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Gateway City Arts Sells Complex to LightHouse Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Gateway City Arts (GCA) announced it has signed a purchase and sale agreement with LightHouse Holyoke for the transfer of the three-building arts complex at 92 Race St. in Holyoke. LightHouse is a competency-based middle and high school for self-directed learning. It first opened in Holyoke in 2015 and began a collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017, and now has partnerships with six public districts. The move offers a significant opportunity to expand its existing programs. The new facility will feature similar non-traditional learning spaces as those currently existing at LightHouse, presently just down the block at 208 Race St., including a maker space, music studio, and recording studio, which have already been instrumental in nurturing creativity and inspiration among students who may not have previously enjoyed school. Plans for the three-building, 40,000-square-foot facility include a Production Academy integrated into the two on-site performance spaces, the 100-person-capacity Divine Theater, and the much larger 500-person-capacity concert venue, creating scaffolded training and internship opportunities for young people to learn the many skills associated with the entertainment and event-production industry, from lighting and sound to artist management and beyond. Similarly, the café will reopen as a public restaurant, with integrated courses and internships in all aspects of running a café, leading to paid work and future career opportunities. The facility also hosts an 8,000-square-foot maker space that will continue on as a community maker space, complete with a wood shop and ceramic studio, both hosting classes and workspaces for LightHouse students and accessible to the larger community as well.

 

Community Bank Plans to Expand Branch Presence

DEWITT, N.Y. — Community Bank announced a strategic plan to expand its branch presence in select markets throughout 2024 and 2025, including two new branch locations in the New England region. The new branches will include an additional location in Springfield, as well as the bank’s first physical branch in New Hampshire, having broken into that market with a commercial banking presence in 2023. The bank’s current presence in New England includes 28 branches throughout Vermont and Springfield. This announcement comes as newly appointed President and CEO Dimitar Karaivanov officially steps into his role this year and begins to execute his strategic vision for the bank. As Community Bank expands into promising markets with strong potenial for growth, it is reimagining the customer in-branch experience with clean, modern designs that encourage customer and banker collaboration, local community tie-ins, and staff that can handle a wide array of financial needs. The bank will bring a full suite of consumer, business, and municipal banking products and services, including no-closing-cost mortgage options, business loans and lines of credit, and competitive CD offerings. The move to establish additional branch locations in New England is a substantial investment that will allow the bank to better serve clients and aid in local economic development by creating new jobs, contributing to community efforts, and fostering financial stability. In addition to expanding in New England, Community Bank will continue to grow its branch presence throughout New York’s Western, Central, and Capital regions, as well as throughout Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

 

Summit House Wealth Partners Recognized by Forbes

SOUTH HADLEY — Summit House Wealth Partners, a private wealth-advisory practice with Ameriprise Financial in South Hadley, was named to the list of “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” published by Forbes. The list recognizes financial advisors and their teams who have demonstrated high levels of ethical standards, professionalism, and success in the business. The rankings are based on data provided by thousands of the nation’s most productive advisors and their teams. Summit House Wealth Partners was chosen based on assets under management, industry experience, compliance record, and best practices in its practice and approach to working with clients. Summit House Wealth Partners is led by Stephen Duval, CFP. The team also includes financial advisors Ed Boscher, Mike Otto, and Justin Osowiecki, and support staff Debra Whalen, James Lucey, Matthew Mitchell, Patricia Belanger, Jennifer Gray, Morgan Szczygiel, and Nicole Old. They have collectively served the South Hadley community since 1992.

 

Goodwill Industries Receives Grants for Job Skill Programs

PITTSFIELD — Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont announced it has received $8,500 in grants from Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and MountainOne Bank to support its Soar for Success employability skills program. The nonprofit social-services organization received an additional $2,500 from Greylock Federal Credit Union toward promotion and other costs associated with its annual meeting in October. Goodwill’s Soar for Success program focuses on job training in custodial skills, customer service, and employability skills guidance for individuals preparing for job interviews, as well as providing interview and work attire. The program is offered free of charge to all Berkshire County residents. Services are provided at Goodwill’s career centers in Pittsfield and North Adams and online. Goodwill sells donated clothes and other household items at a discounted price to aid in funding training and educational programs for individuals seeking employment.

 

Comcast Delivers Gig Speeds to Xfinity Mobile Customers

PHILADELPHIA — Xfinity Mobile and Comcast Business Mobile devices can now connect to millions of new Xfinity Mobile hotspots and receive internet speeds over WiFi up to 1 gigabit per second. By delivering a faster connection over Xfinity’s WiFi network, Comcast is helping ensure customers can stream, game, chat, download, and surf wherever they are. Today, 90% of the mobile data traffic on Xfinity Mobile devices travels over WiFi, not cellular. With more than 23 million WiFi hotspots giving customers a speed boost, Xfinity Mobile aims to deliver a better experience to support data-intensive applications when traditional cellular networks can’t keep up. Comcast has invested more than $20 billion over the past five years to upgrade and expand the Xfinity network and introduce new, innovative features like WiFi Boost to support the constantly increasing number of connected devices consumers use both inside and outside of the home. For more information or to sign up for Xfinity Mobile, visit an Xfinity store or www.xfinity.com/mobile.

 

Davis Foundation Supports Irish Cultural Center

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation awarded the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England (ICCWNE) a $100,000 grant toward its $2 million goal to help create a community performance center at its Morgan Road facility. The grant will support the ICCWNE’s Capstone Campaign. Funds from the Capstone Campaign will be used to complete the community performance center, which will serve the needs of the greater region for concerts, events, meetings, and private functions. It will provide a home for local, regional, national, and international performance groups, making it a full-scale regional base for Irish heritage and culture as well as a center for cross-cultural collaboration. The space will be able to house performances by major Irish cultural groups, such as Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, as well as regional performers of all ages. Formerly the home of the Elks Lodge, the facility had been vacant for five years prior to the ICCWNE taking possession of it through a partnership with the city of West Springfield. Improvements have included developing a vibrant, Irish country-style restaurant, pub, and meeting and gathering place for the community. With 11,500 square feet of space on four floors, the facility has become the ideal home for the Irish Cultural Center, which was established in 1999.

