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Company Notebook

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 ([email protected]) 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. [email protected] 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 [email protected], 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.”

 

Company Notebook

Two V-One Vodkas Win Top Honors at Warsaw Spirits Competition

HADLEY — Valley Vodka Inc. announced that its V-One Original and its new V-One Peppermint were honored with two of the highest awards, the Double Gold medal, at the Warsaw Spirits Competition this month. Now in its third year, the number of entries and producers in the Warsaw Spirits Competition was record-breaking, with hundreds of alcoholic beverages from more than 25 countries in this year’s tasting. Because of COVID-19, all alcohols were blind-tasted over a 45-day period. At age 27, Kozub started crafting vodka in the basement of his Hadley home to honor his recently deceased Polish grandfather and entrepreneurial father. Two years later, he took his recipe to Poland, where it has been crafted since 2005. In the summer of 2019, Valley Vodka Inc. completed a multi-million-dollar purchase and 12,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s own distillery in Kamie, Poland, about two hours southeast of the capital of Warsaw and just a few miles from the birthplace of vodka.

 

American Bus Assoc. Names Big E to ‘Best of the Best’ Listing

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair, has been named to the “Best of the Best” listing for 2020 by the American Bus Assoc. The listing includes events and attractions from throughout the U.S. and Canada. “Best of the Best” honors outstanding travel-industry members who go above and beyond for the group-tour industry. Categories include Adventure, Culture, Entertainment, Festivals & Events, Food & Beverage, Lodging, and Shopping. The Big E, which has also been named a “Top 100 Event” and an “Internationally Known Event” by the ABA in recent years, is featured in the Festival & Events category. Bright Nights at Forest Park was also named in this category. Plans are underway for the 2021 Big E, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. A concert by country superstar Brad Paisley was announced last month. For more information, visit www.thebige.com.

 

Monson Savings OpensEast Longmeadow Branch

EAST LONGMEADOW — In June, Monson Savings Bank announced its plan to open a full‐service branch located at 61 North Main St. in East Longmeadow. While opening a new location during the height of the COVID‐19 pandemic may seem like an uncommon move, the bank’s leaders felt it was important to serve the East Longmeadow community. The newly renovated East Longmeadow branch features an open-concept lobby layout, a team of knowledgeable and friendly banking professionals, two drive‐up lanes, a 24‐hour drive‐up ATM, and a coin machine. It also has offices specifically for mortgage lending, investment, and business-banking specialists who will be available to customers on site or by appointment.

 

UMassFive Donates $13,552 to Food Bank of Western Mass. in 2020

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has provided more than $13,500 in donations to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts during 2020. These donations have been facilitated through community giving campaigns in partnership with staff and members of the credit union. Early this year, UMassFive supported the Food Bank by donating $1,000 to help offset the increase in demand presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The credit union also sponsored and participated in the Food Bank’s annual Will Bike 4 Food event. A team of 11 UMassFive employees raised money and rode bikes as part of the event, which took place virtually, resulting in donations of $3,422. In the interest of supporting the community, UMassFive also encouraged participation from those who bank at the credit union. A campaign called “Share Your Story” allowed members to choose a local organization to receive a $25 donation from UMassFive on their behalf. A total of $5,000 in donations was split between five local organizations, of which $1,300 was donated to the Food Bank. Members were also encouraged to redeem their earned Buzz Points — a debit-card spending reward program — as charitable donations, which has contributed the equivalent of $2,830 in donations to the Food Bank this year. UMassFive’s latest endeavor was a “Spend and Give” campaign, which involved a collaboration with its members and credit-card servicer PSCU. During the month of July, 1% of every purchase made on an eligible member’s UMassFive credit card was donated to the Food Bank. Based on member purchases, the credit union met its goal of raising $2,500 and unlocked a matching grant from PSCU, resulting in a $5,000 overall donation to the Food Bank. This donation brought UMassFive’s total contribution to the organization so far in 2020 to $13,552.

 

STCC Wins Four Marketing and Communications Awards

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) won four medals at this year’s District 1 National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR) Medallion Awards. The Medallion Awards recognize excellence in design and communication at community colleges within the district, which covers the Northeast, parts of Eastern Canada, and the United Kingdom. STCC won three bronze medallions and one silver. The Communications and Marketing team was recognized for excellence in creating the following promotional products on behalf of the college: a brochure with facts about STCC and information about how to apply for financial aid (silver medallion); a spring 2020 semester newsletter (bronze); a fundraising pennant (bronze); and the “STCC Around” radio segment that airs on WTCC 90.7 FM on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. (bronze). The work was judged by marketing and communications professionals who are members of NCMPR at community colleges. Winners are awarded gold, silver, or bronze medallions. The Communications and Marketing staff at STCC includes Paul, Media Relations Coordinator Jim Danko, and Design and Production Services Coordinator Kerry Ferrero.

 

SkinCatering Marks 10 Years with Expansion to New Location

SPRINGFIELD — SkinCatering, LLC, an all-natural skin-care brand, announced its 10th anniversary on Nov. 10. After catering to the health and well-being of busy clients for the past decade, the company is expanding to a new location in Tower Square. SkinCatering, a local, women-owned business, produces its own line of clean beauty skin care, in addition to offering a variety of high-end spa services. It uses high-quality ingredients to provide effective, cruelty-free treatments and products without the use of harmful chemicals. Everything is formulated and manufactured by the SkinCatering team to monitor every ingredient, catering to those with sensitive skin or allergies, and products are offered for retail, boutique wholesale, and private label. Leanne Sedlak founded SkinCatering in 2010, offering mobile relaxation to busy professionals in their homes. In 2012, licensed aesthetician Kim Brunton-Auger joined the company and has played a significant role in the growth of the business, now serving as vice president of skin-care development. They opened a space in Tower Square in downtown Springfield in November 2013 and have grown the business significantly over the years. Now in need of a larger space, they are expanding to include a salon and nail services in a new location inside Tower Square.

 

Colony Hills Capital Acquires Apartment Complex in Georgia

WILBRAHAM — Colony Hills Capital, based in Wilbraham, announced its recent acquisition of Lakeshire Village Apartments located at 4395 Washington Road in East Point, Ga. Colony Hills paid $22.3 million for the 284-unit, multi-family community. Built in the 1970s, Lakeshire Village was completely redeveloped in 2003 by the seller using low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs). Colony will rebrand the community and aims to reinvigorate it with fresh capital and fresh ideas. According to David Kaufman, president of Colony Hills Capital, the company will focus its capital investments on neglected community areas by adding sports courts, bringing the pool back on line, adding a dog park, and installing community picnic and grilling areas. Colony Hills will also add a fitness center, kids’ learning lab, and resident event area to the Community Center building. Lakeshire Village is Colony Hills’ second LIHTC affordable-housing acquisition in the past year.

 

Bulkley Richardson Named 2021 Best Law Firm in 11 Practice Areas

SPRINGFIELD — Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, ranks Bulkley Richardson as 2021 Best Law Firm in the following 11 practice areas: banking and finance law, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense: white collar, criminal defense: general practice, litigation: labor and employment, medical-malpractice law: defendants, personal-injury litigation: defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included on the Best Lawyers list. Bulkley Richardson has 14 lawyers included on the 2021 list, and two of the firm’s partners, Liz Sillin and John Pucci, were named 2021 Springfield Lawyers of the Year.

 

Hamre Martin Team of Rovithis Realty Names Square One a Charity of Choice

SPRINGFIELD — The Hamre Martin Team of Rovithis Realty, LLC has named Square One a charity of choice for the real-estate agency’s charitable-giving initiative.

At the closing of each real-estate transaction, clients have the opportunity to select a charity to receive a portion of the commission from the transaction. Square One has recently been added to a list of preferred organizations to receive funding. The designation comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. Funds raised through this undertaking will support Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. To make a donation, text ABC123 to 44-321, visit www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mail Allard at [email protected].

 

Junior League Donates Backpacks to Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a donation of 90 backpacks for their elementary-school girls from the Junior League of Greater Springfield (JLGS). 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. This donation from JLGS, a nonprofit organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, allows both organizations to accomplish their missions. The Junior League of Greater Springfield is committed to the promotion of literacy and serving women and children in the community. JLGS aims to improve the lives of children and families in the community by collaborating with other organizations to assist families in need and to promote literacy and education. This directly aligns with the mission of Girls Inc. of the Valley, helping both parties accomplish their goals.

 

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

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

Company Notebook

UMass Donahue Institute Receives $32.5 Million from Head Start

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a new five-year, $6.5 million per year cooperative agreement to direct the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO), a role it has filled for the past five years under an earlier award. Under the new cooperative agreement, the institute will continue to work in collaboration with its partners: Family Health International 360, Zero to Three, and the UCLA Anderson School of Management. NCPMFO will continue to disseminate clear, consistent guidance, materials, and trainings on Office of Head Start priorities for the development and implementation of sound management systems and strong internal controls in Head Start programs across the country. NCPMFO’s work addresses topics such as risk management, governance, data collection and analysis, budgeting, management of multiple funding sources, and leadership, including the annual Head Start Management Fellows Program conducted at UCLA. NCPMFO’s work reaches approximately 1,700 grantees of Early Head Start and Head Start programs located in all states, including those programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and migrant and seasonal workers. NCPMFO is one of four national center cooperative agreements recently awarded. The others address early childhood development, teaching, and learning; early childhood health; behavioral health and safety; and parent, family, and community engagement.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates $15,000 to Rays of Hope

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa presented a check for $15,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation for Rays of Hope from proceeds raised by the sale of specialty pink jerseys worn at the 2020 Pink in the Rink night in March. Each year since the team’s inception, the Thunderbirds have held a Pink in the Rink night to benefit Rays of Hope, complete with participation by breast-cancer survivors, pink ice, and pink specialty jerseys. The event has sold out each of the past four seasons, and has become a signature event in the area to raise awareness. This past season’s event took place on March 7, and was again sold out, with a capacity crowd of 6,793. The Thunderbirds Foundation has contributed more than $80,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation and the Rays of Hope through the proceeds of specialty jersey auctions from the annual Pink in the Rink night.

 

Davis Family Establishes New Scholarship Fund in Honor of Mary Walachy

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis family has established the Joseph F. and Helen C. McGovern Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in honor of the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation’s recently retired Executive Director Mary Walachy. Walachy retired in June after serving 23 years as executive director of the family foundation, and the fund is named after Walachy’s parents, both strong advocates for education. Walachy’s father, Joseph McGovern, was an entrepreneur who owned and operated Notion Thread, a manufacturing company in West Springfield. Walachy’s mother, Helen, also worked with her husband at the company. The scholarship fund will provide resources for successful applicants studying education or social work. It will be awarded through the Community Foundation’s scholarship program, which awards approximately 1,000 scholarships to 800 students annually. The program considers academic merit and financial need in its applicant reviews. Walachy earned a master’s degree in social work and, prior to joining the Davis Foundation, served as CEO of the Mental Health Assoc. Walachy was hired in 1997 as the first executive director of the foundation. Under her leadership, the foundation created several signature programs, including Cherish Every Child, the nationally-recognized Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, and the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, as well as the establishment of Springfield Business Leaders for Education and the launch of Educare Springfield.

 

Berkshire Theatre Group Awarded $1 Million Gift

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire announced a generous gift of just over $1 million from the family of the late Mary Anne Gross in honor of her lifetime love of both theatre and the Berkshires. This award also recognizes the tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity-approved musical in the U.S. this past summer, following the shutdown of live performing arts due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The Gross family will also award just over $1 million to Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company. The Gross family gift will support payroll and basic operating costs for the next six months in order to ensure there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theater continues to raise funds in support of future artistic programming. A portion of the gift is structured as a matching grant to leverage additional donations for 2021. In July, Berkshire Theatre Group’s musical, Godspell, the first musical in the U.S. approved by the Actors’ Equity Assoc. (AEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a five-week run under a tent outside of the Colonial Theatre. Due to popular demand and critical acclaim, the run was extended for two weeks. The musical ran from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Berkshire Theatre Group has just been approved once again by AEA and will present Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories outdoors at its Stockbridge campus from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20.

 

Home City Development Wins Funding for Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded resources from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to adapt and rehabilitate the former Elias Brookings School into 42 affordable rental housing units, to be known as Elias Brookings Apartments. The award includes $1 million in low-income housing tax credits (to generate more than $9 million in equity), $4.4 million of soft debt, and project-based rental vouchers. Other funds for the project include state and federal historic tax credits, city of Springfield HOME and Community Preservation Act funds, and construction and permanent loans. MassHousing will provide the permanent first mortgage loan and a subordinate workforce-housing loan. HCDI plans to begin construction in early 2021 and complete the work in 12 months. The project will serve a range of incomes, including extremely low-income households, low-income households, and workforce housing. Select apartments are reserved for clients of the Department of Mental Health, people with disabilities, and homeless households. HCDI will offer a variety of supportive services to all residents. The property will be managed by Housing Management Resources, an organization with extensive experience managing comparable properties. Built as the Elias Brookings School in 1925, the building was severely damaged in the June 2011 tornado and was closed. This redevelopment aims to contribute significantly to the revitalization of the of the Maple Hill, Six Corners, and Old Hill neighborhoods, which were heavily impacted by the tornado. HCDI is working with Davis Square Architects, development consultant Gerry Joseph, Allegrone Construction, Klein-Hornig LLP, and Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C., as well as many other partners on this project.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Wins Community Service Award

CHICOPEE — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Mercedes-Benz of Springfield was chosen as its Community Service Award recipient. This award honors a business, nonprofit, or individual which has benefited the lives of the Amherst-area community through their work and outreach. The Driven by Community platform officially launched in March, although it has been implemented at the dealership since the doors opened three years ago. Since then, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield has partnered with more than 250 local organizations, raised more than $20,000 when COVID-19 impacted local businesses, and hosted numerous fundraising and charity events at the dealership — most recently, a drive-in movie night with proceeds donated to the Urban League of Springfield to support its mission. The virtual A+ Awards Show will be livestreamed from Hadley Farms Meeting House on Thursday, Nov. 12.

 

Wellfleet Partners with binx health to Keep College Students Safe

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet Insurance has teamed up with binx health to offer college clients access to easy at-home/in-dorm sample collection for COVID-19 testing using binx’s enterprise solutions for population health screening. The ‘binx boxes’ are showing up in dorm rooms of thousands of students on Wellfleet’s college client campuses, offering school officials a quick, easy way to test a campus population, with oversight and test ordering by on-site university clinicians. The model amplifies the power and reach of university administration in their efforts to test, track, and trace the COVID-19 infection status among students, faculty, staff, and vendors. Students ‘activate’ binx boxes online, complete sample collection in their dorms or at home, then drop off completed kits at centralized locations for lab processing. Results are rapid, often under 24 hours from sample receipt. Wellfleet, one of the nation’s leading student health-insurance carriers, worked with binx on behalf of client colleges and universities to deliver a first-of-its-kind platform that makes population testing a reality for the nation’s college campuses. The testing platform offers a unique, modular approach enabling tailored rollout and customized deployment based on university population needs. Serving as a ‘digital hub,’ binx enables seamless linking of patients to university administration via clinician ordering tools, global logistics, at-home/in-dorm sample collection, viral trend analysis and reporting, rapid lab testing, contact tracing, and live customer service and support, all offered at an affordable, per-test fee by university. In addition to introducing clients to tailored COVID-19 testing solutions, Wellfleet has also adapted policies to help members, including helping to ensure student members aren’t saddled with out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19, and enhanced coverage for telemedicine visits.

 

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

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

 

MCLA Adopts Test-blind Policy Through Fall 2022

NORTH ADAMS — In support of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in recognition of the public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCLA Office of Admission will be waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for students who apply for fall 2021 and fall 2022. MCLA will also pilot a test-blind/test-free policy for fall 2021 applicants. National and institutional data point to high-school work being indicative of student success in college and a more equitable means of assessment than standardized-test scores. For many years, research studies have found that wealthy students have significant advantages through the college-application process. A 2013 study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California, for example, found that the difference in SAT scores between high- and low-income students was twice as large among black students compared to white students. MCLA’s application is free, and students are considered for merit-based scholarships at the same time as they submit their application. MCLA has an early-action deadline of Dec. 1. Those who apply must submit their official high-school transcript, including first-quarter senior grades and any transcripts for college-level courses taken, as well as a personal statement/essay. To find out more, visit mcla.edu/apply.

