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Daily News

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will present its 2022 A+ Awards on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the UMass Student Ballroom at UMass Amherst, with returning presenting sponsor Peoples Bank and major supporting sponsor UMass Amherst.

Each year, the Amherst Area Chamber bestows A+ Awards to individuals and organizations that enrich the life of the community through their work in business, education, and civic engagement across the area that the chamber serves: Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Sunderland, and the Pioneer Valley as a whole.

“Our 2022 A+ awardees make us a better community and a better chamber,” said Claudia Pazmany, the chamber’s executive director. “Individually, they all choose to make contributions that improve our daily quality of life, and collectively, they remind us why building business and building community makes this the place we choose to live, work, and play.”

This year’s Legacy Award honors the United Way Franklin & Hampshire Region for a century of giving of an estimated $50 million through the Great Depression, World War II, the social upheaval of the sixties, the energy crisis, the Great Recession, and the COVID pandemic.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors Angelina Ramirez for her significant contributions to Stavros Center for Independent Living of Amherst. Ramirez has led Stavros since 2019 as its CEO and has spent more than 30 years advocating for the Stavros community. She remained a steady force through the pandemic, ensuring Stavros never closed its doors.

The Leader in Innovation Award recognizes Joshua Rousseau as founder of Amherst Intelligent Security (AIS). As a UMass graduate and CEO and founder of AIS, he has consistently set the bar for great communication, creative solutions to problems, and encouraging the growth and success of individuals and businesses in the Valley. His software and team are changing the way companies work.

The Young Professional Award honors Taylor Robbins of the UMassFive College Credit Union. She has served as a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County and mentored through Entrepreneurship for All. Robbins is an active volunteer with the Clean River Conservation, the Hugh O’Brien leadership Group, the Cancer Walk at Polar Park, Dakin Humane Animal Shelter, and Amherst Survival Center.

The Community Service Award honors Sean Barry of Four Seasons Wines & Liquors of Hadley for his significant contributions to the community around food insecurity. He has been a supporter of Monte’s March in support of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for many years. In addition, he has supported Cancer Connection, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares, Fragile X Foundation, Amherst Survival Center’s Empty Bowls event, the Porter Phelps Concert Series, local veterans, and the first-ever Ireland Forever Festival held in Northampton this year.

The Chamber MVP Award recognizes Kyle Dumas of Greenfield Savings Bank for his significant contributions to the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, including his role as an essential member of the Margarita Madness committee. Beyond his work at the chamber, Dumas has been committed to his community, volunteers in many capacities, and exemplifies building business and building community.

Balazs Buszynak of Video Production by MVRK Productions, Powered by Seven Roads Media, is returning to create video tributes for each awardee.

The chamber will also honor its 2022 Cooley Dickinson Health Care & Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce $1,000 Scholarship Award recipients. Cooley Dickinson’s contribution ensures the scholarships go to four deserving seniors from Amherst Regional High School, Hopkins Academy, Belchertown High School, and Frontier Regional School pursuing business- and/or healthcare-related studies at an institution of higher education.

The 2022 A+ Awards are also made possible by committee members Heidi Flanders, chair, Integrity Development & Construction; Nancy Buffone, UMass Amherst; Joan Dahl Lussier, Homewood Suites; Jonathan Scully, Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Jessica West, bankESB; Lynn Gray, Hampshire Mall and Holyoke Mall; Kishore Parmar, Pioneer Valley Hotel Group; and Michael Gay, PeoplesBank.

Tickets cost $90 per person and $700 for a table of eight, and registration is open at amherstarea.com.

Daily News

HADLEY — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will stage its 2022 New Member Expo, featuring businesses who have joined since 2020, on Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Homewood Suites on Russell Street, Hadley. 

The event is presented by UMassFive College Credit Union, and includes Supporting Sponsor Steve Lewis Subaru and Contributing Sponsor Superior Plus Energy, features local nonprofit Children’s Advocacy Center Hampshire County, and is hosted by Homewood Suites, part of the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group. 

“When the doors went dark, we engaged with new members and new business owners in record numbers, but we missed out on this annual in-person tradition,” said Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. “And when the team at Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, who has generously opened up their Homewood Suites property to us, with expansive patio and BBQ and beautiful views of Hadley, and then UMass Five College Credit Union graciously stepped up to sponsor this important event, we knew it was going to be special. 

“Partners from every part of the community have stepped forward to make this a regional networking event,” she went on. “Food will be from Homewood Suites/Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, Texas Roadhouse, Herrell’s Ice Cream and Hamel’s Catering/SummitView Banquet & Meeting House; tastings from Four Seasons Liquors, Artifact Cider and V-One Vodka; and live music with Hayden Treble, an acoustic duo, will be the perfect backdrop to this event. As a Chamber, leading through partnership is what builds business and community and we are grateful to all who will make this event possible.” 

To register for the event, visit amherstarea.com 

Daily News

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce has been awarded a Mass. Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT) Marketing Travel & Tourism Recovery Grant totaling $116,655, in a very competitive application process, to leverage a comprehensive marketing campaign to attract visitors to the Amherst area.

Tourism, the third largest economic sector in the Amherst region, has been decimated by COVID, said Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, adding, “this grant instills hope and will allow us to highlight the best of Massachusetts, showcasing the Amherst area as a hub for culture, education, global dining, agriculture, and local business. We have long been a destination for tourists to experience Western Massachusetts, and these funds will allow us to deploy tourism assets we would not otherwise have the means to do, and will enhance our region’s tourism recovery, amplify our ‘destination Amherst’ focus in tandem with the State’s MyLocalMa and ‘Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is’ campaigns.

“The comprehensive marketing campaign will leverage and focus on our regional assets — the natural beauty and outdoor recreational points of interest in our region, our iconic and internationally known art and cultural institutions including museums and historical sites, and our rich gastronomy culture where local farm-to-table sourcing meets global flavor in order to draw visitors to Western Mass and enhance visitor’s experience once they arrive,” she went on. “We will use photography, video production, and the creative content to tell the story of the Amherst area and the local businesses, institutions, and people that call it home.”

Tigerweb, a local marketing firm, will be responsible for the marketing collateral and deliverables, and has been chosen due to its ties to the Amherst area and for its prior work on the chamber’s nationally recognized #IAMherst COVID recovery campaign.

“With 59 awardees, eight being Western Mass., we see this as another vote of confidence in Western Mass from our Eastern Mass counterparts to put our region’s assets on the map,” said Pazmany. “We all know why we live and work here, but this allows us to tell that story to attract visitors and to also amplify our pride to all those who have now moved here as a result of the urban flight of the pandemic, and to instill true value in the quality of life we hold dear here.”

The grant was awarded on April 20, and the marketing campaign will run through Sept 1.