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Company Notebook

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Named Among Best Banks In Massachusetts

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank has again been honored as one of the Best Banks in Massachusetts in the seventh annual America’s Best Banks list from Forbes, and is the only bank headquartered in Western Mass. to make the list. The bank was similarly honored in 2023. The results were compiled from survey data from more than 26,000 bank customers, as well as online reviews and ratings from 2021 to 2024. Larger banks and credit unions with branches in 15 or more states — including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase — were excluded. Top regional banks and credit unions — which populate this year’s lists — have learned how to build a loyal customer base despite being smaller and having fewer resources than their larger counterparts with branches spanning the country, and often the world.

 

475 Canal St. Converted into CubeSmart Self Storage Facility

HOLYOKE — 475 Canal MA LLC announced the conversion of 475 Canal St. in Holyoke into a CubeSmart Self Storage facility. The project is spearheaded by principals James Quinn, Gary Youm, and Richard Lee, who bring a wealth of experience and vision to this development. CubeSmart, a $12 billion real-estate investment trust (REIT) known for its leadership in the self-storage industry, will oversee both the asset management and property management of the new facility. This partnership promises to bring state-of-the-art storage solutions to Holyoke residents. The facility features modern, climate-controlled units designed to meet a variety of storage needs, from personal to business use.

 

Edwards Church Invests $500,000 in Affordable-housing Fund

NORTHAMPTON — Edwards Church of Northampton has made a $500,000 investment in Way Finders’ Development Capital Fund via a low-interest loan that will provide pre-development funding for affordable-housing projects the agency manages throughout Western Mass. In 2019, the Edwards Church congregation was surveyed on their preferences for church support in the community. Results indicated that members had a strong interest in supporting affordable housing as an alternative investment of the church’s invested funds. Its investment committee subsequently sought out an affordable-housing development partner in which to invest and learned that Springfield-based Way Finders, an affordable-housing organization dedicated to bringing home stability to people across Western Mass. since 1972, manages its own Development Capital Fund, which is open to outside investors. Way Finders puts money into the fund, as do outside investors, including churches. Edwards Church is now one of those investors. The $500,000 is a loan to Way Finders, not a grant or gift. The funds earn an annual, below-market interest rate; the funds can be repaid to the church in six years if the church so chooses.

 

Monson Savings Bank Named ERC5 Business of the Year

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank was recently named the East of the River Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) Business of the Year. The announcement was made at the chamber’s 2024 annual meeting awards and reception event held at Twin Hills Country Club. “Monson Savings Bank’s unwavering dedication and tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on the lives of countless individuals in our communities,” said Grace Barone, executive director of the ERC5. “The transformative influence of the Monson Savings Bank team under the team’s exceptional leadership is undeniable.” The community bank was chosen as the ERC5 Business of the Year by the ERC5’s board members and ambassadors, based on the bank’s achievements and contributions to the communities.

 

ArchitectureEL Awarded Contract with Holyoke Housing Authority

EAST LONGMEADOW — ArchitectureEL Inc. (AEL) has been awarded on-call architect contract for the Holyoke Housing Authority for a two-year period. The firm also continues to fulfill its obligations as the current on-call architect for the city of Holyoke and Holyoke Public Schools. ArchitectureEL Inc. provides professional design services on a wide range of projects, from renovating existing buildings to designing new. The firm has significant experience in accessibility, historic preservation, educational, and commercial design, as well as both private and multi-family residential development. AEL has developed strong local connections and provided services for the city of Holyoke and Holyoke Public schools as their on-call architect for the past two years, completing a roof and skylight replacement for the DPW, a roof and skylight replacement for the City Hall Annex, a roof replacement for the Holyoke Children’s Museum and Volleyball Hall of Fame, heating upgrades for the McMahon VRF, historical renovations on the City Council chambers located at City Hall, HVAC system replacements in the city’s elementary schools.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Awards $56,700 During Second Grant Cycle of 2024

LEE — The Lee Bank Foundation announced the allocation of $56,700 in grants to 10 organizations serving the Berkshire region, marking its second funding round of 2024. These grants, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, will bolster local initiatives addressing critical community needs. The following organizations are recipients of the Lee Bank Foundation grants: Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Massachusetts, Blackshires, Community Access to the Arts, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Focus Is Our Children, Greenagers, Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, and Roots Rising. Established in 2021 to uphold Lee Bank’s commitment to community reinvestment, the Lee Bank Foundation has awarded a total of 150 grants amounting to $759,600 since its inception.

 

Connecticut Insurance Agency Joins Smith Brothers Insurance

NORTHAMPTON — Monroe Insurance Center Inc., an independent insurance and risk-management agency located in Monroe, Conn., has merged its operations with Smith Brothers Insurance, which has an office in Northampton, as well as offices across Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. The leadership team at Monroe Insurance Center, including John Rodrigues, Anna Rodrigues, Peter Lozier, Gary Freeman, Alan Helfer, and Paul Ackert, will continue to serve clients and, along with their team, join Smith Brothers Insurance. They will maintain their office in Monroe while leveraging the resources of Smith Brothers.

 

Baystate Health Awards $500,000 in Better Together Grants

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health, in partnership with the Community Benefits Program, announced the recipients of the 2024 Better Together Grants. This year, proposals considered focused on advancing youth well-being through strategic interventions that seek to decrease adverse youth mental-health outcomes. Projects funded by Better Together must apply a framework of social determinants of health, be evidence-based, include routine performance evaluation, and align with Baystate’s community health needs assessment. The grantees are Community Legal Aid ($100,000 for its Family Preservation Project); Follow My Steps Foundation ($100,000 for its Steps to Empowerment Program); Latino Counseling Center ($100,000 for its Mindful Connections/Conexiones Conscientes); Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services ($100,000 for its Beat the Odds Project); and Springfield Pride Parade Organization ($100,000 for its Safe Space Program). Funding for the Better Together grants is made possible through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s determination-of-need requirements. In addition to funding the grantees, Baystate Health has also contracted with the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts to provide technical assistance and evaluation support to the grantee cohort over the next one to two years.

 

Springfield Boys & Girls Club Receives $20,000 from Keybank

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Boys & Girls Club announced that the KeyBank Foundation, the charitable foundation of KeyBank N.A., has awarded the Springfield Boys & Girls Club a $20,000 grant to support its Summer Brain Gain program. This funding supports the administration of a comprehensive program run on one-week modules and fun-themed activities that are aligned with common-core standards, focusing on learning through discovery, creative expression, and collaborative group work. The program helps the club’s members avoid learning loss over the summer, ensuring they stay on track for the upcoming school year. The vast majority of children being served by the Springfield Boys & Girls Club are from low-income families, with 65% of them raised in homes where English is a second language, putting them at a disadvantage in terms of reading, retention, and school learning. Members of KeyBank presented a ceremonial check to Borello and members of the club on June 26, when local bankers conducted a Banking Basics financial-literacy course to about 40 teen members. In addition to philanthropic support through its charitable foundation, KeyBank also provides financial resources to nonprofits within the bank’s service areas that help students achieve academically, with a particular focus on minority and low- and moderate-income populations.

Company Notebook

White Lion Expands Beer-garden Footprint

SPRINGFIELD — White Lion Brewing Co. obtained local licensing approval to operate a series of beer gardens in three Western Mass. cities: Holyoke, Westfield, and Springfield. As a local brewer, White Lion collaborates with community stakeholders and engages a broad audience that embrace and support outdoor programming. In Springfield, to stimulate small-business awareness, White Lion will rotate through downtown and set up near key points of business. The two primary locations are One Financial Plaza, 1350 Main St., which is home to a small-business incubator made up of several startup businesses. White Lion will be downtown every Wednesday through Aug. 28. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. The second location is the Plaza at 1550 Main St., the home of the Springfield School Department and other government offices. Holyoke’s Armour Yard is located at the Cubit, 164 Race St. Centrally located, the site offers live music, food, and craft vendors. White Lion partnerships include the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and Holyoke Craft Beer. White Lion can be found every Monday at the Cubit through Aug. 26th. The beer garden opens at 5 p.m. For several years, 53 Elm St. in Westfield was home to live music, food vendors, and a White Lion pop-up. White Lion, in partnership with ArtWorks Westfield, helped sponsor the weekly music events. This summer, White Lion will be on site very Friday through Aug. 30. The beer garden opens at 5 p.m.

 

HCC Awarded $832K to Boost Clean-energy Workforce

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded an $832,000 grant to help train workers for jobs in the clean-energy sector. The two-year grant, announced earlier this month, was part of an overall $3.4 million allocation from the Healey-Driscoll administration to three higher-education institutions for climate-related workforce-training initiatives. HCC was the only institution in Western Mass. to receive funding. Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology and Roxbury Community College, both in Boston, also received grant awards of $1.3 million each. Overall, the grants will lead to green-industry-specific training for an estimated 400 individuals, 150 of them through HCC. The college and its community and industry partners will spend the next few months developing training programs in five areas: EV (electric vehicle) charging station installation; energy auditing, solar installation, green industry supervision and management, and green careers job readiness. HCC’s partners in the grant include Holyoke Gas & Electric, Springfield Works, and the Coalition for Equitable Economy (CEE), an organization that supports businesses owned by people of color. Holyoke Community College is a federally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institution, which was one of the eligibility requirements for the grant. Training is expected to begin in early 2025, if not sooner.

 

Garvey Law, LLC Opens West Springfield Office

WEST SPRINGFIELD — On June 20, attorney Katherine Garvey, founder of Garvey Law, LLC, celebrated the grand opening of the firm’s office at 1312 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Garvey Law, LLC, an all-female law firm specializing in Massachusetts and Connecticut real estate, estate planning, and probate law, recently celebrated its fourth year in business.

 

Graduate Engineering Programs at UMass Amherst Earn High Marks

AMHERST — UMass Amherst graduate engineering programs place among the best in the country in the U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings for 2024, announced last week. UMass Amherst is the only public university in New England to place in the top 50, and most of its College of Engineering doctoral degree programs also made significant gains over last year’s rankings. Overall, the College of Engineering moved up seven spots from last year to reach the top 25%, tying with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Florida in the 48th spot. Nine engineering specialty areas that offer doctoral degrees rank between 35 and 69 for 2024. Notably, four engineering specialties — chemical, industrial, computer, and materials — place in the top 40. Chemical engineering ranks 35th, followed by industrial at 36th; computer at 38th, up six spots from 2023; and materials at 40th, which climbed significantly from its ranking in the 57th spot last year. Environmental engineering ranks 41st, civil 48th, and electrical 53rd. Other specialty areas that also place higher this year include mechanical at 56th, up five spots, and biomedical at 69th, which improves 10 spots from 2023. U.S. News compares schools on their research activity, faculty resources, academic achievements of entering students, and assessments by other engineering schools and employers.

 

MountainOne Supports Berkshire Community Action Council

NORTH ADAMS — MountainOne announced recently donated $10,000 to the Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) as part of its 2024 Community Dividend Program. The BCAC is a nonprofit human-service organization that assists low-income residents of Berkshire County toward achieving sustainability and self-sufficiency. Working with the community to find creative and maintainable solutions that promote economic stability and alleviate the destabilizing effects of poverty for those in Berkshire County, the BCAC has had “self-sufficiency and dignity for all” as its vision since incorporating in 1966. MountainOne’s donation is earmarked specifically for the BCAC’s Warm Winter Clothing Program, , which provides children age 12 and under with new coats, boots, hats, mittens, and gloves. While the cold-weather season is still months away, MountainOne is providing these funds now because preparations for the program span all four seasons. Families are provided with the opportunity to shop for items at the Children’s Winter Boutique at BCAC, allowing them the opportunity to chose items that best suit their children’s taste, style, and comfort. The Community Dividend Program at MountainOne supports nonprofits throughout the Berkshires and South Shore, particularly organizations that positively impact community members most in need. In addition to corporate sponsorship, BCAC offers the ability to for community members and groups to sponsor a child during the winter. For further details on the Warm Winter Clothing Program, visit bcacinc.org/winter-clothing-program.

 

Baystate Health Awards $500,000 in Better Together Grants

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health, in partnership with the Community Benefits Program, announced the recipients of the 2024 Better Together Grants. This year, proposals considered focused on advancing youth well-being through strategic interventions that seek to decrease adverse youth mental-health outcomes. Projects funded by Better Together must apply a framework of social determinants of health, be evidence-based, include routine performance evaluation, and align with Baystate’s community health needs assessment. The grantees are Community Legal Aid ($100,000 for its Family Preservation Project); Follow My Steps Foundation ($100,000 for its Steps to Empowerment Program); Latino Counseling Center ($100,000 for its Mindful Connections/Conexiones Conscientes); Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services ($100,000 for its Beat the Odds Project); and Springfield Pride Parade Organization ($100,000 for its Safe Space Program). Funding for the Better Together grants is made possible through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s determination-of-need requirements. In addition to funding the grantees, Baystate Health has also contracted with the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts to provide technical assistance and evaluation support to the grantee cohort over the next one to two years.

Company Notebook

AIC to Launch Center for Financial Literacy and Economic Development

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal joined American International College (AIC) interim President Nicolle Cestero to announce a $1,050,000 earmark to launch a Center for Financial Literacy and Economic Development. The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2024 spending bill that was signed into law by President Biden on March 9. The Center for Financial Literacy and Economic Prosperity at AIC is a transformative initiative that will bolster the financial well-being of Springfield residents. Funding will support the rehabilitation of an AIC campus building to house the center, underscoring its commitment to community development. This project seeks to combat financial illiteracy and empower economically disadvantaged individuals and families in Springfield by providing comprehensive financial education, research, and outreach programs. AIC’s longstanding dedication to accessibility and opportunity aligns seamlessly with the center’s mission to address economic disparities in the region. With the support of key stakeholders, including Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno and the Springfield Housing Authority, the center will offer free, multilingual services focusing on education, research, and community engagement. By fostering financial empowerment and economic resilience, the Center for Financial Literacy and Economic Prosperity at AIC aims to catalyze economic development in Springfield and beyond, driving sustainable progress and prosperity for all.

 

Ja’Duke Inc. Expands Programming into Greenfield

GREENFIELD — Ja’Duke Inc. owners Kimberly Williams and Nicholas Waynelovich announced their intent to expand their childcare, driving-instruction, and performing-arts program through the purchase and renovation of 270 Main St. in Greenfield. Formerly occupied by Greenfield Community College, this 25,000-square-foot facility has been vacant since 2020 and has remained unused even after Dave Mell purchased the building in January 2023. If approved, Ja’Duke plans to utilize the 270 Main St. site as a satellite location to its Turners Falls facility located at 110 Industrial Blvd., which currently houses seven of Ja’Duke’s businesses. After opening in 2004, Ja’Duke Inc. has grown to include driver’s education through the Ja’Duke Driving School, 75 weekly performance-art classes under Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts, 14 early-education and childcare classrooms through Ja’Duke Preschool, and dozens of performances hosted annually in Franklin County’s largest theater, Ja’Duke Theater. Additionally, owners Williams and Waynelovich operate Ja’Duke Backdrops, with an on-site coffee shop, Ja’Duke Café, and ice-cream shop, Ja’Duke Scoops. Williams and Waynelovich plan to focus the Greenfield site’s programming on childcare, driving, and performing-arts education. The 270 Main St. site would house 14 classrooms, accommodating 150 new childcare slots per day serving children ages 0-5. The basement floor will host Ja’Duke Driving School offices, which hopes of serving hundreds of new Franklin County drivers ranging from teens to adults. According to Williams, the third floor will hold Ja’Duke’s performing-arts classrooms. The proposed project would create at least 30 new jobs and significantly increase foot traffic in the downtown district.

 

Real Pickles Wins Good Food Award

GREENFIELD — Real Pickles, a worker cooperative based in Greenfield, has won a Good Food Award for its organic sauerkraut. The winners were announced on April 29 at the historic Portland Center Stage at the Armory in Portland, Oregon. Real Pickles co-op members Kristin Howard and Katie Korby received the award at the ceremony celebrating 218 of America’s best food crafters. In operation since 2001, Real Pickles produces organic, fermented vegetables, including sauerkraut, kimchi, dill pickles, and other traditional pickled foods. The co-op buys more than 450,000 pounds of certified organic produce each year, exclusively from Northeast family farms. The organic green cabbage used in the winning recipe was grown by area farms, including Atlas Farm in South Deerfield and Harlow Farm in Westminster, Vt. Other winners from New England include Stoneman Brewery in Colrain, Tavernier Chocolates in Brattleboro, Vt., and Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vt. The winners rose to the top in a tasting of 1,650 entries, then passed a rigorous vetting to confirm they meet Good Food Awards standards regarding ingredient sourcing and environmentally sound agricultural practices. In addition to purchasing from Northeast organic farms and distributing its products only within the Northeast region, Real Pickles’ commitment to sustainability includes operating out of an energy-efficient, solar-powered facility.

 

MSB Receives Highest Rating for Financial Strength, Stability

MONSON — Bank rating firm BauerFinancial Inc. announced that Monson Savings Bank has earned its highest, 5-Star Superior rating for financial strength and stability for the 57th consecutive quarter. Having maintained its financial strength and stability for more than a decade, Monson Savings Bank has also earned another designation as an Exceptional Performance Bank. Only banks that have earned and maintained this highest 5-Star rating for 10 years (40 consecutive quarters) or longer may claim this distinction. This latest rating was assigned in March 2024 based on Dec. 31, 2023 financial data.

 

Health New England Honors Tania Barber with Grant to Caring Health Center

SPRINGFIELD — In honor of Tania Barber’s eight years of service on the board of directors of Health New England (HNE), the not-for-profit health plan is donating $5,000 to Caring Health Center. Barber recently retired from the HNE board and is currently the president and CEO of Caring Health Center, the only federally qualified community health center in Springfield. The grant will focus on Caring Health Center’s new Tania M. Barber Learning Institute, which offers training for professions in the healthcare industry. The model of the Learning Institute, developed by Barber, pays students, often individuals from historically underrepresented groups, while they undergo training for jobs. Barber’s vision for the Learning Institute is to address systemic barriers affecting BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee communities in Springfield. She prioritizes hiring from within the community to respond to workforce shortages and disparities, like racial wealth gaps and barriers to access education. During her two decades at Caring Health Center, she has been committed to lifting others up.

 

Tenth Local Farmer Awards Help 100 Farms Make Improvements

AGAWAM — Checks of up to $2,500 have been sent to 100 Western Mass. farms that are recipients of this year’s Local Farmer Awards. Supporting a diverse range of farm operations and infrastructure projects, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with other funders, issued a record number of awards in the program’s 10th year. A team of independent reviewers read each of the 199 applications submitted this year. These reviewers selected 100 farms to receive a 2024 grant from the Local Farmer Awards. The capital projects include the purchase of an egg-washing machine, livestock pasture expansion, reusable harvest bins, a cover-crop flail mower for reduced tillage, mobile chicken coops, and many more. The program funders collectively contributed more than $230,000 this year to assist these local farmers. Funders include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y, Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, PeoplesBank, Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Barbara Deslauriers, Audrey and Chick Taylor, Andrews, Farm Credit East, Hood, the DeNucci Group at Merrill, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Eastern States Exposition, Three County Fair, bankESB, and Franklin First Federal Credit Union. Anyone interested in supporting the 2025 Local Farmer Awards should email Cari Carpenter, director of the program, at [email protected].

 

Cambridge College Launches MBA Degree in Spanish

BOSTON — Cambridge College has launched a master of business administration (MBA) degree program taught in Spanish for learners looking to delve into the rigor and complexity of graduate-level business courses in their native language. The MBA in Spanish is a 36-credit program delivered completely online. It can be completed in 18 months, with students devoting their focus to just one course per five-week session. As of 2021, it was estimated that 2.6 million Spanish speakers have recently (within the past five years) immigrated to the U.S.; 27% of them have bachelor’s degrees, compared to 37.7% of the entire U.S. population. Being multilingual an important asset in the global business sector. According to a recent survey by Schwartz Insurance and reported by the Financial Post, bilingual or multilingual employees, particularly those who speak Spanish, earn 5% to 20% more than their monolingual colleagues. In addition to all coursework being conducted in Spanish, Cambridge College also provides support and advising in Spanish. The MBA in Spanish program is currently accepting applications, and fall-term classes begin Sept. 2.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Contributes to 107 Nonprofits

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced that its foundation made $401,190 in philanthropic investments during the first quarter of 2024. The grants covered a wide range of projects that 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 program. In all, the Berkshire Bank Foundation gave 107 local nonprofits grants to assist with critical projects in the areas of education, youth, food insecurity, housing, healthcare, substance-abuse prevention, veterans, and employment. In addition, the foundation supports programs that align with Berkshire Bank’s Center for Women, Wellness, and Wealth.

 

Liberty Bank Funds Programs at Dress for Success Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — The Liberty Bank Foundation, an extension of Liberty Bank’s commitment to the communities it serves, granted Dress for Success Western Massachusetts (DFSWM) $10,000 in support of its mission to provide professional attire and a network of support to help women thrive in work and life. The funding will help make possible DFSWM’s continuum of support, which helps underserved women and gender non-binary people in the community find not just any job, but sustainable career paths with upward mobility that will change their lives, the lives of their families for generations, and the community on whole. The continuum of support includes suiting for professional attire, the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness training, the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentorship Program, the Professional Women’s Group, and digital-literacy training in partnership with another local nonprofit Tech Foundry. In addition to its grant, Liberty Bank also provides financial-literacy programming covering basic budgeting, paths to homeownership, building and rebuilding credit, paying for higher education, and more.

 

Legacy Counsellors, P.C. Celebrates 30 Years in Business

EASTHAMPTON — On April 19, Legacy Counsellors, P.C. celebrated 30 years in business with a celebration at Springfield Country Club. In attendance were the firm’s two partners, Kevin Quinn and Michael Gove, as well as Legacy’s attorneys and support staff, clients, and professional partners such as CPAs, financial advisors, bankers, real-estate agents, and more. Everyone celebrated with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, a slideshow of the firm’s memorable moments, raffle prizes, and a speech from Quinn, the firm’s founder. Also during the event, Quinn launched his new book, titled Everyone You Love, Everything You Have. Legacy Counsellors, P.C. is an estate-planning and real-estate law firm with offices in Easthampton, Ludlow, Amherst, Sturbridge, and Northampton, as well as Bloomfield, Conn. It offers services such as estate planning, real-estate transactions and landlord representation, supplemental needs planning, elder law, Medicaid planning, and more.

Company Notebook

Gateway City Arts Sells Complex to LightHouse Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Gateway City Arts (GCA) announced it has signed a purchase and sale agreement with LightHouse Holyoke for the transfer of the three-building arts complex at 92 Race St. in Holyoke. LightHouse is a competency-based middle and high school for self-directed learning. It first opened in Holyoke in 2015 and began a collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017, and now has partnerships with six public districts. The move offers a significant opportunity to expand its existing programs. The new facility will feature similar non-traditional learning spaces as those currently existing at LightHouse, presently just down the block at 208 Race St., including a maker space, music studio, and recording studio, which have already been instrumental in nurturing creativity and inspiration among students who may not have previously enjoyed school. Plans for the three-building, 40,000-square-foot facility include a Production Academy integrated into the two on-site performance spaces, the 100-person-capacity Divine Theater, and the much larger 500-person-capacity concert venue, creating scaffolded training and internship opportunities for young people to learn the many skills associated with the entertainment and event-production industry, from lighting and sound to artist management and beyond. Similarly, the café will reopen as a public restaurant, with integrated courses and internships in all aspects of running a café, leading to paid work and future career opportunities. The facility also hosts an 8,000-square-foot maker space that will continue on as a community maker space, complete with a wood shop and ceramic studio, both hosting classes and workspaces for LightHouse students and accessible to the larger community as well.

 

Community Bank Plans to Expand Branch Presence

DEWITT, N.Y. — Community Bank announced a strategic plan to expand its branch presence in select markets throughout 2024 and 2025, including two new branch locations in the New England region. The new branches will include an additional location in Springfield, as well as the bank’s first physical branch in New Hampshire, having broken into that market with a commercial banking presence in 2023. The bank’s current presence in New England includes 28 branches throughout Vermont and Springfield. This announcement comes as newly appointed President and CEO Dimitar Karaivanov officially steps into his role this year and begins to execute his strategic vision for the bank. As Community Bank expands into promising markets with strong potenial for growth, it is reimagining the customer in-branch experience with clean, modern designs that encourage customer and banker collaboration, local community tie-ins, and staff that can handle a wide array of financial needs. The bank will bring a full suite of consumer, business, and municipal banking products and services, including no-closing-cost mortgage options, business loans and lines of credit, and competitive CD offerings. The move to establish additional branch locations in New England is a substantial investment that will allow the bank to better serve clients and aid in local economic development by creating new jobs, contributing to community efforts, and fostering financial stability. In addition to expanding in New England, Community Bank will continue to grow its branch presence throughout New York’s Western, Central, and Capital regions, as well as throughout Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

 

Summit House Wealth Partners Recognized by Forbes

SOUTH HADLEY — Summit House Wealth Partners, a private wealth-advisory practice with Ameriprise Financial in South Hadley, was named to the list of “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” published by Forbes. The list recognizes financial advisors and their teams who have demonstrated high levels of ethical standards, professionalism, and success in the business. The rankings are based on data provided by thousands of the nation’s most productive advisors and their teams. Summit House Wealth Partners was chosen based on assets under management, industry experience, compliance record, and best practices in its practice and approach to working with clients. Summit House Wealth Partners is led by Stephen Duval, CFP. The team also includes financial advisors Ed Boscher, Mike Otto, and Justin Osowiecki, and support staff Debra Whalen, James Lucey, Matthew Mitchell, Patricia Belanger, Jennifer Gray, Morgan Szczygiel, and Nicole Old. They have collectively served the South Hadley community since 1992.

 

Goodwill Industries Receives Grants for Job Skill Programs

PITTSFIELD — Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont announced it has received $8,500 in grants from Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and MountainOne Bank to support its Soar for Success employability skills program. The nonprofit social-services organization received an additional $2,500 from Greylock Federal Credit Union toward promotion and other costs associated with its annual meeting in October. Goodwill’s Soar for Success program focuses on job training in custodial skills, customer service, and employability skills guidance for individuals preparing for job interviews, as well as providing interview and work attire. The program is offered free of charge to all Berkshire County residents. Services are provided at Goodwill’s career centers in Pittsfield and North Adams and online. Goodwill sells donated clothes and other household items at a discounted price to aid in funding training and educational programs for individuals seeking employment.

 

Comcast Delivers Gig Speeds to Xfinity Mobile Customers

PHILADELPHIA — Xfinity Mobile and Comcast Business Mobile devices can now connect to millions of new Xfinity Mobile hotspots and receive internet speeds over WiFi up to 1 gigabit per second. By delivering a faster connection over Xfinity’s WiFi network, Comcast is helping ensure customers can stream, game, chat, download, and surf wherever they are. Today, 90% of the mobile data traffic on Xfinity Mobile devices travels over WiFi, not cellular. With more than 23 million WiFi hotspots giving customers a speed boost, Xfinity Mobile aims to deliver a better experience to support data-intensive applications when traditional cellular networks can’t keep up. Comcast has invested more than $20 billion over the past five years to upgrade and expand the Xfinity network and introduce new, innovative features like WiFi Boost to support the constantly increasing number of connected devices consumers use both inside and outside of the home. For more information or to sign up for Xfinity Mobile, visit an Xfinity store or www.xfinity.com/mobile.

 

Davis Foundation Supports Irish Cultural Center

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation awarded the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England (ICCWNE) a $100,000 grant toward its $2 million goal to help create a community performance center at its Morgan Road facility. The grant will support the ICCWNE’s Capstone Campaign. Funds from the Capstone Campaign will be used to complete the community performance center, which will serve the needs of the greater region for concerts, events, meetings, and private functions. It will provide a home for local, regional, national, and international performance groups, making it a full-scale regional base for Irish heritage and culture as well as a center for cross-cultural collaboration. The space will be able to house performances by major Irish cultural groups, such as Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, as well as regional performers of all ages. Formerly the home of the Elks Lodge, the facility had been vacant for five years prior to the ICCWNE taking possession of it through a partnership with the city of West Springfield. Improvements have included developing a vibrant, Irish country-style restaurant, pub, and meeting and gathering place for the community. With 11,500 square feet of space on four floors, the facility has become the ideal home for the Irish Cultural Center, which was established in 1999.

 

Eastman Donates Monitoring Equipment to Springfield FD

SPRINGFIELD — Eastman, in partnership with Northern Safety, donated vital medical equipment, known as oximeters, to the Springfield Fire Department. This donation marks a significant and continued collaboration between Eastman, a global specialty manufacturing company with a plant in Indian Orchard, and the Springfield Fire Department, in serving the local community. The equipment being donated consists of 17 high-tech, portable oximeters, which are essential for monitoring vital signs in emergency situations. The Fire Department’s need for the oximeters was learned by Eastman at an Eastman Community Action Program gathering of local neighborhood and community officials sponsored regularly by Eastman Indian Orchard. The oximeters are advanced medical devices capable of accurately measuring blood oxygen levels and heart rates, crucial parameters in assessing a patient’s condition during emergencies such as fires, accidents, or medical crises. These Concord models are rechargeable with large digital displays. Seventeen pediatric finger clips are being donated alongside the oximeter units. These can be used to save the lives of children, including infants.

 

 

Tenth Local Farmer Awards Help 100 Farms Make Improvements

AGAWAM — Checks of up to $2,500 have been sent to 100 Western Mass. farms that are recipients of this year’s Local Farmer Awards. Supporting a diverse range of farm operations and infrastructure projects, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with other funders, issued a record number of awards in the program’s 10th year. A team of independent reviewers read each of the 199 applications submitted this year. These reviewers selected 100 farms to receive a 2024 grant from the Local Farmer Awards. The capital projects include the purchase of an egg-washing machine, livestock pasture expansion, reusable harvest bins, a cover-crop flail mower for reduced tillage, mobile chicken coops, and many more. The program funders collectively contributed more than $230,000 this year to assist these local farmers. Funders include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y, Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, PeoplesBank, Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Barbara Deslauriers, Audrey and Chick Taylor, Andrews, Farm Credit East, Hood, the DeNucci Group at Merrill, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Eastern States Exposition, Three County Fair, bankESB, and Franklin First Federal Credit Union. Anyone interested in supporting the 2025 Local Farmer Awards should email Cari Carpenter, director of the program, at [email protected].

Company Notebook

Fuss & O’Neill Announces Partnership with Trilon Group

SPRINGFIELD — Civil and environmental engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill announced a strategic partnership with Trilon Group, a family of infrastructure consulting businesses. The partnership gives Fuss & O’Neill additional capital and resources to expand its services and markets in the Northeast, while better serving its clients. Founded in 1924, Fuss & O’Neill is a leading provider of engineering services, with offices in each New England state and New York. Fuss & O’Neill was selected by Trilon Group to be a part of the company’s vision to build the next top-10 design firm in North America. Trilon will support Fuss & O’Neill to accelerate the growth and careers of its employees with additional investment in talent, technology, and targeted mergers and acquisitions.

 

Easthampton Announces Business Grant Winners

EASTHAMPTON — The City of Easthampton announced that five local businesses have been awarded business grants as part of the 2023 Business Census, launched earlier this year. The five winners were randomly selected out of the 66 survey respondents. The $1,000 business grant winner is Yarn Dragon’s Basket. The $500 business grant winners are Beautiful Gardens, Jude Ribisi, Klituscope Films, and Staying in Balance Acupuncture. In partnership with both the Chamber of Greater Easthampton and Blueprint Easthampton, the city launched the 2023 Business Census, a comprehensive survey for business owners, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the community. This effort was made possible by participation in the National League of Cities’ City Inclusive Entrepreneurship (CIE) program, the fourth that Easthampton has been a part of. Through support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the CIE program is a National League of Cities initiative that asks city leaders to commit to an inclusive economic-development policy, program, or practice over the course of one year.

 

Hyundai Hope on Wheels Gives $20,000 to Two Nonprofits

HOLYOKE — During a check presentation on Jan. 25 at Gary Rome Hyundai, Hyundai Hope on Wheels made two donations: $10,000 to LukeStronger Inc. of South Hadley and $10,000 to Each Moment We’re Alive of West Springfield. Launched in 1998, Hyundai Hope on Wheels is one of the longest-running corporate social-responsibility efforts in the automotive industry. In honor of its 25th anniversary, it announced plans to award $25 million in research grants this year, its largest donation in a single year, bringing its total giving to $225 million since its inception. Each Moment We’re Alive was launched by Sheridan Murphy in 2015 after her second bout with breast cancer. She then realized that reaching out, rather than blocking out, was the best chance for survival. Since then, she has helped organize support groups and workshops with a focus on emotional and spiritual health. Sheridan has since expanded her network to help families with all types of cancer, including pediatric cancer. LukeStronger Inc. is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing assistance to local families dealing with pediatric cancer so that parents can spend time with their children. LukeStronger originated when Luke Bradley, a then 10-year-old boy from South Hadley, relapsed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Local residents rallied to support his family with, among other things, a benefit golf tournament. Complications and another unforeseen relapse kept Luke at Boston Children’s Hospital for 15 months. He underwent a bone-marrow transplant in December 2017 and is doing well today. Bradley’s family created a nonprofit to help other families by continuing the golf-tournament tradition. In its short history, LukeStronger has helped seven local families fill the income gap caused by pediatric cancer.

 

Dietz Supports Nonprofits with ‘Spread the Cheer’ Campaign

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Dietz & Company Architects recently held its annual “Spread the Cheer” holiday campaign with a $2,500 top prize donation. Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) won it with nearly 25% of the total votes. The “Spread the Cheer” holiday campaign began in 2017 in an effort to be more environmentally conscious by not sending out paper holiday cards, but rather raise awareness for all the work local nonprofits do. During the nine-day campaign, 18 local organizations were selected to be included in the event. Voters used a SurveyMonkey link to access the poll and choose an organization they felt was deserving of a share of a $5,000 prize. The organization that received the most votes received $2,500. Second place won $1,500, and third place received $1,000. The International Language Institute of Massachusetts won second place with 22% of the votes, and Dakin Humane Society came in third with 19% of the votes. The remaining 15 organizations received $100 each.