 

Eastman Donates Monitoring Equipment to Springfield FD

SPRINGFIELD — Eastman, in partnership with Northern Safety, donated vital medical equipment, known as oximeters, to the Springfield Fire Department. This donation marks a significant and continued collaboration between Eastman, a global specialty manufacturing company with a plant in Indian Orchard, and the Springfield Fire Department, in serving the local community. The equipment being donated consists of 17 high-tech, portable oximeters, which are essential for monitoring vital signs in emergency situations. The Fire Department’s need for the oximeters was learned by Eastman at an Eastman Community Action Program gathering of local neighborhood and community officials sponsored regularly by Eastman Indian Orchard. The oximeters are advanced medical devices capable of accurately measuring blood oxygen levels and heart rates, crucial parameters in assessing a patient’s condition during emergencies such as fires, accidents, or medical crises. These Concord models are rechargeable with large digital displays. Seventeen pediatric finger clips are being donated alongside the oximeter units. These can be used to save the lives of children, including infants.

 

 

Tenth Local Farmer Awards Help 100 Farms Make Improvements

AGAWAM — Checks of up to $2,500 have been sent to 100 Western Mass. farms that are recipients of this year’s Local Farmer Awards. Supporting a diverse range of farm operations and infrastructure projects, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with other funders, issued a record number of awards in the program’s 10th year. A team of independent reviewers read each of the 199 applications submitted this year. These reviewers selected 100 farms to receive a 2024 grant from the Local Farmer Awards. The capital projects include the purchase of an egg-washing machine, livestock pasture expansion, reusable harvest bins, a cover-crop flail mower for reduced tillage, mobile chicken coops, and many more. The program funders collectively contributed more than $230,000 this year to assist these local farmers. Funders include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y, Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, PeoplesBank, Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Barbara Deslauriers, Audrey and Chick Taylor, Andrews, Farm Credit East, Hood, the DeNucci Group at Merrill, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Eastern States Exposition, Three County Fair, bankESB, and Franklin First Federal Credit Union. Anyone interested in supporting the 2025 Local Farmer Awards should email Cari Carpenter, director of the program, at [email protected].

Agenda

Women’s Leadership Conference

April 4: Bay Path University announced that real-estate legend, investor, best-selling author, entrepreneur, producer, and Shark Tank shark Barbara Corcoran will be the keynote speaker at the 27th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), taking place at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The WLC will also feature lunchtime speaker Amy Purdy, a three-time Paralympic medalist in snowboarding for Team USA. This year’s conference will also feature breakout sessions led by business experts and authors, including Yvonne Camus, the former COO of SPINCO, Canada’s largest indoor cycling brand and the only female to outperform the Navy Seals in the multi-terrain adventure race known as Eco-Challenge. In addition, the WLC will welcome Sylvia Baffour, an author, podcast host, and emotional-intelligence coach recently ranked by HubSpot among the top 15 female motivational speakers. For further information on the 2024 conference, sponsorship information, and ticket sales, visit baypath.edu/wlc.

 

Margarita Madness

April 4: The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will host its largest event of the year, Margarita Madness, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Interskate 91 at the Hampshire Mall. Attendees will network and enjoy an evening of tasty margaritas and vote for this year’s fan favorite. Local restaurants showcase their culinary skills, and dozens of raffle prizes are donated by Amherst Area Chamber members. The event’s presenting sponsor is TommyCar Auto Group, and the supporting sponsor is Hampshire Mall. The cost is $35 pre-registered or $45 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Emergency Department. Visit business.amherstarea.com/events/details/2024-margarita-madness-24121 to purchase tickets.

 

Difference Makers 

April 10: The 16th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2024 Difference Makers — profiled in the Feb. 19 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com — are Matt Bannister, senior vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility, PeoplesBank; Delcie Bean, CEO, Paragus Strategic I.T.; Linda Dunlavy, executive director, Franklin Regional Council of Governments; Dr. Fred and Mary Kay Kadushin, co-founders, Feed the Kids; Scott Keiter, CEO, Keiter; the staff of Rock 102; Shannon Rudder, president and CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Chamber Players. Tickets cost $95 each, with reserved tables of 10-12 available and available now through March 29. Partner sponsors for the 2024 Difference Makers include Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C., Keiter, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health, the Royal Law Firm, and TommyCar Auto Group. Supporting sponsors include the Springfield Thunderbirds and Westfield Bank. For more event details and to reserve tickets, visit businesswest.com/difference-makers/difference-makers-tickets.

 

Common Threads

April 11: Common Threads, the signature event of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts (DFSWM), will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Common Threads will feature networking, a sit-down dinner, and a silent auction leading into a program that will highlight multiple local women who have made significant strides toward financial stability and personal goals. Award-winning weeknight evening anchor Ciara Speller of WWLP 22News will be the emcee for the event. LaTonia Monroe Naylor, school committee representative, small-business entrepreneur, gunshot survivor, author, nonprofit founder, wife, and mother, will serve as the keynote speaker. During the event, Sarai Arroyo of West Springfield Public Schools and a student at Holyoke Community College will be given the Distinguished Alumna Award, Tammy Hickey will be honored as Volunteer of the Year, and Jessica Dupont of Alliant Health Plans, a DFSWM past board president, will be recognized as an Outstanding Contributor. All proceeds support DFSWM’s mission to provide women and non-binary people in the community with the tools and network of support to achieve financial independence. Local programs include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program, the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentorship Program, the Professional Women’s Group, a digital-literacy program, and the suiting program. The event will feature opportunities to donate to the work of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts. Tickets, which cost $75 each, are available until April 1 at www.dfswm.org.

 

Get Hired Job Fair

April 17: Holyoke Mall will host its spring job fair from 2 to 5 p.m. on the lower level near Macy’s. The Get Hired Job Fair is a convenient opportunity for Western Mass. employers to interview and hire workers, and to help job seekers connect with businesses who need their skills. Employers from a variety of industries will be in attendance, looking for candidates at all skill levels. The event is free to attend for all job seekers. Employers that have already signed up to staff a table include Baystate Health, PeoplesBank, Holyoke Community College, YMCA Greater Springfield, and more. Last year, the September job fair drew more than 40 employers, representing more than 10 industries, and nearly 400 candidates. Employers interested in participating in the upcoming job fair should contact Jim Geraghty, advertising representative for Holyoke Mall, at (617) 840-2998 or [email protected].