 

AIC Hosts Mural Honoring Mason Square Resident

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently honored a Springfield individual known to residents in Mason Square as Preacherman with a mural on the college’s maintenance building located at the corner of State and Reed streets. Born Randolph Lester, he was a well-known community member who was given the Preacherman moniker as he was often seen walking around the Mason Square area carrying a Bible. Collaborating on the construction of the mural was Britt Ruhe, the founder of Fresh Paint Springfield, a creative initiative in 2019 that invited artists to paint building walls downtown. Ruhe is the director of Commonwealth Murals and manages the Community Muralist Institute, featuring individual mural installations that meaningfully engage and uplift communities. AIC alumnus Andrew Cade, president of the Springfield Cultural Council and senior vice president of the Urban League of Springfield, supported the project with a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council and other resources to assist with the mural. The artist, Greta McLain, has has extensive mural-making experience and created the “Home, Here” mural on the Chestnut Towers parking garage on Dwight Street.

 

Summerlin Floors Awarded Woman-owned Business Certificate

AMHERST — Summerlin Floors has been awarded the official woman-owned business certificate from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. Summerlin Floors has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, completing the certification process and reaching its goal of achieving the woman-owned business certificate, along with announcing a new scholarship that will be awarded to a woman of color. To achieve WBENC certification, woman-owned businesses complete a formal documentation and site-visit process administered by one of WBENC’s 14 regional partner organizations. The WBENC certification gives woman-owned businesses the ability to compete for real-time business opportunities provided by WBENC corporate members and government agencies. To give back to the community and future generations, the company launched a new scholarship last month, awarding a $2,500 scholarship to a woman of color pursuing a degree in business at Greenfield Community College (GCC). For more information and to apply for this scholarship, contact the GCC Admissions Office at www.gcc.mass.edu/admissions or (413) 775-1801.

 

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

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. 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. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Company Notebook

Officials Celebrate Start of Court Square Project

SPRINGFIELD — A host of city, state, and national leaders were on hand at the former Court Square Hotel property on Aug. 27 to mark the official start of a long-awaited $51 million project to convert the long-dormant landmark into apartments and retail space. Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno were among the many dignitaries to address those gathered to commemorate the launch of the initiative, which will bring 59 market-rate apartments, 15 workforce apartments, and more than 20,000 square feet of retail to the center of Springfield. The project is the result of a partnership involving a number of players, including developers Winn Companies of Boston and Opal Real Estate of Springfield, as well as MassMutual, MGM, and MassHousing’s Workforce Housing Initiative. More than $11 million in state and federal historic tax credits have also been secured for the project. Initial work on the property involves $4 million worth of demolition and hazardous materials cleanup, expected to completed by November. Actual construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

AmherstWorks Reopens; New Applications Being Accepted

AMHERST — AmherstWorks, a co-working space dedicated to serving the Pioneer Valley community, has reopened and is accepting new applications for membership passes and private offices. AmherstWorks has implemented new policies and procedures, in addition to restructuring the space to adhere to the state’s health and safety regulations in light of the coronavirus pandemic. All members will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing of six feet at all times. Previously shared desks will be assigned exclusively to individuals each day, with hand sanitizer readily available. AmherstWorks membership assistants will sanitize all surfaces a minimum of three times a day. The newly renovated downtown workspace includes large windows for natural light, high-speed internet, and premium amenities for members.

MCLA, BCC Sign Education Articulation Agreement

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Berkshire Community College (BCC) have signed a new articulation agreement, creating a pathway for students who complete BCC’s associate degree in early childhood education to enroll in MCLA’s liberal-arts degree-completion program in children, families, and society. Students who complete this associate-degree program at MCLA will also be able to enter MCLA with a core-requirement waiver. Students must graduate with at least a 2.5 grade point average to qualify. This agreement means students who qualify will be able to earn their associate and bachelor’s degrees as well as early education and care certifications. These credentials support requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC). This pathway can also result in a lead teacher certification from the DEEC.

Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley Moves to Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley, part of the TommyCar Auto Group, moved from South Deerfield to its new location at 48 Damon Road in Northampton on Sept. 1. “This is an exciting change for us as Northampton is such a wonderful community and has been incredibly welcoming,” said TommyCar co-owner Carla Cosenzi. “The dealership will be more conveniently located for our customers, right off the highway. They will still get the same outstanding service they have come to expect from us, along with a greater inventory and a more spacious showroom and service department.” TommyCar Auto Group already has three dealerships in Northampton — Country Hyundai, Genesis of Northampton, and Northampton Volkswagen — as well as Country Nissan in Hadley.

Westfield State University Installs Cell Tower Atop Scanlon Hall

WESTFIELD — Cellular service on the Westfield State University campus is expected to significantly improve now that a new cell tower has been installed atop Scanlon Hall. Westfield State partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the Massachusetts State College Building Authority on the project. The installation was completed in August by Berkshire Wireless, a subcontractor for Verizon Wireless. In addition to improved and more reliable cell service, the university will also generate revenue by leasing the space to the cellular provider. A 10-year contract will generate $240,000 over the term, and the $24,000 per year will go toward the university’s Residential Life area to support services and programming for resident students.

Bulkley Richardson Joins Law Firm Anti-racism Alliance

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson announced it has joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), a national collaboration of more than 260 law firms united in identifying and dismantling structural or systemic racism in the law. The alliance’s charter states its purpose is to “leverage the resources of the private bar in partnership with legal-services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color, and to promote racial equity in the law.” “We are joining some of the country’s most prominent law firms to shine a spotlight on systemic racism,” said Jeff Poindexter, co-chair of Bulkley Richardson’s litigation department. “Recognizing that racism is a public crisis, the firm has made a pledge to reject racism, hate, bigotry, and all forms of discrimination. By joining the LFAA, we can be a part of the solution and support an initiative to advance racial equity.”

HCC Receives $40,000 Grant for COVID-19 Relief

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation has received a second grant in as many months to help students facing financial emergencies because of COVID-19. In its latest round of grants, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts awarded $40,000 to HCC from its COVID-19 Relief Fund. In July, the Community Foundation awarded the HCC Foundation $35,000. All $75,000 went into the President’s Student Emergency Fund, which is managed by the HCC Foundation. Thanks to the Community Foundation’s first grant to HCC, 67 students received emergency funding with an average disbursement of $522. Already, in the past two weeks, 15 additional students have received emergency aid. Typically, students request help paying for basic needs, such as food, rent, utilities, childcare, and transportation.

JFS Selected for Year Two of Jewish Poverty Challenge

SPRINGFIELD — Following a North American call for submissions and an exhaustive selection process, Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts has been chosen by the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA) for participation in year two of its NJHSA Jewish Poverty Challenge, an offering of the network’s Center for Innovation and Research. The goal of the program is to help NJHSA member agencies better analyze the marketplace, launch and manage solutions, and implement sustainable measures for success to address the many dynamics associated with responding to Jewish poverty. NJHSA has partnered with Start Co., a venture-development consultancy firm based in Memphis, Tenn. with an expertise in launching startups and engaging municipalities, corporations, and nonprofits in poverty-reduction responses. The team at Start Co. will provide expert consultation assistance as JFS rethinks and redesigns products and services, adjusting assumptions and organization models. Throughout the process, special attention will be paid to the impact of COVID-19 on service-delivery methods.

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Six Scholarships

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

Hazen Paper Pioneers New Type of Custom Holography

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

WNEU, Big Y Pharmacy Residency Program Accreditated

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

Multiple Sclerosis Center Opens at Mercy Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Trinity Health Of New England announced the opening of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mercy Medical Center. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the Greater Springfield area are now able to access their healthcare needs in one central location with a team of specialists dedicated to every aspect of their care. The Mandell Center, located at 175 Carew St. in Springfield, offers a combination of cutting-edge treatments, groundbreaking research, and innovative rehabilitation programs, and provides an all-inclusive treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the model will include a nationally recognized team of MS specialists including neurologists, neuropsychologists, urologists, physiatrists, social workers, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, speech pathologists, physician’s assistants, and nurses. The Mandell MS Center at Mercy is partnered with the world-renowned Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Centers at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Conn. and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn.

HMC Recognized for Promoting Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has earned national recognition as a Let Life Bloom Platinum Award recipient for its efforts to increase organ, eye, and tissue donor registrations through the Workplace Partnership for Life (WPFL) Hospital Organ Donation Campaign. The WPFL is a national initiative that unites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the organ-donation community with workplaces across the nation in spreading the word about the importance of donation. The WPFL Hospital Organ Donation Campaign challenges hospitals and healthcare organizations to “let life bloom” by educating staff, patients, visitors, and communities about the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, including offering opportunities to register as organ donors. HMC earned points for conducting awareness and registry activities between October 2019 and April 2020 and prompting new donor registrations during that time period. Visit registerme.org to sign up as a donor.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Issues Annual Corporate Green Report

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2020 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place in which to live, work, and raise a family. The bank puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations, volunteerism, support of green-energy projects, and construction of LEED-certified offices. PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $188 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects. Over 2019-20, PeoplesBank supported several green community projects in Western Mass., including the Center for EcoTechnology’s ‘eco fellows’ and more than 100 community-education events; the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) Food for All campaign; e-recycle and shred day at the bank’s Suffield Banking Center; Grow Food Northampton; the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Local Farmer program and awards; scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; a mobile farmers’ market that travels to underserved/food-desert areas of Springfield and surrounding communities; the Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River, which also includes hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank; and ValleyBike Share, the region’s new bike-sharing program. Community banks, like PeoplesBank, are not generally known for building green offices, but PeoplesBank has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a Green Seal from the city of Springfield. The bank will pursue a fourth LEED certification for its Pedlar Banking Center in Holyoke in the near future. Three PeoplesBank offices (Northampton, West Springfield, and 330 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke) have electric vehicle-charging stations. The bank also launched a “Choose to Reuse” campaign designed to eliminate the use of disposable paper products internally. PeoplesBank has traditionally commemorated Earth Day by giving away tomato plants and seeds at several banking centers throughout the region. Due to the extenuating circumstances this year, in lieu of those customer giveaways, a donation will be made to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to assist in its COVID relief outreach.

Contribution Clothing Supports Women-focused Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — Kelly Partridge, founder of Contribution Clothing, launched her mission-driven online boutique (contributionclothing.com) last June. The boutique, which retails women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass.-based nonprofit organizations that have a vision of empowering women and girls as well as community support. Contribution Clothing is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to the Care Center of Holyoke, a nonprofit organization that helps young mothers grasp how powerful they are, gives them tools to learn, and provides them with an exciting and engaging learning environment. Since its website launch, the boutique has provided monetary donations to Dress for Success, Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, and Safe Passage. In additional to the boutique’s quarterly contributions, Partridge, a Bay Path University alumna, has worked with the university to create the Contribution Clothing Scholarship Fund, which annually provides a Bay Path student with $500 toward tuition. The clothing line has also supported community-based events and fundraisers such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendar for Girls Inc., and the Unify Against Bullying fashion show, where Partridge provided six different outfits to help raise awareness against bullying. Partridge’s goal for her business is to use her story and passion for social justice to make a positive impact within her community. She hopes to use fashion as a way of helping women feel confident and empowered.

MGHPCC Expands Access to Researchers Working on COVID-19

HOLYOKE — The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), operated by a consortium consisting of Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts system, announced it will provide access to outside researchers working on projects in which high-speed computing would accelerate resolution of the COVID-19 crisis. The MGHPCC’s member institutions are already heavily engaged in coronavirus-related research in areas that include understanding the fundamentals of the disease, contributing to the development of vaccines, treatment and tests, and public-health solutions. Much of this research, and most scientific academic research today, rely on high-performance computing. The MGHPCC, which is among the largest high-performance computing facilities in the country, is now expanding access to its storage and computational systems to academic and commercial enterprises beyond the facility’s member institutions. Total available capacity across all systems includes more than 200,000 CPU cores, 2,000 recent-generation GPUs, and 5 petabytes of temporary storage. The additional work will not impact day-to-day university needs. The MGHPCC consortium is also working with Mass Open Cloud and two of its sponsors, Red Hat and Intel, to launch a site that connects potentially impactful projects with people who have strong computing skills but are unable to work on their regular assignments due to travel restrictions.

Home City Development Wins Funds for Affordable-housing Renovations

NORTHAMPTON — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded $2.88 million and seven project-based vouchers by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Funds were awarded for renovations of New South Street Apartments, an 18-unit historic building located at 24-34 New South St. in Northampton. Project-based vouchers and supportive service funds will provide housing for seven homeless families. In addition, the city of Northampton awarded $50,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds for this project. Homeless households will be selected from the Three County Continuum of Care Coordinated Entry system. This system includes Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire county emergency-assistance shelters and other assistance organizations. HCDI will provide case management and related support services for residents at New South Street Apartments, including those who were formerly homeless. HCDI is working with Architecture EL as project architect and Henry General Contractors as contractor. Renovation work is expected to begin this fall and take about nine months to complete. Home City Development Inc. is a nonprofit, resident-centered developer of multi-family and mixed-use properties in Western Mass. HCDI was founded as Better Homes Inc. in 1968 by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Over more than 50 years, HCDI has worked to facilitate community stability and growth in collaboration with numerous partners and residents.

Freedom Credit Union Makes $55,000 Donation to Fight Coronavirus Crisis

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union (FCU) announced a donation of $55,000 to be dispersed among several community organizations at the front lines of the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. FCU announced that the following slate of organizations will receive a portion of the $55,000 donation: Baystate Health Foundation; Mercy Medical Center; Cooley Dickinson Health Care; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; Hampshire Hospitality Group, whose Hampshire County Heroes feed first responders in Hampshire County; and Feed the Fight, an initiative of Peter Pan Bus Lines and area restaurants to feed healthcare workers and first responders in the community. Welch indicated that FCU will continue to assist the community throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to these community donations, Welch said FCU has offered resources to its individual members intended to provide financial assistance or relief during the crisis, including online banking services and the new Freedom Relief Loan, which provides up to $10,000 to members dealing with consequences of the pandemic, including layoffs, furloughs, and bills. In addition, FCU’s Skip-a-Pay program allows members with a consumer loan — auto, mortgage, home equity, or home improvement — to defer payments up to 90 days. Members should contact their local branch for details. FCU can also work with member businesses needing financial relief on their specific circumstances. Business members should speak with the Member Business Lending department. For contact information, visit freedom.coop.

 

First American Insurance Agency Launches New Client Portal

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced the launch of a new online customer portal designed to enhance service and support for its customers. The portal, called CSR24, enables clients to access insurance ID cards and insurance documents (including renewal paperwork), request policy changes, and more. Clients can also submit claim photos, such as a cracked windshield. For truckers, the portal allows the quick and straightforward download of certificates. The portal is accessible on any device via the agency’s website and requires a login and username. The agency will release a matching app later in the year.

Phillips Insurance Delivers Pizza, Food Boxes to Clients, First Responders

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance partnered with clients Fazio’s Ristorante of East Longmeadow and Simos Produce of Springfield to deliver pizza and grocery boxes to its clients and first responders. Phillips Insurance delivered dozens of grocery boxes from Simos Produce to clients so they could avoid going to the supermarket. In addition, Phillips and Fazio’s Ristorante delivered pizzas and grinders to first responders and heathcare providers, while Phillips Insurance delivered pizza and subs to the Chicopee Police Department in appreciation of all they do for the community. Phillips Insurance Agency was established in 1953 and is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 28 professionals.

