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Company Notebook

Report Cites HCC-UMass Relationship as Successful Transfer Pathway

HOLYOKE — The relationship between Holyoke Community College and UMass Amherst is highlighted in a national report as a model of a successful transfer partnership other colleges would do well to emulate. HCC and UMass were selected as one of only six pairs of ‘high-performing’ community colleges and partner universities in “The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges” from the Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “We analyzed the practices at partnerships of community colleges and four-year institutions with high rates of transfer-student success,” said Davis Jenkins, senior researcher at CCRC and co-author of the report released Tuesday. “This report presents the evidence-based strategies that community colleges and university leaders can use to improve outcomes on their own campuses.” The free report is available online at It praises HCC for its “culture of commitment to transfer” and “the institution’s goal of improving transfer rates,” and cites President Bill Messner for regularly communicating “the importance of clear transfer pathways with UMass Amherst leaders.” The report cites collaborative grants that align degree pathways and support student success for HCC students who transfer to UMass; HCC’s learning-community courses that “provide the sort of rich and rigorous learning experiences that will prepare students for four-year college coursework”; the HCC Honors program, including a new transfer pact between HCC and the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass; the emphasis on dual enrollment for high-school students taking college classes; and regular visits to HCC from UMass transfer representatives. The report also notes the general expectation among faculty, staff, and advisors that students at HCC will transfer after earning a certificate or degree. “Everyone asks, ‘where are you going next?’” an HCC student quoted in the report remarks. Each year, UMass Amherst accepts and enrolls more transfer students from HCC than from any other community college in Massachusetts. For the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters, a total of 203 HCC students transferred to UMass Amherst.

90 Meat Outlet Opens Expansion on Avocado Street

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno joined officials from 90 Meat Outlet recently to celebrate the completion of its 15,000-square-foot expansion at 90 Avocado St. in the North End. Latino Food Distributors, an affiliate of 90 Meat Outlet, built the expansion and moved its headquarters to the Avocado Street site. The move relocated eight jobs from a temporary leased site in West Springfield. Under the five-year tax-increment financing agreement, the company invested approximately $1.5 million into the project, including renovations and equipment, and will create seven new jobs. The business will continue to pay current taxes on the 90 Meat Outlet building, and received an exemption on the new construction, beginning at a full exemption during the first year, and down to 20% by the fifth year. The exemptions result in a savings of approximately $45,600 for the company over a five-year period, and a gain of $30,400 in taxes for the city of Springfield. 90 Meat Outlet owner Jim Vallides has also pledged to donate $1,000 to fund the ShotSpotter public-safety initiative that covers the North End area of Springfield to the Chicopee line.

Center for EcoTechnology Wins Environmental Award

NORTHAMPTON — The Center for EcoTechnology was recognized recently at the 2016 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New England regional office. The Center for EcoTechnology was among three dozen recipients across New England honored for helping to improve New England’s environment. “I could not be more proud of the efforts of the Center for EcoTechnology in conjunction with our partners,” said President John Majercak. “We decided to make an active effort to reduce food waste, and it’s tremendous to see the impact that focus has had.” The Center for EcoTechnology was noted for being a leader and pioneer in food recovery in Massachusetts, most recently through its partnership with the state Department of Environmental Protection to offer RecyclingWorks MA. Wasted food makes up the largest component of our country’s municipal solid waste and accounts for the largest portion of its methane emissions, making wasted food a significant environmental issue. In addition, reducing food losses by just 15% could feed more than 25 million Americans each year, according to the National Resources Defense Council. Each year since 1970, EPA New England has recognized individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region’s environment in distinct ways. “We’re proud to honor those citizens, businesses, and organizations who have gone the extra mile to help protect and preserve our region’s natural resources,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “These New England award winners are committed to making our towns, cities, and countryside of New England healthy, vibrant places with clean air, land, and water.” The Center for EcoTechnology, along with RecyclingWorks, has spearheaded collaborative efforts to address and divert wasted food by helping hundreds of food-waste processors, recovery agencies, haulers, and thousands of businesses divert wasted food and build a strong industry to comply with the state’s food-waste disposal ban. The center recently expanded its work to Connecticut to replicate strategies tested in Massachusetts. Since 2012, the Center for EcoTechnology has helped businesses divert 20,389 tons of wasted organics, including wasted food, annually.

ATC Audio Video Lighting Celebrates 30th Year

WEST SPRINGFIELD — ATC Audio Video Lighting recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. In 1986, the company started in a basement workshop. Due to a lack of space, it moved to its first brick-and-mortar retail location, which was a meager 400 square feet. After moving to three larger locations, ATC now resides in its 8,000-square-foot location on Myron Street. The company offers professional/commercial audio, video, and lighting installation, integration, design, and sales. ATC’s clients are in a wide range of industries, such as corporate, colleges and universities, public and private schools, government, hospitals, casinos, technology centers, houses of worship, theaters, sport facilities, DJs, musicians, and any organization that utilizes AV technology. ATC’s Myron St. location also houses one of the only walk-in retail stores of its kind in New England. The retail store offers over-the-counter sales and service of audio, video, and lighting equipment. Another major part of the company’s business is its rental and production inventory, giving the customer the ability to rent anything from simple items like a microphone up to major audio- and video-production equipment and technician services. “I remember working solo in the first store on White Street in Springfield,” said Tony Caliento, ATC owner and president. “We had 400 square feet, no air conditioning and heat that barely worked, but we didn’t care at the time; we just loved what we were doing. Once we were known to clients, we stocked more equipment, offered more services, and the 400-square-foot space filled quickly. Reflecting on the company’s growth since then, Caliento added, “our staff enjoys working for ATC and loves what we do for our clients.”

HUB International New England Awards Scholarships

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International New England, a division of HUB International Limited, a leading insurance brokerage firm, announced it will award scholarships to local graduating high-school seniors planning to attend an accredited college, university, junior college, or community college. The students must plan to continue their study of business and enter college the same year as their graduation from high school.
“There is such a wide range of young talent right here in Western Mass.,” said Timm Marini, president of HUB International New England. “We are delighted to recognize these students for their high achievements, hard work, and dedication to continuing their studies and pursuing their dreams.” HUB International has been providing scholarships to high-school seniors for 29 years. Scholarships are awarded based on the high school’s recommendation. Winners will be announced in the coming weeks.

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