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Company Notebook

Big Y Breaks Ground on Expanded Distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y is expanding its distribution center with a $40 million project that is set to fuel the growth of the supermarket chain for the next 20 years.

At the Big Y Store Support Center on Aug. 7, guest speakers, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; Patrick Carnevale, director of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Western Mass. office; state Rep. Jose Tosado; and Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council, joined Charlie D’Amour, president and CEO of Big Y Foods, and many others in celebrating the beginning of the expansion. The now-189,000-square-foot facility is adding another 232,000 to bring the total to 425,000 square feet. The new space will have state-of-the-art refrigeration storage for fresh seafood from Boston, deli meats, salads, cheeses, fresh and local produce and flowers, as well as additional dry-product storage. Big Y is adding 32 full-time employees to meet the demands of the new facility, which is expected to support an additional 20 supermarkets.

The Creative Strategy Agency Celebrates 10 Years in Business

SPRINGFIELD — The Creative Strategy Agency Inc. (tCSA), a local digital marketing and advertising agency, celebrated its 10th anniversary in Aug. 9. Started by Alfonso Santaniello at age 24, tCSA has grown into a fully staffed agency servicing local and national clients in social-media marketing, advertising, and search-engine marketing. Santaniello established tCSA after getting laid off at the beginning of the recession in 2008, but wasn’t until he landed his first client, a national company that he took the leap to really pursue the business. In 2010, when most companies had yet to use video marketing or understand the influence of YouTube, Santaniello launched “Strictly Businews.” Over its run, this digital web talk show garnished more than 1 million views and an award. With the web series’ success, Santaniello’s clientele expanded from local to national as he signed on with businesses from Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Diego. After six years, the series ended in 2016. Over the course of 10 years, tCSA has worked within a wide range of industries, including restaurants, e-commerce, manufacturing, and nonprofits.

UMass Amherst Again Ranks First in Campus Dining

AMHERST — For the fourth straight year, UMass Amherst tops the rankings for Best Campus Food in the nation. The honor was revealed by the Princeton Review as part of its ranking of the top 20 colleges in 62 different categories for 2020. UMass Dining is the largest collegiate dining program in America and is a recognized leader among college dining programs because of its focus on quality ingredients and meals, customer service, student health and wellness, customization options, an appreciation of global influences and modern eating trends, and creating community on campus. UMass Dining serves more than 8 million meals per year. Locally sourced food plays a major component in its success. It has relationships with more than 100 local farms, spending $2.4 million annually with Massachusetts farmers and vendors and a total of $5 million in New England.

Sunshine Village Golf Tourney Breaks Fundraising Record

CHICOPEE — Sunshine Village held its 30th annual Sunshine Village Golf Tournament fundraiser on Aug. 7 at Chicopee Country Club in Chicopee, MA. The event sold out, with 38 teams participating. A reception with awards, raffles, and a silent auction followed at the Castle of Knights in Chicopee. Ernest Laflamme Jr., president of the board of directors and chair of the golf committee, congratulated Kellco Products for winning the tournament. A team from UNUM came in second, and a team from PeoplesBank placed third. On behalf of the board of directors, Laflamme and Executive Director Gina Kos thanked the many sponsors and volunteers that helped to raise the most funds of any year in the tournament’s 30-year history. To commemorate their dedication, a group of sponsors were given special recognition as Legacy Sponsors. They include Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, PeoplesBank, Westfield Bank, Charter Oak Financial, HUB International New England, Inter-All Corp., Kellco Products, Knights of Columbus Elder Council #69, Knights of Columbus Elder Council #4044, Polish National Credit Union, Siddall and Siddall, P.C., and USI Insurance. Other major sponsors included Caolo & Bieniek Architects Inc., Key Private Bank, Marcotte Ford, and Supreme Roofing. All proceeds from the fundraiser go toward ensuring that up-to-date technology, adaptive equipment, engaging activities, and professional-development opportunities are offered to the more 500 individuals served by Sunshine Village.

