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Brewing Up Business

 

 

 

 

 

One Way Brewing opened its doors at 807 Maple Road in Longmeadow on May 22, marking the launch of Longmeadow’s first brewery. One Way Brewing released a flagship beer, Kickstarter, a New England IPA. Pictured at top: two of the many customers who showed up at the event, which featured lines stretched around the building for much of the day. Above, Jason Tsitso, partner and head brewer, loads up six-packs of beer for sale at the kickoff event

 

 


 

 

Honoring a Legacy

Springfield’s Sinai Temple and the Jerome S. Gurland Human Relations Award Committee recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) as the 2021 award recipient. GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux (pictured, right) met with Rabbi Jeremy Master (left) on May 26 to accept the honor. Award namesake Rabbi Gurland of Longmeadow, who passed away on May 20, had been an advocate for community service and interfaith relations. Giroux said the funds will be used to promote community involvement, primarily with youth volunteers through construction on its Bay Street project.

 


 

 

Customers’ Choice Community Grants

During a May 18 celebration at Look Park, Florence Bank awarded $100,500 to 32 community organizations through its 19th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program. Each year, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit; to qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast. Pictured: Monica Curhan, senior vice president and Marketing director, joins President and CEO Kevin Day in leading the awards presentation.

 


 

Company Notebook

Bulkley Richardson Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Group

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson recently launched a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group to provide solutions for businesses adopting blockchain technology in a complex and changing regulatory landscape. The group’s attorneys have broad-based experience in key areas affecting blockchain technologies, including financial services and banking, intellectual property, securities regulation, emerging businesses, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, and digital privacy and cybersecurity. Blockchain technologies like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are changing the way businesses operate. The rise of the blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation that is disrupting the market and spawning new areas of the digital economy. As blockchain innovation continues to grow and evolve, so do the legal, regulatory, and business challenges. The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group includes attorneys Mark Cress, Dan Finnegan, Scott Foster, Bart Galvin, Lauren Ostberg, Ron Weiss, and Sarah Willey. With a cross-disciplinary approach, Bulkley Richardson aims to assist clients in capitalizing on new business opportunities and meeting the challenges in this rapidly evolving industry.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has once again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services, such as Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Nutanix, VMware, HPI, and HPE, to name a few. CRN, a brand of the Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016 and 2019 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 42 years. While it boasts a diverse customer base from small customers to numerous Fortune 100 companies in a wide array of industries, WCA is one of North America’s leading technology solution providers to healthcare, retail, finance, K-12, higher education, and government agencies on both the state and local levels.

 

Darby O’Brien Advertising Launches Catch & Keep Initiative

SOUTH HADLEY — For more than 40 years, Darby O’Brien Advertising has created and executed innovative branding, advertising, and political campaigns. In recent years, clients have increasingly asked the agency to bring its same out-of-step approach to another important area of business: recruiting. Many businesses, especially in technology and manufacturing, are facing unique challenges in today’s job market. Many have plenty of well-paid positions open but are unable to find the right candidates to fill them. Then, when they find the right people, it can be a challenge to keep them. Traditional headhunters and online hiring services often fall short, offering boilerplate approaches to a problem that needs customized solutions — and offering no follow-up. The agency decided to launch Catch & Keep after developing successful recruiting campaigns for clients including VSS CNC Machining, the Mental Health Assoc., Paragus IT, and Berkshire Real Estate. Case studies and more information on Catch & Keep can be found at darbyobrien.com/recruiting.

 

National Science Foundation Grants $649,000 to WNEU

SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Western New England University (WNEU) $649,111 for a five-year grant to offer scholarships to students. The target populations are students who are high achievers in high school whose family demonstrates they will benefit from financial aid. The grant will create a community-outreach program to increase the number of high-school and middle-school students entering and succeeding in STEM fields. The grant, titled Sustainable Pathways to Success for Low-income STEM Students Emphasizing Research and Innovation, was awarded to Jingru Benner, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and a team of educators from the university including Dean Hossein Cheraghi, Michael Rust, and Anthony Santamaria from the College of Engineering; Raymond Ostendorf from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. Benner will serve as principal investigator and project director. The project will increase the number of high-school students who have access to enroll in the WNEU Mechanical Engineering program. The grant provides funding for an annual need-based scholarship that will be added on top of each student’s WNEU merit scholarship and can be combined with the university’s Women in Engineering or FIRST Robotics Scholarships. In addition, the grant will fund critical resources for students in the program to receive targeted support to help them successfully graduate.

 

Elms College Athletics to Join GNAC This Fall

CHICOPEE — Elms College and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference announced that the Blazers’ GNAC core membership will begin this fall with the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. Last October, both the institution and the league office issued a joint announcement indicating Elms would join the GNAC with the 2022-23 academic year; however, that timeline has since been adjusted. Elms had been a member of the New England College Conference since 2007, claiming 19 league championships while leading the way in All-Academic selections. The Blazers’ swimming and diving programs have been associate members of GNAC since 2006, last competing at the 2020 GNAC championships just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Now all 17 sport programs will compete in the same conference, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, as well as men’s and women’s volleyball. GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh, the conference office, and current members are working diligently to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate the Blazers’ programs, as Elms will now begin its GNAC journey this fall with men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, and women’s volleyball.

 

MCLA Receives $28,000 Grant from Massachusetts DHE

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $28,720 Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which recently announced a slate of $1.7 million in grants for the state’s public colleges. These grants fund initiatives that help colleges work toward racial equity in Massachusetts public higher education. The grant will allow the MCLA Department of Public Safety to work with a consulting firm specializing in improving police departments’ relationships with their communities. The consultant will work with MCLA to develop an interactive training module for the Department of Public Safety with the goal of increasing cultural competency and engagement of its officers and staff with the MCLA community. Most of the grant proposals funded by DHE seek to provide faculty and staff equity training for transforming campus pedagogy, syllabi, curriculum, and campus life, with the goal of making the institution a truly nurturing environment for students of color.

 

UMass Board of Trustees Approves In-state Tuition Freeze for 2021-22

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to approve UMass President Marty Meehan’s proposal to freeze tuition for all in-state undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell for the 2021-22 academic year. The vote marks the second consecutive year of tuition and mandatory fee freezes at UMass for in-state undergraduate and graduate students. The Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses also froze out-of-state student tuition. The net price of a UMass education — price minus financial aid — remains consistent with other New England public land-grant universities and 31% below peer private institutions. In addition to a tuition freeze, the university increased its institutionally funded financial aid to a record high of $352 million this fiscal year. This aid, which is funded directly by the university, accounts for 40% of the total aid UMass students receive and is comprised primarily of scholarships and grants. Since 2015, institutional aid has increased by $116 million, or 49%. At least 25% of UMass students at each campus receive Pell Grants. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund is projected to provide $23 million to UMass to further support students, and last year’s CARES Act provided $23 million in direct aid to students. These grants are not considered or included as financial aid.

 

Brenda Cuoco & Associates to Open Second Branch in Longmeadow Shops

LONGMEADOW — Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage announced the addition of a new flagship office location opening soon in the Longmeadow Shops. The office is currently under construction, with a target opening date of May 1, and will be located at 714 Bliss Road, adjacent to Starbucks. The addition will support the steady and sustained growth that the brokerage has seen in the last several years and will complement the existing office located at 2442 Boston Road in Wilbraham. The brokerage will also actively recruit top-performing agents to help serve this new community. The firm sold 164 properties last year with a volume of $46.8 million.

 

AIC to Name Renovated Basketball Locker Room in Honor of Frank Oppedisano

SPRINGFIELD — The American International College (AIC) men’s basketball locker room will enjoy a much-needed makeover with help from friends in the community. Earlier this year, a group of alumni expressed an interest in doing something meaningful to help AIC men’s basketball in memory of their friend and former teammate, Frank Oppedisano, class of 1967. In addition to their fundraising effort, AIC Athletics engaged alumni and supporters during Athletics Giving Week last month. Donors were asked to consider giving to a general fund or team of their choice, with proceeds from the campaign earmarked to benefit student-athletes and athletic programs at the college. The new locker room will offer additional locker space, new flooring, and Yellow Jacket branding throughout, and will be named in honor of the Springfield native who was a four-year member of the basketball program. Before his passing in March 2020, Oppedisano was a regular at AIC men’s basketball home games and routinely provided congratulations after a win or unconditional support in defeat.

 

Bradley Debut Non-stop Service to Atlanta on Frontier Airlines

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of non-stop service from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Frontier Airlines. The service will commence on June 11 and will operate four times per week. To view flight times and booking information, visit www.flyfrontier.com. With the debut of non-stop service to Atlanta, Frontier Airlines will now offer five non-stop destinations from Bradley International Airport this summer. The airline’s other destinations include Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham.

 

Company Notebook

West Springfield Drive-In to Open on Big E Fairgrounds

WEST SPRINGFIELD — West Springfield Drive-In, in partnership with Eastern States Exposition, will open on Friday, April 23 on the Big E Fairgrounds. The drive-in will feature two 45’ by 60’ screens and be able to accommodate 300 cars each, in a safe and socially distant family experience. The drive-in, to be located in the Gate 9 parking area, is authorized to show new-release content, once available, as well as special livestream concerts and other events. The drive-in will be open on weekends through the springtime and then seven days a week during the summer season through Labor Day. Movies will begin at a time consistent with sunset. Closing for the Big E, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, the drive-in will then reopen October through December for holiday-themed experiences. Movies will be announced weekly, and ticket sales will be available at the time of the announcement. In addition, a full concession stand will also be available for guests to enjoy not only popcorn, but popular fair foods such as fried dough, fried Oreos, and cotton candy. Hiring for the West Springfield Drive-In is underway. Visit www.wsdrivein.com for details, or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/westspringfielddrivein.

 

Home City Breaks Ground on Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) broke ground on the Elias Brookings Apartments, at 367 Hancock St. in Springfield, on March 26. Home City Development has begun construction to adapt and reuse the former Elias Brookings School into 42 mixed-income rental apartments. Elias Brookings Apartments will contain a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and on-site parking for 61 vehicles. The property will have an elevator, laundry room, and management office. The 4,000-square-foot former gymnasium will be used as a multi-purpose resource center and community room for athletics, theater, youth and adult training and education, supportive services for residents, and other events. Funding for the redevelopment is provided by TD Bank, National Equity Fund, Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, the Springfield Community Preservation Committee, the Springfield Office of Housing, and Dorfman Capital. Davis Square Architects is the project architect, and Allegrone Construction Co. is the general contractor. Construction is scheduled for completion in March 2022. The completed property will be managed by Housing Management Resources.

 

Springfield Strain LLC Proposes Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Strain LLC, a minority-led corporation, has proposed a 2,500-square-foot adult recreational marijuana dispensary at 711 Boston Road (lower level) in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood. Springfield Strain has met all the criteria set forth by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission for a social/equity empowerment program dispensary with 100% minority investors. The dispensary will be locally owned and operated. According to the company, the dispensary will offer sales of high-quality cannabis products as well as product consultation and education in a safe, secure environment. Eddie Corbin, president of the Springfield Strain board of directors and former chief Procurement officer for the city of Springfield, noted that investors, the board of directors, and construction contractors are all minorities. In addition, all but one of the board members are Springfield residents. As part of a host-community agreement, Springfield Strain will give 30% of its net profits to the city of Springfield and 3% to the Pine Point Citizens Council. The organization also plans to establish educational trade programs for local students. The city of Springfield plans to announce the marijuana companies selected for negotiations on April 12.

 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Receives $30,000 Gift for Childbirth Center

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital received a $30,000 gift from Thomson Financial Management to support the Childbirth Center project, which, when completed, will offer expanded services in a newly renovated space that includes an upgraded nursery, birthing tubs, and more home-like surroundings for moms and babies. The renovation of the Childbirth Center includes refurbishing patient-care areas and support areas to make the space more comfortable for moms and babies, as well as creating a warmer, more home-like environment. In addition, the nursery will be upgraded to a Level 1B nursery to provide special newborns with extra care and attention. Once renovations are complete, Cooley Dickinson will be the only Level 1B nursery in Western Mass.

 

Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Amplify Community Reinvestment

LEE — Lee Bank is amplifying its longstanding community-reinvestment efforts with the creation of the Lee Bank Foundation, after a record year of contributions to the Berkshire nonprofit community. In 2021, Lee Bank projects it will distribute $250,000 through the foundation, a more formal entity for community donations. In 2020, Lee Bank awarded $179,000 to community organizations, following several years of steady growth in funding. In recent years, Lee Bank has typically set aside at least 5% of its annual net income for the support of area nonprofits. This giving has been on the rise: in 2020, the bank contributed nearly $179,000 to community nonprofits; in 2019, $145,000; and in 2018, $120,000. Last year, Lee Bank’s distributions included $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County. The bank has supported more than 200 programs and organizations in recent years, including Greenagers, Community Access to the Arts, Berkshire Humane Society, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and others. The foundation will be funded at $5 million by Berkshire Financial Services (Lee Bank’s parent company), with the goal of providing $250,000 in grants annually to nonprofits. In addition to a 2021 grant goal of $250,000, Lee Bank’s employee-driven, branch-based sponsorships will continue as in the past, with a $70,000 projection this year.

