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Company Notebook

Berkshire Bank to Move HQ to Boston, Acquire Commerce Bank

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp, parent of Berkshire Bank, announced today that it plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Boston later this year, a move to support the bank’s continued strategic growth throughout the Northeast. The company also announced a definitive agreement to acquire Commerce Bancshares Corp. and its subsidiary, Commerce Bank, in Worcester, adding 16 new branches in Eastern Mass. and a well-established commercial team to capitalize on growth opportunities and further solidify its regional presence. The combined institution will be the largest regional bank in Massachusetts and the first regional bank headquartered in Boston in decades.  “Locating our corporate headquarters in Boston will not take us away from our roots in Berkshire County; we remain committed to all of our employees, customers, and communities,” said Michael Daly, CEO of Berkshire Bank. “Boston will offer our senior executives connectivity with government leaders, regulators, and decision makers, and provide the ability to attract broader workforce talent as the bank continues to grow. With the addition of the Commerce team, we will be able to leverage the strengths of both banks and capitalize on growth opportunities in the attractive, high-growth Eastern Massachusetts markets. This is not only important to Boston, but to all our local markets, to be the first regional bank with a Boston headquarters in decades.” The proposed acquisition provides significant scale in Eastern Mass. The combined franchise will operate its corporate headquarters, four branches, and three lending offices in Greater Boston, and an additional 15 branches in and around Worcester, with $3 billion in loans and $2 billion in deposits. On completion of the deal, Berkshire Bank will have 113 branches serving customers across the Northeast. Berkshire is committed to growing its operating model, levering its platforms such as the MyBanker concierge banking service, and expects commercial, wealth-management, and private-banking businesses to be focuses of its strategy in Greater Boston. Berkshire Bank’s operational center will remain in downtown Pittsfield, and the relocation will not have any impact on its employees. Additionally, its current regional hubs serving markets in New York’s Capital and Central regions, the Hartford/Springfield region, Southern Vermont, as well as operations around Princeton, N.J., will continue to be significant contributors. “Relocating our corporate headquarters to Boston’s financial district is a well-timed move that will make us stronger by driving value and adding jobs that will benefit our employees and customers across our footprint,” said Sean Gray, chief operating officer. “As a successful regional bank, having our headquarters in a strong hub for the financial-services industry provides economic value and takes advantage of the largest New England market to fuel growth and increase our ability capitalize on our investment in all of our communities.”

UMass Center to Offer Spanish Course for Healthcare Professionals

SPRINGFIELD — A new course coming this fall to the UMass Center at Springfield will help healthcare professionals enhance their language skills. “Spanish for Healthcare Professions” will be offered at the center beginning in September. “We have a significant Latino population in Western Massachusetts, and it’s essential that healthcare professionals be able to communicate with these residents,” said Daniel Montagna, director of Operations at the UMass Center. “Through a collaboration with the UMass Amherst Spanish and Portuguese program, we’re hoping to offer this as well as other healthcare and business language courses at the center in the future.” The course is designed to meet the needs of healthcare professionals who wish to increase fluency in Spanish through written and oral practices. The class is aimed at students with an intermediate level of Spanish (the equivalent of four or five semesters of college Spanish or of four years of high-school Spanish). Heritage speakers who can communicate in Spanish but want to develop a knowledge of the professional terminology of the health professions may also benefit from the class.

Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club Wins Award

LUDLOW — The Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club was recently presented with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s prestigious MAC (Marketing and Communications) Award for Advertising at the National Conference in Dallas. Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s MAC Awards recognize Boys & Girls Clubs that have demonstrated significant achievements in the field of marketing and communications. The Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club was selected among thousands of clubs across the country for implementing the best marketing strategy for advertising. The club’s board of directors was actively engaged in developing and updating the club’s marketing and advertising materials since 2016. Board members were supported in the process by several entities, including Envisions Marketing, Off the Tusk, Ludlow Cable Access TV, and volunteers who served on the club’s marketing & communications, auction, and Fall Fest committees. The board of directors actively engaged these partners to develop and update the club’s website, Facebook page, and annual report, and create new videos, mission boards, and marketing materials. The goal was to produce quality marketing materials consistent with a theme that would be used going forward in all print, marketing, and social-media materials used by the club, including special events, the annual auction, and Fall Fest. Throughout the process, the focus was that these marketing materials center on the youth the club helps on a daily basis and its impact on them and their families.