PV Squared Solar Recognized as a Top Solar Contractor

GREENFIELD — With renewable energy expected to be the fastest-growing source of U.S. electricity generation for the foreseeable future, local solar installer and worker-owned cooperative PV Squared Solar is contributing toward this period of energy transition. The company has once again been recognized by Solar Power World magazine and was listed prominently among other solar contractors and developers across the country in the magazine’s 2019 Top Solar Contractors list. “It’s an honor to be recognized among the top solar energy companies in the region, let alone the nation. Our leadership within the solar industry over the years has been a significant point of pride, and we look forward to continuing that good work,” said General Manager Jonathan Gregory.

MassMutual Foundation Gives $1.5 Million to Way Finders

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Foundation Inc. announced it will give Way Finders $1.5 million to help fund the organization’s new Housing Center currently being constructed in Springfield. This donation will enable Way Finders to serve even more people in the community who are facing homelessness or struggling to achieve financial security. Way Finders is in the midst of constructing a larger, more centrally located Housing Center at 1780 Main St. in Springfield that will be more easily accessible by transportation and the nearby Union Station complex, eliminating one of the greatest barriers to accessing services. The new facility will house all 160 of Way Finders’ Springfield-based staff and is slated to open its doors in April 2020. In 2018, Way Finders’ programs impacted the lives of more than 47,000 people, including thousands of children, through services including homelessness and foreclosure prevention, financial education, first-time-homebuyer workshops, and employment training. The total number of walk-in requests so far in 2019 has exceeded 2018 demand, demonstrating the growing need from the community and the crucial support the new Housing Center will provide.

MachineMetrics Achieves Amazon Web Services Industrial Software Competency Status

NORTHAMPTON — MachineMetrics, an industrial IoT platform for discrete manufacturing, announced it has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Software Competency status. This designation recognizes that MachineMetrics has demonstrated technical proficiency and proven customer success building solutions for discrete manufacturing. These specialized software solutions enable companies in the discrete-manufacturing space to increase the pace of product innovation while decreasing production and operational costs in their value chain. Achieving AWS Industrial Software Competency differentiates MachineMetrics as an AWS Partner Network (APN) member that has delivered specialized solutions aligning with AWS architectural best practices for building the most secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient cloud infrastructure for industry applications. To receive the designation, APN Partners must undergo a rigorous technical validation related to industry-specific technology. AWS is enabling scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions from startups to global enterprises. To support the seamless integration and deployment of these solutions, AWS established the AWS Competency Program to help customers identify consulting and technology APN Partners with deep industry experience and expertise.

Tighe & Bond Again Named PSMJ Circle of Excellence Member

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond has been named as a member of the PSMJ Resources Inc. 2019 Circle of Excellence for second year in a row. The Circle of Excellence highlights successfully managed firms that demonstrate outstanding achievements in areas such as profitability, overhead management, cash flow, productivity, business development, and staff growth. Founded in 2006, the Circle of Excellence represents the top 20% of participants in PSMJ’s annual A/E Financial Performance Benchmark Survey, based on 13 key performance metrics. The annual survey is open to all firms in the industry, regardless of firm type, size, gross revenue, net revenue, practice area, or location.

Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee Receives $5,000 Grant from MassMutual Foundation

CHICOPEE — The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee received a $5,000 grant from the MassMutual Foundation as part of a national Community Service Award (CSA) program. The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee is one of 32 organizations nationally to receive an award. The MassMutual Foundation made the grant as a tribute to the volunteer efforts of Robert Houle, a MassMutual agent with Unity Financial & Insurance Group in Holyoke and an alumnus of the club. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee is to enable all young people reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. “We are grateful to receive this grant to help support the current programs and services provided at the club, which include art, athletics, homework help, and nutrition, to name a few,” said Jason Reed, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee. Added Houle, “I am very pleased that my dedication to the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee has been recognized by the MassMutual Foundation. This grant will provide much-needed funding to continue supporting the youth in our community.”

