Company Notebook

Company Notebook

First American Insurance Acquires Morin & Foy

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced it has acquired Morin & Foy, a property and casualty firm situated in Brimfield. Located on Route 20, Morin & Foy serves its surrounding communities by providing clients with personal and commercial insurance. The joining of the two companies allows for the growth of First American Insurance Agency’s portfolio and building the business client groups. First American Insurance Agency is acquiring only the Brimfield location. “When I first met Sharon and the team in Brimfield, it was clear from our very first conversation that First American Insurance Agency could build on what we both have in common: the client-first mentality,” said Corey Murphy, First American president. Added Sharon Morin, manager at Morin & Foy, “we are a dedicated team committed to serving our community and treating people with respect and kindness. I know that First American Insurance will continue to build and grow that culture.”

St. Germain Named to List of Top Registered Investment Advisers

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, St. Germain Investment Management has been named to the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers (RIA). The 2020 list recognizes top independent RIA firms from across the U.S. This is the seventh annual FT 300 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on the asset-management industry. RIA firms applied for consideration having met a minimum set of criteria. Applicants were then graded on six factors: assets under management (AUM), AUM growth rate, years in existence, advanced industry credentials of the firm’s advisers, online accessibility, and compliance records. There are no fees or other considerations required of RIAs that apply for the FT 300. The FT 300 is one in series of rankings of top advisers by the Financial Times, including the FT 400 (DC retirement-plan advisers) and the FT 400 (broker-dealers).

Gift From Bulkley Richardson Gives Parents Peace of Mind

SPRINGFIELD — During COVID-19, the world has turned upside down. For parents with babies at the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Baystate Children’s Hospital, the pandemic brings especially tough choices. Due to the coronavirus, Baystate Health’s NICU allows just one parent to visit at a time. To ease the stress of separation, the NICU team keeps families connected through personal webcams attached to many of the bassinettes. Using a unique password, parents can log onto a secure website anytime, day or night, to visit their baby virtually. Recently, Bulkley Richardson generously donated $10,000 to support the purchase of additional cameras. Peter Barry, former managing partner at Bulkley Richardson, knows firsthand the difference these resources make for families. His grandchild was in the care of Baystate Children’s Hospital Neonatal Continuing Care Unit when he was born. “The skill and caring of the team were truly impressive,” Barry said. “These cameras will make a very difficult situation a bit easier for parents and grandparents. Bulkley Richardson is proud to provide philanthropic support for this level of life-saving expertise in our region.” The Davis Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the only one of its kind in Western Mass., providing the highest level of care available for sick or premature newborns. NICU patients often have prolonged hospital stays of weeks or months.

UMass Amherst to Make Standardized Tests Optional

AMHERST — Beginning with the spring 2021 term, and continuing for each spring and fall term through spring 2023, UMass Amherst will make standardized tests optional for its first-year entering applicants. For the past several months, the university has monitored how possible, safe, and secure it will be for students to take the SAT or ACT. In recent weeks, said James Roche, vice provost for Enrollment Management, it has become obvious that the challenges to testing presented by the coronavirus pandemic will persist in the months ahead. Historically, UMass Amherst has used a holistic review to evaluate applicants. The quantitative assessment component of that review was done using a formula that combined the applicant’s high school GPA and the best combination of test scores. Roche said the university’s research shows that, of the separate components, the high-school GPA is a stronger predictor of student performance, persistence, and success; however, it is also known that the combination of the two components provides an even stronger predictor than either the GPA or test score alone. The university has analyzed three years of data and more than 100,000 applicant records to develop a formula for its test-optional assessment that uses the high-school GPA as the base. For applicants who either have or will submit test scores, UMass Amherst will compare the result of the formula with and without the test score included and give the applicant the highest value of the two. This test-optional approach applies to all majors. As it always has, UMass Amherst will continue to consider the rigor of students’ high-school coursework in its assessment, especially for courses that apply most directly to the applicant’s intended major.

