Florence Bank Breaks Ground on New Springfield Branch
SPRINGFIELD — Florence Bank broke ground recently on its second Hampden County branch, at 1444 Allen St. in Springfield, and leaders said the full-service location will open later this year. “We’re coming to Springfield,” John Heaps Jr., Florence Bank’s president and CEO, told a crowd of roughly 50 people who gathered for the celebratory event. “Our focus is on our customers and on helping to reinvigorate the community.” Last September, Florence Bank opened its first branch in Hampden County at 1010 Union St. in West Springfield. The Springfield branch marks the second of an anticipated four branches in the region. Like the West Springfield banking center, Heaps said, the Allen Street branch will have an open floor plan with a full-service teller pod and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing and a comfortable waiting area inside with a coffee bar and free internet. Florence Bank has nearly 3,800 customers living in Hampden County, including 700 business customers.
People’s United Financial to Acquire First Connecticut Bancorp
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — People’s United Financial, Inc., the holding company for People’s United Bank N.A., announced an agreement to acquire First Connecticut Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Farmington Bank, in a 100% stock transaction valued at approximately $544 million. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of First Connecticut Bancorp shareholders. Established in 1851, Farmington Bank is a community bank with 28 branches throughout Central Conn. and Western Mass. With $3.1 billion in assets, the bank has built a strong balance sheet by focusing on commercial and retail banking. “People’s United Bank is a premier brand with a rich, 176-year history in the state of Connecticut,” said John Patrick, chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “Our customers will benefit from their broader array of products, enhanced access to technology and digital capabilities, as well as the bank’s seven-day-a-week Stop & Shop branch locations.” The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2018. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by both companies’ boards of directors, First Connecticut Bancorp shareholders will receive 1.725 shares of People’s United Financial stock for each First Connecticut Bancorp share. The transaction is valued at $32.33 per First Connecticut Bancorp share.
State’s First Solar Cooperative to Be Built in Wendell
WENDELL — Northeast Solar, in cooperation with the Wendell Energy Committee, is offering residents of Wendell and surrounding communities the opportunity to become owners of the state’s first solar cooperative. The co-op will be owned by community members who become member-owners of the site by purchasing part of the community solar array. Owners will receive all of the solar benefits generated at the site, located at 97 Wendell Depot Road. Solar panels are typically mounted on rooftops, but close to 60% of residential buildings are not suitable sites for solar due to shading or roof condition. The solar cooperative will allow any resident to purchase solar power for their homes by buying into the centralized array. Owners in this system will receive a lower purchase price than standard residential installations. The Wendell Solar Cooperative will return more than $1.3 million back into the local economy over the life of the array. The site is expected to take between six and eight weeks to build. The co-op will accept 50 members, but Northeast Solar is planning more solar cooperatives in other communities to allow more residents the chance to go solar.
Greenfield Cooperative Bank Announces 2018 Performance
GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC, announced the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as reported at the 113th annual meeting of the bank on June 19. Tucker reported that FY 2018, which ended March 31, was successful, with and the assets of the bank growing by $24.9 million (up 4.3%) over the prior year. In addition, GCB originated more than $124 million in loans of all types, and saw an increase of $28.4 million in deposits over the past year. Total equity grew to $67.4 million. The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was up to $5,078,000 for the year ended March 31, 2018, and the net income after taxes was $2,773,000. The bank also paid its fair share of federal and Massachusetts income taxes ($1.5 million) and local property taxes (more than $129,000) in the cities and towns where it has offices. As a result of these earnings and the fact that Greenfield Cooperative Bank targets its charitable and civic giving at 5% of the prior year’s pre-tax operating income, the bank and its employees were able to contribute more than $200,000 to more than 200 charities, community groups, school events, youth teams, and cultural events throughout Hampshire and Franklin counties during the past fiscal year.
HCC, Holyoke Schools Receive Grant for Early College Program
HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Holyoke public schools have been awarded a $131,600 state grant to establish a new program to help high-school students get an early start on their college educations. The program was one of only five such partnerships — and the only one outside the Greater Boston area — to receive an official “Early College” designation from the state. The Early College Program will enable participating Holyoke students to earn a minimum of 12 college credits before they graduate from high school. Beginning in their sophomore years, students enrolled in the program will complete college courses in fields of study that align with academic majors at HCC and transfer pathways to four-year colleges and universities in Massachusetts. There is no cost to participating students. Like other dual-enrollment classes, the Early College courses will be taught by HCC faculty at Holyoke High School or on the HCC campus. The program is designed for 100 students each academic year, beginning in the sophomore year. At full capacity, in fall 2020, up to 300 students in grades 10-12 will be part of the program. Sophomore students will take their first college courses at Holyoke High School. In their junior and senior years, they will take courses on the main HCC campus on Homestead Avenue. According to studies, dual-enrollment courses and early-college programs boost college-completion rates for low-income students, minorities, and first-generation college students.
Colony Care at Home Donates $500 to Rotary Club’s Cambodia Project
SPRINGFIELD — Alan Popp, president of Colony Care at Home, a home-care agency in Springfield serving Western Mass. and North Central Conn., recently presented Dr. MaryAnne Herron of the Rotary Club of Springfield a check for $500. The donation was to kick off a fundraiser for the Springfield Rotary Club’s participation in an international water project for the Lvea Em District in Cambodia. “The villagers presently use the very polluted river water that surrounds their six small communities,” Herron said. “The Springfield Rotary Club has a goal to raise $600,000 to build a generator for 10,000 families who have no clean water to drink. We are applying for grants to Rotary International but need to raise some of the funds ourselves. This check is very much appreciated and a great start to our cause.” Added Popp, also a Springfield Rotarian, “I have always been especially drawn to the international service aspect of Rotary and have a particularly high regard for MaryAnne’s passion, energy, and personal sacrifice on behalf of villagers in Cambodia. As a Vietnam veteran, I also appreciate having this opportunity to give something back to Southeast Asia.”
Community Bank N.A. Donates $2,500 to MSBDCN
SPRINGFIELD — Community Bank N.A. recently presented the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (MSBDCN) with a $2,500 donation to support the organization’s various programs for 2019. MSBDCN’s Western Regional Office provides free and confidential one-to-one business advice to prospective and existing small businesses in Western Mass. The office provides a variety of services to startups and existing businesses in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Areas of assistance include business-plan development, preventure feasibility, conventional and non-conventional financing, cash-flow analysis, organizational and personnel issues, and marketing. In its last fiscal year, MSBDCN conducted 36 events and workshops, which were attended by more than 300 participants. Throughout the first six months of this year, MSBDCN has met with 261 small-business clients seeking to start and grow their businesses and helped secure close to $2 million in funds for those clients.
Berkshire Bank Named 2018 Halo Award Winner
BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced it was awarded the 2018 Gold Halo Award for its XTEAM corporate volunteer program. The award recognizes the top corporate social-responsibility efforts in North America across multiple categories, including education, cause marketing, and employee engagement. Berkshire received the award in the Employee Engagement (Group Volunteering) category, which recognizes initiatives that meaningfully and measurably engage its employees in a cause-focused initiative to achieve both a social and a business impact. Berkshire’s Xtraordinary Day of Service, held in June 2017, mobilized 92% of its workforce across the country and impacted more than 400,000 individuals. In 2017, the XTEAM logged 306 projects benefiting 203 organizations and contributed 40,000 hours of service. This corporate employee-volunteer program boasts a 100% employee-participation rate, earning it the highest recognition in the Employee Engagement category.