ShopOne Acquires Heritage Park Plaza
EAST LONGMEADOW — ShopOne Centers REIT Inc., a fully integrated, grocery-anchored shopping center investment, management, and operating platform, together with its joint venture (JV) partners, Pantheon and a leading global institutional investor, announced their entry into Massachusetts with the acquisition of Heritage Park Plaza in East Longmeadow, a 117,337-square-foot shopping center anchored by Stop & Shop. Heritage Park Plaza, which is 98% occupied, is strategically located along Route 83, a heavily traveled thoroughfare, and is serviced by three major highways, Interstates 90, 91, and 291. More than 202,300 people reside within five miles of the center, with an average household income of $88,500. Heritage Park Plaza has benefited from strong and consistent sales from its diverse tenant mix, which includes a variety of leading national retailers and regional brands such as Petco, Orangetheory Fitness, Panera, Dollar Tree, Pure Barre, 99 Restaurant and Pub, and H&R Block.
Country Bank Receives Two Marketing Awards
WARE — Country Bank announced it has received two marketing awards from the New England Financial Marketing Assoc. for its 2022 marketing efforts. Country Bank achieved first place with a gold award for its “Made to Make a Difference” rebrand. In May 2022, Country Bank introduced the rebrand in partnership with the bank’s advertising agency, Financial Marketing Solutions. The new tagline was created from focus groups that consisted of Country Bank team members, board members, consumer and business customers, non-customers, and community nonprofits throughout the bank’s marketplace. Since 1850, Country Bank has been a part of the fabric of the communities it serves, so it was deemed essential to include the community in the process. The common theme of how the bank makes a difference became a clear indicator of how its stakeholders received the brand in the market. In addition, the bank received a silver award for its Police vs. Fire Baseball Game in association with the WooSox Foundation. This game was a century-old tradition brought back to life on Sept. 26, 2022. Part of the game is giving back to the community, something the WooSox Foundation and Country Bank are passionate about. The teams chose the Manny 267 Foundation, which received a $15,000 donation.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County Honored with Gold Standard Award
WEST SPRINGFIELD — For the tenth year in a row, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) has been recognized for its quality of service by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). This time around, BBBSHC has been named a Gold Standard Award winner. Every year, the BBBSA Nationwide Leadership Council, made up of local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency leaders and board members, selects agencies for excellence in the organization’s signature one-to-one youth-mentoring program. Out of 225 agencies across the country, BBBSHC is one of 26 organizations to receive this top honor. The Gold Standard Award recognizes agencies that have increased their revenue and grown the number of mentors (‘bigs’) and youth (‘littles’) who are matched through the program, year over year. In the past year, BBBSHC has served approximately 300 youth and grown its local services by 10%. For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been dedicated to igniting potential for at-risk youth, making a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Today, the organization creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships, helping to build self-confidence and emotional well-being and empowering young people on a path to graduate with a plan for their futures and a mentor whose impact can last a lifetime. The Gold Standard Award winners will be formally recognized at the 2023 Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigger Together National Conference, held June 26-29 in California.
State Awards $1.37 Million for Fintech Incubator at WNE
SPRINGFIELD — The Healey-Driscoll administration and MassTech recently awarded Western New England University (WNE) a $1.37 million Tech and Innovation Ecosystem grant to establish an incubator that will drive innovation in financial technology, or fintech. WNE’s new Springfield-based fintech incubator will bolster talent development in the growing tech sector; fund new, on-campus computing infrastructure for hands-on learning opportunities; and allow faculty and students to work directly with private-sector companies and other financial-sector organizations on real-world challenges. The new incubator, a two-year, $2,125,000 project, will become a technical resource for fintech startups across the state, with an initial focus on those located in Western Mass. The $1.37 million state grant comes from the state’s Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program. The incubator will be managed by a team of WNE faculty who are deeply entrenched in the fintech space.
