, and expertise to expanding the Commonwealth’s vaccination program,” UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “This effort reflects our deep commitment to public service. Our clinic is staffed through the invaluable assistance of the UMass College of Nursing, with our nursing students providing critical support while also gaining clinical experience to administer vaccinations.”

The vaccination clinic, launched Jan. 11, is run by the university’s Public Health Promotion Center. This week, it will be open today, Jan. 20, from 1 to 6 p.m. Currently, the vaccine clinic is administering the Moderna vaccine, which includes two doses administered 28 days apart.

The clinic is being conducted at the UMass Amherst Campus Center, 1 Campus Center Way. Free parking is available at the nearby Campus Center Parking Garage. Times and hours of the clinic are likely to vary depending on vaccine availability and the state’s distribution plans. Visit the university’s vaccine website for updates.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton’s historic Academy of Music Theatre announced its “We Care!” campaign, which will expand and renovate the public restrooms in the 130-year-old landmark to provide more toilets and sinks and upgrade the facilities for cleanliness and hygiene.

Among the improvements slated for the $325,000 project are the expansion of the existing restroom facilities and the installation of new plumbing, HEPA-filtered hand dryers, touch-free toilet and sink fixtures, and partitions to serve a larger patron population, according to Debra J’Anthony, executive director of the independent nonprofit arts organization that manages the city-owned building.

“With more than 60,000 patrons each year attending live performances, films, and educational programs, the need to expand the restrooms with added safety measures is due,” J’Anthony said.

The size of the ‘stalls only’ restroom (previously referred to as the women’s restroom) will be expanded to include 10 new water-efficient toilet stalls. Four new touch-free sinks will be added.

The ‘stalls and urinals’ restroom (previously referred to as the men’s restroom) will also be expanded, replacing the two existing toilet stalls and three existing urinals with four new water-efficient toilet stalls and four water-efficient urinals. The design of this restroom will provide privacy separation between the stalls and urinals so the stalls may be used gender-neutrally. Both restrooms will have new, state-of-the-art heat and ventilation installed, which will exhaust 100% of the room air, continuously bringing in fresh outside air. Both restrooms will receive new wall, floor, and ceiling finishes. These renovations will provide better service and a safer environment for the patrons of the theater.

The project is led by Northampton-based Thomas Douglas Architects, whose previous design for the renovation of the Academy of Music’s auditorium earned a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award.

The Academy secured $225,000 last winter for the project from state and foundation sources, including the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Funds, Smith College, and the Beveridge Family Foundation. The “We Care!” campaign aims to raise the remaining $100,000 from the Pioneer Valley community.

“We plan to have these improvements completed before we reopen in the fall and welcome our community back,” J’Anthony said.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of Big Y Foods Inc. announced the promotion of two third-generation D’Amour family members. Colin D’Amour has been named senior director of the Big Y Express Gas & Convenience Stores division, and Christian D’Amour is director of E-commerce. Both appointments represent new and expanding divisions within the company.

Colin’s responsibilities include oversight of store operations, site selection, site acquisition, and day-to-day responsibility for product procurement, including fuel for the division. Currently, there are 12 Big Y Express locations, with four more planned for the coming year.

Previously, he served as senior manager of Procurement within Big Y’s Real Estate and Development team, as well as a member of the real-estate committee, where he remains involved in evaluating viable expansion opportunities across all operating formats. In addition, he oversees multiple programs and initiatives with Topco Associates, a Chicago-based, member-owned cooperative.

Colin began working as a service clerk at Big Y Supermarkets in 1998 at age 14 and went on to hold several positions. In 2007, he accepted a commission with the U.S. Marine Corps as second lieutenant, ultimately earning the rank of captain. In 2010, he was deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While serving in the Marine Corps, he was both a purchasing officer and a construction manager in support of the Afghan National Security Forces throughout his area of operations.

In 2014, he left active duty in the Marines and returned to Big Y by entering into its store-director training program. One year later, he was appointed assistant store director in the Great Barrington market. By 2016, he was promoted to store director in Pittsfield and later Lee, before being selected as a corporate center store sales manager until 2019.

A graduate of Boston College, he holds personal decorations from his military service, including both the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation and Achievement Medals.

Christian is responsible for Big Y’s e-commerce platform, which currently includes relationships with Instacart for grocery home deliveries and DoorDash for prepared-meal home deliveries. In addition to these services, he will be launching Big Y’s MyPicks Online ordering, in which customers will be able to order groceries online for curbside pickup or home delivery.

Like Colin, Christian began his career at Big Y at age 14 as a service clerk. After college, he was a sales and marketing representative for an insurance company based in Providence, R.I. He rejoined Big Y as a store-director trainee in 2014. One year later, he was appointed assistant store director in the Wilbraham World Class Market. In 2016, he was promoted to store director in Southampton. He next went on to manage the Wilbraham market before being tapped as store manager at Table & Vine’s flagship location in West Springfield.

In 2019, Christian was appointed a district sales and merchandising mentor for Big Y’s 15-store district within Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. In this role, he was responsible for all sales, merchandising, and store team development across all departments. He also continued to oversee the operations of the company’s Table & Vine flagship.

Christian holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Michael’s college in Vermont and spent a semester studying at the National University of Ireland at Galway.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Luz Lopez, executive director of MetroCare of Springfield, and Annamarie Golden, director of Community Relations for Baystate Health, will be the featured presenters on Wednesday, Jan. 27, for the first Holyoke Community College (HCC) Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series of 2021.

The spring Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of January, February, March, April, and May.

Once a month, participants will join a group of women leaders to discuss current issues and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network of women leaders to help navigate their careers.

The theme of the first session is “Compassion Fatigue.”

“I think many of us are feeling exhausted from all the work and life adjustments we’ve had to make in 2020,” said Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development. “There couldn’t be a better time to get together with a small group of like-minded women to get feedback and professional support for the new year. Whether you’re at the beginning or middle of your career, this is a great opportunity to boost your outlook and skills.”

Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics.

On Feb. 24: Lynn Turner, coach and business strategist with Clear Vision Alliance Inc., and Moe Belliveau, executive director of the Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, will discuss “Maintaining Power and Grace with Glass Ceilings.”

