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Customers’ Choice

$1,221 award

Florence Bank President Kevin Day presents Nikki Lewis, coalition coordinator of first-time grant award winner West Springfield CARE Coalition, with a $1,221 award.

 

Tammy Walunas of the Smith Vocational High School PTO chats

From left, Tammy Walunas of the Smith Vocational High School PTO chats with It Takes a Village volunteer Sierra-Rae Bottum and Mollie Hartford, co-executive director

Florence Bank gave $100,000 to 57 area nonprofits on March 10 at its annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program celebration at the Garden House at Look Memorial Park, putting the program over the $1.2 million mark in grants made to community nonprofits over almost two decades. The recipients each garnered at least 50 votes from bank customers in 2019, and the bank also awarded $500 each to six organizations that received between 40 and 49 votes.

 


Grand Tour

Grand Tour

From left, John LaFrancis, chair, Mechanical Engineering Technology; STCC President John Cook; state Rep. Jeffrey Roy; state Sen. Anne Gobi; state Rep. Stephan Hay; STCC graduate Elizabeth Ryan; state Rep. Mindy Domb; and state Rep. Aaron Vega

 

Student trustee Yanira Aviles

Student trustee Yanira Aviles

From the patient simulation center to the mechanical engineering technology lab, state lawmakers toured Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) last month to get a better understanding how it is preparing students for careers and boosting the economic vitality of the region. STCC was the 25th stop for the Joint Committee on Higher Education, which plans to visit all 29 Massachusetts public colleges and universities.

 


 

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A photo essay of business happenings in Western Mass.

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Elevating the Brand

Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced a new partnership with Julious Grant and Ty Law. Grant brings 29 years of executive-level experience in the spirits industry, having held senior leadership roles in sales and marketing in some of the most successful companies in the world. Law, an NFL Hall of Famer, won three Super Bowls as a cornerback with the New England Patriots. This partnership comes on the heels of Valley Vodka Inc. completing a multi-million-dollar purchase and renovation of its own ‘farm to glass’ distillery in Kamien, Poland. “With our new distillery, expanded production, and new packaging, this is the perfect time to introduce more people to our clean-drinking vodka,” V-One creator Paul Kozub said. “Julious and Ty are tremendous assets to help us expand distribution and increase brand awareness.” Pictured, from left, are Grant, Kozub, and Law.

 


Supporting the Community

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000 to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help fund the new wellness and childcare center that opened at Springfield’s Tower Square on Dec. 5. The new, state-of-the-art facility includes a 15,000-square-foot education center that serves infants through elementary-school students. Additionally, the facility includes a new, 12,000-square-foot wellness center with premium strength and conditioning equipment in a space that overlooks the city. Pictured, from left: Jeffrey Poindexter, YMCA of Greater Springfield board chair; Dexter Johnson, YMCA of Greater Springfield president and CEO; and Nicole Gleason, Springfield branch manager and vice president of Florence Bank.

 


Highest Honors

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. One indicator of the chapter’s engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide. Pictured, from left: chapter members Wood, Finance Chair Emily Sajdak, Service Chair Krystyna Germano, and Vice President Teddy Doyle.

 


Record Donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation in the college’s 74-year history — $7.5 million — from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation, established by the late Elaine Marieb, a longtime HCC faculty member, alumna, best-selling textbook author, and Northampton native. The donation includes $5 million outright and a $2.5 million matching gift that will go toward future renovations of HCC’s main science facility, the Marieb Building, as part of a multi-phase plan to expand the recently opened Center for Life Sciences to encompass the entire three-story structure. Pictured: HCC Biology Professor Emily Rabinsky (center) teaches a biotechnology lab in the Center for Life Sciences.