 

YWCA Golf Tournament

May 6: The YWCA of Western Massachusetts Golf Tournament will be held at Springfield Country Club, with registration now open online at ywworks.org. Proceeds of the charity golf tournament will support the Children Who Witness Violence program, which offers therapy for children who have witnessed or experienced abuse and violence. The Healthy and Empowering Relationship Education program of the YWCA, which helps Springfield middle- and high-schoolers learn about healthy relationships and friendships, will also benefit from proceeds raised at the tournament. Cost per golfer to participate in the tournament is $155, which includes golf, cart, lunch, dinner, and a quarter-zip jacket. There will be a raffle and cash bar at the country club. Individuals or organizations interested in registering or sponsoring the event can visit ywworks.org.

 

Hooplandia

June 21-23: Registration is now open for Hooplandia, the second annual 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, at www.hooplandia.com. The three-day event includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. Hooplandia launched in 2023. Taking place in the heart of Greater Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, the event is hosted by Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Most games will be played on the ESE grounds, with special games held at the Hall of Fame. Seventy-five basketball courts will be set up to accommodate more than 650 games played by approximately 2,100 participants of all ages. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. The diverse divisions include young girls, boys, women, men, high-school-level, college-level, OGs, veterans, and more. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at www.hooplandia.com. Team fees range according to age, and children in the under-8 category are free of charge. Hooplandia will once again partner with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every paid team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For inquiries, email [email protected].

Company Notebook

AIC Launches Center for Sport Physiology and Exercise Testing

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently opened its Center for Sport Physiology and Exercise Testing (CSPET). The state-of-the-art human-performance laboratory, located in the AIC Colaccino Center for Health Sciences, is the only one of its kind in the Greater Springfield area. It features sophisticated testing equipment used to provide advanced exercise assessments and analyses in all aspects of health and performance, including BOD POD body composition testing, resting metabolic rate testing, and VO2 max testing. Working in the testing center benefits AIC students in the allied health professions, providing them with learning opportunities to advance their practical knowledge in exercise science. After being trained by faculty, students gain experience administering exercise testing protocols and educating participants on their results, setting them apart from others as they enter their careers. The CSPET is now open to members of the college and Greater Springfield community by appointment. AIC student-athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff may sign up for testing at a discounted rate. To request information or to make an appointment, visit www.aic.edu/lp/sport-physiology.

 

Keiter Executive Headquarters to Move to West Springfield

FLORENCE — Keiter, a construction-services firm located in Florence since 2008, recently announced it will relocate its executive headquarters to a 6,000-square-foot facility at 1 Interstate Dr., West Springfield later this year. Keiter is comprised of Keiter Builders, the commercial/institutional division; Keiter Homes, the residential arm; and Keiter Properties, the real-estate venture. Its pre-construction, sales and marketing, finance and administration, and operations departments will be located in the new space. The move is prompted by growth and will allow Keiter much-needed space to collaborate with customers and partners on projects. The new location will also help Keiter better serve clients in Hampden and Berkshire counties while continuing to serve clients in Hampshire and Franklin counties.

 

Gazebo Opens Second Store in East Longmeadow

NORTHAMPTON — Gazebo, the lingerie, bra-fitting, and swimsuit store in downtown Northampton, has expanded with the opening of Gazebo Too in the location of the former Coughlin’s Place restaurant at 182 North Main St., East Longmeadow. Gazebo was founded in 1978 by Judith Fine and sold to employees Donna McNeight and Amy Dickinson in 2016. McNeight will run Gazebo Too, and Dickinson will run the original Gazebo in Northampton. Gazebo prides itself on full-service bra, binder, and cup-sized swimsuit fittings, with cups ranging from AA to N. Gazebo is a proud ally of the LGBGTQ community and is wheelchair- and service-animal-friendly.

 

Eversource Tests New Mobile Batteries for Emergency Power

SPRINGFIELD — As part of Eversource’s commitment to advancing clean technologies and exploring innovative ways to help the Commonwealth achieve its decarbonization goals, the company is testing a mobile battery energy storage system (MBESS) as a zero-carbon backup power source. As part of its MBESS pilot program, the energy company now has two mobile batteries that it is strategically deploying across its Massachusetts service territory, including in environmental-justice communities, to provide power to customers while its crews make upgrades or repairs to the electric system that would otherwise require a power outage. Eversource is also charging one of the batteries using a solar array at its Springfield Area Work Center, further enhancing the clean-energy applications of the technology. Mobile batteries produce no exhaust fumes, and, unlike diesel generators, the MBESS operates virtually silently. Also, by eliminating noise, batteries can facilitate clearer communication between workers on construction job sites or disaster-relief efforts. The MBESS can also be swapped out for recharging and save money previously spent on diesel fuel to power generators. One new 500 kilowatt-hour mobile battery can, for example, charge a 50-home neighborhood for four hours. The current plan is to have two mobile batteries at the Springfield Area Work Center for deployment.

 

Independent Connections Expands into Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — Independent Connections (IndyConn), an IT-solutions company in the Berkshires, announced the grand opening of its Pittsfield office. The new building will serve as the company’s Massachusetts branch and will house its growing team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing innovative technology solutions to businesses across the region. The company has other office locations in Hartford, Conn. and East Greenbush, N.Y.

 

Tighe & Bond Opens Second New York Office

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond announced the opening of a new office in Troy, N.Y. Located at 433 River St. in the Hedley Building, this location will allow the firm to better service its growing base of clients in the Albany region. Tighe & Bond’s newest location brings the firm’s total office count to 16 throughout the Northeast and is the firm’s second New York location, in addition to the Hudson Valley office located in Rhinebeck. Vice President Erin Moore will provide leadership for the establishment of the Troy office as location manager. A lifelong resident of New York’s Capital District, with more than two decades of experience in municipal water, wastewater, and stormwater projects, she has been actively engaged in expanding Tighe & Bond’s services throughout New York in response to clients’ needs.