 

Laurel Road, KeyBank Introduce New Digital Bank Tailored to Physicians, Dentists

NEW YORK — Laurel Road, a brand of KeyBank, unveiled Laurel Road for Doctors, a digital bank tailored to physicians and dentists with products and services designed to provide the financial help and peace of mind they need through each career stage. The goal of the new digital bank is to help ease the burden for doctors of paying down student debt, finding more balance between work and life, and planning for the future. With Laurel Road for Doctors, Laurel Road and KeyBank expand on an existing suite of tailored digital banking and lending products and extensive experience, working directly with doctors to create a platform that meets the distinct challenges of this community. Laurel Road for Doctors is launching at the right time for many, as two-thirds of doctors plan to be more financially focused in 2021 to benefit their career and personal financial security compared to 2020, according to a new survey of 750 U.S. physicians and dentists conducted by Laurel Road and the White Coat Investor, an online community for doctors. Physicians and dentists can find more information about Laurel Road for Doctors at www.laurelroad.com/doctors.

 

Viability Introduces Program to Better Serve Participants

NORTHAMPTON — Viability Inc., a human-service provider, recently announced Project (VR)², a virtual-reality program dedicated to enhancing access to employment for all and inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. According to its creators, Project (VR)² is where vocational rehabilitation meets virtual reality (VR)². This first-of-its-kind project, deployed in the midst of COVID-19, will help people who are chronically underserved and marginalized build the vital skills required to advance their ability to gain and maintain employment. (VR)² makes it possible for individuals to acquire essential interactive soft skills that make or break job success — communication, interviewing, adapting, and problem-solving — in a controlled, safe, and self-reflective virtual work environment. Partners of the virtual collaborative include Link To VR, Bodyswaps, Cleanbox Technology, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Viability’s vision for Project (VR)² expanded significantly when the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provided assisted funding. Together, they are pioneering a new training initiative and encouraging states to bring about technological changes to their current rehabilitation efforts. To help manage the deployment, Viability called on Link To VR, a leading spatial computing company with offices in Boston.

 

DopaFit Announces New Initiative to Help People with Parkinson’s Disease

SOUTHAMPTON — DopaFit Inc., a Parkinson’s disease movement center, is known for helping people with Parkinson’s slow the progression of their disease with exercise and other non-pharmacological treatments. Those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease are often forced to stop doing the things they love. Many give up their passions, hobbies, and lose their sense of self. Limitless by DopaFit has been created to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to redefine their lives by giving them a chance to do something they once loved. For example, on April 5, Rick Burkhart, a current DopaFit fighter, flew a plane with the help of Fly LUGU flight school at the Westfield Barnes Airport. Burkhart had not flown an airplane in more than 10 years since he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Prior to his diagnosis, he was an avid pilot and owned a flight school at Westfield Barnes Airport. He often took cross-country flights, and even donated his time and planes to drop off much-needed supplies to remote areas of impoverished countries. DopaFit Inc. plans to offer the Limitless program on a quarterly basis. For more information, visit www.dopafit.com or call (203) 828-7189.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Named Fourth-best Community College in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was ranked as the fourth-best community college in the nation and second-best in Massachusetts, according to Academic Influence, a college ranking system. On March 4, the website released its first-ever ranking of the 50 best community colleges in America. STCC is one of six Massachusetts community colleges listed in the top 20. STCC, the Commonwealth’s only technical community college, offers comprehensive workforce and technical education in fields that include manufacturing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); healthcare; business; human services; and the liberal arts. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 30% of students identifying at Latinx. Academic Influence considered 839 community colleges in the U.S. that were fully accredited, enrolled at least 1,000 students, and provided primarily two-year associate-degree programs along with certificate credentials in most cases. In a separate recognition, STCC’s online business degree program was recently ranked as the second-most-popular in the New England region, according to Business Degree Central, an online resource for students. The website ranked STCC’s program second out of 11 colleges in New England. The business program was also ranked second-most-popular in Massachusetts.

 

HCC Ranked Among Best Community Colleges in U.S.

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide. In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering. “In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs. “We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”

 

Serve Food Opens Shared Kitchen to Aspiring Restaurateurs

HOLYOKE — Serve Food, a new business in Holyoke, recently hosted its grand opening at its 112 High St. location. Serve Food, a shared-use kitchen, is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare value-added food products and meals using a monthly membership. Because expenses are shared, the costs are significantly lower than if an entrepreneur started a kitchen on his or her own. All utilities, maintenance expenses, equipment repairs, sanitation, and cleaning supplies are included in the membership fees, allowing members to focus on their product. With membership in the Serve Food kitchen, members can get access to a kitchen almost immediately at little to no risk or extra expense, and have an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other local chefs and food makers. Serve Food’s website, servema.com, also plans to sell members’ products on its website.

 

Turning Leaf Centers Opens Dispensary Doors to Public

NORTHAMPTON — Turning Leaf Centers opened its doors on 261 King St. in Northampton on March 15. The dispensary features a ‘craft bar,’ experience, which will allow patrons to be educated on everything marijuana, have rolling parties, and participate in flower talk. “We believe the large, curated space will allow people to have an experience nobody has seen with the craft bar, live music days, and seating areas,” co-owner Stephanie McNair said. “Supporting our local community is something that is very important to us as a company. We are looking to display and promote local artists and have event demonstrations and educational seminars in our space.” Turning Leaf Centers Northampton has cultivated an eclectic menu from every product category and price point for every type of cannabis consumer.

 

UMass President to Again Recommend Tuition Freeze

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system. The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year. UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.

 

Florence Bank Opens Third Hampden County Branch

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank opened its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5. The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing. Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

Jake’s Barber Shop Celebrates Five Years with Community Contribution

GREAT BARRINGTON — As Jake’s Barber Shop commemorates the start of its fifth year in the community, owner Jake Hunker is marking the moment by supporting Railroad Street Youth Project, a local organization that encourages focus and commitment for others. RYSP is a Great Barrington not-for-profit organization that encourages community teenagers to meet, learn, talk, and focus on the future. For the week of Tuesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 3, the barber shop will donate $5 from each haircut to RSYP. Appointments for RSYP-benefiting haircuts from Hunker can be made online through booksy.com, and customers can also call (413) 717-4238 for an appointment. Railroad Street Youth Project is a nonprofit organization helping young people bring their ideas and inspirations to fruition and discover their place in the world. Its Youth Operational Board continues to fund youth-inspired projects, run ongoing mentoring and apprenticeship programs, provide sexual-health programming through local schools, offer job training and career counseling, and staff an active drop-in center that provides counseling, mediation, referrals, and advocacy services for young people in need.

 

Springfield College Recognized for Community-college Transfer

SPRINGFIELD — For the sixth consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community-college transfer. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts. “We are very honored once again to be among a small, select group of colleges recognized nationally by Phi Theta Kappa for our high level of commitment to the success of transfer students,” said Stuart Jones, vice president for Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “Educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others is the hallmark of who we are and what we do best.”

 

Bradley Airport Launches Non-stop Service to Nashville, Miami

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the launch of non-stop flights from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Tennessee on Southwest Airlines, and non-stop flights from Bradley to Miami International Airport (MIA) on JetBlue. “We are excited to launch Southwest Airlines’ non-stop service to Nashville from Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Nashville is a popular destination that also offers key connectivity to major destinations across Southwest’s West Coast network. The launch of this service significantly enhances our non-stop offering for our travelers, and, with its introduction, we are pleased to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Southwest Airlines.” In addition, “we welcome JetBlue’s expansion at Bradley International Airport and the addition of new, non-stop service to Miami,” Dillon said. “This new route, which follows JetBlue’s other recent route launches, is a significant vote of confidence in our airport and the market we serve.”

Company Notebook

WNEU Center for Social Justice Receives HNE Mini-grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice was awarded a $6,000 DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) mini-grant from Health New England (HNE). The grant provides funding to local nonprofit organizations that are actively addressing racial health equity and disparities, and at least one of the CDC’s social determinants of health (SDOH). These are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes; these include healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment. The grant seeks to dismantle systemic racism in two ways. The project will first educate the WNEU community about the connection between racism and health disparities and the structural barriers to equity that exist across society, and then will work to facilitate racial healing and relationship building between the institution and the local community through healing-circle conversations. Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has been a key stakeholder in the pursuit of social justice in its community and beyond. In the last year, the center has sponsored or hosted more than a dozen events, including various know-your-rights trainings and programming, panel discussions addressing the racial disparities of COVID-19, and lawyering in the time of Black Lives Matter, as well as speakers like Evan Wolfson, who is considered an architect of the marriage-equality movement. Its work is entirely grant-funded from supporters like HNE and MassMutual, as well as individual donors.

 

Visiting Angels West Springfield Wins Provider of Choice Award

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels West Springfield received the 2021 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice Award, which is granted to the top-ranking home-care providers in North America according to Home Care Pulse. The Provider of Choice Award recognizes Visiting Angels’ dedication to client satisfaction and commitment to offering quality, affordable in-home care services. Visiting Angels West Springfield was established in 1999 and has served the elder population of Western Mass. for more than 20 years. It has grown to provide more than 70,000 hours of care annually by helping seniors to maintain a sense of independence, dignity, and quality of life in their own home. Visiting Angels strives to foster lasting client-caregiver relationships by offering family-like compassionate care and dependability.

AIC Named to 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. The 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources within a logic-based scoring assessment. The institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan-default rates for all students are measured.

 

Team 413 Moves to William Raveis Real Estate

EAST LONGMEADOW — Shawna Gutowski and Heidi Pafumi, founders of Team 413, announced their move to the East Longmeadow office of William Raveis Real Estate. Team 413 finished 2020 top five in sales volume for all real-estate transactions in Hampden County. When asked why they decided to move their team, Gutowski noted that, “as we quickly grew from two to 16 agents, we realized a partnership with a name and reputation like William Raveis was the next step. Using their structure, technology, and years of experience, we plan to continue to exponentially grow.” In the previous four years, Team 413 has consistently ranked in the top 1% of Hampden County teams, with more than 500 transactions and $100 million in closed volume. The team has sold homes in more than 30 towns across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. Team 413 prides itself on its cultural diversity, as well as its extensive resources, spanning from contractors to interior designers.

 

ACC Designated as 2021-22 Military Friendly School

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College announced that, for the 14th year, the college has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. Asnuntuck has had nearly 300 active-duty and/or veteran students enrolled during the last three years. The college offers a multitude of services to these students. Asnuntuck and other campuses in the North-West Region worked with Resilience Grows Here to each offer a “No Wrong Door” training at the campuses last year. Asnuntuck, in partnership with Tunxis Community College, has done community outreach by sponsoring the Hartford Yard Goats Military Family of the Game for each of the baseball team’s home games.

 

Holyoke Hummus Food Truck Comes to Resinate Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Holyoke Hummus and Resinate Northampton recently announced a new partnership. The Holyoke Hummus food truck is now serving in the parking lot of Resinate at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton and is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. Holyoke Hummus serves falafel, hummus, and other Middle Eastern treats. Delivery and online ordering are available at holyokehummus.com. The truck is also available for special events and catering.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Amelia Peabody Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a $145,000 grant from the Amelia Peabody Foundation, which will enable the organization to further develop its virtual programming, help prepare for the time when in-person programs may resume, continue its Learning Pod collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools, and ultimately bring staff together in one building, fostering even greater creative and collaborative synergies. The foundation awarded $25,000 to Girls Inc.’s general program and $120,000 to its comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This commitment will help Girls Inc. to establish a new, permanent home and provide the space, resources, and opportunities needed to enable more girls to participate in the transformative Girls Inc. experience. The grant will support both program planning and implementation; funds will be used for staffing, expanded outreach, and program supplies. Additionally, the grant will facilitate bringing all Girls Inc. staff together under one roof to create greater collaborative and economic efficiencies.

 

Christina’s House Gets a Hand with Giving a Hand Up

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis Foundation recently awarded Christina’s House with a $15,000 grant to do what it does best — giving a hand up to homeless and near-homeless women and their children. A largely underserved population, these women and their families will stay with Christina’s House for 18 months to two years while they establish healthy living habits, become employed, and earn a GED or job training for upward mobility in the workforce. Paul Belsito, executive director at the Davis Foundation, and Magnus Monroe, grants and project manager, met with the organization in early fall to better understand how the foundation could support Christina’s House. The Davis Foundation, long known in the community for its educational agenda, found a fit, and the board voted to approve and provide much-needed funds to help the organization through a tough year. Christina’s House provides transitional housing and social services for homeless or near-homeless mothers and children. It educates, embraces, and encourages families in the program with the life skills needed to become self-sufficient as they transition from homelessness to stable environments. The organization also helps each mother seek, obtain, and maintain employment once accepted into the program, and promotes occupational advancement through résumé writing and job-skills training.