Western Mass. Wedding Vendors Say ‘Thank You’ to Frontline Workers

HOLYOKE — The wedding industry is being hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Couples are being forced to restructure or delay their wedding plans, leaving wedding vendors struggling with the financial challenges of delayed business. Thankfully, the wedding industry is also one marked by resilience and camaraderie. That is why a group of Western Mass. wedding vendors has come together to give back and say ‘thank you’ to frontline workers. Spearheaded by local DJ Anthony Corlis from TC’s Disc Jockey Services with assistance from the Log Cabin/Delaney House meal-donation program, more than 75 meals will be delivered to employees of Stop and Shop in Westfield today, April 24, at 11 a.m. by Corlis and Peter Rosskothen, owner of the Log Cabin/Delaney House. One of those employees just happens to be a Log Cabin groom who needed to reschedule his April 26 wedding. Meals were donated by Vivan B Photography, Events by Jackie M., Aliber Bridal Shops, Michelle Anne Hair Design, SHO Productions, Durocher’s Florist, Catherine Jindela, Kasey Richards of Mountain Rose Inn, TC’s Disc Jockey Services, and Log Cabin/Delaney House. Anyone looking to donate meals should visit delaneyhouse.com/feedalocalhero.

Wellfleet, EIS Group Partner on Innovative Insurance Solution

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway insurance company, and industry technology leader EIS Group are building a next-generation insurance-administration platform to meet the evolving demands of the employee-benefits market. In the complex voluntary-benefits landscape, brokers and their clients commonly work with multiple systems, fighting to integrate with carriers’ patchworked legacy systems. Whether it’s product sophistication, internal workflow monitoring, enrollment and third-party integration, or communications across multiple modules, carriers struggle to administer plans in a digitally unified way. Wellfleet Workplace entered the voluntary market last year, on a mission to be the digitally enabled carrier of choice. Partnering with EIS Group helps drive this differentiation by jointly creating an open-architecture and cloud-based software system designed to support the full broker and customer life cycle. The software provider’s cloud-based platform supports broker and customer life cycles, including rating and quoting, policy issuance and administration, and billing and claims management. Multi-channel touch points are easily created and managed through EIS Group’s digital-experience platform.

Pearson Wallace, Arbella Offer Premium Relief

AMHERST — Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Arbella has committed to providing a 20% credit for three months on all personal auto policies until June 30. This is a per-vehicle refund that applies to existing and new policies from Pearson Wallace Insurance, said Alex Bennett, the agency’s vice president. Arbella Insurance also announced the Arbella Here. For Good. Give Back Program. Subject to approval by state regulators, Arbella’s personal auto customers will receive a credit equal to 20% of their auto premium for the months of April, May, and June. These savings would result in an estimated average of $60 per vehicle, and customers with multiple vehicles on their policy could see significant savings, Bennett noted.

Ascent Laser Aesthetics Introduces Innovative Hair-removal System

EAST LONGMEADOW — Ascent Laser Aesthetics, a medical spa located in East Longmeadow, has partnered with Cartessa Aesthetics to bring the hair-removal system Motux AX to the practice. Motux AX is the most effective laser wavelength for hair removal for the widest array of skin types, Dr. Kevin Coughlin said, adding that the procedure is virtually pain-free and significantly more comfortable than standard methods, while providing quicker treatment of large areas (less than five minutes) and fewer subsequent treatments to achieve optimal results. Through proprietary Moveo technology, risk of side effects is virtually non-existent.

EforAll Holyoke Launches Accelerator Program for Spanish-speaking Entrepreneurs

HOLYOKE — Continuing to expand its proven approach to help under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses, Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Holyoke announced that it is accepting applications for its new EparaTodos program in Holyoke, which will focus on supporting Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the Greater Holyoke community. EforAll’s free, one-year business-accelerator program helps under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses or nonprofits across a wide range of industries, including personal and professional services, food, manufacturing, and both online and traditional retail. The program offers a combination of immersive business training, dedicated mentorship, and access to a professional network. The organization typically offers its programs in person, but it is prepared to deliver classroom training and mentor sessions online if necessary. Among the businesses started by EforAll participants, 75% are owned by women, 56% are owned by people of color, 54% are owned by immigrants, and 56% are owned by people who were previously unemployed. EforAll is accepting applications for this new Spanish-language accelerator, as well as its English accelerator program (EforAll), through Wednesday, May 20 at 5 p.m. Interested applicants can learn more and apply at www.eforall.org, where they will find information in both English and Spanish. To support its new Spanish-language programming, EforAll Holyoke has hired a dedicated EparaTodos program manager, Gabriella Candelario. Before joining EparaTodos Holyoke, she worked with the Springfield Public Schools as a program coordinator. She can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook

Country Bank Donates $50,000 to First Responder Recovery Home

LUDLOW — To help the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department successfully operate the First Responder Recovery Home for COVID-19-diagnosed first responders, Country Bank announced it will contribute $50,000 to the efforts. The contribution from the Ware-based financial institution comes with the aim of inspiring other similar organizations to do what they can to assist the department’s effort to help the people who typically help others. The donation, which brings the overall community contributions above $87,000, will help ensure that every COVID-19-positive first responder who comes to stay at the facility has the food and comforts necessary for recovery. The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department opened the First Responder Recovery Home this week to fill an unmet need in the Commonwealth of providing a safe haven for our doctors, nurses, EMTs, police, firefighters, and corrections professionals who are diagnosed with COVID-19, but can’t safely go home to recover without jeopardizing the health of a vulnerable family member. Located at the department’s Pre-Release Center on its campus in Ludlow, the refuge is provided free of charge, thanks to the department’s community supporters and partners. Cocchi and staff started accepting guests this week, with 84 single-occupancy rooms available. Anyone coming to stay must be healthy enough to care for themselves; however, a pool of voluntary medical professionals from the community, led by Ludlow physician Dr. Shaukat Matin, will be making rounds, and if someone needs more comprehensive medical care, the Sheriff’s Department will help coordinate transportation. Any doctor, nurse, police, firefighter, EMT, correctional professional, or military member can call (413) 858-0801 or (413) 858-0819 to request a room or ask questions. The facility needs the person’s full name, gender, and expected length of stay, among other information, and all correspondence will be kept confidential. Community partners include Country Bank, Anthony Ravosa and the 91 Supper Club, Charlie D’Amour and Guy McFarlane of Big Y Foods, Bob Bolduc and Pride Stores, Cesar Ruiz Jr. and Golden Years Home Care, Jim Brennan on behalf of the Edward J. Brennan Jr. Family Foundation, Anthony Cignoli of A.L. Cignoli Co., Jeff Polep of J. Polep Distribution Services, Jay Caron of Bee-Line Corp., Larry Katz of Arnold’s Meats, Andy Yee and Peter Picknelly, and Matin. Anyone wishing to contribute to the First Responder Recovery Home initiative can send tax-deductible donations to Criminal Justice Organization, 627 Randall Road, Ludlow, MA 01056, and write “First Responder Recovery Home” on the memo line.

Ohana School of Performing Arts Looks to Community for Support

CHICOPEE — The future of small businesses hangs in the balance due to the coronavirus pandemic, and despite uncertainty and disruption, one local dance studio stands firm in its mission: to spread peace and positivity through performance. Ohana School of Performing Arts, located at 41 Sheridan St. in Chicopee, had to make significant changes to its business model as social-distancing guidelines and safety initiatives were put into place. The studio transitioned to online classes and continues to support families with an interactive Facebook group for dancers and their families, where instructors share craft ideas, new dance moves, story time, and messages of hope and joy. “We are bringing 50 virtual classes to our studio family each week,” said Ashley Kohl, owner and creative director. She explained that teachers are recording classes from their own homes to ensure that the dancers are staying engaged and active. In addition to moving to virtual programming, Ohana also shifted tuition terms for the studio — pay what you can, if you can. Due to the stay-at-home advisory, which Gov. Charlie Baker has implemented until further notice, it is likely that Ohana will not be hosting its June performance, which is the studio’s only for-profit recital of the year. The funds from this performance are typically used to cover overhead costs in the summer months. In addition to the annual performance, Ohana hosts two charity performances as fundraisers for local nonprofits. To date, Ohana has donated more than $30,000 to various organizations, including Make-A-Wish Foundation Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Willpower Foundation, Miracle League of Western Massachusetts, We Love Riley Fan Club, Arik(q)ue, in addition to Ohana’s nonprofit, One Ohana Inc., that provides scholarships to dancers across the Pioneer Valley. The impact of lost revenue comes at a particularly challenging time, as the studio was forced to relocate last year, and the business had to secure significant loan funding. Without the consistent tuition and performance revenue, Kohl fears she may have to close Ohana’s doors. With that in mind, two of Kohl’s close friends, Danielle Barone and Tanyelle Duchesne, organized a fundraiser with a goal of $20,000. For more information on how to support Ohana School of Performing Arts, visit gofundme.com/we-are-ohana or ohanaperformingarts.com.

TommyCar Auto Group Donates $10,000 to Support Health Workers

NORTHAMPTON — TommyCar Auto Group — consisting of Country Hyundai, Country Nissan, Genesis of Northampton, Northampton Volkswagen, and Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley — announced it has donated a total of $10,000 to local healthcare workers through its “Donate to Feed” and “Donate to Protect” initiatives. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on the doctors, nurses, and frontline medical workers at local hospitals, TommyCar Auto Group launched a two-part campaign to help support these local heroes. Members of the TommyCard Rewards loyalty program were able to donate up to 50 points to help the cause, making it easy to support the efforts without having to leave the safety of home to make an in-person donation. The points were then matched in dollars by TommyCar Auto Group. By early April, $5,000 was raised to provide meals to the Emergency Department staff at Baystate Medical Center. As of April 10, another $5,000 was donated to Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is used to purchase needed equipment such as N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and more. To learn more and follow the “Donate to Feed” and “Donate to Protect” campaigns, visit the Country Hyundai, Country Nissan, Genesis of Northampton, Northampton Volkswagen, and Volvo Cars of Pioneer Valley Facebook pages.

Holyoke Company Tools Up to Manufacture Medical Face Shields

HOLYOKE — Walter Drake Inc., a Holyoke manufacturing company, has responded to the urgent need for medical face shields by healthcare systems. In a matter of days, workers have designed, prototyped, built tooling for, and manufactured a medical face shield of the type that is in desperate demand by hospitals, nursing facilities, and other essential workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Joseph Feigen, company president, announced that the face shield is called ‘Corona Shield’ for the time being, but will be renamed for permanent use in the healthcare field after the current pandemic ends. Walter Drake staff is now contacting dozens of hospitals around the country to deliver this badly needed personal protective equipment and to help ensure employment opportunities during this extended Massachusetts business shutdown. Established in 1962, Walter Drake Inc. primarily manufactures custom thermoformed packaging in the form of clamshells, trays, and blisters for medical, electronic, consumer, and industrial packaging applications.

MGM Springfield Donates Sleeping Cots, Outdoor Heaters

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield announced a donation of 160 portable sleeping cots and 16 outdoor heaters to Mercy Medical Center and the city of Springfield. A portion of the cots will provide much-needed overflow support for the hospital, while the other portion of cots and the outdoor heaters will assist the city’s work to help the homeless population amid the COVID-19 crisis. “We are a strong community, but this is a challenging time, and MGM Springfield will continue to do what we can to support those impacted and those on the front line,” said Chris Kelley, president and chief operating officer of MGM Springfield. Added Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, “I want to thank MGM President and COO Chris Kelley and his MGM team for stepping up in support of our city’s ongoing and continued efforts in responding to this coronavirus situation. These much-needed items will go a long way in assisting our city’s coronavirus response.” Deborah Bitsoli, president of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates, added that “we are grateful to MGM Springfield for the generous donation of cots for use during the pandemic. This is another example of the local area’s remarkable community partnerships that assist our efforts to care for patients during this difficult time.”

UMass Amherst Food Scientist Helps Unravel COVID-19 Mysteries

AMHERST — With the rapid onset of smell and taste loss emerging as symptoms of COVID-19, scientists around the world — including a sensory expert at UMass Amherst — have united to investigate the connection between the chemical senses and the novel coronavirus. The wave of reports from patients and clinicians about anosmia, or smell loss, inspired the creation of the Global Consortium of Chemosensory Researchers. Alissa Nolden, UMass Amherst assistant professor of Food Science, is among the 500 clinicians, neurobiologists, data and cognitive scientists, sensory researchers, and technicians from 38 countries gathering data in a worldwide survey to unravel how the virus is transmitted and how to prevent its spread. Nolden was invited by a colleague at the National Institutes of Health to help develop strategies around measuring the sensory-related symptoms of the coronavirus. “Smell and/or taste loss may be an early indicator of COVID-19, as individuals appear to report loss of smell or taste prior to other symptoms,” she said. “We also want to better understand the mechanism behind taste and smell loss as a result of this virus.” Nolden noted that some people with COVID-19 who experience sensory losses may not have any other coronavirus symptoms. The researchers hope to learn more about this from the survey, since people with sensory symptoms alone are not likely to qualify for a COVID-19 test. “This has been a tremendous effort from collaborators from around the globe to gain a better understanding of the negative impact of COVID-19 on loss of taste and smell,” she said. “We hope to learn a lot about these symptoms and believe it will have a great impact on our understanding of the virus.”

Log Cabin, Delaney House Launch ‘Feed a Local Hero/Someone in Need’

HOLYOKE — Many people and organizations are looking for ways to help others during this trying time. In that spirit, the Delaney House and Log Cabin have created the “Feed a Local Hero/Someone in Need” meal-donation program. People can purchase meals at a discounted rate, which will then be distributed to local businesses with essential employees or community members struggling to gain access to fresh food during this difficult time. Some of the organizations that will receive these donations are Baystate Health System, Providence Ministries (Loreto House), Amherst Survival Center, Mercy Medical Center, Springfield first responders, Holyoke first responders, and many others. To donate, visit www.delaneyhouse.com/feedalocalhero.

MassHire Holyoke Career Center Continues to Offer Services Remotely

HOLYOKE — The MassHire Holyoke Career Center is letting the public known it is open for business remotely for new and current customers and members of the career center. Individuals can visit www.masshireholyoke.org to access information and staff contact numbers for career-counseling and job-search services. Staff members are available to answer questions and provide support such as résumé review and career counseling. These services are available in English and Spanish. Job postings are also available on the website. People with questions about job-seeker services can call (413) 532-4900 and leave a message, and a staff member will be in contact as soon as possible. People who need to file an unemployment claim can call (877) 626-6800 or visit www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-unemployment-benefits. Businesses can call (413) 654-1650, and a business service representative will be in touch.

Company Notebook

Community Foundation Grants $700,000 Through COVID-19 Response Fund

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced the release of its first grants, totaling $700,000, to community organizations and nonprofits from its recently-established COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley. The fund has raised $2,480,000 from local philanthropic and business organizations and over 50 individuals. The first round of funding to support local response to the crisis includes $190,000 to distribute food through the region’s system of food pantries; $120,000 to address the needs of vulnerable elders, including home-delivered meals; $120,000 to provide critical health services and outreach through the Valley’s federally designated Community Health Centers; $150,000 to provide shelter for those without homes and those impacted by domestic violence; and $120,000 to provide flexible supports to the region’s lowest-income families and individuals. Organizations receiving funding include Caring Health Center, Catholic Charities Agency – Diocese of Springfield, Center for Human Development, Community Action Pioneer Valley, Community Health Center of Franklin County, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of the Homeless (Clinical & Support Options), Greater Springfield Senior Services, Highland Valley Elder Services, Hilltown Community Health Center, Holyoke Health Center, LifePath, New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, Safe Passage, ServiceNet, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Springfield Rescue Mission, Valley Opportunity Council, WestMass ElderCare, Womanshelter Companeras, and YWCA of Western Massachusetts. More grants are expected to be announced and released to respond to emerging needs. In subsequent phases, grants will be made to address needs of nonprofit organizations that have been financially impacted by the crisis. The Community Foundation welcomes additional donations to the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley. Donate online at communityfoundation.org/coronavirus-donations.

Fire Investigation Transfer Program Launched at STCC

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has a hot new program. Starting this fall, the college will offer a new option in the Fire Protection and Safety Technology department: fire investigation transfer. Students who choose this option will study fire behavior, fire operations, prevention, investigations, and criminal law through courses in fire science and criminal justice. Fire investigators often work for local, state, and federal agencies, but also pursue opportunities in the private sector. The program is offered in the evening only, which will give students who work more flexibility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for fire inspectors and investigators are expected to grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028. The median pay in 2018 was $60,200. Students who successfully complete the two-year program will receive an associate of science degree in fire protection and safety technology. To learn more about the program and to apply for the fall, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/fitr.as. Individuals with questions may contact Tenczar at [email protected] or call (413) 755-4596.

