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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 messaging’s goal was to speak to the pride felt by each and every resident of the greater Western Mass region, as well as the longstanding hockey history of the city.

This marks the second time the Thunderbirds have been recognized for having the Marketing Campaign of the Year. The club also received the award following the 2018-19 season for its #RiseUp campaign.

#WeAre413 got underway with the team’s return to the ice on Oct. 16, with legendary NHL broadcast voice Mike “Doc” Emrick narrating the journey the Thunderbirds and the Springfield community experienced to get back on the ice. The full video can be viewed here.

“We wanted to establish a campaign that would speak to the rallying of our community for our triumphant return to play in 2021-22,” said Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa. “#WeAre413 showcased our fans’ passion for hockey and our players’ shared goal of bringing the Calder Cup back to Springfield. By the time the Calder Cup Finals arrived, Springfield was the center of the AHL world thanks to the unwavering support of this community. This award further validates our belief that Springfield is one of the best hockey cities in this league.”

In addition to the Marketing Campaign of the Year, the Thunderbirds achieved a pair of milestones in both the ticket sales and corporate sales departments. 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.

The ticket sales team received honors for reaching 600 new full season equivalents (FSEs) during the 2021-22 season, where one FSE equates to one

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SPRINGFIELD — In the spring of 2017, Healthcare News and its sister publication, BusinessWest, created a new and exciting recognition program called Healthcare Heroes.

It was launched with the theory that there are heroes working all across this region’s wide, deep, and all-important healthcare sector, and that there was no shortage of fascinating stories to tell and individuals and groups to honor. That theory has certainly been validated.

But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of heroes whose stories we still need to tell, especially in these times, when the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many types of heroes to the forefront. And that’s where you come in.

Nominations for the class of 2022 are due July 29, and we encourage you to get involved and help recognize someone you consider to be a hero in the community we call Western Mass. in one (or more) of these seven categories:

• Patient/Resident/Client Care Provider;

•  Health/Wellness Administrator/Administration;

• Emerging Leader;

• Community Health;

• Innovation in Health/Wellness;

•  Collaboration in Health/Wellness; and

• Lifetime Achievement.

Nominations can be submitted at

https://businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes/nominations/

For more information call Melissa Hallock, Marketing and Events Director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or email to [email protected]

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FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that president and CEO Kevin Day will retire on Nov. 25, and a focused search is underway for a new leader.

Day took over as president in January 2020 and became CEO in May of the same year.

When Day took the helm at age 64, he promised that nothing would change at the bank. Little did he know, he’d be called upon to usher Florence Bank through some of the most tumultuous times in history, including a pandemic and the resulting financial strife. Day led the bank in ensuring that countless homeowners and businesses were able to defer their payments during the pandemic and in helping business customers connect to grants and other available funding.

These measures helped customers navigate the financial turmoil and gave them much-needed time to adjust to new financial situations.

The bank also expanded over these past two years, opening a branch in Chicopee; creating a work-from-home program for employees; and granting hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations in the Valley.

Day takes pride in the bank’s stability but shares the credit with the full banking team.

“Our goal in this transition is to identify an individual to lead the bank into the future while preserving the values and mission of the past that have proven so successful here,” he said. “I am proud to say that Florence Bank is fundamentally sound in every way. We have an experienced executive management team, a solid officer team and a dedicated staff. I am confident that the bank will continue to prosper for many years to come.”

Day joined Florence Bank in 2008 as chief financial officer, responsible for finance, facilities and risk management. His responsibilities expanded to include compliance in 2013, residential lending in 2014 and retail banking in 2016. He was also promoted to executive vice president in 2016.

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WESTFIELD Tighe & Bond, Inter-Fluve, the Town of Falmouth (MA), 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 (ACEC/MA) and the Nicholas Humber Outstanding Collaboration Award from the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC).

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 including a dam, water control structures, a series of undersized culverts that were replaced with the new John Parker Road Bridge, and 5,560 feet of the river were reestablished to closely match the historic natural flow of the river. A river overlook is a gateway to miles of trail with interpretive signs about the natural history placed along the river that is protected by town and land trust conservation lands.

“The Coonamessett River restoration achieved its goals to be a nature-based solution to increase resiliency to climate change and community resiliency,” said Elizabeth Gladfelter, Falmouth Conservation Commission Member. “This project has increased awareness and stewardship of natural resources in Falmouth and both formal and informal educational programs.”