On March 31, the topic will be “Women’s Leadership from a Male Perspective,” with presenters to be determined. The topic and presenters for April 28 are also to be determined.

On May 26, Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and Jess Roncarati-Howe, the organization’s program director, will discuss “Leading Through Change.”

Sessions cost $20 each, or $50 for the full, five-session series. Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/leadership-luncheons.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — The monthly virtual Lunch and Learn series at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence announced that attorney Michael Hooker, an elder-law and estate-planning specialist, will talk about planning for and paying for elder care on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Hooker’s law practice is focused solely on elder law; he is a frequent public speaker and has written extensively on topics of elder law and planning for care.

“How to Pay for Your Healthcare as You Get Older” will be presented from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. and followed at 11:15 a.m. by a question-and-answer session and a raffle. A welcome and virtual tour will precede the presentation at 10 a.m.

RSVP to Christina Tuohey at (413) 567-6212 or [email protected]. A confirmation and Zoom invite will be e-mailed to attendees prior to the meeting.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition (ESE), was elected chairman of the International Assoc. of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) during the organization’s annual business meeting.

“I am excited to be leading our trade association during this crucial, unprecedented tim,” Cassidy said. “We have recently embarked on the first year of a new decade, and with it, we will have new approaches to our business. We will find creative new ways to conduct our business, and we will struggle through the end days of this pandemic, carrying on with our missions intact, and the public gratified for how we support the most wholesome way of life on earth.”

He added, “we are all engaged in making our industry, the events we produce, the propagation of agriculture, and our missions better.”

Cassidy will serve in this international leadership role for 2021, spearheading the direction of the international group of fairs. The IAFE currently has 911 member fairs and affiliated organizations worldwide.

The theme for IAFE 2021 is “Grow Fair Strong,” with a focus on growing as in all things agriculture, but also the growth in fairs and the economies they impact in the wake of the pandemic.

Cassidy joined ESE as director of Finance in 1993 and was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2011. He assumed the position of president and CEO in 2012 and is the exposition’s seventh CEO in its 105-year history. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and accounting from Western New England University.

He serves as vice chairman of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, treasurer of the Western Massachusetts chapter of Legatus, treasurer and board member of MassHire Hampden County, member of the Springfield Technical Community College Foundation board, finance board member at St. Mary’s Parish, and board member at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

He is also accredited as a certified fair executive by the IAFE and has served the organization as treasurer, second vice president, and first vice president before assuming his role as chairman. He is also actively involved as a member of the budget and finance and program committees, is a frequent presenter at IAFE meetings on a national level, and served as program chair of the organization’s international convention in Las Vegas in 2010.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for first- and second-draw applications on Jan. 15. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, Jan. 19 to all participating PPP lenders.

“A second round of PPP could not have come at a better time, and the SBA is making every effort to ensure small businesses have the emergency financial support they need to continuing weathering this time of uncertainty,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said. “SBA has worked expeditiously to ensure our policies and systems are relaunched so that this vital small-business aid helps communities hardest-hit by the pandemic. I strongly encourage America’s entrepreneurs needing financial assistance to apply for a first- or second-draw PPP loan.”

First-draw PPP Loans are for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before Aug. 8. The first round of the PPP, which ran from March to August 2020, helped 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.

Second-draw PPP loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or fewer that previously received a first-draw PPP loan and will use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a second-draw PPP loan is $2 million.

Updated PPP lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

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SPRINGFIELD — The building at 157 Pine St. served the people of Springfield for generations as a fire station, before being retired from service 25 years ago and converted into 16 studio and one-bedroom apartments. Today it’s home to people with developmental disabilities who receive support services through MHA.

During the conversion to apartments, the building’s heating system received some upgrades, but time has taken its toll. “Our facilities team has managed to keep the heating system afloat, but Band-Aid fixes can only do so much for so long,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president of Resource Development & Branding for MHA. “It’s just a matter of time before it will fail, and then we’d face the enormous challenge of trying to find places to live for all these folks, on top of finding a way to get the old heating system to work again. The obvious solution is a new heating system, but that would only be possible with the support of a community partner.”

Lee reached out to the Beveridge Family Foundation and made a grant request for $50,000 to fund the project. After evaluating the project, the Beveridge Foundation awarded MHA the full amount.

“Because of this generous grant, MHA is now able to request bids for a full-scale heating-plant renovation,” Lee said. “The result will be a more reliable, more energy-efficient heat and hot-water system to keep our residents safe and comfortable. What’s more, with new technology and warranties in place, our facilities team and outreach staff will have peace of mind that enables them to focus on what matters: the people we serve. We expect to move forward with the project in the spring. We are excited that we’ll be able to invest in a system that is built to last for many, many years to come.”

Ward Caswell, Beveridge Family Foundation president, noted that MHA has a “strong record of impactful service and financial stability, they have demonstrated their ability to meet a critical community need, and they work to support vulnerable persons who need our help. Having a significant role in an agency’s ability to directly impact the overall health and wellness of the persons they serve is incredibly satisfying.”

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest and the Healthcare News celebrated the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020 with a free virtual event on Jan. 14. You can view the entire event, as well as videos from our sponsors, online by clicking this link.

This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield.

The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

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SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College announced it has received the largest gift in support of financial aid in its history. Alumna Liz Cochary Gross and Philip Gross have committed $10 million to be directed to scholarships and financial aid.

“With this gift, my husband Phill and I hope to inspire others to invest,” said Liz Gross, a 1979 graduate and a member of the Mount Holyoke board of trustees. “We need to ensure students with diverse backgrounds and from a wide variety of economic circumstances have the opportunity to join the Mount Holyoke community and thrive as student scholars and change agents.”

Nancy Nordhoff, a 1954 graduate, also committed $1 million to support future Mount Holyoke students across the economic spectrum.

“When I heard about the $10 million gift, I found myself wanting to jump right in to support the financial aid and scholarships,” Nordhoff said. “I’m proud to be part of giving, and I encourage others to join us.”

These two gifts are the seed for Mount Holyoke’s new Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge. This challenge offers donors the opportunity to double — or triple — their impact with their endowment gifts.