HCC President Pledges $10,000 to ‘Together HCC’ Campaign

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) President Christina Royal has issued a personal $10,000 challenge gift toward a new HCC campaign that is as much about building moral support in a time of great uncertainty as it is about raising money for students experiencing financial distress. As part of the HCC Foundation’s “Together HCC — A Campaign for Caring,” students, staff, faculty, alumni, relatives, and friends are being asked to use the hashtag #TogetherHCC to share stories and images on social media that show the strength of the college community in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Royal’s $10,000 challenge is not just a financial one. Instead, the goal is to gather 1,000 contributions of any kind toward the #TogetherHCC campaign. That includes monetary donations as well as social-media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as e-mail submissions that describe an inspirational tale or messages of encouragement relating to the ongoing pandemic. Besides scholarships, the HCC Foundation manages several funds that directly support students facing financial emergencies as well as those experiencing food and housing insecurity. These include the President’s Student Emergency Fund, which was established by Royal, and another that supports HCC’s Thrive Student Resource Center, which manages the HCC Food Pantry.

Northampton Survival Center Updates Public on Services

NORTHAMPTON — While concern for staff, client, and volunteer health during the COVID-19 pandemic recently forced Northampton Survival Center to temporarily stop client visits to pick up food, the center anticipates resuming modified operations as soon as possible. Even though the building is closed, however, new community partnerships and initiatives have sprung into action. The center has teamed up with Community Action Pioneer Valley to begin distributing food out of Jackson Street School, a nearby location with ample, circular parking and cafeteria and refrigeration capabilities. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, food will be delivered by the Survival Center to the school, where a team of trained personnel will be able to create pre-bagged packages of nutritious food while maintaining safe distancing and other health precautions. On those same afternoons, bags will be carted outdoors under a tent, for quick drive-up intake and food transfer to clients safely in their cars. Another initiative between the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton delivers fresh produce and groceries every Tuesday to high-need sites including Hampshire Heights, Florence Heights, Meadowbrook, and the Lumber Yard on Pleasant Street. Food distribution at all four sites will work in tandem with the Northampton public-school system and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School’s new meal-delivery program for children, in order to amplify each other’s efforts to keep children and their entire families fed. Shelf-stable groceries will be paired with fresh produce purchased directly from local farms, as well as produce and other goods purchased from distributors via River Valley Co-op. To serve clients in the hilltowns, food is being brought from the Hilltown Pantry and Northampton Survival Center to the various Councils on Aging that serve the region. COAs in Chesterfield, Worthington, and Goshen have already begun distributing this food from their sites, and further outreach is being coordinated with the Hilltown Community Health Center and the Hilltown Community Development Corp. The center is exploring using a school classroom in Worthington as a mini-pantry, and fresh produce has been shared with the Maples senior housing in Worthington. Eggs from Northampton Survival Center have been shared with the MANNA hot meal program, and fresh produce and retail donations of bread and other items usually reserved for the center are now being shared with other food pantries in the area, via the center’s partners at the Food Bank.

Monson Savings Bank Donates $25,000 to Baystate Health’s Greatest Needs Fund

MONSON — Baystate Health has just completed construction of a rapid-response triage area outside of the Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department, allowing the hospital to better protect patients and medical staff from exposure to the virus as patients are being screened and tested. This new triage area is just one of the many large, unplanned expenses this health emergency has created. Additionally, the exploding demand for personal protection equipment for staff and myriad other needs to fight this outbreak are stretching resources and finances to the limit. Monson Savings Bank has donated $25,000 to Baystate’s Greatest Needs Fund. This gift will directly support resources needed at Baystate Health as it continues to address and prepare for the care the community needs during this worldwide pandemic.

UMassFive College Credit Union Offers Financial Resources, Support

HADLEY — As a local nonprofit financial cooperative, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union (UMassFive) is known for playing an active role in supporting and educating members and local communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMassFive has launched a number of initiatives to continue supporting its membership and people in the local community. For example, UMassFive has joined forces with Log Rolling Catering to donate 350 meals to individuals and families in need, as well as those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The Amherst Survival Center received 150 prepared meals for distribution to those in need, and another 200 meals went to the ER staff at both Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and UMass Medical Center in Worcester. In addition, UMassFive has pledged $1,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and donated another $1,000 to the local farming nonprofit Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, which will use the funds as part of its campaign to raise $50,000 for emergency loans to local farms. Credit-union members can also participate by making charitable donations in support of their local community through the UMassFive Buzz Points program, including options benefiting the Food Bank and the Amherst Survival Center. UMassFive is committed to answering questions and providing financial guidance to its members throughout this ongoing time of economic uncertainty. Members are encouraged to reach out for one-on-one phone consultations with credit union staff to better understand what options are available to them at this time. For instance, UMassFive is offering loan-payment deferral for up to three months on all qualified consumer loans. Members can visit www.umassfive.coop/emergency-relief to learn which loans qualify and to submit their emergency-relief payment-deferral requests through an easy-to-fill-out web form. As a way to make things a little easier for qualified borrowers who decide to take on some short-term debt to address their current needs, UMassFive has temporarily lowered the rate of all new personal loans to 5.99% APR for amounts of $2,000 or less. New and existing members can apply for this loan online at www.umassfive.coop/personalloan. After signing up (for new users) or logging in, applicants should select ‘fixed-term loan,’ then ‘loan special,’ and continue filling out the form until fully submitted. The credit union strongly encourages seeking alternative options before taking on additional debt.

Country Bank Donates $250,000 to Four Hospitals

WARE — Country Bank announced it has donated $250,000 to four local hospitals to help assist with the work they are doing for patients as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospitals receiving donations include Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Harrington Hospital in Southbridge, UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester. Paul Scully, president and CEO at Country Bank, noted that “these are challenging and ever-evolving times as we face uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As a community partner, we care deeply about our communities, and we wanted to support our local hospitals to help ease their financial burden as they continue to offer exceptional care to our friends and neighbors in the region.”

Providence Ministries Services Continue Through Pandemic

HOLYOKE — Providence Ministries will continue to offer essential support services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, Executive Director Shannon Rudder shared precautions being made to ensure continuity of services while protecting program participants. Effective immediately, the following program shifts will occur: Kate’s Community Kitchen will provide warm, nutritious takeout meals; dining-room services will be suspended until further notice. Margaret’s Pantry will continue to welcome those in need of supplemental groceries to enjoy its community services. This includes both monthly guests along with anyone impacted by loss of work or simply realizing greater need at this time. Make an appointment by calling Brenda at (413) 536-9109, ext. 119. St. Jude’s Clothing Center will be closed until further notice to contain exposure, while the foodWorks culinary-training program will suspend current classes until further notice; the April 1 graduation will be rescheduled. Providence is taking every precaution to ensure its single-room-occupancy recovery housing spaces maintain cleanliness and overall health. It is difficult to ensure a true quarantine due to shared spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens. At Loreto House, residents will suspend weekend passes and all planned workshops, no general public will be allowed entrance, a daily temperature check has been instituted, and any resident presenting symptoms and fever will be sent to the hospital or their primary-care provider. At both Broderick House and McCleary Manor, no outside visitors or overnight guests are permitted. No new residents will be admitted to any of these houses during this time. Each home has adequate cleaning products and hand soaps. Volunteers are asked to exercise caution and use their best judgement to continue in their service.

Girls Inc. Receives Grants from Baystate Health, Women Empowered

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a community-benefits discretionary grant of $5,000 from Baystate Health to Girls Inc. of the Valley’s “Informed and In Charge” program, which is designed to teach healthy sexuality. Through “Informed and In Charge,” girls acquire the knowledge and skills for taking charge of and making informed decisions about their sexual health. Exploring values, practicing responses in different situations, and thinking about their futures helps girls identify ways and reasons to avoid early pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Meanwhile, Women Empowered, a group that strives to promote body positivity and acceptance for both adult women and future generations of girls, has donated $2,500 in proceeds of its Women Empowered calendar sales to Girls Inc. of the Valley. The receipt of this gift will support Girls Inc. of the Valley’s current research-based program offerings designed to empower girls, and will provide a boost in its annual fundraising efforts. The Women Empowered calendar features a diverse group of everyday women who have embraced their uniqueness, have overcome physical and mental obstacles, celebrate their bodies, and want to share their story to inspire others. This calendar provides the chance to send a message of body positivity and acceptance in order to teach other women and future generations to embrace the totality of who they are, and use their gifts, their beauty, and their stories to change the world. Everyone involved with the production of the calendar and all sponsors are women-owned businesses.

Amherst Area Tip Jar Launched

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) have launched the Amherst Area Tip Jar. Many locals would regularly be patronizing their favorite restaurants, bars, salons, coffeehouses, and other businesses that have been ordered closed or have shifted to take-out only, depending on the type of business, due to the COVID-19 crisis and related health and safety restrictions. The Tip Jar, first established in Pittsburgh, allows people to support local service industry staff and businesses. It allows them to send a ‘tip’ to their favorite business, which will share it with their staff — bartenders, servers, kitchen staff, stylists, aestheticians, mechanics, etc. The Amherst Area Tip Jar offers an option for these businesses and individuals to post their Venmo or PayPal information so that customers, family members, neighbors, and community members, near and far, can continue to support them using this open-source concept — a way to maximize social distancing while supporting these workers and small businesses. E-mail Claudia Pazmany, the chamber’s executive director, at [email protected] or Gould at [email protected]m with any inquiries.

Big Y Announces Support for Five Food Banks

SPRINGFIELD — On March 16, Big Y World Class Markets donated $125,000 to three Massachusetts food banks and two in Connecticut in order to help them respond to the challenges they face in helping to feed others during these challenging times. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare, and the Connecticut Food Bank will each receive an immediate donation of $25,000. All Big Y stores also now have collection boxes to allow customers to make food donations for local pantries and shelters. As part of its recent 10th annual Sack Hunger/Care to Share program, Big Y also provided more than $11.5 million in food to area food banks, which amounts to a total of 5.7 million meals to help those in need throughout the region. In addition to Sack Hunger, it donates healthy food to these food banks six days a week throughout the year. Two-thirds of those 5.7 million meals include donations of meat and fresh produce, while bakery, non-perishable grocery items, frozen food, and dairy products account for the rest. In fact, these almost-daily donations have become a routine part of Big Y’s operations. These food banks depend upon this steady flow of food to feed those in need. Big Y also encourages support in any amount for area food banks right now. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts estimates that every dollar donated will provide four meals for those in need. Visit foodbankwma.org for more information. Additionally, Big Y donated $50,000 to the COVID-19 Response Fund hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. The fund will provide flexible resources to Pioneer Valley nonprofit organizations serving populations most impacted by the crisis, such as the elderly, those without stable housing, families needing food, and those with particular health vulnerabilities.

Company Notebook

Bacon Wilson to Donate $25,000 for Firm’s 125th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that, in honor of its 125th anniversary year, the firm will donate $25,000 to various community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley. Bacon Wilson will make five contributions of $1,250 for each quarter of 2020. After gathering suggestions from members of the firm, first-quarter contributions of $1,250 were awarded to:

• Michael J. Dias Foundation, which provides aid and education for individuals and families on substance abuse, and help for those battling the disease of addiction;

• All Out Adventures, which promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and their families and friends through outdoor recreation;

• Amherst Survival Center, which connects people to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts;

• Our Community Table: Westfield Soup Kitchen, a 100% volunteer organization dependent upon donations to provide a clean and safe environment to serve those in need; and

• Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, older youth, and elders invest in one another’s health, dreams, and futures.

Bacon Wilson will announce recipients for the firm’s remaining quarterly giving in June, September, and December.

Eversource Energy to Purchase Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England. Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural-gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural-gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the Commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource. Under the asset-purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’s current parent company, NiSource. Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Isenberg Again Ranks First for MBA Online Education

AMHERST — For the fourth year in a row, the online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst topped the rankings of U.S. programs — and came out number three in the world — in the Financial Times survey. Isenberg has offered an AACSB-accredited MBA degree program entirely online since 2001, making it one of the most well-established and robust online degrees in the country. Currently, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program. In addition to its overall position in the 2020 Financial Times ranking, the Isenberg online MBA also stood out in a number of data areas, based on information collected by the publication from members of the 2016 graduating class. It ranked first in the world for salary increase, with alumni reporting that they earn 46% more now than they did when they graduated from the Isenberg MBA program; second in the U.S. for average current salary ($168,046); and first in the U.S. for value.

American International College Named To Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has again been named a Military Friendly School. VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, has released the 2020-21 Military Friendly​​ Schools list, providing a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly​ School designation are evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. This year, fewer than 800 schools nationwide earned this prestigious designation. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the individual institution’s survey scores with the assessment of its ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program. To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond.

Women’s Fund to Award $45,000 to Groups Addressing Sexual Violence

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced a spring grant cycle to fund organizations that are working to fight sexual violence in the Western Mass. region. Funding for this grant cycle is made possible by a grant the WFWM received from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund), housed at the New York Women’s Foundation. Joining the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in this work, WFWM will carry out the Me Too Fund’s goal of ensuring ongoing philanthropic investments toward transforming the oppressive systems that produce structural inequalities of power that result in harassment and violence by making grants from this fund in and for the local community. Applications will be accepted from women- and girl-serving organizations in all four counties of Western Mass. through March 31. Projects funded by this grant from WFWM must focus on prevention and/or intervention of sexual violence and harassment. Visit mywomensfund.org for additional information or to apply.

GCAi Launches Videos for Peter Pan’s App Marketing and Perks Rewards Program

SPRINGFIELD — Riders on any Peter Pan bus right now will not only view a new app-marketing video but also a new Perks Rewards program video. In between the two marketing videos is a brief welcome message by company Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly. Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) produced the three videos, which are already being shown on all routes in the Northeast Corridor. Each of them was produced by award-winning video producer Darcy Young, one of the only female video producers in the market. The concepts and scripts were developed by GCAi founder John Garvey. The app and rewards videos will be disseminated through digital marketing campaigns in specific markets on the East Coast in the near future. These videos are the third in a series of passenger videos produced by GCAi that began when Peter Pan Bus Lines separated from Greyhound Bus Lines in 2017. The videos can be viewed at gcaionline.com/video.

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Roger Menard Insurance Agency

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced the acquisition of Roger Menard Insurance Agency at 241 King St., Northampton. “Roger and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we are fortunate to be able to continue his legacy of great customer service to his clients,” said Webber and Grinnell President Bill Grinnell. “Our office is only a quarter-mile down the street, so it will be an easy adjustment for his clients. We also represent the same insurance carriers as Roger Menard Insurance, which will make the transition go very smoothly. Menard added that “Webber and Grinnell is the premier insurance agency in Northampton, and I know my clients will be treated very well. I’ve truly enjoyed this business and the relationships I have developed along the way. But after 36 years, it’s time to do something different. I will still be available to answer any questions during the transition.”

DAISA Enterprises to Facilitate Healthy Children and Families Event

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

Health New England a Finalist in Healthiest Employers Program

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform. Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming. Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

Bay Path Earns ‘A’ Grade for Early Reading Courses

LONGMEADOW — The National Council on Teacher Quality released its scores for the 2020 Teacher Prep Review, ranking Bay Path University’s Early Reading course content in undergraduate, traditional, elementary-education programs with an ‘A’ designation. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, and more than one-third of American children are not able to read by the fourth grade, with black and Hispanic children being disproportionately affected. Successful reading instruction is essential to achieving educational equity, yet only seven programs in Massachusetts received an ‘A’ ranking. After reviewing course syllabi and required textbooks, programs were ranked based on the following criteria: the availability of explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices; and evidence that teacher candidates must demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests, and field work.