 


Advocating for Girls

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives from Girls Inc. of Lynn, Worcester, and Berkshires on the State House floor to highlight the Eureka! program — which prepares teenage girls to participate and excel in cutting-edge, dynamic STEM careers — and advocate for its inclusion in the state budget. Pictured, from left: Ruth Roy, campaign director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Kelly Marion, CEO, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Victoria Waterman, CEO, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Agnes Nkansah, Girls Inc. of Worcester Eureka! alumna and student at Brandeis University; Suzanne Parker, executive director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Deb Ansourlian, executive director, Girls Inc. of Lynn; Brenda Nikas-Hayes, director of Eureka!, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Sidney Hamilton, outreach and site coordinator, Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Lena Crowley, director, Teen and Middle School Program, Girls Inc. of Lynn; and Alexandra DeFronzo, supervisor of STEM Programs, Girls Inc.

 


Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day by reading to students at Saint Stanislaus School as part of its Kids First campaign. The campaign is an ongoing effort to support children and teens in Western Mass. through education and play. The staff volunteers time and resources through several activities and fundraisers throughout the year. Pictured, from left: Theresa Kelly, Kristie Learned, Ginger Marszalek, and Meghan Harnois from First American Insurance Agency.

 


 

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A Visit from the First Lady

On Feb. 21, Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker paid a visit to Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center, where she spent the afternoon learning about Square One’s work with children and families in the region. She was greeted by Square One educators, therapists, and children, who welcomed her with songs and gifts for the children Baker engages with in her work with the Wonderfund of Massachusetts.

 


Advocating for Community Colleges

James Lombella (left), North-West regional president of Connecticut Community Colleges, and Eileen Peltier (right), dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education for Asnuntuck, Northwestern Connecticut, and Tunxis community colleges, traveled to Hartford in February to represent the 12 Connecticut community colleges as part of a 2020 Skills Summit organized by the National Skills Coalition. Lombella and Peltier met with staff from the office of state Sen. Richard Blumenthal and state Rep. Joe Courtney (center) to provide updates on the community colleges and seek support for Pell grants for students in non-credit programs that provide industry licensure and credentials.


Grand Opening

Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage celebrated its grand-opening ceremony on Feb. 8. The office opened for business in Wilbraham in November. State Rep. Angelo Puppolo presented Cuoco, who has been a real-estate agent for 15 years, with a House of Representatives citation.

The brokerage team, from left, Amy Beaulieu, MaryKate Caron, Paula Lynch, Alyssa Stout, Brenda Cuoco, Tammy Sandomierski, Kathleen Brenner, Paige Belcastro, and Cori Bessette

 

From left: Puppolo, David Cuoco, Brenda Cuoco, Marco Cuoco, and Antonio Cuoco

 


Giving Back to the Community

Community Bank N.A. announced that its annual charitable giving reached more than $2.6 million in 2019 through sponsorships, donations, and grants, with its branches across Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont donating to more than 2,500 local organizations. In Massachusetts, it supported a variety of organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield, the YMCA of Greater Springfield, Springfield Rescue Mission, Open Pantry Community Services, Way Finders, Gardening the Community, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, and (pictured) the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC).

From left: Community Bank N.A. Springfield Branch Manager Gilbert Nieves, Commercial Banking Team Leader Keith Nesbitt, MSBDC Regional Director Samalid Hogan, MSBDC Client Services Coordinator and Office Manager Lynn Shedd, and MSBDC Senior Business Advisor Anita Elisaon.

 

 


Art History

Tower Square unveiled a James Kitchen sculpture in its Center Court on Feb. 26. The 11-foot-high sculpture, titled “Tower Squares,” is comprised of intricate, stacked blocks, a la Dr. Seuss, filled with parts and pieces recycled from Springfield’s past. Visitors will discover a 1940s Indian motorcycle seat, pipe wrenches invented by Solymon Merrick in 1835, a clip-on ice skate patented by Everett Barney in the 1800s, a basketball hoop, ice tongs, hammers, gears that turn, doorbells that ring, faucets, and much more. The entire installation is interactive, inviting children and adults to explore its components. The statue will be a permanent feature of the building.

