The Big E Ranked Third-largest Fair of 2021
WEST SPRINGFIELD — The 2021 numbers are in, and the Big E is officially the third-largest fair in North America, based on attendance measured during the 17-day fair and compared with that of hundreds of fairs in the U.S. and Canada. “Astoundingly, we beat Minnesota this year,” Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Gene Cassidy said. “The Minnesota State Fair is a benchmark in our industry and attracts visitors from all over the state and beyond. We have waited 105 years for this.” The Big E’s ranking among the largest fairs in the nation is surpassed only by the State Fair of Texas, located in Dallas; and the Arizona State Fair, located in Phoenix. A total of 1,498,774 people visited the 2021 Big E, held Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 in West Springfield, establishing the ranking, according to Carnival Warehouse’s annual Top 50 Fairs list. The 2019 Big E ranked fifth. The Big E set four daily attendance records over the course of 2021’s 17-day event, including an all-time single-day attendance of 177,238 on the final Saturday. The 2022 Big E takes place Sept. 16 to Oct. 2.
Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $1 Million Pledge
HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has received a generous $1 million gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation in support of its Eureka! program and as part of the Girls Inc. of the Valley campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This $1 million commitment will provide approximately two-thirds of the total cost of Eureka! programming over the next five years. The next five years are important for Eureka! because the program will be taken from its pilot status into a full-fledged model with strong longitudinal outcome data and long-term professional evaluation. With this data and evaluation, the program will have opportunities to attract national-level institutional support, including through the national Girls Inc. network and Girls Inc. of the Valley’s Eureka! partner, UMass Amherst. In order to continue to build opportunities for girls in the region, Girls Inc. is conducting its first major capital campaign. The “Her Future, Our Future” campaign is a bold initiative designed to significantly increase tangible opportunities for girls to develop confidence and interest in achieving academic and personal success. With STEM careers from nursing to engineering to lab sciences to computer programming playing an ever-more important role in the workforce, Eureka! provides a major opportunity to open up those career pathways to more than 120 girls per year and to position those girls for success in gaining access to higher education. Overall, “Her Future, Our Future” will support significant expansion at Girls Inc., to the point that it will serve approximately 5% of all girls in the Holyoke, Springfield, and Chicopee public-school systems. The campaign seeks to raise $5 million to accomplish three critical strategic goals: building a permanent home in downtown Holyoke; expanding school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and advancing and sustaining Eureka! by securing the program and solidifying its role as an important regional pipeline to higher education and STEM careers.
PeoplesBank Commits $125,000 to Behavioral Health Network
SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a $25,000 donation from PeoplesBank to benefit the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund. It is the first installment of a $125,000 commitment over the next five years. BHN established the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund to support the career and professional development of the organization’s workforce and assist in achieving social-justice objectives. Through community partnerships, valuable in-kind services, and generous donations, BHN seeks to address a variety of staff professional-development opportunities. The fund will provide support for scholarship funds and forgivable loans for staff to further their education at local colleges, along with licensure support.
UMass Decarbonization Collaboration Wins Award
AMHERST — A collaboration among UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and Salem State University to work together to decarbonize each campus has been recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources with a Leading by Example (LBE) Award, which was presented to representatives from each campus at a ceremony last month. The LBE Awards recognize Commonwealth agencies, public colleges and universities and municipalities, and public-sector staff and volunteers for outstanding efforts related to clean energy and the environment that have resulted in measurable impacts. The four-campus collaboration began during fiscal year 2020-21, when all four campuses decided to undertake a collaborative strategic planning process to decarbonize their campuses. Representatives from each campus held a series of meetings to allow for a free exchange of ideas, challenges, and lessons learned so that others might get a better result. The group kept various state agencies abreast of their discussions and how the work may affect formulating new policy. The group is also committed to sharing their information with similar institutions and agencies across the commonwealth. To qualify for the award, the campuses had to meet various criteria, including sustainable practices, environmental benefits, cost savings, and education and outreach efforts.
Springfield College Earns Green Bond Designation
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College announced it has partnered with MassDevelopment to issue $106,675,000 in bonds, of which $50 million has received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. Sustainability remains a key strategic focus for Springfield College, and pursuing a Green Bond was an intentional decision to demonstrate that commitment. The bond offerings highlight a commitment to both climate and sustainability designations, and will be used to finance campus construction and renovation projects, including the new Springfield College Health Sciences Center, which will empower transformative approaches to education, career enhancement, service, research, and leadership in healthcare. The new Health Sciences Center will be architecturally designed by SLAM, based in Glastonbury, Conn., and constructed by Consigli Construction, based in Hartford, Conn.