 

Breeze Airways Launches Service to Cincinnati, San Diego

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that low-cost carrier Breeze Airways will be launching non-stop summer seasonal service between Bradley International Airport and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The flight will operate on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, starting May 2. Additionally, Breeze will offer daily summer seasonal service between Bradley and San Diego International Airport, starting May 1. The flight will be part of the airline’s BreezeThru service, which includes one stop, but passengers do not have to change planes. The announcement follows recent news of the airline’s plans to launch service between BDL and Orlando, Fla. and Santa Ana, Calif. in May. Breeze currently flies nonstop between Bradley and Charleston, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Myers, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; New Orleans; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Sarasota, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; and Vero Beach, Fla.

 

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Supports Empty Arms Bereavement

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank announced that its nomination of Empty Arms Bereavement, an organization offering compassionate support to families experiencing pregnancy or infant loss, has resulted in a $5,000 grant from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. (MBA) Community Service Grant Program. “Empty Arms’ dedication to supporting families during some of life’s most difficult moments resonates deeply with our commitment to community service,” said Tony Worden, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank. This year, the MBA Charitable Foundation awarded 41 grants, totaling $152,500, to nonprofit organizations across the state. Empty Arms’ dedication to grieving families stood out among the many nominations, earning it this vital funding.

Company Notebook

Liberty Bank Opens First Branch in Massachusetts

EAST LONGMEADOW — On Dec. 5, Liberty Bank officially opened its first bank branch in Massachusetts, located at 94 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow. As part of the grand opening, teammates from Liberty Bank, which is headquartered in Middletown, Conn., presented two grants totaling $10,000 to representatives from the East Longmeadow Food Pantry and Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. As part of Liberty’s growth strategy to build its presence along the I-91 corridor from New Haven to Hartford and now into Greater Springfield, it established a commercial loan production office in East Longmeadow in 2021. The relationship managers and support teams based in this market have been successful in maintaining and building new relationships within East Longmeadow and Greater Springfield, attracting new customers to the bank, networking with prospects, and building a strong community presence. This nearly 3,000-square-foot, full-service branch includes a drive-up banking lane, ATM, and night drop. The branch team, led by Teresa Parker, have been entrenched in the Western Mass. and Greater Springfield communities for many years, working, volunteering, and residing in the area.

 

Thunderbirds Contribute $15,000 to Mayflower Marathon

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced, in collaboration with Rock 102 and the Mayflower Marathon, that the team successfully generated more than $15,000 for this year’s Marathon. A contribution of $10,000 in cash was made by the Thunderbirds to Open Pantry, a result of generous donations throughout November and the funds raised during the T-Birds’ celebrity bartending event at White Lion Brewing earlier this month. Additionally, Ray Berry, founder of White Lion Brewing, will contribute an extra $800 from the proceeds of Thunderboom beers and burgers sold at White Lion. The Mayflower Marathon achieved another historic milestone, amassing a record-breaking total of $234,733.71 in food and monetary contributions. The non-perishable food donations filled four full-size Mayflower trailers and an additional one-and-a-half box trucks, marking a remarkable increase of more than $55,000 from the 2022 Marathon. Throughout November, the Thunderbirds actively collected donations at the team office and during home games inside the MassMutual Center. Leading up to Mayflower Marathon Night on Nov. 22, fans making contributions were rewarded with tickets to the T-Birds game.

 

Merged Agency to Be Called Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Massachusetts

WESTERN MASS. — The mentorship agencies of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Franklin County and BBBS of Hampden County, both founded in 1967, announced they will merge into one organization. The combined agencies, operating under the name Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western Massachusetts (BBBSWM), will become the largest mentorship organization in the region. David Beturne, executive director of BBBS of Hampden County, who has been acting as interim executive director in Franklin County since April, will lead the new agency. Beturne brings 23 years of experience with BBBS and plans to maintain all staff at both locations. Both agencies have a long history of fostering connections in their respective counties, and plan to grow to serve areas without an established BBBS office. The merger does not include the Center for Human Development’s BBBS program, which will continue to serve the Hampshire County area. BBBS creates connections between children (Littles) with qualified and vetted mentors (Bigs) in the community to create fulfilling relationships. BBBS monitors all matches to ensure safety standards are upheld and that the relationship is positive and empowering for the children involved.

 

UMassFive Employees Support Local Nonprofits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced that its employees have raised more than $18,000 for two local nonprofits during the fall of 2023: $13,677 in support of the UMass Cancer Center via participation in the UMass Cancer Walk and Run, and $4,800 for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts via participation in Will Bike 4 Food. A longstanding and top supporter of the UMass Cancer Walk and Run event for more than 20 years, UMassFive employees join together annually as Team UMassFive to raise funds for the cause, both personally and in branch locations. In 2023, fundraising efforts included raffle baskets, bake sales, candy sales, and art and jewelry sales. Donations were also sought from credit union corporate partners, whose support helps bolster efforts each year. Including the $13,677 raised in 2023, Team UMassFive has raised over $186,600 in donations to the UMass Cancer Center over the lifetime of its participation. Since 2020, UMassFive employees have also jumped on their bicycles in support of Will Bike 4 Food, a major fundraising event for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. In 2023, seven riders teamed up to raise $4,800 in support of their cumulative 300-mile ride. Including the 2023 efforts, Team UMassFive has raised $17,500 in just four years of participation, which equates to providing 70,332 meals to neighbors in need.

 

Smith Brothers Insurance Merges with the Quintal Agency

NORTHAMPTON — The Quintal Agency, an independent insurance agency led by Lynne Quintal-Hill and located in Plainfield, Conn., has merged its operations with Smith Brothers Insurance. Smith Brothers has offices across Connecticut, Massachusetts (including Northampton), New Jersey, and New York. Quintal-Hill will be fully engaged in client service and business development, and will continue to serve clients as she and her team members join Smith Brothers. The team will continue to work from their office in Plainfield while leveraging the resources of Smith Brothers.

 

Westfield Bank Donates Food to Local Communities

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank invited its customers and community members across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. to help fight hunger in local communities as part of its 2023 food drive. From Oct. 25 through Nov. 18, all Westfield Bank branches collected non-perishable food items and monetary donations. Food items included items for Thanksgiving meals, including canned fruit, boxed stuffing and potatoes, gravy, jelly, cranberry sauce, and more. Each branch donated to a food pantry or community kitchen local to their service area. Some branch managers also gathered to cook for a local soup kitchen with the donated food items, donating a total of 126 pounds of food, which would be able to feed about 100 people that day.

 

Freedom Credit Union Supports Unify Against Bullying

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of October, Freedom Credit Union and its members raised more than $1,000 for Unify Against Bullying. “Unify Against Bullying is an organization we are very proud to support,” said Debra Mainolfi, the credit union’s West Springfield branch officer and a member of the Unify Against Bullying executive board. “Every year in the U.S., over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying, and Western Massachusetts is no exception. Most children who experience bullying don’t report it. Unify Against Bullying makes a positive impact in our schools and communities to bring people together to speak out against bullying in a unified voice.” Unify Against Bullying pledges to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. The organization works to ensure that victims of bullying know they are not alone — that they are, in fact, supported by a loving, caring community of fellow students, teachers, parents, siblings, business leaders, and many others.

 

Easthampton Learning Foundation Invests in STEAM Program at Mountain View School

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton Learning Foundation is investing significantly in enhancing the STEAM program at Mountain View School. Priscilla Kane Hellweg, founder of the Arts Integration Studio, and Megan Kelley-Bagg, Easthampton Public Schools STEAM teacher, are collaborating to expand STEAM opportunities for K-5 students. STEAM, an educational approach integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, fosters 21st-century skills like creative thinking and collaboration. Hellweg and Kelley-Bagg aim to strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration, elevate arts education within STEAM, and develop replicable content for teachers. A dedicated STEAM cohort has been formed, starting with fifth-grade teachers engaging in collaborative professional development. The focus is on weather, climate, and earth systems, with two hands-on curriculum units created for fifth grade. New STEAM content units will be developed monthly during the pilot year. With the success of the fifth-grade team, the program aims to inspire more teachers to embrace creative arts integration in the coming years. The STEAM program, launched last year, aims to promote collaboration among educators and introduce captivating, project-based learning opportunities into the academic day.

 

MCLA Receives $306,000 Grant to Fund Mental-health Support

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced it has received the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Suicide Prevention Grant for $306,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Over the next three years, this funding will launch the MCLA Cares Project, an initiative to build campus-wide infrastructure to support student mental health. The MCLA Cares Project will utilize a multi-pronged approach to address mental-health support deficits across campus. This project will engage a health promotion coordinator, a new position designed to plan and implement the grant’s activities as well as produce additional mental-health and wellness programming. Grant funds will contribute significantly to training the student-facing faculty and staff in suicide awareness and prevention. The MCLA Cares Project was developed in accordance with MCLA’s mission to provide an accessible liberal-arts education to students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, such as first-generation students, students of color, and LGBTQIA+ students. The health promotion coordinator will collaborate with these groups to identify their specific needs and challenges in order to create responsive programming.

 

 

Springfield College Awarded $240,000 for Mental-health Needs

SPRINGFIELD — In partnership with the city of Springfield, Springfield College was awarded $240,000 to help assist in combating the growing mental-health needs among college students and the local community. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Chief Development Officer Tim Sheehan announced the partnership as part of the Sarno administration’s Higher Education ARPA Fund at City Hall on Dec. 6. Sarno had previously announced the creation of the $750,000 Higher Education ARPA Fund as part of his 13th round of ARPA awards in July, as Springfield College was joined by American International College and Western New England University as recipients of the funding. The $240,000 allocation that Springfield College received will create additional opportunities to further support youth and families in the city of Springfield and provide collaboration between Springfield College students and Springfield Public Schools to enhance their learning and simultaneously support the community. With the funding, Springfield College intends to hire case managers to provide support and advocacy for both college students and children and families in Springfield Public Schools who have difficulty navigating the often-complex web of available resources, hire a psychiatric nurse practitioner to support critical needs within area colleges and the community, and strengthen relationships between school counseling and clinical mental-health counseling student interns at Springfield College and Springfield Public Schools to provide additional community-based mental-health services and support.

 

Company Notebook

Forest Park Zoo Wins Award for Education Programming

SPRINGFIELD — For the third time in as many years, the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center has been nationally recognized for its innovative education programs. On Oct. 19, the zoo received the Educational Award of Excellence from the Zoological Assoc. of America for its zookeeper internship program. The program combines classroom and hands-on learning in a way that creates a well-rounded internship experience for college-aged students. In addition to providing basic care for the 225-plus animals that call the zoo their home, interns also participate in a 12-week professional-development curriculum and complete a capstone project. Weekly topics are selected by the zoo’s education and animal-care teams and cover a wide range of themes in the field of zoological studies. The program culminates with the enrichment capstone project, in which participants research a species to create an enrichment item based on the animal’s individual needs. Enrichment is an important component of an animal’s daily care and aims to provide mental or physical stimulation by encouraging natural behaviors. In December 2021, the zoo won the same award for its creation and implementation of the Kids Go Wild program, and in August 2021, Adams received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Assoc. of Zookeepers for her work on Kids Go Wild.

 

Big Y Again Named a Best-in-State Employer

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth year in a row, Big Y has been named a Forbes Best-in-state Employer. Honorees 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, neither have the 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 topics such as working conditions, salary, potential for development, and company image. Big Y’s award spans 25 different industries.

 

LightHouse Holyoke to Acquire Sons of Zion Building

HOLYOKE — LightHouse Holyoke is in the process of acquiring the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. to become its permanent home. LightHouse Holyoke is a 501(c)(3), accredited school founded in 2015. It began a partnership with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017 and now works with four public districts along with private-pay families on a sliding scale. With a foundation in social justice, LightHouse offers a transformational educational experience for students in grades 6-12 who are seeking a new way to experience school. Over the past eight years, LightHouse has supported nearly 150 students to not just graduate high school, but to redefine their relationship to learning. More than half were either already dropped out of high school or at high risk to not graduate. LightHouse’s vision is to be a reflection of a world where young people are celebrated for their individual gifts and identities and where all people are invited to learn with each other, from each other, and for each other, guided by a shared goal of connection and responsibility. It believes that transformative education is a key to this future. Current enrollment is 75 students; in the new building, LightHouse aims to increase enrollment to 100-120 students. With the support of Mass Development, it has completed a robust feasibility study, including multiple environmental reports. It has initial drawings from an architect and is prepared to close on the four-lot parcel in January 2024. The current vision for two of the currently vacant lots is to create an urban food forest, open to the community. The cost estimate for the total project is approximately $4 million. Occupancy is expected by September 2025.

 

Greater Westfield Chamber Announces 2023 Awards

WESTFIELD — The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce announced its annual award winners for 2023. The Business of the Year Award is being presented jointly to Westfield Barnes Regional Airport and the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Kimberley Betts of Betts Plumbing & Heating Supply. Westfield On Weekends earned the Nonprofit of the Year Award, and the Member of the Year Award is being presented to Rick Rheault of Integrity Merchant Solutions. The awards were presented at the chamber’s annual meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Shaker Farms Country Club.

 

Chamber of Greater Easthampton Receives WorkHub on Union Grant

EASTHAMPTON — The Chamber of Greater Easthampton announced that its new entrepreneurial initiative, WorkHub on Union, received a significant boost with a recent award: a $50,000 Collaborative Workspace Program Fit-Out Grant. This is the second grant the chamber has received for this project from the Executive Office of Economic Development, MassDevelopment, and the Collaborative Workspace Grant Program. This latest grant is an addition to the $100,000 in state funding, bringing the total of local and state funds raised to date to $230,000.

 

Country Bank Donates $42,000 to 21 Area Senior Centers

WARE — Country Bank recently announced donations to 21 local senior centers throughout the region, totaling $42,000. These donations are made without restriction for necessary items that may not be met within the centers’ annual budgets. “We are so fortunate to have a community partner like Country Bank,” said John Zienowicz, executive director of Ware Senior Center. “Countless members of their staff have volunteered at our events and special projects that have ranged from holiday parties at the senior center to personally delivering boxes of food items to seniors in need. This donation helps to sustain our meal program, which, over the past five years, has provided in excess of 38,000 home-cooked meals for the seniors. Their commitment to service, volunteerism, and community is what makes Country Bank the gold standard when it comes to being true difference makers.” In addition to its annual monetary support, Country Bank also sends teams of employees to volunteer at local senior centers on a monthly basis.

 

LiftTruck Launches Fundraiser to Benefit Head Start

WEST SPRINGFIELD — LiftTruck Parts & Service Inc., a local, family-owned business, launched its 2023 Fill a Forklift fundraiser to benefit Head Start Brockton and Holyoke Chicopee Springfield (HCS) Head Start. For 35 years, LiftTruck has been a family-owned business providing forklift sales, rentals, parts, and service to the Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Rhode Island areas. LiftTruck invites the community to help it raise funds throughout November and December, as it will be collecting monetary donations at its Brockton and West Springfield locations and accepting donations online. Head Start Brockton and HCS Head Start aim to provide family and parent support and opportunities for families to engage in a child’s education. Since its inception in 1965, Head Start has improved the lives of more than 32 million children and their families.

 

Country Bank, Bank Director Announce Fully Certified Board

WARE — James Phaneuf, Country Bank board chair, announced that the bank’s board of directors recently became the first fully certified board through Bank Director’s certification program. The certification provides participants with a thorough grounding in corporate governance and important industry issues that enhance the performance of individual directors. The board completed the comprehensive training program this past year and was certified in September. Participants must complete 31 designated online training videos and board briefs focused on the role of the board, audit and risk, compensation, governance, and fiduciary responsibilities. In addition to Bank Director’s online training series, participants must attend a day-long corporate-governance workshop in the Bank Director certification program or, alternatively, complete a virtual version of the program. Completing the program and becoming a certified bank director sends a clear message to state and federal regulators that board members take their fiduciary duties seriously and want to be top-performing members of the bank’s board.

 

Second Chance Animal Services Named a Top-Rated Nonprofit

EAST BROOKFIELD — Second Chance Animal Services has been named a 2023 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits, a leading website for community recommendations of charities and nonprofits. Second Chance offers programs and services that help more than 44,000 pets a year to live better lives. The Top-Rated Nonprofit award is based on the rating and number of reviews that Second Chance received from volunteers, donors, and aid recipients. In one review, a volunteer shared that “I have been a volunteer with Second Chance for the past couple of years and continue to be impressed with how hard they work to not only help and care for the animals they rescue, but also the resources they give to animal owners in the communities they serve, from veterinary services to vaccine clinics, pet grooming, food banks, and more. They truly are an impressive organization.”

 

Market Mentors Raises $4,000 for Breast-cancer Programs

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its 20th-anniversary recognition, Market Mentors LLC, a fully integrated marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, brought back its annual Pink Day campaign to raise funds for Baystate Health Foundation to support breast-cancer research and services. Selling MM Pink Day 2023 T-shirts, the agency raised a total of $4,000. Participating companies included Adams & Ruxton; Allied Flooring, Paint and Design; Belt Technologies Inc.; BusinessWest; Cornerstone Bank; Dowd Insurance Agencies; EffecTV (Comcast); Excel Dryer; Freedom Credit Union; Giombetti Associates; Girard Heating & Air Conditioning; Koopman Lumber; Louis & Clark Pharmacy; Millennium Press; Noonan Energy; Prime Media; PDC Inc.; the Recorder; the Republican; Vlier Inc.; Western Mass News; and Women’s Health Associates.

 

 

Skoler Abbott Receives Empowering Women Award

SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., a labor and employment law firm serving employers in the Greater Springfield area, has been named to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s inaugural Empowering Women list. The award recognizes Skoler Abbott for its strong commitment to hiring and promoting women, providing mentoring and opportunities for professional advancement to women attorneys, and establishing programs and policies to help women attorneys thrive professionally. Skoler Abbott was the only law firm in Western Mass. to receive this honor.

 

Home City Development Begins Construction on Apartments

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) has begun construction of 34 new affordable apartments on a previously developed site in Pelham. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Nov. 2 at 20 Amherst Road, Pelham. Consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental apartments in two buildings, Amethyst Brook Apartments provides modern amenities in a quiet, rural setting for households earning up to 60% of area median income. The buildings are designed to meet Energy Star and Passive House energy-performance standards. The property will contain charging stations for electric vehicles and roof-mounted solar panels. Along with local jobs, construction spending, and increased property taxes, this professionally managed property is expected to make significant contributions to the town of Pelham. HCDI was awarded most of the project funding from the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. In addition, HCDI received Community Preservation Act funds from the town of Pelham and construction and permanent loans from Easthampton Savings Bank. Other funders include Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., and Dorfman Capital. The development team includes Architecture Environment Life; Western Builders; development consultant Gerry Joseph; Tierney Development Services; Berkshire Design Group; Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C.; Klein-Hornig LLP; O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun; and many other partners.

Company Notebook

Springfield Museums Announce Free First Wednesdays

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums have been awarded a three-year, $800,000 grant from the Art Bridges Foundation as part of a new Access for All initiative meant to help increase access to museums across the country. Thanks to this funding, the Springfield Museums will introduce Free First Wednesdays beginning in January 2024. All visitors will receive free admission on the first Wednesday of every month for the next three years. The Springfield Museums are one of just 64 museums in 36 states — and one of only seven in New England — to be awarded one of these prestigious grants. There are 33,000 museums in the U.S., according to the American Alliance of Museums. Based in Bentonville, Ark., the Art Bridges Foundation is a national arts nonprofit founded by philanthropist Alice Walton. With its $40 million investment in the Access for All initiative, the foundation hopes to eliminate barriers and encourage more people to visit and engage in more museums across the country.

 

MicroTek Receives Disability Employment Awareness Award

CHICOPEE — MicroTek Inc., a not-for-profit manufacturer of custom wire harnesses and cable assemblies, received the inaugural National Disabilities Awareness Month award for small to medium-sized Massachusetts companies, presented at the Massachusetts State House. MicroTek, founded in 1983, was established to provide employment opportunities and support to individuals with developmental disabilities. MicroTek is led by an all-women volunteer board of directors. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh presented the keynote and spoke about the state’s support for employing people with disabilities. “When we prioritize hiring people with disabilities, everyone wins. We can address the ongoing workforce crisis, foster independence, and become a stronger workforce with a better understanding of the lived experience of people with disabilities. We need to take this opportunity to break down stigma and become more inclusive.”

 

Greenfield Savings Bank Supports WorkHub on Union

EASTHAMPTON — Greenfield Savings Bank has contributed $5,000 to the Chamber of Greater Easthampton’s co-workspace project, WorkHub on Union. This partnership underscores the shared dedication of both organizations to empower local entrepreneurs and enhance the overall prosperity of the Greater Easthampton community. WorkHub on Union seeks to establish a dynamic hub where local professionals, creative minds, and innovators can converge. This project is envisioned to foster collaboration, idea exchange, and networking among individuals representing diverse industries. The donation from Greenfield Savings Bank reflects its commitment to nurturing initiatives that contribute to the holistic well-being of the community. This collaboration symbolizes the mutual resolve of Greenfield Savings Bank and the chamber to promote entrepreneurial spirit and offer resources that uplift local businesses and residents.

 

 

Bay Path Awarded $1.2 Million for Special-ed Teacher Training

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded a federal grant totaling $1,201,833 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to train special-education teachers. The grant, to be applied over five years, will help Bay Path fund scholarships for graduate students and help the university create and offer professional-development opportunities to faculty and teachers at partnering school districts, which include Holyoke Public Schools, Worcester Public Schools, and the Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction, based in Worcester. Through this project, Bay Path will prepare for accreditation from the Council of Exceptional Children, the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Bay Path is one of 41 colleges and universities nationally to receive funding through this grant competition. The grant comes at a time when Massachusetts has adjusted its licensing requirements as a means of streamlining the process by which an educator becomes qualified to teach special education. In 2019, it was reported that 118,867 students in Massachusetts had complex or challenging special-education needs, up from 62,660 in 2004, representing the majority of the state’s entire special-education student population of nearly 174,000.

 

Kuhn Riddle Receives Award

AMHERST — Kuhn Riddle Architects has been designated a 2023 Emerging Professionals Friendly Firm. The award is presented annually by the New England American Institute of Architects, and Kuhn Riddle has been awarded this title for the third year in a row. The award is presented to architecture firms which demonstrate initiatives that promote the advancement of emerging architectural professionals. The firm must evaluate their policies from an emerging professional lens, show recognition of emerging professionals at their firm, and value the development of emerging professionals to sustain the future growth of their practice. Application for the award must be completed cooperatively by an emerging professional and a firm principal. Kuhn Riddle currently has five emerging professionals who are going through the licensure process.

 

Westfield State University Cuts Ribbon at Parenzo Hall

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 13 for the newly renovated Parenzo Hall. The more than $40 million project, a partnership with Westfield State University and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Assets Management and Maintenance, started its planning phase in 2018 and was completed earlier this month. The newly designed, 90,000-square-foot building will host Dever Stage, the Center for Student Success and Engagement, the Department of Education, the Department of Political Science, and the new Collaboration and Maker Space. Parenzo Hall will also be home to Westfield State’s new Research, Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurial (RIDE) Center, which will serve as a hub of innovation and workforce development in Western Mass., fulfilling the university’s stewarded agreement to engage students while partnering and collaborating with external stakeholders and community leaders. RIDE will partner with MakerHealth, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which will outfit RIDE with equipment and modules that support transdisciplinary innovation, design, and entrepreneurial practices. Westfield State University will be the first undergraduate institution in the nation to establish this partnership.

 

Marcus & Millichap Facilitates

Sale of Industrial Warehouse

AGAWAM — Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real-estate brokerage firm specializing in investment sales, financing, research, and advisory services, announced the sale of 277 Silver St. in Agawam, an industrial warehouse, for $2,850,000. Klein, an investment specialist in Marcus & Millichap’s Boston office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, a group of private investors. The buyer, an individual/personal trust, was procured by Tom Hovey and Eric Suffoletto of Atlantic Capital Partners. At closing, the building was 100% occupied by two tenants, including Otis Elevator. The warehouse occupies a 3.4-acre parcel, offering a total of 37,650 square feet, featuring five loading docks and 40 parking spaces.

 

AIC Launches Online Graduate

Forensic Psychology Program

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has introduced an online master of science in forensic psychology program. This new offering, complementing the college’s established in-person program, is tailored for those with a bachelor’s degree interested in psychology, criminal minds and behavior, and the workings of the criminal-justice system. Applications are now being accepted for the inaugural program for the spring 2024 semester, set to begin in January. The online forensic psychology program is a unique opportunity to study the psychopathology of criminal minds and behavior, from serial killers to individuals with co-morbid mental-health and addiction issues. Students will delve into various subjects, including policing, evidence practices, victimization, risk assessment, and other specialized topics. After earning their degree, many forensic psychology students embark on careers in public and private settings, including prisons, youth facilities, social services, and mental-health agencies. Some even explore careers as forensic researchers or positions with federal and state agencies.

 

Country Bank Recognized

for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank announced that the Boston Business Journal has once again named it an honoree in its annual 2023 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 celebration on Sept. 7, 100 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities last year, as noted above. This year’s honorees include companies from such industry sectors as financial and professional services, healthcare, technology, retail, and professional sports. Country Bank, ranked 44th, employs 220 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties, many of whom volunteer for various nonprofits throughout the year.

 

Hazen Paper Unveils 11th Cover for Hall of Fame Yearbook

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper’s 11th enshrinement yearbook cover for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, created with Hazen HoloJet paper, projects an amplified refractive three-dimensional image of a basketball symbolizing the Hall of Fame dome. For 2023, this includes Fresnel Lens technology and a new holographic element called “Metal-Morphosis,” utilizing a new deep-groove system for sharper images and greater dimensionality. Appearing to move and change with the angle of light, the holographic treatment induces engagement and interaction with the book. Hazen originated the holography 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 Tango C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil and HoloJet process. The holography is created with an optical structure that is imparted on the surface of the paper (underneath the printed graphics) with an ultra-thin polymer layer that is less than 2 microns in thickness. Envirofoil is a non-plastic paper that is as recyclable as paper.

 

Food Bank of Western Mass.

Adds STCC as Member Agency

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has become the first college in Massachusetts to join the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts as a member agency. Starting this month, STCC will be a part of the region’s food-assistance network. STCC was also the first college in Massachusetts to join the Stop & Shop School Food Pantry Program, which provides donations to support the college’s food pantry, known as the Ram Mini Mart. Students who qualify can visit the on-campus Center for Access Services (CAS) to pick up free meals, groceries, and other necessities stored in the Ram Mini Mart. Stop & Shop offers a school-based food-pantry program to help reduce hunger among students in communities served by the company’s more than 400 stores in the Northeast. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides healthy food to 173 members of the network in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. These independent pantries, meal sites, and shelters are on the front lines, providing food and other resources to individuals, families, seniors, children, college students, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Company Notebook

PIP East Longmeadow Earns Franchise Top-10 Award

EAST LONGMEADOW — PIP East Longmeadow has been recognized as a top-10 franchise based on sales revenue for the nationwide PIP franchise network. The award was presented at the annual PIP Convention and Vendor Show held July 12-15 in Kansas City, Mo. Owned by Robert Pelzek, the business ranked sixth in the network based on 2022 sales. It also received industry recognition as a top-100 commercial printer in the U.S. by What They Think/Printing News, a prestigious honor in the printing industry. Along with the East Longmeadow location, this PIP business also has centers in Waltham and Hartford, Conn.

 

Bay Path Ranks Third in U.S. for Online Master’s in Cybersecurity

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been ranked third in the nation for its online cybersecurity master’s degree program by Fortune magazine, up from last year’s position at number 11. Rankings were determined by a program’s selectivity score, which measures the undergraduate GPAs and years of work experience of its students, along with the program’s acceptance rate. In addition, Fortune evaluated retention and graduation rates, as well as the size of each graduating class. In addition to its cybersecurity graduate program for men and women, Bay Path offers an NSA- approved bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to undergraduate women. Bay Path was also recognized in 2023 as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education (CAE).

 

bankESB Parent Company Wins National Top Workplaces Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group, parent company of bankESB, announced it was named a 2023 Financial Services Industry Top Workplaces national award winner. This award is based solely on feedback from employees of participating workplaces, gathered through an anonymous, third-party survey administered by Energage LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee-engagement tools. Industry Top Workplaces awards celebrate organizations that have built a people-first workplace culture and mark them as an employer of choice within their sector. This is the second year in a row that bankESB’s parent company has been recognized nationally in the financial-services industry category. The company also was named a national Top Workplaces USA winner in 2022.

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge to Host Grand-opening Event

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles Lounge will host a grand-opening event for its new location at 46 Cabot St., Chicopee, on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The business will offer a larger scale of wellness services, including cryotherapy, to its clientele, as well as new job opportunities within the community. This lounge will include new equipment allowing Beauty Batlles to offer cryo facial, cryo body sculpt, cryo skin, and cryo hair rejuvenation. Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, exposes the body to cold temperatures to heal and treat various medical ailments. Beauty Batlles uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to clients’ specific needs, aiming to deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with various insecurities.

 

Braman Termite & Pest Elimination Wins Excellence Award

AGAWAM — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central New England announced the recipients of the 2023 Marketplace Excellence Awards, naming Braman Termite & Pest Elimination the winner of the Western Massachusetts Award for Marketplace Excellence, Mid-sized Business. Based in Agawam, Braman serves residential and commercial customers across Southern New England, with additional Massachusetts locations in Auburn, Hampden, Lee, and Waltham, as well as Bloomfield, Conn. The BBB award recognizes both high standards of behavior toward customers, employees, and suppliers and a history of ethical business practices and community involvement. Braman is a member of the National Pest Management Assoc. and has earned the association’s QualityPro and GreenPro designations. Its pest-control technicians are all licensed, certified, insured, and trained to observe all relevant federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to the services they provide.

 

Freedom Credit Union Raises $1,400 for Griffin’s Friends

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of June, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families, raising a total of $1,400. Griffin’s Friends was founded in 1994 in Springfield and is named for Griffin Kelleher, who passed away from cancer when he was 14 months old. This group is his legacy, uniquely supporting children in treatment for cancer and their families by providing small acts of joy. Examples of the types of experiences offered by Griffin’s Friends include trips to stage performances and sporting events, in-hospital and outpatient entertainment, massage therapy, and activities such as art, computers, and games. To contribute, visit griffinsfriends.com. All funds donated go to the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc.

 

Yankee Mattress Makes, Donates Pet Beds for Dakin Humane Society

AGAWAM — Yankee Mattress Co., a local, employee-owned maker of handcrafted mattresses, has found an innovative way to support a local nonprofit organization while improving its own sustainability goals. “There is a comfort layer on the top of our mattresses, and when we get to the end of the roll, we always have excess material that’s not quite big enough for a mattress,” said Adam Miller, president of Yankee Mattress Co. “Our lead mattress maker, Aaron Bisson, had the idea to use the surplus to make pet beds, instead of disposing of it. Then Bill Lamirande, our vice president of Sales, suggested donating the beds to Dakin Humane Society as a way to support the great work they do in our community.” Lamirande coordinates with the Dakin team to customize the sizes needed, including small beds that fit inside the pet carriers the adopted animals go home in, and bigger beds for larger dogs. The number of beds Yankee Mattress creates is based on the amount of excess bedding material it generates. Located in Springfield, Dakin Humane Society provides shelter, medical care, spay and neuter services, and behavioral rehabilitation for more than 20,000 animals and people each year.

 

State Awards $450,000 to LifePath for Community Enrichment Center

GREENFIELD — LifePath was awarded more than $450,000 by the Healey-Driscoll administration for the creation of a community enrichment center. The center will provide a space where older adults and people with disabilities can enjoy respite, activities, and socialization with people of all ages, while caregivers can take a break and receive information needed to help their loved one remain at home. The administration sought innovative models to identify promising practices to relieve caregivers of the stress acquired from the exceptional demands of caring for individuals with complex needs, to close service gaps, and to provide person-centered respite in home- and community-based settings. LifePath is partnering with the Care Collaborative (TCC), a local nonprofit serving elders and their caregivers for more than 20 years. Programming will start in late fall. The day program will be hosted by TCC at its Sunderland location. Through this grant, TCC will recruit and train paid caregivers who can gain experience at the center and then go into people’s homes to provide respite care. In-home training on the best way to care for their loved one can also be provided to family and informal caregivers. The center will be a place where caregivers can get information and resources specific to their unique caregiving needs, and where they can access help navigating healthcare and social systems. In addition, there will be self-care offerings like massage and yoga, as well as peer support.

 

GCC Foundation Donates $100,000 to Equip Students with Technology

GREENFIELD — Thanks to a generous donor community, the Greenfield Community College (GCC) Foundation is giving $100,000 to the college to ensure all students have access to critical technology to achieve their educational goals. The funds will be used to purchase laptops for GCC’s technology lending library, securing enough of the technology to provide one to any matriculated student who needs it. The laptops will be available for matriculated students when the fall semester starts in September. The technology lending library is operated through GCC’s library. The lending library also features other items students can borrow at no cost, like WiFi hotspots, digital cameras, voice recorders, and more.

Company Notebook

Dress for Success Western Mass. Moving to Downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is relocating from the Eastfield Mall to its new location at 45 Lyman St. in downtown Springfield. The new location is ideally situated close to major transportation, including Union Station and the main bus terminal. This will be more accessible for users of public transit and provides Dress for Success Western Massachusetts additional space to provide services and programs to reach more women, transgender, and non-binary people. This transition to the new space will be performed with minimal interruption of services. The organization’s programs — Foot in the Door, Digital Literacy Coaching, the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentorship Program, and the Professional Women’s Group — are not being affected by the move.

 

Hackworth School of Performing Arts Wins Prestigious Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hackworth School of Performing Arts (HSPA) owners Alison Forance and Lisa Anthony announced that they were named Ultimate Studio of the Year by the American Dance Awards on July 9. This honor is given to a dance studio that shows success in training dancers in all age groups in various different styles, including but not limited to ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, acro, and musical theater. The American Dance Awards values the wide range of quality dance education offered to students and feels it should be rewarded. The nominees for this prestigious award included studios from all over the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Hackworth School of Performing Arts strives to create a well-rounded program and is honored to receive this award, Forance said. The studio is entering its their 90th season. Families looking to join the HSPA dance family should email [email protected].