 

Three Nonprofits Deliver Pet Food to the Elderly

NORTH ADAMS — In partnership with the Berkshire Humane Society Pet Assistance Program, BFAIR and Elder Services of Berkshire County are helping elders feed their pets in conjunction with Meals on Wheels, which provides hot lunchtime meals for people age 60 and older. BFAIR’s Community Based Day Services (CBDS) program participants fill a vehicle at Berkshire Humane Society before embarking on a journey through Pittsfield and Dalton to deliver pet food to more than 20 elders in the Berkshire community. The program will run monthly, and BFAIR program participants will continue to deliver this resource. BFAIR’s Community Based Day Services program helps adults with disabilities participate in their community and improve their skills by providing access to regular, meaningful social contact and stimulating activities. Services are designed to maximize a person’s ability to manage everyday life activities in their community. To be eligible to receive pet assistance through this program, the individual must receive services through Elder Services’ Meals on Wheels program. For more information on how to get started, visit esbci.org or call (413) 499-0524.

 

Community Foundation Receives $560,000 Grant from MassMutual Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts announced it has received a $560,000 gift from the MassMutual Foundation to support grantmaking in Springfield through the Community Foundation’s Flexible Funding program. Through this grant, the MassMutual Foundation seeks to create more equitable access to social and economic opportunity in its local community. Recognizing a need in Springfield to address barriers to financial well-being, the MassMutual Foundation identified the opportunity to support the Community Foundation’s Flexible Funding grant program, which uses a trust-based approach, informed by community, to make resources available to those nonprofits best positioned to increase equity and opportunity for all residents. The MassMutual Foundation’s funding will specifically target programs and organizations with a focus on building financial resiliency through four focus areas: building networks, fostering financial health, fulfilling basic financial needs, and expanding employment opportunities. The Flexible Funding program provides unrestricted financial support to nonprofits and other organizations assisting their communities in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties, prioritizing organizations actively working to combat racial disparities, promote equity and justice, and create pathways for marginalized communities. The program is designed to uplift the day-to-day operations and sustainability of these organizations. Applications for the next Flexible Funding round will open in August, and recipient grantees will be announced in December.

 

bankESB Parent Wins 2024 Top Workplaces USA Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group, parent company of bankESB, Abington Bank, and bankHometown, announced it was named a winner of the 2024 Top Workplaces USA award by Energage. Top Workplaces USA celebrates organizations with 150 or more employees that are dedicated to building an exceptional, people-first culture. Winners are chosen based solely on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous, third-party employee-engagement survey, issued by Energage, a leading provider of technology-based employee-engagement tools. More than 42,000 organizations across the country were invited to participate in the Top Workplaces USA survey. Results are calculated by comparing the survey’s research-based statements, including 15 culture drivers that are proven to predict high performance, against industry benchmarks.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Supports Baystate Children’s Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware announced the results of its semiannual Round Up for Kids fundraiser, with its Western Mass. stores raising a grand total of $8,336.74 for Baystate Children’s Hospital. Local participating Rocky’s locations include the Island Pond Road and Liberty Street stores in Springfield, and the Agawam, East Longmeadow, Westfield, Ludlow, Palmer, and South Hadley stores, with all local funds benefiting Baystate Children’s Hospital. Throughout the campaign, which took place at all 48 Rocky’s stores during November, customers rounded up their purchase totals to the next dollar. The difference added up to $41,376.96 and was donated to the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospital nearest to each store. This was the second Round Up for Kids fundraiser the 48 Rocky’s stores held in 2023.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 16: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2023. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 16. 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 announced and profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala in June. Event sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

Red Sox Winter Weekend

Jan. 19-20: Red Sox Winter Weekend will take place at MGM Springfield and its neighboring facility, the MassMutual Center. The event will include a welcome and introduction of participating Red Sox players and roundtable discussions on a variety of baseball topics, as well as autographs and photos. The weekend also includes a full baseball festival for fans of all ages. Weekend passes for Winter Weekend are available now at redsox.com/winterweekend. Passes provide access for the entire event and cost $95 for adults ($85 for season-ticket holders) and $40 for children age 14 and under ($35 for season-ticket holders). Children age 2 and under are free. Information about discounted hotel rooms in the area is available on the website. Mastercard is the preferred payment of the Boston Red Sox. Members of the 2024 Red Sox, including coaching staff, are invited to attend. Red Sox alumni, Wally the Green Monster, and his sister, Tessie, will also be in attendance. The weekend will begin Friday night with a welcome and introduction of the participating players. Throughout the day on Saturday, fans will have an opportunity to get autographs and take photos with players and alumni and see the 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018 World Series trophies, as well as Red Sox artifacts such as Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, MVP, and and Cy Young awards. Family-friendly activities include Wiffle ball on the indoor field, a virtual-reality experience, batting and pitching cages, and the chance to meet Wally and Tessie. Panel discussions will also take place throughout the day on Saturday, with the return of the popular favorites including the kids-only press conference.

 

Difference Makers

April 10: The 16th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2024 Difference Makers will be announced, and their stories told, in the Feb. 5 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Event ticket information will follow. Event sponsorships are available.

Agenda

Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 8: Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in the Western Mass. region? BusinessWest invites you to nominate an individual or group for its 16th annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2024 must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. Difference Makers was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize the contributions of agencies and individuals who are contributing to quality of life in this region. Past honorees have come from dozens of business and nonprofit sectors, proving there’s no limit to the ways people can impact their communities. Let us know who you think deserves to be recognized as a Difference Maker in our upcoming class by visiting businesswest.com/difference-makers-nomination-form to complete the nomination form. Honorees will be profiled in an upcoming issue of BusinessWest and celebrated at a gala in the spring.

