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Company Notebook

Financial-success Center to Open at Holyoke Community College

HOLYOKE — Thrive, a one-stop financial-success center for local college students and residents, staged a grand-opening celebration on Feb. 4 in the Frost building at Holyoke Community College. Thrive, a collaborative effort between HCC, PeoplesBank, and United Way of Pioneer Valley, will offer financial literacy and coaching, workforce-development services, and public-benefits screening and enrollment. Thrive will provide a valuable support system for anyone in the community (along with necessary skills to achieve long-term financial goals), but especially college students, who may be experiencing financial independence for the first time in their lives. “I don’t think it’s any secret that most college students don’t have a lot of money and that those who choose to attend community college often do so because of its affordability and their own financial limitations,” said HCC President William Messner. “What we see, year after year, is that managing money is a huge challenge for students. That financial anxiety is an issue that often impedes their academic performance and sometimes even leads them to drop out of school. Anything we can do to eliminate or at least reduce those financial concerns is going to help our students succeed in the classroom. Healthy financial skills will aid them not only during their college days, but also after they move on, so we are very happy to provide this new resource here at HCC not only for our students, but for members of the community who might also be facing financial issues.” PeoplesBank has been working to increase financial literacy for years by supporting seminars in the community and teaching personal finance in area public schools. “Academic excellence and community vibrancy are core principles of our corporate-responsibility efforts,” said Douglas Bowen, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “Supporting Thrive gives us the opportunity to expand on our financial-literacy education efforts. It also provides our associates with another way to volunteer to improve the community and help our future workforce by teaching classes at Thrive.” Financial literacy is also one of the four impact areas that United Way of Pioneer Valley focuses its fund-raising efforts on, because of the long-lasting results that can be attained with the proper skills and training. “We’re here to help hardworking families build assets for a successful future,” said Dora Robinson, president and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our partnership with HCC and PeoplesBank has made it possible for our community to ‘Thrive.’”

First Connecticut Bancorp Reports Q4 Earnings
FARMINGTON, Conn. — First Connecticut Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Farmington Bank, reported net income of $3.1 million, or $0.21 diluted earnings per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2014, compared to net income of $2.5 million, or $0.17 diluted earnings per share, in the linked quarter. Diluted earnings per share were $0.07 for the fourth quarter of 2013. The bank had net income of $9.3 million, or $0.62 diluted earnings per share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014, compared to net income of $3.7 million, or $0.24 diluted earnings per share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013. “Despite the low-interest-rate environment which continues to apply pressure to the margin, we continue to generate improved earnings based on our organic growth strategy, coupled with our strategic steps of reducing operating cost through process improvement initiatives,” said John Patrick Jr., First Connecticut Bancorp’s chairman, president, and CEO. “I am extremely proud of our team for their efforts in 2014, as we have once again prudently grown our asset and deposit base, deepening our market share where we operate. Their effort is evidenced in the improvement in our operating efficiency and annual EPS growth of 158%. We continue to be pleased with the progress of our expansion into Western Massachusetts, and will be opening two branch offices in that market in 2015, as previously announced.” Also in the fourth-quarter report, net interest income increased $410,000 to $16.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to $16.0 million in the linked quarter, and increased $2.1 million or 14% compared to fourth quarter of 2013. On a core basis, net interest income increased $160,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the linked quarter. Strong organic loan growth continued during the quarter, as total loans increased $88.4 million to $2.1 billion at Dec. 31, 2014 and increased $318.7 million or 18% from a year ago. Non-interest expense to average assets was 2.39% in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to 2.46% in the linked quarter and 2.80% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Tangible book value per share was $14.57 compared to $14.56 on a linked quarter basis and $14.11 at Dec. 31, 2013. Checking accounts grew by 2.8% or 1,242 net new accounts in the fourth quarter of 2014 and by 13.1% or 5,248 net new accounts compared to Dec. 31, 2013. Asset quality improved, as loan delinquencies 30 days and greater decreased slightly to 0.75% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2014, compared to 0.78% at Sept. 30, 2014 and 0.85% at Dec. 31, 2013. Non-accrual loans represented 0.72% of total loans, compared to 0.76% of total loans on a linked quarter basis and 0.81% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2013. The allowance for loan losses represented 0.89% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2014 compared to 0.91% at Sept. 30, 2014 and 1.01% at Dec. 31, 2013. Finally, the company paid a cash dividend of $0.05 per share on Dec. 15, 2014, and paid a cash dividend of $0.17 per share for the year, an increase of $0.05 compared to the prior year. This marks the 13th consecutive quarter the company has paid a dividend since it became a public company on June 29, 2011.