 

PeoplesBank Named Among Top Corporate Charitable Contributors

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank has been recognized as a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor for the 16th year in a row by the Boston Business Journal. Only 100 companies throughout the state are recognized, and PeoplesBank shares the spotlight with such national brands as Procter & Gamble, AT&T, and Dell Technologies, as well as local names like the Red Sox Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and MassMutual. PeoplesBank supported more than 450 nonprofits in the communities it serves in 2022, with both financial support and volunteerism from the associates.

 

Bradley International Airport, Paradies Lagardère Partner to Add, Upgrade Concessions

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that its partner and award-winning airport concessionaire Paradies Lagardère will be upgrading its existing establishments at Bradley International Airport and adding two new dining concepts. Paradies Lagardère currently operates six retail locations at the airport, including two CNBC Stores, two New England Travelmarts, one iStore, and one Avanti Marketplace. As part of the upcoming upgrades, Paradies Lagardère will be updating all six concepts. Four will be refreshed within their existing brand. Two concepts will reopen under a new name, including CT River Landing and Charter Oak Emporium. In addition, a Starbucks will be introduced. This will be the airport’s first Starbucks post-TSA screening, located in the food-court area. A sit-down restaurant, called Beercode Kitchen & Bar, is also planned for the Gates 20-30 concourse, which currently does not offer a sit-down option. The restaurant is a gastropub-style concept offering a wide array of cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as an eclectic lineup of local craft beer and other beverages. Over the next year, passengers will see the locations come to life gradually, with Starbucks opening first at the end of this summer.

 

Freedom Credit Union Supports ‘A Bed for Every Child’

SPRINGFIELD — Knowing that a good night’s sleep is essential for children’s health, growth, and development, Freedom Credit Union again partnered with the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. to help provide ‘A Bed for Every Child’ across the Pioneer Valley. Throughout the month of May, Freedom accepted cash donations, raising a total of $2,385. This effort began in 2011, when the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless learned that many public-school students were not getting enough sleep because they did not have their own beds. In response, they launched A Bed for Every Child with a mission to help children get the restful sleep they need to learn and succeed. To date, more than 14,250 children have been helped. Throughout the month of June, Freedom also accepted donations at all its branches to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families.

Company Notebook

Business Editor George O’Brien to Retire

After nearly 30 years as editor of the region’s premier business publication, BusinessWest editor George O’Brien will retire from that position later this spring. A search for a successor is ongoing. O’Brien, who started his career in journalism at the Westfield Evening News in 1980, said that he will always covet his years at BusinessWest and the relationships forged during his time here. “I’ve always told people that behind every business there are people, and these people have stories,” he noted. “I’ve always loved telling those stories.” O’Brien joined BusinessWest in 1995 after serving a lengthy stint as editor of the Westfield Evening News. He has been at the forefront of expansion at BusinessWest that has come in many forms — from making the formerly monthly publication twice monthly, to the introduction of several events, including Difference Makers and 40 Under Forty, to the introduction of the healthcare publication Healthcare News. He said he has enjoyed all aspects of his work at BusinessWest, but especially emceeing events and meeting business owners, telling their stories, and keeping readers informed. A frequent public speaker who has addressed chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, and other groups about the publication and the business scene in the 413, O’Brien said he told them that the region’s best assets are its resiliency and strong entrepreneurial spirit.“I’ve always been impressed with the entrepreneurial energy in Western Mass.,” he said. “There have always been people willing to take risks, innovate, and convert ideas into businesses.”O’Brien said he intends to find opportunities to write a little and stay active in Western Mass., working with area nonprofits such as Link to Libraries, which he has served as a board member and reader in the classroom, most recently at Springfield’s DeBerry Elementary School, for more than a decade. “The best thing about being in Western Mass. is that around every corner, and on every street, there’s a business I’ve profiled,” he noted. “This hasn’t been a job, really, it’s been a privilege.”

 

Square One Announces Plans for Expanded Access to Services

SPRINGFIELD — On March 24, Square One leaders were joined by state and local officials to formally announce plans to expand access to high-quality early learning and care for the region’s children and families. The announcement was held at 947 Main St., Springfield, the site where Square One once stood prior to the 2011 tornado. There, Square One plans to build a new facility, which will include four preschool classrooms, a full-service family-support center, and administrative offices. Early support for the estimated $10 million project is coming from both the city of Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has committed nearly $1 million in funding, while state Sen. Adam Gomez and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez sponsored and secured a $2 million earmark in the state budget to support Square One’s expansion of services. The 26,000-square-foot facility is being developed by well-known developers Fran Cataldo, Juan Prieto, Paul Picknelly, and Charles Irving, who formed a partnership in 2016 for the purpose of developing the property that was once occupied by Square One. Known as Davenport Square 1, the partners represent a legacy of investment, development, and redevelopment in Springfield and Western Mass., including retail, housing, office, and hospitality projects. Together, they are committed to projects that support the revitalization of downtown Springfield.

 

Veritas Prep Charter School Approved as Early College Program

SPRINGFIELD — Following a rigorous, nine-month application process, Springfield’s Veritas Preparatory Charter School, in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Worcester State University (WSU), has been approved for designation as a Massachusetts Early College program by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, starting this fall. The unique local program allows Veritas Prep High School students to take college courses through STCC and WSU and earn 30 to 60 credits, even working towards obtaining an associate degree upon high-school graduation, for free. This designation will add more than 100 students to early-college enrollment this fall and 334 students by 2026, with pathways concentrated in health sciences and healthcare, education, business and finance, computer science, engineering, and liberal arts. Starting last fall, Veritas High School opened with 100 students in grade 9, working with STCC and WSU to begin implementing early-college activities for the inaugural ninth-grade class. Veritas Prep’s freshmen were offered two college courses this semester with professors from STCC and WSU, each course earning them credit toward high-school graduation and transferable college credits. With the average cost of college in Massachusetts around $20,000 per year, the intensive early-college program can save students $40,000 to $75,000 or more. The general studies associate degree that students can earn from STCC while still in high school means they can start as juniors at other Massachusetts public colleges or universities.

 

Eversource Recognized Among 100 Most Sustainable Companies

BOSTON — For the fourth consecutive year, Eversource Energy has been recognized by Barron’s on its list of America’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, appearing as the top utility in the annual ranking for the second time in the last three years. Eversource’s rank also improved significantly to 17th overall on this year’s list from 40th last year, reflecting the strides the company has made in executing its strategic commitment to sustainability throughout its operations. The Barron’s list of 100 Most Sustainable Companies is based on more than 230 environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics. To create the ranking, the top 1,000 publicly traded companies by market value were evaluated by how they performed for five key constituencies — customers, communities, employees, the planet, and shareholders — looking at ESG performance indicators such as workplace diversity, data security, and greenhouse-gas emissions. To qualify for the list, a company must be rated above the bottom quarter in each of the five stakeholder categories.

 

Westfield State Nets $1 Million for Nursing, Health Science Programs

WESTFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently joined Westfield State University President Linda Thompson to announce a $1 million earmark to enhance the university’s training capacity for nursing and health science students. The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. Westfield State’s plans for this funding are threefold: to double the university’s simulation space that is utilized to develop students’ skills and confidence in applying healthcare practices, provide a new Easy Street simulation space that will allow healthcare students to apply concepts of home-based and community care in their learning, and provide new spaces for the practice of healthcare innovation.

 

Bay Path University Launches MS in Nursing Degree

LONGMEADOW — In response to the growing demand for nurse practioners, educators, and administrators, Bay Path University has announced its fully online, new master of science in nursing (MSN) program, which will begin accepting nursing candidates for the fall 2023 semester. The fully asynchronous MS in nursing is ideal for working adults, allowing students to learn on their time and on their schedule, and enrolled nursing candidates can earn their degree within two years. The online master of science in nursing is also a pathway to Bay Path’s online doctor of nurse practice – family nurse practitioner program, which is a terminal nursing credential preparing nurses with the critical skills needed to translate evidence-based care into practice, improve systems of care, and measure outcomes for patients and communities. Nurses who wish to pursue a terminal nursing credential and who have graduated from Bay Path’s MS in nursing program may also be able to apply courses to the doctoral program.

 

Aer Lingus Resumes Service from Bradley to Dublin

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Aer Lingus has resumed non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Dublin, Ireland. The first flight departed Bradley International Airport on March 26. The resumed service operates daily through the end of October via Aer Lingus’ Airbus A321neo LR aircraft and offers connectivity to 28 key U.K. and European airports, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Prague, and more. The service is expected to operate annually on a seasonal basis until year-round demand is realized from the return of business travel. Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, first started operating out of Bradley International Airport in 2016. After nearly four successful years and thousands of passengers served, the non-stop service was interrupted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Elms, HCC Sign Transfer Agreement

CHICOPEE — Elms College and Holyoke Community College (HCC) signed an articulation transfer agreement that will make it easier for HCC students to complete their bachelor’s degree at Elms College in either biology or biotechnology. HCC students who earn an associate degree in biology or biotechnology with a minimum GPA of 2.0 will be able to transfer at least 60 credits and enroll into Elms College’s bachelor-degree programs in either biology or biotechnology. The agreement is effective immediately so that HCC biology and biotechnology students who graduate this spring and meet the requirements of the agreement can matriculate into Elms this fall as third-year students. For information about the program, email [email protected] or [email protected].

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge Announces New Location

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles Lounge announced it will be relocating to a larger, more expansive space at 46 Cabot St. in downtown Chicopee. The advanced beauty and wellness spa will offer a larger scale of wellness services, including cryotherapy, to its clientele, as well as new job opportunities within the community. The new lounge will consist of new equipment allowing Beauty Batlles to offer cryo facial, cryo body sculpt, cryo skin, and cryo hair rejuvenation. Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, exposes the body to cold temperatures to heal and treat various medical ailments. Beauty Batlles Lounge uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to clients’ specific needs and deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with insecurities.

 

Data Center Planned for Thorndike Mill

PALMER — Thorndike Energy Group announced a partnership with Worldwide Environmental Services in the development of a state-of-the-art data center at Thorndike Mill in Palmer. The repurposed mill currently houses multiple DC hydroelectric generation units and offers a unique application of clean, renewable power that inherently has a significant amount of storage in the upstream water reservoir. This power source will serve as the initial energy component for a campus-wide microgrid that will allow for the addition of wind, solar, and hydrogen-fueled energy sources along with connection to the local grid.

Company Notebook

American International College Announces Three New Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The School of Business, Arts, and Sciences at American International College (AIC) has begun recruiting students for three new academic degree programs designed to prepare students for fields in high demand. Launching in the fall of 2023, these new offerings expand AIC’s academic portfolio of more than 40 interdisciplinary programs grounded in the liberal arts. AIC’s new cybersecurity program will equip students with the technical and business knowledge needed to secure high-paying and growing jobs in this field. Students will assess modern cybersecurity challenges threatening privacy, security, and safety and gain the knowledge and hands-on technical skills to protect digital assets from cybercriminals. Cybersecurity is an ideal degree for people who want to work in a future-focused field with a high earning potential. And with 33% job growth by 2030, opportunities continue to grow. The new bachelor’s degree in public administration program at AIC was developed to provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in public-sector roles. This program emphasizes experiential learning, with projects in government administration, public health, social science, history, and more. Public administration is a field for those who want to enact change in their communities and beyond. With more than half of all federal workers nearing retirement age, demand for fresh talent is set to skyrocket in the coming years. The esports and gaming administration program at AIC offers a business degree with a gaming-industry specialization, providing business fundamentals that will last a lifetime. This program addresses the greatest needs in the esports and gaming industry, identified through interviews with major companies, including Capcom and Riot. AIC’s coursework will provide students with the necessary context for understanding the games industry and a basic understanding of how technology-based companies get things done. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of jobs in esports nearly doubled, growing a staggering 85%.

 

Cooley Dickinson Receives $250,000 Gift from Smith College

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital announced it has received a $250,000 gift from Smith College to support the expansion and renovation of Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department. The gift will support the $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the evolving emergency-medicine needs of the community it serves. To accomplish this goal, the hospital has embarked on an ambitious and comprehensive fundraising campaign. Approximately $6.4 million has been raised to date. The project is expected to break ground this spring. Smith College has been a long-time supporter of Cooley Dickinson. Significant donations to the hospital have included helping to fund the hospital’s North Building and Kittredge Surgery Center, as well as its Nurse Development program and comprehensive Breast Center. Cooley Dickinson is expected to serve approximately 40,000 Emergency Department patients this year. That care will be provided in a 1970s-era building that was designed for 17,000 patients annually and is currently 40% undersized. A shortage of space means some patients are treated in hallways. The Emergency Department also needs to expand its services to care for an aging population (three times the population from 10 years ago). In addition, the expansion will provide additional beds for people experiencing mental-health emergencies. The two-year project calls for adding 7,500 square feet of space, including nine new patient rooms; two behavioral-health beds and two ‘flex’ beds to use as patient needs arise; and a family waiting area. When the project is completed, the Emergency Department will occupy more than 23,000 square feet. In addition, a computerized tomography (CT scan) machine, which provides timely access to diagnostic imaging, will be added to the Emergency Department.

 

MCLA Launches BSN Program

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will launch a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program for the fall 2023 semester. This will be the first BSN program in Berkshire County and the only BSN program within an hour’s drive of the rural tri-state corner of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. This nursing-education initiative will help address the current and future rural nursing workforce shortages. MCLA received final approval from the Board of Higher Education this month and received initial approval to launch a BSN in January from the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN). The next phase of BORN approval is anticipated after MCLA graduates the first nursing cohort in 2027. MCLA’s BSN degree can be completed over a four-year period. After accepting pre-nursing students this fall, the college will formally accept up to 25 students into the nursing major at the conclusion of their first year of study. Students must complete required pre-nursing courses in math and sciences during that first year for admission into the program. Transfer students may also apply to the nursing program during their first year of study at MCLA and transfer in non-nursing courses for consideration toward graduation. MCLA expects that the first BSN class will graduate in May 2027. At the conclusion of the program, students will be awarded a bachelor of science in nursing degree and be prepared and eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

 

The MH Group Marks 10 Years, Launches Nonprofit Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — The MH Group (formerly ManeHire Talent Solutions), a Springfield-based staffing and recruiting agency, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Founder and CEO Nicole Polite’s roots run deep in Springfield, as her great-great-granduncle was Primus Parsons Mason, a Black entrepreneur and real-estate investor who is most well-known as the namesake of the city’s Mason Square neighborhood. To continue his legacy, Polite is launching the nonprofit Polite Foundation, focusing on providing career resources to underserved populations. In addition, she has served on multiple nonprofit boards, such as the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (now operating as MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s Dora D. Robinson Women’s Leadership Council, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission council. She also served as a business advisor at the Entrepreneurial & Women’s Business Center at the University of Hartford.

 

 

HCC, Arizona State University Announce Transfer Pact

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) announced a new alliance with Arizona State University (ASU) to provide students a seamless transfer experience through the MyPath2ASU program, which allows students to take the steps needed at the start of their college experience to successfully plan their transfer from HCC to ASU, where they can complete their bachelor’s degree online. MyPath2ASU provides a set of customized transfer tools for students from accredited institutions, end-to-end learner navigation through course-by-course guided pathways; advising to assist students in course selection to ensure their credits fulfill requirements at both HCC and ASU; guaranteed general admission to ASU and admission into their choice of MyPath2ASU major, if all requirements are satisfied (some majors have additional or higher admission requirements); more than 400 course-by-course guided pathways into immersion and online ASU degree programs; self-service degree-progress tracking through the ASU My Transfer Guide to minimize loss of credits; and connected experience through personalized ASU communications to prepare students academically and build an early connection to ASU.

 

Monson Savings Bank Receives 5-Star Rating from BauerFinancial

MONSON — BauerFinancial Inc., a leading, national bank-rating firm, announced that Monson Savings Bank has once again earned its top (5-Star) rating for financial strength and stability. Having earned Bauer’s 5-Star rating for 40 or more consecutive quarters, Monson Savings Bank has earned an even higher designation as an Exceptional Performance Bank. This marks the bank’s 53rd consecutive 5-Star rating. Bauer rates every federally insured U.S. chartered bank with the same strict standards, and reported that Monson Savings Bank continues to outperform its peers.

 

White Lion Brewing Co. Recognizes Holyoke’s 150th with Special Release

SPRINGFIELD — The city of Holyoke, known as Paper City, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. White Lion Brewing Co. collaborated with the city of Holyoke, Explore Holyoke, regional design firm TSM, and Holyoke Craft Beer to create a commemorative label and beer release to celebrate the rich history of the city during its sesquicentennial. Holyoke 150, an American lager, was released during the annual Holyoke Road Race on March 18. Holyoke 150 will be also available at special events and local accounts throughout 2023.

 

BetMGM Launches Mobile Sports Betting in Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — BetMGM, a leading sports-betting and iGaming operator, launched its mobile app in Massachusetts, giving customers access to a variety of online betting options and benefits tied to MGM Resorts’ ddestinations nationwide, including MGM Springfield. The BetMGM app gives Massachusetts sports fans the ability to customize pre-game, live in-play, futures, and parlay wagers. Integration with MGM Rewards allows Massachusetts’s BetMGM users to redeem their gameplay for experiences at MGM Resorts properties nationwide. The mobile app complements MGM Springfield’s BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge that opened in January. The space features a 45-foot LED viewing wall and four betting windows, making it easy for guests to access a variety of sports-wagering options. The resort is home to 18 sports-betting kiosks located throughout the gaming area.

 

Square One Creates Alumni Association

SPRINGFIELD — It’s time to go back to Square One, where thousands of young children had their first early-learning experience. Formerly Springfield Day Nursery, Square One has been nurturing and educating infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children since 1883. The agency, now in its 140th year, is looking to gather its program graduates to formalize an alumni group. Alumni are asked to contact to complete a brief questionnaire, which can be found at startatsquareone.org, or email Matt deloria at [email protected] to learn more.

Company Notebook

STCC Receives State Grants for Nursing, Tech Career Pathways

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was recently awarded state grants to enhance a nursing partnership with Westfield State University and to start a STEM Tech Career Academy for high-school students at West Springfield High School and Veritas Prep Charter School. The Workforce Skills Cabinet — an alignment of state executive offices — awarded STCC a two-year, $600,000 Nursing Pathways Grant. The state funding will help STCC and Westfield State further develop synergies and clarify student pathways for their respective programs. Nursing students can obtain their associate degree in nursing from STCC and continue virtually, or on the STCC campus, as they pursue their bachelor’s degree from Westfield State. As a result of the grant, STCC students will see a reduction in time and cost to achieve their BSN from Westfield State. The Workforce Skills Cabinet also awarded a three-year, $1 million grant to start a STEM Tech Career Academy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The $5 million announced in December for five new STEM Tech Career Academies across the state included one that partners STCC with West Springfield High School and Veritas Prep Charter School. The STEM Tech Career Academy focuses on healthcare, environmental and life sciences, and business and finance. The partnership will leverage existing innovation pathways and includes Baystate Eye Care Group, Each Moment We’re Alive, Walgreens, and Springfield Thunderbirds Hockey Club as industry partners. The STEM Tech Career Academy grant will help expand early college programs specifically for STEM courses and will help students explore STEM career pathways. STCC offers an innovation-pathway program for West Springfield High School students in their junior year. STCC’s work with Veritas includes students as early as ninth grade with the possibility of earning 60 college credits. The STEM Tech Career Academy will provide work-based learning opportunities with paid internships and capstone projects to students, said Pamela Westmoreland, director of Early College Initiatives at STCC. The goal is to increase the number of students who earn associate degrees or certificates.

 

Greenfield Company Rebrands, Expands as NE-XT Technologies

GREENFIELD — Valley Steel Stamp (VSS) was founded in 1971 by William Capshaw with two employees who made steel marking tools for local industries, particularly hand-tool companies. This week, the company, led by his son, Steve Capshaw, announced the launch of its new name, NE-XT Technologies, and a new website designed to define the contemporary capabilities of its team of more than 200 skilled engineers and machinists. Although the company has rebranded, it continues to focus on the precision machining of complex, close-tolerance components and assemblies for aerospace, defense, and other industrial applications. The rebrand goes much deeper than a new name, logo, and website. NE-XT was acquired by Jefferson River Capital in 2022, which allowed it to expand in terms of capabilities and its leadership team. That year, Richard Havighorst joined the team as chief financial officer and Katie Szelewicki as vice president of Human Resources.

 

 

Bay Path Nets $1 Million for Student Success Center

LONGMEADOW — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal joined Bay Path University President Sandra Doran to announce a $1 million earmark to launch a Student Success Center at the university. The allocation was made possible through Congressionally Direct Spending (CDS) from the Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. Funding will be used to complete the work to launch a new Student Success Center that will deliver holistic, coordinated, wraparound academic, financial, and career-development support services that are easily accessible 24/7, both online and on campus. The center will accommodate the needs of Bay Path’s diverse student populations, integrating its services into a student’s academic program through systematic communications and touchpoints throughout the undergraduate experience.

 

Big Y Donates Almost $44,000 to Local Breast-cancer Groups

SPRINGFIELD — (March 2, 2023) In order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, all Big Y supermarkets donated proceeds from their October initiative, “Partners of Hope,” to 32 breast-cancer support groups throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. This program reflects the partnership, commitment, and support of breast-cancer awareness and research that are so vital for many. Recipients in Western Mass. include Protect Our Breasts (Amherst), Holyoke Medical Center Women’s Center (Holyoke), the Pink Way (Ludlow), Survivor Journeys (Longmeadow), Cancer Connection (Northampton), Cooley Dickinson Hospital Women’s Health Care (Northampton), Berkshire Medical Center Women’s Imaging Center (Pittsfield), Baystate Health Foundation, Rays of Hope (Springfield), and Mercy Medical Center, Center for Breast Health (Springfield). Since 2007, Big Y has raised more than $2 million to support local breast-cancer initiatives.

 

Streetlight Financial Foundation Partners with Friends of Children

FLORENCE — Streetlight Financial Foundation announced that Friends of Children Inc. has been chosen as the recipient of its fundraising efforts for 2023. The foundation was created in 2022 from financial-services company Streetlight Financial. Founding partners Aaron Smith and Mark Vaclavicek recognized a need for a philanthropic effort that provides a positive financial impact to one cause or organization each year. Friends of Children, a Northampton-based 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults impacted by foster care or juvenile-justice involvement, is the first recipient of the foundation’s annual fundraising initiative.

 

MDRT Foundation Awards $2,000 Grant to Girl Scouts

HOLYOKE — The MDRT Foundation has awarded a $2,000 grant to Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) in support of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and further its mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.The Million Dollar Round Table Foundation gives to charitable organizations worldwide, demonstrating the generosity, service, and impact of MDRT members. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award more than $1.6 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 300 charitable organizations worldwide. Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts was nominated for the MDRT grant by Amy Jamrog, CEO of the Jamrog Group and GSCWM board member. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a collection of engaging, challenging, and fun activities for girls to develop a strong sense of self, display positive values, seek challenges, learn from setbacks, form and maintain healthy relationships, and learn to identify and solve problems in their community.

 

LiftTruck Parts & Service Announces 35th Anniversary

WEST SPRINGFIELD — LiftTruck Parts & Service Inc., a local, family-owned business with locations in West Springfield and Brockton, announced its 35th business anniversary. For 35 years, LiftTruck has been a family-owned business providing cost-effective forklift sales, rentals, parts, and service to the Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Rhode Island areas. The company offers a wide range of brands for sale, including BYD, Clark, Doosan, Heli Americas, and Komatsu, and is now also selling the new BYD lithium ion phosphate battery-powered forklift. The BYD lithium iron phosphate battery LiFePO4 has proven to be extremely safe, never losing structural integrity nor exploding. LiftTruck Parts & Service also offers both short- and long-term electric, LP, and gas forklift rentals with planned maintenance to keep customers’ business running smoothly. Its various service plans help clients monitor maintenance costs, hours of usage, equipment condition, and other factors that can affect forklift trucks’ on-the-job performance. LifeTruck provides service on all makes of forklifts, golf cars, pallet jacks, reach trucks, and stackers. LiftTruck is outfitted to manage all its clients’ material-handling equipment needs and meet clients’ service needs in a cost-effective manner.

 

BetMGM Supports Problem Gambling Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD — BetMGM announced a new pledge to prominently feature responsible-gaming messages in its marketing and advertising campaigns beginning March 1, in alignment with the start of Problem Gambling Awareness Month. As part of the pledge, responsible-gaming messaging will be featured within BetMGM’s mobile app and within BetMGM advertisements ranging from billboard marketing to television, print, and radio ads across the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, responsible-gaming messages and banners will be incorporated into BetMGM’s digital and social platforms, as well as on property signage within physical BetMGM sportsbooks. Along that line, MGM Resorts, MGM Northfield Park, and BetMGM were well represented as sponsors at the 20th Ohio Problem Gambling Conference, held in Columbus last week. The event brought together leading gaming operators, researchers, and treatment professionals in an effort to generate problem-gambling awareness and education while discussing the impact of legalized sports betting in the state.

Company Notebook

MSB Announces $15,000 in Donations in 2023 Community Giving Initiative

MONSON — The people have voted, and the results are in for the Monson Savings Bank (MSB) 2023 Community Giving Initiative. In late 2022, MSB asked its community members to cast a vote for their nonprofit organizations of choice, and nearly 6,000 votes were submitted. This was the 13th year of the Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative, and the public’s excitement to cast their vote has grown throughout the years. In total, 400 organizations were nominated to receive a donation. Monson Savings Bank is donating a total of $15,000 among the top 10 vote recipients. Monetary donations are one of the many ways the local bank stays true to its longstanding mission of supporting local communities. The 2023 Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative recipients are I Found Light Against All Odds, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Alex Cotton Memorial Fund, and Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, Springfield; Wilbraham United Players, Wilbraham Friends of Recreation, Rick’s Place, and Scantic Valley YMCA, Wilbraham; Link to Libraries Inc., Hampden; and Monson Free Library, Monson.

 

Berkshire Bank Named Among Best Midsize Employers by Forbes

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank was recognized on the Forbes magazine list of America’s Best Midsize Employers 2023. This award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., a statistics portal and industry-ranking provider. The awards list was announced on Feb. 15 and can be viewed at forbes.com. Berkshire Bank is the only Massachusetts-based bank, and one of four banks in New England and New York, on the midsized employer banking and financial services list. Forbes and Statista selected the America’s Best Employers 2023 through an independent survey applied to a sample of approximately 45,000 American employees working for companies with more than 1,000 employees in America. Across 25 industry sectors, 1,000 employers have been awarded: 500 large employers and 500 midsize employers. The evaluation was based on direct and indirect recommendations from employees that were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family. Employee evaluations also included other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.

 

Ocean State Job Lot Partners with Customers on Earthquake Relief

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL), a leading discount closeout retailer headquartered in Rhode Island with stores throughout New England, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, recently donated and coordinated the shipment of essential supplies to help those impacted by the deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. More than 40,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured. OSJL partnered with its customers to donate more than $1 million in supplies, sending more than 35 types of items, including tents, blankets, coats, sweaters, socks, and health and hygiene products such as sanitizers, soap, and alcohol wipes. The items were shipped to Syria and Turkey, leveraging OSJL’s broad transportation network. All of the donated supplies were purchased at cost, in part through donations made by customers at each OSJL store to the 501(c)(3) Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation to support the relief efforts. Monetary donations are still being accepted in-store and online at www.oceanstatejoblot.com/crisis-and-natural-disaster-relief-program.

Company Notebook

Berkshire Bank Foundation Announces 2022 Donations

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced more than $2.8 million in foundation philanthropic investments during 2022. During the fourth quarter of 2022, more than $764,000 was contributed to help the communities Berkshire Bank serves. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual and small-business success, particularly for underrepresented populations. The investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. In total, Berkshire’s foundation assisted 155 nonprofit organizations during the fourth quarter of 2022 through grants supporting a wide range of critical projects like food insecurity, health, wellness, homelessness, educational advancement, arts, culture, diversity, and inclusion. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunities for economic prosperity. In addition, the foundation supports programs that align with the bank’s Center for Women, Wellness, and Wealth.

 

LEGO Group to Move American Headquarters to Boston

ENFIELD, Conn. — The LEGO Group announced it has selected Boston for its future head office in the Americas and will move its current office from Enfield, Conn. by the end of 2026. Skip Kodak, president of the LEGO Group in the Americas, said the move will support the company’s long-term growth ambitions to bring LEGO play to even more children in the U.S. and the Americas region. The LEGO Group opened its office in Enfield in 1975. The move to the new office will happen in a phased way beginning in mid-2025 and completed by the end of 2026. Until then, LEGO employees will work across two sites: the existing office in Enfield and the company’s LEGO Education office in Back Bay, Boston, where new roles will be located. All colleagues based in Enfield will have a position in the new location and will receive relocation assistance if they wish to make the move. Colleagues who choose not to relocate will receive financial support and job-placement assistance to transition to new opportunities outside the company.

 

BANKW Staffing Acquires Johnson & Hill Staffing

BOSTON — BANKW Staffing’s family of locally owned companies just got bigger with the addition of Johnson & Hill Staffing to its family of full-service staffing and recruiting agencies. Johnson & Hill will become part of the KNF&T Staffing Resources brand, and will continue to provide temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct-hire services in Western Mass. and Connecticut as it has for more than 28 years. BANKW’s investment in Johnson & Hill is part of the firm’s plan to continue its organic and strategic growth in the New England employment market. This acquisition is a natural choice for BANKW as Johnson & Hill fits seamlessly with staffing solutions in similar professional areas, including accounting, administrative, legal, and finance. In addition to gaining access to KNF&T’s broad base in verticals like healthcare, higher education, financial services, and nonprofits, Johnson & Hill clients will enjoy the added benefit of information-technology staffing solutions and sales placement through BANKW’s other companies, Alexander Technology Group and Sales Search Partners. BANKW Staffing’s portfolio of companies includes Alexander Technology Group, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, Sales Search Partners, the Nagler Group, KNF&T Staffing Resources, and now Johnson & Hill Staffing, which has been rebranded under the KNF&T name. All are staffing providers in the areas of IT, finance, accounting, sales, human resources, legal, administrative, healthcare, higher education, and marketing.

 

Country Bank Donates More Than $1.3 Million in 2022

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2022 totaled more than $1.3 million. The bank’s philanthropic efforts supported local nonprofits throughout its communities; more than 350 organizations received grants in 2022. In addition, the bank’s team members volunteered 1,091 hours of service, and 64 team members served on 33 nonprofit boards and committees throughout the region. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, in addition to the $1 million, five-year pledge it made in 2021 to the Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Country Bank provided an additional $100,000 in donations to food programs throughout the region. Other organizations receiving donations included Behavioral Health Network, the Hanover Theater, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Revitalize Community Development Corp., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Children’s Trust, Juniper Outreach, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Ronald McDonald House, and YWCA. During its annual “Season of Difference” campaign, Country Bank supported more than 1,000 local individuals with gifts of toys, blankets, hats, and other essential items for those in nursing homes, shelters, local YMCAs, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

 

Fortune Names MassMutual Among World’s Most Admired Companies

SPRINGFIELD — MassMutual has been named a World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine, placing second in the life- and health-insurance industry category and leading among mutual company peers. Notably, MassMutual ranked first for innovation in its industry category, the fifth time in the past six years the company has received this honor. The company has been named to the Fortune World’s Most Admired Company list 20 times since 2000. The 2023 Fortune World’s Most Admired Company survey was conducted in the fall of 2022 among executives, directors, and analysts in 52 industries. The annual poll assessed nine reputation drivers considered to be crucial to a company’s global success: innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment value, quality of products/services, and global competitiveness.

 

 

Businesses Join GCAi in Celebrating 25 Years at Tower Square with Video

SPRINGFIELD — Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) recently finished a production called “Life at Tower Square” for the Tower Square management group. GCAi produced the video for free for Tower Square in celebration of a quarter-century of doing business in the building. Joining GCAi President John Garvey in the video were attorney Scott Foster of Bulkley Richardson, Diane Varypatackas of Le Greque, Patricia and Michael Matty of St. Germain Investment Management, Carlo Bonavita of Springfield Wine Exchange, Ray Berry of White Lion Brewing Co., and Brandon Quiterio and Melissa Halton of Wolf & Co. The “Life at Tower Square” video is not the first Tower Square-related video produced by GCAi. Several months ago, a division of GCAi, New England Corporate Video, produced a video on the post-pandemic return of Le Greque to the mezzanine, where it has been located for 40 years.

 

WSU Athletic Training Program Receives Lengthy Reaccreditation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) Athletic Training program has earned the maximum reaccreditation duration after a recent review by the Committee on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE). It is common for reaccreditation of three- or five-year periods. The 10-year reaccreditation recently earned by WSU Athletic Training program extends through the 2032 academic year. WSU has been accredited by CAATE since 2001, and the curriculum has undergone considerable changes due to evolving practices in the field. The reaccreditation process now details compliance in 109 profession-specific standards. WSU graduates are working as athletic trainers in high schools, universities, and clinics throughout the region. Alumni are also employed in professional baseball, professional ice hockey, industrial settings, and leading research hospitals. Recent graduates have also furthered their professional knowledge by adding graduate degrees in related fields to extend their impact on healthcare delivery.

 

LEDC Awards Mini-Grants to Nine Local Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — The Latino Economic Development Corp. awarded nine grants to Latino-owned businesses that are focusing on growing in the new year. This round includes a security business, a honey farmer, a bakery on wheels, and a juice bar, just to name a few. The LEDC is excited to offer not only these grants, but also the services of more than 25 business coaches to help the recipients achieve the goals for their business. The grantees include Pedro Arroyo, Juguitos Healthy Grab & Go ($2,500), Jose Burgos, Burgos & Son Trucking LLC ($3,000), Stephanie Figueroa, 50/50 Food Truck ($2,000), Josh Montanez, who works in security ($1,000), and Thomas Peralta, Thomas’ Cleaning ($1,000), all in Springfield; Gustavo Agudelo, Agudelo Apiary ($2,000), Johnny Colon, JC Carriers ($1,000), and Erika Matos, Top-Flight Nutrition ($2,000), all in Holyoke; and Ricardo Diaz-Vargas, Faded Barber Lounge in Chicopee ($2,500).