 

Community Giving Initiative

Through Dec. 31: Monson Savings Bank (MSB) is inviting the public to submit their votes for the bank’s 2024 Community Giving Initiative. For more than a decade, MSB has sought the help of community members to plan the bank’s community giving activities. Each year, the bank encourages the public to vote for the nonprofit charitable organizations they would like the bank to support during the coming year. Everyone is welcome to cast their vote online at www.monsonsavings.bank/cgi. Voters may provide the names of up to three organizations they would like MSB to donate to in 2024. The only requirements are that a nominee is designated a nonprofit and provides services within the bank’s geography. Monson Savings Bank pledges to support the 10 organizations that receive the highest number of votes. The top 10 vote recipients will be announced by mid-January. Visitors to the voting page can also view a compiled list of organizations that the bank has supported in years past, as well as previously nominated organizations.

 

Women of Impact

Dec. 7: BusinessWest will honor its sixth annual Women of Impact at Sheraton Springfield. Tickets cost $95 per person, and tables of 10 are available. To purchase tickets, visit businesswest.com/womenofimpact. The class of 2023, profiled in the Oct. 16 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com, are: Fredrika Ballard, president, Aero Design Aircraft Services and Fly Lugu Flight Training; Carla Cosenzi, president, TommyCar Auto Group; Arlyana Dalce-Bowie, CEO, Moms in Power; Sandra Doran, president, Bay Path University; Dr. Khama Ennis, founder, Faces of Medicine and Intentional Health, LLC; Dawn Forbes DiStefano, president and CEO, Square One; Amy Jamrog, CEO, the Jamrog Group; Michelle Theroux, CEO, Berkshire Hills Music Academy; and Lisa Zarcone, author, speaker, and child and mental-health advocate. The event is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors) and Comcast Business (partner sponsor).

 

Eat, Drink, & Be Holyoke

Dec. 7: The Holyoke Rotary Club announced the return of Eat, Drink, & Be Holyoke, its premier tasting fundraiser and silent auction. The event will take place at the Holyoke City Hall Ballroom at 5:30 p.m. following the sealing of the Holyoke 150th-anniversary time capsule. Eat, Drink, & Be Holyoke will feature food prepared by 110 Grill, Amedeo’s, Crave, Fame, Hamel’s Summit View, Iona’s Kitchen, Kate’s Kitchen, Pics Pub, Rusty’s Place, the White Hut, and Woodstone Tavern. Additionally, Brennan’s Place will provide various alcohol tastings from local and regional breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased online at edbh.eventbrite.com. Proceeds will go toward supporting Rotary projects.

Company Notebook

Forest Park Zoo Wins Award for Education Programming

SPRINGFIELD — For the third time in as many years, the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center has been nationally recognized for its innovative education programs. On Oct. 19, the zoo received the Educational Award of Excellence from the Zoological Assoc. of America for its zookeeper internship program. The program combines classroom and hands-on learning in a way that creates a well-rounded internship experience for college-aged students. In addition to providing basic care for the 225-plus animals that call the zoo their home, interns also participate in a 12-week professional-development curriculum and complete a capstone project. Weekly topics are selected by the zoo’s education and animal-care teams and cover a wide range of themes in the field of zoological studies. The program culminates with the enrichment capstone project, in which participants research a species to create an enrichment item based on the animal’s individual needs. Enrichment is an important component of an animal’s daily care and aims to provide mental or physical stimulation by encouraging natural behaviors. In December 2021, the zoo won the same award for its creation and implementation of the Kids Go Wild program, and in August 2021, Adams received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Assoc. of Zookeepers for her work on Kids Go Wild.

 

Big Y Again Named a Best-in-State Employer

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth year in a row, Big Y has been named a Forbes Best-in-state Employer. Honorees have been identified across all industries based upon an independent survey of employees who anonymously recommend their employers for this award. Employers, such as Big Y, neither have the knowledge of which employees are polled, nor do they have the ability to influence the results in any way. According to Forbes, employees are asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family. Employees are also asked to give their opinions on a series of statements surrounding topics such as working conditions, salary, potential for development, and company image. Big Y’s award spans 25 different industries.

 

LightHouse Holyoke to Acquire Sons of Zion Building

HOLYOKE — LightHouse Holyoke is in the process of acquiring the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. to become its permanent home. LightHouse Holyoke is a 501(c)(3), accredited school founded in 2015. It began a partnership with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017 and now works with four public districts along with private-pay families on a sliding scale. With a foundation in social justice, LightHouse offers a transformational educational experience for students in grades 6-12 who are seeking a new way to experience school. Over the past eight years, LightHouse has supported nearly 150 students to not just graduate high school, but to redefine their relationship to learning. More than half were either already dropped out of high school or at high risk to not graduate. LightHouse’s vision is to be a reflection of a world where young people are celebrated for their individual gifts and identities and where all people are invited to learn with each other, from each other, and for each other, guided by a shared goal of connection and responsibility. It believes that transformative education is a key to this future. Current enrollment is 75 students; in the new building, LightHouse aims to increase enrollment to 100-120 students. With the support of Mass Development, it has completed a robust feasibility study, including multiple environmental reports. It has initial drawings from an architect and is prepared to close on the four-lot parcel in January 2024. The current vision for two of the currently vacant lots is to create an urban food forest, open to the community. The cost estimate for the total project is approximately $4 million. Occupancy is expected by September 2025.

 

Greater Westfield Chamber Announces 2023 Awards

WESTFIELD — The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce announced its annual award winners for 2023. The Business of the Year Award is being presented jointly to Westfield Barnes Regional Airport and the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Kimberley Betts of Betts Plumbing & Heating Supply. Westfield On Weekends earned the Nonprofit of the Year Award, and the Member of the Year Award is being presented to Rick Rheault of Integrity Merchant Solutions. The awards were presented at the chamber’s annual meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Shaker Farms Country Club.

 

Chamber of Greater Easthampton Receives WorkHub on Union Grant

EASTHAMPTON — The Chamber of Greater Easthampton announced that its new entrepreneurial initiative, WorkHub on Union, received a significant boost with a recent award: a $50,000 Collaborative Workspace Program Fit-Out Grant. This is the second grant the chamber has received for this project from the Executive Office of Economic Development, MassDevelopment, and the Collaborative Workspace Grant Program. This latest grant is an addition to the $100,000 in state funding, bringing the total of local and state funds raised to date to $230,000.

