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Company Notebook

U.S. News Ranks
Isenberg’s Online MBA Program 12th Nationally
AMHERST — The Isenberg School of Management’s online MBA program at UMass Amherst ranks among the best online MBA programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online MBA Programs.” The Isenberg MBA is ranked 12th out of 221 institutions ranked by the publication. “We continue to lead the pack in an increasingly competitive online educational landscape,” said Mark Fuller, dean of the Isenberg School. “This confirms what thousands of Isenberg students and alumni have known for over a decade: Isenberg’s online program goes beyond case studies and textbooks to drive students to real success.” The U.S. News ranking is based on five factors: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials, and training and student services and technology. Unlike many of the other programs that recently entered the online space, Isenberg has offered its MBA in a 100% online format for more than 13 years, making it one of the oldest accredited online MBA programs in the nation. Enrollment approaches 1,300 students, making it the largest out of the top 25 schools ranked by U.S. News. “We continue to attract a high number of highly educated, highly successful professionals because we have a team of experienced professors and advisors who really understand how these students learn best,” said John Wells, associate dean of professional programs. “Despite our long tradition of outstanding online education, we continue to innovate with a variety of new approaches and technologies to connect students in our online format, new opportunities for in-person connections, and more diversity in our class offerings, including business analytics and sport management.”

Florence Bank TV Ad
Earns Top-20 Ranking from Bank Innovation
FLORENCE — Florence Bank, a mutually owned savings bank serving the Pioneer Valley through nine branch locations, has earned a spot on the Bank Innovation website (www.bankinnovation.net) for creating one of the 20 best banking videos of the year.
The commercial was produced by Sean Tracey Associates, Florence Bank’s advertising agency of record for the past three years and a key contributor to the bnk’s rebranding campaign. As one of Bank Innovation’s top 20 video ads of the year, the Florence Bank commercial is in good company with banks from around the world, including such high-profile institutions as Capital One, PayPal, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Lloyds Bank, Ally Financial, Bank of Scotland, Bank of Ireland, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Bank Innovation website was launched in 2009 and is produced by Royal Media, a media company that has served the financial industry since 1995. Bank Innovation tracks and encourages innovative banking worldwide. According to Sean Tracey, principal of Sean Tracey Associates, the 30-second video was a follow-up to a commercial produced two years ago in which local talent danced to the beat of Florence Bank’s theme music, titled “Always.” That year, professional singers were used on the music tracks. “Since that was a hit market-wise, we thought it would be a great idea to follow up the dancing commercials with a series of singing commercials,” said Tracey. “Since the bank’s customer base is full of talented artists and musicians, we felt we could use all local singers, performing the bank’s theme music in their own style.” The singing styles featured in the video range from country and jazz to pop and rock, with the 10 performers showcased culled from close to 50 who auditioned. Casting and pre-production spanned three months, with post-production and editing taking another month. Photography was shot over a two-day period on the Academy of Music stage in Northampton. Music producer and writer Dan Serafini, a long-time friend of Tracey’s, produced the music for the ad. “It was a dream-team production experience and extremely rewarding. As far as we know, this concept has not been done before, much less by a local bank — it was bold and daring,” Tracey said, thanking Monica Curhan, the bank’s senior vice president and marketing director, and President and CEO John Heaps Jr. “for their immense bravery and trust in our team to do something truly innovative and allow us to push the creative envelope. I think it paid off in spades.” Heaps added, “we are thrilled at the attention our latest television spot is receiving and feel honored that it has earned a spot on the Bank Innovation website. We thank Sean Tracey Associates for their vision and remarkable work and also our talented customers for their contribution to this award-winning video.”