Scout Curated Wears Supports Dress for Success

SPRINGFIELD — Scout Curated Wears started out as a local business and quickly turned into a nationwide sensation with its signature item, which converts from a wrap bracelet to a necklace. But the company is equally proud of its commitment to give back 10% of its net proceeds to support women’s organizations. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is one of the nonprofits that benefits from the generosity of Scout Curated Wears and owner Lora Fischer-DeWitt. Women in the Greater Springfield community benefit from both a network of support and programs developed by Dress for Success. These programs, which are designed to be responsive to both women and employers, include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program; the Boutique, which provides women with professional attire for interviews and employment; the Margaret Fitzgerald One-on-One mentor program; and the Professional Women’s Group, designed to promote employment retention and career advancement. Fischer-DeWitt changes the lives of women who come through these programs by providing an annual contribution and by sponsoring Common Threads, an annual event celebrating of the accomplishments of women who have come through Dress for Success Western Massachusetts programs. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton.

Elms School of Nursing Ranks in Top 10 in State

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org. To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%. This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and niche.com.

Company Notebook

Red Sox Winter Weekend, Hoophall Classic Inject $7 Million into Economy

SPRINGFIELD — More than 10,000 people attended Red Sox Winter Weekend and the Hoophall Classic in Greater Springfield in January, and their economic impact on the region was significant, according to the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), which calculated that approximately $7 million was injected into the local economy as a result of these events. Economic impact is calculated using a tourism-industry tool, inputting spending figures in categories like the number of attendees, room nights sold, venue rental, and the cost of food and beverages during the period. Visitor rooms were booked in downtown Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and West Springfield. Red Sox Winter Weekend occupied space at the MassMutual Center and MGM Springfield, while the Hoophall Classic was held on the grounds of nearby Springfield College.

PeoplesBank Gives $75,000 to Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank presented $75,000 to Girls Inc. toward a $5 million comprehensive campaign with three primary goals: to build a permanent home in downtown Holyoke; expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and extend the Eureka! STEM education program. As a result of the campaign, Girls Inc. of the Valley will serve more than 1,000 girls each year with intensive, research-based programming designed to empower girls and provide opportunities to succeed in school and beyond. This partnership will help Girls Inc. of the Valley to expand its program offerings and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve, and contributes to the bank’s goals of community vibrancy and academic excellence. The need for qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals in the workforce continues to grow, and women — particularly women of color — continue to be underrepresented in these fields. Girls Inc. of the Valley programs like Eureka! expose girls to the STEM fields and support them with mentors and guidance, specialized curricula, internships, and other hands-on opportunities to nurture their curiosity and interests. The “Her Future, Our Future” comprehensive campaign is designed to significantly move the needle on breaking the cycle of poverty and providing tangible opportunities for Pioneer Valley girls to achieve academic and personal success.

New England Business Associates Launches Learn to Earn Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — New England Business Associates (NEBA), a supported employment provider in Massachusetts and Connecticut, is celebrating the launch of its Learn to Earn initiative, thanks to a Kessler Foundation Signature Employment Grant that will fund the project for two years. The initiative, intended to introduce, train, and place four cohorts of employment candidates with disabilities to entry-level manufacturing positions, is the brainchild of NEBA CEO Jeannine Pavlak. The need for qualified employees to fill positions in the manufacturing industry is becoming critical; in many areas of the U.S., upwards of 35% of current manufacturing jobs will become vacant due to retirement by 2022. Pavlak, who is recognized nationally as a subject matter expert in disability employment, sees this as an opportunity. Manufacturing is not currently viewed as a typical pathway to gainful employment for people with disabilities, but there’s no reason it can’t become one. Learn to Earn will give identified candidates the initial training and skills needed to succeed in a manufacturing environment. Over the next two years, 48 candidates with disabilities and barriers to employment will be identified and receive Level 1 and 2 MACWIC manufacturing training and OSHA training, in partnership with MassMEP in Massachusetts and ConnStep in Connecticut. Candidates will also receive NEBA’s customized career-ladders training, designed to cater to individual needs in building employment skills. The goal of Learn to Earn is to place candidates in manufacturing positions that will allow them to earn a sustainable income, eliminate the need for public assistance, and foster growth and future promotions in the field. After placement, employees and employers will be given access to Tooling U-SME, a customized online platform with more than 800 manufacturing courses, allowing employers to identify and customize specific trainings for Learn to Earn employees. Those interested in learning more about the Learn to Earn initiative may e-mail inquiries to [email protected]s.com or call NEBA at (413) 821-9200.

UMass Online Programs Highly Ranked Nationally

BOSTON — Online programs at UMass received high marks again in this year’s Best Online Programs rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Two UMass programs ranked within the top 30 in the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs category, with UMass Amherst ranking 23rd and UMass Lowell 29th. Amherst and Lowell were also the top two online bachelor’s programs in New England for the second consecutive year. In the same category, UMass Dartmouth ranked 113th, rising 10 spots over last year’s rankings, and UMass Boston ranked 93rd. UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell were also highly ranked in the new Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans category, coming in at 18th and 22nd in the nation, respectively. Three UMass online MBA programs rank in the top 100 nationally, with UMass Lowell placing 22nd, UMass Amherst 28th, and UMass Dartmouth 95th. In the Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans category, the same campuses perform even better, with UMass Lowell ranking 16th, UMass Amherst 22nd, and UMass Dartmouth ranking 53rd. Online programs at UMass have been steadily growing in recent years, with total revenues reaching a record-high $116 million in fiscal year 2019.

Monson Savings Bank Seeks Scholarship Applications

MONSON — The 2020 Monson Savings Bank scholarship application is now available to graduating high-school seniors residing in Hampden and Wilbraham. Applications are available at 15 Somers Road, Hampden, and 100 Post Office Park, Wilbraham. The purpose of the Monson Savings Bank scholarship is to promote the attainment of higher education for graduating seniors who reside within the bank’s footprint. Three $2,000 scholarships will awarded to graduating seniors who reside in Hampden or Wilbraham. Graduating seniors must be planning to attend an accredited college, technical school, or certification program. Scholarship awards will be based on the applicant’s financial need, academic performance, extracurricular activities during and after school, work experience, and music, arts, and sports programs. A candidate for this scholarship should also demonstrate a commitment to his or her community, and include an essay outlining that service and its impact. The deadline for application acceptance is April 6. The completed application and required supporting documents will be accepted by mail or electronically. Any questions should be directed to Donna Easton-Vicalvi at (413) 725-4560 or [email protected]

Five College Consortium Wins $2.5M Grant for Native and Indigenous Studies

AMHERST — Five Colleges Inc. has been awarded a $2.5 million, four-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help its member campuses transform how they approach Native American and indigenous studies (NAIS), with the goal of enhancing teaching, learning, and scholarship in the field. The grant is one of the largest made by foundation to the consortium to date, and is also one of the consortium’s largest grant awards from any funder in its 50-year history. The Five College campuses — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and UMass Amherst — are located in the Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley, which has historically been a crossroads of indigenous nations. Today it remains a central gathering place for NAIS scholars as well as for Native American and indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists. Called “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium,” the effort will allow the campuses to develop and establish a set of new academic pathways for students interested in Native American and indigenous Studies — supported by new faculty, new courses, and new course modules — as well as create new advising structures to guide students through these academic options. The grant includes funding to bring a variety of scholars and indigenous experts to the campuses to collaborate in this work.

Land O’Lakes Taps Northstar Recycling for Innovative Sustainability Solutions

EAST LONGMEADOW — Like many major companies, Land O’Lakes has become increasingly committed to sustainability initiatives in recent years. For example, Purina Animal Nutrition, a Land O’Lakes subsidiary, recently set out to develop a cost-effective recycling solution for used Purina feed tubs, a difficult and logistically complex objective. Land O’Lakes called on Northstar Recycling, its recycling partner for all of the U.S. and Canada, to handle this challenge. Purina feed tubs present recycling issues because, by necessity, they need to be constructed of heavy, durable material — often rigid vplastics — to stand up to rough shipping conditions, inclement weather, and, of course, hungry animals. Another challenge was creating a process for collecting the used tubs from farmers across the country. After analyzing the plastics market and consulting with longstanding plastic-recycling partners, Northstar determined that plastic lumber manufacturers would have the greatest demand for the used Purina feed tubs. Northstar then selected the optimal partner and worked with Purina on the logistics of this pilot program to ensure smooth implementation. Additionally, working with a plastic lumber producer gave Purina the opportunity to create a unique and innovative customer experience and launch Project Re-Coop. Through this initiative, the plastic lumber made from recycled Purina feed tubs is used to construct floating chicken coops that protect chickens against flooding — a timely project, as Hurricane Florence alone killed an estimated 3.4 million chickens.

Company Notebook

Colony Hills Capital Buys Windfield Senior Estates, Windfield Family Estates

WILBRAHAM — Colony Hills Capital (CHC), based in Wilbraham, announced it recently purchased Windfield Senior Estates and Windfield Family Estates, a combined 160-unit multi-family apartment community located in nearby Hadley. It was purchased for $14,035,000 on Oct. 23. Built in 2002, the property consists of 80 independent senior apartments and 80 family apartments. The property was originally developed and financed using the LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) program and currently has income and rent restrictions on 80% of the units. The community is located just off Route 9 in close proximity to UMass Amherst. It is also within a mile of top retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, LL Bean, and numerous restaurants and entertainment venues. Windfields also offers direct access to the Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail, part of the 104-mile Mass Central Rail Trail system. Colony Hills Capital is rolling out a capital-improvement plan that includes upgrades and remodeling to interior resident common areas, hallways, and office areas, as well as adding exterior amenities including a dog park; additional sitting, picnic, and garden areas; and grilling stations. There will also be a complete repaving of parking areas and interior roadways. Additionally, the company plans to make the community more energy-efficient, bike friendly, and environmentally conscious. Colony Hills Capital is a multi-family real-estate investment company that targets workforce, value-add investment opportunities located primarily in secondary markets in the Southeastern U.S. Since its inception in 2008, Colony and its affiliates have acquired more than 8,800 apartment in seven states.

Smith & Wesson Separates Firearms Business from American Outdoor Brands

SPRINGFIELD — Smith & Wesson plans to separate from the outdoor products and accessories businesses of American Outdoor Brands Corp. (AOBC). Smith & Wesson changed its name to American Outdoor Brands in 2016. Instead, the organization will include two separate companies: Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., which will encompass the firearms business, and American Outdoor Brands Inc., which will include the outdoor products and accessories businesses. “There have been significant changes in the political climate as well as the economic, investing, and insurance markets since we embarked upon what we believe have been our very successful diversification efforts,” said Barry Monheit, chairman of the board, in a press release. “We believe that separating into two independent public companies will allow each company to better align its strategic objectives with its capital allocation priorities. James Debney, currently president and CEO of American Outdoor Brands Corp., will lead American Outdoor Brands Inc., while Mark Smith, currently head of firearms manufacturing operations, will be CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands Inc.

HG&E Earns Recognition as Smart Energy Provider

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) has earned a Smart Energy Provider (SEP) designation from the American Public Power Assoc. for demonstrating commitment to and proficiency in energy efficiency, distributed generation, and environmental initiatives that support a goal of providing low-cost, quality, safe, and reliable electric service. Chris Van Dokkumburg, planning analyst at ‎Holland Board of Public Works and chair of the Energy Services Committee in Michigan presented the designations on Oct. 29 during the association’s annual Customer Connections Conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana. The SEP designation, which lasts for two years, recognizes public power utilities for demonstrating leading practices in four key disciplines: smart energy-program structure, energy-efficiency and distributed-energy programs, environmental and sustainability initiatives, and the customer experience. This is the first year the association has offered the SEP designation. HG&E joins a pioneering group of 60 public power utilities nationwide that received the inaugural SEP designation.

Marcus Printing Acquires ILS Business Services

HOLYOKE — Marcus Printing announced it has acquired ILS Business Services of West Springfield, strengthening the capabilities of both companies. Both Marcus Printing and ILS Business Services are local Western Mass. companies built on the shared values of providing exceptional customer service at excellent prices, said Marcus Printing President Susan Goldsmith. Marcus Printing was established in 1930 by Goldsmith’s grandparents, Phil and Sarah Marcus. ILS Business Services was founded by Bob and Irene Scalise in 1980, and their daughter, Amy Scalise, grew up around the business and officially joined the family business in 2014. Amy joins Marcus as the mailing manager, Bob will remain on board as a consultant, and the other ILS employees have joined the Marcus staff. The operations of ILS will move in the near future to the 33,000-square-foot Marcus Printing plant at 750 Main St. in Holyoke.

Pullman & Comley Opens First Massachusetts Office

SPRINGFIELD — Law firm Pullman & Comley, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary of practicing law, recently expanded into Springfield with an office in Tower Square at 1500 Main St. Pullman & Comley’s new Springfield office is its first in the Bay State, adding to offices in Bridgeport (where the firm was founded 100 years ago), Hartford, Westport, Stamford, and Waterbury, Conn., as well as an office in White Plains, N.Y. With nearly 100 attorneys, Pullman & Comley is one of the area’s largest law firms. The law firm’s expansion into Massachusetts gives its local clients — whom it has served for years — easy access to their lawyers. The lawyers in the Springfield office currently focus on legal matters relating to property tax and valuation, labor and employment law, and litigation. In addition, the firm’s Springfield location allows Pullman’s real-estate and public-finance attorneys, who often collaborate with the firm’s environmental, land-use, and energy practices, to serve the commercial real-estate industry in Western Mass. and bring their experience to local public and private development projects.

C&H Architects Celebrates 30 Years in Business

AMHERST — C&H Architects is celebrating 30 years of designing sustainable architecture. The firm’s work serves as an example of how, in a time of critical climate challenges, developers can add to the built environment in a way that improves the sustainability of future generations, rather than threatening it, partner Jesse Selman said. At their most basic level, buildings protect individuals from the elements. Beyond that, they shape the environment and provide texture to people’s lives. Buildings, however, are also one of the largest contributors to global warming, accounting for nearly 40% of all greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide — a statistic expected to double by 2050. In an effort to mitigate these impacts, there has been a steady increase in sustainable architecture — the design of buildings that work in harmony with the environment. C&H Architects has been at the forefront of this effort for the past 30 years. It designed the fifth-ever certified Living Building Challenge project in the world (and the first in New England) for Smith College’s MacLeish Field Station, the most rigorous performance standard for buildings available. The firm has designed more than 10 net-zero homes, the most recent of which won the top honor at AIA (American Institute of Architecture) Rhode Island in 2018, and includes a solar array that powers both the house and the car of its occupants. Founded in 1989 by Bruce Coldham to create architecture that responds to our rapidly changing climate and resources, the Amherst-based firm has served hundreds of clients with projects at every scale, from small residential renovations to large institutional construction. Today, the firm’s four partners — Tom Hartman, Garth Schwellenbach, Jesse Selman, and Elizabeth Morgan — carry on the tradition Coldham started, while constantly incorporating advances in building technology, materials, and practices.

EANE Names CIS Abroad 2019 Employer of Choice

AGAWAM — CIS Abroad of Northampton was selected as the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) Employer of Choice award recipient for 2019. The award was presented at EANE’s Employment Law and HR Practices Conference luncheon at the Sheraton Monarch Place in Springfield on Nov. 7. The Employer of Choice award recognizes companies and organizations for developing workplaces that value employees, foster engagement, invest in employee development, and reward performance. Past winners view the award as a cornerstone of their company credentials and often highlight the award in recruiting and retention, grants and funding applications, and business development. Many past winners have gone on to sit on the application review board to help select future winners of this award. CIS Abroad provides innovative education programs that broaden academic perspectives, promote global awareness, and encourage personal development while laying the foundation for student participants to become engaged world citizens.

Dillon Bodley & Associates Relocates in Amherst

AMHERST — Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C., owned and operated by certified public accountants Brian Dillon and Catherine Bodley, recently moved its Amherst location to 196 North Pleasant St. to offer its clients more convenient parking and better access. The firm closed at its former location at 37 South Pleasant St. on Oct. 27 and reopened at the new address on Nov. 1. Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C. provides a broad range of accounting and tax services, including tax preparation and planning engagements for individuals, small businesses, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. It also offers bookkeeping services to its business tax clients and provides consulting to small businesses and startups. The firm was located on South Pleasant Street for four years, with Bodley working on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Dillon working on Wednesdays during tax season. Services are provided on other days of the week and throughout the rest of the year by appointment. Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C. also has a West Springfield office at 63 Myron St., which will move to 71 Park Ave., Suite C, on Dec. 4 to accommodate an increased number of staff members.