 

 


 

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Accessible Design Award

At its annual awards gala, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) presented Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc. with the 2019 Accessible Design Award for its work at Westfield State University’s Davis Hall. The award honors design excellence in buildings that are accessible for people of all abilities, with an emphasis on projects that exceed the legal accessibility requirements in anticipation of diverse user needs and benefits. The residence-hall addition and renovation, designed in coordination with the university and Stegman+Associates Inc., includes new private and multi-user restrooms, providing access to all students.

Pictured, from left: Janet Stegman, owner, Stegman+Associates; Janet Chrisos, deputy director, Massachusetts State College Building Authority; Steven Taksar, vice president, Administration & Finance, Westfield State University; Curtis Edgin, president, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.


Grand Opening

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Hadley Dental Care on Jan. 31. More than 50 community and business leaders stopped by to see the state-of-the-art technology and hear about the client-centric care offered by Dr. Tapan Pujara, DDS and Dr. Chaitalee Ganatra, DDS (pictured). The practice is located at 1 Mill Valley Road, Unit D, Hadley. A celebration followed the ribbon cutting next door at the Taproom, featuring networking, food, and prizes.

 


Charitable Champions List

Pioneer Valley Financial Group is one of 20 financial-advisory firms selected for the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation’s 2019 Charitable Champions List, which recognizes advisory firms for their exemplary efforts to give back to their communities by promoting a culture of philanthropy among employees and financial advisors. Invest in Others received dozens of applications, which were evaluated blindly by a judging panel made up of financial advisors. Applications were evaluated on criteria including employee benefits, company contributions, and philanthropic events and programs offered by the firms.

 


Getting a Boost

Led by state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the Springfield legislative delegation was able to secure a $250,000 appropriation for the UMass Center at Springfield. On Feb. 10, a ceremonial check was presented by the delegation at the center, located in Tower Square in downtown Springfield. At that event, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy introduced Jamina Scippio-McFadden as the new director of the center, which opened its doors in 2014. Pictured below: Scippio-McFadden and Gonzalez address those gathered for the check presentation.

From left, state Sen. James Welch, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo, McFadden, Gonzalez, state Rep. Bud Williams, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno gather around the ceremonial check.


 

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A Home for Innovation

On Jan. 23, DevelopSpringfield celebrated the completion of the Springfield Innovation Center at 276 Bridge St., a $7.1 million project funded through state and federal tax credits, grants, foundation money, and private financing. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (left, with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno), who helped secure more than $1 million in federal tax credits to finance the project, noted that innovation is a key part of the country’s — and the region’s — story, and needs to continue to be. State Sens. Eric Lesser and James Welch and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez were also on hand for the ceremony.

 


 

Scoring a Milestone

The Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament celebrated an important milestone in 2019, pushing past the $1 million mark in donations to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The tournament hosted its 11th annual tournament on Aug. 19 at Twin Hills Country Club and Elmcrest Country Club, where attendees heard from Dr. Patrick Wen from the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana-Farber (pictured, left, with Carla Cozenzi and Tommy Consenzi of TommyCar Auto Group) about the impact of the tournament on brain-cancer research. In its 11 years, the tournament has raised $1,086,487.50 for Dana-Farber.

 


Car Wash for a Good Cause

 

Balise Motor Sales helped make a difference this holiday season by raising $13,341.51 for Square One. Balise donated the first month’s payment from each unlimited monthly car-wash plan purchased in December at two Western Mass. locations. Balise is a longtime supporter of Square One, donating $5,000 in 2018 to support its Adopt-a-Classroom program, $10,000 in 2017 to help build a new indoor playspace, and $10,000 in 2016 to support the organization’s new fitness program, LAUNCH. Pictured, from left: Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard from Square One, Alexandra Balise from Balise Motor Sales, and Dawn DiStefano from Square One.