“The Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge is an investment in the future — the future of Mount Holyoke College and the futures of the talented students who will benefit from the education and the financial support that these endowed scholarships make possible,” President Sonya Stephens said. “I am deeply grateful to Liz and Phill Gross for their generosity, and for inspiring others to join them in their commitment to the college, its students, and the affordability of an outstanding liberal-arts education.”

For first-time donors to endowed financial aid, the Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge will match two dollars for every one dollar contributed for gifts between $50,000 and $250,000. For repeat endowed financial-aid donors, the challenge will match new gift commitments between $50,000 and $250,000 dollar for dollar.

The college is seeking to raise at least $20 million in new gifts and commitments over the next 18 months. As of Jan. 14, Mount Holyoke has already secured more than $5 million in gifts and commitments toward this effort, above and beyond the $11 million in challenge gifts.

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MONSON — Monson Savings Bank (MSB) recently announced the promotion of Heather Arbour to the role of BSA officer and compliance manager.

“Heather is an amazing employee who has time and time again proven her commitment to the bank and ensuring we always remain in compliance with regulations,” Monson Savings Bank President Dan Moriarty said. “She is an asset to our team, and we can’t wait to see her growth continue with Monson Savings Bank.”

In her new role, Arbour is responsible for overseeing MSB’s Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering programs and ensuring compliance with banking regulations. Additionally, she manages the Retail Operations department.

Arbour has been with Monson Savings Bank for 13 years, previously serving in the role of compliance and BSA manager. She is currently enrolled in the New England School of Financial Studies and will be graduating in the spring from Springfield Technical Community College with a business administration degree.

A volunteer and co-treasurer for the Monson and Palmer Salvation Army and a dedicated parent volunteer for the Monson Parent Teacher Student Assoc., Arbour also serves on the Monson Savings Bank pandemic reopening preparedness committee.

“As I began my journey with Monson Saving Bank, I found that the bank had such a warm and inviting culture, not only within the community but with its employees as well,” she said. “I am so happy to continue to grow with Monson Savings Bank and work with the entire team here.”

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SPRINGFIELD — NAI Plotkin announced it has welcomed David Moore as a new commercial real-estate associate in its Brokerage Services division. Moore brings extensive experience in both commercial and residential real estate, as well as project management.

After a notable career as vice president and general manager of the Mt. Tom Ski Area, Moore joined Allyn & O’Donnell Realty, where he gained valuable experience in the real-estate industry, including the selection of cell-tower sites.

“I have known Dave for over 50 years, and I am thrilled that he will be joining our team. Adding someone with Dave’s knowledge and background allows us to assist our clients during this challenging time and to continue a forward momentum,” said Dan Moore, vice president of Brokerage Services.

Dave Moore will serve new clients from NAI Plotkin’s office located on the 14th floor at One Financial Plaza, 1350 Main St., Springfield.

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SPRINGFIELD — Boston Children’s Hospital and Baystate Health have formed a collaboration that will improve patient access to highly specialized pediatric care and strengthen the coordination of care between Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield.

The collaboration will provide patients throughout Western Mass. with improved access to pediatric specialty care at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and it will streamline care planning among providers at Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s. The collaboration anticipates that the two hospitals will jointly develop pathways to ensure that children and adolescents get the right care in the right setting. In some instances, Boston Children’s clinicians will be available to provide care at Baystate Children’s.

“As the leading children’s hospital in Western Massachusetts, Baystate Children’s has long partnered with the community to advance the health and well-being of all children from prevention to critical care,” said Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health. “We are delighted to build upon our exceptional care for families through a collaboration with the much-respected Boston Children’s Hospital, which will provide additional clinical expertise when needed for our young patients.”

Dr. Charlotte Boney, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Baystate Children’s Hospital, added that “this collaboration acknowledges and strengthens the close working relationship with Boston Children’s Hospital that we have enjoyed for many years. This collaboration will facilitate our continued ability to keep specialty care local so that children and families have access to a broad range of high-quality, affordable services right here in Western Massachusetts. We look forward to exploring other opportunities that will strengthen our collaboration to serve our mutual missions of patient care, medical education, and community service.”

The two hospitals already work collaboratively in cardiology, neurology, and dermatology, and by enhancing medical education, remote consults, information technology, and other initiatives, the two institutions will be better able to coordinate care for their patients.

“At Boston Children’s, we are committed to providing comprehensive pediatric care — close to home whenever possible — to patients and families throughout Massachusetts,” said Sandra Fenwick, CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital. “This collaboration will strengthen the ability of two great institutions to improve access to the highest-quality care for the patients and families we look forward to serving together.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society is offering Plush Pals — stuffed dogs and cats — as a way of leveraging the strength of its animal-loving community to help children during these difficult times when contact and hugs have been minimized due to COVID-19.

Individuals can request their own Plush Pal — or can select a ‘get one, give one’ option while donating online — which includes a Plush Pal for themselves and another to be sent to a child at Square One. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization provides support services and family-friendly education for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children throughout the region.

The Plush Pals stand eight inches high and are mailed out with a ‘hug certificate’ as well as a photo of an animal who was cared for at Dakin Humane Society. They can be requested when donating online at bit.ly/PlushPals.

“We began offering Plush Pals during the holiday season, and they are still available,” explained Dakin’s Director of Development and Marketing Stacey Price. “Many people, including children, are hurting right now. They can’t be with their friends, some do not have animals at home, and we want them to be able to connect with a loved one — in this case, a Plush Pal — and let them know that someone is thinking about them.

“This effort gives individuals the option to provide a Plush Pal to the children at Square One,” she added. “Some of us have our pets to keep us company throughout the pandemic, but we wanted to do something for those who want that kind of companionship. Plush Pals give them something to cuddle and love.”

Square One was chosen as the recipient of this effort because of its longstanding commitment to helping children in the Pioneer Valley, Price noted. “Their dedication to families, especially in the face of this pandemic, is remarkable, and given Dakin’s mission to help animals and the people who love them, we thought this would be a opportunity to bring joy to children by giving them a special pet of their own.”

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020 with a free virtual event today, Jan. 14, from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Join the event by clicking this link.