 

Country Bank Donates $42,000 to 21 Area Senior Centers

WARE — Country Bank recently announced donations to 21 local senior centers throughout the region, totaling $42,000. These donations are made without restriction for necessary items that may not be met within the centers’ annual budgets. “We are so fortunate to have a community partner like Country Bank,” said John Zienowicz, executive director of Ware Senior Center. “Countless members of their staff have volunteered at our events and special projects that have ranged from holiday parties at the senior center to personally delivering boxes of food items to seniors in need. This donation helps to sustain our meal program, which, over the past five years, has provided in excess of 38,000 home-cooked meals for the seniors. Their commitment to service, volunteerism, and community is what makes Country Bank the gold standard when it comes to being true difference makers.” In addition to its annual monetary support, Country Bank also sends teams of employees to volunteer at local senior centers on a monthly basis.

 

LiftTruck Launches Fundraiser to Benefit Head Start

WEST SPRINGFIELD — LiftTruck Parts & Service Inc., a local, family-owned business, launched its 2023 Fill a Forklift fundraiser to benefit Head Start Brockton and Holyoke Chicopee Springfield (HCS) Head Start. For 35 years, LiftTruck has been a family-owned business providing forklift sales, rentals, parts, and service to the Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Rhode Island areas. LiftTruck invites the community to help it raise funds throughout November and December, as it will be collecting monetary donations at its Brockton and West Springfield locations and accepting donations online. Head Start Brockton and HCS Head Start aim to provide family and parent support and opportunities for families to engage in a child’s education. Since its inception in 1965, Head Start has improved the lives of more than 32 million children and their families.

 

Country Bank, Bank Director Announce Fully Certified Board

WARE — James Phaneuf, Country Bank board chair, announced that the bank’s board of directors recently became the first fully certified board through Bank Director’s certification program. The certification provides participants with a thorough grounding in corporate governance and important industry issues that enhance the performance of individual directors. The board completed the comprehensive training program this past year and was certified in September. Participants must complete 31 designated online training videos and board briefs focused on the role of the board, audit and risk, compensation, governance, and fiduciary responsibilities. In addition to Bank Director’s online training series, participants must attend a day-long corporate-governance workshop in the Bank Director certification program or, alternatively, complete a virtual version of the program. Completing the program and becoming a certified bank director sends a clear message to state and federal regulators that board members take their fiduciary duties seriously and want to be top-performing members of the bank’s board.

 

Second Chance Animal Services Named a Top-Rated Nonprofit

EAST BROOKFIELD — Second Chance Animal Services has been named a 2023 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits, a leading website for community recommendations of charities and nonprofits. Second Chance offers programs and services that help more than 44,000 pets a year to live better lives. The Top-Rated Nonprofit award is based on the rating and number of reviews that Second Chance received from volunteers, donors, and aid recipients. In one review, a volunteer shared that “I have been a volunteer with Second Chance for the past couple of years and continue to be impressed with how hard they work to not only help and care for the animals they rescue, but also the resources they give to animal owners in the communities they serve, from veterinary services to vaccine clinics, pet grooming, food banks, and more. They truly are an impressive organization.”

 

Market Mentors Raises $4,000 for Breast-cancer Programs

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its 20th-anniversary recognition, Market Mentors LLC, a fully integrated marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, brought back its annual Pink Day campaign to raise funds for Baystate Health Foundation to support breast-cancer research and services. Selling MM Pink Day 2023 T-shirts, the agency raised a total of $4,000. Participating companies included Adams & Ruxton; Allied Flooring, Paint and Design; Belt Technologies Inc.; BusinessWest; Cornerstone Bank; Dowd Insurance Agencies; EffecTV (Comcast); Excel Dryer; Freedom Credit Union; Giombetti Associates; Girard Heating & Air Conditioning; Koopman Lumber; Louis & Clark Pharmacy; Millennium Press; Noonan Energy; Prime Media; PDC Inc.; the Recorder; the Republican; Vlier Inc.; Western Mass News; and Women’s Health Associates.

 

 

Skoler Abbott Receives Empowering Women Award

SPRINGFIELD — Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., a labor and employment law firm serving employers in the Greater Springfield area, has been named to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s inaugural Empowering Women list. The award recognizes Skoler Abbott for its strong commitment to hiring and promoting women, providing mentoring and opportunities for professional advancement to women attorneys, and establishing programs and policies to help women attorneys thrive professionally. Skoler Abbott was the only law firm in Western Mass. to receive this honor.

 

Home City Development Begins Construction on Apartments

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) has begun construction of 34 new affordable apartments on a previously developed site in Pelham. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Nov. 2 at 20 Amherst Road, Pelham. Consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental apartments in two buildings, Amethyst Brook Apartments provides modern amenities in a quiet, rural setting for households earning up to 60% of area median income. The buildings are designed to meet Energy Star and Passive House energy-performance standards. The property will contain charging stations for electric vehicles and roof-mounted solar panels. Along with local jobs, construction spending, and increased property taxes, this professionally managed property is expected to make significant contributions to the town of Pelham. HCDI was awarded most of the project funding from the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. In addition, HCDI received Community Preservation Act funds from the town of Pelham and construction and permanent loans from Easthampton Savings Bank. Other funders include Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., and Dorfman Capital. The development team includes Architecture Environment Life; Western Builders; development consultant Gerry Joseph; Tierney Development Services; Berkshire Design Group; Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C.; Klein-Hornig LLP; O’Reilly, Talbot and Okun; and many other partners.

Agenda

Women of Impact Nominations

Through Sept. 5: BusinessWest, the business journal of Western Massachusetts, is now accepting nominations for the sixth annual Women of Impact awards. In 2018, BusinessWest created the Women of Impact program as a way to honor women in the region who are making an impact and creating positive change. Women of Impact was chosen as the name for the program because, while nominees can hail from the world of business, they can also emerge from other realms, such as the nonprofit community, public service, law enforcement, education, social work, the mentorship community, a combination of these — in short, we’re recognizing inspirational women on any level. Nominations for the class of 2023 are due by Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m., and the honorees will be announced in the Oct. 16 issue of BusinessWest. Nominations should be written with one basic underlying mission: to explain why the individual in question is, indeed, a woman of impact. Visit businesswest.com/women-of-impact-nominations for additional information and a nomination form. For more information, call Melissa Hallock, Marketing and Events director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or email [email protected].