Food Bank Receives $5 Million for Food-distribution Center
SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser recently joined Chicopee Mayor John Vieau, members of Chicopee’s legislative delegation, and Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, to announce $5 million in funding secured to build a food-distribution center and headquarters in the city of Chicopee. Lesser acted as lead sponsor in the Senate, securing this state funding in the ARPA spending bill signed into law on Dec. 13. “The Food Bank of Western Mass. provides vital services to those in need in our region. With this funding, we have put them in striking distance of their new building capital campaign, which will be located at the heart of the need,” Lesser said. “There has never been a time where the work of the Food Bank has been more important, and we remain committed to working with them to address food insecurity in Western Mass. until it exists no more.” Morehouse expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Food Bank’s board of directors and employees, as well as households across the four counties of Western Mass. who struggle to put food on the table. “This tremendous investment in the Food Bank’s future food-distribution center and headquarters in Chicopee will enable us to carry out our mission for decades to come,” he said. “I would like to thank Senator Lesser for leading the charge with his fellow Chicopee state legislators and for the support of the entire Western Massachusetts legislative delegation and Governor Baker. Together, this public-private partnership will achieve our vision of a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food.”
Bova, Harrington & Associates Welcomed into Whittlesey
HARTFORD, Conn. — Whittlesey, one of New England’s largest accounting, advisory, and technology firms, announced that Bova, Harrington & Associates has joined the firm. The merger expands Whittlesey’s footprint in Western Mass. “Our shared values and common industries, services, and culture will bring outstanding value to our clients and community,” said Drew Andrews, Whittlesey’s CEO and managing partner. “The addition of Bova, Harrington & Associates will reinforce our growth strategy and extend our region’s reach. Together, we look forward to expanding our New England presence and new partnership.” Bova, Harrington & Associates is a full-service CPA firm that provides tax, assurance, and business-advisory services. “Joining the Whittlesey team is a perfect blend of common values and a commitment to the highest standards of client service,” said Joe Bova and Steve Harrington of Bova, Harrington & Associates. “Whittlesey’s extensive resources offer an opportunity to greatly expand our offerings to serve our clients better and create opportunities for our team. We are excited about our next chapter.”
Holyoke Community College Delivers $3.77 Million in Relief Aid to Students
HOLYOKE — Just when they might need it most, students at Holyoke Community College (HCC) are getting a holiday gift from the college totaling $3.77 million. The money is part of CARES Act pandemic-relief funds provided by the federal government. More than 3,500 eligible HCC students have each received, or will soon receive, block grants of $600 to $2,500, depending on their enrollment status and expected family contribution as determined by their financial-aid eligibility. The average grant is about $1,000. The cash grants are unrestricted, meaning students can use them however they want, and the money does not need to be repaid. Accepting the money also will not reduce a student’s financial-aid award. This is the fourth semester in a row that HCC has provided pandemic-relief funds directly to students. The federal CARES (Conavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act provides funding to students to offset the expenses they might have incurred when colleges switched from face-to-face to remote learning. That could mean having to buy a computer, buying or upgrading internet access, or paying increased utility costs from being home, among other expenses.
Upscale Socks Donates Socks to Friends of the Homeless
SPRINGFIELD — As winter began, Upscale Socks made a presentation of warm socks to Friends of the Homeless on Dec. 23. For every pair of socks purchased between Nov. 23 and Dec. 19, Upscale Socks owner Lenny Underwood made a sock donation to the organization. “As a nonprofit behavioral-health agency, we very much value our local community partnerships,” Clinical & Support Options President and CEO Karin Jeffers said. “Upscale Socks is helping our Friends of the Homeless shelter guests stay warm and cared for this winter — and helping them do it with style and dignity.” Underwood added that “we are thrilled to partner with Friends of the Homeless. Hopefully our socks will bring warmth and happiness to those in need.”
Frontier Launches Non-stop Service From Bradley to Cancun, San Juan
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of new, non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Cancun, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico on Frontier Airlines. The service to Cancun International Airport will commence on Feb. 17 and will operate seasonally, three times a week. The service to San Juan Airport will commence on Feb. 18 and will operate year-round, three times a week. To view flight times and booking options, visit www.flyfrontier.com. In addition to the service to Cancun and San Juan, Frontier offers non-stop service from Bradley to Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham. The airline has been operating at Bradley since 2018.