Teach Western Mass Awarded Grant to Develop Diverse Group of Teachers

SPRINGFIELD — Teach Western Mass was recently selected as a member of the Diverse Teachers cohort at ​NewSchools Venture Fund​, supported by the Walton Family Foundation. Teach Western Mass is one of 14 organizations in the cohort. Each cohort member is committed to enhancing the recruitment, development, and retention of underrepresented teachers (including Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American/Alaskan Native teachers). In addition to financial support, NewSchools will provide management assistance and create a community of practice for the cohort members. The TWM Residency is a customized credentialing program training new teachers to be effective in the classroom while building strong relationships in their school communities and developing standards-based and culturally relevant curriculum for students in the region’s highest-need schools.

Health New England Recogized for Worksite Health Promotion

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England, a regional health plan based in Springfield, was named a 2019 WorkWell Massachusetts Award Program Silver Level winner for exemplary worksite health promotion. The award recognizes Health New England’s achievements developing, implementing, and participating in corporate health-improvement and wellness programs. The Health New England Healthy Directions wellness program encourages overall well-being, helping employees focus on prevention, nutrition, and physical activity. With leadership support, Healthy Directions is able to offer engaging and evidence-based health tools and incentives. An easy-to-access online portal, onsite nutritional counseling, tread desks, healthy dining options, group fitness challenges, and intensive lifestyle-change programs are examples of Health New England’s dedication to creating an enjoyable and healthy work culture for all its employees. WorkWell Massachusetts Award is a corporate award program created by the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA), a not-for-profit member organization dedicated to the advancement of worksite wellness programs. The award program’s criteria are based on the employers’ strategic planning and organizational support, program design and implementation, participant engagement, and measurements and evaluation.

Company Notebook

AIC Gets High Marks in College Salary Report

SPRINGFIELD — PayScale, a Seattle-based software company that performs compensation research, including pay-scale indices and employee engagement, recently released its 2019-20 College Salary Report, ranking American International College (AIC) 39th in the country for health science and nursing programs when considering salary growth. The annual report, based on the salaries of 3.5 million college graduates, provides estimates of early and mid-career pay for 2,500 associate and bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. For health science and nursing programs, PayScale examined 679 institutions offering four-year degrees. At number 39, AIC ranks in the top 6% of the colleges and universities reviewed. “We are very proud of the dedication, motivation, commitment, and diversity of the students in our health sciences programs, including nursing, exercise science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and public health, who strive to be the very best,” said Karen Rousseau, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “Central to American International College’s mission is to provide access, opportunity, and inter-professional collaboration to scholars in the School of Health Sciences, which will serve them well in their career goals as they advance in their chosen fields.” PayScale pioneers the use of big data and unique matching algorithms to power the world’s most advanced compensation platform and continues to be the compensation market leader based on user reviews.

Square One Receives $25,000 Grant from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Square One has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. The grant is part $1 million the Tufts Health Plan Foundation is donating to area nonprofits that are focused on health equity and the social determinants of health in honor of Tufts Health Plan’s 40th anniversary and its longstanding tradition of giving back to the community. “It is a true honor to be recognized by Tufts Health Plan Foundation in such a meaningful and generous way,” said Joan Kagan, Square One President and CEO. “Each and every day, our families are impacted by health disparities and social determinants of health. With these funds, we will continue to seek out creative and effective ways to support the physical, social, and mental health and well-being of our children and families.” The $25,000 grants — 10 in each of the states where Tufts Health Plan serves members — support a range of nonprofit organizations doing exemplary work to promote community health and wellness. “We recognize that nonprofit organizations are on the front lines of service and play a crucial role in building stronger and healthier communities for all of us,” said Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan. “These angel grants are a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Square One and other organizations addressing the economic and social conditions that influence the health of our diverse communities and helping them to keep up the great work they do.” The Tufts Health Plan Foundation has given more than $35 million to community organizations since 2008 and will give nearly $5 million in community grants this year.

KeyBank Recognized as a Leading Disability Employer

CLEVELAND — For the third year, KeyBank was recognized by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) as a Leading Disability Employer. “We are honored to accept this award from the NOD, a leader in inclusion for people with disabilities,” said Kim Manigault, chief Diversity and Inclusion officer. “Inclusion is intentional. This award reflects the work across many lines of business and partnerships that provide supportive experiences for people with disabilities who engage with and work for KeyBank.”

Jewish Family Service Receives $250,000 Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) has been awarded a competitive two-year $250,000 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This grant will allow JFS to expand its current citizenship program to better serve prospective citizens’ assimilation into American civic life in Hampden County. The fiscal-year 2019 grants, which run through September 2021, promote prospective citizens’ assimilation into American civic life by funding educational programs designed to increase their knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. “Our country welcomes legal immigrants from all over the world who come to the United States, positively contribute to our society, and engage in American civic life,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Immigrants who assimilate, embrace our Constitution, understand our history, and abide by our laws add to the vitality and strength of this great nation. Through this grant program, USCIS continues to support efforts to prepare immigrants to become fully vested U.S. citizens.” JFS is one of 41 organizations in 24 states to receive nearly $10 million in funding to support citizenship-preparation services. Now in its 11th year, the USCIS Citizenship and Assimilation Grant program has helped more than 245,000 lawful, permanent residents prepare for citizenship. A ‘permanent resident’ is a person authorized by the US government to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.

Junior Achievement Wins Community Partner Award

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) was recognized recently by Massachusetts’ Department of Youth Services (DYS) for its work with local youth. DYS, the juvenile-justice agency for the Commonwealth, gave JAWM the 2019 Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Community Partner in the Western Region at a ceremony on Oct. 4 in Dorchester. JAWM, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, was nominated by Sharon Bess, youth employment development specialist at the Center for Human Development (CHD) in Springfield. Bess wrote in her nomination that “Junior Achievement has allowed us to introduce career readiness and financial literacy in a unique way that leaves a lasting impact on our young people and creates a foundation toward positive change to their futures.” CHD is a nonprofit that delivers social and mental-health services to people in Western Mass. and Connecticut. “We’re honored to be recognized with this Community Partner award,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. “Starting in 2005, our partnership with CHD helped establish their Exclusive Tees program by introducing local high-school students to the JA Be Entrepreneurial program and the JA Company program. Our partnership also established the Teen Reality Fair, which provides high-school students with information on career opportunities and introduces financial literacy in a hands-on, eye-opening fashion. It’s always a pleasure to work with the youth and the staff at CHD.”

Country Bank Receives Award for Marketing Video

WARE — Country Bank was recognized for its “Pioneers” video at the American Bankers Assoc. Bank Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas. “Pioneers” competed against hundreds of national video submissions, winning first place in its category. The winners were selected by bank marketing professionals who judged the entries based on creativity, production value, and overall messaging. “We were so honored to receive this award; ‘Pioneers’ truly portrays the hardworking communities that we serve in such an impactful way. The imagery captured local landscapes, people, and businesses, which resulted in a genuinely moving video for us,” said Shelley Regin, senior vice president of Marketing at Country Bank. “The closing line, ‘even hard work needs a partner,’ supports the bank’s belief that relationships are life’s most valuable investments.” When the bank decided to create new videos last summer, it turned to its agency partner, Small Army, to develop a storyline that would truly represent both Central and Western Mass., she added. “We could not be more grateful to our agency for creating a true representation of Country Bank’s local communities.”

Employer Confidence Holds Steady in September

BOSTON — Business confidence remained essentially flat in Massachusetts during September despite a darkening outlook among manufacturers. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 0.2 points to 58.9 last month after retreating in August. The Index has lost 3.7 points since September 2018 but remains within optimistic territory. The September reading was weighed down by weakening sentiment among Bay State manufacturers. The Index’s manufacturing component dropped 2.4 points in September and 7.9 points for the year. The results mirrored the national Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, which fell to its lowest level since 2009 last month. A separate report by IHS Markit showed that the manufacturing sector suffered its worst quarter since 2009, though activity increased during September. The constituent indicators that make up the Index were mixed during September. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth fell 0.6 points to 63.3, while the U.S. Index rose to 56.5. The Massachusetts reading has decreased 1.2 points and the U.S. reading has fallen 7.1 points during the past 12 months. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, lost 0.5 points to 56.4, leaving it 4.4 points lower than a year ago. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, increased 0.8 points to 61.3 — 3.0 points lower than its reading of September 2018. The Employment Index rose a point for the month but remained down 3.1 points for the year. Employers continue to struggle to find qualified workers in a full-employment state economy. Non-manufacturers (61.9) were more confident than manufacturers (55.4). Large companies (60.2) were more optimistic than medium-sized companies (59.9) or small companies (55.4), reversing a trend established during the summer. Companies in Eastern Mass. (62.6) continued to be more optimistic than those in the west (53.8).

Company Notebook

Wellfleet Acquires National Guardian’s Student and Special Risk Business

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, an insurance provider and a Berkshire Hathaway company, has agreed to terms with National Guardian Life Insurance Co. (NGL) to acquire through renewals its Student and Special Risk business. Much of that business is processed through Commercial Travelers Life Insurance Co. in Utica, N.Y., a wholly owned NGL subsidiary. Wellfleet will immediately assume responsibility for administrating NGL’s special-risk policies and collegiate accident and health insurance, which insures more than 26,000 students on approximately 100 campuses across the U.S. Wellfleet will maintain NGL’s Utica office, employing more than 30 insurance professionals. Completion of the transaction is subject to various conditions, including the receipt of required regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Elms College Announces 100% Hire Rate for Education Graduates

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that all of its class of 2019 education licensure graduates — both undergraduate and graduate — have successfully landed jobs as teachers in their licensure fields or are pursuing advanced degrees. This is the sixth year in a row that the Elms College Education Division has reported a 100% hire rate for its graduates. Elms College allows education majors to specialize in elementary, early childhood, English as a second language, moderate special needs, or secondary education. Graduate students can work toward a master of arts in teaching degree in a variety of fields, including reading specialist, a master of education degree, or a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS). The college’s programs offer real-world, student-centric, pedagogical training that prepares teachers to serve as leaders in the changing field of education.

UMass Amherst Welcomes Largest-ever Entering Class

AMHERST — UMass Amherst will welcome the largest entering class in university history when students return to the Commonwealth’s flagship campus over Labor Day weekend. The size of the entering class, approximately 5,800 students, represents an increase of 790 compared to last year. This includes 4,300 in-state students, an increase of 800 over last fall. Massachusetts students represent 74% of the first-year class. Out-of-state enrollment remained strong at 1,500, including 470 international students. The university received a record 42,110 applications. Overall undergraduate enrollment this fall is projected to be 22,700. The academic profile of the class of 2023 is impressive. The average SAT score is 1292, and the average GPA is 3.90. The class also represents an increase in the number of ALANA (African, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Native American) students at 33%. The percentage of underrepresented minority students is 17%, matching last year’s number. Half of the incoming class is female. Commonwealth Honors College will welcome 660 students, up 35 students over last year. Their average SAT score is 1400. Along with the first-year class, nearly 1,050 transfer students will be arriving on campus this fall. The transfers include 380 community-college students enrolling through the MassTransfer program. MassTransfer guarantees admission to Massachusetts community-college students who complete a designated program with a GPA of 2.5 or above. The overall GPA for entering transfer students is 3.40.

Eversource Honored for Encouraging, Empowering Employees in the Military

BOSTON — Eversource Energy has been recognized with the nation’s highest honor recognizing support of employees in the military. Eversource was one of 15 companies selected from 2,500 nominations to receive the 2019 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Eversource Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Judge and control-room supervisor Bill Gelinas accepted the Freedom Award at a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Eversource’s recruitment and military reserve policies make it one of the nation’s leading companies for veterans and other service members. Of Eversource’s 8,000 employees, more than 600 have served in the military. The energy company offers advancement programs that provide opportunities to apply military training in a supervisory level position. In addition, the Eversource Veterans Assoc., made up of employees who served their country, provides support and recognition to current veteran employees and raises funds to support military veterans throughout New England.

STCC, Bay Path University Announce Psychology Transfer Agreements

SPRINGFIELD — Officials from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Bay Path University will sign two agreements today at 1 p.m. creating an affordable pathway for female students with an associate degree from STCC to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bay Path. Under one articulation agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts/general studies (applied psychology option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology from Bay Path. Under the second agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts transfer (human services/social work option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology. Bay Path and STCC recognize that, for many students, the path to a bachelor’s degree may begin at a community college. Moreover, for STCC’s female students, diverse educational opportunities, including the advantages of enrolling in a women’s university to earn a bachelor’s degree, adds value to educational experiences. These agreements acknowledge that significance and are formed to enable the smooth transfer of STCC graduates to either the traditional undergraduate program or the American Women’s College of Bay Path University.

STCC Gateway to College Program Earns Recognition

SPRINGFIELD — The Gateway to College program at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received a Program Excellence Award in recognition of exceeding all four benchmarks used to assess the performance of Gateway to College programs nationwide. Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly off track complete their high-school diplomas in college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a post-secondary credential. STCC has hosted a Gateway to College program since 2013, and the program enrolled 67 students during the academic year when it received the award. In 2017 and 2018, the STCC Gateway to College program was recognized with a Graduation Achievement Award. This marks its first Program Excellence Award and represents one of only 11 such awards given to Gateway to College programs nationally. At the Gateway to College Directors Convening in New Haven, Conn. at the end of July, Achieving the Dream President Karen Stout and Executive Vice President Emily Froimson presented the award to STCC Gateway Program Director Katara Robinson.

Kresge Foundation Awards $100,000 to Public Health Institute of Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — The Kresge Foundation awarded the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts a $100,000 grant to advance policy solutions aimed at improving climate resilience and equitably reducing health risks in low-income communities. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative, a new project of the Live Well Springfield coalition convened by the Public Health Institute, is one of 15 community-based collaborations nationwide receiving grant funding as part of the planning phase of Kresge’s Climate Change, Health and Equity initiative. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative will focus on planning and implementing strategies identified in the 2017 “Strong, Healthy, & Just: Springfield Climate Action & Resilience Plan” for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving climate resilience in Springfield. The planning will focus on developing front-line residents’ capacity to accelerate municipal action on the top greenhouse-gas emissions reduction strategies included in the Climate Action Plan. With this funding, the collaborators who worked together to develop the city’s “Strong, Healthy & Just” plan — the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Arise for Social Justice, and the city of Springfield — will work with partners from other sectors to develop multi-year work plans to address community-defined health and climate priorities.

Company Notebook

Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim Announce Plan to Merge

MASSACHUSETTS — Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan recently inked an agreement to merge, a marriage that would bring together the Commonwealth’s second- and third-largest insurers, creating a powerhouse to rival Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, will serve as CEO of the new organization. Michael Carson, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, will serve as president, overseeing the organization’s diverse business lines and subsidiaries, according to a release. “Our communities and consumers today face four major hurdles in health care: affordability, access, quality of health, and a fragmented healthcare experience across various stakeholders and health systems. Through our shared vision, we believe we can tackle these issues and bring more value to the communities we serve,” said Croswell in a statement. The plan was unanimously voted on by the boards of both organizations. The new combined entity does not yet have a name. The deal would bring together Tufts Health Plan’s 2,841 employees and approximately 1.16 million members with Harvard Pilgrim’s 1,182 employees and approximately 1.16 million members. Together, the insurers will have members in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Elms College Will No Longer Require SAT, ACT Scores for Most Admissions

CHICOPEE — Starting with the class entering in the fall of 2020, Elms College will no longer require scores from standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT for admission to most majors. The move to a test-optional policy is intended to make higher education accessible to students from all backgrounds, including from underrepresented populations. Elms admission counselors will review applicants’ essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. They also will talk with prospective students to get to know them as full people. The test-optional policy will give all students, including those from underrepresented populations such as racial and ethnic minorities or those with economic disadvantages — groups who traditionally earn lower scores on standardized tests because of systemic social inequities — a greater chance to access the educational and experiential opportunities Elms offers. The School of Nursing at Elms will still require test scores, however, because nursing majors are required, upon graduation, to take the NCLEX exam to become licensed as nurses, and the college needs to know that its nursing students can succeed on such exams. Students or families with questions about test-optional admission, academics at Elms, or the application process are encouraged to contact the Office of Admission at (413) 592-3189 or [email protected] More information is also available online at elms.edu/testoptional.