 

Bradley International Airport Named in USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that USA Today has named Bradley International Airport a winner in its 2021 10Best Readers’ Choice travel contest in the “Best Small Airport” category. Bradley placed seventh out of 15 airports that were selected by industry experts as the best across the nation. In response to COVID-19, the CAA has continued to enhance services at Bradley International Airport over the past year, aimed at providing a safe, clean, and comfortable travel experience. More information about the safety measures undertaken and what travelers can expect can be found at www.bdlcares.com. On its website, USA Today noted that Bradley International Airport “ranks as the second-busiest airport after Boston Logan, yet it remains a convenient option with on-site parking, lots of charging stations, free wi-fi, and proximity to both New York and Boston.” Bradley was chosen by a panel of industry experts for inclusion in the USA Today contest, which was followed by four weeks of public voting nationwide. This is the airport’s second national recognition within the year after placing as a top-10 airport in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice survey.

 

Agenda

Virtual Town Hall to Discuss Baystate Mary Lane Closure

Feb. 23: Baystate Health will hold a virtual town hall at 5 p.m. to discuss the closure of the Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center in Ware and future plans for patient care. All are welcome to attend. Baystate Health’s goal over the next several months is to work collaboratively with the Baystate Mary Lane team and engage with the community in developing an orderly transition plan for programs and services to Baystate Wing. In June, the emergency facility will close, and cancer care services will be transitioned to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care. Over the next two years, imaging/3D mammography and rehabilitation services, as well as ob/gyn and pediatric medical practices, will relocate to Baystate Wing. Cancer patients who receive care at Baystate Mary Lane will be offered transportation at no charge following the transition of care to Springfield. To support access to outpatient appointments at Baystate Wing Hospital when the two Baystate medical practices at Baystate Mary Lane transition over the next two years, Baystate will look to the foundation it has built with the Quaboag Connector and, if feasible, will further invest in this resource. More information will be forthcoming as needs, services, and transportation options are evaluated. To register for the virtual town hall, visit baystatehealth.org/easternregion.

 

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 26: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2021. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 26. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be as detailed and thorough as possible, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-nomination-form. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges, and the selected individuals will be profiled in BusinessWest in May and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala in late June. Event sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

Institute for Trustees

Starting April 7: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced it is partnering with the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) in presenting the 2021 Institute for Trustees, an annual conference inviting nonprofit leaders to gather together for educational workshops and networking opportunities. Building on the success of BTCF’s 2018 Board Leadership Forum and designed for board leaders and executive directors, the event features 24 virtual workshops from leading nonprofit experts and opportunities to connect with hundreds of peers equally committed to their leadership roles. This partnership is part of a broader effort between BTCF and ECCF to leverage resources in support of building capacity and leadership within the nonprofit sector, given the challenges facing organizations due to the pandemic and its economic consequences. The Institute for Trustees kicks off on April 7 with a keynote address by Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, titled “Leading for Nonprofit Impact Amid Unprecedented Challenge.” Beginning April 9, workshops and opportunities to connect with fellow attendees through topic-driven, informal peer discussions will be spread over the course of four weeks. Workshop topics include racial equity, endowment building, crisis planning, governance, advocacy, finance, and much more. To register for the program, visit eccf.org/ift. Registrations will be accepted at a discounted early-bird rate of $110 until March 7. After that, registration will cost $130 and will close April 7.

 

Springfield Partners for Community Action Scholarships

Through April 23: Springfield Partners for Community Action announced it will award a number of $1,000 scholarships that can help recipients with tuition and alleviate the cost of going back to school and investing in bettering themselves. All applicants must be Springfield residents, and income-eligibility guidelines may apply. Scholarships will be awarded to those attending accredited/licensed schools in Massachusetts. Applications must be received by April 23. Late entries will not be considered. If selected, recipients must be available to attend an awards event (most likely virtual) in June. Visit www.springfieldpartnersinc.com/whatwedo/scholarshipsprogram for the application form and information on how to apply.

 

Company Notebook

Bay Path Recognized for Supporting Students Throughout Pandemic

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announce it was selected as a winner of the Virtual Innovation Awards: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services hosted by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Bay Path is among 10 schools recognized across the nation for exemplary virtual student support services, and one of only three schools to receive the top award of $50,000. The award highlights the effectiveness of the work being done to support both Bay Path’s traditional undergraduates and adult students enrolled in its online undergraduate degree program, the American Women’s College. These best practices will serve as case studies to inform the field at large. As Bay Path’s online program for adult women, the American Women’s College has been continually developing and enhancing its virtual support services since 2013. At the onset of the pandemic, university staff were able to put these supports into overdrive to ensure campus-based undergraduate students could easily access services despite the abrupt move to remote. Some of the virtual services that have allowed Bay Path University to be responsive to its diverse student body, whether in person or online, include a virtual career-services hub; UWill, a telecounseling service; and Tutor.com, which provides access to online tutoring services 24/7. Similarly, programming related to orientation, peer-to-peer engagement, community building, and multi-cultural affairs was provided by a support team that was able to quickly pivot to virtual platforms and social-media tools.

 

 

STCC to Reinstate Five Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCC board of trustees voted to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management. STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources. In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.

 

United Personnel Services Wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Award

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel Services was recently honored in the Best of Staffing Client, Employee, and Talent Awards from ClearlyRated, in recognition of high levels of satisfaction from customers, job seekers, and employees. Winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients and staff. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel Services received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of clients and 78% of placed job candidates, significantly higher than industry averages. These ratings led to United Personnel’s fourth consecutive year of recognition as a Best of Staffing company from ClearlyRated.

 

Holyoke-based Startup Aims to Spark Non-alcoholic Beer Revolution

HOLYOKE — New to the beer and brewing industry, Ezra Bleau is introducing his business, Na Brews, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, “Na Brews (Nah Brooz) – Craft Beer for All People, for All Occasions.” This campaign will raise money for his mobile de-alcoholization production plan, increasing access to social, healthy alternatives nationwide. The main draw of the campaign is a $20 pledge to be part of the “world’s largest non-alcoholic beer collaboration, which he intends to do during a livestreamed interactive event with his brewer. The company has been in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and is working on certifying the event. Participants will be a part of this new craft beer every step of the way, selecting everything from style, grains, and hops to label design. With their $20 pledge, each participant’s name will be included in the collaboration can label for a future keepsake, and they will also be sent a can for their enjoyment and have exclusivity to purchase more before it is opened up to the general public. NA Brews currently is an e-commerce operation based in Holyoke, offering online retail sales of non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and wine selections, including specialty boxes and subscription services for others to enjoy in the comfort of their own home or any social setting. Bleau also has a manufacturing and full alcohol-free production plan, partnering with independent breweries in surrounding communities to produce quality craft non-alcoholic beer.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Supports MCLA’s Summer STEM Academy

NORTH ADAMS — The Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) $20,000 to fund the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy, which accepts up to 20 incoming first-year students enrolled in a STEM major or who have expressed interest in STEM fields. Designed to introduce incoming students to careers in STEM, the residential, five-day academy includes opportunities to network with STEM faculty, students, and staff in the interest of developing a deeper relationship with those involved in STEM careers in the Berkshires. The program’s ultimate goal is to encourage more students to secure jobs in the Berkshires and remain here after graduation. This summer will mark the ninth year of the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy. Alumni of the program, which was developed to serve low-income and first-generation college students, have gone on to be leaders at MCLA as residential advisors, tutors, and supplemental instructors. Graduates have gone on to have careers at Raytheon, General Dynamics, Edge Pharma, and as public-school teachers. Students are selected based on their responses to surveys taken upon their acceptance to the college. Interested students should e-mail program director Dr. Sara Steele, assistant professor of Psychology, at [email protected] to have their name prioritized in the selection process.

 

Country Bank Reports $1.3 Million in Community Philanthropy in 2020

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2020 totaled $1.3 million. Through the bank’s philanthropic efforts, it provided support to local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves; in 2020, more than 400 of these organizations received donations. The pandemic has left businesses and individuals facing continued looming uncertainties. Many nonprofits struggled from the economic fallout, and they looked to community partners like Country Bank for assistance. Country Bank donated more than $500,000 to area hospitals and first-responder housing efforts to provide the financial and tangible emergency resources needed to support their mission during the pandemic. Organizations receiving support included the Baystate Health Foundation, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Christina’s House, Springfield Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Behavioral Health Network Inc. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank also provided monetary donations to food programs throughout the region that exceeded $100,000. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and many local food pantries.

 

Meyers Brothers Kalicka Unveils New Website

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced a new website, mbkcpa.com, this week. The primary goal during the redesign process was to create a more user-friendly and valuable resource for clients and community alike. More specifically, the firm wanted users to easily locate information about accounting services, industries it serves, the firm’s story and team members, career opportunities, and community support. The website also features an active blog with articles about taxation, accounting, advisory, news, and community. Additionally, the firm offers free newsletters centered around taxation, business, not-for-profits, and healthcare. These newsletters help readers stay informed on recent provisions and guidance, access articles, get invitations to special webinars or podcasts, and gain industry knowledge. You can subscribe to any or all of these newsletters for free by adding your e-mail address into the ‘subscribe’ feature located in the footer of the new website.

 

Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families

AMHERST — Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply recently delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply. In December, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations. Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February. Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate.

 

WNEU Offers Free Graduate Courses to Current Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. “As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions. According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring. Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition. For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.

 

Ludlow Elks Supports Program at Scantic Valley YMCA

LUDLOW — The Ludlow Elks awarded the Scantic Valley YMCA a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to help the Y launch MOVE2Function, a movement-disorder fitness program. The Ludlow Elks have provided financial and in-person support for the Scantic Valley YMCA’s healthful-living programs. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports those impacted by cancer. The latest program to receive the Ludlow Elks support is MOVE2Function, offering those impacted by movement disorders evidence-based functional fitness programming to support them in making changes to support and improve all aspects of their health. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and essential tremor. In 2019 and 2020, the Ludlow Elks supported the Interactive Health Fair at the Scantic Valley YMCA, which was open to the public. With previous funding, the Ludlow Elks provided the food along with preparing and serving it. Attendees enjoyed a healthy meal while interacting with company representatives, YMCA staff, and college students to learn about such topics as nutrition, heart health, fitness, balance programming, blood pressure, and eye screenings.

 

UMassFive Directs $4,000 to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has directed $4,000 in donations to local survival centers in Amherst and Northampton. The donations were made possible thanks to UMassFive winning a Credit Union Give Back Sweepstakes held by its credit-card servicer, PSCU. This sweepstakes selected 25 credit unions from across the country to receive $4,000 to donate to local charitable organizations of their choice. UMassFive chose to direct donations of $2,000 each to the Amherst Survival Center and the Northampton Survival Center in support of the extra cost burden that 2020 placed on the organizations. Both organizations had to pivot operations quickly to meet the most pressing needs of their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have seen more need than ever before.

 

Country Bank Supports Quaboag Valley CDC

WARE — Country Bank announced a $25,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC) to support various programs to help local communities in the region. A portion of the donation will be used toward a matching grant for a senior-citizen outreach program. This project was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts CDBG Program. Projects are developed and administered by local officials with the assistance of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Services for the outreach program include grocery shopping and prescription pickups for low-income seniors in Ware, Hardwick, Belchertown, and Warren. The QVCDC also offers various programs to assist businesses in the region with navigating these unchartered times. One of the latest programs includes companies with up to five employees that could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through a Microenterprise Assistance Grant.

 

Company Notebook

Princeton Review Recognizes UMass Amherst for Graduate Entrepreneurship Studies

AMHERST — For the first time, UMass Amherst has earned recognition in Princeton Review’s annual selection of Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs. In the publication’s 2021 list, the university ranks 40th among 50 colleges and universities. Based on survey data from more than 300 schools, the rankings encompass a broad range of entrepreneurial activities inside and outside the classroom. The catalyst for student entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. The center serves the entire campus through a wealth of activities and resources. Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center, noted that entrepreneurship courses and scholarships, faculty who focus on entrepreneurship, student competitions, student mentorship by entrepreneurs, and ventures by alumni and non-alumni all fall within the center’s purview. Its annual Innovation Challenge propels student startups through pitch contests and a final competition judged by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Last year, the finals awarded $65,000 in seed money to student startups. The center brings student innovators together from different disciplines for entrepreneurial collaborations and offers networking and mentorship with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, as well as an incubator space for student startups.

 

Furnari Jewelers Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — In time for holiday shopping, Furnari Jewelers recently opened its doors at Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Furnari carries fine gold and silver jewelry, wedding sets, gemstones, pearls, watches, and more, and has a gold and silversmith on premises who can do repairs while customers wait. Furnari also offers customers the ability to design their own ring for a special touch. Known in the region for decades, Anthony Furnari opened his first store 40 years ago and says it was built on the foundation of customer service. Anthony’s son, Joey Furnari, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Starting with an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, Joey went on to become a certified bench jeweler at the American School of Jewelry, and opened his first store in May 2012 in Enfield, Conn. The 1,400-square-foot Furnari Jewelers is located on the upper level of the mall, near Apple. The store was formerly occupied by Kay Jewelers until Kay relocated its store earlier this year to the lower level, next to Round1 Bowling & Amusement. Furnari has hired seven employees for this location. Furnari joins a list of new tenants at Holyoke Mall over the last five months, including Cinnabon, which opened in June; EA Teriyaki, which opened in October; and Wings Express, which opened in November.