Company Notebook

Hot Plate Brewing Co. Receives National Recognition

PITTSFIELD — Hot Plate Brewing Co., a Latina-owned brewery opening in downtown Pittsfield in early 2023, was selected as one of the Imbibe 75 in the January/February 2023 issue of Imbibe. According to the magazine, the Imbibe 75 features “individuals, organizations, and businesses that are dedicated to creating a more positive, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable drinks world.” As a BIPOC- and women-owned business, Hot Plate was selected by Imbibe because of the company’s mission to make the craft-beer world more accessible and inclusive. According to the Brewers Assoc., less than 1% of all American craft breweries are owned by women of color, which makes Hot Plate stand out in a crowded, maturing marketplace. Beyond representation, Hot Plate also seeks to leverage its founders’ professional skillsets to execute on their brand promise in a data-driven way. With almost 40 years of combined experience in market research, brand development, and data analysis, founders Sarah Real and Mike Dell’Aquila plan on implementing tools and best practices to reach, inspire, and engage historically underrepresented consumers. In addition to its beers and marketing plans, Hot Plate also intends to make a tangible, positive impact in the Berkshires with its Community Line, which will feature collaborations with a rotating list of mission-aligned nonprofit organizations and raise money for a variety of causes; proceeds from these collaborative beers will go directly to the charitable organizations with whom they are partnering.

 

PeoplesBank Donates Record $2.3 Million in 2022

HOLYOKE — For a second year in a row, PeoplesBank set a new annual record for donations to civic and charitable causes. The bank tallied $2.3 million in donations for 2022, which is $1 million dollars more than last year’s record. Since 2011, the bank has donated well over $13 million to area causes. “Supporting the community is essentially what we were set up to do,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “We are a mutual bank, chartered to serve our customers and the communities they live in. As a mutual bank, we do not have stockholders who would divert profits. Therefore, we are able to significantly support nonprofits and other community causes.” As a large regional employer whose values include community service, Senecal added, PeoplesBank is able to increase its support to the community and social-service organizations through volunteerism. “We have a lot of talent in our organization, and because of that, we have a significant presence on area nonprofit boards of directors. We also look for opportunities to roll up our sleeves and serve, and we spend thousands of hours each year doing that.”

 

Tighe & Bond Acquires WorldTech Engineering

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering, design, and environmental consulting, announced it has acquired WorldTech Engineering, a full-service transportation and civil-engineering firm. This strategic acquisition aligns with the firm’s vision of being a trusted advisor by offering clients a comprehensive, single-source solution to their engineering, design, and environmental-science needs. The addition of WorldTech’s staff bolsters Tighe & Bond’s transportation services across a complementary client base. Tighe & Bond’s current offices in Eastern Mass. offices are now augmented by WorldTech’s Woburn office, bringing the total number of offices to 13 across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Maine.

 

MassDevelopment, PeoplesBank Complete Financing Package for New Girls Inc. Facility

HOLYOKE — The new Girls Inc. of the Valley headquarters and program center is one big step closer to reality thanks to a new financing package developed by MassDevelopment and PeoplesBank. Girls Inc. recently announced the closing of financing on a $2,275,000 MassDevelopment revenue bond for the new program center in Holyoke. PeoplesBank was the purchaser of the bond, continuing the bank’s longtime support of Girls Inc. of the Valley. MassDevelopment enhanced the bond with a $455,000 mortgage insurance guarantee. The newly renovated, 16,000-square foot facility will allow the organization to consolidate its programs at one location. It will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, a library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices.

 

ILI Awarded Five-year Grant for Free English Classes

NORTHAMPTON — In mid-December, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced the results of its competitive grant program to fund free English classes for immigrants and refugees across the state. The International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI), located in Northampton, was on the list. “We were thrilled to get the good news,” said Macey Faiella, director of ILI’s English programs. “The pandemic shed new light on the disparities that face immigrants and refugees, and we reassessed our program to include greatly expanded offerings. DESE responded positively — all to the benefit of the students.” For 34 years, ILI has partnered with the state to provide free English classes in Western Mass. The new award extends the partnership for an additional five years and funds about two-thirds of the overall program. ILI is responsible for the remaining costs, raised primarily from individual donors and local businesses and foundations.

 

Country Bank Grants $30,000 to Revitalize CDC

WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Massachusetts, announced a $30,000 grant to support Revitalize Community Development Corp. (CDC) in Springfield. Revitalize CDC performs critical repairs, modifications, and rehabilitation on the homes and nonprofit facilities of low-income families with children, elderly military veterans, and people with special needs. In 2022, the organization served 826 households with 2,309 individuals across Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee, and completed 75 home repairs, nine owned by military veteran families.

 

AIC Receives Second Grant to Expand Scope of DEIB Objectives

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has received a $35,000 grant from the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation to support the college’s commitment to embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging. The grant will assist in establishing an Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) on campus to expand the breadth and scope of activities and initiatives that support the College’s DEIB objectives as outlined in AIC’s newly released five-year strategic plan, “AIC Reimagined.” On Dec. 6, the college also received a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to support the establishment of this office. With these grants, the creation of the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging will help AIC create and sustain an organizational environment and culture that readily acknowledges and celebrates DEIB by achieving a more diverse and inclusive undergraduate and graduate student body, faculty, and staff.

 

Bank of America’s Support for Massachusetts Food Relief Tops $1,175,000 in 2022

BOSTON — Bank of America announced a $275,000 donation to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and the Worcester County Food Bank to help address food insecurity in the state. The donation is part of a unique program to encourage bank employees to support the health and safety of their teammates and help address one of the most critical needs facing communities: food insecurity. As part of this program, Bank of America donated $50 to local hunger-relief organizations on behalf of employees who got their annual flu shot and an additional $50 donation for those who received and recorded their coronavirus vaccine booster before Nov. 23. The $275,000 donation builds on the bank’s first phase of the vaccine campaign, which resulted in $575,000 raised earlier this year. Along with other financial support, Bank of America has given more than $1,175,000 to help fight hunger in Massachusetts in 2022. The overall commitment is part of the bank’s longstanding efforts to address hunger relief and support the health and safety of its employees and community. As a result of these efforts, Bank of America has committed nearly $19 million to local hunger-relief organizations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as to the World Central Kitchen and World Food Programme globally.

 

STCC Awarded $1.17 Million to Expand Adult-education Services

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received $1,174,200 in state funding to expand adult-education services after submitting for a competitive grant. The Baker-Polito administration announced historic funding amounts to STCC and 73 other adult-education providers and seven correctional institutions in the state. The awards total $250 million over the next five years. Statewide, adult education services will expand to new programs not currently funded and provide 5,000 total seats for adult basic education students and more than 16,000 for adult English learners. The Workforce Development Center at STCC provides free adult education through the Springfield Adult Learning Center. The community can take classes to further their education by obtaining a high-school equivalency certificate, which includes preparing for a GED or HiSET exam; developing computer, email, or internet skills; learning English as a second language; or enrolling as a student at STCC after earning a high-school equivalency certificate. STCC will receive funding for fiscal 2024, which starts July 1, 2023.

 

Westfield State Receives $1 Million in Community Project Funding

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University was included in community project funds secured by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. Of the $20,367,800 included in the final 2023 appropriations government-funding package for the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts, $1 million will go toward supporting Westfield State University’s training capacity for nursing and health science students and providing a space for healthcare practitioners from both academia and practice sectors to explore, design, and prototype solutions to current healthcare gaps. Funding will be used to expand and enhance Westfield State’s simulation spaces, including the development of a new ‘Easy Street’ simulation space that will allow healthcare students to apply concepts of home-based and community care in their learning.

 

Franklin-Hampshire CASA Receives $31,000 Grant

NORTHAMPTON — Franklin-Hampshire CASA has been awarded a $31,000 needs-based grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Assoc. for Children (CASA/GAL). Franklin-Hampshire CASA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers who advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The national CASA/GAL needs-based grants are designed to help sustain the capacity of local programs to recruit, screen, train, supervise, and retain CASA/GAL volunteers while maintaining quality advocacy and supporting initiatives to increase the number of children served. The $31,000 grant will enable Franklin-Hampshire CASA to focus on sustaining service to qualifying children in Franklin and Hampshire counties. Friends of Children was formed as a nonprofit child-advocate organization in 1990 to address the needs of high-risk children who are not readily supported by systems designed to protect them and encourage their full participation in society. Friends of Children has provided child-advocacy services to more than 15,000 children, 99% of whom are low-income.

 

STCC Receives $75,000 State Grant to Help Close Achievement Gaps

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received a $75,000 state grant to increase the faculty’s core equity competencies and knowledge about racial equity, social justice, and structures that have an impact on student success. The Massachusetts Higher Education Innovation Fund grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education will support professional development for 20 faculty members. The goal of the project is to help underserved and underrepresented students — especially students of color — succeed along their academic journey, from applying to STCC to graduation. With the funding in hand, STCC plans to recruit faculty who will join a core coaching group known as Equity Leaders & Guides who will train in equity-minded practices. At the conclusion of their work, they will share their discoveries with STCC colleagues. The faculty will work together to discover new teaching techniques and will attend workshop training with the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton. In addition, they will engage in a virtual book club, among other tasks. STCC, which has a technical focus in all its programs, is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution. About 30% of the student body are Latino, Latina, or Latinx.

 

HCC Grant to Expand Outreach to Formerly Incarcerated

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded an $81,605 Bridges to College grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to expand community outreach to adult learners who have been previously incarcerated. Specifically, the money goes to Western Mass CORE, an HCC program that works in partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department to facilitate pathways to education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. CORE stands for community, opportunity, resources, and education. The program was founded in 2019 by two HCC professors, Nicole Hendricks (criminal justice) and Mary Orisich (economics). The Bridges to College grant will allow Western Mass CORE to expand office hours, advising services, and information sessions at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s AISS facility, located in the WW Johnson Life Center on State Street in Springfield. AISS stands for Al Inclusive Support Services (formerly After Incarceration Support Services). The grant will also support the hiring of a new community-navigator position to lead this outreach work. This is Western Mass CORE’s third Bridges to College grant as project lead. The grant also will provide funding for Western Mass CORE to host a series of community events, including a monthly children’s story hour at the Holyoke Public Library for parents who have been previously incarcerated and their children, and community coffee hours at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street. In the meantime, Western Mass CORE will continue its work inside the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow and the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee. This spring, at the Ludlow jail, Hendricks will teach a criminology course, while Orisich will lead an economics class. HCC theater professor Patricia Sandoval will teach a fundamentals of acting class at the women’s jail.

Company Notebook

MassMutual Foundation Awards $2 Million Grant to Way Finders

SPRINGFIELD — Way Finders and the MassMutual Foundation announced that Way Finders has been provided with a $2 million gift from the MassMutual Foundation to help fund its City of Homes (COH) initiative. This pilot program will address the need for quality, affordable homeownership opportunities in Springfield, the headquarters city of MassMutual and Way Finders. COH will create homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers by leveraging the receivership process to acquire and rehabilitate single-family homes or properties for sale at affordable prices in pilot neighborhoods in Springfield. To qualify for the applicant lottery, prospective homebuyers must have either attended a first-time-homebuyer seminar with Way Finders or another certified organization and secured mortgage funding with MassHousing or a private lender. By focusing on Springfield’s North End and Mason Square neighborhoods, where 75% or more of the residents are Black or Hispanic and 50% or more live below the poverty line, the project will provide much-needed access to homeownership opportunities traditionally unavailable to many residents in these communities. Since 2018, the MassMutual Foundation has supported Way Finders’ financial-capability programming, which lays the groundwork for homeownership with financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops. Through the COH pilot program, Way Finders will be able to help Springfield residents turn this education into action as they become first-time homebuyers. In 2022, Way Finders programs impacted the lives of more than 46,000 people through services including homelessness and foreclosure prevention, financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops, and small-business loans.

 

 

MassDevelopment, PeoplesBank Complete Financing Package for New Girls Inc. Facility

HOLYOKE — The new Girls Inc. of the Valley headquarters and program center is one big step closer to reality thanks to a new financing package developed by MassDevelopment and PeoplesBank. Girls Inc. recently announced the closing of financing on a $2,275,000 MassDevelopment revenue bond for the new program center in Holyoke. PeoplesBank was the purchaser of the bond, continuing the bank’s longtime support of Girls Inc. of the Valley. MassDevelopment enhanced the bond with a $455,000 mortgage insurance guarantee. The newly renovated, 16,000-square foot facility will allow the organization to consolidate its programs at one location. It will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, a library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices. “We are thrilled to be able to continue our support of Girls Inc. of the Valley and be a part of this exciting project,” said Vicky Crouse, senior vice president, Commercial Banking at PeoplesBank. “Their mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold by providing them the opportunity to develop and achieve their full potential is one that we embrace as well.” Dan Rivera, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, noted that “Girls Inc. has a proven track record of supporting girls in all their academic and social endeavors, while also empowering them to unlock the best version of themselves. We are pleased to partner with PeoplesBank to help this nonprofit purchase a new building in Holyoke to call home.”

 

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures Awards Grant to Gould Farm

GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) awarded Gould Farm a resilience grant of $5,000 to complete construction of a new hoop house that will enable the farm to extend its growing season. This grant was awarded in conjunction with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Services. Gould Farm will use this hoop house (also known as a ‘high tunnel system’) to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, and frost, and increase spring and fall crop production in an environmentally safe manner. Gould Farm produces crops as part of its mental-health programming, through which clients grow, cook, and consume vegetables from the farm. During the growing season, Gould Farm also supplies the multicultural BRIDGE food pantry. With the hoop-house addition, Gould Farm will be able to increase the amount and availability of fresh produce for the farm and pantry.

 

Rocky’s Raises Nearly $26,000 to Support Children’s Hospitals

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers with 47 locations in nine states, kicked off the season of giving in November with its semi-annual Round Up for Kids fundraiser, raising a grand total of $25,908 across all participating locations. Customers were asked to round up their purchase total to the next dollar, and the difference was donated to Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals. This was the third Round Up for Kids fundraiser Rocky’s has held this year, with 100% of the money raised going to benefit local CMN hospitals, including Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield. Participating Rocky’s locations included the Island Pond Road and Liberty Street stores in Springfield and the stores in Agawam, East Longmeadow, Westfield, Ludlow, Palmer, and South Hadley. Since 1983, CMN hospitals have helped fill funding gaps by raising more than $7 billion. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.

 

 

Country Bank Supports Nonprofits During ‘Season of Difference’

WARE — Children, seniors, and those who are most in need got a lot of care this holiday season from Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass. The bank’s 210 team members gathered on Dec. 14 to write holiday greetings, wrap gifts, and pack homeless care bags in a show of support for the numerous nonprofits that serve the region. During the bank’s Season of Difference Campaign event, team members (also called Difference Makers) wrapped gifts for 400 children at the Worcester and Springfield YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs and the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club, along with 300 gifts for local nursing homes, including Quaboag Rehabilitation Center & Skilled Care and Brookhaven Assisted Care in West Brookfield, as well as Life Care Center in Wilbraham. They also packed 300 homeless care bags, which were delivered to Friends of the Homeless in Springfield and St. John’s Food for the Poor Program in Worcester. Team members volunteered at other local nonprofits, including the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Juniper Outreach, Wreaths Across America, Friends of the Homeless dinner service, St. John’s Food for the Poor breakfast service, and local senior-center holiday celebrations, as well as ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in Ware and Belchertown. Country Bank also announced donations to 21 senior centers throughout the region. A total of $42,000 in donations were made to local senior centers. These donations are made without restriction for those necessary items that may not be met within annual budgets. In addition to its annual monetary support, Country Bank also sends teams of its Difference Makers to volunteer at local senior centers on a monthly basis.

Company Notebook

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Inducted into Retail Hall of Fame

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, was recently awarded the Award of Excellence in Retail by the Retailers Assoc. of Massachusetts and inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame. Recipients are nominated by their industry peers and local chambers of commerce and are recognized for their overall excellence, innovation, and service within the retail industry. Falcone’s grandfather, also named Rocco but nicknamed Rocky, opened the first Rocky’s in 1926 in Springfield. In 1966, Rocky’s son James began running the business, eventually expanding to a successful seven-store chain before affiliating with the Ace Hardware Co-op. James’ son Rocco is the third generation of the family to serve as president. Rocky’s Ace Hardware now has 47 locations in nine states: Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Rocco’s son John represents the fourth generation to join the family business, currently serving as the company’s director of Merchandising. He attributes the success of the company to its three core values.

 

White Lion Brewing Co. Recognized Nationally

SPRINGFIELD — Brewbound, a leading multimedia industry trade publication, recently announced its 2022 award winners and class of Rising Stars during the trade publication’s Brewbound Live business conference in Santa Monica, California. The Brewbound Awards recognize large and small beverage/alcohol companies that thrived over the last year, while also celebrating notable industry figures, change agents, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and philanthropic initiatives. Springfield-based White Lion Brewing Co. was named a Rising Star, joining seven other emerging beverage companies to keep an eye on.

 

AIC Receives Grant to Elevate Diversity, Equity Objectives

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has received a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to uphold the college’s commitment to embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging. The 2022 Flexible Funding Grant will support the establishment of an Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) on campus to lead and facilitate the College’s DEIB Plan, outlined in AIC’s newly released five-year strategic plan, “AIC Reimagined.” The office’s focus will be on recruiting and retaining diverse students, faculty, and staff. AIC’s goal is to identify its structure and staffing needs by the end of the 2022-23 academic year. Founded in 1991, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts seeks to enrich quality of life for the people of the region. The foundation received nearly 250 applicants for the Flexible Funding Grants this year, about twice as many as in 2021. One of the priorities for its funding decisions was organizations where the leadership is racially diverse.

 

Kwench Juice Café Holds Ribbon Cutting

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting at Kwench Juice Café, located at 19 North Pleasant St. in Amherst, on Dec. 9. Kwench Juice Café offers a selection of menu items made with nutritious, locally sourced ingredients, including freshly prepared juices, smoothies, and acai bowls, all served in a welcoming atmosphere in downtown Amherst featuring local art. The business is women-owned, Pacific Islander-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, and Asian-owned. “We are excited to show the Amherst community our passion and spread love through fresh nutritious juices and foods,” co-owners Chandra Hart and Janice Samson said.

 

AIC Graduate Strength and Conditioning Program Recognized

SPRINGFIELD — The Division of Exercise Science at American International College (AIC) announced that its Graduate Strength and Conditioning Program has been approved for continued recognition through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Education Recognition Program (ERP). The recognition renewal period is three years, lasting through Sept. 20, 2025. Recognition through the ERP demonstrates that the AIC Graduate Strength and Conditioning Program meets the requirements to prepare students for the NSCA-CPT and CSCS certifications and is committed to quality. The NSCA recognizes exemplary programs that provide the best education to students looking to become leaders within the field of strength and conditioning.

 

T-Birds Foundation Raises $10,000 for Cancer Charities

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that, through the T-Birds Foundation, it has donated $10,000 to cancer charities as a result of proceeds from the club’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Nov. 19. A total of $5,000 will be presented to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada through the proceeds generated through both donations and sales of Bitsy’s Army merchandise. Thunderbirds and Blues forward Will Bitten and the T-Birds rebooted Bitten’s charitable efforts, which were inspired by the seven-year battle against brain cancer endured by Martin Piché, the cousin of the Springfield winger. Tragically, Piché passed away in January 2021 at the age of 31. In addition, a total of $5,000 will be donated across a number of local cancer charities in Western Mass, including Baystate Children’s Hospital, Sister Caritas Cancer Center, CHD’s Cancer House of Hope, and Survivor Journeys. Fans who could not attend Hockey Fights Cancer Night can still contribute to Bitsy’s Army by visiting www.gofundme.com/f/bitsys-army.

 

Home City Development Awarded Funding for Development in Pelham

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc., a Springfield-based affordable-housing developer, was awarded funding for the construction of 34 mixed-income rental apartments in Pelham. Gov. Charlie Baker awarded the funding in the form of low-income housing tax credits, soft debt, and rental vouchers on Dec. 8. Home City Development previously received funds for Amethyst Brook Apartments from the Life Insurance Community Investment Initiative and Community Economic Development Assistance Corp. This is the first multi-family affordable-housing development approved in the Town of Pelham. The 2.6-acre site at 20-22 Amherst Road will consist of two highly energy-efficient buildings. A 28-unit building will be certified to passive house standards, and a six-unit building which will be certified by Energy Star. The Pelham Zoning Board of Appeals issued a comprehensive permit for Amethyst Brook Apartments in August 2021. Construction is expected to begin in late spring 2023 and is expected to be completed within 14 months. Western Builders of Granby will be the general contractor on the project, and the design team is led by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow.

 

Home Depot Honors FastenMaster for Innovative Decking System

AGAWAM — FastenMaster’s Cortex hidden fastening system has been named as one of the top three innovation award winners for 2022 by the Home Depot. Cortex is a fast and easy way to build a deck with fully hidden hardware and fasteners. The product comes with a proprietary drive bit that sets the screw to the perfect depth every time in composite, cap-stock, and PVC decking boards. The Cortex hidden deck-fastening system features fasteners with a Torx T-Tap drive system that is nearly impossible to strip out and comes with a strong setting tool that enables both pros and DIYers to install up to 350 fasteners with one tool. Cortex plugs are made from the same material as the decking board being installed.

 

Eppendorf Group Donates 682 Pounds of Food to Enfield Food Shelf

ENFIELD, Conn. — The staff at Eppendorf Group, a life-science company that develops and sells instruments, consumables, and services for laboratories worldwide, recently donated 682 pounds of food to the Enfield Food Shelf, which provides food assistance to local families. Enfield Food Shelf estimates that the donated food will provide an equivalent of roughly 800 meals. The mission of the Enfield Food Shelf is to ensure that no Enfield family in need is without food assistance. Its programs include weekly and monthly food assistance, SNAP enrollment, a hunger action team, and Healthy Meals=Healthy Minds initiatives.

 

UMassFive Employees Raise More Than $20,000 for Nonprofits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced that its employees have raised more than $20,000 for two local nonprofits during the fall of 2022. Specifically, $15,700 was raised in support of the UMass Cancer Center via participation in the UMass Cancer Walk and Run, and $4,800 was raised for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts via participation in Will Bike 4 Food. A longstanding and top supporter of the UMass Cancer Walk and Run event for more than 20 years, UMassFive employees joined together as Team UMassFive to raise funds for the cause, both personally and in branch locations. In 2022, fundraising efforts included raffle baskets, bake sales, candy sales, and art and jewelry sales. Donations were also sought from credit-union corporate partners, whose support helps bolster efforts each year. Including the funds raised so far this year, Team UMassFive has raised more than $173,000 in donations to the UMass Cancer Center over the lifetime of their participation. For years now, UMassFive employees have also jumped on their bicycles in support of Will Bike 4 Food, a major fundraising event for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. In 2022, six team members worked together to raise $4,800 from supporters, which equates to 18,800 meals for neighbors in need. At the Will Bike 4 Food event, the team rode 300 total miles for this cause.

Company Notebook

Freedom Credit Union Opens Loan Production Office in Enfield

ENFIELD, Conn. — Freedom Credit Union, with 10 branches throughout the Pioneer Valley, announced the opening of its first location in Connecticut at 115 Elm St., Unit 214, in Enfield. The office, which recently opened, is dedicated exclusively to mortgage and business lending for the time being. The mortgage loan originator, Jackson Findlay, will help guide members through mortgage loan options, prepare and submit mortgage loan applications, and work with prospective homebuyers throughout the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international business from Newbury College and an MBA from Elms College. John Santaniello, assistant vice president of Member Business Lending, will work with businesses that are seeking loans including term, Small Business Administration, commercial real estate, and commercial vehicle loans. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2020, Freedom expanded its charter from people who live, work, or attend school in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties to also include people in Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.

 

AIC Recognized in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been recognized as a top performer for social mobility in the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. AIC’s ranking tied for 69th, placing the college second in Massachusetts in the report’s National College category, behind only UMass Boston. Economically disadvantaged students are less likely to finish college, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, some institutions, such as AIC, have shown an intentional commitment to increase access to education, and as a result are showing progress in advancing social mobility. This is done in part by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students who have been awarded federal Pell Grants as part of their financial-aid packages. Most of these federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000. Of the 1,168 undergraduate students enrolled at AIC for the fall 2022 semester, nearly half received a Pell Grant. The overall rankings from U.S. News & World Report assess more than 1,800 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 metrics and place the largest emphasis on a college’s retention and graduation rates.

 

Smith College Campus Center to be Named for Julia Child

NORTHAMPTON — The trustees of Smith College unanimously voted to name the college’s Campus Center in honor of Julia McWilliams Child, who graduated from Smith in 1934. The 60,000-square-foot Campus Center, which serves as the heart of student life on campus, was partially funded by proceeds from the 2002 sale of Child’s home in Cambridge, which the famed chef donated to the college. It includes flexible meeting spaces, the Campus Center Café, and areas for studying and socializing. Since 2004, Smith has celebrated Child’s legacy on Julia Child Day, a tradition held each year on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. On Nov. 17, the dining halls and the Campus Center Café served many of her famous recipes, like coq au vin, fruit crêpes and French onion soup.

 

Breeze Airways Adds Flights at Bradley International Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Breeze Airways is once again growing its presence at Bradley International Airport and will be launching new nonstop service to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., in February. In the new year, the airline will also return nonstop service to Pittsburgh and introduce one-stop/no-plane-change ‘BreezeThru’ service to New Orleans. From Bradley, Breeze currently offers non-stop service to Charleston, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga. In 2023, the airline will also be introducing nonstop service to Phoenix and Vero Beach, Fla. Bradley International Airport is a national base for Breeze Airways.

 

Women’s Foundation of Boston Awards $25,000 to Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass.

BOSTON — Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) announced that it received a $25,000 Catalyst Grant from the Women’s Foundation of Boston. The grant will fund new donor technology software. GSCWM is one of 11 nonprofits that exclusively serves women and girls awarded the supplemental Catalyst Grant. According to Christina Gordon, co-founder and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Boston, “this supplemental alternative grant offering allows us to deepen our impact and support a greater number of effective women- and girl-serving nonprofits. As with our annual multi-year grants, the rigorous process for choosing recipients of our Catalyst Grants is based on mission alignment and proven outcomes.” The grant will fund new technology software to improve fundraising efficiency, donor engagement, and volunteer awareness.

 

EDM Designing New Net-zero Fire Station for Williamstown

PITTSFIELD — EDM, an integrated architecture and engineering firm with offices in Pittsfield; Unionville, Conn.; and Troy, N.Y., in partnership with Mitchell Associates Architects, recently provided programming and schematic design for a new net-zero fire station in Williamstown. The station will be an example of sustainable design for public-safety buildings and will comply with the strictest requirements of the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Carbon Certification. This requires no burning of fossil fuels on site, 100% of energy to be created by renewable energy sources, and the achievement of a 10% reduction in the building’s embodied carbon. The new facility will be located at the corner of Main Street and Linear Park Drive and will feature state-of-the-art firematic design strategies. The current design is approximately 28,000 square feet and is set to have six bays with a two-story administration/training/bunk wing. The design will utilize innovative systems and materials such as an all-electric variable refrigerant flow HVAC system, building and ground-mounted photovoltaic panels, low-carbon concrete masonry units, 100% recycled brick, triple-glazed windows, high-recycled-content steel structure, and timber construction where allowed, to name a few strategies. The project is currently awaiting funding approval from Williamstown residents, with an official vote set to be held on Feb. 28, 2023.

 

Earthbound Trading Company Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Earthbound Trading Company, a bohemian lifestyle brand, opened a 3,465-square-foot space on Nov. 15 on the upper level of Holyoke Mall near Macy’s. The company features gifts and fashion for hippies at heart. Earthbound offers a full range of home décor, meditation essentials, textiles, stones, accessories, clothing, and more. From humble beginnings in 1994 as a rock and mineral shop, Earthbound Trading now has 146 locations throughout the U.S.

 

Big Y Joins Massachusetts’ SNAP Online Purchasing Program

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced that Massachusetts residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can now use their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) SNAP benefits to buy groceries online from Big Y. Big Y is the latest retailer in the Commonwealth to accept EBT SNAP online. It joins Amazon, BJ’s, Daily Table, Geissler’s Supermarket, Shaw’s, Star Market, Stop & Shop, and Walmart, as well as Aldi, Brothers Marketplace, Hannaford, McKinnon’s Supermarkets, Price Chopper, Price Rite Marketplace, Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms, and Wegmans via Instacart. Across all eligible retailers, Massachusetts residents have spent more than $240 million in SNAP benefits to date, buying groceries online from eligible retailers. Big Y customers can now use their SNAP benefits when purchasing their groceries online through the Instacart marketplace. Shoppers must enter their EBT card as the form of payment on their Instacart account and select items from the list of EBT SNAP-eligible products as part of their Big Y order. Similar to using SNAP benefits to purchase food in a store, benefits can be used to buy SNAP-eligible foods online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy, and eggs. For more information on using SNAP benefits via Instacart, visit www.instacart.com/ebt-snap.

 

Canna Provisions, Aruna to Offer Sun-grown Indoor Cannabis in Lee

LEE — Canna Provisions, a Lee-based, woman-owned, award-winning cannabis dispensary, announced it has entered into a product partnership with Aruna, the first legal cannabis-cultivation facility to launch operations in Lee. Aruna, located at 845 Pleasant St. in Lee, is a Desi-owned minority legal cannabis-cultivation business boasting a state-of-the-art, fully sealed greenhouse facility creating sun-grown indoor cannabis. Typically the choice is either to grow indoors for the controlled environment, or grow outdoors for greater sustainability while risking various contaminant risks. Harsh Patel, Aruna CEO, said the company’s approach, to do both, is the most difficult. He explained that the ability to harness the key strengths of both indoor and outdoor methods of cultivation means the aesthetics and plant expression from natural sun growth and the tight-knit controls of an indoor facility yields something fresh for the market that’s also focused on sustainability and avoiding various issues that plague outdoor and hybrid greenhouse grows. Aruna has just under 10,000 square feet of canopy in a building just under 20,000 square feet. Canna Provisions is headquartered in 300 yards off the Lee exit on the Mass Pike, and also has a retail store in downtown Holyoke. Canna Provisions cultivation is located in Sheffield.

 

Burkhart Pizzanelli Delivers Coats to 200 Square One Children

SPRINGFIELD — The team at Burkhart Pizzanelli, a regional certified public accounting firm located in West Springfield, is doing its part to spread warmth to 200 children in need of winter coats this season. The local accounting firm organized a campaign through Operation Warm to purchase the new coats for children served by Square One. The coats were distributed by Square One staff and employees of Burkhart Pizzanelli on Nov. 14 at Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center in Springfield. Operation Warm is a national organization that provides brand-new winter coats to children in need, helping to improve self-confidence, peer acceptance, school attendance, and overall wellness. Funding support comes from businesses and individuals within the communities they serve.

Company Notebook

Collins Electric Wins Project Excellence Award in Education

CHICOPEE — Collins Electric Co. Inc., an electrical contractor based in Chicopee, was recently recognized by the National Electrical Contractors Assoc. with a NECA Project Excellence Award in Education in the over $1 million category for Smith College Neilson Library. NECA established the Project Excellence Award to showcase the exceptional work that its members perform throughout the country. Collins Electric was recognized along with this year’s other winners during NECA’s 2022 convention in Austin, Texas on Oct. 17. The renovation gutted the historic building with a new focus on the future. Additions to the library in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s were demolished along with the entire interior of the original 1909 library. The front and rear brick brownstone façades were the only remaining parts. The project involved 150,000 square feet with 5,000 LED, energy-efficient light fixtures; glass skylights; dimming; and windo- shade controls to deliver the best-quality energy-efficient lighting possible. Strict attention was paid to controlling temperature and humidity, as well as tight security, for the library’s rare-books collection.

 

Breeze Airways to Expand Flights at Bradley in 2023

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Breeze Airways is launching four new destinations from Bradley International Airport, including non-stop service to Vero Beach, Fla., and Phoenix, Ariz., starting from $79 and $99 one-way, respectively; and one-stop/no-plane-change ‘BreezeThru’ flights to Provo, Utah, and San Bernardino, Calif, starting from $99. The new routes will operate on an A220 aircraft as follows: Vero Beach daily, starting Feb 2; Phoenix and Provo Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 9; and San Bernardino Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 16. “Partnering with Breeze on their expansion has been transformative for Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, Connecticut Airport Authority’s executive director. “Their national growth, ongoing innovation, and expanding local network offer our passengers more opportunities to travel conveniently and affordably. We thank Breeze for their partnership in bringing these exciting new routes to this key market and for their continued commitment to our community.”

 

bankESB Supports Food Pantries with Annual Fundraising Drive

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced the kickoff of the bank’s 2022 Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. This marks the second year of the bank’s annual appeal, inviting bank customers, employees, and members of the community to donate money toward food pantries throughout the month of November. All donations (up to $2,500 per customer) will be matched dollar for dollar by bankESB, and the total raised will be divided among participating food pantries across Western Mass. in communities the bank serves. In 2021, a total of more than $39,000 was raised, which equated to $3,000 for each participating pantry. Donations of any amount are encouraged, and as an added incentive to give, the bank will offer those who donate the opportunity to win a $25 gift card at each of its locations. Those who wish to participate have until Nov. 30 to make their donations. Checks should be made payable to “bankESB Neighbors” and can be dropped off at any bankESB branch or mailed to Margaret Prendergast, bankESB, 36 Main St., Easthampton, MA 01027. The food pantries to be supported include Amherst Survival Center Food Pantry; Best Life Food Ministry, Agawam; BUCC Helping Hands Cupboard Food Pantry, Belchertown; Chicopee Cupboard; Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry; Easthampton Congregational Church Food Cupboard & Oasis Kitchen; Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hatfield; Hadley Food Pantry; Hilltown Food Pantry, Goshen; Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke; Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., South Hadley; Northampton Survival Center; Southampton Community Cupboard; and Westfield Food Pantry.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $48,600 in Year’s Third Grant Round

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $48,600 to 16 Berkshire-area organizations in its third round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,600 to support 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 and Food Security Grants for organizations with programs focused on providing food to community members in need. The following organizations received funding from Lee Bank Foundation: Berkshire Innovation Center, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Center for Peace Through Culture, Chabad of the Berkshires, CDCSB, the Christian Center, Dalton CRA, EforAll, Good Work Institute (Alliance for a Viable Future), Housatonic Heritage (the Mastheads), Lee Historical Society, Life Needs Co-Op (Stanton Home), the People’s Pantry, Second Street Second Chances, Volunteers in Medicine, and WAM Theatre. Lee Bank Foundation was established in 2021 to support Lee Bank’s long-standing mission of community reinvestment. In its first year, 2021, the foundation awarded a total of $228,610 in grants, and the bank contributed an additional $84,000 in sponsorships.