MacDuffie Announces Collaboration with MCPHS
GRANBY — The MacDuffie School, a co-ed, college-preparatory school for grades 6 to 12, announced a collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) that will guarantee qualified students admission to the Boston-based university. “The MCPHS program aligns well with the MacDuffie School,” said MacDuffie Head of School Steve Griffin. “MCPHS works hard to ensure that their graduates are certified in their home country, which is great for our international population. In addition, many of our local students are looking at careers in health sciences; a path to guaranteed admission is a wonderful benefit to all of our students.” This opportunity is contingent on students’ success in prerequisite courses at MacDuffie and, if needed, an English-proficiency test. According to the agreement, students with a minimum B average in MCPHS-specified science and math courses will be eligible for a reserved spot in an undergraduate program. Students graduating from MacDuffie with a minimum B average in the prerequisite courses and who meet the English-language requirements are guaranteed both a reserved spot and a scholarship. “In the health sciences, it’s important to have good training and references,” said Ita Duron-Hermouet, director of Admission International Research and Strategy at MCPHS. “Our graduates have the most prestigious internships available.” Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health are just a few of the institutions where MCPHS graduates obtain internships and employment.

State & Bond, LLC Joins International Trade Group
SPRINGFIELD — State & Bond, LLC, has become a member of ACA International, a association of credit and collection professionals. ACA membership demonstrates that State & Bond is dedicated to advancing quality and professionalism in the credit and collection industry. As an ACA member, State & Bond has agreed to comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the ethical standards and guidelines established by the association. State & Bond is also a member of the New England Collectors Assoc. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset-buying companies, creditors, and vendor affiliates, representing more than 230,000 industry employees. ACA establishes ethical standards; produces a wide variety of products, serices, and publications; and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers, and consumers. For more information, visit www.acainternational.org.

Michael’s Party Rentals
to Move into New
Location in Palmer
LUDLOW — Michael’s Party Rentals Inc., located in Ludlow, recently purchased a building at 1221 South Main St. in Palmer. The new building gives the rental company more than double its current space, providing more than 20,000 square feet. “I have been looking for quite a long time to find the right building to solve our space issues,” said Michael Linton, president and owner. “Landing in Palmer was perfect because we service west to Albany and east to Boston, as well as north and south from Vermont to Southern Connecticut; this gives the team terrific access.” The additional space is needed to hold Michael’s ever-growing inventory of special-event equipment, including items obtained during its recent acquisition of Yankee Tents. The migration of the tents, chairs, and china from Ludlow to the new building will not happen until late spring, as Linton plans a major renovation of the building, including 1,000 square feet of office space, as well as a 2,000-square-foot Show Room and Design Center, where a client can plan an event. “This is the part I am most excited about,” said Melissa Sullivan, senior event coordinator and director of the Design Center. “It is going to be so amazing to actually be able to help a client visualize their event by creating a mini-version for them to touch and feel.” In addition, Michael’s will be adding a state-of-the-art tent-washing machine, the only one of its kind in the Pioneer Valley. The total project is expected to cost just shy of $750,000 and was financed by Chicopee Savings Bank and the Worcester Business Development Corp.

Euro-style Kart Track to Open in Hadley in March
HADLEY — Get ready to start your engines — Autobahn Indoor Speedway will open in March in the Hampshire Mall. “Indoor kart racing has been popular in Europe for many years and has recently found a strong following on the West Coast of the United States,” said Autobahn Managing Partner David Larson. “Autobahn Indoor Speedway is extremely excited to be bringing the first European-style indoor electric kart-racing facility to the Amherst area.” The Italian-made adult racing karts approach speeds of 50 mph.  The speedway utilizes zero-emission electric karts that accelerate faster than their noisier, gas-powered counterparts. “These are not the slow, rattling go-carts you may be used to as a kid,” Larson said. “Our karts are the highest-performance available, state of the art and built for safety.  One of the first things people notice is the torque of our electric motors — that acceleration is amazing. The handling is also top of the line, with hydraulic disc brakes, a rear differential, and competition-style racing tires.” The company, which will have a total of nine tracks on the East Coast by April, provides racing instruction to newbies and offers competitive leagues to more seasoned drivers. There are even Junior Karts (with slightly slower speeds) suitable for the younger crowd if they are at least 48 inches tall. Autobahn Indoor Speedway will be available for company outings, social groups, and birthday parties. Various group race packages are designed to meet the needs of most events, but a custom package can be arranged (including private, full-facility rentals). Groups have reserved race times and exclusive use of the track during their races, and they can compete individually or in teams. For more information, visit www.autobahnspeed.com or e-mail [email protected]

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