Project partners spanning local, state, and federal organizations collaborated with the technical engineering and construction teams to successfully complete this project. The restoration is serving as an example for other Cape Cod communities transforming former cranberry bogs across the region into thriving wildlife habitats and educational and recreational opportunities for all.

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HOLYOKEHolyoke Medical Center has announced the appointment of Lisa Wray-Schechterle, as the hospital’s director of Community Benefits.

Wray-Schechterle joins the hospital from Pyramid Management Group where she served as the marketing director of the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, a position she held for more than 20 years.

Wray-Schechterle holds both a master of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western New England University. She serves as a marketing committee member for Girls Inc. of the Valley, a board member of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, and as an advisory board member for the Holyoke Community College School of Business.

“We are happy to welcome Lisa to our team,” said Spiros Hatiras, Holyoke Medical Center’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Her proven ability to build collaborative partnerships coupled with her knowledge of Holyoke and the many community based organizations we work with throughout the region, will enable her to successfully manage and expand our Community Benefits program.”

Holyoke Medical Center Community Benefits provides programs and services to improve health in communities and helps to increase access to health care. This is done to advance medical and health knowledge in the community and relieve or reduce the burden of government and other community efforts. Wray-Schechterle has succeeded Kathy Anderson as the director of the department, following Anderson’s retirement. 

“I am excited to extend my knowledge and networking connections to help improve the health needs of the Pioneer Valley,” said Wray-Schechterle.  

“As the hospital has just completed their 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, I look forward to creating the next implementation strategy based on the feedback we received and expressed needs identified by the community.”

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Confidence among Massachusetts employers edged close to pessimistic territory in June as businesses struggled with surging inflation and concerns about a possible recession.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) fell 3.9 points to 50.8. The Index now rests 12.6 points lower than a year ago and marginally higher than the 50 mark that separates an optimistic from a pessimistic view.

The decline, which left the Index at its lowest point since December 2020, reflects particular concern about the course of both the state and national economies. The BCI’s US Index plummeted 9.1 points for the month and more than 20.3 points for the year.

The Central Massachusetts Business Confidence Index, conducted with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, fell from 57.5 to 49.0. The North Shore Confidence Index, conducted with the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, dropped from 61.8 in May to 52.6 last month.

The confidence numbers came at a time when 76% of CEOs globally tell The Conference Board that they expect a recession by the end of 2023 or believe it’s already here. The economy appears to be growing, but employers face growing struggles with soaring fuel prices, supply chain disruptions and financial market volatility.

“Central banks around the world are raising interest rates with new urgency, hoping to cool inflation by slowing growth of aggregate demand and achieving a closer balance with supply,” said Sara L. Johnson, Chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors.

“Capital markets remain open, but financing costs are rising for businesses, consumers, home buyers, and governments. The year ahead will bring a more difficult environment for builders and capital good producers.”

The constituent indicators that make up the Index were  uniformly lower in June.

The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth shed 6.6 points to 47.2, down 16.4 points since June 2021. The US Index measuring conditions throughout the country fell to 38.6.

The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, declined 3.3 points to 53.4. The Future Index, measuring projections for the economy six months from now, lost 4.6 points to 48.1.

The confidence employers have in their own companies declined 2.6 points to 56.0, ending the month 8.7 points lower than in June 2021.

The Manufacturing Index fell 5.2 points to 49.3, 11.6 points less than a year ago.

Small companies (52.6) were more optimistic than large companies (50.2) or Medium-sized companies (49.8).

Elmore Alexander, Dean Emeritus of the Ricciardi College of Business, Bridgewater State University, and a BEA member, said the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns in China have added to the supply chain woes experienced by Massachusetts employers.

“Elevated demand continues to collide with supply restraints and most economists believe inflation will remain above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target through the end of 2023,” Alexander said.

AIM President and CEO John R. Regan, also a BEA member, noted that recent polls find that among all of the vexing issues facing the commonwealth, Massachusetts residents remain most concerned about the economy and jobs, inflation, housing costs and taxes.

“The citizens of Massachusetts clearly understand that economic growth and jobs form the basis of their ability to establish a stable life and raise a family. The emphasis on jobs is especially notable at a time of an acute labor shortage that has allowed workers participating in the ‘Great Resignation’ to pretty much have their pick of new positions,” Regan said.