Tru by Hilton Breaks Ground in Chicopee

CHICOPEE — Hilton recently broke ground on a new Tru by Hilton property located in Chicopee. The celebration marked the first groundbreaking of the company’s Tru by Hilton in Massachusetts. Attendees, numbering about 150, included a roster of dignitaries and executives who were instrumental in pushing the project forward, including state Sen. James Welch; state Reps. Michael Finn, Joseph Wagner, and Angelo Puppolo; and Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos. The 108-room, four-story hotel is located at 440 Memorial Dr. and is owned by BK Investments. It is expected to be completed in May 2018. “Tru is a game-changing brand, as evidenced by its statement-making entrance to the midscale category and now the Chicopee market,” said Alexandra Jaritz, global head of Tru by Hilton. “We know the brand will have broad appeal to Springfield-area travelers who span generations but share a similar ‘zest for life’ mindset. At its core, Tru is value-engineered to provide guests with a contemporary, consistent, and fresh experience in an affordable way, while at the same time being operationally efficient to our owners.” Added owner and developer Hershal Patel, “today’s groundbreaking in Chicopee demonstrates Hilton’s commitment to this new brand and, importantly, its owners. Tru fills a void in the midscale category, and we’re delighted to bring this exciting new Hilton brand to life. It will add to the offerings in Chicopee and provide a new option for travelers who believe that being cost-conscious and having a great stay don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” This project will mark BK Investments’ third project in Chicopee, following the 90-room Hampton Inn and the 115-room Residence Inn Chicopee.

Bacon Wilson Opens New Northampton Office

NORTHAMPTON — Bacon Wilson announced the opening of a new facility at 57 Center St. in downtown Northampton. On May 24, the firm welcomed clients, neighbors, and friends to a grand-opening reception. Also present was Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who officiated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Bacon Wilson’s newly renovated, state-of-the-art office space at 57 Center St. features several striking design elements, including lots of natural light, an enclosed interior courtyard, and soaring ceilings. The main conference room has been christened the Fogel Room, in tribute to former partner Bruce Fogel, who passed away last year. Bacon Wilson has had a long-time presence in Hampshire County. The firm’s first Northampton office space opened in 2001, and expanded significantly with the 2005 acquisition of Morse & Sacks. In 2006, a merge with Monsein & MacConnell brought Bacon Wilson to the Amherst community. Earlier this year, the firm added another new location, on Russell Street in Hadley. The current move to 57 Center St. brings Bacon Wilson even closer to the heart of downtown Northampton, and reaffirms the firm’s commitment to the local Northampton community, and to the entire Pioneer Valley.

Mary Ann’s Dance and More to Relocate

EASTHAMPTON — Mary Ann’s Dance and More, a local dance apparel store, announced it will move to its new home on Route 10 in Easthampton on July 1. Mary Ann’s Dance and More will move to 396 Main St., the former home of Fit Body. The location offers easier parking, a more friendly shopping experience, better accessibility, and the ability to host more in-store events. Open since 2007, Mary Ann’s Dance and More offers customers dance supplies, including apparel and accessories, as well as novelty and gift items. An active business in the community, the store is recognized as a consistent sponsor of various local organizations. It was featured in Dance Retailer News as a “Retailer Spotlight,” twice on Mass Appeal on WWLP, and most recently in “Lifestyle/Balance Act” in Retail Minded.

Springfield College Career Center Wins Award

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Career Center has been named the winner of the 2017 Innovation in Program Development Award by the Eastern Assoc. of Colleges and Employers (EACE). Springfield College was chosen for its Peer Referral Program, which rewards students who are engaged with the Career Center, for serving as brand ambassadors and referring their peers. “I am exceptionally proud of the Springfield College Career Center for receiving this well-deserved recognition by EACE,” said Shannon Finning, Springfield College’s vice president for Student Affairs. “While our staff have always done and continue to do exceptional work with students who find their way to the Career Center, I am most proud of the fact that Career Center staff members are now engaging undergraduate student leaders as peer career mentors. The Peer Referral Program emerged from the partnership between our student leaders and the Career Center staff.” Finning noted that 150 new students were referred to the center this year, and now these students will also refer their peers. “I am excited by the continued innovation and evolution in the Career Center and know we will continue to well-serve our students, employers, faculty, alumni, and partners better each and every year by staying so closely connected and attuned to our student body.” By capitalizing on the idea that word of mouth and viral marketing are the best strategy for reaching this underserved demographic, the program accomplished its goals through an approach that includes utilizing two students as paid peer career ambassadors to hype services and events, rewarding engaged students for referring their friends and classmates, facilitating a raffle for first-time users, launching a T-shirt campaign, and implementing a Refer-a-Peer Day event. “We credit our wonderfully engaged Springfield College students for partaking in this exciting career-development initiative and for making the Peer Referral Program the great success it has become,” said Career Center Interim Director Scott Dranka. “From the launch of the Peer Referral program this semester, the Career Center counselors have been afforded the opportunity to work alongside newly referred students on their career-related endeavors.”

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