Company Notebook

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Issues Annual Corporate Green Report

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2020 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place in which to live, work, and raise a family. The bank puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations, volunteerism, support of green-energy projects, and construction of LEED-certified offices. PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $188 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects. Over 2019-20, PeoplesBank supported several green community projects in Western Mass., including the Center for EcoTechnology’s ‘eco fellows’ and more than 100 community-education events; the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) Food for All campaign; e-recycle and shred day at the bank’s Suffield Banking Center; Grow Food Northampton; the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Local Farmer program and awards; scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; a mobile farmers’ market that travels to underserved/food-desert areas of Springfield and surrounding communities; the Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River, which also includes hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank; and ValleyBike Share, the region’s new bike-sharing program. Community banks, like PeoplesBank, are not generally known for building green offices, but PeoplesBank has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a Green Seal from the city of Springfield. The bank will pursue a fourth LEED certification for its Pedlar Banking Center in Holyoke in the near future. Three PeoplesBank offices (Northampton, West Springfield, and 330 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke) have electric vehicle-charging stations. The bank also launched a “Choose to Reuse” campaign designed to eliminate the use of disposable paper products internally. PeoplesBank has traditionally commemorated Earth Day by giving away tomato plants and seeds at several banking centers throughout the region. Due to the extenuating circumstances this year, in lieu of those customer giveaways, a donation will be made to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to assist in its COVID relief outreach.

Contribution Clothing Supports Women-focused Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — Kelly Partridge, founder of Contribution Clothing, launched her mission-driven online boutique (contributionclothing.com) last June. The boutique, which retails women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass.-based nonprofit organizations that have a vision of empowering women and girls as well as community support. Contribution Clothing is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to the Care Center of Holyoke, a nonprofit organization that helps young mothers grasp how powerful they are, gives them tools to learn, and provides them with an exciting and engaging learning environment. Since its website launch, the boutique has provided monetary donations to Dress for Success, Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, and Safe Passage. In additional to the boutique’s quarterly contributions, Partridge, a Bay Path University alumna, has worked with the university to create the Contribution Clothing Scholarship Fund, which annually provides a Bay Path student with $500 toward tuition. The clothing line has also supported community-based events and fundraisers such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendar for Girls Inc., and the Unify Against Bullying fashion show, where Partridge provided six different outfits to help raise awareness against bullying. Partridge’s goal for her business is to use her story and passion for social justice to make a positive impact within her community. She hopes to use fashion as a way of helping women feel confident and empowered.

MGHPCC Expands Access to Researchers Working on COVID-19

HOLYOKE — The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), operated by a consortium consisting of Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts system, announced it will provide access to outside researchers working on projects in which high-speed computing would accelerate resolution of the COVID-19 crisis. The MGHPCC’s member institutions are already heavily engaged in coronavirus-related research in areas that include understanding the fundamentals of the disease, contributing to the development of vaccines, treatment and tests, and public-health solutions. Much of this research, and most scientific academic research today, rely on high-performance computing. The MGHPCC, which is among the largest high-performance computing facilities in the country, is now expanding access to its storage and computational systems to academic and commercial enterprises beyond the facility’s member institutions. Total available capacity across all systems includes more than 200,000 CPU cores, 2,000 recent-generation GPUs, and 5 petabytes of temporary storage. The additional work will not impact day-to-day university needs. The MGHPCC consortium is also working with Mass Open Cloud and two of its sponsors, Red Hat and Intel, to launch a site that connects potentially impactful projects with people who have strong computing skills but are unable to work on their regular assignments due to travel restrictions.