Davis Foundation Supports Surgical Care at Baystate
SPRINGFIELD — The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation made a generous donation to Baystate Health Foundation in support of the new surgical and interventional procedural rooms at Baystate Medical Center. A portion of this 82,000-square-foot space, which opened in March, is located in what is now known as the Robert S. Davis Wing. It was formally dedicated on May 30 with a celebration that included the Davis family and members of the Baystate Health team. Robert Davis was the second of four Davis children, including his siblings John, Jane, and Steve. He passed away in 2021, and, as a way to celebrate his memory, the family chose to name the former South Wing in his honor. The Robert S. Davis Wing also houses the Pediatric Procedure Unit, the Sadowsky Center for Children, the Baystate Medical Center inpatient pharmacy, and two floors of patient rooms. The tribute is fitting, as he spent time at Baystate Medical Center during his final year receiving care and dialysis treatment.
Greenfield Cooperative Bank Supports RiverCulture Events
GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank announced its sponsorship of the 2023 Summer Event Series organized by RiverCulture, the creative-economy program of the town of Montague. The series features a variety of cultural events happening in the five villages of Montague and the Turners Falls Cultural District, including live music, outdoor movies, theater, family activities, and festivals. The series aims to showcase the rich and diverse cultural offerings of the region and to foster community engagement and enjoyment. As a community bank, Greenfield Cooperative Bank is committed to supporting local arts and culture and to enhancing quality of life for its customers and neighbors. Paper copies of the calendar of events are available at local retail stores and restaurants, or can be downloaded at www.riverculture.org.
LightHouse Signs Agreement for Possible New Home
HOLYOKE — LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke announced it has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the historic Congregation of the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. in downtown Holyoke. The agreement establishes a 120-day inspection and planning period to determine the viability of the move. LightHouse is a personalized, competency-based middle and high school now in its eighth year in its current location in the STEAM Building at 208 Race Street in Holyoke. LightHouse’s tagline is “changing what school can be.” Current renovation estimates are being drawn up and are expected to run well into the millions of dollars, so LightHouse is in the beginning stages of applying for grants and preparing for a capital campaign to fund all the work that needs to be done. LightHouse has grown strategically during its eight years, from a program serving 36 students in its first year, 2015, to its current enrollment of 75 students. Students come from towns and cities across the Pioneer Valley, including Holyoke, and as far away as New Haven, Conn. Almost half of the student body are Holyoke public-school students who attend LightHouse full-time through a public-private partnership, a model for innovation for school districts everywhere.
Food Bank Honored with Lauren Arms Ledwith Award
BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced that the Lauren Arms Ledwith Award for 2023 has been awarded to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its outstanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach team. The Food Bank was awarded this honor at the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) annual meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community-outreach partners. The award was presented to Christina Maxwell, Beth Ziemba, Megan Schuck, Stephanie Gibbs, and Luis Perez Jr. for continuously demonstrating a commitment to creating a better tomorrow for their communities by helping to eliminate hunger. At the meeting, acting DTA Commissioner Mary Sheehan recognized the outstanding work done during the past year to connect residents with SNAP. Currently, almost 656,000 households receive SNAP benefits, a 45% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the community by providing food to individuals and families located in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. It has addressed food insecurity by meeting people where they are, conducting outreach at food pantries, meal sites, shelters, colleges, senior centers, correctional facilities, libraries, and veteran-serving agencies.
Cedar Chest Partners with Grow Food Northampton
NORTHAMPTON — For the second year in a row, Cedar Chest, the anchor store in Thornes Marketplace on Main Street in downtown Northampton, will partner with food-justice organization Grow Food Northampton to ensure that community members grappling with food insecurity and hunger are able to access healthy, local farm foods all year long at Grow Food Northampton’s farmers markets, Tuesday Market, and Winter market. The Grow Food Northampton SNAP Match program allows community members who use SNAP (formerly called food stamps) to more than double their purchase of nutritious local produce and other farm products at the weekly Tuesday Market farmers market behind Thornes Marketplace, and in the winter at the Winter Market at the Northampton Senior Center. The ‘give $10, get $10’ promotion allows Cedar Chest customers to donate $10 to Grow Food Northampton’s SNAP Match program and, in turn, receive a $10 gift card to spend at Cedar Chest.