 

Shred Day

Sept. 16: The Wealth Transition Collective of Holyoke is partnering with Cooley Dickinson Hospital for its annual shred day. Anyone with financial or sensitive documents that need shredding can bring them to Cooley Dickinson on from 9 to 11 a.m. (or until the truck is full). A donation of $5 per paper box will directly benefit the hospital. Only paper items will be accepted. For more information, visit www.twealthtc.com.

 

Estate-planning Courses

Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 30: Attorney Karen Jackson of Jackson Law in Holyoke will lead three estate-planning workshops at Holyoke Community College. An elder-law and estate-planning attorney, Jackson will present these sessions:

• “Core Estate Planning,” Thursday, Sept. 21, 6-7 p.m. Jackson recommends that everyone should have what she calls a ‘core estate plan,’ with a will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy. She will explain the value of each document.

• “De-mystifying Trusts,” Thursday, Oct. 19, 6-7 p.m. Jackson will explain what a trust is, review the different types of trusts, and outline who needs a trust and in what situations.

• “Saving Your Home from the Nursing Home Bill,” Thursday, Nov. 30, 6-7 p.m. Jackson will explain the use of an irrevocable income-only trust to save one’s home when nursing care becomes problematic. She will explain MassHealth rules and provide tips and traps to avoid. Each class costs $39. To register, call (413) 552-2320.

 

Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament

Sept. 26: The fifteenth annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. Tom Cosenzi, successful businessman and father of four, succumbed to brain cancer in 2009 at the early age of 52. His vision was that no other family would experience the pain that he and his family endured. It was his wish that his family and friends continue to raise money for neuro-oncology research so the burden of cancer can be eliminated for patients and their families. In his memory, the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament was formed. All money raised will go directly to benefit the work of Dr. Patrick Wen and his team of researchers in the Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in search for a cure. The tournament has raised more than $1,458,135 in its 14-year history. Volkswagen of America has has signed on as the event’s 2023 presenting sponsor. Visit www.tomcosenzidrivingforthecure.com for registration, sponsorship opportunities, and more information. Questions may be directed to (413) 341-1917 or [email protected].

 

Jack Rome Memorial 5K

Oct. 7: Local canine celebrity Jack Rome, official greeter of Gary Rome Auto Group, who peacefully passed away last year, will now be memorialized with an annual 5K run/walk to benefit the Foundation for Thomas J. O’Connor (TJO) Animals. Sponsored by Gary Rome Hyundai and Western Mass News, the first annual Jack Rome Memorial 5K will take place at 10 a.m. at Forest Park in Springfield, and will be a family- and dog-friendly event. Visit runsignup.com/race/ma/springfield/jackromememorial5k to register. All funds raised will be donated directly to the Foundation for TJO Animals and will be used specifically for medical and veterinary care, emergency surgery, and rehabilitation services to help the animals find new, loving homes. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities or for more information, contact Dara Davignon, executive assistant to Gary Rome, at [email protected] or (413) 420-8049.

 

Dragon Boat Festival

Oct. 14: A new date for the ninth annual Dragon Boat Festival has been set. The event will feature dragon-boat races, food trucks, and Asian-themed entertainment from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Riverfront Park, 121 West St., Springfield. The festival was originally scheduled for July 29 but postponed due to unsafe water conditions resulting from recent flooding. Admission to the festival is free for spectators. Twenty-four teams from throughout New England are registered to participate in this year’s dragon-boat races. Community teams include Behavioral Health Network, CRRC-MA, as well as the defending champions, Springfield Pharmacy First Responders. With the new date set, registration will be reopened at www.pvriverfront.org for additional teams to sign up to race on Oct. 14. The Springfield Dragon Boat Festival, which has been hosted by the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club (PVRC) since 2013, attracts hundreds of participants and spectators to the banks of the Connecticut River for a day of competition, festivity, and community support. The festival is an important fundraiser in support of breast-cancer survivors and community programming at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club. Hundreds of paddlers from New England participate in the festival races. A team is comprised of up to 20 paddlers who race against other teams in 200-meter races on the Connecticut River. Each race lasts about one minute, and each team races at least three times on the day of the festival. Dragon boating originated in China 2,000 years ago and today is one of the world’s fastest-growing team water sports. The festival makes it easy for anyone to participate and spectate. Free parking is available nearby at 77 West St. or along Avocado Street and on property abutting and behind the new Starbucks store adjacent to the Riverfront Club. The festival can also be reached by the Connecticut Riverwalk Bikeway. More information can be found at www.pvriverfront.org or by calling (413) 736-1322.

 

Healthcare Heroes

Oct. 26: BusinessWest and the Healthcare News will honor nine individuals as 2023 Healthcare Heroes at a celebration dinner at Marriott Springfield Downtown. The Healthcare Heroes class of 2023 will be announced and profiled in the Sept. 18 issue of BusinessWest. Tickets will be on sale beginning Friday, Sept. 15. Tickets cost $90 per person, and reserved tables of 10 are available. Current event sponsors include presenting sponsors Elms College and Baystate Health/Health New England and partner sponsors Holyoke Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health. Congratulatory advertisements and additional event sponsorships are available.  For more information, call (413) 781-8600 or visit businesswest.com/healthcareheroes.

Company Notebook

PIP East Longmeadow Earns Franchise Top-10 Award

EAST LONGMEADOW — PIP East Longmeadow has been recognized as a top-10 franchise based on sales revenue for the nationwide PIP franchise network. The award was presented at the annual PIP Convention and Vendor Show held July 12-15 in Kansas City, Mo. Owned by Robert Pelzek, the business ranked sixth in the network based on 2022 sales. It also received industry recognition as a top-100 commercial printer in the U.S. by What They Think/Printing News, a prestigious honor in the printing industry. Along with the East Longmeadow location, this PIP business also has centers in Waltham and Hartford, Conn.