Toward a New Home

Florence Bank has pledged $7,500 to the Harmony House of Chicopee to help fund a renovation and expansion that will allow the nonprofit to improve services and care for more terminally ill individuals who live alone or lack a capable caregiver. Harmony House is currently fundraising to cover the cost of the $600,000 home renovation. It recently broke ground on a permanent and much larger home in the Aldenville section of Chicopee. Pictured, from left: Ger Ronan, president, Yankee Home; Maureen Buxton, West Springfield branch manager, Florence Bank; Ruth Willemain, Harmony House founder; Amy Corcoran, president, Harmony House board of directors; and Pamela Quirk, RN, house operations and volunteer committee chair, Harmony House.


Forging Connections

State Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Brian Ashe toured Toner Plastics in East Longmeadow recently with members of the FORGE Manufacturing Initiative, which builds and fosters connections between regional suppliers and innovative startups across the Commonwealth. They were also joined by QUIKCORD, a regional startup that has worked with Toner Plastics to develop a life-saving utility case for military paracord. Pictured, from left: Lesser and Ashe take in the tour with Toner Plastics President Jack Warren.


MassHire Grand Opening

On Jan. 14, MassHire Springfield Career Center held a grand-opening celebration at its new facility on the third floor of 95 Liberty Street. About 125 people attended the event, which included guided tours of the 13,200-square-foot facility. Pictured, from left: state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; Rosalin Acosta, state secretary of Labor & Workforce Development; Kevin Lynn, executive director of MassHire Springfield Career Center; Shayvonne Plummer, Springfield Office of Planning & Economic Development; Talia Gee, Springfield chief Diversity & Inclusion officer; and Gary MacDonald, vice president of AIM HR Solutions.

 


Cannabis Conference

The Springfield Regional Chamber hosted the region’s first-ever cannabis conference on Wed., Jan. 28: “The Buzz About Cannabis: Marijuana in the Marketplace and the Workplace.” Employers and employees from all over Western Mass. attended the conference to get some help navigating the brand new complex world of marijuana in Massachusetts.

Theory Wellness, soon to open a new location in Chicopee, presents at the exhibitor marketplace

Scott Foster, attorney at Bulkley Richardson, and Tina Sbrega, CEO of GFA Credit Union, present “Business Structure and Banking in the Cannabis Industry”

Daniel Fogarty and Mikayla Bell from NETA show their products at the exhibitor marketplace

Joanne Berwald, vice president of HR at Mestek, Erica Flores, attorney at Skoler Abbott, and Pam Thornton, director of Strategic HR Services at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, answer questions about cannabis in the workplace

 


 

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Coats of Arms

Employees at Smith & Wesson collected gently used coats during a recent on-site coat drive, and will distribute them to people in need Western Mass., with the help of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our employees are continually looking for ways to give back to our community,” said Lane Tobiassen, president of Firearms at Smith & Wesson. “Knowing these new and gently used coats will be distributed locally makes this event even more special.”


Another Term Begins

Domenic Sarno, the 54th and longest-serving mayor of Springfield, was inaugurated for the fifth time on Jan. 6 at Springfield Symphony Hall. Denise Jordan, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, served as the mistress of ceremonies.


The Youngest Fans

Mercy Medical Center and the Springfield Thunderbirds announced a partnership to gift babies born at Mercy’s Family Life Center with a Mercy/Thunderbirds branded onesie. Every year, the Family Life Center welcomes more than 1,000 babies into the world. In their admission packets, parents will be given the onesie, along with instructions on how to enter a monthly drawing. A winner will be chosen each month to win a Boomer’s Kids Club membership, a plush Boomer, and four tickets to a Thunderbirds game. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide each newborn a special gift to welcome them to this world along with Mercy,” said Nathan Costa, president of the T-birds. “It’s never too early to start loving hockey.”


Workplace Pledge

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank recently donated $61,000 to the United Way of Hampshire County. The bank directly pledged $25,000, while the bank’s employees contributed another $36,000 of their own funds in support of the United Way’s workplace campaign.  That campaign provides employees with the opportunity to donate and direct funds, volunteer time, and advocate for causes that are most important to them.


Toast to the Season

The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) recently held its annual Toast to the Season at the Sheraton in Springfield. Members were asked to bring a toy for Toys for Tots.