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FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that it recently donated $50,000 to the Easthampton Community Center through its Florence Savings Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation, Inc.

“We are honored to receive such a large donation,” said Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center, who was recently named the 2022 Person of the Year by United Way of the Hampshire & Franklin Region. “This is a testament to how much the people at Florence Bank and the Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation value our work, and it will allow us to touch many lives in the community.”

The Florence Savings Easthampton Branch Charitable Foundation was formed in 1999, following the merger of the former Easthampton Cooperative Bank into Florence Bank, the first and only acquisition for Florence Bank.
That investment brought Florence Bank into Easthampton for the first time. Before the merger, Easthampton Cooperative Bank operated the branch near the city rotary, which Florence Bank assumed and continues to run today.

“This foundation helps reinforce the longstanding giving philosophy of Florence Bank,” said President and CEO Kevin Day. “There is a synergy there. The foundation allows the bank to serve its overall mission as a supporter and sustainer in the communities we serve.”

The check for $50,000 was presented by three original members of the foundation: Nancy J. LaBombard, Virginia L. Smith and Anita Sedlak.

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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 new dynamic, state-of-the-art headquarters and program center in Holyoke, expanding geographic reach in public schools in Springfield, Chicopee, and beyond, and supporting their innovative Eureka! STEM program that prepares girls for college and career.

“This incredible gift from bankESB to support the Her Future, Our Future campaign shows their impactful commitment to community,” said Suzanne Parker, executive director at Girls Inc. of the Valley. “We are proud to have bankESB’s support as we aim to deliver our research-based, engaging programs to more youth across the Valley — and in our new headquarters.”

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 we work together to solve our communities’ biggest problems.

“Children are our future, and Girls Inc. of the Valley is helping to build that future for young girls with innovative, supportive, and life-changing programs that inspire them to be strong, smart, and bold,” said Sosik. “bankESB is pleased to do its part in supporting Girls Inc. and its efforts to provide a high-quality environment and programs that help elementary school-age and teenage girls unlock their full potential.”

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SPRINGFIELD Colliers Capital Markets announced that it has been retained by MassDevelopment, to sell 1550 Main Street, 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 United States 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, an office, retail, hotel and parking complex. 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.

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NORTHAMPTON — HONEY, a recreational cannabis dispensary, located in the former home of Sierra Grille, will stage its grand opening on July 9 at 1 p.m.

Visitors can enjoy all day music, fresh popped kettle corn, and performances by the local hula hoopers, wing dancers, stilt walkers, and aerialists. There will be a fire performance at 8:30 p.m.

HONEY is owned and operated by Volkan Polatol and Kevin Perrier. In opening HONEY Northampton, Polatol and Perrier have teamed up with HONEY Brands, originally founded in California, which produces full spectrum, distilled cannabis oil in vape cartridges.

“We are thrilled to partner with the HONEY brand,” Perrier said. “It’s telltale black-and-gold packaging has become synonymous with the best cannabis hash oil on the market today. And now, consumers on the East Coast can try it for themselves. We’re also proud to be able to make the HONEY hash oils from our own facility at Wemelco Industries in Easthampton.”

In addition to HONEY vapes, the dispensary also carries the highest-testing flower and a huge selection of brands from across the state. The location’s innovative LED tunnel, color-changing displays, and chill playlist all create a relaxed, club vibe, and budtenders are on hand to give expert advice on all products.

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AMHERST — UMass Amherst has received a $10 million, five-year award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the New England Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (NEWVEC).

The UMass-based center is one in a group of regional centers of excellence designated by the CDC to reduce the risk of vector-borne diseases – such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus – spread by ticks, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking arthropods across the U.S.

Stephen Rich, vector-borne disease expert and professor of microbiology, is the principal investigator on the project and will serve as the executive director of NEWVEC, whose three-pronged mission will integrate applied research, training and community of practice to prevent and reduce tick- and mosquito-borne diseases in New England. NEWVEC aims to bring together academic communities, public health practitioners and residents and visitors across the Northeast.

“We’re really excited about building this community of practice and embracing all the stakeholders in the region who need to know how to do things like reduce ticks and mosquitoes on school properties and public spaces. It is also important to inform the public on best practices to keep ticks and mosquitoes from biting people and their pets,” Rich said. “Part of that mission entails training public health entomologists — undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D.-level students — who are going to be the next generation of people confronting these challenges.”