 

Tighe & Bond Receives ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Award

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond was recently recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT) with an Engineering Excellence Award. The project team received the award for the design of phosphorous-removal upgrades at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) in Plainville, Conn. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection set new phosphorous limits after it was determined the nutrient was negatively affecting water quality in the state’s freshwater rivers and streams. While phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that is an essential nutrient to support plant growth, excessive amounts contribute to dense growth of algae and suffocation of marine life. This meant the Plainville WPCF needed to reduce the amount of phosphorous leaving the facility by 88%. In anticipation of these changes, Tighe & Bond prepared a phosphorus-removal plan to determine how best to meet the new phosphorus limits. The plan recommended the addition of a filter building that would house new, multi-point chemical-addition and disc-filtration processes to reduce the amount of phosphorous from the facility’s water. The design also included cost-effective improvements to the existing WPCF, including a larger sludge-processing system, raising the facility’s existing UV disinfection system for improved flood resiliency; new flow-equalization tanks to stabilize the effluent from the facility’s sequencing batch reactors (SBRs); and filter influent pumps to lift the flow up to the disc filters. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule and $1 million under budget. The upgrades have enabled the town of Plainville to meet its phosphorous limits. The new system continues to remove phosphorus from the treated water the facility discharges daily into the Pequabuck River, which joins the Quinnipiac River and Long Island Sound. The renovations to the WPCF also meets all state and federal environmental regulations and ensures the protection of surrounding bodies of water. Tighe & Bond and its project partners will be honored at the ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in June.

 

Big Y Announces Additional Bonus Pay for Employees

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y announced it will pay additional holiday bonuses to its front-line and distribution-center associates, including full-time, part-time, and casual employees. This holiday bonus is part of the company’s ongoing recognition and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of employees, which was instituted last March. Thank-you bonuses are expected to continue during the first part of 2021. “We continue to be grateful to all of our employees for their valiant efforts throughout this pandemic,” said Charles D’Amour, president and CEO. “They have all taken their role as essential workers both nobly and carefully in order to continue to provide for and support our friends and neighbors in our communities. I am so very proud of their resilience and dedication to serving our customers during this past year. This bonus pay is just one way that we show our appreciation to our team of 12,000 who work so hard and tirelessly every day.”

 

Bay Path University Community Donates to Christina’s House

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s annual holiday party and employee-recognition event has been a long-standing tradition for faculty and staff. The pandemic prevented the normal gathering, but technology came to the rescue and provided a platform to connect remotely. Highlights of the event include naming a charity to be the recipient of Bay Path’s generosity, as well as employee recognition for years of service at the university. For 2020, the designated charity is Christina’s House, a Springfield-based nonprofit and Christ-centered ministry that provides transitional housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children who are homeless or near-homeless. More important, Christina’s House provides emotional, spiritual, physical, and education support as families transition from homelessness to permanent, stable living environments.

 

Grants Will Provide 100,000 Meals for People Across Western Mass.

HATFIELD — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington and Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency of Agawam are providing major support to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Two rounds of funding, one now and a second round in the spring, will pay for about 100,000 meals. The Food Bank provides food to 165 food pantries, shelters, and meal sites in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Wheeler & Taylor and Canary Blomstrom are members of GoodWorks Financial Group, a network of common-ownership insurance, real-estate, and financial firms. With the pandemic, demand for food has grown exponentially. The Food Bank is serving 109,500 people a month in 2020, up 16% from 2019. The organization distributed 11.1 million pounds of food from March through October, a 30% increase. It estimates that about one in six residents in the region, including 40,000 children, or one in four, are food-insecure.

 

Springfield Museums Distributing 495 Literacy Activity Kits to Children

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to funding from MEFA and the U.Fund College Investing Plan, Springfield Museums are distributing 495 literacy activity kits to children throughout Springfield and beyond. Ten programs — including the Gray House, Home City Families, Raising a Reader, and Head Start — will benefit. The literacy activity kits contain a consumable activity, a reusable building toy, colored pencils, a Dr. Seuss clipboard, and an early-reader book: Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Springfield Museums are committed to helping children and their caregivers explore literacy in its many forms — literary, science, historical, art — while also having fun. The museums have also tripled their hands-on learning spaces over the past few years. The Art Discovery Center, the Cat’s Corner, and Spark!Lab are all spaces for people to engage in hands-on learning to gain skills and build competency in a variety of subjects. Since the onset of the pandemic, the museums also worked to share activity kits so that those unable to visit in person could still have access to learning.

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Accreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport has received the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI) World. The organization’s Airport Health Accreditation program evaluates new health and safety measures and procedures introduced at airports worldwide in response to COVID-19. During the comprehensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures in the context of the entire passenger journey, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverages, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border-control areas and facilities, the baggage-claim area and the arrivals exit. Among other things, ACI recognizes Bradley for cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger facility enhancements. In addition to these safety measures, Bradley International Airport has also prioritized other initiatives to enhance the passenger journey, including contactless parking check-in/check-out availability (pre-registration required); renovated restrooms with touchless faucets, hand dryers, and light signals to indicate stall availability as well as added privacy and surfaces that promote more effective cleaning; terminal-wide air-purification technology, which will be in place in early 2021; and expanded mobile ordering in partnership with our restaurants, also to be introduced in 2021.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates More Than 1,000 Stuffed Animals

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation announced a donation of more than 1,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to local charitable partners, the culmination of a successful drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas and held on Dec. 12 outside the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds’ mascot, Boomer, along with staff members, then made deliveries of hundreds of stuffed animals to Square One, the Center for Human Development (CHD), the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Teddy Bear Toss event was much different than in previous years. Instead of tossing the bears onto the ice after the T-Birds’ first goal during a home game in December, fans brought their new teddy bears or stuffed animals and ‘tossed’ them out of their vehicles as part of the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss at the MassMutual Center. Boomer, the Nicebox Icebox, and front-office staff were present to collect donations and properly package and sanitize them. Those that couldn’t make it that day also donated at the Thunderbirds office, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas in Chicopee, the Springfield Visitor Center, or at New Valley Bank’s headquarters in Monarch Place in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds thank their partners that stepped up and were able to make this event a reality, including Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, Balise Auto Group, Western Mass News, the Springfield Business Improvement District and downtown Visitor Center, New Valley Bank & Trust, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as their tedd- bear delivery partner, BMW of West Springfield.

 

American Eagle Donates $3,000 to Diaper Banks

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — In the spirit of the holidays and to reinforce its long-term commitment to assisting families in need, American Eagle Financial Credit Union awarded $3,000 in grants from its donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to three nonprofit diaper banks in Connecticut and Western Mass. Square One Diaper Bank in Springfield, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, and Gentle Love Diaper Pantry, a youth-led nonprofit organization at Manchester (Conn.) High School, each received $1,000 to purchase and distribute diapers to needy families in their respective communities this holiday season. “More than ever, our families are struggling to meet their basic needs. The cost of diapers can be as high as $100 per month for some families,” said Dawn DiStefano, executive vice president of Square One. “Thanks to the generosity of American Eagle Financial Credit Union and other community partners, we can continue to lessen this burden by supplying emergency diapers to those in need.”

 

Company Notebook

‘Together HCC’ Campaign Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption. The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist. After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students. For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

 

Robinson Donovan, P.C. Makes Food Donation to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. made a donation of 100 pounds of side dishes to the Gray House to help ensure food on the table for local families this Thanksgiving. “We’ve partnered with the Gray House for several years for the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, and wanted to do something extra this year, knowing how many people have been deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Partner Jim Martin said. “The Gray House is an invaluable community institution that we are proud to support.” Through the help of individuals and businesses like Robinson Donovan, the Gray House is able to provide turkeys and accompanying food for families in need on Thanksgiving.

 

Country Bank Supports Communities in Need

WARE — Country Bank announced a series of initiatives to help support local communities during the 2020 holiday season, especially those affected by the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic. As part of these initiatives, Country Bank teamed up with Old Sturbridge Village to offer 750 free meals to families in need this Thanksgiving. Meals were delivered to St. John’s Food for the Poor, the YWCA, Abby’s House, Veterans Inc., and Elm Street Congregational Church. On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, the Country Bank retail banking team will support local small businesses by purchasing 400 gift cards from businesses throughout its markets. These gift cards were distributed in Country Bank branch locations on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. The corporate-office team will also partner with Provision Ministry and assemble 250 backpacks filled with essential care items to be delivered to the Springfield Rescue Mission. Throughout the month of December, the famous red kettles will be visible at several Country Bank branch locations to help fill the void the Salvation Army will experience this year, in part due to the pandemic. Country Bank has donated $10,000 toward this meaningful cause. Finally, as part of its Community Cares program, the staff participated in its own Boston Marathon by ‘walking the distance’ via a downloadable app. This virtual challenge brought people together while supporting charities of their choice with a $500 donation. A total of $30,000 will be granted to charities.

 

Demore’s Automotive Owner Makes Holidays Brighter

PALMER — Jay Demore, owner of Demore’s Automotive in Palmer, believes in supporting the community. This week, more than 300 people in Palmer will have Thanksgiving meals thanks to the efforts of Demore; his sister JoAnn, operations manager at the auto shop; and a few customers who have come to the shop with checks for as much as $200 and $300. Demore, who has operated the auto-repair shop since 1997, will provide prepared meals from Palmer restaurants, 80 of which will go to elderly residents in town. For families that prefer to make Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll make sure they have a turkey and the ingredients for stuffing, side dishes, and desserts. Anyone in need was encouraged to message Demore privately through social media; customers and local residents who knew of a family in need reached out to let him know. The plan to help began last Easter, as restaurants and families began to be affected financially by the pandemic. That’s when Demore began purchasing gift cards for Palmer restaurants and giving them to town residents in need. Demore has taken his support of Palmer restaurants on the road with the Stand Out Truck, a mobile digital billboard. He purchased ads on the truck for his own business and, after seeing results, began purchasing ad space and sponsoring restaurants. He is also offering to help any families in need at Christmas — and not just with meals. Demore and his sister have already purchased some big-ticket toys, such as a remote-control Jeep, which he says will be decked out with the Demore Automotive logo, as well as boys’ and girls’ bikes, a play kitchen, and a Nintendo Switch.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Donates 250 Turkeys to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated and helped distribute 250 frozen turkeys to aid the Gray House in its efforts to feed families in Springfield. “The mission of the Gray House is critical to our community,” Partner Earl Seeley III said. “We wanted to do what we could to further their efforts and help make Thanksgiving brighter for the people they serve.” Partner Charlie Casartello added that “the need to help people overcome food insecurity is more acute now than ever. Everyone deserves a great Thanksgiving dinner, and we were happy to have the opportunity to pass out the turkeys to our neighbors and wish everyone a happy holiday.” Attorneys from the firm were on hand to personally distribute the turkeys to individuals who had signed up with the charity to receive one. Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley is a law firm of more than 15 lawyers who devote their practice to protecting the rights of injured individuals.

 

Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, Claire Teague Senior Center Team Up on Thanksgiving Meals

GREAT BARRINGTON — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance in Great Barrington teamed up with the Claire Teague Senior Center to give local seniors a complete Thanksgiving dinner they could easily prepare at home. J. Scott Rote, president of the insurance agency, bought oven-ready turkey breast with gravy kits at a local supermarket. He and his staff added vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed-potato mix, dessert, and four KN95 face masks to each package. In all, the packages will yield about 300 to 350 meals. Polly Mann-Salenovich, director of the Clare Teague Senior Center in Great Barrington, delivered them to a local senior-housing complex and individual seniors. Separately, Kimberly Briggs, account manager at Wheeler & Taylor, who is also the secretary of the Junior League of Berkshire County, spearheaded employee fundraising for the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. In total, Wheeler & Taylor employees donated 10 boxes of groceries that were delivered to the pantry by Briggs and Rote.

 

Asnuntuck Accredited as American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College recently became the first American Welding Society (AWS) accredited test facility (ATF) in Connecticut. Students enrolled in Asnuntuck’s welding program will have an opportunity to earn certifications. According to Richard Munroe, one of two certified instructors at Asnuntuck, the program establishes minimum requirements for test facilities, their personnel, and equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and qualify welders. AWS’ website explains that entrusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies are increasingly realizing the shortcomings of self-qualification and are switching to AWS accredited test facilities to test and qualify their welders. ATFs help them save money, improve productivity, and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to experts. The Asnuntuck Community College welding program began in 2004 at Windsor High School and was moved to the Asnuntuck campus in 2008. Now known as the welding and fabrication program, it has graduated approximately 1,000 students since its inception. The college has dedicated 10,000 square feet to welding instruction in a state-of-the-art facility on the Enfield campus, which includes 75 welding booths.