STCC Launches New Water-distribution Course

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer an online course this fall to prepare students for careers in the drinking-water industry and to help those working in the field enhance their skills. The course, called “Concepts & Practices of Drinking Water Distribution,” is being offered through the Workforce Development Center at STCC in partnership with the Massachusetts Water Works Assoc. and the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission. The training, which runs from Sept. 14 to Dec. 4, is free for students enrolled in any community college in Massachusetts. Individuals not enrolled at a community college, as well as employees at water utilities, can register for the class for a fee. This is the second in a series of courses designed for careers in the water industry. Last fall, a water-treatment course was offered in a similar self-paced online format. Students who completed the training last fall touted the course’s effectiveness and flexibility. The water distribution course will include weekly videos, readings, discussion topics, and quizzes. The 12-week training will help prepare students to take the Massachusetts Drinking Water Operator Grade 2, 3 and 4 Distribution license exams. Licensure is necessary for beginning a career in the drinking-water industry. This course is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Drinking Water Operators. Material covered includes hydrology, source waters, basic math and chemistry, regulations, water sampling, hydraulics, distribution-system components (pipes, valves, pumps, tanks, meters), equipment operation and maintenance, safety, and administrative duties. Someone with a Massachusetts water operator distribution license can work in such positions as water construction and repair technician; construction foreman; equipment operation and maintenance specialist; water-quality technician; SCADA, GIS, or instrumentation specialist; or water-systems manager. Students who complete the water course can consider continuing their education in fields such as civil engineering, urban studies, software development, business administration, and more. To enroll online, visit stcc.edu/water. To enroll in person or for more information, call (413) 755-4225 or e-mail [email protected]

Wellfleet Launches ‘Back to Work’ Educational Series

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet has launched a “Back to Work” education series, offering virtual programs designed to give business leaders from all sectors advice, ideas, and best practices for returning to the office — and to a sense of normalcy. Wellfleet’s “Back to Work” series, a collection of live and on-demand webinars and online resources available at wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork, kicked off this spring with a “Healthy Buildings” webinar featuring Dr. Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Allen shared valuable insights on how business leaders can improve workplace buildings to enhance productivity, engagement, and retention among employees, and offered a hierarchy of controls for a safe, multi-faceted approach to repopulating office spaces. Worried parents can get peace of mind from Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, whose on-demand webinar offers perspective, strategy, and support to parents-turned-educators navigating long-term social distancing and the potential for continued remote learning this fall. Parents can also take advantage of Wellfleet’s Summer Education & Activity Pack, a resource rich with activities, tips, and tools for keeping kids educated and entertained over the summer. Insurance-industry-specific webinars round out the “Back to Work” series offerings, including a conversation on “Overcoming Challenges Facing Voluntary Benefits Engagement & Enrollment,” led by Erik Gray, Wellfleet Workplace’s head of Enrollment Experience. For a complete listing of events and to register, visit www.wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork.

Common Capital Approved as Lender for Community Advantage Recovery Loans

BOSTON — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has developed a new, temporary loan product called Community Advantage Recovery Loans (CARL) for eligible lenders to provide technical and financial assistance to support small businesses located in underserved areas. The SBA issued a document in the Federal Register, providing specific requirements for Community Advantage Recovery Loans. In addition to getting funded, the underserved small businesses will also receive technical assistance to build financial resiliency against future business disruptions. Community Advantage Recovery Loans can be approved through Sept. 27 and must be fully disbursed no later than Oct. 1. The CARL Participant Guide is available on SBA’s website and outlines all other loan terms and conditions. “Common Capital appreciates the opportunity to participate in this new program, which will help us increase the flow of loan capital to underserved businesses in Western Massachusetts,” Common Capital President Raymond Lanza-Weil said. “Combined with our existing SBA loan programs, we look forward to expanding our assistance to businesses that have a concrete plan for adapting to the COVID-19 economy.”

New EV Charging Stations Available in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Whalen Insurance, located at 71 King St. in Northampton, now has six new electric-vehicle (EV) chargers installed beneath and powered by its solar canopy. These charging stations are operational and available for public use, charge up to 7.2 kW of power at a cost of $2 per hour, and require no parking fees to access them. The EV chargers and 62.64 kW solar canopy were both installed by PV Squared, a local solar design and installation company based in Greenfield. The EV project was funded primarily by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, as a result of the Volkswagen diesel-emissions settlement. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to secretly and intentionally installing software in vehicles to cheat state emissions tests, which raised the levels of smog-causing nitrogen oxides up to 40 times higher than permitted. Massachusetts received a partial settlement, and the money is being used to increase the amount of EV charging and infrastructure and promote more electric-vehicle usage throughout the Commonwealth. The goal is to increase air quality and reduce particulate pollution by creating a cleaner transportation sector. The EV charging station at Whalen Insurance is contributing to the larger environmental goals of the state, while also directly benefiting the local community. Peter Whalen and Janna Ugone own the EV chargers. In addition to the EV charging station, Whalen has invested in six solar projects, totaling 127.92 kW, on various properties in Northampton. On an annual basis, these solar arrays produce a combined 141,591 kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to 110 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). This translates to an environmental offset of CO2 emissions from 11,265 gallons of gasoline consumed and 110,308 pounds of coal burned. Whalen also loves driving his electronic vehicle.

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