 

Berkshire Bank’s Foundation Supports 160 Nonprofits During Q3

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced more than $660,000 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the third quarter of 2022. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster community DEI-focused programs, support education and youth, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. These investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. “We are so pleased to support nonprofit organizations once again with philanthropy to sustain vital community services in all the regions that Berkshire Bank serves during challenging economic times,” said Lori Gazzillo Kiely, foundation director. “Since January 2022, the Berkshire Bank Foundation has provided nearly $2 million to support the needs of the community.”

 

 

JimBuddy’s Rec Shop Hosts Grand Opening

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grand opening of JimBuddy’s Rec Shop at 1269 Memorial Dr. with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 2. It officially opened to the public on Oct. 1. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is owned by Jim and Lisa Robinson, who opened JimBuddy’s Glass Gallery & Vape Shop next door at 1271 Memorial Dr. in 2015. When the space next door at 1269 became available in 2018 — the year cannabis was legalized by Massachusetts voters — the Robinsons rented the space with hopes to open a dispensary. JimBuddy’s received a special permit from the city of Chicopee in April 2021, making it the third recreational cannabis dispensary approved in the city. As a small family business, JimBuddy’s focus is offering quality products from small, local businesses in the cannabis industry like those based Florence, Whately, and Pittsfield. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is open to customers who are age 21+ with valid ID.

 

Girl Scouts Receive $10,000 from TD Charitable Foundation

HOLYOKE — The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts announced that it has received a $10,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation in support of On Your Own: Financial Literary for Girls. The grant will provide a free badge program to all Girl Scouts designed to empower them to control their financial futures. All participants complete age-appropriate activities to gain real-world money-management skills. Girl Scouts develop leadership skills and self-esteem as they build a greater understanding of becoming responsible consumers, creating and living by a budget, building and managing credit, increasing their income, and saving and investing for whatever’s next. With the support of contributors such as the TD Charitable Foundation, Girl Scouts is able to help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. On Your Own: Financial Literacy for Girls is available to all members in grades K through 12. Learn more and sign up to be a member at www.gscwm.org.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life. “We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Company Notebook

New Valley Bank & Trust Opens West Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — New Valley Bank & Trust cut the ribbon on its newest full-service branch at 333 Elm St., West Springfield, on Oct. 7. Joining the bank’s board chair, Frank Fitzgerald, was West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, state Sen. John Velis, and state Rep. Michael Finn. “Our customers and prospects have been asking us to open a branch on the west side of the Connecticut River for some time,” New Valley President Jeff Sullivan said. “We have recognized the need to increase the convenience of doing business with the bank, and we are proud to be able to offer our services in West Springfield. I spent 11 years of my career working on Elm Street, and many members of the New Valley team have had similar past experiences. We are thrilled to be back in the neighborhood with friendly, familiar faces. As a gesture of good will, the bank recently donated to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club, the first of many new community partnerships to come.”

 

Country Bank Pledges $10 Million to Support Affordable Housing

WARE — Country Bank has introduced a new affordable-housing program featuring no down payment for first-time homebuyers. The first-of-its-kind program will assist low- to moderate-income families in purchasing a home. Country Bank has pledged $10 million to the program to help make a difference for these first-time homebuyers. This program is designed to help those who need it most by offering 100% financing for single-family homes or condominiums and 95% financing for two-family properties, with no down payment. In addition, the bank will cover 100% of the private mortgage insurance (PMI) that traditionally adds to the monthly payment, saving the borrower hundreds of dollars each month. This feature also gives the borrower more purchasing power by not having to pay the cost of mortgage insurance. Certain restrictions and locations apply for this program. “Buying your first home can be very stressful, and not having the ability to save for a down payment prohibits many from purchasing a home, even when they can afford the monthly payment. Country Bank’s mortgage experts can assist those interested in learning more about the program or who may be ready to purchase a home. The no-down-payment, first-time homebuyer program is available until the $10 million commitment has been allocated. To learn more, visit www.countrybank.com/mortgages or a banking center, or call the Customer Care Center at (800) 322-8233.

 

Arts Integration Studio Opens

HOLYOKE — Priscilla Kane Hellweg announced the launch of a new consulting firm, the Arts Integration Studio. Hellweg, who retired in December 2021 after 40 years as the executive/artistic director of Enchanted Circle Theater in Holyoke, said the Arts Integration Studio is a creative makerspace designed to address critical needs in education, community health, and the environment. The studio incorporates creativity, the arts, and cultural engagement, and collaborates with others to promote positive outcomes and sustainable solutions to pressing educational and social concerns. This fall, the studio announced four partnerships: with Pittsfield Public Schools and Berkshire Educational Resources on comprehensive professional development in arts integration, open to all K-12 teachers and specialists in Berkshire county; with Mount Holyoke College and its Professional and Graduate Education Department on a graduate fellowship focused on producing research and publications on arts and learning; with the town of Longmeadow, Bay Path University, and Deza Studios to produce a public art exhibit that illuminates community-wide perspectives around climate despair, resilience, and action as the town embarks on updating its master municipal plan with a focus on equity and climate change; and with the Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community in Easthampton designed to support families with children who have experienced foster care. The Arts Integration Studio is also developing ARTS CORPS, a work/study/professional training program for college students and emerging teaching artists interested in the intersectionality of arts, education, social justice, and community well-being.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Celebrates Five Years

CHICOPEE — Mercedes-Benz of Springfield is celebrating five years since opening its doors on Oct. 16, 2017. Mercedes-Benz of Springfield’s early and sustained success continues to validate the brand’s decision to put a site in the Pioneer Valley, despite the 11-year hiatus in having a local Mercedes-Benz dealership. Since opening five years ago, the dealership has serviced 53,795 cars, conducted 68,000 car washes, sold and delivered more than 6,400 vehicles, partnered with more than 350 organizations, and increased its team from 30 employees on opening day to 55 today. It has been honored with two BusinessWest 40 Under Forty awards, three Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Awards, and an Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce A+ Award, and was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Reopens Agawam Store

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, celebrated the reopening of its Agawam location on Oct. 22. “This renovation has allowed us to expand options for our customers and offer a more well-rounded shopping experience,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “Aside from a complete indoor and outdoor remodel, we have added full fishing and Carhartt departments to the store, as well as expanded tool and grill departments. We are really excited to show off these renovations to our new and returning customers.”

 

Hometown Financial Group Welcomes Envision Bank

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group Inc., the multi-bank mutual holding company for bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank, has completed its acquisition of Randolph Bancorp Inc, the bank holding company for Envision Bank. Under the agreement, the acquired Envision Bank branches have been rebranded as Abington Bank. Abington Bank now has $1.4 billion in assets and 10 branches located throughout the South Shore and South Coast, adding offices in Braintree, Randolph, and two in Stoughton to its existing network of offices in Abington, Avon, Holbrook, Marion, and two in Cohasset. The transaction expands Hometown Financial Group’s market presence in Eastern Mass., bringing consolidated assets to $4.5 billion with 37 branches located throughout Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut. In addition, Envision Mortgage, with offices in Braintree, North Attleboro, and Westport, will join Hometown Financial Group within the newly formed Hometown Mortgage. This transaction is the sixth strategic merger for Hometown in the last seven years. In 2015, Hometown acquired Citizens National Bancorp. Inc., based in Putnam, Connecticut, then merged with Hometown Community Bancorp. MHC, the holding company for Hometown Bank, in 2016. It then acquired Pilgrim Bancshares Inc. and Abington Bank in 2019, and later that year acquired Millbury Savings Bank.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life.

“We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Breaks Ground on New Computer Sciences Building

AMHERST — UMass Amherst and state officials broke ground on Thursday for the new, $125 million Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences building, designed to respond to enormous growth in the college’s enrollment over the past five years and provide talent to fuel business growth and research collaborations that benefit the entire Commonwealth. The new facility is substantially funded by a $75 million state capital commitment from the Baker-Polito administration. The building will expand facilities by creating approximately 90,000 gross square feet in new space devoted to the college’s community-building, research, and teaching missions. Speakers at the groundbreaking included UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, UMass President Marty Meehan, board of trustees Chair Robert Manning, trustees Steve Karam and Mary Burns, Provost Tricia Serio, Manning CICS Dean Laura Haas, and Distinguished Professor Prashant Shenoy.

 

The Big E Sets Single-day Attendance Records

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A total of 1,603,354 visitors attended the 2022 Big E in West Springfield. During the fair’s 17-day run, an all-time single-day attendance record was set when 177,789 visitors arrived on Saturday, Sept. 24. Five additional daily attendance records were also set. The event featured a diverse concert lineup of more than 80 individual performances, plenty of fair foods, rides, and unique shopping experiences. The tradition continues next fall from Sept. 15 through Oct. 1, 2023.

 

Whittlesey Named a 2022 Best of the Best Firm

HARTFORD, Conn. — Whittlesey, an accounting, advisory, and technology firm, has been named a Best of the Best Firm by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA), an award-winning newsletter for the public-accounting profession. It is one of only 50 firms in the nation to receive this accolade. IPA’s annual Best of the Best list ranks top accounting firms that have delivered superior financial and operational performance in the most recent fiscal year. The firms are selected from nearly 600 firms across the U.S. and Canada. Selections for the list are based on more than 50 metrics related to firm growth, productivity, staff development, and more. Along with being named a Best of the Best Firm, Whittlesey was also named a 2022 Top 200 Accounting Firm in the nation. There are more than 46,000 public accounting firms in the U.S.

 

Endowed Professorship Established to Honor UMass Amherst Chancellor

AMHERST — Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist Robert Epstein has made a commitment of $1.5 million to establish the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Professorship in UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. The gift honors Epstein’s friendship with UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and the chancellor’s decade of service to the university. The Epstein Endowed Professorship will help attract or retain an outstanding faculty member, with a preference for faculty in hospitality and tourism management, who will strengthen the academic excellence of the Isenberg School of Management and advance industry knowledge through research, scholarship, and inspired teaching. The fund will cover costs such as salary supplementation, education and travel expenses, graduate assistantships, research expenses, and support services for the faculty member’s program. Epstein, who earned a degree in marketing from the Isenberg School of Management in 1967, has been an ambassador for the university and an ardent supporter of Isenberg faculty and students. He has served as a member of the UMass Amherst Foundation board since 2010 and was appointed to the UMass board of trustees in 2015. In addition, he co-chaired UMass Rising, the largest fundraising campaign in UMass Amherst history; served as a guest lecturer at Isenberg; established the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Scholarship; and supported Isenberg’s Business Innovation Hub, among other university priorities. For years, Epstein has been a leader in the beverage and alcohol industry. As co-owner and president of the Horizon Beverage Group and former chairman of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, he has worked with producers, unions, legislators, and more than 15,000 retail and restaurant customers. With his gift, he aims to enhance the reputation of UMass Amherst and Isenberg within the hospitality industry and provide the university with the resources it needs to retain world-class faculty to mold the next generation of industry leaders. The university hopes to appoint a faculty member to the Epstein Endowed Chair by July 1, 2025, when the fund will have been invested with the endowment for a full year.

 

UPS Stores Accepting Donations for JA of Western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) will be the recipient of donations made through the UPS Store’s “Start Small, Grow Big” initiative. Customers who shop at one of the UPS Store’s more than 5,100 locations will have the opportunity to donate to their local Junior Achievement chapter at checkout now through the end of the year. At UPS Stores here in Western Mass. and Vermont, donations will go directly to benefit JAWM’s efforts in the community. JAWM is dedicated to providing economic-education and financial-literacy programs to the youth of Western Mass. and Vermont, opening their minds to their potential and preparing them for life after graduation. The organizaion’s age‐appropriate, academically challenging programs are offered to local schools and community groups free of charge because of the financial support they receive from hundreds of local businesses, individuals, and foundations, in addition to special events.

 

Big Y’s Online Ordering Marks One Year of Growth

SPRINGFIELD — This fall marks the one-year anniversary for myPicks Online Ordering, Big Y’s e-commerce platform. In recent years, Big Y has seen an explosion of online ordering and an increased customer demand for another way to shop. These factors led Big Y to enter the e-commerce realm and launch its myPicks Online Ordering platform. The chain is continuing to gather valuable feedback from customers and is working hard to develop new ways to improve customers’ online experience. Recently, myPicks launched an upgraded website with improved functionality that will make possible services like home delivery powered by Instacart and the ability to accept payments via EBT and SNAP benefits. It has expanded pick-up windows to include same-day order and pick up, and continuew to expand its offerings of fresh and local products. Currently, Big Y offers myPicks in 11 store locations: Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow, South Hadley, West Springfield, Wilbraham, two in Springfield, and two in Westfield.

 

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass., announced that the Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2022 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 — a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and crisis. During this year’s celebration held on Sept. 8, 95 companies were honored for qualifying 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 44th, 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.

 

HCC Joins Pickleball Craze by Opening Seven Indoor Courts

HOLYOKE — The Bartley Center for Athletics & Recreation at Holyoke Community College (HCC) is now open five days a week for pickleball after the college recently installed seven indoor courts. Now, for a $5 per visit fee, any member of the general public can come to HCC to play what has been touted as the fastest-growing sport in America. The pickleball courts at the Bartley Center are available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Courts cannot be reserved in advance but instead are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no fee for HCC students and other Bartley Center members. Pickleball, which is like a hybrid of tennis, table tennis, and badminton, became possible at HCC after the floor in the Bartley Center gym was redone over the summer. Inserts for existing indoor tennis nets were removed, and inserts for pickleball nets were installed along with permanent pickleball court lines.

 

Yankee Mattress Factory Raising Funds for American Cancer Society

AGAWAM — Yankee Mattress Factory, a manufacturer of handcrafted mattresses locally in its Agawam factory, with showrooms in Agawam, Springfield, Northampton, and Greenfield, is raising money to benefit the American Cancer Society now through Oct. 31. In the past three years, the wives of two employee-owners were diagnosed with breast cancer. Both women are now in remission, and in their honor, Yankee Mattress Factory has set a goal to raise $10,000 for cancer research and support for patients going through treatment in the Western Mass. region. Through Oct. 31, Yankee Mattress Factory will donate $25 for every Silver Collection mattress and $50 for every Gold or Black Collection mattress purchased at its four stores. The company is also accepting donations from customers; anyone who donates $20 or more will be entered into a raffle to win one of 10 Malpaca queen pillows valued at $240 each. A team from Yankee Mattress Factory will also participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, Oct. 16 in Hartford, Conn. Stores will be closed that day to allow all employee-owners and their families to participate. To learn more about the event or join the Yankee Mattress Factory team, visit yankeemattressfactory.com/acs.

 

PeoplesBank Named an Adoption-Friendly Workplace by Dave Thomas Foundation

HOLYOKE — More than 25 years ago, Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, began advocating for better adoption benefits in the workplace. Today, the Dave Thomas Foundation has continued his work through the Adoption-Friendly Workplace program, which recognizes organizations that strive to make adoption a supported option for every working parent. The foundation recently named PeoplesBank to the Adoption-Friendly Workplace 100 Best 2022 list (54th overall and eighth with 100 to 1,000 employees). As the only bank in Massachusetts and Connecticut to receive the honor, PeoplesBank joins other leading national corporations such as American Express, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Paramount, Yale University, Microsoft Corp., 3M Co., and Johnson & Johnson on the list. Along with a number of measures meant to ensure a family-friendly workplace, PeoplesBank provides a $5,000 grant to employees for each adoption.

 

Pure Life Soaps Hosts Grand Opening of New Store

WEST SPRINGFIELD — After handcrafting all-natural organic soaps from a workshop in her home and selling them online and at farmers’ markets, Kay Hernandez, owner of Pure Life Soaps, opened her first retail store at 80 Windsor St. in West Springfield, hosting a grand-opening celebration on Oct. 8. “We are excited to offer Western Massachusetts a soap shop offering quality, unique bath products that are free of chemicals and harmful ingredients and made with exotic and healing essential oils,” she said. Hernandez began making soaps after becoming ill from a hormone imbalance caused by chemicals in the commercial soaps she had been using. Some of Pure Life’s featured soaps include Oatmeal Scrub, Wildflower, Grapefruit Tea Tree, Moringa Mango, Turmeric Orange Oatmeal, Lavender Oatmeal, as well as unscented soaps. The Pure Life Soaps shop will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be found online at www.purelifeshop.co.

Company Notebook

Cisco’s Café to Open This Fall in the Mill District

AMHERST — Francisco Perez, owner of Amherst House of Pizza (AHOP) at Riverside Park, is opening a second restaurant in the Mill District in North Amherst this fall. Cisco’s Café will feature Latino and American breakfast and lunch. “We will have several types of breakfast burritos and sandwiches. Vegan and vegetarian options will be offered along with several meat and fish choices at breakfast and lunch,” said Perez, a native of El Salvador and 10-year owner of AHOP. The Mill District in North Amherst was created to invigorate community connections in the internet age, providing experiential retail, food, and fun for all ages. North Square is becoming a gourmet food corridor with Provisions (wine, beer, and fine foods) moving across the square and joining Futura Coffee Roasters and the Carefree Cakery, which are coming soon. Riverside Park recently welcomed Big Basket Market, an international grocery store. Seven thousand square feet of retail space remains available for lease in the Mill District. Other existing tenants include Balanced Birch Pilates, the Closet, GrazeCraze, the Mill District General Store and Local Art Gallery, the Lift Salon, Cowls Building Supply, and the Riverside Park Shops, including Amherst House of Pizza, Shine Laundry, and Big Guy Liquors.

 

U.S. News Ranks Bay Path Fourth for Social Mobility

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been ranked fourth in the 2022-23 Social Mobility category by U.S. News & World Report. Now in its 38th year, the rankings evaluate more than 1,450 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality. U.S. News publishes the Best Colleges rankings each year to provide prospective students and their families with helpful data and information on factors such as graduation rates, social mobility, and graduate indebtedness. The social-mobility rankings are calculated by assessing the six-year graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants compared with the graduation rate of other students. Those grant recipients generally come from households with annual incomes under $50,000. Bay Path has long been committed to fostering an environment that is supportive and inclusive, reflecting the diversity of its students. For the 2022 incoming fall class of traditional students, 50% were the first in their family to attend college, and 47% were diverse. The university offers numerous scholarship opportunities, as well as academic assistance and other supports, such as the ALLI program, which helps young women transition from high school to their first year as a university student, and an extensive peer-tutoring support system.

 

MCLA Earns Multiple Spots on U.S. News College Rankings

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) continued commitment to an excellent, affordable education is reflected in the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The college now ranks seventh on the list of Top Public Liberal Arts Colleges for the second year in a row, 33rd as a Top Performer on Social Mobility among national liberal-arts colleges, and first among all Massachusetts liberal-arts schools. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges. MCLA has appeared on U.S. News’ list of Top Public Colleges for 10 of the past 12 years. The college has also been acknowledged in the list of National Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Mobility since the organization adopted this ranking in 2019. This list measures how well institutions graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000, though most Pell Grant money goes to families with income below $20,000. Slightly more than 42% of MCLA undergraduate students receive Pell Grants, and 51.4% are the first in their families to go to college. Overall, 93.1% of students receive some kind of financial aid. U.S. News ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, its faculty, and its financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

 

bankESB Named Among State’s Most Charitable Companies

EASTHAMPTON — The Boston Business Journal has named bankESB an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The journal annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. Through its sponsorship and charitable giving program, the Giving Tree, bankESB and the Easthampton Savings Bank Charitable Foundation support nonprofit organizations and causes throughout Hampden and Hampshire counties. In 2021, the Giving Tree donated nearly $352,000 and over the past decade has donated more than $3.1 million. This year, 95 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities last year. The honorees this year include companies from such industry sectors as financial and professional services, healthcare, technology, retail, and professional sports.

 

PeoplesBank Named to List of Top Corporate Charitable Contributors

HOLYOKE — A record $1.3 million in contributions in 2021 marks a new level of charitable support for PeoplesBank, earning recognition from the Boston Business Journal and its Corporate Citizenship Awards for the 15th year in a row. With a focus on food insecurity, housing, and literacy, PeoplesBank announced record donations reaching $1,315,000 in 2021, with a total of close to $11 million donated since 2011. This marks a new level of contributions, making PeoplesBank the leading community bank for charitable donations in Western and Central Mass. The bank has doubled its donations in the last five years. Headquartered in Holyoke, PeoplesBank increased its donations across its whole market of Massachusetts and Connecticut to assist the customers and communities it serves. Meanwhile, PeoplesBank’s associates donate 10,000 volunteer hours per year, and 74 of them have served on 54 nonprofit boards.

 

Elms College Wins $1.5 Million Grant from National Science Foundation

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that it has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through the six-year grant, “Growing STEM Student Success Through Scholarship and Community Building with Experiential Learning and Data Science,” Elms College will provide need-based scholarships to at least 40 high-achieving first-year and community-college transfer students who want to pursue careers in science, technology, and mathematics. The scholarship amount will be up to $10,000 per year. Scholarships will be available to community-college transfer students in the spring 2023 semester and to first-year Elms students beginning in the fall 2023 semester. In addition to scholarship funding, all STEM scholars will be provided community-engaged experiential learning activities and opportunities to build data-science skills in each year of their studies, culminating in an internship or research experience. For more information on the S-STEM scholarships at Elms and eligibility requirements, visit www.elms.edu/academics/nsmt/elmsstem.

 

Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember

WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass., recently supported the Ride to Remember, a 50-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters, with a $10,000 donation. This year’s ride, “The Tour of Western Massachusetts,” celebrated its 10th anniversary, honoring those who have died in the line of duty. “Country Bank’s support of this meaningful event is a great way for us to show our gratitude and support for all the frontline workers,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We deeply appreciate the work they do throughout our communities, and we know that it truly makes a difference to the people and businesses they serve.”

 

Gaming Commission Releases Gross Gaming Revenue for August

SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that the month of August at MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park Casino, and Encore Boston Harbor generated approximately $92 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). MGM Springfield generated $4,474,746.40 from table games and $17,518,085.09 from slots for a total of $21,992,831.49, generating $5,498,207.87 in taxes. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, category-1 resort casinos, are taxed on 25% of GGR; those monies are allocated to several specific state funds as determined by the gaming statute. Plainridge Park, a category-2 slots facility, is taxed on 49% of GGR. Of that total taxed amount, 82% is paid to local aid and 18% is allotted to the Race Horse Development Fund. To date, the Commonwealth has collected approximately $1.181 billion in total taxes and assessments from MGM, Plainridge Park, and Encore since the respective openings of each gaming facility.

Company Notebook

Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store Change Hands

NORTHAMPTON — Richard ‘Rich’ Cooper, whose family built and nurtured the Cooper’s Corner and State Street Fruit Store markets, announced that he is selling the businesses to a dedicated, longtime employee who is committed to honoring the legacy. Cooper will retire this fall and sell the markets to Michael Natale, who has worked at State Street and Cooper’s since 2006 in various roles, steadily rising into management and most recently serving as general manager. His father, five siblings, a niece, and a nephew have also worked at the popular, hometown convenience stores. “Mike is a clone of me. He sees what I see. He knows what customer service really means, and he understands the importance of community,” Cooper said. “Mike has a great way with the employees and customers. He is enthusiastic, dedicated and has long-term commitment.” Cooper will work part-time alongside Natale for a few months after the sale as Natale takes over full ownership. “Mike is the ideal buyer. This choice feels right to me,” Cooper added. “It meets the obligation I feel toward employees and to the community to keep the stores locally owned and locally committed, the way we’ve been from day one. I didn’t want to sell to a chain or the highest bidder or someone from outside the community.” Between the two stores, there are 104 employees, most of whom live locally and work part time; roughly 40 work full time.

 

Hitchcock Center Receives Grant for SEEDS Program

AMHERST — The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst was recently awarded a $222,076 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) FY2022 Museums for America grant for its SEEDS (Schools Exploring Engineering, Design, and Sustainability) program in partnership with Springfield Public Schools. This grant requires a 1:1 match in funding and will rely upon community support to fully fund this new initiative. SEEDS is a new Hitchcock Center program that focuses on using an engineering design-challenge approach to build STEM capacity in third-grade classrooms in the Springfield school system. Project activities will include developing and implementing experiential learning in classrooms through school-based design challenges and creating professional training and mentoring support for each teacher participating in the program. The center will schedule field trips for participating classrooms to its certified Living Building, a net-zero energy facility that harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets, and was constructed with responsibly sourced, non-toxic materials. The project will enhance materials and curriculum for participating schools and encourage students and teachers to explore the intersections of engineering, technology, and design and their role in addressing environmental challenges that confront society. “The Springfield Public Schools are very happy to be able to partner with the Hitchcock Center, who will work with our teachers to get our kids excited and inspired about science and nature,” said Ronald St. Amand, director of Science for Springfield Public Schools, adding that SEEDS “will provide our students with opportunities to learn about STEM careers and to see themselves in STEM. Through the program, kids will come to understand that climate change is urgent, but that we are not powerless against it. Our students can be hopeful about and be part of climate-change solutions.” The mission of the Hitchcock Center is to educate and to inspire action for a healthy planet. Instead of simply teaching about climate change, the Hitchcock Center is helping people develop the skills needed to create climate solutions and foster climate resilience by helping them reconnect to and learn from nature’s efficient and sustainable systems, develop a problem-solving mindset, and share a positive vision for the future.

 

Eversource Named Among State’s Most Charitable Companies

BOSTON — For the fifth year in a row, the Boston Business Journal has named Eversource an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. “Having the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers is a privilege,” said Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Eversource Foundation president and vice president for Corporate Citizenship and Equity. “We have a responsibility to invest in organizations, initiatives, and services that provide broad, meaningful, and sustainable change in the communities we serve that are most at-risk, overburdened, and under-resourced. We look forward to that continued spirit of partnership as we all work together to create conditions for all of our communities to thrive.” The Boston Business Journal annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities, a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and crisis, such as those collectively experienced throughout 2021. In addition to financial support, Eversource also empowers employees to volunteer and give back to local organizations by providing regular volunteer opportunities and a program to match charitable contributions by individual employees. In 2021, Eversource’s volunteer programs engaged more than 4,900 employees and their families, who volunteered more than 23,700 hours at company-sponsored events.

 

Monson Savings Donates $5,000 to Healing Racism Institute

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently made a $5,000 donation to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, headquartered in Springfield, in support of its work in the region. The Healing Racism Institute aims to help create a better understanding of the root causes and effects of racism, while also explaining the institutional nature of racism. Its hallmark program is its two-day Healing Racism sessions, which provide a safe environment to learn about the impact of racism on our nation and community in an engaging and transformative process. “Monson Savings Bank supports the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley and the important work that they are doing for our communities,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “We commend them for all of the work that they do to make the world a better place, specifically working to make the communities we live in a better place. Monson Savings is a local bank, meaning everyone who works at the bank lives here. We are working, raising our families, and living in the communities that the Healing Racism Institute serves. The organization holds a special place in our hearts because they are making the places we live a better, more equitable place.” A contribution from Monson Savings Bank will support Healing Racism Institute’s campaign to be self-sustaining within three years by building infrastructure and building capacity. Funds will be used to hire staff, create a training center, increase the number of trained facilitators, and provide scholarship support. “On behalf of the Healing Racism Institute, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Monson Savings Bank for their generous donation,” said Vanessa Otero, Healing Racism executive director. “This donation will help us in our mission to help build racism-free communities.”

 

bankESB Donates $5,000 to Easthampton Neighbors

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB recently made a $5,000 donation to Easthampton Neighbors to help provide services and programs to assist Easthampton seniors and to support the organization’s participation in the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative. Easthampton Neighbors is a member-driven, nonprofit organization that provides volunteer services and programs to seniors who strive to live independent, engaged lives at home. Its ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ approach creates a local support network for area seniors. It are a partnering organization of the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative, which is a coalition of healthcare and community providers, based out of the Cooley Dickinson Geriatrics program, dedicated to empowering and supporting older adults living with dementia and their family caregivers to improve their quality of life. “Seniors are the backbone of our community,” said Matthew Sosik, the bank’s president and CEO. “bankESB is proud to support Easthampton Neighbors as they work to keep seniors in our area engaged, connected, and thriving.” The donation was made as part of the bank’s charitable-giving program, the Giving Tree, which reflects the roots the bank has in its communities, its commitment to making a real difference in the neighborhoods it serves, and the belief that everyone’s quality of life is enhanced when parties work together to solve their communities’ biggest problems.

 

UMassFive Featured on ‘World’s Greatest!’ TV Series

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union was featured in episode 326 of World’s Greatest!, a television series produced by How2Media. World’s Greatest! is a 30-minute show dedicated to highlighting the world’s greatest companies, products, places, and people. Each show is a fast-paced tour around the world featuring behind-the-scenes footage, informative interviews, and exciting visuals. The episode featuring UMassFive premiered on Bloomberg TV on Sept. 3 and re-ran on Sept. 10. In recent years, credit unions have become more and more popular as people transition away from for-profit banks and toward more customer and member-oriented institutions. With a history dating back to 1967, a focus on sustainability, and a commitment to keeping the local economy strong, UMassFive has continued to grow and innovate. “We think their story will be meaningful as well as educational to our viewers,” said Kyle Freeman, executive producer of World’s Greatest! As part of the show, How2Media sent a film crew to spend time at UMassFive’s headquarters in Hadley to discover the company’s story and to show viewers why the credit union was selected as the best in its category, and therefore featured on the show. “We are immensely thankful to How2Media for providing us this opportunity to amplify the mission of the credit union,” said Craig Boivin, vice president of Marketing at UMassFive.

Company Notebook

Trader Joe’s Employees in Hadley Approve Chain’s First Labor Union

HADLEY — Employees at Trader Joe’s in Hadley have become the chain’s first store to approve a labor union. The union vote passed 45-31. “This victory is historic, but not a surprise. Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company’s best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered,” Trader Joe’s United said in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of the work we have done together to win this union election, but winning is just the beginning. We now begin the difficult work of sitting down at the negotiating table as equals with our employer and securing a contract that will benefit and protect us, the crew, instead of the company’s bottom line.”

 

Tech Foundry Awarded $72,547 Tech Talent Diversity Grant

BOSTON — Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy recently announced three new grants from the Commonwealth’s Tech Talent Diversity Initiative, an effort aimed at boosting diversity hiring and training opportunities for diverse candidates. The three grants, totaling $494,947, were awarded to Tech Foundry in Springfield, Hack.Diversity in Boston, and Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology in Boston. Tech Foundry was founded in 2014 by Pioneer Valley tech employers and other workforce, business, education, and economic-development stakeholders to address the regional skills gap in information technology and drive regional economic growth. The organization offers training programs aimed at filling entry-level IT roles and provides training that is tailored to the needs of partner employers, including a work-experience component where students are placed in a position at a local employer. Tech Foundry’s $72,547 grant award will be used to assist employer partners’ ability to host students, primarily in the Pioneer Valley, for hands-on training, by creating a new platform called Tech Foundry Ventures to host two new programs, including the development of a virtual IT technician-training environment, working with employer partners to create a tool where students will face similar scenarios to those seen on the job, allowing them to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom without the stakes of serving real-world clients; and the launch of a service-learning initiative where students will work with community organizations that cannot afford to utilize commercial services, providing similar IT services to those provided by employer partners. The expanded tools will allow Tech Foundry to train as many as 150 additional students per year, three times its existing number.

 

Chase Bank to Open First Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — Chase Bank plans to open its first Springfield branch next year at 1391 Main St. in downtown Springfield. There are plans to add at least three more locations in the Greater Springfield area over the next few years. The expansion is part of the bank’s recently announced plans to more than double its presence in Massachusetts by 2025. The firm opened its first Massachusetts branch in Boston in 2018 and now has 36 statewide. Beyond Springfield, Chase will open its first branch in Worcester next month. “Springfield is a great city with a rich economic, cultural, and educational environment, which makes it an ideal place for Chase to grow,” said Ali Zaidi, Chase’s market director for Springfield and Worcester. “Our goal is to help the community and support our customers during their most important moments.” This first branch will be about 3,000 square feet in size and feature modern, bright designs with comfortable meeting areas and state-of-the-art banking technology. A dedicated Chase Private Client team will provide premium banking services, personalized attention, and access to the expertise and investment capabilities of J.P. Morgan to help families reach their goals. Customers may also meet with financial and home-lending advisors and business-banking relationship managers. “Branches are critically important to our customers, but our mission goes beyond service and convenience,” said Jennifer Piepszak, co-CEO of Chase Consumer & Community Banking for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re hiring locally, investing in the community, and bringing all the benefits our firm has to offer to drive economic growth.”

 

Baystate Medical Center, Roca Create Violence-intervention Program

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center and Roca Springfield are launching a first-in-the-region hospital-based violence-intervention program called Better Tomorrow to serve as a vital public-health response to violence in local communities. Funded with a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, the joint effort will combine medical staff and community-based service providers to intervene with victims of violence in hospital settings, connect them with community services, and reduce further victimization and violent behaviors. Hospital-based violence-intervention programs are multi-disciplinary teams designed to identify patients who are at risk of repeat violent injury and connect them with hospital- and community-based resources to help address underlying risk factors for violence. Research shows that these programs reduce repeat victimization and criminal-justice involvement while also decreasing healthcare and other costs associated with violence. They improve quality of life for patients by addressing disparities in access to healthcare, transportation, case management, and a range of other social determinants of health.