 

Golden Years Home Care Services Gives Care Packages to Veterans

EAST LONGMEADOW — Golden Years Home Care Services partnered with Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts Inc., Commonwealth Care Alliance, and Springfield Pharmacy to deliver “Appreciation for Your Service” care packages to veterans in Springfield on Nov. 24. Thanksgiving is a time when most people think about what they are thankful for. Staff at Golden Years say they are thankful to veterans for all the work they have done for this country, but, while providing home-care services to veterans, they noticed that not all veterans have the basic necessities most take for granted. The partnership among the organizations supplied veterans with toothbrushes, gloves, hats, socks, shampoo, hand sanitizers, masks, deodorant, soap, razors, and more supplies. They also received a turkey provided by Golden Years Home Care.

 

FutureHealth to Combine Forces with Insurance for Students

SPRINGFIELD — FutureHealth announced it has entered into an agreement with Insurance for Students, located in Delray Beach, Fla., to combine their expertise as one company. They have developed and will be distributing the next generation of student insurance products and services. Pat White, president and founder of Insurance for Students, has been designing, marketing, and administering comprehensive student accident and health plans for colleges and universities for more than 40 years. Kevin Saremi, president and founder of FutureHealth, has been providing online health-education programs that address mental health and other health-related issues within the student market. Prior to starting FutureHealth, he founded Consolidated Health Plans (now Wellfleet), a third-party administrator for student health-insurance products for more than 20 years, before selling the company to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

Resinate Inc. Opens Second Dispensary in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Resinate Inc. — a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated cannabis company — opened its second retail location at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton on Nov. 20. Resinate, which also has a facility in Worcester, is opening its second location during an unprecedented period with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will strictly adhere to CDC and Commonwealth guidelines to keep its staff and patrons healthy. Resinate Northampton offers online pre-ordering, in-store pickup, and limited parking. Additional parking is available at the E.J. Gare parking garage and the Armory lot. Metered on-street parking is also available. For more information about Resinate, product offerings, and dispensary hours and locations, visit www.iresinate.com or e-mail [email protected]

 

TommyCar Collision Opens in Northampton

HADLEY — TommyCar Auto Group, which operates five car dealerships in Hampshire County, is expanding into the auto-body business with the opening of its new TommyCar Collision Center in Northampton. The center, which is now open, is located at 32 Damon Road, next door to the auto group’s Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership. TommyCar Collision will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free estimates. Services will include, but are not limited to, automotive glass replacement; body and bumper repair; detailing; frame straightening; full-service mechanical services; painting; paintless dent repair; repair after hail damage; repairs for scratches, dents, and door dings; and windshield repair and replacement. To learn more or schedule service, call (413) 517-3855 or visit tommycarcollision.com.

 

Liberty Mutual Lends Support to Square One Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Mutual Insurance is the latest corporation to lend its support to Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids — a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The $3,000 gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, family childcare offerings, and family-support services.

“The vital services the Square One team provide to the community on a daily basis have taken on a whole new level of importance during this unprecedented time,” said Beth Green, Liberty Mutual Insurance Contact Center Operations associate. “Early education is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s long-term security and well-being, and the services offered by Square One are core to Liberty Mutual’s values of being there for people when they need us most. We are honored to help them fulfill their commitment to provide high-quality early education and a safe and healthy community for Springfield’s children.”

 

Contribution Clothing Supports Nonprofits with Holiday Gift Guide

LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge, Founder of Contribution Clothing LLC, launched the mission-driven online boutique, www.contributionclothing.com, in June 2019. The boutique, which retails new women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations that share a vision of empowering women and girls. The woman-led boutique is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts. This holiday season, Contribution Clothing is promoting Gifts That Give Back, a holiday gift-guide collection featuring select items each week leading up to Christmas. The collection will include pre-sale items not typically available at the boutique, with price points of $50 and under to keep holiday shopping affordable. Since the launch of the website, Contribution Clothing has provided monetary donations to a variety of organizations, such as Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations a Cure for Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Girls on the Run, Christina’s House, the Care Center, Bay Path University, and Safe Passage. The ambitious clothing line hasn’t stopped there, also supporting many community-based events and fundraisers, such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendars for Girls Inc. and Girls on the Run, and the Unify Against Bullying Fashion show, and Partridge even created her own volunteer event in support of Christina’s House this past quarter.

 

Local College Students Compete in Online Grinspoon Pitch Contest

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each. Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College. Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Company Notebook

Country Bank Donates $75,000 as Part of ‘Neighbors in Need’ Program

WARE — As the pandemic continues to disrupt business activities both nationally and in Massachusetts, Country Bank announced a $75,000 series of donations designed to assist organizations on the front lines. As the latest installment in a string of recent financial support, the bank will be facilitating donations to select organizations throughout its market from Springfield to Worcester. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will each receive $25,000 to provide additional grant funding for critical-needs programs. These programs offer support for vulnerable seniors, those without stable housing, with limited English proficiency, and with compromised health conditions, including mental health and drug addiction. Other programs receiving a contribution include: Springfield Rescue Mission and Friends of the Homeless in Springfield; and Abby’s House, Saint John’s Food Pantry, and the Boys and Girls Club in Worcester. These donations will assist in continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in their communities. Many nonprofit organizations are not only combating reduced financial support as many businesses are closed, but also face a lack of volunteers, and have to continually evolve how they support their clients while keeping everyone safe on a limited budget and with limited resources. “This is an uncharted time for our bank, our customers, and our local business community. As part of our effort to assist those most affected by COVID-19, Country Bank has already donated $400,000 to help local hospitals, first-responder recovery centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, children, and community foundations,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We continually look for opportunities where we can help make a difference in the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Westfield Bank Future Fund Announces 2019 Giving Totals

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that the Future Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to supporting local 501(c)(3) organizations that have a positive impact on the region’s educational, recreational, cultural, and social well-being, awarded more than $300,000 to more than 40 organizations in Western Mass. and Northern Conn. in 2019. Grant recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Domus Inc., Farmington Valley YMCA, Friends of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Girls Inc. of the Valley, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Spirit of Springfield, and the YMCA of Greater Westfield. According to James Hagan, and CEO of Westfield Bank, the Future Fund awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to qualifying organizations whose applications are accepted. “There are so many people and groups in our communities that have devoted themselves to making life better for all of us, and especially the young people who represent our future, and we know that supplying needed services presents financial and logistical challenges that grow with each passing year,” he said. “The Future Fund, and Westfield Bank, are dedicated to providing needed support to worthy organizations that enrich and define life in the towns and cities we serve.” In addition to the Future Fund grants, Westfield Bank contributed more than $400,000 to help sponsor community and performing-arts events, youth sports teams, fundraisers, and more. The bank also donated more than $500,000 to local organizations via the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, an affiliate of Westfield Bank. In total, Westfield Bank provided more than $1.2 million in local and regional philanthropic support in 2019.

Springfield College AmeriCorps, Parent Villages Begin Mask Project

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Springfield College AmeriCorps program are partnering with Parent Villages Inc. and other local nonprofits to lead the Village Engagement Matters initiative, a program committed to providing community members with face masks at no cost to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The initial distribution of protective facemasks took place on May 12 at three meal-distribution sites located at Springfield elementary schools. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have been assisting with the production of the masks, and also helping with the planning of the distribution efforts. “Giving back to our community is always something we have done in our family, and we are committed to helping with this project,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps member and social-work student Molly Glynn. “My mom and I started making masks for our family members, but that quickly has turned into helping our community as well. What I like about the Olson mask pattern we are using is, it provides a pattern to make masks for both adults and kids, and the pattern also allows for a pocket on the inside for a micron filter to help those individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.” Added Parent Villages Inc. CEO Lakisha Coppedge, “the Parent Villages organization always tries to stay in touch and learn about items that community members really need, and obviously right now the masks are at a high demand. Springfield College stepped up to the plate to help, and we can’t thank the college enough to make this project a reality, and always being there to help our community members.” During these challenging times of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield College AmeriCorps members continue to seek opportunities to serve the Greater Springfield area, including volunteering their time making sure the Village Engagement Matters initiative is a success. “It really means a lot to have AmeriCorps members finding ways to support others,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Director LaTonia Naylor. “We continue to live our Humanics mission at Springfield College of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. It brings me so much joy to watch people step up and show love and support for our community members.”

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces EFSP Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been appointed administrator for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, which appropriated supplemental funding in the amount of $194,555 for Phase 37 and $277,380 for CARES grants. With a board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV will determine funding allocation through a competitive application process. These funds will be used to supplement existing food and shelter services, and cannot be given to start new programs. Funding for Phase 37 and CARES-funded grants is now available. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Hampden County, South Hadley, or Granby may apply. Allocations are to be applied toward supplementing existing food and shelter services. Applications are due by Friday, May 22 at noon. For information or to apply, contact Nicole Young, manager of Community Investments, at [email protected]

Vann Group Becomes Licensed Practioner of Predictable Success

SPRINGFIELD — The Vann Group, LLC announced that Michael Vann has recently become a licensed practioner of the Predictable Success, a business-growth methodology that over the last 30 years has been used to scale hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Widely recognized as one of the most powerful organizational growth models available, Predictable Success was developed by Les McKeown, a successful entrepreneur and business-growth advisor. McKeown is the author of the bestselling book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, as well as the companion book, The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success. Until recently, access to the full model was available only through McKeown. Michael Vann is part of the first cohort of licensed practioners. “I’ve been working with growth models for the past 20 years but have never come across one as powerful as Predictable Success. It isn’t an academic model or a hypothetical theory; it’s a proven, real-world process that enables any organization to scale successfully,” Vann said. “What I find really valuable about Predictable Success is its ability to get to the root cause of an organization’s issues rather than trying to solve symptoms. It integrates very well with our core methodology and tool set. It has been a great addition for our clients that are looking to grow and build value.” Les McKeown, the founder and CEO of Predictable Success, noted that “I’m absolutely delighted to have Michael join our growing group of licensed practitioners. Michael’s background as a trusted advisor and consultant makes him a stellar addition to our group, and I know his existing client base will benefit enormously from his access to the Predictable Success growth model, especially in these precarious times.” The Predictable Success model is intuitive and non-complex and can easily be implemented with the completion of a workshop. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, the Vann Group has several Predictable Success workshops approved under the Express Grant Program. The program will reimburse eligible businesses for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Contact the Vann Group for additional information.

Pioneer Valley College Students Recognized for Entrepreneurship

AGAWAM — Eighty-six students from 14 local colleges and universities recently received awards for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with 55 unique businesses and business concepts represented. News of the 2020 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards came at about the same time as participating students’ semesters were disrupted by COVID-19. Soon thereafter, the annual entrepreneurship banquet, where more than 450 people were scheduled to attend to celebrate these students, was canceled. The Grinspoon EI class of 2020 received their award checks of up to $1,000 by mail, and they and continue to be mentored by their Grinspoon EI faculty advisors. This year’s entrepreneurial class represents many diverse concepts and businesses. Some examples include:

• Bac-Be-Gone, bacteriocin-based cleaning products (Hadley Beauregard, Hailey Charest, and Bryanna Lexus Freitas, UMass Amherst);

• Keifer Games, a clever tabletop game for creative thinkers (Matthew Kiefer, UMass Amherst);

• Nashion, a new material for salon gel nails (Sona Kim, Amherst College);

• PAL, a prosthetic airliner medical device (Courtney Carlson, Kelsey Hastings, and Olivia Truenow, Western New England University); and

• Slacktyde, eco-art and eco-friendly clothing (Camila Mirow, Mount Holyoke College).

Mary Schoonmaker, Grinspoon EI faculty advisor and assistant professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, noted that “the Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards are foundational to building entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Past and present recipients have appreciated the confidence building and encouragement to advance their innovations.” This year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Award went to Justin Park, founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a direct-to-consumer sports-betting data and iGaming affiliate platform. This annual award is given to a former Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner who has advanced their entrepreneurial endeavors. It is named after Grinspoon’s original business partners, Tom Garvey and Bill Young. “The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation has provided me with encouragement since 2012 to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship,” Park said.

Company Notebook

Bacon Wilson to Donate $25,000 for Firm’s 125th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that, in honor of its 125th anniversary year, the firm will donate $25,000 to various community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley. Bacon Wilson will make five contributions of $1,250 for each quarter of 2020. After gathering suggestions from members of the firm, first-quarter contributions of $1,250 were awarded to:

• Michael J. Dias Foundation, which provides aid and education for individuals and families on substance abuse, and help for those battling the disease of addiction;

• All Out Adventures, which promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and their families and friends through outdoor recreation;

• Amherst Survival Center, which connects people to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts;

• Our Community Table: Westfield Soup Kitchen, a 100% volunteer organization dependent upon donations to provide a clean and safe environment to serve those in need; and

• Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, older youth, and elders invest in one another’s health, dreams, and futures.

Bacon Wilson will announce recipients for the firm’s remaining quarterly giving in June, September, and December.

Eversource Energy to Purchase Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England. Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural-gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural-gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the Commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource. Under the asset-purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’s current parent company, NiSource. Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Isenberg Again Ranks First for MBA Online Education

AMHERST — For the fourth year in a row, the online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst topped the rankings of U.S. programs — and came out number three in the world — in the Financial Times survey. Isenberg has offered an AACSB-accredited MBA degree program entirely online since 2001, making it one of the most well-established and robust online degrees in the country. Currently, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program. In addition to its overall position in the 2020 Financial Times ranking, the Isenberg online MBA also stood out in a number of data areas, based on information collected by the publication from members of the 2016 graduating class. It ranked first in the world for salary increase, with alumni reporting that they earn 46% more now than they did when they graduated from the Isenberg MBA program; second in the U.S. for average current salary ($168,046); and first in the U.S. for value.