Two Local Banks Boost Capital Campaign for Sr. Caritas Cancer Center
SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center announced that Westfield Bank and Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation have pledged gifts of $150,000 and $100,000, respectively, to “Transforming Cancer Care,” the capital campaign for the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center. Westfield Bank’s gift is particularly significant because it reflects the largest corporate gift in the history of the bank. “Whether we like it or not, every one of us will be touched by cancer, directly or indirectly,” said James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank. “As an employer and as a community member, I recognize the importance of outstanding hospital care for the health of our community. Supporting this expansion is the right thing for economic, humanitarian, and personal reasons. We’re proud to be a part of this worthy project and encourage other area businesses to support the expansion as well.” Added Chicopee Savings Bank President Bill Wagner, “Chicopee Savings Bank and its charitable foundation have consistently supported the Sisters of Providence Health System and their various efforts. We have long been impressed by the organization’s mission to serve all members of our community. Cancer affects people across the socio-economic spectrum. This expansion will lift the level of care at Mercy to an even higher level, while expanding Mercy’s ability to meet the growing cancer-care needs of this community.” Mercy Medical Center recently launched a capital campaign to support the $15 million expansion of the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center. Specifically, the funds will be used to consolidate all cancer services into a single, unified space and meet increased demand for outpatient cancer services. In the past two years, the number of patients receiving chemotherapy at the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center has increased by more than 200%. By 2022, the need for outpatient cancer services is expected to grow by 26%. “Through the years, the banking community has been at the forefront of supporting the Sisters of Providence Health System,” said Diane Dukette, vice president of Fund Development for the Sisters of Providence Health System. “Once again, they are among the first to step forward to support a critical community need. We are grateful for their ongoing generosity and commitment to the people we serve.”

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q4 Results
GLASTONBURY, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2014. These results represent the second full fiscal quarter as the combined United Financial (merger of Rockville Financial Inc. and legacy United Financial Bancorp Inc.). Rockville was the legal acquirer in the merger of equals with legacy United in a transaction that closed on April 30, 2014, and Rockville changed its name to United Financial Bancorp Inc. at that time. The company had net income of $1.4 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2014, compared to Rockville’s net income of $1.8 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2013. Operating net income for the fourth quarter of 2014 was $8.3 million (non-GAAP), or $0.16 per diluted share, adjusted for $10.6 million (pre-tax) of expenses related to the merger, $3.4 million (pre-tax) net positive impact of the amortization and accretion of the purchase accounting adjustments (or fair value adjustments) as a result of the merger, $2.6 million (pre-tax) net adjustment for the company’s announced branch-optimization program, and $59,000 (pre-tax) net loss on sales of securities. Operating net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2014 was $10.4 million (non-GAAP), or $0.20 per diluted share, adjusted for $4.5 million (pre-tax) of expenses related to the merger, $3.8 million (pre-tax) net positive impact of the amortization and accretion of the purchase accounting adjustments (or fair value adjustments) as a result of the merger, and $430,000 (pre-tax) net gains on sales of securities. Operating net income for the prior-year period was $3.3 million (non-GAAP), or $0.13 per diluted share, adjusted for $2.1 million (pre-tax) of expenses related to the merger. Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014 was $6.8 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, and declined from $14.2 million or $0.54 per diluted share for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013. Operating net income of $26.7 million (non-GAAP), or $0.62 per diluted share for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014 increased from $16.3 million or $0.62 per diluted share for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013. Adjustments to operating net income from GAAP net income are largely related to the merger with legacy United and are itemized in the reconciliation of non-GAAP measures. “As we close the books on 2014, I am pleased to announce that we reported impressive organic loan growth, successfully completed the conversion to one core operating system, and have materially achieved the company’s objectives related to eliminating redundant expenses by the end of the fourth quarter,” said William Crawford IV, CEO of United Financial Bancorp Inc. and United Bank. “Looking forward to 2015, the operational environment will be challenging; however, I am confident that our strategy to reduce expenses and improve efficiency will enhance long-term shareholder value while maintaining superior service for our customers.”