Home City Development Wins Funds for Affordable-housing Renovations

NORTHAMPTON — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded $2.88 million and seven project-based vouchers by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Funds were awarded for renovations of New South Street Apartments, an 18-unit historic building located at 24-34 New South St. in Northampton. Project-based vouchers and supportive service funds will provide housing for seven homeless families. In addition, the city of Northampton awarded $50,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds for this project. Homeless households will be selected from the Three County Continuum of Care Coordinated Entry system. This system includes Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire county emergency-assistance shelters and other assistance organizations. HCDI will provide case management and related support services for residents at New South Street Apartments, including those who were formerly homeless. HCDI is working with Architecture EL as project architect and Henry General Contractors as contractor. Renovation work is expected to begin this fall and take about nine months to complete. Home City Development Inc. is a nonprofit, resident-centered developer of multi-family and mixed-use properties in Western Mass. HCDI was founded as Better Homes Inc. in 1968 by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Over more than 50 years, HCDI has worked to facilitate community stability and growth in collaboration with numerous partners and residents.

Freedom Credit Union Makes $55,000 Donation to Fight Coronavirus Crisis

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union (FCU) announced a donation of $55,000 to be dispersed among several community organizations at the front lines of the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. FCU announced that the following slate of organizations will receive a portion of the $55,000 donation: Baystate Health Foundation; Mercy Medical Center; Cooley Dickinson Health Care; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; Hampshire Hospitality Group, whose Hampshire County Heroes feed first responders in Hampshire County; and Feed the Fight, an initiative of Peter Pan Bus Lines and area restaurants to feed healthcare workers and first responders in the community. Welch indicated that FCU will continue to assist the community throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to these community donations, Welch said FCU has offered resources to its individual members intended to provide financial assistance or relief during the crisis, including online banking services and the new Freedom Relief Loan, which provides up to $10,000 to members dealing with consequences of the pandemic, including layoffs, furloughs, and bills. In addition, FCU’s Skip-a-Pay program allows members with a consumer loan — auto, mortgage, home equity, or home improvement — to defer payments up to 90 days. Members should contact their local branch for details. FCU can also work with member businesses needing financial relief on their specific circumstances. Business members should speak with the Member Business Lending department. For contact information, visit freedom.coop.

 

First American Insurance Agency Launches New Client Portal

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced the launch of a new online customer portal designed to enhance service and support for its customers. The portal, called CSR24, enables clients to access insurance ID cards and insurance documents (including renewal paperwork), request policy changes, and more. Clients can also submit claim photos, such as a cracked windshield. For truckers, the portal allows the quick and straightforward download of certificates. The portal is accessible on any device via the agency’s website and requires a login and username. The agency will release a matching app later in the year.

Phillips Insurance Delivers Pizza, Food Boxes to Clients, First Responders

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance partnered with clients Fazio’s Ristorante of East Longmeadow and Simos Produce of Springfield to deliver pizza and grocery boxes to its clients and first responders. Phillips Insurance delivered dozens of grocery boxes from Simos Produce to clients so they could avoid going to the supermarket. In addition, Phillips and Fazio’s Ristorante delivered pizzas and grinders to first responders and heathcare providers, while Phillips Insurance delivered pizza and subs to the Chicopee Police Department in appreciation of all they do for the community. Phillips Insurance Agency was established in 1953 and is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 28 professionals.

Western Mass. Wedding Vendors Say ‘Thank You’ to Frontline Workers

HOLYOKE — The wedding industry is being hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Couples are being forced to restructure or delay their wedding plans, leaving wedding vendors struggling with the financial challenges of delayed business. Thankfully, the wedding industry is also one marked by resilience and camaraderie. That is why a group of Western Mass. wedding vendors has come together to give back and say ‘thank you’ to frontline workers. Spearheaded by local DJ Anthony Corlis from TC’s Disc Jockey Services with assistance from the Log Cabin/Delaney House meal-donation program, more than 75 meals will be delivered to employees of Stop and Shop in Westfield today, April 24, at 11 a.m. by Corlis and Peter Rosskothen, owner of the Log Cabin/Delaney House. One of those employees just happens to be a Log Cabin groom who needed to reschedule his April 26 wedding. Meals were donated by Vivan B Photography, Events by Jackie M., Aliber Bridal Shops, Michelle Anne Hair Design, SHO Productions, Durocher’s Florist, Catherine Jindela, Kasey Richards of Mountain Rose Inn, TC’s Disc Jockey Services, and Log Cabin/Delaney House. Anyone looking to donate meals should visit delaneyhouse.com/feedalocalhero.