American International College Named To Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has again been named a Military Friendly School. VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, has released the 2020-21 Military Friendly​​ Schools list, providing a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly​ School designation are evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. This year, fewer than 800 schools nationwide earned this prestigious designation. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the individual institution’s survey scores with the assessment of its ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program. To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond.

Women’s Fund to Award $45,000 to Groups Addressing Sexual Violence

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced a spring grant cycle to fund organizations that are working to fight sexual violence in the Western Mass. region. Funding for this grant cycle is made possible by a grant the WFWM received from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund), housed at the New York Women’s Foundation. Joining the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in this work, WFWM will carry out the Me Too Fund’s goal of ensuring ongoing philanthropic investments toward transforming the oppressive systems that produce structural inequalities of power that result in harassment and violence by making grants from this fund in and for the local community. Applications will be accepted from women- and girl-serving organizations in all four counties of Western Mass. through March 31. Projects funded by this grant from WFWM must focus on prevention and/or intervention of sexual violence and harassment. Visit mywomensfund.org for additional information or to apply.

GCAi Launches Videos for Peter Pan’s App Marketing and Perks Rewards Program

SPRINGFIELD — Riders on any Peter Pan bus right now will not only view a new app-marketing video but also a new Perks Rewards program video. In between the two marketing videos is a brief welcome message by company Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly. Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) produced the three videos, which are already being shown on all routes in the Northeast Corridor. Each of them was produced by award-winning video producer Darcy Young, one of the only female video producers in the market. The concepts and scripts were developed by GCAi founder John Garvey. The app and rewards videos will be disseminated through digital marketing campaigns in specific markets on the East Coast in the near future. These videos are the third in a series of passenger videos produced by GCAi that began when Peter Pan Bus Lines separated from Greyhound Bus Lines in 2017. The videos can be viewed at gcaionline.com/video.

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Roger Menard Insurance Agency

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced the acquisition of Roger Menard Insurance Agency at 241 King St., Northampton. “Roger and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we are fortunate to be able to continue his legacy of great customer service to his clients,” said Webber and Grinnell President Bill Grinnell. “Our office is only a quarter-mile down the street, so it will be an easy adjustment for his clients. We also represent the same insurance carriers as Roger Menard Insurance, which will make the transition go very smoothly. Menard added that “Webber and Grinnell is the premier insurance agency in Northampton, and I know my clients will be treated very well. I’ve truly enjoyed this business and the relationships I have developed along the way. But after 36 years, it’s time to do something different. I will still be available to answer any questions during the transition.”

DAISA Enterprises to Facilitate Healthy Children and Families Event

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

Health New England a Finalist in Healthiest Employers Program

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform. Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming. Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

Bay Path Earns ‘A’ Grade for Early Reading Courses

LONGMEADOW — The National Council on Teacher Quality released its scores for the 2020 Teacher Prep Review, ranking Bay Path University’s Early Reading course content in undergraduate, traditional, elementary-education programs with an ‘A’ designation. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, and more than one-third of American children are not able to read by the fourth grade, with black and Hispanic children being disproportionately affected. Successful reading instruction is essential to achieving educational equity, yet only seven programs in Massachusetts received an ‘A’ ranking. After reviewing course syllabi and required textbooks, programs were ranked based on the following criteria: the availability of explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices; and evidence that teacher candidates must demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests, and field work.

Scout Curated Wears Supports Dress for Success

SPRINGFIELD — Scout Curated Wears started out as a local business and quickly turned into a nationwide sensation with its signature item, which converts from a wrap bracelet to a necklace. But the company is equally proud of its commitment to give back 10% of its net proceeds to support women’s organizations. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is one of the nonprofits that benefits from the generosity of Scout Curated Wears and owner Lora Fischer-DeWitt. Women in the Greater Springfield community benefit from both a network of support and programs developed by Dress for Success. These programs, which are designed to be responsive to both women and employers, include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program; the Boutique, which provides women with professional attire for interviews and employment; the Margaret Fitzgerald One-on-One mentor program; and the Professional Women’s Group, designed to promote employment retention and career advancement. Fischer-DeWitt changes the lives of women who come through these programs by providing an annual contribution and by sponsoring Common Threads, an annual event celebrating of the accomplishments of women who have come through Dress for Success Western Massachusetts programs. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton.

Elms School of Nursing Ranks in Top 10 in State

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org. To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%. This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and niche.com.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 14: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online  HERE. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, and other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Micro-emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information about the Micro-Emerging Market: Cannabis Certificate Program, visit aic.edu/mem.

Cannabis Education Center

Jan. 16, 23; Feb. 6: The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started. The first, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan. The second, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. The third, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” — a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business — is slated for Thursday, Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’

‘Stress Less in 2020’

Jan. 17: The free monthly Lunch and Learn program at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence at JGS Lifecare has announced its next topic. Dr. Bill Bazin, a chiropractor for more than 30 years, will present “Stress Less in 2020 with Time and Energy Efficiency,” offering strategies to better manage stress and increase quality of life. Almost 60% of Americans consider themselves stressed and depressed, and stress can play a major factor in heart attacks. Bazin will talk about stress and offer strategies on what to do to deal with it. Topics will include why we have stress; different types of stress; signs and symptoms of an overstressed life; how to get exponential growth from one’s time and energy; strategic planning for one’s life and family; eliminating fear, panic, and anxiety; the five factors of health; solutions for stress that can be done at home, and when to take the next step to deal with stress. The lunch at noon will be followed by the presentation from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Ruth’s House Lunch and Learn program is free and open to the public. Tours of independent and memory-care neighborhoods will be available. RSVP to Lori Payson at (413) 567-3949, ext. 3105, or [email protected] For more information, visit jgslifecare.org/events.

Free Workshop on Wage and Hour Laws

Jan. 28: MassHire Holyoke Career Center will present a free workshop on the laws enforced by the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, including the payment of wages, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time. At the event — slated for 8 to 10 a.m. at 850 High St., Holyoke — guest speaker Barbara Dillon DeSouza will also discuss the broad powers of the Fair Labor Division to investigate and enforce violations of these laws and explain the various ways a company can become the subject of an investigation. Finally, she will note some resources available to companies to keep informed of the laws. DeSouza is an assistant attorney general in the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. She focuses on enforcing Massachusetts wage and hour laws, including prevailing-wage laws. She has been with the office since March 2010. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to reserve a seat early. Register by contacting Yolanda Rodriguez at (413) 322-7186 or [email protected].

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration information are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Company Notebook

Wellfleet Acquires National Guardian’s Student and Special Risk Business

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, an insurance provider and a Berkshire Hathaway company, has agreed to terms with National Guardian Life Insurance Co. (NGL) to acquire through renewals its Student and Special Risk business. Much of that business is processed through Commercial Travelers Life Insurance Co. in Utica, N.Y., a wholly owned NGL subsidiary. Wellfleet will immediately assume responsibility for administrating NGL’s special-risk policies and collegiate accident and health insurance, which insures more than 26,000 students on approximately 100 campuses across the U.S. Wellfleet will maintain NGL’s Utica office, employing more than 30 insurance professionals. Completion of the transaction is subject to various conditions, including the receipt of required regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Elms College Announces 100% Hire Rate for Education Graduates

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that all of its class of 2019 education licensure graduates — both undergraduate and graduate — have successfully landed jobs as teachers in their licensure fields or are pursuing advanced degrees. This is the sixth year in a row that the Elms College Education Division has reported a 100% hire rate for its graduates. Elms College allows education majors to specialize in elementary, early childhood, English as a second language, moderate special needs, or secondary education. Graduate students can work toward a master of arts in teaching degree in a variety of fields, including reading specialist, a master of education degree, or a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS). The college’s programs offer real-world, student-centric, pedagogical training that prepares teachers to serve as leaders in the changing field of education.

UMass Amherst Welcomes Largest-ever Entering Class

AMHERST — UMass Amherst will welcome the largest entering class in university history when students return to the Commonwealth’s flagship campus over Labor Day weekend. The size of the entering class, approximately 5,800 students, represents an increase of 790 compared to last year. This includes 4,300 in-state students, an increase of 800 over last fall. Massachusetts students represent 74% of the first-year class. Out-of-state enrollment remained strong at 1,500, including 470 international students. The university received a record 42,110 applications. Overall undergraduate enrollment this fall is projected to be 22,700. The academic profile of the class of 2023 is impressive. The average SAT score is 1292, and the average GPA is 3.90. The class also represents an increase in the number of ALANA (African, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Native American) students at 33%. The percentage of underrepresented minority students is 17%, matching last year’s number. Half of the incoming class is female. Commonwealth Honors College will welcome 660 students, up 35 students over last year. Their average SAT score is 1400. Along with the first-year class, nearly 1,050 transfer students will be arriving on campus this fall. The transfers include 380 community-college students enrolling through the MassTransfer program. MassTransfer guarantees admission to Massachusetts community-college students who complete a designated program with a GPA of 2.5 or above. The overall GPA for entering transfer students is 3.40.

Eversource Honored for Encouraging, Empowering Employees in the Military

BOSTON — Eversource Energy has been recognized with the nation’s highest honor recognizing support of employees in the military. Eversource was one of 15 companies selected from 2,500 nominations to receive the 2019 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Eversource Chairman, President, and CEO Jim Judge and control-room supervisor Bill Gelinas accepted the Freedom Award at a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Eversource’s recruitment and military reserve policies make it one of the nation’s leading companies for veterans and other service members. Of Eversource’s 8,000 employees, more than 600 have served in the military. The energy company offers advancement programs that provide opportunities to apply military training in a supervisory level position. In addition, the Eversource Veterans Assoc., made up of employees who served their country, provides support and recognition to current veteran employees and raises funds to support military veterans throughout New England.

STCC, Bay Path University Announce Psychology Transfer Agreements

SPRINGFIELD — Officials from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Bay Path University will sign two agreements today at 1 p.m. creating an affordable pathway for female students with an associate degree from STCC to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bay Path. Under one articulation agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts/general studies (applied psychology option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology from Bay Path. Under the second agreement, students who receive an associate degree in liberal arts transfer (human services/social work option) can pursue a bachelor of arts in psychology. Bay Path and STCC recognize that, for many students, the path to a bachelor’s degree may begin at a community college. Moreover, for STCC’s female students, diverse educational opportunities, including the advantages of enrolling in a women’s university to earn a bachelor’s degree, adds value to educational experiences. These agreements acknowledge that significance and are formed to enable the smooth transfer of STCC graduates to either the traditional undergraduate program or the American Women’s College of Bay Path University.

STCC Gateway to College Program Earns Recognition

SPRINGFIELD — The Gateway to College program at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received a Program Excellence Award in recognition of exceeding all four benchmarks used to assess the performance of Gateway to College programs nationwide. Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly off track complete their high-school diplomas in college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a post-secondary credential. STCC has hosted a Gateway to College program since 2013, and the program enrolled 67 students during the academic year when it received the award. In 2017 and 2018, the STCC Gateway to College program was recognized with a Graduation Achievement Award. This marks its first Program Excellence Award and represents one of only 11 such awards given to Gateway to College programs nationally. At the Gateway to College Directors Convening in New Haven, Conn. at the end of July, Achieving the Dream President Karen Stout and Executive Vice President Emily Froimson presented the award to STCC Gateway Program Director Katara Robinson.

Kresge Foundation Awards $100,000 to Public Health Institute of Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — The Kresge Foundation awarded the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts a $100,000 grant to advance policy solutions aimed at improving climate resilience and equitably reducing health risks in low-income communities. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative, a new project of the Live Well Springfield coalition convened by the Public Health Institute, is one of 15 community-based collaborations nationwide receiving grant funding as part of the planning phase of Kresge’s Climate Change, Health and Equity initiative. The Springfield Climate Justice Initiative will focus on planning and implementing strategies identified in the 2017 “Strong, Healthy, & Just: Springfield Climate Action & Resilience Plan” for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving climate resilience in Springfield. The planning will focus on developing front-line residents’ capacity to accelerate municipal action on the top greenhouse-gas emissions reduction strategies included in the Climate Action Plan. With this funding, the collaborators who worked together to develop the city’s “Strong, Healthy & Just” plan — the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Arise for Social Justice, and the city of Springfield — will work with partners from other sectors to develop multi-year work plans to address community-defined health and climate priorities.

