Company Notebook

Company Notebook

Princeton Review Recognizes UMass Amherst for Graduate Entrepreneurship Studies

AMHERST — For the first time, UMass Amherst has earned recognition in Princeton Review’s annual selection of Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs. In the publication’s 2021 list, the university ranks 40th among 50 colleges and universities. Based on survey data from more than 300 schools, the rankings encompass a broad range of entrepreneurial activities inside and outside the classroom. The catalyst for student entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. The center serves the entire campus through a wealth of activities and resources. Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center, noted that entrepreneurship courses and scholarships, faculty who focus on entrepreneurship, student competitions, student mentorship by entrepreneurs, and ventures by alumni and non-alumni all fall within the center’s purview. Its annual Innovation Challenge propels student startups through pitch contests and a final competition judged by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Last year, the finals awarded $65,000 in seed money to student startups. The center brings student innovators together from different disciplines for entrepreneurial collaborations and offers networking and mentorship with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, as well as an incubator space for student startups.

 

Furnari Jewelers Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — In time for holiday shopping, Furnari Jewelers recently opened its doors at Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Furnari carries fine gold and silver jewelry, wedding sets, gemstones, pearls, watches, and more, and has a gold and silversmith on premises who can do repairs while customers wait. Furnari also offers customers the ability to design their own ring for a special touch. Known in the region for decades, Anthony Furnari opened his first store 40 years ago and says it was built on the foundation of customer service. Anthony’s son, Joey Furnari, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Starting with an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, Joey went on to become a certified bench jeweler at the American School of Jewelry, and opened his first store in May 2012 in Enfield, Conn. The 1,400-square-foot Furnari Jewelers is located on the upper level of the mall, near Apple. The store was formerly occupied by Kay Jewelers until Kay relocated its store earlier this year to the lower level, next to Round1 Bowling & Amusement. Furnari has hired seven employees for this location. Furnari joins a list of new tenants at Holyoke Mall over the last five months, including Cinnabon, which opened in June; EA Teriyaki, which opened in October; and Wings Express, which opened in November.

 

Tighe & Bond Receives ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Award

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond was recently recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT) with an Engineering Excellence Award. The project team received the award for the design of phosphorous-removal upgrades at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) in Plainville, Conn. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection set new phosphorous limits after it was determined the nutrient was negatively affecting water quality in the state’s freshwater rivers and streams. While phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that is an essential nutrient to support plant growth, excessive amounts contribute to dense growth of algae and suffocation of marine life. This meant the Plainville WPCF needed to reduce the amount of phosphorous leaving the facility by 88%. In anticipation of these changes, Tighe & Bond prepared a phosphorus-removal plan to determine how best to meet the new phosphorus limits. The plan recommended the addition of a filter building that would house new, multi-point chemical-addition and disc-filtration processes to reduce the amount of phosphorous from the facility’s water. The design also included cost-effective improvements to the existing WPCF, including a larger sludge-processing system, raising the facility’s existing UV disinfection system for improved flood resiliency; new flow-equalization tanks to stabilize the effluent from the facility’s sequencing batch reactors (SBRs); and filter influent pumps to lift the flow up to the disc filters. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule and $1 million under budget. The upgrades have enabled the town of Plainville to meet its phosphorous limits. The new system continues to remove phosphorus from the treated water the facility discharges daily into the Pequabuck River, which joins the Quinnipiac River and Long Island Sound. The renovations to the WPCF also meets all state and federal environmental regulations and ensures the protection of surrounding bodies of water. Tighe & Bond and its project partners will be honored at the ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in June.

 

Big Y Announces Additional Bonus Pay for Employees

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y announced it will pay additional holiday bonuses to its front-line and distribution-center associates, including full-time, part-time, and casual employees. This holiday bonus is part of the company’s ongoing recognition and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of employees, which was instituted last March. Thank-you bonuses are expected to continue during the first part of 2021. “We continue to be grateful to all of our employees for their valiant efforts throughout this pandemic,” said Charles D’Amour, president and CEO. “They have all taken their role as essential workers both nobly and carefully in order to continue to provide for and support our friends and neighbors in our communities. I am so very proud of their resilience and dedication to serving our customers during this past year. This bonus pay is just one way that we show our appreciation to our team of 12,000 who work so hard and tirelessly every day.”

 

Bay Path University Community Donates to Christina’s House

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s annual holiday party and employee-recognition event has been a long-standing tradition for faculty and staff. The pandemic prevented the normal gathering, but technology came to the rescue and provided a platform to connect remotely. Highlights of the event include naming a charity to be the recipient of Bay Path’s generosity, as well as employee recognition for years of service at the university. For 2020, the designated charity is Christina’s House, a Springfield-based nonprofit and Christ-centered ministry that provides transitional housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children who are homeless or near-homeless. More important, Christina’s House provides emotional, spiritual, physical, and education support as families transition from homelessness to permanent, stable living environments.