This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield.

The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced $78.5 million in awards to 1,595 additional small businesses in the third round of grants through the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp. (MGCC).

To date, the administration has awarded close to $195 million in direct financial support to 4,119 small businesses out of a $668 million fund set up to support small businesses across the Commonwealth. Additional grants will be announced in the coming weeks for thousands of additional businesses.

“Our administration set up a $668 million grant program to support small businesses statewide that are struggling from COVID-19 impacts,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “Today, we are awarding our third round of grants, for a total of $195 million in direct financial support for over 4,000 small businesses, with more yet to come. Supporting small businesses is vital to our economic recovery, and we’ll continue to expedite this grant process to send out funds to provide some much-needed financial relief.”

Added MGCC President and CEO Larry Andrews, “at our core, MGCC has the responsibility to create economic opportunities and provide support for small businesses, and the pandemic has given our mission an enhanced importance. As we transition from targeting small businesses to specific economic sectors affected by COVID-19, I want to express my gratitude to all of the partner organizations who helped raise awareness among the businesses with the greatest need and those serving communities that have traditionally been at a disadvantage.”

Representing key industries that have been especially impacted during the pandemic, restaurants and bars, personal care, retail, and healthcare businesses received the highest number of individual grants this round. Other grant recipients include women-owned businesses, businesses in gateway cities, businesses in underserved markets, and businesses that have previously received no other forms of financial assistance.

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SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser announced that attorney Erica Flores has been named a partner in the firm. Flores, who has been with the firm since 2013, focuses her practice on employment litigation in state and federal courts and agencies, representing employers in class-action lawsuits and discrimination, harassment, and retaliation actions.

“We are thrilled Erica is joining our firm as a partner. She has extensive experience defending employers against claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation; wage-and-hour disputes; and much more,” said attorney John Gannon, a partner at Skoler Abbott. “She also regularly advises clients on day-to-day employment issues like employment policies and internal investigations because she is great at steering clients in the right direction. We are also very proud of her commitment to the community we serve, including her role as president of the board of directors for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.”

Flores is a regular contributor to the Massachusetts Employment Law Letter on a variety of topics. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is a member of the Massachusetts and Hampden County bar associations.

“I am really fortunate to have been able to spend the last seven years working with my colleagues at Skoler Abbott,” Flores said. “I have grown so much as an advocate and a counselor, and I am extremely proud of the work I have done for our clients. I am excited to take on new challenges as a partner of the firm and to continue to serve the needs of employers throughout Massachusetts.”

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EAST LONGMEADOW — Architecture Environment Life Inc., known to many as ArchitectureEL Inc. or AEL, received a Citation Award from the Western Mass. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (WMAIA).

In partnership with the Western Mass. section of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), WMAIA hosted its biannual Celebration of Architecture and Design Awards program last month to encourage and recognize distinguished architectural and landscape-design achievement and honor project teams, including the clients and consultants who work together to improve the built environment.

The WMAIA Design Awards, held every two years, includes two Honor Awards for exceptional work, easily distinguishable by exceptional quality of design and function; two Merit Awards for work that demonstrates a high level of design quality worthy of recognition; and two Citation Awards for work that demonstrates a level of design quality worthy of mention.

ArchitectureEL Inc. applied for this award by submitting a portfolio displaying its design for New Valley Bank at 1930 Wilbraham Road in Springfield. Judging for the award was informed by the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, which contends that design is not solely about aesthetic components, but also concerns how buildings perform for people.

“We are pleased to be recognized for excellence in design and are grateful to New Valley Bank for inspiring us to produce some of our finest work,” said Kevin Rothschild-Shea, president of ArchitectureEL Inc. “The project was noted for its fresh take on the banking experience as well as the positive impact it makes on the Sixteen Acres community; that is particularly exciting for us.”

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SPRINGFIELD — The Royal Law Firm announced it has established a mutual of-counsel association with Minasian Becker LLC, a boutique commercial real-estate and business law firm, as of the third quarter of 2020.

Complementing Royal’s business-side-only litigation practice, this association will provide Royal clients with the added benefits of commercial real-estate and corporate transactional work. The Minasian Becker team of attorneys has represented regional, national, and international companies and nonprofit organizations with their commercial real-estate and business-transaction needs for more than 25 years.

Amy Royal, founding partner of the Royal Law Firm, believes the relationship with Minasian Becker will be an attractive supplement to Royal’s existing law practice of labor and employment law and other business-related litigation.

“Through this strategic relationship, we can offer a broader scope of services to our corporate clients, providing to them sophisticated commercial real-estate representation and counsel in a variety of corporate matters and transactions,” she said. “This strategic alliance not only expands our practice areas and capabilities, but also our geographic footprint. We look forward to offering our corporate clients these added benefits and services across the Commonwealth.”

With this alignment of their practices, Royal and Minasian Becker will offer their clients locations in Arlington, Springfield, and Rockport in Massachusetts, as well as in Hartford, Conn. Royal attorneys are admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

Both law firms are nationally certified as women’s business enterprises and women owned small businesses, and are able to offer the benefits of diversity to their clients.

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SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, 157 law-school deans from schools across the country, including Dean Sudha Setty from Western New England University School of Law, published a statement addressing the 2020 election and the events that took place in the U.S. Capitol last week. It is unusual for such a diverse group of law deans to come together to speak as one on an issue that falls outside the purview of legal education.

Dean Setty noted, “as legal educators, we know that, to meet this moment in our democracy, our foremost job is to educate lawyers of conscience and character. This joint statement reaffirms that fundamental role and the work that lies ahead for our profession.”

“The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law,” reads the statement. “The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed.”

The joint statement goes on to reflect upon the roles that lawyers played in recent events and affirm the deans’ commitment to working together to repair the damage to democratic institutions and rebuild faith in the rule of law.

“Many lawyers and judges worked honestly and in good faith, often in the face of considerable political pressure, to ensure the 2020 election was free and fair. However, we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence. This betrayed the values of our profession.”