UMassFive to Bring Employees Student-loan Repayment Benefits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it is bringing student-loan repayment benefits to its employees via a new partnership between Student Choice and FutureFuel.io. Student Choice teamed up with FutureFuel.io earlier this year to better help credit unions address the growing challenge of student-loan debt faced by the emerging workforce. Participating in this new perk allows credit unions to offer their employees and employees of select employee groups access to FutureFuel’s online portal of automated tools that can help reduce the impact of student debt.

Monson High School Golfers, Monson Savings Bank Support Shriners

MONSON — Monson High School graduate Cam Kratovil, sophomore Mason Dumas, and varsity golf coach Paul Nothe, in cooperation with Monson Savings Bank, teamed up to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. Kratovil and Dumas collected pledges for a marathon golf round they recently played at Quaboag Country Club. They were escorted in golf carts around the course by Nothe and his wife, Nicole, as they completed their goal of playing 100 holes between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon. All the money pledged to them will be given to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. In addition, Monson Savings Bank sponsored the 2019 Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Quaboag Country Club on Aug. 17 and 18 to benefit the hospital.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in ENR’s Ranking of Environmental Firms

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering and environmental consulting, climbed six spots this year to number 142 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) “2019 Top 200 Environmental Firms” ranking. ENR ranks its list of top 200 envi environmental firms nationally based on the percentage of their 2018 gross revenue from environmental services. Earlier this year, Tighe & Bond also climbed 19 spots to number on ENR’s “2019 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking, moving up a total of 38 spots in the past two years. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year. Tighe & Bond provides comprehensive engineering and environmental services to hundreds of public and private clients across the Northeast, with emphasis on the education, energy, government, healthcare, industrial, real-estate, and water/wastewater markets. A staff of 385 work from nine offices in five states.

People’s United Community Foundation Grant Boosts JA Summer Program

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, recently received a $5,000 grant from the People’s United Community Foundation to support its Summer BEE (Business and Entrepreneurial Exploration) program for middle- and high-school students. The funds will be used to provide out-of-school educational experiences for youth from grades 6 to 12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career exploration/work readiness, and STEM education. The program includes in-class learning, hands-on learning, and experiential out-of-school learning experiences, such as lessons about the water ecosystem with presentations, videos, and techniques to test the water in the nearby Connecticut River. To learn problem solving, decision making and teamwork, students form companies, create a product, and market and sell the product, with the goal of earning a profit. Students have several opportunities to sell their products and pitch the companies to business people, family, and friends.

ESB Foundation Donates $5,000 to Hilltown Community Health Center

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the Easthampton Savings Bank Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the capital campaign for the John P. Musante Health Center of Hilltown Community Health Center. Located at 70 Boltwood Walk in Amherst, the John P. Musante Health Center provides accessible and affordable healthcare for primary and preventive medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare services. The center’s service area includes Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, Belchertown, Ware, South Hadley, Sunderland, South Deerfield, and Leverett.

WNEU Teams Up with Comcast to Offer Xfinity on Campus Service

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced it will bring its Xfinity on Campus service to Western New England University, allowing students to watch live TV and on-demand and recorded content on their IP-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The service is included with room and board for students living in on-campus housing. Xfinity on Campus offers more than 100 live channels and access to thousands of current TV shows and hit movies via Xfinity on Demand. While off campus, students can use the Xfinity Stream app to log in and access TV Everywhere programming that’s part of their subscription.

Eversource Upgrading Electric System in Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — Eversource is investing $4 million in upgrades to electric-distribution systems in the towns of Plainfield, Cummington, Chesterfield, Worthington, Windsor, Savoy, and Dalton. These enhancement projects include replacing more than 130 utility poles with stronger, thicker ones and installing more than 21,000 feet of more resilient power lines. ‘Smart switches’ are also being added to the system to help restore power outages more quickly in the event they happen. These devices can limit the number of customers affected by an outage and restore power with computer-assisted technology from the energy company’s operations center even before sending a crew to inspect the line and make repairs. A major component of this upgrade project is connecting two electrical circuits, creating a loop. Once the two electrical systems are tied together, it will make substations on either end accessible when needed, boosting the company’s ability to deliver reliable power. Customers may experience short power interruptions during the project, so crews can safely perform the work. Any customers affected will be notified by the company in advance. The project is expected to be complete by this fall.

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Westfield

WESTFIELD — Holyoke Medical Center announced expanded healthcare services in Westfield, including family medicine, women’s services, gastroenterology, walk-in care, and more. Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has relocated to 140 Southampton Road in Westfield. The office offers care for the entire family, including pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and geriatric care. Dr. Thomas Graziano and Deborah Pisciotta, MS, PA-C, are accepting new patients. The office is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call (413) 535-4800. In addition to Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, Holyoke Medical Center plans to offer walk-in care, lab draw, imaging services, and physical therapy at the 140 Southampton Road facility starting this fall. Holyoke Medical Group Women’s Services also has an office in Westfield, located at 94 North Elm St., Suite 102, in Westfield. Holyoke Medical Center Gastroenterology will also open a new office at 94 North Elm St., Suite 206, in Westfield on Oct. 21.

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.9% in July, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 3,500 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector lost 4,100 jobs as losses occurred in leisure and hospitality; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. Manufacturing jobs remained unchanged over the month, while trade, transportation, and utilities; other services; and information added jobs. Government added jobs over the month. From July 2018 to July 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 37,300 jobs. The July unemployment rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point. The labor force decreased by 4,400 from 3,838,800 in June, as 2,100 fewer residents were employed and 2,400 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — dropped one-tenth of a percentage point over the month to 67.6%. Compared to July 2018, the labor-force participation rate is up one-tenth of a percentage point. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in other services; education and health services; information; and leisure and hospitality.

SPARK EforAll Holyoke Seeks Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — SPARK EforAll Holyoke is 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. Mentor teams have 90-minute in-person meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

Court Upholds Dismissal of Class-action Special-ed Suit

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that the Federal Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a class-action suit that had been brought by special-education advocates against the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court entered judgment on Aug. 8 affirming the decision of Judge Mark Mastroianni to dismiss the class action. The underlying suit alleged that the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools (SPS) violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily segregating students with mental-health disabilities in a separate and inferior school, the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS). A student brought the suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all students with a mental-health disability who are or have been enrolled at SPDS. Two associations, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), joined as plaintiffs seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, including an order that defendants provide the class plaintiffs with “school-based behavior services in neighborhood schools to afford them an equal educational opportunity and enable them to be educated in neighborhood schools.” The U.S. District Court, in an opinion by Mastroianni, denied class certification. The court later ruled that the associations had standing but granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the associations. The plaintiffs’ appeal challenges the district court’s denial of class certification. The city appeal argued that the district court erred in concluding that PPAL and DLC had standing. The Court of Appeals agreed that these organizations lack standing to pursue the claims in the complaint, and affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings as to PPAL and DLC on that ground. The case was argued by Deputy City Solicitor Lisa deSousa and attorney Stephen Holstrom, with whom City Solicitor Edward Pikula and attorney Melinda Phelps of Bulkley Richardson were on the brief.

Company Notebook Uncategorized

Big Y Breaks Ground on Expanded Distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y is expanding its distribution center with a $40 million project that is set to fuel the growth of the supermarket chain for the next 20 years.

At the Big Y Store Support Center on Aug. 7, guest speakers, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; Patrick Carnevale, director of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Western Mass. office; state Rep. Jose Tosado; and Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, joined Charlie D’Amour, president and CEO of Big Y Foods, and many others in celebrating the beginning of the expansion. The now-189,000-square-foot facility is adding another 232,000 to bring the total to 425,000 square feet. The new space will have state-of-the-art refrigeration storage for fresh seafood from Boston, deli meats, salads, cheeses, fresh and local produce and flowers, as well as additional dry-product storage. Big Y is adding 32 full-time employees to meet the demands of the new facility, which is expected to support an additional 20 supermarkets.

The Creative Strategy Agency Celebrates 10 Years in Business

SPRINGFIELD — The Creative Strategy Agency Inc. (tCSA), a local digital marketing and advertising agency, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Aug. 9. Started by Alfonso Santaniello at age 24, tCSA has grown into a fully staffed agency servicing local and national clients in social-media marketing, advertising, and search-engine marketing. Santaniello established tCSA after getting laid off at the beginning of the recession in 2008, but wasn’t until he landed his first client, a national company that he took the leap to really pursue the business. In 2010, when most companies had yet to use video marketing or understand the influence of YouTube, Santaniello launched “Strictly Businews.” Over its run, this digital web talk show garnished more than 1 million views and an award. With the web series’ success, Santaniello’s clientele expanded from local to national as he signed on with businesses from Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Diego. After six years, the series ended in 2016. Over the course of 10 years, tCSA has worked within a wide range of industries, including restaurants, e-commerce, manufacturing, and nonprofits.

UMass Amherst Again Ranks First in Campus Dining

AMHERST — For the fourth straight year, UMass Amherst tops the rankings for Best Campus Food in the nation. The honor was revealed by the Princeton Review as part of its ranking of the top 20 colleges in 62 different categories for 2020. UMass Dining is the largest collegiate dining program in America and is a recognized leader among college dining programs because of its focus on quality ingredients and meals, customer service, student health and wellness, customization options, an appreciation of global influences and modern eating trends, and creating community on campus. UMass Dining serves more than 8 million meals per year. Locally sourced food plays a major component in its success. It has relationships with more than 100 local farms, spending $2.4 million annually with Massachusetts farmers and vendors and a total of $5 million in New England.

Sunshine Village Golf Tourney Breaks Fundraising Record

CHICOPEE — Sunshine Village held its 30th annual Sunshine Village Golf Tournament fundraiser on Aug. 7 at Chicopee Country Club in Chicopee, MA. The event sold out, with 38 teams participating. A reception with awards, raffles, and a silent auction followed at the Castle of Knights in Chicopee. Ernest Laflamme Jr., president of the board of directors and chair of the golf committee, congratulated Kellco Products for winning the tournament. A team from UNUM came in second, and a team from PeoplesBank placed third. On behalf of the board of directors, Laflamme and Executive Director Gina Kos thanked the many sponsors and volunteers that helped to raise the most funds of any year in the tournament’s 30-year history. To commemorate their dedication, a group of sponsors were given special recognition as Legacy Sponsors. They include Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, PeoplesBank, Westfield Bank, Charter Oak Financial, HUB International New England, Inter-All Corp., Kellco Products, Knights of Columbus Elder Council #69, Knights of Columbus Elder Council #4044, Polish National Credit Union, Siddall and Siddall, P.C., and USI Insurance. Other major sponsors included Caolo & Bieniek Architects Inc., Key Private Bank, Marcotte Ford, and Supreme Roofing. All proceeds from the fundraiser go toward ensuring that up-to-date technology, adaptive equipment, engaging activities, and professional-development opportunities are offered to the more 500 individuals served by Sunshine Village.

PV Squared Solar Recognized as a Top Solar Contractor

GREENFIELD — With renewable energy expected to be the fastest-growing source of U.S. electricity generation for the foreseeable future, local solar installer and worker-owned cooperative PV Squared Solar is contributing toward this period of energy transition. The company has once again been recognized by Solar Power World magazine and was listed prominently among other solar contractors and developers across the country in the magazine’s 2019 Top Solar Contractors list. “It’s an honor to be recognized among the top solar energy companies in the region, let alone the nation. Our leadership within the solar industry over the years has been a significant point of pride, and we look forward to continuing that good work,” said General Manager Jonathan Gregory.

MassMutual Foundation Gives $1.5 Million to Way Finders

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Foundation Inc. announced it will give Way Finders $1.5 million to help fund the organization’s new Housing Center currently being constructed in Springfield. This donation will enable Way Finders to serve even more people in the community who are facing homelessness or struggling to achieve financial security. Way Finders is in the midst of constructing a larger, more centrally located Housing Center at 1780 Main St. in Springfield that will be more easily accessible by transportation and the nearby Union Station complex, eliminating one of the greatest barriers to accessing services. The new facility will house all 160 of Way Finders’ Springfield-based staff and is slated to open its doors in April 2020. In 2018, Way Finders’ programs impacted the lives of more than 47,000 people, including thousands of children, through services including homelessness and foreclosure prevention, financial education, first-time-homebuyer workshops, and employment training. The total number of walk-in requests so far in 2019 has exceeded 2018 demand, demonstrating the growing need from the community and the crucial support the new Housing Center will provide.

MachineMetrics Achieves Amazon Web Services Industrial Software Competency Status

NORTHAMPTON — MachineMetrics, an industrial IoT platform for discrete manufacturing, announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. This designation recognizes that MachineMetrics has demonstrated technical proficiency and proven customer success building solutions for discrete manufacturing. These specialized software solutions enable companies in the discrete-manufacturing space to increase the pace of product innovation while decreasing production and operational costs in their value chain. Achieving AWS Industrial Software Competency differentiates MachineMetrics as an AWS Partner Network (APN) member that has delivered specialized solutions aligning with AWS architectural best practices for building the most secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient cloud infrastructure for industry applications. To receive the designation, APN Partners must undergo a rigorous technical validation related to industry-specific technology. AWS is enabling scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions from startups to global enterprises. To support the seamless integration and deployment of these solutions, AWS established the AWS Competency Program to help customers identify consulting and technology APN Partners with deep industry experience and expertise.

Tighe & Bond Again Named PSMJ Circle of Excellence Member

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond has been named as a member of the PSMJ Resources Inc. 2019 Circle of Excellence for second year in a row. The Circle of Excellence highlights successfully managed firms that demonstrate outstanding achievements in areas such as profitability, overhead management, cash flow, productivity, business development, and staff growth. Founded in 2006, the Circle of Excellence represents the top 20% of participants in PSMJ’s annual A/E Financial Performance Benchmark Survey, based on 13 key performance metrics. The annual survey is open to all firms in the industry, regardless of firm type, size, gross revenue, net revenue, practice area, or location.

Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee Receives $5,000 Grant from MassMutual Foundation

CHICOPEE — The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee received a $5,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation as part of a national Community Service Award (CSA) program. The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee is one of 32 organizations nationally to receive an award. The MassMutual Foundation made the grant as a tribute to the volunteer efforts of Robert Houle, a MassMutual agent with Unity Financial & Insurance Group in Holyoke and an alumnus of the club. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee is to enable all young people reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. “We are grateful to receive this grant to help support the current programs and services provided at the club, which include art, athletics, homework help, and nutrition, to name a few,” said Jason Reed, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee. Added Houle, “I am very pleased that my dedication to the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee has been recognized by the MassMutual Foundation. This grant will provide much-needed funding to continue supporting the youth in our community.”

Work Opportunity Center Opens Community-based Day Service Facility

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Work Opportunity Center Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 23 at its newly acquired and renovated community-based day service (CBDS) facility located at 111 Park Ave. in West Springfield. Established in 1969, Work Opportunity Center (WOC) initially served its participants through a center-based work-service model. Community-based day services were added in the summer of 2014. On June 30, 2016, center-based work services were discontinued for all participants, and those services were converted to CBDS. As of July 1, 2019, there are approximately 84 individuals participating in WOC’s CBDS services. On July 1, 24 program participants and five staff members transferred from the WOC facility in Agawam to its newest facility in West Springfield. The CBDS program of enables individuals with developmental disabilities to enrich their lives and enjoy a full range of community activities by providing opportunities for developing, enhancing, and maintaining competency in personal, social, and community activities. Service options for individuals participating in the CBDS program include career exploration, community-integration experiences, skills development and training, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, health and fitness classes, socialization experiences, and support to enhance interpersonal skills, as well as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. The renovation of the 111 Park Ave. facility is supported by a $5,000 grant by United Bank in addition to a $1,000 grant from the Rotary Club of West Springfield.