 

Grants Will Provide 100,000 Meals for People Across Western Mass.

HATFIELD — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington and Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency of Agawam are providing major support to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Two rounds of funding, one now and a second round in the spring, will pay for about 100,000 meals. The Food Bank provides food to 165 food pantries, shelters, and meal sites in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Wheeler & Taylor and Canary Blomstrom are members of GoodWorks Financial Group, a network of common-ownership insurance, real-estate, and financial firms. With the pandemic, demand for food has grown exponentially. The Food Bank is serving 109,500 people a month in 2020, up 16% from 2019. The organization distributed 11.1 million pounds of food from March through October, a 30% increase. It estimates that about one in six residents in the region, including 40,000 children, or one in four, are food-insecure.

 

Springfield Museums Distributing 495 Literacy Activity Kits to Children

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to funding from MEFA and the U.Fund College Investing Plan, Springfield Museums are distributing 495 literacy activity kits to children throughout Springfield and beyond. Ten programs — including the Gray House, Home City Families, Raising a Reader, and Head Start — will benefit. The literacy activity kits contain a consumable activity, a reusable building toy, colored pencils, a Dr. Seuss clipboard, and an early-reader book: Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Springfield Museums are committed to helping children and their caregivers explore literacy in its many forms — literary, science, historical, art — while also having fun. The museums have also tripled their hands-on learning spaces over the past few years. The Art Discovery Center, the Cat’s Corner, and Spark!Lab are all spaces for people to engage in hands-on learning to gain skills and build competency in a variety of subjects. Since the onset of the pandemic, the museums also worked to share activity kits so that those unable to visit in person could still have access to learning.

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Accreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport has received the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI) World. The organization’s Airport Health Accreditation program evaluates new health and safety measures and procedures introduced at airports worldwide in response to COVID-19. During the comprehensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures in the context of the entire passenger journey, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverages, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border-control areas and facilities, the baggage-claim area and the arrivals exit. Among other things, ACI recognizes Bradley for cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger facility enhancements. In addition to these safety measures, Bradley International Airport has also prioritized other initiatives to enhance the passenger journey, including contactless parking check-in/check-out availability (pre-registration required); renovated restrooms with touchless faucets, hand dryers, and light signals to indicate stall availability as well as added privacy and surfaces that promote more effective cleaning; terminal-wide air-purification technology, which will be in place in early 2021; and expanded mobile ordering in partnership with our restaurants, also to be introduced in 2021.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates More Than 1,000 Stuffed Animals

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation announced a donation of more than 1,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to local charitable partners, the culmination of a successful drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas and held on Dec. 12 outside the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds’ mascot, Boomer, along with staff members, then made deliveries of hundreds of stuffed animals to Square One, the Center for Human Development (CHD), the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Teddy Bear Toss event was much different than in previous years. Instead of tossing the bears onto the ice after the T-Birds’ first goal during a home game in December, fans brought their new teddy bears or stuffed animals and ‘tossed’ them out of their vehicles as part of the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss at the MassMutual Center. Boomer, the Nicebox Icebox, and front-office staff were present to collect donations and properly package and sanitize them. Those that couldn’t make it that day also donated at the Thunderbirds office, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas in Chicopee, the Springfield Visitor Center, or at New Valley Bank’s headquarters in Monarch Place in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds thank their partners that stepped up and were able to make this event a reality, including Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, Balise Auto Group, Western Mass News, the Springfield Business Improvement District and downtown Visitor Center, New Valley Bank & Trust, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as their tedd- bear delivery partner, BMW of West Springfield.

 

American Eagle Donates $3,000 to Diaper Banks

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — In the spirit of the holidays and to reinforce its long-term commitment to assisting families in need, American Eagle Financial Credit Union awarded $3,000 in grants from its donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to three nonprofit diaper banks in Connecticut and Western Mass. Square One Diaper Bank in Springfield, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, and Gentle Love Diaper Pantry, a youth-led nonprofit organization at Manchester (Conn.) High School, each received $1,000 to purchase and distribute diapers to needy families in their respective communities this holiday season. “More than ever, our families are struggling to meet their basic needs. The cost of diapers can be as high as $100 per month for some families,” said Dawn DiStefano, executive vice president of Square One. “Thanks to the generosity of American Eagle Financial Credit Union and other community partners, we can continue to lessen this burden by supplying emergency diapers to those in need.”

 

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