 

Elm Electrical Creates Program to Educate Teens on Electrical Careers

WESTFIELD — Elm Electrical has created a new program for high-school students interested in the electrical field. The students, in grades 10-12, were recommended by their teachers or Elm employees to attend this free, four-day training seminar. These prospective co-op students, or Elm Futures, were then invited to join Elm educators learn new skills as well as showcase their own talents at the First Steps Training Seminar. Monday through Wednesday, students receive instruction and training in the state-of-the-art Elm University multi-media classrooms and hands-on lab. Thursday, the final day, is Challenge Day, when students apply what they’ve learned and complete a project board challenge. Elm project managers are invited to evaluate their work, offer feedback, and get to know the students. Three sessions have been held this summer. The Elm University classrooms and lab are used year-round as Elm’s in-house training facility. Employees who want to become licensed electricians can opt into the company’s four-year apprentice program. They can work their jobs Monday through Thursday and then, every other Friday, attend school at Elm University for free.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Named Presale Ticket Partner for Eastern States Exposition

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE), home of the Big E, announced a new partnership, naming Rocky’s Ace Hardware an official presale partner of the Big E. Through this partnership, Rocky’s and ESE have joined together to utilize a locally owned platform in selling tickets to the 2022 Big E. ESE and Rocky’s have developed a ticketing initiative that will allow fairgoers to purchase 2022 advance discount tickets, advance pay-one-price Midway Magic passes, value passes, and Big E Arena concert tickets through the Rocky’s mobile circular digital app and at www.rockys.com.

Company Notebook

Bay Path Gets High Marks for Online Master’s in Cybersecurity

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been ranked as one of the top online cybersecurity master’s degree programs by Fortune magazine. Fortune, which covers global business topics, ranked Bay Path 11th in the nation for its online master’s program in cybersecurity. Rankings were determined by a program’s selectivity score, which measures the undergraduate GPAs and years of work experience of its students, along with the program’s acceptance rate. In addition, Fortune evaluated retention and graduation rates, as well as the size of each graduating class. In addition to its cybersecurity graduate program for men and women, Bay Path offers a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to undergraduate women. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow by 33% over the next decade, more than four times faster than the average for all occupations. In 2020, the median annual salary for cybersecurity analysts in the U.S. was approximately $104,000.

 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Expands with New Location

EAST LONGMEADOW — Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real-estate brokerage franchise network, announced its further expansion in the state of Massachusetts with the addition of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Professionals. This addition marks the brand’s continued growth in the region with its 48th franchisee, led by President Robert Molta, who has been an industry leader in the market for more than 30 years. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Professionals is a full-service real-estate brokerage serving Western Mass. and Northern Conn. By joining the network, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Professionals agents gain access to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ active referral and relocation networks and its FOREVER Cloud technology suite, a powerful source for lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production and distribution, and more. The brand also provides an exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for premier listings. Its Prestige magazine showcases network members’ premium listings with a strong lineup of feature stories covering topics that appeal to high-end real-estate clients.

 

Tighe & Bond Earns Two Awards for Coonamessett River Restoration

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, Inter-Fluve, the town of Falmouth, and project partners have been recognized with two awards for the Coonamessett River Restoration and John Parker Road Bridge project. The project team received the Bronze Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts and the Nicholas Humber Outstanding Collaboration Award from the Environmental Business Council of New England. The awards recognize the successful transformation of 56 acres of abandoned cranberry bogs, which established a thriving, self-sustaining ecosystem supporting wildlife, increasing coastal resiliency, and providing educational opportunities. Numerous barriers to fish passage were removed, and 5,560 feet of the river were reestablished to closely match the historic natural flow of the river. Project partners spanning local, state, and federal organizations collaborated with the technical engineering and construction teams to successfully complete this project. The restoration serves as an example for other Cape Cod communities transforming former cranberry bogs across the region into thriving wildlife habitats and educational and recreational opportunities.

 

MassDevelopment Puts 1550 Main St. on Market

SPRINGFIELD — Colliers Capital Markets announced that it has been retained by MassDevelopment to sell 1550 Main St., the 128,900-square-foot office building in Springfield’s downtown corridor. Colliers Executive Vice President Jeanne Pinado will lead marketing efforts of 1550 Main, with Vice President Rob Schlesinger providing additional support, and the firm will issue a call for offers in mid-July. The five-story office building is 97% leased and underwent a complete $9 million renovation in 2010. Capital improvements included creating a high-quality building entrance with an open atrium with 70-foot ceilings, as well as building an outdoor plaza and improving landscaping, elevators, restrooms, and more. Formerly a federal courthouse, 1550 Main St. is home to tenants such as the administrative offices for Springfield Public Schools, the U.S. General Services Administration, and Baystate Health. The building has a 103-space below-grade garage and connects via a pedestrian skywalk to the 28-story Tower Square. MassDevelopment purchased 1550 Main from the federal government in 2009 and revitalized the campus to position it as a Class A office building with an expansive public plaza as part of an economic-development initiative.

 

BankESB Commits $30,000 to Girls Inc. of the Valley

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank has pledged $30,000 over three years to Girls Inc. of the Valley. The money will be used to help support the organization’s “Her Future, Our Future” campaign, a $5 million fundraising effort designed to help the organization better meet the needs of girls from under-resourced communities in Hampden County and beyond. Through this campaign, Girls Inc. seeks to triple the number of elementary and teen girls served, reaching more than 1,000 girls annually. Efforts include renovating a state-of-the-art headquarters and program center in Holyoke; expanding geographic reach in public schools in Springfield, Chicopee, and beyond; and supporting the innovative Eureka! STEM program that prepares girls for college and career. The donation was made as part of the bank’s charitable giving program, the Giving Tree, which reflects the roots the bank has in its communities, its commitment to making a real difference in the neighborhoods it serves, and the belief that everyone’s quality of life is enhanced by working together to solve communities’ biggest problems.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $70,700 in Second Grant Round

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $70,700 to 13 Berkshire-area organizations in its second round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $12,500 to support 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. Organizations receiving funding from Lee Bank Foundation include Berkshire Black Economic Council, Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Berkshire Bounty, Community Health Programs, Construct, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Flying Cloud Institute, Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, Link to Libraries, and South Community Food Pantry. Additionally, Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Theatre Group, BODYSONNET, and Norman Rockwell Museum. The deadline for the next round of 2022 foundation funding is Sept. 1. The application and more information can be found at www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html. To be considered for grant awards, an applicant must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps.

 

T-Birds Earn Award for #WeAre413 Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds were recognized for their business excellence in a variety of departments at last month’s AHL team business meetings. For their season-long #WeAre413 campaign, the Thunderbirds organization took home the league award for Marketing Campaign of the Year. The Thunderbirds returned to the ice in 2021 after opting out of the 2020-21 shortened season. This campaign’s messaging goal was to speak to the pride felt by every resident of the Greater Western Mass. region, as well as the longstanding hockey history of the city. The club also received the award following the 2018-19 season for its #RiseUp campaign. In addition to Marketing Campaign of the Year, the Thunderbirds achieved a pair of milestones in both ticket sales and corporate sales. As part of the award recognition at the team business meetings, AHL member clubs that hit benchmarks pertaining to tickets sold and corporate sponsorship revenue were honored.

 

Six Flags New England Fulfills Bet Against Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

AGAWAM — Six Flags New England and its sister park Six Flags Discovery Kingdom located in San Francisco set a friendly wager for the recent NBA Finals series. While both parks are proud of their local Celtics and Warriors going head to head, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship game series. Six Flags New England begrudgingly fulfilled its wager against its sister park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this past weekend, renaming its iconic New England SkyScreamer to the Golden State SkyScreamer. “We tip our hats to our friends and colleagues at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and the recent win of their beloved Warriors,” said Park President, Pete Carmichael. “We New Englanders are all too familiar with being crowned champions (17 titles) and welcome a rematch between the two coasts very soon.”

 

Monson Savings Donates $2,250 to Shriners Hospitals for Children

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently presented a $2,250 donation to Shiners Hospitals for Children – Springfield as a part of the 2022 Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative, in which the public casts votes to support their favorite local charitable organizations. “Monson Savings Bank is extremely proud to donate to the Springfield Shriners Hospital for Children,” President and CEO Dan Moriarty said. “We know that our donation will support the patient care, medical research, and education that directly benefits children living in local communities. It is essential to have a nearby hospital that parents and guardians can turn to when their child needs specialty care.”

Company Notebook

bankESB Makes $500,000 Challenge Grant to Cooley Dickinson

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank has made a $500,000 challenge grant to support the Emergency Department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The funds will be used to support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the ever-evolving emergency medicine needs of all members of the community, from infants to older adults. “Access to quality medical care is something we all count on, and Cooley Dickinson continues to do an amazing job treating our friends, family, and neighbors who live and work in our communities,” said Sosik. “bankESB is pleased to do its part in supporting Cooley Dickinson and its efforts to transform its Emergency Department into one that’s as up-to-date as possible and can unlock its full potential. We hope others will do the same.” According to Cooley Dickinson Hospital, its 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 doubled — from 17,000 in the 1970s to nearly 34,000 in recent years. Renovations are expected to break ground next spring. Organizations contributing to the Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department can increase the impact of their donations through this matching grant. bankESB will give one dollar for every two dollars donated to the Emergency Department campaign through Dec. 31, up to $500,000.

 

AIC Partners with STCC with Signing of Articulation Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has signed an articulation agreement with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), formally establishing a close academic relationship between the two-year college and the four-year institution. This accord between American International College and Springfield Technical Community College aligns academic programs that enhance the seamless transition of STCC graduates and qualified candidates from STCC, and promote 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 STCC 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.

 

Easy Company Brewing Launches in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Easy Company Brewing recently launched Springfield’s newest brewery Thursday at the Student Prince in downtown Springfield. Easy Company Brewing (ECB) is a veteran-owned business that is committed to donating 100% of its profits to veterans, first responders, and their families. The name and its mission are inspired by the men of Easy Company from WW II, made famous by the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. Following in the footsteps of the men of Easy, ECB is committed to brewing drinkable European style beers with “a little bit of American boldness and edge,” while honoring the men and women who serve or have served our country. All of ECB after-tax profits, will be donated through its companion foundation to a number of charities that do work on behalf our nation’s heroes. Founders Jeff St. Jean and John DeVoie served together in the Air National Guard, and have teamed up to create this new beer brand in the City of Homes. St. Jean is still serving, and DeVoie is one of the co-founders of Hot Table, a Springfield based fast casual restaurant company. ECB beers are currently contract brewed locally in Western Mass., but DeVeVoie and St. Jean hope to build a brewery and tap room in Springfield at some point. Their beers are currently available for sale at Table & Vine in West Springfield. Other retailers will follow this summer.

 

Two New Woman-owned Businesses Open in Thornes Marketplace

NORTHAMPTON — Two women entrepreneurs with a passion for artistry and design have opened shops in Thornes Marketplace, one offering Bohemian home décor and the other, women’s lingerie and loungewear. Cigdem “Chi” Turkomer, the owner of Le BonNton, originally located on Old South Street, moved into Thornes last June, relocating several times within the building over the past year and recently settling permanently on the second floor. In its fifth year, Le BonNton offers linens, furniture and other décor, which Turkomer also provides for a fee to couples through her wedding design service. On June 10 from 5-8 p.m., Thornes will host a fifth-anniversary celebration for Le BonNton in the shop, with music, local art displays and Turkish Delight sweets prepared by Turkomer.

Ali Ingellis, owner of Ooh La La, opened her boutique on the first floor of the historic shopping center in downtown Northampton in May. The lingerie and loungewear she designs and produces are inspired by history and nature, and she describes her shop as, “Beautiful, unapologetically feminine, intimate — like your best friend’s closet.”

 

MassMutual Center Sees Positive Economic Impact in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Center recently collaborated with Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company that measures local economic impact in local markets, to research the economic impact the venue had in Springfield and surrounding markets from July 2018 through June 2019 (FY19). Findings show that the MassMutual Center’s gross economic impact as well as Incremental Impact were significant. Tourism Economics found that in FY19, the MassMutual Center had more than 300,000 total attendees in the arena and convention center events, resulting in a total gross economic impact of $47.1 million, which generated 555 total jobs in the market and contributed $4.4 million in total state and local tax revenues. Of the total event attendees, 147,000 were out-of-town attendees, resulting in a total incremental impact of $34.9 million, which generated 443 total jobs in the market and contributed $3.2 million in total state and local tax revenues. Gross economic and incremental impacts were measured by money spent by the venue in the local economy to sustain operations, including spending on payroll, marketing costs, legal services, and professional services, as well as money spent by event attendees while attending events at the MassMutual Center and at off-site establishments, including local restaurants, hotels, retailers, and recreation/entertainment venues. Gross economic impact shows impact made by all event attendees, while incremental impacts focuses on the out-of-town event attendees.

 

Florence Bank Celebrates 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program

FLORENCE — Florence Bank celebrated its 20th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala last month, awarding $100,000 to 45 nonprofits across the valley. And at the close of the event, President and CEO Kevin Day drew cheers from the audience of nonprofit leaders, announcing that giving will increase to $125,000. Day’s announcement was the second commemoration of the evening, the first coming as he called for bank and nonprofit staff and leaders to raise a glass to toast the event’s 20th year. “We can’t let that go without celebration,” he said. Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 7,000 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. At its 20th annual event, held May 19 at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank offered awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrated a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. Six nonprofits received funding for the first time — some in Hampden County, where Florence Bank now has three branches and has established a presence as a good neighbor. Three recipients have accepted an award every year since the program launched. Four organizations received the maximum amount of $5,000 this year: Cancer Connection Inc., Dakin Humane Society, Food Bank of Western Mass., and Friends of Williamsburg Libraries.In addition to the four top vote-getters, these other organizations received an award: Friends of Lilly Library, $4,097; Northampton Survival Center, $3,782; Amherst Survival Center, $3,588; Our Lady of the Hills Parish, $3,564; Friends of Forbes Library, $3,539; Goshen Firefighters Association, $3,370; Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, $3,224; Easthampton Community Center, $2,909; It Takes a Village, $2,909; Williamsburg Firefighters Association, $2,642; Northampton Neighbors, $2,400; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $2,303; Belchertown Animal Relief Committee, Inc. (BARC), $2,230; Manna Community Kitchen, $2,109; Shriners Hospitals for Children, $1,988; and J.F.K. Middle School PTO. Also, $1,867; Kestrel Land Trust, $1,867; Northampton High School PTO, $1,794; Riverside Industries, Inc., $1,770; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School PTO, $1,648; Cooley Dickinson Hospital, $1,624; Safe Passage, $1,624; Northampton Community Music Center, $1,527; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, $1,527; Amherst Neighbors, $1,503; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $1,455; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $1,430; Grow Food Northampton, $1,430; Smith Vocational High School PTO, $1,333; Whole Children, $1,309; Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, $1,164; Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, $1,139; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, $1,115; Revitalize CDC, $1,091; The Parish Cupboard, $1,067; Belchertown Police K-9 Unit, $1,042; Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, $1,042; Historic Northampton, $1,018; Granby Senior Center, $994; Leeds Elementary School PTO, $994; and Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, $970.

 

Monson Savings Bank Donates Bikes to YWCA of Western Mass.

MONSON — In the spirit of its 150th Anniversary, Monson Savings Bank announced earlier this year that it will be launching its 150 Build-a-Bike campaign. The community bank has purchased more than $20,000 worth of bikes to donate to local children and they have partnered with various non-profits in the area to host Build-a-Bike events throughout the year. Most recently, Monson Savings delivered 10 bikes and 10 helmets to YWCA of Western Mass. Members of the Monson Savings team delivered the bikes that they helped to assemble with Ray Plouffe, owner of Family Bike Shop in East Longmeadow. Many members of the team expressed feelings of gratitude and a sense of fulfillment after building and delivering the bikes. “All of us were very excited to come together for the YWCA Build-a-Bike event. Our team had a great time getting to know the YWCA team and confirming our knowledge about all of the incredible ways they help those in need,” said Dan Moriarty, President and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “Plus, it was wonderful to deliver the bikes and hear how the YWCA plans to make a safe, designated area for children to enjoy the bikes as they receive support from the organization.” Throughout the summer, Monson Savings Bank will also partner with I Found Light Against All Odds and the Springfield Housing Authority, South End Community Center, and Educare Springfield to host more 150 Build-a-Bike events, continuing to spread happiness to children and families throughout the area. To learn more about Monson Savings Bank’s 150th anniversary, the bank’s historical timeline, and to view a full schedule of events visit www.monsonsavings.bank/anniversary.

 

Caolo & Bieniek Architects Selected to Design Northfield Emergency Services Facility

CHICOPEE — Caolo & Bieniek Architects (CBA) has been selected, and has begun work, on designing options for a public safety complex to serve the town of Northfield. The CBA design team boasts 60 years of experience working in Western Mass., with extensive knowledge in the construction of public safety complexes, police stations, fire stations, and emergency service facilities. The team will compose a feasibility study assessing program needs and developing Phase 1 – programing and conceptual design. The focus of the study is to explore design options that accommodate the town’s Fire Department, Police Department, and Emergency Medical Services Department. Each department’s current condition is in need of attention and redesign to better enable department members to effectively serve their community.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Provides Financial Gift to Community Legal Aid

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley recently made a $3,500 donation to support Community Legal Aid of Central and Western Massachusetts.Community Legal Aid Executive Director Jonathan Mannina Esq., in accepting the donation said, “with the firm’s gift, PSRB is helping to pass on the American promise of equal Justice under the law. With Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley’s support, Community Legal Aid will be able to continue to serve some of the most vulnerable members of our community.” “It is critical to us as a firm, that the work of the Community Legal Aid continue,” said Charlie Casartello Jr., Managing Partner at Pellegrini, Seeley Ryan & Blakesley. “For 70 years, they have provided invaluable advocacy for and support to people who otherwise would not be able to afford legal representation in central and western Massachusetts. The impact they make is tremendous and we are proud that we can make a difference in their mission.”

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Announces New Banking Center in South Windsor, Conn.

Fresh off its successful launch in the center of West Hartford and the renovation of its Suffield Banking Center, PeoplesBank has announced that it will add to its Connecticut footprint by building a new 2,000-square-foot banking center at 50 Cedar Ave. in South Windsor. The banking center is expected to be the anchor for other adjacent development that may include a restaurant, coffee and retail shops, and a medical office building.Designed by Tecton Architects of Hartford, the banking center will feature many of the innovative technologies that PeoplesBank has rolled out at its other new and renovated locations, including two VideoBankerITMs and two EV charging stations. The new banking center will also utilize the bank’s Universal Banker approach, which allows its associates to provide a wide range of banking services to customers. The new South Windsor Banking Center is expected to be open in early December, 2022.

 

Florence Bank to Celebrate 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program

FLORENCE — For 20 years, Florence Bank has awarded grants of up to $5,000 each to dozens of nonprofits chosen by its customers, and at its annual gathering this year, it will once again offer up $100,000 to organizations that support young and old in the community. At its 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants gala, to be staged May 19 at 5 p.m. at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank will offer awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrate a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. Organizations like Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke will receive awards for the first time this year thanks to customer voting. In addition to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield, the Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Dakin, the following organizations received enough votes to qualify for a grant and will receive an award at the celebration: Amherst Neighbors, Amherst Survival Center, Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc. (BARC), Belchertown K-9, Cancer Connection, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, Easthampton Community Center, Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of Forbes Library, Friends of Lilly Library, Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Goshen Firefighters Assoc., Grow Food Northampton, Granby Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Valley, Historic Northampton, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, It Takes a Village, J.F.K. Middle School, Kestrel Land Trust, Leeds Elementary School PTO, Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Manna Community Kitchen, Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton High School PTO, Northampton Neighbors, Northampton Survival Center, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Revitalize CDC, Riverside Industries, R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, Safe Passage, Smith Vocational High School PTO, The Parish Cupboard, Whole Children, and Williamsburg Firefighters Association.

 

Greater Springfield CVB Names 2022 Howdy Award Finalists

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) has announced 50 Finalists for the upcoming 2022 Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence. The Howdy Awards, as they are also known, celebrate workers in visitor-facing roles across Western Mass who deliver outstanding guest service, create loyal customers for their businesses and help make a positive impact upon the region’s hospitality economy.The 2022 Howdy Awards will be celebrated on May 16 at 6 p.m. at the MassMutual Center, and will also include the presentation of the Spotlight Award to Nate Costa and the Springfield Thunderbirds ownership group for keeping professional hockey in Western Mass.

The 50 finalists are:

Accommodations
FeliciaFernandez, front desk clerk, Hampton Inn and Suites, Hadley;
AustinGinman, front desk agent, MGM Hotel, Springfield;
GenesisRamos, front desk clerk, Residence Inn, Chicopee; and
FeliciaLaurin, housekeeping supervisor, The Inn on Boltwood,Amherst.

Attractions
David Dunston, show staff, Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield;
Laura Litterer, owner,Full of Grace Farm, Hadley;
Steve Ferraro, director of Operations, Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield;
Sabrina Brizzolari, director of Event Services, Mass Mutual Center, Springfield;
Gary Laprade, tour host,Sports Travel and Tours, Hatfield;
Pearl Wesley, ranger, Springfield Armory, Springfield;and
Sharon Ferrara, Welcome Center manager,Springfield Museums, Springfield.

Banquets
Shanique Fair, catering sales manager,MGM Springfield;
Will Diaz, event planner, Log Cabin, Holyoke; and
Brenda Lee Glanville, director of Sales & Marketing, Summit View Banquet House, Holyoke.

Beverage
Terry Ryan, bartender, Collins Tavern, West Springfield;
Rob Dullea, bar manager,Fitzwilly’s, Northampton;
Jessica Santinello, bartender, Maple Leaf, Westfield;
Matthew Jerzyk, bartender,Max’s Tavern, Springfield; and
Amanda Reed, bartender,the Ranch Pub House, Southwick

Food Casual
June Leduc, general manager, Delaney’s Market, Longmeadow;
Silvana Cardaropoli, customer service, Palazzo’s, Springfield;
Humberto Caro, manager, Starbuck’s, Monarch Place, Springfield; and
Erica Rosado, breakfast attendant, Tru by Hilton, Chicopee.

Food Tableside
Kelsi Donohue, server, Bnapoli Italian, West Springfield;
Donna Nardi, server,Cal’s Restaurant, West Springfield;
Matthew Canata, counter clerk,EB’s, Agawam;
Darlene Robinson, server,Gregory’s Pizza, Wilbraham;
Bernadette Beaudry, server,Johnny’s Roadside Diner, Hadley;
Benny Beans, server,Lattitude, West Springfield;
Amy Silvestri,general manager,UNO’s Pizzeria & Grill,Springfield; and
Michael Moriarty, server,Villa Napoletana, East Longmeadow.

Public Service
Serena Curley, concierge,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Latrina Haynie, phlebotomist, Baystate Lab, Springfield;
January Russell, insurance agent,Bluestone Insurance/Horace Mann, Agawam;
Heather Wyman, office manager,Cordes Orthodontics, Westfield;
Paul Barden, Meals on Wheels,Greater Springfield Senior Services, Springfield;
Tricia Zoly, nurse, Holyoke Council on Aging, Holyoke; and
Harold Anderson, program director, Valley Eye Radio, Springfield.

Retail
Yates Greenhalgh, cashier, Big Y, Wilbraham;
Kerri O’Connor, manager,Athleta, Longmeadow;
Patrick Hamel, service advisor, Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Tiarra Henderson, framing specialist, Michael’s, West Springfield;
Maria Lepage, sales and leasing consultant,Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Sabrina Pretti, customer service,Insa Inc., Easthampton;
Carolyn Owens, cashier,Walgreen’s, Springfield;
Janet Graves, retail sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield;and
Stephen Ross, sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield

Transportation
Jose Guzman, valet parker,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Barbara Eckert, booth attendant, Civic Center Garage, Springfield; and
Tom McLeer, PVTA bus driver,PVTA, Springfield

The Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence are sponsored by Eastern States Exposition, Aladco Linen Services, Mass. Convention Center Authority, Freedom Credit Union, Performance Foodservice, People’s United Bank, MGM Springfield, MassMutual Center, Baystate Health, Yankee Candle Village, Modelo Especial, The Republican, MassLive, WWLP TV-22 and IHeart Media.

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Western Mass for meetings and conventions, group tours, sports and leisure travel.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of The 2022 Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has 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. CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021 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 43 years.

 

UMass Amherst Dining to Measure Carbon Footprint for Individual Dishes

AMHERST — Bolstering UMass Amherst’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2032, UMass Amherst Dining Services has made the commitment to measure the carbon impact of their menu. In doing so they will be the first college or university dining program in the country to include carbon footprint for individual dishes.

The initiative will help students reduce their carbon footprint with their everyday food choices by including a carbon rating on the menu identifiers. In a fall survey of over 800 people, 88% of students indicated the climate crisis informs their decisions at least some of the time. In addition, 75% indicated they believe their food choices impact the environment and 76% said reducing their carbon footprint is important to them. Launching during Earth Week, the first phase of this project will feature an A-E carbon rating for all menu items at Hampshire Dining Commons on the menu identifiers, online and on the UMass Dining App. Determining the carbon footprint of a dish is a multi-faceted process that incorporates things like water consumption as well as storage and transport. To create a clear,concise way to communicate thesevalues fortheir customers, UMass Dining is working withMy Emissions, a leading provider of food carbon labelling. My Emissions’ standardized process makes it easy to calculate the carbon footprint from a recipe and demonstrates the impact of a customer’s food choices using a rating scale.Factoring in all the contributing elements, My Emissions has developed an A-E rating scale based on the carbon intensity (“A” signals Low impact and “E” signals Very High).

 

Big Y Donates $100,000 to Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Relief

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Markets added to the collected donations from customers and employees from March 17 to March 30 through their traditional registers, online and myExpress check out for Ukraine Humanitarian Relief. Community and employee donations along with additional support from Big Y resulted in a donation of $100,000, which will be donated to the global Red Cross network response to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. As the conflict continues, the Red Cross continues to help families impacted by this devastating conflict. International Red Cross teams are currently on the ground in the region distributing food, delivering medicine and medical supplies, assisting with evacuations, and providing shelter.

 

JGS Lifecare Welcomes Northeast Rehab Associates

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced the addition of Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to services offered at its Longmeadow campus. Northeast Rehab, a specialized sub-acute rehab service operated by Registered Physical Therapist Cherie Stack for the past 25 years, most of those years spent in Agawam, will operate out of The Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, located at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at 770 Converse Street in Longmeadow. “JGS Lifecare, an affiliate of Legacy Lifecare since 2018, is always seeking ways to enhance the services we offer to our residents, families and the local community,” said Mary-Anne Schelb, director of Business Development for Legacy Lifecare’s Western Mass. market. “We have a full continuum of eldercare services located on 23 acres on Converse Street that the community knows well and has confidence in. The addition of Northeast Rehab to our family of services is a mutually enhancing partnership that will benefit not only our residents, but their families as well as our local community.” Northeast Rehab has specialized in orthopedic rehab for more than two decades. Over the past five years, care has expanded to include cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Stack’s longtime staff will come with her, offering continuity of care and a seamless recovery for all of their patients. “We’re very excited to welcome Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to our campus of care,” said Rob Whitten, LHNA, administrator of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at JGS Lifecare. “It was clear from the start that we share a similar commitment to providing the highest quality of rehab services, and that our environment and how we deliver care is a great match.

Company Notebook

Valley Venture Mentors Joins Forces with Western Massachusetts EDC

SPRINGFIELD — The Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) announced it has welcomed Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) into the EDC ranks as a regional leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a shared vision in stimulating and facilitating a vigorous regional economy, the EDC is committed to supporting local entrepreneurship, which ultimately leads to the acceleration of economic development and community vitalization. EDC and VVM leadership have been in discussion on the future of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and have decided to join forces. “The leadership at the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts recognizes the unique value of VVM, its impactful programming, and diverse pool of mentors,” the VVM board of directors noted in a statement. “We are excited to hand over the reins to the EDC and watch VVM and the EDC work more closely together to fulfill the mission of helping all entrepreneurs in Western Mass. not just succeed, but thrive.” With this new transition, the EDC has appointed Hope Ross Gibaldi as executive director of VVM.

 

Mellon Foundation Awards Five Colleges $1.6 Million Faculty-development Grant

AMHERST — The Five College Consortium has been awarded a $1.6 million grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create programming that will develop faculty members’ administrative leadership skills. Titled “Building Academic Leaders in the Humanities,” the grant will fund a three-and-a-half-year program to prepare humanities faculty to take on leadership roles at Five Colleges’ member institutions — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges and UMass Amherst — and elsewhere. The program builds on a seminar one held at Amherst College in 2020 for 24 faculty members interested in taking on or already occupying administrative roles. The success of the Amherst model led the chief academic officers of the Five College campuses to propose a collaborative leadership-development effort across all five institutions. Amherst College Associate Provost and Associate Dean of Faculty Pawan Dhingra will lead the grant team, along with UMass Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Sociology Michelle Budig, Mount Holyoke College Associate Dean of Faculty Elizabeth Markovits, Smith College Dean for Academic Development Hélène Visentin, and Hampshire College Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Yaniris Fernandez. The Mellon Foundation funding will support two annual institutes, one designed for early- to mid-career faculty who are planning to take on their first administrative responsibilities, and another for current faculty administrators looking to move into higher leadership roles. Facilitated by experienced campus leaders, these institutes will cover subjects ranging from managing budgets to maintaining work-life balance. Developing participants’ capacity to support diversity, equity, and inclusion will be an overall theme of both institutes.

 

 

Manning Family Foundation Gives $3 Million to UMass Amherst

AMHERST — Alumnus Paul Manning and his wife, Diane, have committed $3 million through their family foundation to expand the Manning Innovation Program at UMass Amherst. The gift provides three years of support in advancing a robust and sustainable commercialization pipeline of applied and translational research projects from the university. The Manning Innovation Program, based in the university’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), provides grants to advance applied research and development efforts in the sciences and engineering through the creation of startup companies and the licensing of intellectual property. Since its inception, 14 faculty members have received a Manning Innovation Award, including one research professor who has used these new funds to make strides toward new, life-saving liver-disease treatments. The program has also fostered a stronger culture of entrepreneurship in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) and greater collaboration among Isenberg School of Management advisors, science and technology researchers, and industry experts as they work to translate research into field-disrupting products. The Manning Innovation Program was originally established in 2019 with $1 million in seed funding from the Mannings and was initially open only to CNS faculty. “When we established the Manning Innovation Program almost three years ago, our goal was to fund brilliant minds as they tackled some of the world’s biggest problems,” Paul Manning said. “But the program’s success has surpassed our expectations, which is why we are investing in its expansion. We look forward to seeing many more innovative solutions that are sure to make a global impact.”

 

Upright Education Partners with GCC on Technology Career Training

GREENFIELD — Upright Education and Greenfield Community College (GCC) are partnering to provide award-winning career-enhancement programs in technology in Western Mass. and beyond. The new partnership is being provided through GCC’s Workforce Development Office and will give learners a unique chance to participate in boot camps that help them quickly learn marketable skills in technology, including software development and user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Participants will be able to attend the programs virtually and can complete them in as few as 10 weeks. With Upright’s national partner network and suite of curriculum offerings and GCC’s access to the area’s working population and robust higher-education system, this partnership aims to significantly augment efforts to develop the technology workforce in the region. All courses are fully accessible to online participants and offered with a variety of pricing models. For more information on available Upright offerings, visit bootcamp.gcc.mass.edu, or attend an upcoming information session on Wednesday, March 9.

 

WNE College of Engineering to Offer Hands-on Integrated Photonics Training

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University’s (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP@WNE) in Springfield is the first to offer the latest hands-on integrated photonics training in collaboration with Spark Photonics to enhance the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Department’s optics/photonics bachelor of science in electrical engineering degree sequence. Spark Photonics, an independent commercial photonic integrated circuit-design house based in Waltham, recently delivered its first commercially available education and workforce development (EWD) photonic integrated circuit (PIC) kit to the Western New England University College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes. LEAP@WNE is a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center established through the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing to advance innovation and job growth throughout the state. Steve Adamshick, associate professor and director of LEAP@WNE, said there will definitely be a shift in the program as a result of the EWD PIC kit. Unlike other established industries, few education and workforce-development programs focus specifically on the integrated photonics industry in the U.S., and only a handful of those offer students the type of hands-on experience that they will face in a real-world manufacturing environment. The hands-on difference at WNE has resulted in the ECE department placing 99% of its students in jobs with a median salary of $103,390 or full-tuition scholarships at prestigious R1 institutions (those with very high research activity).

 

Berkshire Bank Earns Gold Community Champion Award

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank was recently presented the Gold Community Champion Award from Banking Northeast magazine in the economic-development category. This award recognized the bank’s comprehensive efforts to foster economic resilience in its communities. Banking Northeast established the Community Champion Awards to honor the banks and credit unions who went beyond the call to aid their community in a special time of need or whose cumulative effort has made a substantial, positive impact. Winners were presented at the magazine’s Gala Awards last month at Mohegan Sun. Berkshire Bank’s Gold Community Champion Award recognized its efforts to harness its core business activities, pandemic response, community involvement, philanthropic programs, and innovative financial solutions such as MyFreedom Checking and the Futures Fund to strengthen its neighborhoods. Berkshire helped deploy nearly $1 billion in PPP funding to assist small businesses during the pandemic and helped more than 180,000 individuals with financial-wellness programming. According to an independent third party, Berkshire reinvests at a rate nearly 70% higher than the industry average. Through its BEST Community Comeback program, the company expects to lend and invest $5 billion over the next three years to lift up its communities across four key areas: fueling small businesses, community financing and philanthropy, financial access and empowerment, and funding environmental sustainability. The plan is expected to result in more businesses and jobs being created, more families achieving the dream of owning a home, more quality housing in neighborhoods, and investments in activities that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

 

Company Notebook

Webber & Grinnell Insurance Joins Alera Group

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced that it has joined a national network of insurance agencies called the Alera Group. The Alera Group was formed by 24 agencies similar to Webber & Grinnell in 2017. Since then, it has added many others across the country and is now one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the U.S. Joining Alera allows Webber & Grinnell to tap into a wealth of best practices and insurance resources, enabling the company to better serve its diverse clientele. Examples include more insurance-carrier choices, the ability to converse with subject-matter experts, and having more resources to help hire and train employees. Joining Alera also provides a perpetuation plan for the agency. The agency’s staff and their roles are staying exactly the same, so clients will continue being serviced the same way they have been all along. Grinnell will also continue to lead the agency at the local level.

 

Dietz & Co. Architects Designated as Emerging Professional Friendly Firm

SPRINGFIELD — Dietz & Co. Architects Inc. has been designated by AIA New England as a 2021 Emerging Professional (EP) Friendly Firm. This program recognizes architecture firms that promote the advancement of emerging professionals through professional development and personal-growth opportunities. “Here at Dietz & Company, investing in the professional growth of our staff is the foundation of our firm culture,” Principal Jason Newman said. “We want our people to achieve their personal and professional goals, and we want them to feel supported and encouraged as they pursue them. This philosophy not only builds the confidence and the skills of our team, it helps us keep them as well.” Dietz & Co. Architects has been awarded this designation each year since 2019.