Wellfleet, EIS Group Partner on Innovative Insurance Solution

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway insurance company, and industry technology leader EIS Group are building a next-generation insurance-administration platform to meet the evolving demands of the employee-benefits market. In the complex voluntary-benefits landscape, brokers and their clients commonly work with multiple systems, fighting to integrate with carriers’ patchworked legacy systems. Whether it’s product sophistication, internal workflow monitoring, enrollment and third-party integration, or communications across multiple modules, carriers struggle to administer plans in a digitally unified way. Wellfleet Workplace entered the voluntary market last year, on a mission to be the digitally enabled carrier of choice. Partnering with EIS Group helps drive this differentiation by jointly creating an open-architecture and cloud-based software system designed to support the full broker and customer life cycle. The software provider’s cloud-based platform supports broker and customer life cycles, including rating and quoting, policy issuance and administration, and billing and claims management. Multi-channel touch points are easily created and managed through EIS Group’s digital-experience platform.

Pearson Wallace, Arbella Offer Premium Relief

AMHERST — Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Arbella has committed to providing a 20% credit for three months on all personal auto policies until June 30. This is a per-vehicle refund that applies to existing and new policies from Pearson Wallace Insurance, said Alex Bennett, the agency’s vice president. Arbella Insurance also announced the Arbella Here. For Good. Give Back Program. Subject to approval by state regulators, Arbella’s personal auto customers will receive a credit equal to 20% of their auto premium for the months of April, May, and June. These savings would result in an estimated average of $60 per vehicle, and customers with multiple vehicles on their policy could see significant savings, Bennett noted.

Ascent Laser Aesthetics Introduces Innovative Hair-removal System

EAST LONGMEADOW — Ascent Laser Aesthetics, a medical spa located in East Longmeadow, has partnered with Cartessa Aesthetics to bring the hair-removal system Motux AX to the practice. Motux AX is the most effective laser wavelength for hair removal for the widest array of skin types, Dr. Kevin Coughlin said, adding that the procedure is virtually pain-free and significantly more comfortable than standard methods, while providing quicker treatment of large areas (less than five minutes) and fewer subsequent treatments to achieve optimal results. Through proprietary Moveo technology, risk of side effects is virtually non-existent.

EforAll Holyoke Launches Accelerator Program for Spanish-speaking Entrepreneurs

HOLYOKE — Continuing to expand its proven approach to help under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses, Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Holyoke announced that it is accepting applications for its new EparaTodos program in Holyoke, which will focus on supporting Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the Greater Holyoke community. EforAll’s free, one-year business-accelerator program helps under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses or nonprofits across a wide range of industries, including personal and professional services, food, manufacturing, and both online and traditional retail. The program offers a combination of immersive business training, dedicated mentorship, and access to a professional network. The organization typically offers its programs in person, but it is prepared to deliver classroom training and mentor sessions online if necessary. Among the businesses started by EforAll participants, 75% are owned by women, 56% are owned by people of color, 54% are owned by immigrants, and 56% are owned by people who were previously unemployed. EforAll is accepting applications for this new Spanish-language accelerator, as well as its English accelerator program (EforAll), through Wednesday, May 20 at 5 p.m. Interested applicants can learn more and apply at www.eforall.org, where they will find information in both English and Spanish. To support its new Spanish-language programming, EforAll Holyoke has hired a dedicated EparaTodos program manager, Gabriella Candelario. Before joining EparaTodos Holyoke, she worked with the Springfield Public Schools as a program coordinator. She can be reached at [email protected]

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