Family Legacy Partners Expands to Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Karen Curran, CFP and Molly Keegan, CPA are announced the opening of a Northampton office of Family Legacy Partners Inc., an established financial-advisory firm headquartered in Greenfield. The new office is located in a historic property on Round Hill Road. Family Legacy Partners is an independent financial-services firm offering financial planning and investment management. Securities are offered through Bolton Global Capital Inc. in Bolton, Mass. Advisory services are offered through Bolton Global Asset Management, a SEC-registered investment advisor.

Ludlow Mills Riverwalk to Begin Construction
LUDLOW — The Westmass Area Development Corp. announced that it will begin Phase I of its riverwalk project this month, part of the approved Ludlow Mills Preservation and Redevelopment Comprehensive Master Plan. Westmass will begin construction on the riverwalk with a planned completion of Phase I this July. The initial phase of construction will cost $600,000 and is being funded through a partnership between HealthSouth and Westmass. The riverwalk is one of the early commitments that Westmass made to the town of Ludlow and its residents to promote public health and recreation along the river. The riverwalk will offer public space for pedestrian use and passive recreation, opening up the Chicopee River to the Ludlow Mills businesses and to residents of the community. Westmass has selected a local contractor, Gomes Construction Co., for this phase of the project. Phase I will feature a loop design and will start near Center Street, just east of the Town Common, run along the river toward the new HealthSouth Hospital, and then return through the proposed future park and reconnect with the recently installed municipal sidewalk system on State Street. The length of this phase of the riverwalk will span 3,575 feet and will incorporate the use of recycled brick materials, historic timeline markers and river observation areas along the walk. Together, the proposed riverwalk and future public park will cover approximately 52 acres, or nearly one-third of the Ludlow Mills site. Westmass seeks to convey that open space to the town so that it will remain in protected public use. The open space is intended to integrate the Ludlow Mills project into the neighborhood and community as well as support the many existing and new businesses that are attracted by the revived vibrancy of the Ludlow Mills.

UMassFive Opens Branch at Mercy Medical Center
SPRINGFIELD — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union introduced its newest branch location at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. As of January, the Credit Union of the Providence System (CUPS) has formally merged with UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, and has transitioned former CUPS members to be UMassFive members. With this merger, current employees of the Sisters of Providence Health Systems and their immediate family members are now eligible for UMassFive membership. Along with this merger, there is a new location for this credit-union branch at the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital at Mercy, 233 Carew St., in Room 110. This space has been completely renovated to provide members with an efficient place to do their banking and gives access to all credit-union products and services, including checking, auto loans, home-equity loans, mortgages, credit cards, and investment guidance. As with other branch locations, members at this new branch will have access to free financial workshops on topics such as budgeting essentials, home buying, identity theft, and paying down debt. The branch design has a modern and inviting feel and allows flexibility of use for both members and staff. Rather than a traditional teller line, the credit union has introduced teller pods, which both take up less space and increase the ability of tellers to move throughout the area, assisting members wherever they are in the branch. A touchscreen kiosk will provide online information about UMassFive. The hours for this new branch are: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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