The deans conclude with a call to action. “As legal educators and lawyers ourselves, we must redouble our efforts to restore faith in the rule of law and the ideals of the legal profession. We have enormous faith in the law’s enduring values and in our students, who will soon lead this profession. We call upon all members of the legal profession to join us in the vital work ahead.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Balise Auto, a long-time supporter of Square One, recently committed $15,000 toward the agency’s Adopt-A-Classroom initiative.

“We have been so impressed by Square One’s dedication and ability to find creative and effective ways to support the education of children and families in our community,” said Alexandra Balise, director of Marketing at Balise Auto. “Balise is proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to shape the leaders of tomorrow.”

Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication at Square One, added that “Square One, like so many other nonprofits in our region, is a better organization because of Balise Auto. For years, the leadership team at Balise has taken the time to understand our needs and has responded creatively and generously to support the children and families we serve.

“As we continue to navigate our way through the COVID-19 crisis, having the support of our business community is absolutely critical to our ability to respond to the changing needs of our children and families,” she went on.

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 gift from Balise comes at a critical time, as Square One continues to provide full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, childcare offerings, and family-support services.

Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, as well as family-support services to 1,500 families each year. To make a donation, text ABC123 to 44-321, visit www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mail Allard at [email protected].

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020 with a free virtual event on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Join the event that day by clicking this link.

This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield.

The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest’s annual Women of Impact event, to be presented virtually on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will feature a new, exciting facet this year. With so many individuals doing so much throughout our community, we want to add an additional award this year. We’re accepting nominations for our People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact, to be named the night of the event.

To make that happen, we’re calling for nominations of young women who are already making a positive impact on their community through their strong, inspiring, and motivated actions or reactions to the world around them — young women who are already solving problems in their communities, addressing issues that impact more than just themselves, and aspiring to one day to be a Woman of Impact.

Nominations will be accepted through Thursday, Jan. 14 only through www.businesswest.com. Five nominees who embody strength, intelligence, and courage will be announced on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) on Monday, Jan. 18. Then, from Jan. 18 through Jan. 26, we ask our community to select on social media, through likes and impressions, which nominee most ignites inspiration and passion. The selected People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact will be announced during the Women of Impact event on Jan. 28.

This year’s Women of Impact honorees include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet.

The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor), and Chikmedia (social-media sponsor). More details about how to access the event will be announced soon.

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BOSTON — Confidence among Massachusetts businesses remained flat during the final month of 2020 as employers ended a tumultuous year with a cautious outlook.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index remained unchanged during December at 49.3. The reading was 12.9 points lower than in December 2019, but more than 10 points higher than its 2020 low point in April.

The result reflected solid gains in confidence among employers in the prospects for their own companies and in the Massachusetts economy. Those gains were offset by a dramatic 4.8-point drop in opinions about the national outlook.

The confidence report comes as the Massachusetts economy continues a methodical recovery amid the conflicting swirl of a COVID-19 vaccine rollout and a renewed surge of cases. The state jobless rate dropped 0.7 points to 6.7% during November as private-sector employers created 12,200 jobs. The Commonwealth lost 337,900 jobs between November 2019 and November 2020.

“Massachusetts companies are optimistic about their own prospects, which provides hope that the economy will rebound once the nation gains control of the pandemic,” said Raymond Torto, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors. “But we are, as always, left with the uncertainty of an economic situation that is being driven by a public-health crisis.”

The AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 140 Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative.

The constituent indicators that make up the Business Confidence Index were mixed during December. Employers’ confidence in their own companies rose 1.3 points to 53.1, remaining in optimistic territory but still 7.9 points lower than a year ago. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth gained 1.1 points to 47.3, while the U.S. Index measuring conditions nationally fell to 39.0.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, was down 0.2 point to 45.4. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, rose 0.3 point to 53.3, still 8.3 points below its level of December 2019.

The Employment Index declined 1.6 points to 49.5, breaking a string of four consecutive monthly increases. Despite the COVID-driven economic downturn, many employers continue to report challenges with hiring skilled workers.

Confidence among manufacturing companies also weakened slightly, dropping 0.3 point to 51.0. The manufacturing index has dropped 10.4 points during the past 12 months.

Medium-sized companies (51.5) were more bullish than large companies (49.1) or small companies (47.2).

Alan Clayton-Matthews, professor in the School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs at Northeastern University and a BEA member, said unemployment in Massachusetts is projected to remain above pre-pandemic levels through 2022, with lower-wage workers in industries such as retail and hospitality bearing the brunt of the slowdown. Overall, however, he believes the economy will strengthen as long as COVID-19 vaccines become widely available by the summer.

“Massachusetts tax revenues in the current fiscal year could reach $30.2 billion, which would be significantly higher than what lawmakers are expecting. Revenues could climb 4.4% in fiscal 2022 to $31.5 billion,” said Clayton-Matthews, who is also a senior contributing editor at MassBenchmarks.

AIM President and CEO John Regan, also a BEA member, said prospects for economic growth in 2021 improved significantly last week when the Massachusetts Legislature completed a protracted two-year session without raising broad-based business taxes.

“We strongly urge the Legislature to continue that cautious approach as thousands of companies hang by a thread trying to survive the pandemic,” Regan said. “Employers commend the Legislature for passing a $626 million economic stimulus bill and a $16.5 billion transportation bond measure that did not raise corporate minimum taxes.”

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HOLYOKE — The Cannabis Education Center (CEC) at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has added a second cannabis core training program to its spring calendar of workforce-training programs.

The CEC will offer another round of its intensive, two-day cannabis core training program on Saturday, March 20, and Sunday, March 21. Slots also remain open for the weekend of Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24.

Each day will be broken down into two sessions, 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. Each session will include presentations from cannabis-industry experts followed by a question-and-answer period.

Students who complete the core training are then eligible to register for spring 2021 classes in one of four cannabis-industry career tracks: cultivation assistant (Feb. 6-21); extraction technician (Feb. 27 to March 14); culinary assistant (April 3-18); and patient-service associate (Jan. 30 to Feb. 14, and May 1-16).

Cultivation assistants provide daily care of crops from seed to harvest and may be involved in cracking seeds, soil mixing, potting, defoliation, watering, pest control, and trimming.

