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Company Notebook

Big Y Opens First Fuel and Convenience Location
SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Express Fuel and Convenience opened earlier this month at 320 Housatonic St. in Lee on Route 20, off exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Big Y Express represents a new venture and a partnership between two long-established Western Mass. family-owned businesses, Big Y Foods Inc. and F.L. Roberts & Co. Big Y Express is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is also just several hundred feet away from Big Y’s World Class Market in Lee. The inaugural 2,000-square-foot Lee location is the result of an alliance that incorporates what Big Y officials are calling “new and unique retail design and merchandising trends.” It features the traditional F.L. Roberts product mix along with many Big Y proprietary private-brand products including grocery, snacks, and freshly made, ready-to-eat offerings such as sandwiches, hot dogs, fountain soda, freshly brewed coffee, pastries, and fresh fruit. In addition, F.L. Roberts Rewards Plus loyalty cards along with Big Y Silver Savings Club cards can be used for more discounts at the pump and on items inside the store. And Big Y’s Express Rewards silver and gold coins can be redeemed for cents off per gallon at the pump. There are eight pump positions, with regular, unleaded, premium, and diesel fuels supplied by F.L. Roberts, which is the operating partner and responsible for the 10 Big Y Express employees. Many supermarket chains throughout the country own and operate gas and convenience stores in addition to supermarket formats. Coborns in Minnesota, Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, and KVAT in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee all operate both formats, as does Stop & Shop locally. With its alliance with F.L. Roberts, Big Y combines the expertise of the largest independent petroleum marketer in Western Mass. with the largest independently owned and operated supermarket chain in New England. According to Big Y President and COO Charles D’Amour, “we get the best of both worlds with our Big Y Express partnership. On the one hand, we are learning about gas stations and convenience stores. On the other, we are providing our expertise in food coupled with our strong private brand to enhance the experience for our customers.” Steve Roberts, F.L. Roberts’s president, expressed the same enthusiasm for this partnership. “Two well-established companies have combined their expertise to help each other grow to better service our customers and communities.” Headquartered in Springfield, Big Y boasts 61 locations throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts and more than 10,000 employees. The fourth-generation, family-owned F.L. Roberts was founded in 1920 by Frank Roberts as an automotive-parts and tire business in the South End of Springfield. Today, the company has expanded to include other automotive specialties at nearly 60 sites with 500 employees in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The company’s network of automotive-service companies includes 26 convenience stores, 20 car washes, nine Jiffy Lubes, two truck-fueling centers, and the Whately Diner.

AIC Ranks High in Teacher Education
SPRINGFIELD — American International College has been ranked sixth among colleges in Massachusetts for providing teacher education. The rankings were published recently by the College Database, a not-for-profit organization that provides free information about education options both nationally and locally to students, parents, and other interested parties. According to the College Database list, with nearly 500 education graduates last year, AIC ranked higher in teacher education than any other Western Mass. college. “The ranking acknowledges our hard work and commitment to preparing highly effective classroom teachers, reading specialists, and school leaders,” said Esta Sobey, associate dean of Education at the college. AIC offers education programs in several areas, including early childhood, elementary, moderate disabilities, and 10 subjects on the middle/secondary level, leading to initial teacher licensure in those areas. There is also a new five-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree in an arts and science area with a minor in education after four years, and a master of Education degree with licensure after the fifth year. Sobey said the college’s education programs have expanded in recent years, not only on the AIC campus, but across the state. “We have grown to 12 sites across the Commonwealth, and in 2012-13, AIC prepared and endorsed 498 candidates for various initial and professional licenses,” she said. AIC Provost Dr. Todd Fritch said the ranking is further proof of the college’s commitment to education. “Our education programs strengthen the mission of the college by expanding opportunities for students to transform their lives and achieve personal and professional fulfillment through rewarding careers as education professionals,” he noted. “The programs offer students a mix of scholarship and practicality, as most of our professors are employed in the field, allowing them to offer a balance between theory and real-world application.” AIC external campus program sites include Buzzards Bay, East Bridgewater, Fall River/New Bedford, Greenfield, Lawrence, Marlborough, Medford, Pittsfield, Wakefield, Weymouth, and Worcester.

Senior Housing Project at Ludlow Mills Wins $300,000 Tax Credit
LUDLOW — The Westmass Area Development Corp. (Westmass) announced recently that the senior independent living project at Ludlow Mills has received an important state historic tax credit award of $300,000 from Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. The award was critical to the project, allowing developer WinnDevelopment to move forward with financing its senior-living project at the mills. The senior-housing project will preserve historic mill building 10, in which 80 units of senior housing will be developed. The estimated total project cost is $24.5 million. Pending complete financing, Westmass is expected to convey Mill10 and the surrounding three acres to WinnDevelopment during the fourth quarter of 2014. Occupancy is expected to start about a year from now.

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