HCBA President-elect Thomas Wilson, Esq.; HCBA Executive Director Noreen Nardi, Esq.; and HCBA President Kathleen Cavanaugh, Esq.

 

Judge Barbara Hyland, Hampden County Probate & Family Court; and Judge William Hadley, Holyoke District Court.

 

Assistant Clerk Magistrate Michael Wallace, Holyoke District Court; Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes, Westfield District Court; and Charles Casartello Jr., Esq.

 

 

 


 

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HCC Gives Back to the Community

Representatives from four Holyoke Community College (HCC) student clubs delivered hundreds of winter care packages to agencies in Holyoke and Springfield that serve the homeless. Members of the HCC Military Club, Criminal Justice Club, Radio Club, and Sociology Club created hygiene kits (84 for women, 86 for men) that included basic toiletries, and also prepared 208 kits that included hats, mittens, scarves, and blankets and gave away winter coats.

HCC Criminal Justice Professor Alex Sanchez, student John Serrano, student Sierra Palazzi, alumna Lindsey Pare, student Robert Vigneault, and student John Colleto hold some of the winter care packages. HCC also celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Giving Tree campaign this year, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 individuals from four nonprofits that aid and support some of the area’s most at-risk residents

Palazzi helps distribute gifts during the closing celebration for the Giving Tree campaign

 


 

No Shave November

TommyCar Auto Group joined forces with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Patrick Cahillane for No Shave November, in which participants forgo shaving and grooming for one month to raise cancer awareness. Throughout November, deputies and staff in the Sheriff’s Office were able to opt out of the dress code prohibiting beards for a donation of $20 to the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Meanwhile, TommyCar Auto Group employees donated the money they would spend on shaving to the charity. In total, the Sheriff’s Office raised $2,700, which Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, matched, resulting in a donation of $5,400 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

 


Florence Bank Open House

Florence Bank hosted its 12th annual holiday open house at its Williamsburg branch on Dec. 11.  Complimentary appetizers and refreshments from the Williamsburg Snack Bar were served, and local businesses, including Cichy’s Garage, O’Brien’s Auto Works, Williamsburg Market, Dove Business Associates, and Village Green, donated raffle prizes.

The event featured a performance of holiday carols by the Williamsburg Congregational Church Choir

Kristine Zdaniewicz, assistant branch manager at the Williamsburg branch (left), and April O’Brien, vice president and Williamsburg branch manager

 


Helping Families Celebrate the Season

Robinson Donovan, P.C. once again partnered with the Gray House for its Adopt-a-Family Christmas program to brighten the season for deserving families in the Western Mass. community. The Gray House pairs local businesses with families in need to fulfill Christmas wish lists for their children; this year, Robinson Donovan assisted five families. Through the help of participating businesses, the Gray House was able to provide more than 800 gifts from children’s wish lists in 2018. In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, the organization hosts a general toy drive for children in the community with the help of local schools and shelters.

Robinson Donovan Partner David Lawless with Teresa Liberti, executive director of the Gray House

 


 

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Care Where It’s Needed

Baystate Health recently received a $1 million grant from TD Bank to further the health system’s commitment to the communities it serves by funding an innovative new mobile health clinic called the TD Bank – Baystate Health Bus, which will deliver preventive care to people in urban and rural communities who are not receiving services due to financial and transportation barriers, including a shortage of providers in their neighborhoods. As a mobile medical unit, the bus will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to bring health screenings, early detection, and referrals for needed treatment or other services directly to at-risk individuals.

At the announcement, from left: Mark Keroack, president and CEO, Baystate Health; Rebecca Blanchard, senior director of Education, Baystate Health; Steve Webb, regional vice president, TD Bank; Dr. Kevin Hinchey, chief education officer, Baystate Health; Christina Cronin, philanthropy officer, Baystate Foundation; and Scott Berg, executive director, Baystate Health Foundation

Keroack talks about the importance of the health bus

 


Going Above and Beyond

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) has made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Police Department, to be used to purchase an aerial drone for public safety. Drones have become a critical tool for first responders, allowing for additional capabilities for search and rescue, surveillance, crash reconstruction, and other tasks.