Extraction technicians work in labs assisting production managers in all aspects of extraction, purging, oil manipulation, winterization, distillation, solvent recovery, and quality control.

Culinary assistants are responsible for preparing cannabis or cannabidiol-infused products using a variety of cooking, baking, and infusion techniques.

Patient-service associates work behind the counters at cannabis dispensaries, interacting with the public, answering technical questions, and providing information to registered cannabis patients, caregivers, and recreational customers making purchases.

To register for the January or March cannabis core training class, visit hcc.edu/cec-core. The cost of the two-day core-training session is $595. Each career-track program is $799.

The Cannabis Education Center is a partnership between HCC and Elevate Northeast and based out of HCC’s Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development.

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MONSON — After Monson Savings Bank asked community members to cast their votes for their favorite charitable organizations as a part of the Monson Savings Bank 2021 Community Giving Initiative, more than 3,400 votes were received.

Now that the votes have been tallied, Monson Savings Bank is donating a total of $15,000 among the top 10 vote recipients. In total, 200 organizations received votes.

“We express our heartfelt congratulations to the top 10 recipients of votes received through the Monson Savings Bank 2021 Community Giving Initiative,” said Dan Moriarty, president of Monson Savings Bank. “They are all well-deserved nonprofit organizations, and we can see why they were chosen by community members.”

The recipients include Women’s Empowerment Scholarship (Greater Springfield), Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield, Rick’s Place (Wilbraham), I Found Light Against All Odds (Greater Springfield), Academy Hill Private School Scholarship (Springfield), Scantic Valley YMCA (Wilbraham), Monson Free Library, St. Michael’s Players (East Longmeadow), and Link to Libraries Inc. (Hampden). This was the 11th year of the Monson Savings Bank Initiative.

“All of us at Monson Savings Bank are so happy to continue to receive such enthusiastic involvement through the Community Giving Initiative. We love working together with the public to ensure that the nonprofits that make a positive impact in our communities are recognized and supported,” Moriarty said. “As a local community bank committed to doing whatever it takes to support our customers, businesses, and communities, we understand how much of a difference these organizations can truly make for our neighbors.”

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020 with a free virtual event on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Join the event that day by clicking this link.

This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield.

The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

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AMHERST — W.D. Cowls named Tony Maroulis its vice president for Real Estate and Community Development.

A respected regional leader in economic and community development, tourism, and the arts, Maroulis brings a well-rounded blend of experience to W.D. Cowls as it continues to develop and market the Mill District in North Amherst as a premier dining, arts, and entertainment destination.

For W.D. Cowls President Cinda Jones, this is a reunion of sorts, as she hired Maroulis in 2008 as executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. “Five minutes into Tony’s interview to become ED of the chamber, I knew without a doubt that he was a game changer — that he had what takes to invigorate the economy and culturally shift the region,” Jones said. “He absolutely did over several years leading that organization. And now he’s coming to Cowls and doing it again.”

Maroulis will focus his efforts on building the Mill District into a premier Pioneer Valley destination, while looking to grow the company’s real-estate and business portfolio.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to build community with such a dynamic and visionary team,” Maroulis said. “I’ve partnered for years with these players from seats at the chamber, UMass, on the BID board, and as a local resident. Now I have the chance to bring the vibe and grow an amazing place from the ground up.”

Maroulis has worked in the chancellor’s office at UMass since 2014, when he was hired as director of Community Relations to serve as liaison with local communities, civic groups, and neighbors while advising the campus administration on community-relations issues. Since 2017, he has served as executive director of External Relations and University Events, overseeing the university events team, the UMass Community Campaign, and management of Old Chapel, the landmark building in the heart of the UMass Amherst campus.

From 2008 to 2014, with Maroulis as its executive director, the 500-member Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce expanded its role as a leader in the region’s economic-development, cultural-tourism, and quality-of-life efforts; enhanced its relationship with municipal, regional, and state government officials; and improved delivery and value of services, resulting in stable membership and budget surpluses. He led a successful rebranding of the chamber and was instrumental in planning and launching the Amherst Business Improvement District and the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council, which he co-directed from 2010 to 2014.

Prior to his work in economic and community development, Maroulis was co-director and owner of wünderarts, a commercial art gallery in Amherst, located in the same place as Cowls’ first hardware store. Before that, he had jobs in operations, fundraising, and marketing arts and cultural organizations, including Museums10, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Maroulis was a 2009 BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree, a 2014 Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber MVP, and in 2020 was awarded the Helen Mitchell Community Service Award by Family Outreach of Amherst. He is a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Pioneer Valley in 2012 and has a certificate in town-gown relations from the International Town Gown Assoc. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards and committees and is currently on the boards of Leadership Pioneer Valley, United Way of Hampshire County, and the Amherst Business Improvement District.

Hiring Maroulis is part of Jones’ larger Amherst-area vision for economic success, she said. “We are for regional progress. We’re putting the proactive genius of Tony together with the absolute magic of Hannah Rechtschaffen in the Mill District. We look forward to partnering with our colleagues at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Amherst Business Improvement District to further establish Amherst as a destination of choice for businesses, workers, and families.”

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HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank announced that its charitable giving to nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley and Northern Conn. in 2020 surpassed its previous record high, set in 2019, making this the largest amount ever donated in any year in the bank’s history. Contributions totaled $1,300,000 in 2020, representing almost a doubling of annual contributions over the past five years (from $714,000 in 2016), and a cumulative total of $6 million over the past five years (2016 to 2020).

“While the COVID pandemic impacted many areas of our local economy, we were proud to increase our level of giving to the communities we serve, especially during such a time where people within our communities are in such need,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “As a mutual institution, we have a special responsibility to our depositors and our communities, and our strong support of so many worthy causes is one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment.”

Highlights of the support from the past year included grants to 292 unique nonprofits in the region, with an average donation of approximately $4,500 per cause. While the long-standing funding priorities of PeoplesBank include academic excellence, community vibrancy, and environmental sustainability, support in 2020 also included donations to COVID emergency relief funds and to purchase PPE for frontline responders, to organizations fighting food insecurity and homelessness, and to many area youth groups and early-childhood education centers.