Infectious disease epidemiologist Andrew Lover, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, will serve as deputy director of the center, with co-principal investigator Guang Xu at UMass Amherst, and co-principal investigators at Northern Vermont University, the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island and Western Connecticut State University.

“This center fills a critical gap in responses to vector-borne disease in the region,” said Lover, who aims to apply his prior work with regional malaria elimination programs to build strong networks across the Northeast region. “As pathogens and vectors don’t pay attention to borders, coordination across states is essential for public health response. Among other things, we’ll develop practical public health tools to understand how and where people are most likely to interact with ticks, which will then allow for well-targeted and efficient health programs.”

His lab also will provide technical assistance to directly support local health practitioners in optimizing vector surveillance strategies and designing operational research to improve program effectiveness.

Xu, research professor of microbiology, will be responsible for the center’s pathogen testing core and will conduct applied research in the evaluation of tick suppression approaches.

Rich notes that blood-sucking ticks transmit more vector-borne diseases than any other arthropod in North America, accounting for some 400,000 cases of Lyme disease alone every year. “And at least a half-dozen other pathogens are associated with the blacklegged tick,” commonly known as the deer tick, he adds. “It’s kind of a silent epidemic.”

The researchers say it’s critical to attack the problem on all fronts by using applied research projects to reduce tick populations and optimize personal protection and control products, and by training public health students and workers, as well as individuals.

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SPRINGFIELD —   The Naismith Memorial Basketball hall of Fame has announced the return of “Hoophall Hangouts” which will replace “60 Days of Summer,” the museum’s annual summer program featuring family-oriented fun.

Starting on July 1 and running through August 31, the Hall of Fame will host various appearances from basketball players, personalities, and Hall of Famers.

“The hall is excited to bring summer programming back to Springfield starting in July,” said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Paired with our newly renovated museum, Hoophall Hangouts will elevate the experience for our museum guests and will hopefully leave everyone with fantastic memories of their visit.”

On August 12, Bob Hurley Sr. (Hall of Fame Class of 2010) will accompany his son, Dan Hurley head coach for UConn’s men’s basketball team for a special father/son appearance. Throughout the summer, museum goers will also have the opportunity to hear from Class of 2022 Inductees Tim Hardaway, Bob Huggins, and George Karl, as well as hall of famers Grant Hill from the Class of 2018 and Jay Wright from the Class of 2021. Head coach Frank Martin from UMass will also be making an appearance.

“Hoophall Hangouts” appearances are free of charge to museum guests, however some appearances will have select VIP opportunities. “Hoophall Hangouts” will be scheduled throughout the summer and will occur at 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.hoophall.com/hoophallhangouts or follow @hoophall on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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AMHERST — The Amherst Business Improvement District has announced the lineup for the second annual Friday Night Summer Concert Series on the South Common. The series is sponsored by Encharter Insurance.

On July 22, the BID presents local artists Dawn Lepere and Jeff Starns opening for blues singer-songwriter Eric Lee (LINK). On July 29, UMass will return to the Common for the second year of Jazz in July in downtown Amherst, an event featuring UMass staff, students, and a couple of ‘ringers.’ On August 5, the Grammy-winning Children’s performer MISTER G will take the stage before The Soul Magnets appear. Wrapping up the series on August 12 will be the classic country act the Rosie Porter Trio, followed by the pop-rock Maxxtones.

These events will be free for all, starting at 6 p.m. These evenings will also host local brewery White Lion Brewing, local cider makers Artifact, and Black Birch Vineyards wine for the over-21 guests. Crème Bru.LA will be joining the fun, and there will have a charcuterie station.

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SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley recently welcomed five local leaders to its board of directors:

• Claudia Pazmany, executive director, Amherst Chamber of Commerce;

• Ryan Barry ‘17 LPV, partner, Bulkely Richardson & Gelinas LLP;

• Kristin Cole ‘13 LPV, director of Workforce Training, Greenfield Community College;

• Katisha Gallishaw, owner, KG Virtual CFO;

• Hope Ross-Gibaldi, executive director, Valley Venture Mentors

Leadership Pioneer Valley is currently recruiting for the 11th cohort to begin in September. Individuals interested in applying can find applications online at  www.leadershippv.org.

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