Work Opportunity Center Opens Community-based Day Service Facility

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Work Opportunity Center Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 23 at its newly acquired and renovated community-based day service (CBDS) facility located at 111 Park Ave. in West Springfield. Established in 1969, Work Opportunity Center (WOC) initially served its participants through a center-based work-service model. Community-based day services were added in the summer of 2014. On June 30, 2016, center-based work services were discontinued for all participants, and those services were converted to CBDS. As of July 1, 2019, there are approximately 84 individuals participating in WOC’s CBDS services. On July 1, 24 program participants and five staff members transferred from the WOC facility in Agawam to its newest facility in West Springfield. The CBDS program of enables individuals with developmental disabilities to enrich their lives and enjoy a full range of community activities by providing opportunities for developing, enhancing, and maintaining competency in personal, social, and community activities. Service options for individuals participating in the CBDS program include career exploration, community-integration experiences, skills development and training, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, health and fitness classes, socialization experiences, and support to enhance interpersonal skills, as well as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. The renovation of the 111 Park Ave. facility is supported by a $5,000 grant by United Bank in addition to a $1,000 grant from the Rotary Club of West Springfield.

STCC Wins Career Pathways Grant for Early-childhood Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will apply a $296,904 state grant to support a new, affordable professional-development program for early-childhood educators. The funding will allow STCC to roll out its Child Development Associate Plus program this fall. The program will help early-childhood educators obtain certification and become better-qualified to teach infants and toddlers as well as preschool-aged children. STCC announced in July that the college received the Early Childhood Education Career Pathways Grant, funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care. Those who may be interested in the program include center-based teachers, family childcare providers, and other early-care professionals who are working toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. The Career Pathways Grant provides a range of support for students in the program at STCC. Funding will pay for a new bilingual position, Early Childhood Education liaison. The person hired for the job will work closely with early-childhood students and will be able to speak Spanish and English. Additionally, the grant will be used to update an old computer lab. Students will have use of the state-of-the-art lab with access to wireless hotspots and computers to borrow if they don’t have one at home. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings, and the program is estimated to take one year to complete. Students can come to STCC on Wednesday night for tutoring or to meet with the liaison for support. Students who need extra support in math and English can take a free one-week boot camp prior to the start of the fall semester. STCC also will offer a prior learning credit, which means anyone who already has earned a CDA from another institution may qualify for college credit from STCC.

GCC Receives Continuation of Title III Grant Funding

GREENFIELD — In October 2016, Greenfield Community College (GCC) was awarded a $1.6 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to be disbursed over five years. This grant is part of the Strengthening Institutions Program, which helps institutions expand their capacity to serve low-income and at-risk students. This academic year will mark the fourth year of continued funding of GCC’s Title III grant. The aim of GCC’s Title III grant is to integrate academic-success coaching and career exploration into a structured first-year experience that supports students who have been shown to be most at risk for not continuing with their education. GCC’s focus has been on students who are the first in their family to attend college, are undecided about their major and career paths, and who place into at least one developmental-level course. The College & Career Compass program developed during the first two years of the grant offers new, current, and returning GCC students specialized advising focused on individual student needs, academic skill building, and incorporating career exploration into the academic planning process; a peer-mentoring program through which current students can share their experiences, individually and in small groups, to help other students survive and thrive at GCC; monthly academic-coaching workshops covering topics like study skills, using apps and other technology, career exploration, and avoiding procrastination; two one-credit elective courses at no cost: one focused on academic strategies for college success and the other on career exploration and planning (including four-year transfer opportunities); and a free, one-week refresher course for students who have been away from math and want to dust off their skills before the semester starts. The focus for the remaining two years of the grant is to hone and scale the Compass program to reach more students and inform advising practices across the college.

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