New Valley Bank & Trust Opens West Springfield Branch
SPRINGFIELD — New Valley Bank & Trust cut the ribbon on its newest full-service branch at 333 Elm St., West Springfield, on Oct. 7. Joining the bank’s board chair, Frank Fitzgerald, was West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, state Sen. John Velis, and state Rep. Michael Finn. “Our customers and prospects have been asking us to open a branch on the west side of the Connecticut River for some time,” New Valley President Jeff Sullivan said. “We have recognized the need to increase the convenience of doing business with the bank, and we are proud to be able to offer our services in West Springfield. I spent 11 years of my career working on Elm Street, and many members of the New Valley team have had similar past experiences. We are thrilled to be back in the neighborhood with friendly, familiar faces. As a gesture of good will, the bank recently donated to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club, the first of many new community partnerships to come.”
Country Bank Pledges $10 Million to Support Affordable Housing
WARE — Country Bank has introduced a new affordable-housing program featuring no down payment for first-time homebuyers. The first-of-its-kind program will assist low- to moderate-income families in purchasing a home. Country Bank has pledged $10 million to the program to help make a difference for these first-time homebuyers. This program is designed to help those who need it most by offering 100% financing for single-family homes or condominiums and 95% financing for two-family properties, with no down payment. In addition, the bank will cover 100% of the private mortgage insurance (PMI) that traditionally adds to the monthly payment, saving the borrower hundreds of dollars each month. This feature also gives the borrower more purchasing power by not having to pay the cost of mortgage insurance. Certain restrictions and locations apply for this program. “Buying your first home can be very stressful, and not having the ability to save for a down payment prohibits many from purchasing a home, even when they can afford the monthly payment. Country Bank’s mortgage experts can assist those interested in learning more about the program or who may be ready to purchase a home. The no-down-payment, first-time homebuyer program is available until the $10 million commitment has been allocated. To learn more, visit www.countrybank.com/mortgages or a banking center, or call the Customer Care Center at (800) 322-8233.
Arts Integration Studio Opens
HOLYOKE — Priscilla Kane Hellweg announced the launch of a new consulting firm, the Arts Integration Studio. Hellweg, who retired in December 2021 after 40 years as the executive/artistic director of Enchanted Circle Theater in Holyoke, said the Arts Integration Studio is a creative makerspace designed to address critical needs in education, community health, and the environment. The studio incorporates creativity, the arts, and cultural engagement, and collaborates with others to promote positive outcomes and sustainable solutions to pressing educational and social concerns. This fall, the studio announced four partnerships: with Pittsfield Public Schools and Berkshire Educational Resources on comprehensive professional development in arts integration, open to all K-12 teachers and specialists in Berkshire county; with Mount Holyoke College and its Professional and Graduate Education Department on a graduate fellowship focused on producing research and publications on arts and learning; with the town of Longmeadow, Bay Path University, and Deza Studios to produce a public art exhibit that illuminates community-wide perspectives around climate despair, resilience, and action as the town embarks on updating its master municipal plan with a focus on equity and climate change; and with the Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community in Easthampton designed to support families with children who have experienced foster care. The Arts Integration Studio is also developing ARTS CORPS, a work/study/professional training program for college students and emerging teaching artists interested in the intersectionality of arts, education, social justice, and community well-being.
Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Celebrates Five Years
CHICOPEE — Mercedes-Benz of Springfield is celebrating five years since opening its doors on Oct. 16, 2017. Mercedes-Benz of Springfield’s early and sustained success continues to validate the brand’s decision to put a site in the Pioneer Valley, despite the 11-year hiatus in having a local Mercedes-Benz dealership. Since opening five years ago, the dealership has serviced 53,795 cars, conducted 68,000 car washes, sold and delivered more than 6,400 vehicles, partnered with more than 350 organizations, and increased its team from 30 employees on opening day to 55 today. It has been honored with two BusinessWest 40 Under Forty awards, three Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Awards, and an Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce A+ Award, and was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.
Rocky’s Ace Hardware Reopens Agawam Store
SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, celebrated the reopening of its Agawam location on Oct. 22. “This renovation has allowed us to expand options for our customers and offer a more well-rounded shopping experience,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “Aside from a complete indoor and outdoor remodel, we have added full fishing and Carhartt departments to the store, as well as expanded tool and grill departments. We are really excited to show off these renovations to our new and returning customers.”
Hometown Financial Group Welcomes Envision Bank
EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group Inc., the multi-bank mutual holding company for bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank, has completed its acquisition of Randolph Bancorp Inc, the bank holding company for Envision Bank. Under the agreement, the acquired Envision Bank branches have been rebranded as Abington Bank. Abington Bank now has $1.4 billion in assets and 10 branches located throughout the South Shore and South Coast, adding offices in Braintree, Randolph, and two in Stoughton to its existing network of offices in Abington, Avon, Holbrook, Marion, and two in Cohasset. The transaction expands Hometown Financial Group’s market presence in Eastern Mass., bringing consolidated assets to $4.5 billion with 37 branches located throughout Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut. In addition, Envision Mortgage, with offices in Braintree, North Attleboro, and Westport, will join Hometown Financial Group within the newly formed Hometown Mortgage. This transaction is the sixth strategic merger for Hometown in the last seven years. In 2015, Hometown acquired Citizens National Bancorp. Inc., based in Putnam, Connecticut, then merged with Hometown Community Bancorp. MHC, the holding company for Hometown Bank, in 2016. It then acquired Pilgrim Bancshares Inc. and Abington Bank in 2019, and later that year acquired Millbury Savings Bank.
Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization
BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).
Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life.
“We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.