 

Hoops Star Marcus Camby Partners with White Lion

SPRINGFIELD — UMass and NBA star Marcus Camby has joined White Lion Brewing Co. in a strategic partnership. White Lion currently distributes a small independent portfolio of artisan brands in Massachusetts, primarily in the western part of the state. Camby’s goal is to help open new markets throughout New England and beyond, as well as release his own portfolio of beer brewed by White Lion. “White Lion continues to expand its community reach,” President Ray Berry said. “We have a proven track record and incredible community partners like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds, and MGM Springfield, to name a few. I remember when Marcus electrified the region — just thinking about it brings back so many great memories. He loves our brand and what it represents. We are very excited and think we have a game winner.” Added Camby, “I am extremely impressed by the brewery’s commitment to the community and its approach to diversifying the craft-beer trade. I look forward to being a part of expanding the brand throughout the New England and Tri-State region. This is my home, and to be able to have a quality beer named after me, and be able to tell its story, is something I’m truly excited about.”

 

MassDevelopment Bond Boosts Springfield College Projects

SPRINGFIELD — MassDevelopment has issued a $106,675,000 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Springfield College, which will use proceeds to fund several capital projects.

The college will use $45,095,000 to build and equip a new environmentally friendly and sustainable, 76,000-square-foot health sciences building; this portion of the financing received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, which are approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. The college will use the remaining proceeds to build an academic quad and campus pavilion; renovate classrooms, residence halls, administrative buildings, and the existing health sciences building; improve a steam-plant facility; upgrade walking and running paths and outdoor seating; and refinance previously issued debt. The bond was sold through a public offering underwritten by Hilltop Securities Inc. “This major investment represents Springfield College’s commitment to its students, staff, and the entire Greater Springfield community,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera said. “MassDevelopment is proud to lend a helping hand to support construction of a new health sciences building and significant upgrades to the college’s campus and academic facilities.”

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Reaccreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — In recognition of its continued health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley International Airport has achieved reaccreditation from the Airports Council International (ACI) World Health Accreditation program. During the extensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures throughout the entire passenger journey in line with industry best practices. This includes evaluation of the airport’s cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical-layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger-facility enhancements. The Connecticut Airport Authority voluntary initiated the reassessment after receiving its initial health accreditation from ACI in December 2020. In addition to surpassing these high industry safety standards, Bradley International Airport offers contactless access to the parking garage and surfaces lots through the airport’s free parking-rewards program; an opportunity to apply for TSA PreCheck at the airport’s enrollment site, which speeds up the screening process and also helps reduce touchpoints; and contactless meal ordering, allowing passengers to easily purchase food online for pickup on their journey through the airport. Additionally, the airport is continuing to offer voluntary COVID testing for passengers and airport employees in the main terminal’s baggage claim. Free COVID vaccinations and boosters are also available on certain days in the same location. A federal face-covering mandate is also in place for everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.

 

NIH Grant Will Support Research in UMass Amherst Lab

AMHERST — Jianhan Chen, a UMass Amherst chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology professor, has received a five-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to support research in his computational biophysics lab aimed at better understanding the role of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) in biology and human disease. The grant falls under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences MIRA program, which stands for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award. It’s designed to give highly talented researchers more flexibility and stability to achieve important scientific advances in their labs. “The MIRA award enables us to continue working on several central problems regarding the study of disordered proteins and dynamic interactions. The flexibility of this funding mechanism also allows us to follow new research directions as they emerge,” Chen said. Until relatively recently, it was thought that proteins needed to adopt a well-defined structure to perform their biological function. But about two decades ago, he explained, IDPs were recognized as a new class of proteins that rely on a lack of stable structures to function. They make up about one-third of proteins that human bodies make, and two-thirds of cancer-associated proteins contain large, disordered segments or domains. “This disorder seems to provide some unique functional advantage, and that’s why we have so much disorder in certain kinds of proteins,” Chen said. “These IDPs play really important roles in biology, and when something breaks down, they lead to very serious diseases, like cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.”

 

Happier Valley Comedy Offering Free Events to Local Nonprofits

HADLEY — After the year nonprofit organizations have had, who couldn’t use more happiness? Happier Valley Comedy offers the Free Happiness Program, through which nonprofits serving underrepresented, marginalized communities can apply for a free Happier Valley Comedy event, such as an improv show, a personal- or professional-development training session, a keynote, or a workplace-wellness event to be held either online or in person at a venue selected by the organization or Happier Valley Comedy’s theater and lounge in Hadley. The Free Happiness Program is one part of the comedy theater and training program’s ‘green-lining’ efforts, which aim to provide some balance for the historic, grossly unjust ‘red-lining’ of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities in the greater worlds of comedy, personal and professional development, wellness, and beyond. Preference is given to local organizations serving underrepresented, marginalized, and/or BIPOC individuals and communities. Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to qualify. The next round of applications are being awarded by Happier Valley Comedy’s board of directors in late February. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis at www.happiervalley.com/free-happiness.html.

Company Notebook

The Big E Ranked Third-largest Fair of 2021

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The 2021 numbers are in, and the Big E is officially the third-largest fair in North America, based on attendance measured during the 17-day fair and compared with that of hundreds of fairs in the U.S. and Canada. “Astoundingly, we beat Minnesota this year,” Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Gene Cassidy said. “The Minnesota State Fair is a benchmark in our industry and attracts visitors from all over the state and beyond. We have waited 105 years for this.” The Big E’s ranking among the largest fairs in the nation is surpassed only by the State Fair of Texas, located in Dallas; and the Arizona State Fair, located in Phoenix. A total of 1,498,774 people visited the 2021 Big E, held Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 in West Springfield, establishing the ranking, according to Carnival Warehouse’s annual Top 50 Fairs list. The 2019 Big E ranked fifth. The Big E set four daily attendance records over the course of 2021’s 17-day event, including an all-time single-day attendance of 177,238 on the final Saturday. The 2022 Big E takes place Sept. 16 to Oct. 2.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $1 Million Pledge

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has received a generous $1 million gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation in support of its Eureka! program and as part of the Girls Inc. of the Valley campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This $1 million commitment will provide approximately two-thirds of the total cost of Eureka! programming over the next five years. The next five years are important for Eureka! because the program will be taken from its pilot status into a full-fledged model with strong longitudinal outcome data and long-term professional evaluation. With this data and evaluation, the program will have opportunities to attract national-level institutional support, including through the national Girls Inc. network and Girls Inc. of the Valley’s Eureka! partner, UMass Amherst. In order to continue to build opportunities for girls in the region, Girls Inc. is conducting its first major capital campaign. The “Her Future, Our Future” campaign is a bold initiative designed to significantly increase tangible opportunities for girls to develop confidence and interest in achieving academic and personal success. With STEM careers from nursing to engineering to lab sciences to computer programming playing an ever-more important role in the workforce, Eureka! provides a major opportunity to open up those career pathways to more than 120 girls per year and to position those girls for success in gaining access to higher education. Overall, “Her Future, Our Future” will support significant expansion at Girls Inc., to the point that it will serve approximately 5% of all girls in the Holyoke, Springfield, and Chicopee public-school systems. The campaign seeks to raise $5 million to accomplish three critical strategic goals: building a permanent home in downtown Holyoke; expanding school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and advancing and sustaining Eureka! by securing the program and solidifying its role as an important regional pipeline to higher education and STEM careers.

 

PeoplesBank Commits $125,000 to Behavioral Health Network

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a $25,000 donation from PeoplesBank to benefit the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund. It is the first installment of a $125,000 commitment over the next five years. BHN established the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund to support the career and professional development of the organization’s workforce and assist in achieving social-justice objectives. Through community partnerships, valuable in-kind services, and generous donations, BHN seeks to address a variety of staff professional-development opportunities. The fund will provide support for scholarship funds and forgivable loans for staff to further their education at local colleges, along with licensure support.

 

UMass Decarbonization Collaboration Wins Award

AMHERST — A collaboration among UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and Salem State University to work together to decarbonize each campus has been recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources with a Leading by Example (LBE) Award, which was presented to representatives from each campus at a ceremony last month. The LBE Awards recognize Commonwealth agencies, public colleges and universities and municipalities, and public-sector staff and volunteers for outstanding efforts related to clean energy and the environment that have resulted in measurable impacts. The four-campus collaboration began during fiscal year 2020-21, when all four campuses decided to undertake a collaborative strategic planning process to decarbonize their campuses. Representatives from each campus held a series of meetings to allow for a free exchange of ideas, challenges, and lessons learned so that others might get a better result. The group kept various state agencies abreast of their discussions and how the work may affect formulating new policy. The group is also committed to sharing their information with similar institutions and agencies across the commonwealth. To qualify for the award, the campuses had to meet various criteria, including sustainable practices, environmental benefits, cost savings, and education and outreach efforts.

 

Springfield College Earns Green Bond Designation

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College announced it has partnered with MassDevelopment to issue $106,675,000 in bonds, of which $50 million has received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. Sustainability remains a key strategic focus for Springfield College, and pursuing a Green Bond was an intentional decision to demonstrate that commitment. The bond offerings highlight a commitment to both climate and sustainability designations, and will be used to finance campus construction and renovation projects, including the new Springfield College Health Sciences Center, which will empower transformative approaches to education, career enhancement, service, research, and leadership in healthcare. The new Health Sciences Center will be architecturally designed by SLAM, based in Glastonbury, Conn., and constructed by Consigli Construction, based in Hartford, Conn.

 

Food Bank Receives $5 Million for Food-distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser recently joined Chicopee Mayor John Vieau, members of Chicopee’s legislative delegation, and Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, to announce $5 million in funding secured to build a food-distribution center and headquarters in the city of Chicopee. Lesser acted as lead sponsor in the Senate, securing this state funding in the ARPA spending bill signed into law on Dec. 13. “The Food Bank of Western Mass. provides vital services to those in need in our region. With this funding, we have put them in striking distance of their new building capital campaign, which will be located at the heart of the need,” Lesser said. “There has never been a time where the work of the Food Bank has been more important, and we remain committed to working with them to address food insecurity in Western Mass. until it exists no more.” Morehouse expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Food Bank’s board of directors and employees, as well as households across the four counties of Western Mass. who struggle to put food on the table. “This tremendous investment in the Food Bank’s future food-distribution center and headquarters in Chicopee will enable us to carry out our mission for decades to come,” he said. “I would like to thank Senator Lesser for leading the charge with his fellow Chicopee state legislators and for the support of the entire Western Massachusetts legislative delegation and Governor Baker. Together, this public-private partnership will achieve our vision of a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food.”

 

Bova, Harrington & Associates Welcomed into Whittlesey

HARTFORD, Conn. — Whittlesey, one of New England’s largest accounting, advisory, and technology firms, announced that Bova, Harrington & Associates has joined the firm. The merger expands Whittlesey’s footprint in Western Mass. “Our shared values and common industries, services, and culture will bring outstanding value to our clients and community,” said Drew Andrews, Whittlesey’s CEO and managing partner. “The addition of Bova, Harrington & Associates will reinforce our growth strategy and extend our region’s reach. Together, we look forward to expanding our New England presence and new partnership.” Bova, Harrington & Associates is a full-service CPA firm that provides tax, assurance, and business-advisory services. “Joining the Whittlesey team is a perfect blend of common values and a commitment to the highest standards of client service,” said Joe Bova and Steve Harrington of Bova, Harrington & Associates. “Whittlesey’s extensive resources offer an opportunity to greatly expand our offerings to serve our clients better and create opportunities for our team. We are excited about our next chapter.”

 

Holyoke Community College Delivers $3.77 Million in Relief Aid to Students

HOLYOKE — Just when they might need it most, students at Holyoke Community College (HCC) are getting a holiday gift from the college totaling $3.77 million. The money is part of CARES Act pandemic-relief funds provided by the federal government. More than 3,500 eligible HCC students have each received, or will soon receive, block grants of $600 to $2,500, depending on their enrollment status and expected family contribution as determined by their financial-aid eligibility. The average grant is about $1,000. The cash grants are unrestricted, meaning students can use them however they want, and the money does not need to be repaid. Accepting the money also will not reduce a student’s financial-aid award. This is the fourth semester in a row that HCC has provided pandemic-relief funds directly to students. The federal CARES (Conavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act provides funding to students to offset the expenses they might have incurred when colleges switched from face-to-face to remote learning. That could mean having to buy a computer, buying or upgrading internet access, or paying increased utility costs from being home, among other expenses.

 

Upscale Socks Donates Socks to Friends of the Homeless

SPRINGFIELD — As winter began, Upscale Socks made a presentation of warm socks to Friends of the Homeless on Dec. 23. For every pair of socks purchased between Nov. 23 and Dec. 19, Upscale Socks owner Lenny Underwood made a sock donation to the organization. “As a nonprofit behavioral-health agency, we very much value our local community partnerships,” Clinical & Support Options President and CEO Karin Jeffers said. “Upscale Socks is helping our Friends of the Homeless shelter guests stay warm and cared for this winter — and helping them do it with style and dignity.” Underwood added that “we are thrilled to partner with Friends of the Homeless. Hopefully our socks will bring warmth and happiness to those in need.”

 

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

Gift of $50 Million from Robert and Donna Manning Is Largest in UMass History

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts announced it will receive a cash gift of $50 million from Robert and Donna Manning. The gift, the largest of any kind in the university’s history, is aimed at increasing access and opportunity across the five-campus university system. The first distribution of the $50 million will be $15 million to endow the UMass Boston Nursing program, which will become the Robert and Donna Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The funds will be focused on supporting student diversity and ensuring that the new cohort of nursing professionals are champions of equitable patient care. Donna Manning’s 35-year career as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center inspired the decision to focus the gift on nursing at UMass Boston. Known for her dedication to patients, Manning donated her salary to the hospital each year. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the fastest-growing college at UMass Boston and offers the only four-year public programs in Nursing and Exercise and Health Sciences in the Greater Boston area. The undergraduate and graduate population of approximately 2,100 students in the college is 19% black, 12% Latinx, and 11% Asian-American Pacific Islander. In the coming months, the Mannings plan to announce distributions from the overall gift to improve access and opportunity on the other UMass campuses in Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester. Robert Manning is chairman of MFS Investment Management and the long-time chair of the UMass board of trustees. The Mannings were already among UMass’ greatest supporters, having committed more than $11 million to UMass Lowell, where the Manning School of Business bears their name. On the Lowell campus, they have endowed several faculty chairs, sponsored a nursing simulation lab, and established the Robert and Donna Manning Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty on all five UMass campuses for high-impact teaching.

 

MGM Unveils Two Sports Lounges

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield marked its third anniversary by unveiling two widescreen luxury sports lounges. MGM Springfield President Chris Kelley recently led a tour of the new lounges, which he said reinforces the resort’s position and commitment as the market’s leading destination for sports and entertainment. The new, multi-million-dollar MGM Springfield Sports Lounge will be positioned on the casino floor and feature a 45-foot, state-of-the-art HD viewing wall, inviting fans to watch multiple sporting events at once, along with more than 70 individual lounge seats. The venue is designed to seamlessly incorporate sports betting via the BetMGM platform should Massachusetts lawmakers pass future legislation. The property also unveiled a new VIP Sports Lounge within TAP Sports Bar. This second viewing destination will offer a more intimate experience with an HDTV wall, couches, and a special culinary menu crafted by TAP chefs.

 

UMass Announces $175 Million Gift to Its Medical School

WORCESTER — The University of Massachusetts has announced a history-making $175 million donation from the Morningside Foundation to UMass Medical School. The transformational gift is unrestricted and will more than double the medical school’s endowment. It comes as the medical school celebrates its 50th year of educating future physicians, nursing leaders, and biomedical scientists and as its Nobel Prize-winning research enterprise has grown to $400 million. In recognition of the gift and of the commitment to education, research, and healthcare by the Chan family of investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, UMass Medical School will be renamed the UMass Chan Medical School. Its three graduate schools will be renamed the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. T.H. Chan, for whom the School of Medicine will be named, is the late patriarch of the Chan family, who was deeply committed to supporting higher education. The Graduate School of Nursing will be named for the family’s matriarch, Tan Chingfen, a nurse who, the family recalled, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the 1950s. The choice of Morningside for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences reflects the name of the family’s investment group and foundation.

 

EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke Looking for Volunteers

HOLYOKE — EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke is actively seeking both English- and Spanish-speaking volunteers to participate as mentors in the winter 2022 business accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have weekly 90-minute virtual meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Spanish speakers are especially needed. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected].

 

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.

 

Freedom Credit Union Raises $2,710 for Food Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout June and July, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. It raised $2,710 thanks to the generosity of members and staff. Since 1982, the Food Bank has helped provide much-sneeded food to area residents. It sources its products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Announces Partnership with Cynet

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates has joined forces with cyberattack defender Cynet to offer customers an enhanced layer of protection with an autonomous breach platform. The joint venture between the two IT solution providers offers customers another cybersecurity option to keep data safe with state-of-the-art prevention and detection. Cynet pioneered the autonomous breach-protection platform and offers cybersecurity to organizational security teams already stretched thin by the resources demanded to integrate and employ disparate solutions across frequently complex and wide-ranging security needs. The Cynet 360 platform secures organizations of every size, deploying and integrating across thousands of endpoints in hours, and providing all the fundamental capabilities of NGAV, EDR, UEBA, Network Analytics, and Deception solutions, plus backing through its frontline CyOps, a team made up of SOC experts available 24/7.

 

Paragus IT Named to Channel Futures MSP 501 List

HADLEY — The Channel Futures annual MSP 501 list is a definitive ranking of the most influential and fastest-growing managed service providers (MSPs) around the world. This year, Paragus IT ranked seventh in Massachusetts and 15th in New England, making it one of the top-ranked MSPs in Western and Central Mass. Channel Futures is a media and events platform serving companies in the information and communication technologies channel industry with insights, analysis, information, and in-person events. Its annual 501 list serves as a critical benchmarking tool and speaks to the rapidly evolving IT-channel ecosystem and its diversity of business models.

 

Monson Savings Donates $1,000 to Town’s Christmas Lights

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently donated $1,000 to the town of Monson’s Christmas lights display to honor the hard work and long careers of John Malo and John Morrell. Malo recently was recognized by the town of Monson for his 50 years of service to the town’s post office, and he has no plans to retire. On July 23, family members, friends, and town residents gathered together at the Post Office to celebrate his long and successful career. In November 2020, Morrell celebrated 53 years of service to the Monson Highway Department as the Monson highway surveyor. He started his career with the town in 1968 as a truck driver and spent many years working hard to keep the townspeople safe.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 . 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.

 

Company Notebook

Wahlburgers Opens at MGM Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Wahlburgers announced that its restaurant at MGM Springfield is now open to the public and ready to serve guests. The Wahlburgers MGM Springfield team is looking forward to becoming a part of the community and providing guests with an exciting dine-in experience as well as offering takeout. The popular casual dining concept founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg, and the subject of A&E Network’s Emmy-nominated reality show for 10 seasons, will feature a chef-inspired menu that brings guests its signature lineup of burgers along with entrée salads, sandwiches, and more. The restaurant’s full bar will offer a large selection of craft cocktails, wines, and local beers. Wahlburgers Springfield MGM is located at 1028 Main St., at the corner of Main and Union streets in downtown Springfield. The 4,900-square-foot restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner. In honor of the late family matriarch, Alma Wahlberg, the chain’s Springfield location includes a special ‘Alma’s table.’ This design element is adorned with photos from her childhood through her adult life, along with snapshots of her family members. Those who join the WahlClub rewards program by downloading the Wahlburgers app will have access to exclusive promotions, earn points for every dollar spent, and redeem rewards for free food and merchandise. Online ordering and delivery are also available via the Wahlburgers app.

 

One-day HCC Campaign Raises $122K for Student-support Programs

HOLYOKE — Led by auto dealer Gary Rome, trustees, alumni, and friends, Holyoke Community College raised $122,000 for student-support programs last month during its one-day “Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives” campaign. Organizers had set a goal of 150 donors for the 24-hour fund drive on April 27. The final tally was 295. Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, had issued a donation challenge of $10,000 if the campaign met its goals of securing 150 new donors and 1,000 social-media posts using the hashtag #TogetherHCC. He presented a check to HCC officials at his Holyoke dealership on May 4. In addition to Rome, Peg Wendlandt and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, Dylan Pilon, trustees Robert Gilbert and Charlie Epstein, HCC Foundation board member Mike Roundy, and the HCC Alumni Council all posed match and challenge gifts for the campaign. Alumnus Myke Connolly, owner of Stand Out Truck, donated the use of his mobile billboard. In addition to his #TogetherHCC donation, Connolly created the Stand Out Truck Celeste Berger Annual Scholarship at HCC to be awarded this spring to a current HCC student of marketing, business, or entrepreneurship.

 

Monson Savings Bank Supports Shriners Mini Golf Tournament

MONSON — As part of its efforts to support the health, happiness, and overall well-being of local children, Monson Savings Bank has embraced Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield as a continued community partner, with MSB making its second donation to the children’s hospital this year. Monson Savings Bank President and CEO Dan Moriarty met with Stacey Perlmutter, director of Development for the hospital, and special guest Fezzy Bear, the Springfield Shriners’ adored ambassador, to present the bank’s $1,500 donation to the Shriners’ Putting for a Purpose Mini Golf Tournament. Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield is a pediatric hospital that specializes in treating orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal-cord injuries, urology, cleft lip, and cleft palate. The children’s hospital offers both inpatient and outpatient levels of care, with services including rehabilitation, fracture care, and sports health and medicine. Shriners provides treatment to children regardless of families’ financial capabilities and relies on donations from events, like its fund-raising Putting for a Purpose Mini Golf Tournament, to provide expert care to children. This year’s event is set to take place Sept. 9-11 at Stony Falls Miniature Golf at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley.

 

Healthtrax Physical Therapy Opens in West Springfield

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Healthtrax Physical Therapy recently opened its third clinic combining restorative clinical treatments inside Healthtrax Fitness, 155 Ashley Ave., West Springfield. Treatments are provided by physical therapist Brian Ferreira. Working as a physical therapist since 2006, he is a certified in manual therapy and earned his master’s degree in physical therapy at the University of Hartford. He is experienced in advanced manual-therapy skills and outpatient orthopedics. Services not only target the current issues (pain, weakness, etc.), but address underlying movement impairments, and treating these biomechanical dysfunctions results in better, more sustainable outcomes for each patient based on medical history, co-morbidities, and goals of therapy, Ferreira noted. The scope of diagnoses the center can treat includes low back and neck pain, rotator-cuff tendinitis, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, knee and hip pain, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, spinal stenosis, hand and thumb pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc and joint disease of the spine, nerve pain and sciatica, poor balance and unsteady gait, and general deconditioning due to disease or illness. Open to the public and Healthtrax Fitness members, Healthtrax Physical Therapy treats patients of all ages and abilities, including adult and youth athletes, pre- and post-operative patients, workers’ comp injury patients, motor-vehicle accident patients, children with orthopedic conditions, and those needing work conditioning or hardening.

 

BFAIR Partners with Boston College School of Social Work on Project

NORTH ADAMS — BFAIR partnered with the Boston College School of Social Work on a project with graduate students this spring as part of its “Creating and Sustaining Social Enterprises” course. This course focuses on important concepts and stages in considering revenue-producing programs in a nonprofit setting to add financial stability. Students are involved in basic data gathering and analysis and organize their conclusions in a business plan for the enterprise effort. As such, they conducted a brief survey to provide BFAIR with information regarding its service that provides employment for people with disabilities and is beneficial to the environment. BFAIR’s Bottle and Can Redemption Center, located in North Adams, helps the community by providing residents with a way to exchange redeemable bottles and cans for cash while remaining true to its mission. The culmination of the course resulted in an expansion of BFAIR’s Bottle and Can Redemption Center in the form of a pop-up service working with the North Adams Housing Authority, Berkshire Housing, and the city of North Adams. The pop-up service will give these locations the opportunity to redeem or donate their bottles during certain timeframes during the week at six different locations in North County starting in June.

 

Bradley International Airport Adds New Non-stop Destinations

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport is one of the launch airports for Breeze Airways. The newly founded carrier announced its official, national debut with the rollout of a route network across the U.S. At Bradley, it will launch four new non-stop destinations this summer, including Charleston, S.C. (currently operating), and Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk, Va.; and Pittsburgh (all beginning July 22). The new non-stops will operate on a single-class Embraer aircraft, with a two-by-two seat configuration. Breeze Airways offers booking flexibility that includes no change or cancellation fees for flights changed or canceled up to 15 minutes before scheduled departure. The CAA also announced that Bradley has launched new non-stop service to Minneapolis with Sun Country Airlines. The service to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport operates twice a week. In September, Sun Country Airlines will also be launching new non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Orlando, Fla.

 

Carr Hardware TV Spots Win Gold Telly Award

PITTSFIELD — Carr Hardware announced that its “Dewitts” advertising campaign, created by Clayson Creative, has won a Gold Telly Award for 2021 in the business-to-consumer category. In the ads, the Dewitts are the world’s worst do-it-yourselfers and are in constant need of help from the experts at Carr Hardware. See their latest videos at shop.carrhardware.com/the-dewitts. The Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television content across all screens, has announced this year’s winners, including Jennifer Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show” series, RadicalMedia’s “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” documentary series, Partizan’s “Fantastic Voyage” campaign, and the Clayson Creative/Carr Hardware “Dewitts” campaign. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards are judged by the Telly Award Judging Council, a group of leading video and television experts from some of the most prestigious companies in entertainment, publishing, advertising, and emerging technology, such as WarnerMedia, NBC News, Framestore NY, and Vimeo, to name a few. Carr Hardware plans to bring more Dewitts videos to its customers in the upcoming year.

 

SSO Musicians Say Leaders Show Lack of Commitment to Future

SPRINGFIELD — In a recent letter to supporters and the media, a group representing Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) musicians leveled a number of complaints at SSO leadership, claiming that the lack of a 2021-22 concert schedule, failure to replace departed Executive Director Susan Beaudry or renew the contract of Music Director Kevin Rhodes, and a dispute over the musicians’ collective bargaining agreement have put the future of the organization in doubt. Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) alleges that the SSO board of directors’ executive management committee has effectively shut down the organization. MOSSO noted that the SSO board has essentially eliminated artistic leadership by minimizing Rhodes’ role and putting off renewing his contract, which expired on May 31, and has launched no national search for Beaudry’s successor. For the time being, Development Director John Anz is serving as interim executive director. According to MOSSO, the SSO board’s solution to current financial challenges has been to eliminate staff positions and drastically reduce the number of performances and players performing. MOSSO maintains that the board’s own endowment and fundraising reports show that SSO finances are improving and that, instead of cutting performances, the SSO should continue growing its successful development program, start applying for grant funding (as have similar performing organizations), and turn over management of the SSO to an executive director with a proven track record of success. The SSO board claims that the 2021-22 season cannot be planned in the absence of a successor to the 2017-20 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), but MOSSO notes that federal law requires that the terms of an expired CBA remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

 

River Valley Counseling Center Wins $50,000 Technology Makeover

HOLYOKE — River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) announced it has been awarded a $50,000 technology makeover from Insight Enterprises and Intel. RVCC is one of three winners in the Connected Workplace Makeover Contest, which was created to help businesses address the effects of aging technology. As a winner, RVCC will receive IT consultation from Insight and $50,000 worth of new 11th Gen Intel Core Processor devices, including Intel vPro Platform PCs built for business. The contest targeted small and mid-sized companies of fewer than 1,000 employees that have been particularly strapped for resources or may be struggling to adapt IT systems and processes to the shifting marketplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The contest focused on three areas of critical IT needs: productivity; updating tools, particularly for remote work; security; and total cost of ownership. More than 1,200 U.S. organizations submitted contest entries sharing why they needed a workplace makeover. RVCC was named the winner in the productivity category. Intel Evo vPro PCs will allow RVCC to service clients in a timelier manner, roll out better telehealth options, stay secure, and be HIPAA-compliant. Over the next month, Insight and Intel will be conducting on-site consultations with RVCC to help the team identify the best technology upgrades for their clinic located at 303 Beech St. in Holyoke. It is expected that productivity based at this location could improve by up to 25% by replacing poorly running computers, including some still running on Windows Vista.

 

Holyoke Medical Center Opens Two New Behavioral-health Units

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center opened and began providing care in two new behavioral-health units on June 1. The new units are located in the main hospital at 575 Beech St., Holyoke, and consist of one 16-bed adult behavioral-health unit and one 18-bed geriatric behavioral-health unit. These units are in addition to the 20-bed adult behavioral-health unit that has been serving the community since 1989. “Holyoke Medical Center has always been committed to providing the care and services that meet the needs of our community. As an independent community hospital, we are also able to adapt quickly as those needs change,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “The construction for these two units started in January of this year, when the veterans staying with us since April 2020 were able to return to the Soldiers’ Home. In less than five months, our team was able to transform and build two state-of-the-art units, designed specifically to support the needs of the growing number of behavioral-health patients throughout our region.”

Company Notebook

West Springfield Drive-In to Open on Big E Fairgrounds

WEST SPRINGFIELD — West Springfield Drive-In, in partnership with Eastern States Exposition, will open on Friday, April 23 on the Big E Fairgrounds. The drive-in will feature two 45’ by 60’ screens and be able to accommodate 300 cars each, in a safe and socially distant family experience. The drive-in, to be located in the Gate 9 parking area, is authorized to show new-release content, once available, as well as special livestream concerts and other events. The drive-in will be open on weekends through the springtime and then seven days a week during the summer season through Labor Day. Movies will begin at a time consistent with sunset. Closing for the Big E, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, the drive-in will then reopen October through December for holiday-themed experiences. Movies will be announced weekly, and ticket sales will be available at the time of the announcement. In addition, a full concession stand will also be available for guests to enjoy not only popcorn, but popular fair foods such as fried dough, fried Oreos, and cotton candy. Hiring for the West Springfield Drive-In is underway. Visit www.wsdrivein.com for details, or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/westspringfielddrivein.

 

Home City Breaks Ground on Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) broke ground on the Elias Brookings Apartments, at 367 Hancock St. in Springfield, on March 26. Home City Development has begun construction to adapt and reuse the former Elias Brookings School into 42 mixed-income rental apartments. Elias Brookings Apartments will contain a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and on-site parking for 61 vehicles. The property will have an elevator, laundry room, and management office. The 4,000-square-foot former gymnasium will be used as a multi-purpose resource center and community room for athletics, theater, youth and adult training and education, supportive services for residents, and other events. Funding for the redevelopment is provided by TD Bank, National Equity Fund, Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, the Springfield Community Preservation Committee, the Springfield Office of Housing, and Dorfman Capital. Davis Square Architects is the project architect, and Allegrone Construction Co. is the general contractor. Construction is scheduled for completion in March 2022. The completed property will be managed by Housing Management Resources.

 

Springfield Strain LLC Proposes Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Strain LLC, a minority-led corporation, has proposed a 2,500-square-foot adult recreational marijuana dispensary at 711 Boston Road (lower level) in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood. Springfield Strain has met all the criteria set forth by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission for a social/equity empowerment program dispensary with 100% minority investors. The dispensary will be locally owned and operated. According to the company, the dispensary will offer sales of high-quality cannabis products as well as product consultation and education in a safe, secure environment. Eddie Corbin, president of the Springfield Strain board of directors and former chief Procurement officer for the city of Springfield, noted that investors, the board of directors, and construction contractors are all minorities. In addition, all but one of the board members are Springfield residents. As part of a host-community agreement, Springfield Strain will give 30% of its net profits to the city of Springfield and 3% to the Pine Point Citizens Council. The organization also plans to establish educational trade programs for local students. The city of Springfield plans to announce the marijuana companies selected for negotiations on April 12.

 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Receives $30,000 Gift for Childbirth Center

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital received a $30,000 gift from Thomson Financial Management to support the Childbirth Center project, which, when completed, will offer expanded services in a newly renovated space that includes an upgraded nursery, birthing tubs, and more home-like surroundings for moms and babies. The renovation of the Childbirth Center includes refurbishing patient-care areas and support areas to make the space more comfortable for moms and babies, as well as creating a warmer, more home-like environment. In addition, the nursery will be upgraded to a Level 1B nursery to provide special newborns with extra care and attention. Once renovations are complete, Cooley Dickinson will be the only Level 1B nursery in Western Mass.

 

Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Amplify Community Reinvestment

LEE — Lee Bank is amplifying its longstanding community-reinvestment efforts with the creation of the Lee Bank Foundation, after a record year of contributions to the Berkshire nonprofit community. In 2021, Lee Bank projects it will distribute $250,000 through the foundation, a more formal entity for community donations. In 2020, Lee Bank awarded $179,000 to community organizations, following several years of steady growth in funding. In recent years, Lee Bank has typically set aside at least 5% of its annual net income for the support of area nonprofits. This giving has been on the rise: in 2020, the bank contributed nearly $179,000 to community nonprofits; in 2019, $145,000; and in 2018, $120,000. Last year, Lee Bank’s distributions included $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County. The bank has supported more than 200 programs and organizations in recent years, including Greenagers, Community Access to the Arts, Berkshire Humane Society, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and others. The foundation will be funded at $5 million by Berkshire Financial Services (Lee Bank’s parent company), with the goal of providing $250,000 in grants annually to nonprofits. In addition to a 2021 grant goal of $250,000, Lee Bank’s employee-driven, branch-based sponsorships will continue as in the past, with a $70,000 projection this year.

 

Laurel Road, KeyBank Introduce New Digital Bank Tailored to Physicians, Dentists

NEW YORK — Laurel Road, a brand of KeyBank, unveiled Laurel Road for Doctors, a digital bank tailored to physicians and dentists with products and services designed to provide the financial help and peace of mind they need through each career stage. The goal of the new digital bank is to help ease the burden for doctors of paying down student debt, finding more balance between work and life, and planning for the future. With Laurel Road for Doctors, Laurel Road and KeyBank expand on an existing suite of tailored digital banking and lending products and extensive experience, working directly with doctors to create a platform that meets the distinct challenges of this community. Laurel Road for Doctors is launching at the right time for many, as two-thirds of doctors plan to be more financially focused in 2021 to benefit their career and personal financial security compared to 2020, according to a new survey of 750 U.S. physicians and dentists conducted by Laurel Road and the White Coat Investor, an online community for doctors. Physicians and dentists can find more information about Laurel Road for Doctors at www.laurelroad.com/doctors.