Pictured, from left: PNCU board members John Murphy and Stephen Burkott with Chicopee Police Chief William Jebb.

 


 

STEM Center at STCC

On Dec. 11, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) officially opened its STEM Center, featuring resources and services to assist students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students who visit the facility can use a computer lab and study lounge and take advantage of other services, including exam proctoring, career exploration, and class support. In addition, the center features collaborative spaces for group study, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and group meetings.

Pictured: faculty and staff join STCC President John Cook, right, at the grand opening of the STEM Center at STCC. Barbara Washburn, interim dean of the School of STEM, second from right, cuts the ribbon with Vice President of Academic Affairs Geraldine de Berly.


 

Helping Students Thrive

A reception on Dec. 10 acknowledged a $50,000 donation from PeoplesBank to Holyoke Community College’s (HCC) Thrive Center, which assists students as they negotiate the complex bureaucracies associated with myriad issues, such as health insurance, food, housing and utility assistance, and credit repair. The money will be used to establish a dedicated fund for Thrive managed by the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising corporation.

Pictured, from left: Thomas Senecal, president and CEO, PeoplesBank; HCC President Christina Royal; HCC student Christopher Royster; and Amanda Sbriscia, executive director, HCC Foundation.

 


 

Third Party Lender of the Year

Florence Bank was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Western Massachusetts Third Party Lender of the Year for loans the bank administers to small businesses in the area. Third-party loans, called SBA 504 loans, are offered by the bank in collaboration with certified development corporations such as Granite State Development Corp., Bay Colony Development Corp., and BDC Capital/CDC New England.

Pictured, from left:  Peter Kontakos, office deputy district director, SBA Massachusetts; Erin Couture and Michael Davey, Florence Bank vice presidents in Commercial Lending; Robert Nelson, office district director, SBA Massachusetts; and Ili Spahiu, assistant district director for Lender Relations, SBA Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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Cutting the Ribbon

EforAll Holyoke recently cut the ceremonial ribbon at its new headquarters on High Street. The well-attended event featured remarks from a number of those responsible for creating EforAll, now a key component of the region’s entrepreneurship infrastructure, and also building a home for it, one complete with co-working space, in the city’s downtown.

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of EforAll Holyoke, offers some remarks

 


History Lessons

Fifth-grade students at Springfield’s DeBerry School visited the Springfield Armory on Nov. 26 on a field trip organized by BusinessWest as part of its sponsorship of the school through the Link to Libraries Community Book Link Program. The students were reading recently about creation of the National Parks, which prompted a visit to the Armory, a National Historic Site. The students learned about the Armory’s importance to Springfield’s development and its lead role in bringing mass-production processes to the forefront. Here, the students pose in front of the historic photo that greets Armory visitors.

 


Early Literacy Leadership Summit

More than 100 community and state education leaders gathered at Reading Success by 4th Grade’s first Early Literacy Leadership Summit on Nov. 14 at UMass Center at Springfield in Tower Square. The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education (top right), whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers. Pictured at left: from left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree. Top left: panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers

From left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree

Panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

 


President’s Platinum Award

Country Bank recently held its annual staff recognition, which recognized the recipient of the President’s Platinum Award, Matt Croft, IT solutions architect (left). “Matt embodies the bank’s values and its mission,” said Paul Scully (right), president and CEO of Country Bank. One nominee wrote that “Matt shares his knowledge and continually collaborates with teammates by asking for their opinions and different viewpoints to solve problems. He analyzes situations, and if he sees that someone has a heavy workload to meet a deadline, he pitches in to lend a hand to hit the target date. He follows up with appreciation and sincere gratitude toward others for their efforts.”