Company Notebook

Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim Announce Plan to Merge

MASSACHUSETTS — Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan recently inked an agreement to merge, a marriage that would bring together the Commonwealth’s second- and third-largest insurers, creating a powerhouse to rival Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, will serve as CEO of the new organization. Michael Carson, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, will serve as president, overseeing the organization’s diverse business lines and subsidiaries, according to a release. “Our communities and consumers today face four major hurdles in health care: affordability, access, quality of health, and a fragmented healthcare experience across various stakeholders and health systems. Through our shared vision, we believe we can tackle these issues and bring more value to the communities we serve,” said Croswell in a statement. The plan was unanimously voted on by the boards of both organizations. The new combined entity does not yet have a name. The deal would bring together Tufts Health Plan’s 2,841 employees and approximately 1.16 million members with Harvard Pilgrim’s 1,182 employees and approximately 1.16 million members. Together, the insurers will have members in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Elms College Will No Longer Require SAT, ACT Scores for Most Admissions

CHICOPEE — Starting with the class entering in the fall of 2020, Elms College will no longer require scores from standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT for admission to most majors. The move to a test-optional policy is intended to make higher education accessible to students from all backgrounds, including from underrepresented populations. Elms admission counselors will review applicants’ essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. They also will talk with prospective students to get to know them as full people. The test-optional policy will give all students, including those from underrepresented populations such as racial and ethnic minorities or those with economic disadvantages — groups who traditionally earn lower scores on standardized tests because of systemic social inequities — a greater chance to access the educational and experiential opportunities Elms offers. The School of Nursing at Elms will still require test scores, however, because nursing majors are required, upon graduation, to take the NCLEX exam to become licensed as nurses, and the college needs to know that its nursing students can succeed on such exams. Students or families with questions about test-optional admission, academics at Elms, or the application process are encouraged to contact the Office of Admission at (413) 592-3189 or [email protected] More information is also available online at elms.edu/testoptional.

UMassFive to Bring Employees Student-loan Repayment Benefits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it is bringing student-loan repayment benefits to its employees via a new partnership between Student Choice and FutureFuel.io. Student Choice teamed up with FutureFuel.io earlier this year to better help credit unions address the growing challenge of student-loan debt faced by the emerging workforce. Participating in this new perk allows credit unions to offer their employees and employees of select employee groups access to FutureFuel’s online portal of automated tools that can help reduce the impact of student debt.

Monson High School Golfers, Monson Savings Bank Support Shriners

MONSON — Monson High School graduate Cam Kratovil, sophomore Mason Dumas, and varsity golf coach Paul Nothe, in cooperation with Monson Savings Bank, teamed up to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. Kratovil and Dumas collected pledges for a marathon golf round they recently played at Quaboag Country Club. They were escorted in golf carts around the course by Nothe and his wife, Nicole, as they completed their goal of playing 100 holes between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon. All the money pledged to them will be given to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. In addition, Monson Savings Bank sponsored the 2019 Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Quaboag Country Club on Aug. 17 and 18 to benefit the hospital.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in ENR’s Ranking of Environmental Firms

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering and environmental consulting, climbed six spots this year to number 142 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) “2019 Top 200 Environmental Firms” ranking. ENR ranks its list of top 200 envi environmental firms nationally based on the percentage of their 2018 gross revenue from environmental services. Earlier this year, Tighe & Bond also climbed 19 spots to number on ENR’s “2019 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking, moving up a total of 38 spots in the past two years. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year. Tighe & Bond provides comprehensive engineering and environmental services to hundreds of public and private clients across the Northeast, with emphasis on the education, energy, government, healthcare, industrial, real-estate, and water/wastewater markets. A staff of 385 work from nine offices in five states.

People’s United Community Foundation Grant Boosts JA Summer Program

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, recently received a $5,000 grant from the People’s United Community Foundation to support its Summer BEE (Business and Entrepreneurial Exploration) program for middle- and high-school students. The funds will be used to provide out-of-school educational experiences for youth from grades 6 to 12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career exploration/work readiness, and STEM education. The program includes in-class learning, hands-on learning, and experiential out-of-school learning experiences, such as lessons about the water ecosystem with presentations, videos, and techniques to test the water in the nearby Connecticut River. To learn problem solving, decision making and teamwork, students form companies, create a product, and market and sell the product, with the goal of earning a profit. Students have several opportunities to sell their products and pitch the companies to business people, family, and friends.

ESB Foundation Donates $5,000 to Hilltown Community Health Center

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the Easthampton Savings Bank Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the capital campaign for the John P. Musante Health Center of Hilltown Community Health Center. Located at 70 Boltwood Walk in Amherst, the John P. Musante Health Center provides accessible and affordable healthcare for primary and preventive medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare services. The center’s service area includes Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, Belchertown, Ware, South Hadley, Sunderland, South Deerfield, and Leverett.

WNEU Teams Up with Comcast to Offer Xfinity on Campus Service

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced it will bring its Xfinity on Campus service to Western New England University, allowing students to watch live TV and on-demand and recorded content on their IP-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The service is included with room and board for students living in on-campus housing. Xfinity on Campus offers more than 100 live channels and access to thousands of current TV shows and hit movies via Xfinity on Demand. While off campus, students can use the Xfinity Stream app to log in and access TV Everywhere programming that’s part of their subscription.

Eversource Upgrading Electric System in Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — Eversource is investing $4 million in upgrades to electric-distribution systems in the towns of Plainfield, Cummington, Chesterfield, Worthington, Windsor, Savoy, and Dalton. These enhancement projects include replacing more than 130 utility poles with stronger, thicker ones and installing more than 21,000 feet of more resilient power lines. ‘Smart switches’ are also being added to the system to help restore power outages more quickly in the event they happen. These devices can limit the number of customers affected by an outage and restore power with computer-assisted technology from the energy company’s operations center even before sending a crew to inspect the line and make repairs. A major component of this upgrade project is connecting two electrical circuits, creating a loop. Once the two electrical systems are tied together, it will make substations on either end accessible when needed, boosting the company’s ability to deliver reliable power. Customers may experience short power interruptions during the project, so crews can safely perform the work. Any customers affected will be notified by the company in advance. The project is expected to be complete by this fall.

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Westfield

WESTFIELD — Holyoke Medical Center announced expanded healthcare services in Westfield, including family medicine, women’s services, gastroenterology, walk-in care, and more. Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has relocated to 140 Southampton Road in Westfield. The office offers care for the entire family, including pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and geriatric care. Dr. Thomas Graziano and Deborah Pisciotta, MS, PA-C, are accepting new patients. The office is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call (413) 535-4800. In addition to Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, Holyoke Medical Center plans to offer walk-in care, lab draw, imaging services, and physical therapy at the 140 Southampton Road facility starting this fall. Holyoke Medical Group Women’s Services also has an office in Westfield, located at 94 North Elm St., Suite 102, in Westfield. Holyoke Medical Center Gastroenterology will also open a new office at 94 North Elm St., Suite 206, in Westfield on Oct. 21.

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.9% in July, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 3,500 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector lost 4,100 jobs as losses occurred in leisure and hospitality; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. Manufacturing jobs remained unchanged over the month, while trade, transportation, and utilities; other services; and information added jobs. Government added jobs over the month. From July 2018 to July 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 37,300 jobs. The July unemployment rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point. The labor force decreased by 4,400 from 3,838,800 in June, as 2,100 fewer residents were employed and 2,400 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — dropped one-tenth of a percentage point over the month to 67.6%. Compared to July 2018, the labor-force participation rate is up one-tenth of a percentage point. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in other services; education and health services; information; and leisure and hospitality.

SPARK EforAll Holyoke Seeks Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — SPARK EforAll Holyoke is actively seeking volunteers to participate as mentors in this winter’s business-accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have 90-minute in-person meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

Court Upholds Dismissal of Class-action Special-ed Suit

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that the Federal Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a class-action suit that had been brought by special-education advocates against the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court entered judgment on Aug. 8 affirming the decision of Judge Mark Mastroianni to dismiss the class action. The underlying suit alleged that the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools (SPS) violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily segregating students with mental-health disabilities in a separate and inferior school, the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS). A student brought the suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all students with a mental-health disability who are or have been enrolled at SPDS. Two associations, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), joined as plaintiffs seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, including an order that defendants provide the class plaintiffs with “school-based behavior services in neighborhood schools to afford them an equal educational opportunity and enable them to be educated in neighborhood schools.” The U.S. District Court, in an opinion by Mastroianni, denied class certification. The court later ruled that the associations had standing but granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the associations. The plaintiffs’ appeal challenges the district court’s denial of class certification. The city appeal argued that the district court erred in concluding that PPAL and DLC had standing. The Court of Appeals agreed that these organizations lack standing to pursue the claims in the complaint, and affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings as to PPAL and DLC on that ground. The case was argued by Deputy City Solicitor Lisa deSousa and attorney Stephen Holstrom, with whom City Solicitor Edward Pikula and attorney Melinda Phelps of Bulkley Richardson were on the brief.

Agenda

Blue Sox Youth Baseball Clinics

July 8-11, 15-18: The Valley Blue Sox announced that Shriners Hospitals for Children will serve as the presenting sponsor of the 2019 Blue Sox Youth Baseball Clinics. This year marks Shriners’ second season partnering with the Blue Sox to present the team’s youth clinics. Blue Sox coaches and players will provide hitting, pitching, and fielding instruction to participants ages 6-13 from 9 a.m. to noon daily. The registration fee for each four-day session is $100. Athletic trainers will be on hand, provided by Shriners. All children participating in the clinics will receive a pair of free tickets to Blue Sox Clinic Night on Saturday, July 20 courtesy of Shriners Hospitals for Children, where they will have the opportunity to take the field with the Valley Blue Sox during pregame ceremonies. The first session will be held July 8-11 at Mackenzie Stadium, 500 Beech St., Holyoke. Interested participants can visit www.valleybluesox.com for information on how to register. The second session will be held July 15-18 at Burnham Field in the Spec Pond Recreation Area, 2540 Boston Post Road, Wilbraham. Interested participants can register by visiting www.wilbrahamrec.com. Participating children should bring their glove, a water bottle, and bat and helmet (if able). Ideal attire includes a cap, baseball pants, and cleats or athletic sneakers. Questions about this year’s clinics can be directed to the Valley Blue Sox by e-mail at [email protected]

‘Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour’

Sept. 7: The Melha Shriners, in conjunction with the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, will present a day-long country music festival at the fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The “Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour” will bring a full day of music with six country acts, featuring nationally renowned artists Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, and Aaron Tippin. Popular local bands King Kountry, Southern Rain, and Cottonwood will also perform. Ticket prices are $30 (general admission, advance sale), $35 (general admission, day of the show) and $40 (reserved seating). General admission is free for children under 5. Tickets are available online at 3countyfair.com/events. The gates will open at 10 a.m., with on-site parking available for $5 per vehicle. Food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase. No outside food or beverages will be permitted. General admission patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets; however, beach umbrellas and pop-up tents are not allowed. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact event chair Shonn Monday at (413) 800-2312.

Golf Tournament to Fight Childhood Hunger

Sept. 30: It’s a sad reality that one in six children in the U.S. goes hungry every day, but it’s a reality Feed the Kids is trying to change. The group will hold its second annual charity golf tournament to benefit No Kid Hungry and the HPS Weekend Backpack Program at Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. No Kid Hungry is a national organization that raises funds to support school breakfast programs, summer meals, afterschool meals, and more for children throughout the country. The HPS Weekend Backpack Program distributes bags of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals to children at the end of each week that they can enjoy over the weekend. Feed the Kids is currently seeking donations for the tournament’s silent auction, individual and corporate sponsors, and, of course, golfers. Check-in for the scramble-format tournament will begin at 10 a.m., with a shotgun start at noon. The fee is $160 per golfer, which includes greens fees, driving range, cart use, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, and a gift bag. There will also be prizes, a raffle, and an auction. To make a cash donation, donate an item for the raffle or auction, learn more about sponsorship opportunities, or register to golf or for the dinner, visit feedthekidsgolf.com.

‘One Ocean, One People’

Oct. 24: Springfield College will host deep ocean explorer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau and explorer and filmmaker Céline Cousteau for an evening titled “One Ocean, One People: The Cousteau Legacy and a Call for Environmental Action,” starting at 7:30 p.m. Fabien and Céline are the grandchildren of legendary explorer Jacque-Yves Cousteau. This event is free and open to the public. Both Fabien and Céline will highlight their commitment to fulfilling their family’s legacy of protecting and preserving the planet’s extensive and endangered marine inhabitants and habitats. Fabien stresses the need for bold and innovative thinking to progress conservation efforts worldwide. He encourages individuals to follow their own curiosity in developing cutting-edge solutions that can address regional and global environmental challenges. Through powerful storytelling, Céline uses her voyages around the world to offer a thoughtful perspective on the connection of the environment to populations around the world and how this knowledge is vital to the future of each person on the planet.

People on the Move

The board of directors of Big Y Foods Inc. announced the following changes to its senior leadership team, effective Jan. 1. These changes align with the enterprise’s expanding business activities and the dynamic shifts that are occurring within the supermarket, convenience, and retail liquor industries.

Donald D’Amour

Donald D’Amour

Donald D’Amour, current chairman and CEO, will transition out of his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO and will continue to serve as an advisor to the board in his new role as chairman emeritus. He was appointed to CEO in 1980 and in 1997 succeeded his father and co-founder, Paul D’Amour, as chairman of the board.