 

Viability Introduces Program to Better Serve Participants

NORTHAMPTON — Viability Inc., a human-service provider, recently announced Project (VR)², a virtual-reality program dedicated to enhancing access to employment for all and inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. According to its creators, Project (VR)² is where vocational rehabilitation meets virtual reality (VR)². This first-of-its-kind project, deployed in the midst of COVID-19, will help people who are chronically underserved and marginalized build the vital skills required to advance their ability to gain and maintain employment. (VR)² makes it possible for individuals to acquire essential interactive soft skills that make or break job success — communication, interviewing, adapting, and problem-solving — in a controlled, safe, and self-reflective virtual work environment. Partners of the virtual collaborative include Link To VR, Bodyswaps, Cleanbox Technology, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Viability’s vision for Project (VR)² expanded significantly when the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provided assisted funding. Together, they are pioneering a new training initiative and encouraging states to bring about technological changes to their current rehabilitation efforts. To help manage the deployment, Viability called on Link To VR, a leading spatial computing company with offices in Boston.

 

DopaFit Announces New Initiative to Help People with Parkinson’s Disease

SOUTHAMPTON — DopaFit Inc., a Parkinson’s disease movement center, is known for helping people with Parkinson’s slow the progression of their disease with exercise and other non-pharmacological treatments. Those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease are often forced to stop doing the things they love. Many give up their passions, hobbies, and lose their sense of self. Limitless by DopaFit has been created to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to redefine their lives by giving them a chance to do something they once loved. For example, on April 5, Rick Burkhart, a current DopaFit fighter, flew a plane with the help of Fly LUGU flight school at the Westfield Barnes Airport. Burkhart had not flown an airplane in more than 10 years since he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Prior to his diagnosis, he was an avid pilot and owned a flight school at Westfield Barnes Airport. He often took cross-country flights, and even donated his time and planes to drop off much-needed supplies to remote areas of impoverished countries. DopaFit Inc. plans to offer the Limitless program on a quarterly basis. For more information, visit www.dopafit.com or call (203) 828-7189.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Named Fourth-best Community College in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was ranked as the fourth-best community college in the nation and second-best in Massachusetts, according to Academic Influence (click here), a college ranking system. On March 4, the website released its first-ever ranking of the 50 best community colleges in America. STCC is one of six Massachusetts community colleges listed in the top 20. STCC, the Commonwealth’s only technical community college, offers comprehensive workforce and technical education in fields that include manufacturing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); healthcare; business; human services; and the liberal arts. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 30% of students identifying at Latinx. Academic Influence considered 839 community colleges in the U.S. that were fully accredited, enrolled at least 1,000 students, and provided primarily two-year associate-degree programs along with certificate credentials in most cases. In a separate recognition, STCC’s online business degree program was recently ranked as the second-most-popular in the New England region, according to Business Degree Central, an online resource for students. The website ranked STCC’s program second out of 11 colleges in New England. The business program was also ranked second-most-popular in Massachusetts.

 

HCC Ranked Among Best Community Colleges in U.S.

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide. In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering. “In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs. “We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”

 

Serve Food Opens Shared Kitchen to Aspiring Restaurateurs

HOLYOKE — Serve Food, a new business in Holyoke, recently hosted its grand opening at its 112 High St. location. Serve Food, a shared-use kitchen, is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare value-added food products and meals using a monthly membership. Because expenses are shared, the costs are significantly lower than if an entrepreneur started a kitchen on his or her own. All utilities, maintenance expenses, equipment repairs, sanitation, and cleaning supplies are included in the membership fees, allowing members to focus on their product. With membership in the Serve Food kitchen, members can get access to a kitchen almost immediately at little to no risk or extra expense, and have an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other local chefs and food makers. Serve Food’s website, servema.com, also plans to sell members’ products on its website.

 

Turning Leaf Centers Opens Dispensary Doors to Public

NORTHAMPTON — Turning Leaf Centers opened its doors on 261 King St. in Northampton on March 15. The dispensary features a ‘craft bar,’ experience, which will allow patrons to be educated on everything marijuana, have rolling parties, and participate in flower talk. “We believe the large, curated space will allow people to have an experience nobody has seen with the craft bar, live music days, and seating areas,” co-owner Stephanie McNair said. “Supporting our local community is something that is very important to us as a company. We are looking to display and promote local artists and have event demonstrations and educational seminars in our space.” Turning Leaf Centers Northampton has cultivated an eclectic menu from every product category and price point for every type of cannabis consumer.

 

UMass President to Again Recommend Tuition Freeze

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system. The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year. UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.

 

Florence Bank Opens Third Hampden County Branch

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank opened its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5. The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing. Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

Jake’s Barber Shop Celebrates Five Years with Community Contribution

GREAT BARRINGTON — As Jake’s Barber Shop commemorates the start of its fifth year in the community, owner Jake Hunker is marking the moment by supporting Railroad Street Youth Project, a local organization that encourages focus and commitment for others. RYSP is a Great Barrington not-for-profit organization that encourages community teenagers to meet, learn, talk, and focus on the future. For the week of Tuesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 3, the barber shop will donate $5 from each haircut to RSYP. Appointments for RSYP-benefiting haircuts from Hunker can be made online through booksy.com, and customers can also call (413) 717-4238 for an appointment. Railroad Street Youth Project is a nonprofit organization helping young people bring their ideas and inspirations to fruition and discover their place in the world. Its Youth Operational Board continues to fund youth-inspired projects, run ongoing mentoring and apprenticeship programs, provide sexual-health programming through local schools, offer job training and career counseling, and staff an active drop-in center that provides counseling, mediation, referrals, and advocacy services for young people in need.

 

Springfield College Recognized for Community-college Transfer

SPRINGFIELD — For the sixth consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community-college transfer. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts. “We are very honored once again to be among a small, select group of colleges recognized nationally by Phi Theta Kappa for our high level of commitment to the success of transfer students,” said Stuart Jones, vice president for Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “Educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others is the hallmark of who we are and what we do best.”

 

Bradley Airport Launches Non-stop Service to Nashville, Miami

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the launch of non-stop flights from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Tennessee on Southwest Airlines, and non-stop flights from Bradley to Miami International Airport (MIA) on JetBlue. “We are excited to launch Southwest Airlines’ non-stop service to Nashville from Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Nashville is a popular destination that also offers key connectivity to major destinations across Southwest’s West Coast network. The launch of this service significantly enhances our non-stop offering for our travelers, and, with its introduction, we are pleased to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Southwest Airlines.” In addition, “we welcome JetBlue’s expansion at Bradley International Airport and the addition of new, non-stop service to Miami,” Dillon said. “This new route, which follows JetBlue’s other recent route launches, is a significant vote of confidence in our airport and the market we serve.”

Company Notebook

Health Partners New England Acquires Providence Hospital

HOLYOKE — Mercy Medical Center announced it has sold Providence Behavioral Health Hospital to HPNE, which will operate the facility under the name MiraVista Behavioral Health and resume operations of the Acute Treatment Service (detoxification), Clinical Stabilization Service (post-detoxification), and outpatient services, including the Intensive Outpatient Program, court-ordered services, and the Opioid Treatment Program without interruption of service. Additionally, HPNE plans to establish inpatient psychiatric services at the facility, and is currently working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to acquire licensure to provide up to 84 inpatient beds. The timeline for the opening of these inpatient beds is still being determined. Mercy Medical Center will assist colleagues who are affected by the sale, where possible, with Trinity transfers, statutory benefits for employment loss, referrals for alternative employment, and further educational opportunities, and through cooperation with MiraVista for those seeking employment with the new owner. Brightside for Families and Children will continue to provide services to the Western Mass. community under the umbrella of Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England. Offices will remain in the former Providence Behavioral Health Hospital building under a lease agreement with HPNE.

 

State Files $400 Million Bond Bill to Rebuild Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

HOLYOKE — The Baker-Polito administration recently filed “An Act Financing the Reconstruction of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke,” which would provide $400 million in capital authorization for a major project to reconstruct the long-term-care facility at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. This bill provides the capital authorization that would allow the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to construct a new facility on the site of the current Soldiers’ Home that would meet the needs of the veterans of Western Mass. and their families. The capital project is on an expedited timeline, necessitated by the April 15 deadline for the VA State Home Construction Grant Program, which would provide 65% matching federal funds. To meet that deadline, DCAMM must have this authorization available by April 1, which requires this bond bill to be enacted by mid-March, with a terms bill filed and enacted soon afterwards. The design-development phase must be completed by Aug. 1 to be eligible for this cycle of the grant program.

 

Happier Valley Comedy Offers Free Happiness Program

HADLEY — After the year nonprofit organizations have had, who couldn’t use more happiness? On March 1, Happier Valley Comedy launched its Free Happiness Program, through which nonprofits serving underrepresented, marginalized communities can apply for a free Happier Valley Comedy event. Organizations can apply for the local comedy theater to provide a free improv show or a personal/professional development training session, either online or in person, when it’s safe to do so. Happier Valley Comedy developed the Free Happiness Program as part of its ‘green-lining’ efforts, which aim to provide some balance for the historic, unjust ‘red-lining’ of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) individuals in the greater worlds of comedy, personal and professional development, and beyond. Applications open on March 1 and will be awarded by Happier Valley Comedy’s board of directors on a rolling basis through the Free Happiness Program page at happiervalley.com. Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to apply. Preference will be given to local organizations serving underrepresented, marginalized, and/or BIPOC individuals.

 

Shakespeare & Company Plans to Open 500-seat Amphitheater

LENOX — Shakespeare & Company hopes to open a 500-seat amphitheater on its grounds this summer. Founded in 1978, the theater company attracts more than 40,000 patrons to Lenox annually. “We’ve been considering this particular location on the property for a long time as part of our strategic plan,” Artistic Director Allyn Burrows said. Demolition has already begun on the buildings occupying the space where the new performance space, currently known as New Spruce Theatre, will sit. The theater company hopes it will be completed in time for the opening of King Lear this summer. The open-air theater comes after a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to suspend all of its in-person activities.

 

Elms College, Big Y Partner on COVID-19 Vaccinations

CHICOPEE — Elms College and Big Y Supermarkets have formed a partnership to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible residents in Western Mass. In coordination with the Elms College School of Nursing, Big Y has established two COVID-19 vaccination clinics. One clinic site is in the former Staples store located in the Big Y Plaza at 443 North Main St. in East Longmeadow. The second is located in the Big Y Plaza at 237 Mohawk Trail in Greenfield, in a space formerly occupied by a mattress store. More than 200 Elms College School of Nursing students — sophomores, juniors and seniors — are participating in this joint effort with Big Y to administer and schedule COVID-19 vaccinations. While some nursing students are administering the vaccines, others help monitor patients after the shots are administered. Elms nursing students also help patients schedule appointments for their second vaccine shot. For more information on the clinics, to see if you qualify, and to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination, visit www.bigy.com/pharmacy/covid19-vaccine-faq.

 

Girls Inc. to Receive Proceeds from Sen. Warren’s Children’s Book

HOLYOKE — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that a portion of the proceeds from Pinkie Promises, her new children’s book debuting this fall, will go to Girls Inc. of the Valley, as well as several other Girls Inc. chapters in Massachusetts. The book features illustrations by Charlene Chua. “We are completely blown away by this incredible act of generosity from Senator Warren,” said Suzanne Parker, Girls Inc. of the Valley’s executive director. “For the senator to think of Girls Inc. in this way is so special, and we are humbled to be among the Massachusetts Girls Inc. affiliates to receive this honor.” 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.

 

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.

 

GCC Introduces Scholarship for Frontline, Essential Workers

GREENFIELD — In response to the ongoing economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenfield Community College (GCC) has introduced a scholarship to support frontline and essential workers in their education. The award allows recipients to attend GCC tuition- and fee-free for up to three years of full- or part-time study. The Frontline & Essential Workers Scholarship was conceived last summer in conversations among GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández; Regina Curtis, executive director of Institutional Advancement and the GCC Foundation; and Linda Desjardins, director of Financial Aid. The expenditures for the scholarship for this academic year are $16,227, and the total cost over three years will be approximately $50,000. The scholarship is primarily funded by GCC’s financial-aid resources, with the help of Big Y World Class Markets. Four students received the Frontline & Essential Workers Scholarship in the 2020-21 academic year: two Big Y employees, one ETM, and one Target employee.

Company Notebook

Bay Path Recognized for Supporting Students Throughout Pandemic

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announce it was selected as a winner of the Virtual Innovation Awards: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services hosted by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Bay Path is among 10 schools recognized across the nation for exemplary virtual student support services, and one of only three schools to receive the top award of $50,000. The award highlights the effectiveness of the work being done to support both Bay Path’s traditional undergraduates and adult students enrolled in its online undergraduate degree program, the American Women’s College. These best practices will serve as case studies to inform the field at large. As Bay Path’s online program for adult women, the American Women’s College has been continually developing and enhancing its virtual support services since 2013. At the onset of the pandemic, university staff were able to put these supports into overdrive to ensure campus-based undergraduate students could easily access services despite the abrupt move to remote. Some of the virtual services that have allowed Bay Path University to be responsive to its diverse student body, whether in person or online, include a virtual career-services hub; UWill, a telecounseling service; and Tutor.com, which provides access to online tutoring services 24/7. Similarly, programming related to orientation, peer-to-peer engagement, community building, and multi-cultural affairs was provided by a support team that was able to quickly pivot to virtual platforms and social-media tools.

 

 

STCC to Reinstate Five Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCC board of trustees voted to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management. STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources. In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.

 

United Personnel Services Wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Award

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel Services was recently honored in the Best of Staffing Client, Employee, and Talent Awards from ClearlyRated, in recognition of high levels of satisfaction from customers, job seekers, and employees. Winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients and staff. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel Services received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of clients and 78% of placed job candidates, significantly higher than industry averages. These ratings led to United Personnel’s fourth consecutive year of recognition as a Best of Staffing company from ClearlyRated.

 

Holyoke-based Startup Aims to Spark Non-alcoholic Beer Revolution

HOLYOKE — New to the beer and brewing industry, Ezra Bleau is introducing his business, Na Brews, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, “Na Brews (Nah Brooz) – Craft Beer for All People, for All Occasions.” This campaign will raise money for his mobile de-alcoholization production plan, increasing access to social, healthy alternatives nationwide. The main draw of the campaign is a $20 pledge to be part of the “world’s largest non-alcoholic beer collaboration, which he intends to do during a livestreamed interactive event with his brewer. The company has been in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and is working on certifying the event. Participants will be a part of this new craft beer every step of the way, selecting everything from style, grains, and hops to label design. With their $20 pledge, each participant’s name will be included in the collaboration can label for a future keepsake, and they will also be sent a can for their enjoyment and have exclusivity to purchase more before it is opened up to the general public. NA Brews currently is an e-commerce operation based in Holyoke, offering online retail sales of non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and wine selections, including specialty boxes and subscription services for others to enjoy in the comfort of their own home or any social setting. Bleau also has a manufacturing and full alcohol-free production plan, partnering with independent breweries in surrounding communities to produce quality craft non-alcoholic beer.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Supports MCLA’s Summer STEM Academy

NORTH ADAMS — The Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) $20,000 to fund the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy, which accepts up to 20 incoming first-year students enrolled in a STEM major or who have expressed interest in STEM fields. Designed to introduce incoming students to careers in STEM, the residential, five-day academy includes opportunities to network with STEM faculty, students, and staff in the interest of developing a deeper relationship with those involved in STEM careers in the Berkshires. The program’s ultimate goal is to encourage more students to secure jobs in the Berkshires and remain here after graduation. This summer will mark the ninth year of the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy. Alumni of the program, which was developed to serve low-income and first-generation college students, have gone on to be leaders at MCLA as residential advisors, tutors, and supplemental instructors. Graduates have gone on to have careers at Raytheon, General Dynamics, Edge Pharma, and as public-school teachers. Students are selected based on their responses to surveys taken upon their acceptance to the college. Interested students should e-mail program director Dr. Sara Steele, assistant professor of Psychology, at [email protected] to have their name prioritized in the selection process.

 

Country Bank Reports $1.3 Million in Community Philanthropy in 2020

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2020 totaled $1.3 million. Through the bank’s philanthropic efforts, it provided support to local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves; in 2020, more than 400 of these organizations received donations. The pandemic has left businesses and individuals facing continued looming uncertainties. Many nonprofits struggled from the economic fallout, and they looked to community partners like Country Bank for assistance. Country Bank donated more than $500,000 to area hospitals and first-responder housing efforts to provide the financial and tangible emergency resources needed to support their mission during the pandemic. Organizations receiving support included the Baystate Health Foundation, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Christina’s House, Springfield Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Behavioral Health Network Inc. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank also provided monetary donations to food programs throughout the region that exceeded $100,000. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and many local food pantries.

 

Meyers Brothers Kalicka Unveils New Website

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced a new website, mbkcpa.com, this week. The primary goal during the redesign process was to create a more user-friendly and valuable resource for clients and community alike. More specifically, the firm wanted users to easily locate information about accounting services, industries it serves, the firm’s story and team members, career opportunities, and community support. The website also features an active blog with articles about taxation, accounting, advisory, news, and community. Additionally, the firm offers free newsletters centered around taxation, business, not-for-profits, and healthcare. These newsletters help readers stay informed on recent provisions and guidance, access articles, get invitations to special webinars or podcasts, and gain industry knowledge. You can subscribe to any or all of these newsletters for free by adding your e-mail address into the ‘subscribe’ feature located in the footer of the new website.

 

Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families

AMHERST — Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply recently delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply. In December, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations. Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February. Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate.

 

WNEU Offers Free Graduate Courses to Current Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. “As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions. According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring. Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition. For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.

 

Ludlow Elks Supports Program at Scantic Valley YMCA

LUDLOW — The Ludlow Elks awarded the Scantic Valley YMCA a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to help the Y launch MOVE2Function, a movement-disorder fitness program. The Ludlow Elks have provided financial and in-person support for the Scantic Valley YMCA’s healthful-living programs. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports those impacted by cancer. The latest program to receive the Ludlow Elks support is MOVE2Function, offering those impacted by movement disorders evidence-based functional fitness programming to support them in making changes to support and improve all aspects of their health. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and essential tremor. In 2019 and 2020, the Ludlow Elks supported the Interactive Health Fair at the Scantic Valley YMCA, which was open to the public. With previous funding, the Ludlow Elks provided the food along with preparing and serving it. Attendees enjoyed a healthy meal while interacting with company representatives, YMCA staff, and college students to learn about such topics as nutrition, heart health, fitness, balance programming, blood pressure, and eye screenings.

 

UMassFive Directs $4,000 to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has directed $4,000 in donations to local survival centers in Amherst and Northampton. The donations were made possible thanks to UMassFive winning a Credit Union Give Back Sweepstakes held by its credit-card servicer, PSCU. This sweepstakes selected 25 credit unions from across the country to receive $4,000 to donate to local charitable organizations of their choice. UMassFive chose to direct donations of $2,000 each to the Amherst Survival Center and the Northampton Survival Center in support of the extra cost burden that 2020 placed on the organizations. Both organizations had to pivot operations quickly to meet the most pressing needs of their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have seen more need than ever before.

 

Country Bank Supports Quaboag Valley CDC

WARE — Country Bank announced a $25,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC) to support various programs to help local communities in the region. A portion of the donation will be used toward a matching grant for a senior-citizen outreach program. This project was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts CDBG Program. Projects are developed and administered by local officials with the assistance of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Services for the outreach program include grocery shopping and prescription pickups for low-income seniors in Ware, Hardwick, Belchertown, and Warren. The QVCDC also offers various programs to assist businesses in the region with navigating these unchartered times. One of the latest programs includes companies with up to five employees that could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through a Microenterprise Assistance Grant.

 

Company Notebook

Mount Holyoke College Receives Largest Gift in Its History

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

 

Big Y Participating in Nexamp Community Solar Program

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Market has taken another step in supporting the production and consumption of clean energy by contracting with Boston-based Nexamp to participate in its community solar program. Under the agreement with Nexamp, Big Y is subscribing to 19 solar projects across Massachusetts, representing a total of 57 megawatts of capacity. Big Y will receive 50% of the energy credits generated by these projects. The projects included in Big Y’s agreement with Nexamp are located in Massachusetts in the National Grid and Eversource utility service territories. Big Y and other subscribers to these community solar projects are allocated a portion of the project’s output and receive discounted credits on their utility bills.

 

Monson Savings Bank Gives $15,000 to Nonprofits Chosen by Community

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. 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.

 

Comcast Introduces Fastest Internet Speeds over Wi-fi Across Northeast

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast announced it has introduced the fastest internet speeds over wi-fi available across the Northeast, including 14 states from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Customers can now take advantage of advanced wi-fi technology that is capable of delivering speeds faster than a gig to support the ever-increasing number of connected devices in their homes. The speed increase was rolled out in Comcast’s Northeast markets on Jan. 7 for no additional charge to customers, and will be introduced to the rest of its service areas throughout 2021. Comcast is one of the first U.S. internet service providers to offer a Wi-Fi 6 certified gateway with the latest version of its xFi Advanced Gateway, which is capable of delivering multi-gigabit speeds via ethernet and laid the groundwork for gigabit speeds over wi-fi. Customers on the upgraded Xfinity gigabit tier will require an xFi Advanced Gateway, or one of the wi-fi-6-capable devices approved to work with the Xfinity network to receive the faster speeds. Comcast will be reaching out to customers who need to upgrade their equipment for no additional cost if they don’t have a capable device in their home.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly.

 

The Royal Law Firm Announces New Strategic Association

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. 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.

 

Boston Children’s Hospital, Baystate Health Collaborate on Specialized Pediatric Care

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. 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.

 

Boulevard Machine & Gear Moves to Larger Headquarters

WESTFIELD — Boulevard Machine & Gear, a precision-machining facility, announced it has moved its headquarters to a new, larger space in Westfield to accommodate steady business growth over the last decade. The new address is 326 Lockhouse Road. Boulevard Machine will leverage its new facility to provide additional capacity for its customers while providing new internal operational efficiencies. The new facility also will provide Boulevard with improved, state-of-the-art production space to facilitate internal and external collaboration and communication, while providing the company with further room for growth with its ongoing investment in equipment. The newly constructed factory will accommodate leading-edge manufacturing technologies, lean equipment layout, and automated workflow, resulting in increased efficiency and better overall customer experience, company President Susan Kasa said. Boulevard Machine, founded in 1954, was acquired by Kasa in 2006. It is a certified woman-owned business that provides precision-machined components for the aerospace, defense, and medical markets.

 

Balise Auto Boosts Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids

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.” 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.

 

Academy of Music Raising Funds for Restroom Renovations

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, as well as new wall, floor, and ceiling finishes. 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.

 

Architecture Environment Life Inc. Wins Citation Award from WMAIA

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.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters, Restaurants Team Up to Raise Funds for Programs

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.

UMassFive Donates Hundreds of Winter Coats and Clothes to Amherst Survival Center

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced that its members, staff, and community partners have donated hundreds of winter coats and clothing to Amherst Survival Center. Donations were gathered through a collection drive held at UMassFive’s Hadley and Northampton branches throughout the month of December. “This is a drive that we hold annually, and we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of donations during the pandemic,” said Cait Murray, Community Outreach manager at UMassFive. “We were pleasantly surprised to receive a record number of donations this year. The generosity of our members, staff, and community partners is truly remarkable.” Five vehicle loads of donations were dropped off at the Amherst Survival Center, where they were sorted and distributed to the community. To support the Amherst Survival Center directly, visit amherstsurvival.org.

 

RT Consulting, LLC Acquires Sage Benefit Advisers, LLC

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — RT Consulting, LLC, has acquired Sage Benefit Advisers, headquartered in Peterborough, N.H. Formed in 2006, RT Consulting is a national employee-benefits administration firm focused on employee-benefits compliance, healthcare advocacy, data transparency, communication, education, and partnerships with clients and brokers. Since inception, RT has grown to become a robust HR-management tool helping to ease the burden of all the critical activities within human resources, such as enrollment, communication, navigation, and administration. RT Consulting has worked with companies of all sizes and industries, including technology, automotive, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and energy, and has also done extensive work with associations. The acquisition of Sage Benefit Advisers positions RT to expand its comprehensive advisory and administrative services.

 

Company Notebook

Thunderbirds Announce Suspension of 2020-21 Season

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus toward the 2021-22 season. The Thunderbirds will maintain their status as active members of the AHL and return to play next season. “Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with the St. Louis Blues to explore every possible avenue for returning to play this season,” Thunderbirds President Nate Costa said. “Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, travel logistics, new player-supply rules, and other considerations, the Blues and Thunderbirds collectively determined that it was in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season. Given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, it has also become clear that we will be unable to host fans at our games in the foreseeable future. As an independently owned franchise, our foremost obligation is to ensure that our team is financially viable for the long term, something that is not possible without game-day revenue.”

 

Hazen Paper Wins Award for 2020 Holographic Calendar

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) recently named Hazen Paper’s 2020 holographic calendar Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the Excellence in Holography Awards 2020. Featuring a fire-breathing dragon with three-dimensional scales, the oversized calendar utilized an array of innovative holographic techniques to create a decorative design the IHMA called “outstanding.” These holographic designs included Hazen-Lens behind the months of the year, gray-motion for the sky background, color-motion for the dragon, and two-channel color-motion lenses and fire-motion lenses to animate the flames. The calendar was originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in Hazen’s Holyoke facility on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Made with renewable energy, transfer-metallized Envirofoil is made with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, a recycled film carrier that is reused again and again, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks with customized opaque white by AM Lithography of Chicopee.

 

Tighe & Bond Named Finalist for Engineering Excellence Awards

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) as a 2020 Engineering Excellence Award Finalist (Gold Award). Tighe & Bond, in conjunction with a team of subconsultants and property owner ENGIE North America, transformed the site of the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant into the state’s largest community solar and energy-storage facility. In 2014, the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke stopped operations, and ENGIE North America began the task of decommissioning and closing the power-plant site. This undertaking involved demolition of the coal-fired plant and remediation of many areas of the property. A portion of the site was also used for renewable-energy generation and energy storage to benefit the region and the city of Holyoke. The project team aided with the decommissioning design of the property and worked to obtain a complex array of environmental and land-use permits for the entire project for future industrial and commercial redevelopment. The Tighe & Bond environmental team developed the remedial design for the power plant and the associated coal ash management on the property. The largest component of the property restoration included risk-based evaluations and various capping strategies to address coal ash that has been deposited over much of the property. The successful coal-ash closure approach resulted in preserving and protecting nearby waterways, including the Connecticut River and Kennedy Brook, as well as more than 50 acres of vegetated forest and associated rare and endangered species habitat. For the solar project, the project team provided permit-level design and engineering support as well as construction-period design for the energy-storage system. This project developed the largest community solar project in Massachusetts and the largest utility-scale energy-storage installation in the Commonwealth.

 

UMass Amherst Grad Students Receive Financial Support

AMHERST — The economic and research hardships stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic have strained campuses around the country, including UMass Amherst. Especially hard-hit are graduate students in the sciences, as their research opportunities and funding trajectories have been greatly reduced by COVID-19 public-health restrictions. In response, the university’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS) created the Graduate Student Fellowship Fund this fall to provide additional funding to graduate students who need to extend their work for another year, and to make available innovations in data collection for those who are unable to conduct in-person experiments. The largest gift to the fund so far has come from alumni and long-time supporters Richard and Barbara Mahoney, who contributed $100,000 in early December. The contribution has sparked additional donations from donors who recognize the value of graduate-student research in the college and want to support those students. Graduate students are at the core of the research enterprise on campus, putting in thousands of hours to run experiments, collect data, and analyze findings. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduate students have lost the opportunities they previously had to spend much-needed time in labs or out in the field. More than 1,000 graduate students are working toward degrees across CNS.

 

Florence Bank Donates Nearly $100,000 in 2020 to Ease Food Insecurity

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated nearly $100,000 in 2020 to support a new food-distribution collaborative and nine other longtime nonprofits with a mission to feed people who are battling food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley. The gifts have been made since March to organizations in all corners of the region, including the hilltowns, to help ease the economic strain brought on by COVID-19. In the spring, Florence Bank donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution in the early months of the pandemic. The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions at nearly a dozen local sites. Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton established the organization in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools. Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center each received $25,000 from the bank. Since May, Florence Bank has also made the following gifts to these local nonprofits: Amherst Survival Center, $10,000; Springfield Rescue Mission, $10,000; Easthampton Community Center, $7,500; Chesterfield Community Cupboard, $5,000; the Gray House Market of Springfield, $5,000; Easthampton Congregational Church, $2,500; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as part of Monte’s March, $1,000; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry of Chicopee, $1,000; and Open Pantry Community Services Inc. of Springfield, $1,000. Florence Bank also nominated Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen to receive a $5,000 award from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation, which the nonprofit has accepted.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. According to Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, “while the demand for healthcare professionals grows each year, at no time has that need been more critical than now. The School of Health Sciences at American International College provides access to educational opportunities that develop a diverse network of skilled individuals who provide comprehensive nursing care in a variety of settings and who are able to demonstrate leadership in evidence-based practice to promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare.”

Company Notebook

Women’s Leadership Conference to Be Held in Person in 2022

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University will host its 25th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) in person at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Friday, April 1, 2022. The decision comes nine months after the March 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual conference brings more than 2,000 attendees to downtown Springfield for a day of speakers and workshop sessions devoted to professional development and personal goals. After weighing several options for hosting the annual conference, the university decided to forgo a 2021 event and wait until the event could take place in person. With an extended timeline, social media and digital forums will serve as virtual hubs to generate conversations and share thoughts and information that will carry over to the WLC. More information on speakers and schedules is forthcoming and will be posted at baypathconference.com.

 

Freedom Credit Union to Match Donations to Pioneer Valley USO

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of December, Freedom Credit Union will partner with its members and the local community to raise funds to benefit the Pioneer Valley USO. Freedom will match total donations made through Dec. 31 up to $2,500. The mission of the USO (United Service Organizations) is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country throughout their service to our country. The Pioneer Valley USO, located at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, provides more than 102,000 pounds of food to more than 3,200 individuals annually through the Emergency Food Pantry, supports more than 600 families annually with holiday food baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sends more than 500 care packages to deployed military men and women around the world. Funded entirely by private donations, sponsorships, and grants, it supports both Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. Donations can be made to Freedom’s matching drive online at bit.ly/393WCzo.

 

STCC Creates Affordable Transfer Agreements with Post University

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) partnered this fall with Post University in Waterbury, Conn. to offer seamless transfer pathways in six programs. Students in the following STCC associate-degree programs have an opportunity to transfer to Post University and pursue a bachelor’s degree: applied psychology, business transfer, communication and digital media, criminal justice transfer, early childhood education transfer, and human services/social work. Post University offers classes online but also has a 58-acre main campus that includes six student residence halls, an admissions building, a library, a fitness center, and a multi-purpose sports facility. The main campus classes for spring 2021 will be online in response to risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. STCC is also planning online classes this spring with a mix of low-density, in-person labs for health and manufacturing programs. STCC and Post University signed the agreements in September. STCC offers dozens of pathways for transferring to a four-year college or university. Students who take advantage of the transfer pathways can see significant financial savings, said Matt Gravel, dean of Academic Initiatives at STCC.

 

 

Comcast Supports MHA Programming, Families of Staff

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast recently awarded a $5,000 grant to MHA, which includes $2,000 to fund the purchase of school supplies for children of MHA staff dealing with hybrid and remote learning models as a result of the pandemic. Supplies for the children include face masks, hand sanitizer, pencils, pencil sharpeners, notebooks, erasers, and pocket folders. The remaining $3,000 will underwrite a Room to Recover at MHA’s Safe Haven program for a year. Safe Haven offers transitional housing support to people served by the Department of Mental Health who are experiencing chronic homelessness, including those in recovery. Since a large proportion of the staff have school-aged children, and with so many schools either remote or hybrid, providing these supplies helps ensure that kids are prepared for school, said Kimberley Lee, vice president, Resource Development & Branding for MHA.

 

Holyoke Medical Center Earns Leapfrog Top Hospital Award

HOLYOKE — Highlighting its nationally recognized achievements in patient safety and quality, Holyoke Medical Center was named a Top General Hospital nationally by the Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers widely acknowledged as the toughest standard setters for healthcare safety and quality. More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award. Among those, Holyoke Medical Center received a Top General distinction. A total of 105 hospitals were selected as Top Hospitals, including nine Top Children’s Hospitals, 29 Top General Hospitals, 19 Top Rural Hospitals, and 48 Top Teaching Hospitals. The quality of patient care across many areas of hospital performance is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors. Holyoke Medical Center also received the Top General Hospital recognition from the Leapfrog Group in 2014 and 2016.

 

Six Flags New England Sends Holiday Thrills to Square One

SPRINGFIELD — Six Flags New England will donate more than 200 toys valued at more than $1,000 to Square One’s children. “Six Flags New England is honored to support Square One this holiday season,” said Jennifer McGrath, the park’s Communications manager. “Now more than ever, we need to rally as a community and support causes and families here in Western Massachusetts and beyond.”

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Grant from Rotary Club

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a $2,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Springfield to support Girls Inc. of the Valley’s “Bridge the Digital Divide” project. This donation will help girls and their families overcome social and economic stressors during this pandemic. In the midst of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for positive, girl-focused, youth-development programming is stronger than ever. Girls who were already dealing with adverse childhood experiences like poverty and racism need additional support during these challenging times, and this donation from the Rotary Club of Springfield will allow both organizations to help serve the community. Many of the girls have been asking if Girls Inc.’s Eureka! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program will happen during the summer of 2021. To ensure the safety of their participants, staff, and volunteers, Girls Inc. will provide Eureka! University, a virtual version of the program, this summer.

 

EforAll and EparaTodos Holyoke Looking for Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — EforAll and EparaTodos Holyoke are actively seeking volunteers to participate as mentors in this winter’s business-accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment, and everything is virtual. Mentor teams have 90-minute meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone who is looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and is interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected].

 

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 t 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.”