 


 

Rock-solid Performance

Granite State Development Corp. approved 21 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans totaling more than $8 million in its last fiscal year, making it the most active 504 lender in Western Mass. by both dollars and loan approvals. In addition, it ended the fiscal year ranked fourth in the country by approving 223 loans for $109,099,000.

Pictured, from left: Peter Kontakos, SBA deputy district director; Tracey Gaylord, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Barbara Arena, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Robert Nelson, SBA district director; and Ili Spahiu, SBA assistant district director for Lender Relations.

 


Stuff the Bus

The Springfield College campus community filled the Springfield College Athletics bus on Nov. 20 with more than 2,900 pounds of non-perishable food items as part of the annual Fill the Bus campaign, sponsored by the Springfield College Student Athlete Leadership Team, the Department of Public Safety, and the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement. Fill the Bus is an annual tradition that allows students, faculty, staff, and community members to donate non-perishable food items to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, German Gerena Community School, and the Springfield College Food Pantry. Donations included canned fruit and vegetables, canned soup, cereal, crackers, granola bars, jelly, peanut butter, rice, and stuffing mix.


 

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Toys for the Kids

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin, along with Springfield police officers and state troopers, recently went shopping at Walmart on Boston Road on Tuesday morning with a special delivery in mind. Afterward, they made a large donation of toys to Baystate Children’s Hospital.

 


Honoring a Supporter

At the launch of the college’s first major gifts campaign in more than a decade, Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook announced the naming of the Tuohey Family Welcome Center at the Student Learning Commons. Brian Tuohey (pictured), a generous supporter of STCC, beamed with delight after hearing the news. His family, including his five children and 12 grandchildren, made a surprise appearance at the kickoff event on Oct. 22.

 


Celebrating 100 Years

Balise Auto Group recently held its 100th-anniversary employee-recognition event at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

President Jeb Balise

A shot of all Balise associates who have been with the company for 10 years or more

 


Food Fest West

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) held its annual Food Fest West on Nov. 7  at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. The event featured the foods of area restaurants, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, bNapoli, 110 Grill, Hamel’s Creative Catering, Courtyard by Marriott, Pintu’s Indian Cuisine, Partners Restaurant, Springfield Country Club, Storrowton Tavern, Tekoa Country Club, and more. Storrowton Tavern in West Springfield won the People’s Choice Award.

Guests Kelli Lemelin and Ron Lemelin enjoy food from Springfield Country Club

 

A chef from bNapoli serves WRC Chairman Ryan McL

 


Where Health Matters

Health New England recently awarded five $50,000 Where Health Matters grants to organizations that have a positive impact among vulnerable population groups in Western and Central Mass. The honorees included Men of Color Health Awareness, or MOCHA (represented by Lamont Scott, pictured below); Square One (represented by Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard, pictured at bottom); 18 Degrees, a division of Berkshire Children and Families Inc.; Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and the Center for Youth Engagement at UMass Amherst.

Lamont Scott

Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard

 


Instilling a Love of Books

The start of the 2019-20 school year marked several significant milestones for Link to Libraries. First, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and families, including Monson Savings Bank (MSB), which now sponsors a record five schools, every public elementary school in the city of Springfield is now a part of Link to Libraries’ Community Book Link sponsorship program. During the 2018-19 academic year, Link to Libraries donated 23,000 new books to sponsored libraries throughout the region. In addition, a record 200-plus Link to Libraries volunteer readers began reading in classrooms in underserved elementary schools in Hampden, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Hartford counties.

Principal Terry Powe and students from Elias Brookings Elementary School welcome their new sponsor, MSB President Steve Lowell, and Link to Libraries President and CEO Laurie Flynn

 

William Johnson, vice president of St. Germain Investments, reads to students at Lincoln Elementary School

Longtime volunteer Francie Cornwell reads to students at Homer Elementary School

 


A Challenge from the Commissioner

Carlos Santiago, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, spoke to a crowd at Holyoke Community College on Nov. 5. He emphasized the importance of reconceptualizing the work that educators have been doing for the past 20 to 30 years, examining the students that are coming into the system, and changing the perception of the students themselves.

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