STCC Wins Career Pathways Grant for Early-childhood Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will apply a $296,904 state grant to support a new, affordable professional-development program for early-childhood educators. The funding will allow STCC to roll out its Child Development Associate Plus program this fall. The program will help early-childhood educators obtain certification and become better-qualified to teach infants and toddlers as well as preschool-aged children. STCC announced in July that the college received the Early Childhood Education Career Pathways Grant, funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care. Those who may be interested in the program include center-based teachers, family childcare providers, and other early-care professionals who are working toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. The Career Pathways Grant provides a range of support for students in the program at STCC. Funding will pay for a new bilingual position, Early Childhood Education liaison. The person hired for the job will work closely with early-childhood students and will be able to speak Spanish and English. Additionally, the grant will be used to update an old computer lab. Students will have use of the state-of-the-art lab with access to wireless hotspots and computers to borrow if they don’t have one at home. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings, and the program is estimated to take one year to complete. Students can come to STCC on Wednesday night for tutoring or to meet with the liaison for support. Students who need extra support in math and English can take a free one-week boot camp prior to the start of the fall semester. STCC also will offer a prior learning credit, which means anyone who already has earned a CDA from another institution may qualify for college credit from STCC.

GCC Receives Continuation of Title III Grant Funding

GREENFIELD — In October 2016, Greenfield Community College (GCC) was awarded a $1.6 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to be disbursed over five years. This grant is part of the Strengthening Institutions Program, which helps institutions expand their capacity to serve low-income and at-risk students. This academic year will mark the fourth year of continued funding of GCC’s Title III grant. The aim of GCC’s Title III grant is to integrate academic-success coaching and career exploration into a structured first-year experience that supports students who have been shown to be most at risk for not continuing with their education. GCC’s focus has been on students who are the first in their family to attend college, are undecided about their major and career paths, and who place into at least one developmental-level course. The College & Career Compass program developed during the first two years of the grant offers new, current, and returning GCC students specialized advising focused on individual student needs, academic skill building, and incorporating career exploration into the academic planning process; a peer-mentoring program through which current students can share their experiences, individually and in small groups, to help other students survive and thrive at GCC; monthly academic-coaching workshops covering topics like study skills, using apps and other technology, career exploration, and avoiding procrastination; two one-credit elective courses at no cost: one focused on academic strategies for college success and the other on career exploration and planning (including four-year transfer opportunities); and a free, one-week refresher course for students who have been away from math and want to dust off their skills before the semester starts. The focus for the remaining two years of the grant is to hone and scale the Compass program to reach more students and inform advising practices across the college.

Company Notebook

Lovin’ Spoonfuls Launches in Hampden County

LONGMEADOW — Lovin’ Spoonfuls celebrated the launch of its food-rescue program in Hampden County yesterday at Longmeadow Open Pantry. With a goal to rescue and distribute fresh food that would otherwise be wasted, it will be delivering food to 17 partner nonprofits in Hampden County. Lovin’ Spoonfuls, established in 2010, serves nearly 40 cities and towns across Eastern Mass., focusing on perishable, nutritious food. Its rescues provide meals to more than 30,000 individuals every week. Partners in its move to Western Mass. include the Longmeadow Open Pantry, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Big Y, and Rachel’s Table. Lauren Palumbo, chief operating officer at Lovin’ Spoonfuls, noted that, between the organization’s six routes in Greater Boston and the MetroWest area, plus now Hampden County, it is rescuing more than 75,000 pounds of food each week.

Big Y Eliminates Plastic Bags at Checkouts

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Foods Inc. eliminated single-use plastic bags at the checkouts from its more than 80 supermarket and specialty store locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut starting Aug. 1. The grocer will offer discounts on reusable bags through the month of August as customers transition away from plastic.

Big Y has been complying with single-use plastic-bag bans in several Massachusetts communities since 2014. Coming off of recent changes to laws in various towns across the New England region, Big Y has moved up its 2020 timeline to eliminate single-use plastic at checkouts in all of its locations in order to streamline operations and to do its part to support sustainability. For those shoppers who do not bring their own shopping bags, beginning in August, a ten-cent charge per paper bag will be added to their bill. This fee is in an effort to promote the use of reusable bags instead of paper bags, which also cause harm to the environment.

People’s United Financial to Acquire United Financial

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — People’s United Financial Inc., the holding company for People’s United Bank, N.A., announced an agreement to acquire United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, in a 100% stock transaction valued at approximately $759 million. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of United Financial Bancorp shareholders. Established in 1858 and headquartered in Hartford, Conn., United Bank is a full-service community financial-services firm with $7.3 billion in assets. The bank has nearly 60 branch locations concentrated in Central Conn. and Western Mass., offering customers commercial, small-business, wealth-management, and consumer-banking products and services.

Seelye & Schulz PA CPAs to Merge with Melanson Heath

GREENFIELD — Melanson Heath announced the firm’s merger with longtime Nashua, N.H.-based accounting firm Seelye & Schulz PA CPAs. This merger aims to allow Seelye & Schulz PA CPAs and Melanson Heath professionals to continue to strengthen their position as a premier regional accounting, tax, and audit service provider. Partners Paul Seelye and Anthony Engaldo have joined Melanson Heath along with their team. The combined firm will operate under the name Melanson Heath. Scott Toothaker, managing principal of Melanson Heath, noted that “Seelye & Schulz PA CPAs is a highly respected CPA firm in our area. Our objectives, goals, and ethical standards mirror one another. The combined firm will continue to offer a blend of professional expertise and personalized service. We are committed to meeting and exceeding the expectations of not only our clients, but also our dedicated employees, and the betterment of our communities as a whole.”

Theory Wellness Wins Bid for Chicopee Dispensary

CHICOPEE — Theory Wellness, a craft cannabis company, has received a special permit from the city of Chicopee to move ahead with its plans for a medical and recreational cannabis dispensary at 672 Fuller Road. The company has been working with the city since the summer of 2018 and was selected to operate one of the four permitted dispensaries in the city during a competitive bidding process. Seven months after successfully transitioning its Great Barrington medical dispensary into recreational sales, Theory looks forward to commencing construction immediately on this new project. Its expansion into Chicopee will mark the third dispensary for the company, which currently has locations in Bridgewater and Great Barrington. The Chicopee site will be its second co-located storefront to support both medical and recreational cannabis sales. Theory expects to begin sales in November, and will soon begin construction on the new location, which has ample parking and is just minutes from both I-90 and I-291. The company anticipates hiring about 40 full-time employees and expects to generate tax revenues in the range of $250,000 to $500,000 per year for the city.

Berkshire Communicators Inc. Wins ATSI Award of Excellence

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Communicators Inc. has been honored with the ATSI 2019 Award of Excellence for the 15th straight year. This award is presented annually by the Assoc. of TeleServices International (ATSI), the industry’s trade association for providers of telecommunications and call-center services, including answering services and message delivery across North America and the U.K. Berkshire Communicators was presented with the award at ATSI’s annual convention in Dallas. Independent judges are contracted by ATSI to evaluate message services over a six-month period. The scoring criteria includes response time, rep courteousness, accuracy, account knowledge, and overall impression of the call. Now a 15-time winner, Berkshire Communicators earned the Platinum Award. Berkshire Communicators is owned and operated by the Gore family of Lee and employs 20 full- and part-time personnel. The company operates 24/7/365, processing more than 600,000 calls per year and 6,200 alarm signals per day in its central alarm-monitoring station.

Elms College Establishes Graduate Admission Office

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced a new Office of Graduate and Continuing Education Admission to streamline the application process for graduate, post-baccalaureate, and continuing-education students. The new office will focus on the recruitment, admission, and enrollment for all graduate and continuing education programs at Elms College. Nancy Davis has been named director of the Office of Graduate and Continuing Education Admission. Davis, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s University and an MBA from Elms College, most recently served as Business Development specialist for the college’s MBA program and Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership for more than three years. She previously worked as the director of Career Development at Elms for nearly five years, as director of Career Services at BHCI in Windsor, Conn., and as a technical recruiter, both for CMC Technical in Virginia and independently. Her team will include two graduate admission counselors. Undergraduate and transfer students will continue to work with the Office of Undergraduate Admission throughout the application, acceptance, and orientation process.

Basketball Hall of Fame Partners with Tickets for Less

SPRINGFIELD — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced a new multi-year partnership with Tickets For Less as a secondary-market ticket provider for a number of Basketball Hall of Fame collegiate events. The partnership was facilitated by Learfield IMG College, the Basketball Hall of Fame’s sports-marketing partner for its collegiate event series. As an official sponsor, Tickets for Less will offer a secondary ticket marketplace for Hall of Fame collegiate events, allowing fans secure, fast, and convenient options to purchase tickets. Events offered by Tickets for Less in 2019 include the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Tip-Off Tournament and Women’s Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix, and three inaugural events: the James Naismith Classic in Toronto, the Al Attles Classic at the new Chase Center in San Francisco, and the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. For a full schedule of events and matchups, visit www.hoophall.com/events.

Company Notebook

Eversource Receives Award for Supporting Employees in the Military

BOSTON — Eversource Energy has been selected as a winner of the 2019 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the government’s highest honor for a company for its support of employees who participate in the U.S. National Guard and Reserves. Eversource is one of only 15 companies nationwide that were selected among more than 2,400 nominations. The award is the result of the perseverance of Bill Gelinas, a control-room supervisor for Eversource in Berlin, Conn. Gelinas wanted to show his appreciation for the support he received from the company and its employees throughout his 15-year military service, which included four overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gelinas said he was deeply touched by the warmth and support he has received from his Eversource colleagues, especially during his numerous deployments. Each time he went overseas, he was overwhelmed by thoughtful care packages and almost daily encouraging e-mails from employees and company leaders. It also made him empathetic of other soldiers who didn’t have a support system like he did. The Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is administered by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program that since 1966 has promoted relations and understanding between military reservists and their civilian employers. The winning companies will be invited to Washington, D.C. to receive the award from the Secretary of Defense at a ceremony held at the Pentagon in August.

Holyoke Mall Celebrates 40th Anniversary

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall marked its 40th anniversary on July 5. Since opening in 1979, Holyoke Mall has established itself as the largest shopping destination in Western Mass., currently offering more than 150 dining, entertainment, and retail destinations. Throughout the last 40 years, Pyramid Management Group has continued to adapt, evolve, and thrive in an ever-changing market. In 1995, the shopping center expanded, adding an additional 500,000 square feet, and welcomed big-box tenants such as Best Buy and Target. Traditionally located in free-standing or strip-mall locations, the addition of these anchor tenants began an industry-wide trend. Over the years, Holyoke Mall has welcomed Massachusetts’ first Hobby Lobby, and the Xfinity Store, Toys R Us, and Christmas Tree Shops’ first in-mall locations. The center also continues to attract and expand its dining and entertainment options, most recently adding 110 Grill, Flight Fit N Fun, Round1 Bowling & Amusement, and Sumo Japanese Steakhouse. Stores celebrating 40 years at Holyoke Mall include American Eagle, Foot Locker, Gap, GNC, JCPenney, Kay Jewelers, Motherhood Maternity, and the Greek Place.

Florence Bank a Winner in 2019 Banking Choice Awards

FLORENCE — Florence Bank accepted three of the four potential awards for banking excellence in Western Mass. and took part in a panel discussion at the Bank Best Expo! at MGM Springfield on June 28. As part of the 2019 Banking Choice Awards review by 278,359 independent consumers in a double-blind scientific study, Florence Bank came out on top in Western Mass. in almost every category. At the expo, Monica Curhan, the bank’s senior vice president and Marketing director, accepted two first-place awards, for customer service and overall quality, and a second-place honor for excellence in technology and tools. Curhan also sat on a panel of bankers whose institutions consistently rank at the top in independent consumer surveys to discuss best industry practices. She was joined by Stephen Lewis, president of Thomaston Savings Bank and chairman of the Connecticut Bankers Assoc.; Todd Tallman, president and treasurer of Cornerstone Bank in Massachusetts; and Mark Bodin, president of Savings Bank of Walpole in New Hampshire. The Banking Choice Awards recognize banks that receive the highest ratings from their own customers in four categories: customer service, technology, community contribution, and overall quality.

Different Leaf Magazine Announces Premiere Issue

NORTHAMPTON — July marks the publication of the premiere issue of Different Leaf magazine, a journal of cannabis culture. Targeted to readers 45 and over, Different Leaf’s editorial content covers the rapidly evolving cannabis industry in Massachusetts and makes it accessible for consumers who are new to cannabis and those looking for new ways to integrate it into their lives. Launching with a quarterly publication schedule, regular features in Different Leaf will include “Merch + More,” a roundup of cannabis products from Massachusetts and beyond including smoking accessories, THC and CBD products, and books. The back of the book contains practical, educational information on using cannabis for health and wellness, cooking, nutrition, fitness, sexuality, pets, and more. Features will look in depth at innovators in the industry, medical news, and social and cultural issues surrounding the legalization of cannabis. Different Leaf will depart from the more traditional publishing model of posting text-based content online and will instead launch a companion podcast series with the October issue. The podcast will expand on the topics in the print magazine and delve into issues and stories that don’t mesh with a print publication timetable. A calendar of events that tie into the print publication is also planned.

Bay Path’s Leadership and Organizational Studies Program Nationally Ranked

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s bachelor of arts (BA) in leadership and organizational studies (LOS) has been named among the top 20 online programs in the country, as ranked by thebestschools.org. According to the site, bachelor-degree programs in leadership and organizational studies were ranked based on several categories, including academic excellence, strength of faculty scholarship, reputation, range of degree programs, and strength of online-instruction methodology. Bay Path’s program, offered by its American Women’s College, was acknowledged for its accelerated degree program and its distinct Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders program. The BA in leadership and organizational studies at the American Women’s College offers 100% online or a combination of online and on-campus courses, with six different start dates per year. The program is offered in an accelerated version, and has the flexibility to be taken full-time or part-time. It also includes access to mentoring, tutoring, library resources, academic resources, and career services.

Miller Dyer Spears Selected as Architect for WSU’s Parenzo Hall Renovation

WESTFIELD — Miller Dyer Spears (MDS) has been chosen as the architectural firm to design Westfield State University’s (WSU) $40 million, multi-year Parenzo Hall renovation project. Following a request for proposals set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), the Massachusetts Designer Selection Board (an autonomous, 11-member board) reviewed and selected Boston-based MDS from three finalists among more than 20 applicants. Westfield State received $21.25 million in state funding last year for the renovation of Parenzo Hall, the university’s oldest building, which opened in 1956. Nearly matching the state’s $21.25 million investment, WSU will invest approximately $20 million of university funds into the project. The renovations will create two new centers — the Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships and the Center for Student Success and Engagement. The Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships will leverage technology to serve as the nexus for innovative collaboration in Western Mass., partnering with K-12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. It will teach students and community partners how to engage productively in online-hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment. The Center for Student Success and Engagement will address the student-outcomes goals of WSU’s Vision Project (increasing retention and graduation rates, and reducing the achievement gap). The project will also address the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. The center will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. In addition to the centers, several academic departments will be located in the renovated facility, including Education and Political Science.

AIC Celebrates Rex’s Pantry Garden with Ribbon Cutting

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently expanded its efforts to help serve the community with the official ribbon cutting for the Rex’s Pantry Garden. Rex’s Pantry was launched in December 2017 in an effort to provide the less fortunate in Springfield with hot meals, canned food, and other living necessities. Since its founding, Rex’s Pantry has served more than 2,000 meals and collected thousands of pounds of canned goods. Rex, a yellowjacket, is the AIC mascot. The Rex’s Pantry Garden, located on the AIC campus in the heart of the city, is the newest addition to the Rex’s Pantry initiative. The first harvest will include tomatoes and pumpkins. The tomatoes will be distributed to neighborhood residents, who often do not have the resources to purchase fresh produce. Pumpkins will be given to local children during the Halloween season. Until one month ago, the Rex’s Pantry Garden was a long-standing vacant lot, but the plot was transformed by the C&W Services grounds crew at the college. Local businesses also donated to the creation of the garden, including Associated Building Wreckers, C&W Services, Capone’s Pool Water, GMH Fence Co., Go Graphix, Ondrick Natural Earth, and Wallace Tree Service. Student-athletes and representatives from the AIC basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling teams, along with student groups — including IMPACT, a residential community for AIC students in pursuit of leadership experiences in and outside the classroom, and the Student Nurses Assoc. — have supported Rex’s Pantry by serving hot meals throughout the academic year. AIC staff and student volunteers will maintain the garden throughout the growing season.

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