“Way Finders is privileged to be a long-time beneficiary of PeoplesBank’s charitable giving and volunteer programs. Year after year, they make significant investments in programs and services that advance our communities,” said Keith Fairey, president and CEO of Way Finders. “In 2020, individuals and families in our region faced extraordinary challenges as a result of COVID-19. We know we can count on PeoplesBank to invest in meaningful solutions that will help people who are facing crisis now, and that they will also partner with us long-term as we work toward and advocate for equitable recovery.

Importantly, it is not just cash contributions that the bank has provided to assist these efforts — or, more specifically, that the bank’s employees have provided. The bank’s associates have consistently contributed more than 10,000 hours per year to local causes, with service ranging from board membership to volunteering in food pantries and survival centers, and within schools and youth groups. Though this number dropped considerably in the current environment due to social-distancing restrictions, it has long been a tradition for the bank to not only enable, but also actively encourage, volunteerism throughout the ranks.

“PeoplesBank has been an enthusiastic supporter of our work to help repair homes for low-income families with children, the elderly, military veterans, and people with special needs for many years,” said Colleen Loveless, president and CEO of Revitalize Community Development Corp. “They roll up their sleeves to volunteer and donate, not just the bank but their employees as well.”

PeoplesBank was once again recognized by the Boston Business Journal as a Top Charitable Contributor for the 13th consecutive year, and was once again the top-ranked bank headquartered in Western Mass.

“We believe that we ‘punch above our weight’ in the region,” Senecal said, “and, as an institution that is determined to remain independent — we will never be bought or sold — we look forward to continuing, and growing, our philanthropic giving in the years to come.”

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WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Bradley International Airport has been nominated for a USA Today 2021 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award. The USA Today panel selected Bradley International Airport as a contender for Best Small Airport in the nation.

“We are thrilled to kick off the new year with this nomination,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “Even during these challenging times, Bradley International Airport continues to innovate and stand out in the airport industry. We invite our community to show pride for its home airport and bring this significant, national recognition to the region.”

On its website dedicated to voting, USA Today noted that Bradley International Airport “remains a convenient option, with on-site parking, lots of charging stations, free wi-fi, and proximity to both New York and Boston.”

The contest gives voters an opportunity to vote once per day for four weeks for the candidate of their choice. To vote for Bradley International Airport, click here. Voting runs through Monday, Feb. 1. The winners will be announced on Friday, Feb. 12.

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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced the extension of further restrictions and new hospital guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

Industry restrictions for capacity limits and reduced gathering limits went into effect on Dec. 26, and will now be extended for at least two more weeks to Sunday, Jan. 24.

Under the current restrictions that are being extended today, most industries in Massachusetts remain subject to a 25% capacity limit. They include restaurants (based on permitted seating capacity); close-contact personal services; theaters and performance venues; casinos; office spaces; places of worship; retail businesses; driving and flight schools; golf facilities (for indoor spaces); libraries; lodging (for common areas); arcades and indoor recreation businesses; fitness centers and health clubs; and museums, cultural facilities, and guided tours.

Workers and staff will not count toward the occupancy count for restaurants, places of worship, close-contact personal services, and retail businesses. All other rules and restrictions in existing sector-specific regulations will remain in effect.

Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 people, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people. The gathering limits apply to private homes, event venues, and public spaces.

The Department of Public Health’s hospital guidance, issued in early November, establishes a regional tiering system for hospitals to support continued collaboration among hospitals and sustain capacity. Since early December, all regions across the Commonwealth have been in tier-3 status. This week, in response to the continued rise in hospitalizations, all regions across the state have been escalated to tier-4 status. In tier 4, the hospitals in each region will meet at least daily, and will continue to collaborate across regions where necessary, to address growing capacity constraints and continue to load balance as needed.

To support the healthcare system’s continued response to the surge in cases and hospitalizations, the Commonwealth is allowing the deployment of acute nursing staffing under certain circumstances. Hospitals with severe capacity constraints may request a temporary exemption from the mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in the ICU. This option will be available only to hospitals with capacity of less than 20% which first attest to DPH that they have suspended all non-essential elective invasive procedures, including those conducted in an outpatient setting under the hospital’s license.

Additionally, hospitals must take every reasonable step to expand capacity prior to requesting a temporary exemption. If a hospital’s bed capacity increases, or if the hospital restarts non-essential elective invasive procedures, the hospital must resume compliance with the ICU staffing requirements.

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CHICOPEE — Adam Corcoran, president and CEO of Alden Credit Union, announced that Carole Bolduc will join Alden Credit Union as an LPL financial advisor with FR Investment Group.

Bolduc is a lifelong resident of Western Mass. and an LPL financing advisor with 11 years of experience.

“My strengths are in areas such as investment management, comprehensive financial planning, and insurance,” she said. “I have earned the professional designation of accredited investment fiduciary, also called AIF designation.”

Bolduc holds her series 6, 7, 63, and 66 securities registration through LPL Financial, along with a Massachusetts life-insurance license. She is registered to service clients with LPL Financial in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, California, and Arizona.

“I have an extensive background in bank management, lending, and working with high-net-worth individuals,” Bolduc added. “My experience in banking and wealth management has created the perfect foundation to develop meaningful and long-term client satisfaction. I am ecstatic to be located at Alden Credit Union along with the full support and experience that FR Investment Group provides. I will provide personal service and an array of investment options tailored to the specific needs of credit-union members, and that will truly make a difference.”

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MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the hire of Sabina Vegiard as vice president of Monson Savings Bank and financial advisor with Infinex Investments Inc.

“Sabina is a welcomed addition to the Monson Savings Bank team,” said bank President Dan Moriarty. “The guidance and support she provides to our customers to help them plan for their financial future is invaluable. I know she will help many customers moving forward to understand their financial situation and reach their goals.”

In her new role, Vegiard is responsible for helping customers to plan for their short- and long-term financial goals, including buying a home, paying for their children’s education, retirement, and life-insurance needs. She brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to help her customers achieve their financial goals through strategic planning and tailored investment solutions.