• Charles D’Amour

Charles D’Amour

Charles D’Amour, son of co-founder Gerald D’Amour, will continue as president, a position he has held since 2006. In order to allow for a smooth transition, he has been appointed CEO and will be responsible for helping to drive the overall strategic direction of Big Y along with the company’s vision and mission. In addition to providing overall leadership and oversight, key departments of Finance, Legal, Real Estate and Development, Employee Services, and Information Resources Technology will report directly to him.

• Michael D’Amour

Michael D’Amour

Michael D’Amour, grandson of Paul D’Amour and son of Donald D’Amour, was appointed to the position of executive vice president in 2014 and has added the role of COO, a position formerly held by Charles, to his roster of responsibilities. As COO, Michael will be responsible for all operating aspects of the company, including Sales, Operations, Distribution, and Supply Chain. He began his full-time career at Big Y in 1996.

Guy McFarlane

Guy McFarlane

Guy McFarlane, Big Y’s vice president of Fresh Foods since 2011, has been promoted to senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, where he will oversee sales and procurement, pricing, marketing, and data analytics. He will report to Michael D’Amour. McFarlane began his career at Big Y more than 23 years ago and has been in the supermarket industry for 41 years.

Richard Bossie

Richard Bossie

Richard Bossie, Big Y’s vice president of Operations since 2016, has been promoted to the new position of senior vice president of Operations and Customer Experience. Within this expanded role, Bossie will oversee all operational aspects of the company that impact the customer experience, including labor planning, inventory control and ordering, checkout and customer service, and retail asset protection, along with all operational aspects of Big Y Express Gas and Convenience Division and Table and Vine, Big Y’s flagship beer, spirits, and fine-wine store. He also will report to Michael D’Amour. Bossie began his career at Big Y more than 30 years ago and has more than 38 years of retail experience.

Nicole D’Amour

Nicole D’Amour

Nicole D’Amour Schneider, Big Y’s senior director of Store Operations (and granddaughter of Paul D’Amour and daughter of Donald D’Amour), has been appointed to the new position of vice president of Supermarket Operations, with specific focus on the daily operations of the supermarket division. Along with the five district directors reporting to her, she will continue to drive operational excellence throughout the chain. She reports to Bossie. She began her full-time Big Y career in 1999.

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Amelia Holstrom

Amelia Holstrom

Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that attorney Amelia Holstrom was named a partner in the firm on Jan. 1. Holstrom, who has been with the firm since 2012, focuses her practice on labor law and employment litigation, including personnel policies and practices review, wage-and-hour compliance, and separation and severance agreements. Holstrom frequently speaks about employment-related legal topics for a wide variety of associations and organizations. She was selected by BusinessWest as a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2015 and received the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. Community Service Award in 2016. She is a member of the Massachusetts, Hampden County, and Connecticut bar associations; sits on the board of directors for Clinical & Support Options in Northampton and Girls Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts; and is an ad hoc member of the personnel committee for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

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Esther Rich

Esther Rich

Andrew Anderlonis, president of Rediker Software, recently announced that Esther Rich has been hired as the company’s new director of Support. Rich brings more than 30 years of experience in customer support, with more than 10 of those years spent in a management position. Before joining Rediker Software, Rich was the Customer Support manager for Farm Credit Financial Partners in Agawam. In her new role, Rich will lead and motivate her team to ensure they have the tools and skills required to provide the best customer service possible. She holds a business management degree from St. John’s School of Business.

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Laura Lefebvre

Holyoke Community College (HCC) hired Laura Lefebvre as its new director of Public Safety. Lefebvre, a seasoned investigator, has more than 30 years of law-enforcement experience, most recently as senior sergeant in the campus police department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams. She is the first woman to serve as chief of police at HCC. Lefebvre, 56, got her start with the Hialeah Police Department in Dade County, Fla. She began as a patrol officer in 1986, then one of only four women in the 450-person department. She worked in the juvenile sexual battery unit investigating child-abuse cases before becoming the first woman assigned to the robbery division. She later moved into homicide as a detective. Lefebvre retired from the Hialeah Police Department in 1999 and then moved to Western Mass. with her husband, Gary, also a retired police officer, and two small children, Spencer and Emily, now adults. She then spent a few years as an officer with the Hadley Police Department and a police lieutenant at Westfield State University. Before going to MCLA, where she was the first woman sergeant, she worked for 11 years as a fraud investigator for the National Insurance Crime Bureau and the insurance giant Unum. Throughout her career, Lefebvre has been a field-training officer, teaching at police academies in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. She holds a bachelor’s degree from MCLA in interdisciplinary studies in business and sociology and will complete her master’s degree in education at MCLA this May.

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Wendy Fitzgerald

Wendy Fitzgerald

HUB International New England, LLC, a division of HUB International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, recently announced that Wendy Fitzgerald has re-joined HUB New England as a strategic account executive, responsible for all things personal (personal insurance/auto, home, condo, renters, and more). Her role will include handling new business and outreach, renewals, quoting, special projects, and providing support when needed to the Personal Lines team of experts. She will be based out of HUB New England’s East Longmeadow office. Previously, Fitzgerald had been with the HUB/FieldEddy Personal Lines team from 2008 to 2016.

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Mary Shea

Mary Shea

James Garvey

James Garvey

Garvey Communication Associates Inc., the most experienced independent Google Partner in the Springfield area, announced the 2019 certifications for its Google Ads strategists. Mary Shea, vice president of Digital Strategy, and James Garvey, digital marketing analyst, collectively have passed the Search, Display, Mobile, and Video exams certifying their advanced expertise in creating, managing, measuring, and optimizing these specific Google Ads products. The two GCAi marketing technologists also meet with a dedicated Google Ads representative every month to review and further increase the performance of client campaigns. GCAi earned its Google Partner Agency designation more than five years ago. Partner status requires that GCAi associates pass Google Ads certifications, that the agency meets the spend requirements across its managed accounts, and that it demonstrate performance by delivering strong client and company growth. Shea works out of GCAi’s downtown Springfield headquarters at Tower Square. Garvey works out of GCAi’s newest office at WeWork’s Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Calif.

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Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) announced that Rosemary Manu has joined the LPV team as the LEAP program coordinator. She will hold various responsibilities in this position, including assisting in the planning, coordination, and execution of Leadership Pioneer Valley’s nine-month leadership-development program, in addition to helping recruit future LEAP program participants. Manu returned to Springfield last spring after obtaining a master’s degree from George Washington University in international development studies with a concentration in energy. Prior to this, she earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Connecticut. Most recently, she worked as a consultant for USAID Food for Peace, which provided her with monitoring and evaluation skills. She was responsible for evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of combining emergency assistance and resilience building. Manu also comes to Leadership Pioneer Valley with an extensive background in the UN Women in Bangkok, Thailand, in the Disaster Risk Reduction Department. This experience expanded her research and writing skills and led her to become passionate about helping to develop communities and individuals.

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John McAndrew, an Edward Jones financial advisor in Holyoke, has accepted an invitation to become a limited partner in the Jones Financial Cos., the holding company for the St. Louis-based financial-services firm. Edward Jones currently employs 45,000 associates in all 50 states and through its affiliate in Canada. This is the firm’s 17th limited-partnership offering in its 97-year history. The Jones Financial Cos. was created in 1987 to enable the firm to expand into new business areas while allowing it to remain a partnership. The Jones Financial Cos. owns Edward D. Jones & Co., LP, which operates under the trade names Edward Jones, EDJ Leasing Co., the Edward Jones Trust Co., and its international financial-services subsidiary, Edward Jones Canada.

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Marilyn Lopez-Haddad

Marilyn Lopez-Haddad

Pattie Hallberg

Pattie Hallberg

Meredith Wise, president of the Employers Assoc. of the Northeast (EANE), announced the addition of two new members, Marilyn Lopez-Haddad and Pattie Hallberg, to the EANE board of directors, effective Jan. 1, for three-year terms. Lopez-Haddad, vice president of Human Resources for the Seven Hills Foundation, joined that organization’s senior leadership team in 2008.  She oversees the HR office and Seven Hills Corporate College, and provides leadership in the areas of employee relations, recruitment and retention compensation and benefits, and learning and development. Seven Hills is an integrated health and human services network based in Worcester. Before joining Seven Hills, Lopez-Haddad worked for various municipalities in Connecticut as the head of HR, personnel, and labor relations. She also worked as a Social Security disability associate in Florida. Most recently, she worked as an adjunct professor at Clark University in Worcester, where she taught global talent development. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She was admitted to practice law in Connecticut and Massachusetts, is a certified executive and career coach, and has acquired the SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications. Hallberg is CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM), headquartered in Worcester and Holyoke. She joined GSCWM as CEO in 2008 to lead the merger of the three Girl Scout councils into one organization with a commitment to developing girls’ leadership potential. Under her direction, GSCWM has emerged as a leader in Central and Western Mass. in advocacy for girls. She is a commissioner on the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. She serves as a co-chair for the Investing in Girls Alliance in Worcester, and is a founding member of the advisory committee for the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact and an advisory board member of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute with the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She serves as a board member and member of the finance committee for New England Public Radio. She is a member of the Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts and a member of the Western Mass Women Presidents’ Organization. She is on the advisory board of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Nichols College and a volunteer for the Springfield Schools Read-Aloud Program. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Women in Business Award from the Worcester Business Journal.

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Executives and entrepreneurs who participate in business peer groups report it is their most valuable activity for exploring solutions and shifting paradigms, says Ira Bryck, director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley. A group that has been meeting for years, formerly as part of a global roundtable organization, is accepting new members and hiring Bryck as their facilitator and coach. The Impact Executive Peer Group meets monthly for much of a day, and each member gets monthly, personalized coaching from the facilitator. The group will grow to include a dozen leaders from medium and larger companies roughly between Worcester and the Berkshires, and Hartford and Brattleboro. The format will include members discussing their challenges with questions and suggestions, as well as a speaker series, with topics and presenters relevant to the needs of the group. Bryck has moderated roundtable groups for 25 years, and is taking on this project as part of the leadership succession the Family Business Center is undergoing.

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Dena Hall

Dena Hall

Dena Hall, who has served as Baystate Health Foundation’s vice chair for the past two years, has succeeded Jean Deliso as the foundation’s chair. Hall — a graduate of UMass Amherst, the Massachusetts School for Financial Studies, and the National School of Banking and Finance at Fairfield University — is executive vice president, chief Marketing officer for Hometown Financial Group and its banks, bankESB, based in Easthampton, and bankHometown, based in Central Mass. She is also the president of the bankESB Charitable Foundation and a member of the board of trustees for the Springfield Museums and the Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation. A longstanding volunteer for Baystate Noble Hospital, Hall and her husband, Eric, chaired the 2009 Baystate Noble Ball, helping to generate vitally important funds in support of the hospital in Westfield. In her previous role as Western Massachusetts regional president of United Bank and president of the United Bank Foundation, she launched support for the innovative Acute Care for Elders Unit at Baystate Medical Center with a $50,000 grant from the bank. She continues to invite new funders to the hospital to consider supporting this program.

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Ryan Nauman

Ryan Nauman

Country Bank announced that Ryan Nauman joined its Commercial Banking division as vice president of Commercial Lending. Nauman brings 20 years of experience in the industry. His knowledge of business banking comes from his prior commercial-service roles and his passion for partnering with business owners to make their dreams reality. Nauman has held various positions over the years as a credit analyst, portfolio manager, and, most recently, vice president, loan officer with Farmington Bank in the Commercial Real Estate department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bryant College. He is a member of the Real Estate Finance Assoc. and the Hartford Community Loan Fund. Nauman is located at the bank’s corporate office in Ware and will assist customers in the Western Mass. and Connecticut areas.

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The Vann Group announced that Patty Stefanelli has joined the organization and will lead its newly launched Performance Improvement Division. This division was created to help organizations in any industry work toward more sustained levels of operational excellence by embracing Lean thinking and continuous improvement. In her role, Stefanelli will be focusing on creating awareness of the benefits of these concepts throughout the Pioneer Valley. Before joining the Vann Group, Stefanelli worked for the city of Springfield in its Information Technology department, and as an independent consultant helping organizations with their operations and IT. She has extensive technical and business knowledge, as well as project-management experience. She has led large, organization-wide initiatives from ERP and time and attendance system implementations to Lean process improvement initiatives, such as streamlining hiring processes or the order fulfillment processes in shipping departments. She has an MBA, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification, and TWI Knowledge certification.

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Paragus IT CEO Delcie Bean announced the addition of three new board members. On Jan. 1, Nicole Nakashian, Michelle Abdow, and Scott Webster joined Randy Krotowski, Scott Foster, and John Drake on the board of the fast-growing IT firm. Nakashian currently serves as executive vice president at InvestCloud Inc. She helped launch Agio, an IT managed-service provider, and was responsible for building a client-centric progressive culture in addition to growing and managing the operations. Abdow is founder and president of Market Mentors, LLC, a full-service marketing agency located in Western Mass. that provides a variety of services, including advertising, branding, media buying, graphic design, public relations, broadcast production, and event planning. Webster is currently head of WW Operations for Amazon Experts. He brings a versatile mix of financial, technical, and business expertise. He is passionate about driving innovation, strategic change, and operational efficiency across dynamic, internet-based businesses.