Vegiard has been in the finance industry for 15 years, with her experience as a financial advisor spanning 10 of those years. She most recently served as vice president and branch manager at Key Bank, where her responsibilities were to manage the day-to-day operations of the branch and staff as well as act as financial advisor for six branch locations. She is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

“My career has always been in the financial-services industry, and I look forward to continuing on that path as I provide financial guidance to both current and future customers,” Vegiard said. “I am thrilled to be with Monson Savings Bank, a bank that really focuses on building relationships by learning about their customers and tending to their needs.”

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LUDLOW — LUSO Federal Credit Union announced the appointment of Jennifer Cowles to chief lending officer. She will be responsible for managing all lending staff and the credit union’s loan portfolio, while ensuring that the institution’s lending goals are met.

“We are excited to welcome Jennifer to our team,” said Jennifer Calheno, president and CEO of LUSO Federal Credit Union. “Throughout her career, Jennifer has demonstrated a significant ability to achieve results by deploying strategies designed to exceed established production goals while maintaining asset quality. She is a leader who is accomplished in team building and implementing process improvements with a proven commitment to results.”

Cowles holds a BBA in finance from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and has more than 25 years of experience across the financial-services and real-estate industries. She has an extensive background in real-estate lending and loan servicing, investor relations, secondary market, and risk management, and most recently served as vice president of Mortgage Lending and Loan Servicing for a credit union based in Worcester County.

“I am excited to join LUSO Federal Credit Union in their 50th year serving members in Hampden County,” said Cowles. “I look forward to working with the team for the benefit of our members.”

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Cowles serves on the Board for CU REALM and is also on the board for the new England CUREN. She also served as an executive committee member for the CUNA Lending Council and chaired the CUNA Lending Council regulatory/legislative committee.

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest’s annual Women of Impact event, to be presented virtually on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will feature a new, exciting facet this year. With so many individuals doing so much throughout our community, we want to add an additional award this year. We’re accepting nominations for our People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact, to be named the night of the event.

To make that happen, we’re calling for nominations of young women who are already making a positive impact on their community through their strong, inspiring, and motivated actions or reactions to the world around them — young women who are already solving problems in their communities, addressing issues that impact more than just themselves, and aspiring to one day to be a Woman of Impact.

Starting today, nominations will be accepted through Tuesday, Jan. 12 only through www.businesswest.com. Five nominees who embody strength, intelligence, and courage will be announced on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) on Friday, Jan. 15. Then, from Jan. 15 through Jan. 27, we ask our community to select on social media, through likes and impressions, which nominee most ignites inspiration and passion. The selected People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact will be announced during the Women of Impact event on Jan. 28.

This year’s Women of Impact honorees include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet.

The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor), and Chikmedia (social-media sponsor). More details about how to access the event will be announced soon.

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the hire of Anita Richard as vice president and residential operations officer of the bank’s Residential and Consumer Lending department.

“We are incredibly happy to welcome Anita Richard to our team here,” said Dan Moriarty, president of Monson Savings Bank. “Anita’s experience in residential lending, compliance, and customer service have already proven to be a great asset to our customers and to our entire team. We look forward to her continued contributions, which will surely benefit us all.”

In her new role, Richard is responsible for planning and organizing the residential and consumer lending operations, including streamlining loan processing, closing, and servicing. She also manages the staff in the Residential and Consumer Lending departments.

Richard has more than 31 years of experience in the banking industry, with 27 years focused in the mortgage-lending area. She most recently served as Home Lending Compliance manager at Berkshire Bank and Savings Institute Bank and Trust, where she was responsible for all residential-lending regulatory compliance. Previously, she was director of Mortgage Operations at Alden Credit Union, managing the daily operations of the residential-lending area as well as compliance and loan servicing.

“I am very excited to join Monson Savings Bank and work alongside their amazing residential-lending team,” Richard said. “After 27 years in the mortgage business, I still really love what I do. I look forward to bringing that enthusiasm to work every day in order to help continue the service excellence that Monson Savings Bank is known for.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that two of the firm’s attorneys have been promoted. Daniel McKellick and Christopher Pierson have both been named shareholders.

McKellick is a business and real-estate attorney who works primarily on commercial and corporate matters, including real-estate transactions, leases, commercial lending, mergers and acquisitions, business startup and succession, and contract drafting and review. His prior experience in senior management for a large wholesale distribution company provides him with insight into business operations and profitability. He is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Pierson is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully tried numerous cases to verdict in courts across Massachusetts. His practice encompasses all aspects of civil litigation, including commercial disputes, individual matters, and accident and injury litigation. He is a graduate of Northeastern University Law School and Gettysburg College.

“The experience and work ethic Dan brings to our commercial/corporate practice, and that Chris has delivered to our litigation department, is immeasurable,” Managing Partner Kenneth Albano said. “I am gratified and honored to welcome them to Bacon Wilson’s team of partners.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently welcomed Amy Brandt as its new dean of Health Sciences and Culinary Arts.

Brandt most recently worked as associate vice president and dean of Health Sciences at Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., which is part of the State University of New York system.

At SUNY Broome, she focused on developing partnerships with local area hospitals to address healthcare-worker shortages and advocated for enhanced use of simulation to improve clinical education and position programs to remain current with emerging national trends in healthcare education.

At HCC, she will oversee seven academic programs: Foundations of Health, Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, Nursing (associate of science and practical), Radiologic Technology, Veterinary and Animal Science, and Culinary Arts.

Brandt holds a master’s degree in social work from California State University, Sacramento, and a Ph.D. in social work from the University of California Los Angeles. After earning her Ph.D., she began working in education, initially at the University of California Berkeley in the School of Social Welfare, where she focused on program administration and teaching introductory social-work courses. In 2007, she transitioned to the community-college setting in California, focusing on allied-health education, and she has worked on allied-health program development in California, Florida, Texas, and New York.

Brandt has extensive experience working with state regulatory agencies, as well as developing self-studies for programmatic accreditation. She has served as a site visitor for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, reviewing institutions for compliance with general education and educational-effectiveness standards.

She has collaborated with multiple programs on developing assessment plans to assess educational quality and delivery and has co-led a variety of different campus committees related to program review, general education, professional development, COVID-19 reopening, and student retention and equity initiatives.