 

Bay Path Ranks Third in U.S. for Online Master’s in Cybersecurity

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been ranked third in the nation for its online cybersecurity master’s degree program by Fortune magazine, up from last year’s position at number 11. Rankings were determined by a program’s selectivity score, which measures the undergraduate GPAs and years of work experience of its students, along with the program’s acceptance rate. In addition, Fortune evaluated retention and graduation rates, as well as the size of each graduating class. In addition to its cybersecurity graduate program for men and women, Bay Path offers an NSA- approved bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to undergraduate women. Bay Path was also recognized in 2023 as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education (CAE).

 

bankESB Parent Company Wins National Top Workplaces Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group, parent company of bankESB, announced it was named a 2023 Financial Services Industry Top Workplaces national award winner. This award is based solely on feedback from employees of participating workplaces, gathered through an anonymous, third-party survey administered by Energage LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee-engagement tools. Industry Top Workplaces awards celebrate organizations that have built a people-first workplace culture and mark them as an employer of choice within their sector. This is the second year in a row that bankESB’s parent company has been recognized nationally in the financial-services industry category. The company also was named a national Top Workplaces USA winner in 2022.

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge to Host Grand-opening Event

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles Lounge will host a grand-opening event for its new location at 46 Cabot St., Chicopee, on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The business will offer a larger scale of wellness services, including cryotherapy, to its clientele, as well as new job opportunities within the community. This lounge will include new equipment allowing Beauty Batlles to offer cryo facial, cryo body sculpt, cryo skin, and cryo hair rejuvenation. Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, exposes the body to cold temperatures to heal and treat various medical ailments. Beauty Batlles uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to clients’ specific needs, aiming to deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with various insecurities.

 

Braman Termite & Pest Elimination Wins Excellence Award

AGAWAM — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central New England announced the recipients of the 2023 Marketplace Excellence Awards, naming Braman Termite & Pest Elimination the winner of the Western Massachusetts Award for Marketplace Excellence, Mid-sized Business. Based in Agawam, Braman serves residential and commercial customers across Southern New England, with additional Massachusetts locations in Auburn, Hampden, Lee, and Waltham, as well as Bloomfield, Conn. The BBB award recognizes both high standards of behavior toward customers, employees, and suppliers and a history of ethical business practices and community involvement. Braman is a member of the National Pest Management Assoc. and has earned the association’s QualityPro and GreenPro designations. Its pest-control technicians are all licensed, certified, insured, and trained to observe all relevant federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to the services they provide.

 

Freedom Credit Union Raises $1,400 for Griffin’s Friends

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of June, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families, raising a total of $1,400. Griffin’s Friends was founded in 1994 in Springfield and is named for Griffin Kelleher, who passed away from cancer when he was 14 months old. This group is his legacy, uniquely supporting children in treatment for cancer and their families by providing small acts of joy. Examples of the types of experiences offered by Griffin’s Friends include trips to stage performances and sporting events, in-hospital and outpatient entertainment, massage therapy, and activities such as art, computers, and games. To contribute, visit griffinsfriends.com. All funds donated go to the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc.

 

Yankee Mattress Makes, Donates Pet Beds for Dakin Humane Society

AGAWAM — Yankee Mattress Co., a local, employee-owned maker of handcrafted mattresses, has found an innovative way to support a local nonprofit organization while improving its own sustainability goals. “There is a comfort layer on the top of our mattresses, and when we get to the end of the roll, we always have excess material that’s not quite big enough for a mattress,” said Adam Miller, president of Yankee Mattress Co. “Our lead mattress maker, Aaron Bisson, had the idea to use the surplus to make pet beds, instead of disposing of it. Then Bill Lamirande, our vice president of Sales, suggested donating the beds to Dakin Humane Society as a way to support the great work they do in our community.” Lamirande coordinates with the Dakin team to customize the sizes needed, including small beds that fit inside the pet carriers the adopted animals go home in, and bigger beds for larger dogs. The number of beds Yankee Mattress creates is based on the amount of excess bedding material it generates. Located in Springfield, Dakin Humane Society provides shelter, medical care, spay and neuter services, and behavioral rehabilitation for more than 20,000 animals and people each year.

 

State Awards $450,000 to LifePath for Community Enrichment Center

GREENFIELD — LifePath was awarded more than $450,000 by the Healey-Driscoll administration for the creation of a community enrichment center. The center will provide a space where older adults and people with disabilities can enjoy respite, activities, and socialization with people of all ages, while caregivers can take a break and receive information needed to help their loved one remain at home. The administration sought innovative models to identify promising practices to relieve caregivers of the stress acquired from the exceptional demands of caring for individuals with complex needs, to close service gaps, and to provide person-centered respite in home- and community-based settings. LifePath is partnering with the Care Collaborative (TCC), a local nonprofit serving elders and their caregivers for more than 20 years. Programming will start in late fall. The day program will be hosted by TCC at its Sunderland location. Through this grant, TCC will recruit and train paid caregivers who can gain experience at the center and then go into people’s homes to provide respite care. In-home training on the best way to care for their loved one can also be provided to family and informal caregivers. The center will be a place where caregivers can get information and resources specific to their unique caregiving needs, and where they can access help navigating healthcare and social systems. In addition, there will be self-care offerings like massage and yoga, as well as peer support.

 

GCC Foundation Donates $100,000 to Equip Students with Technology

GREENFIELD — Thanks to a generous donor community, the Greenfield Community College (GCC) Foundation is giving $100,000 to the college to ensure all students have access to critical technology to achieve their educational goals. The funds will be used to purchase laptops for GCC’s technology lending library, securing enough of the technology to provide one to any matriculated student who needs it. The laptops will be available for matriculated students when the fall semester starts in September. The technology lending library is operated through GCC’s library. The lending library also features other items students can borrow at no cost, like WiFi hotspots, digital cameras, voice recorders, and more.

Company Notebook

Dress for Success Western Mass. Moving to Downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is relocating from the Eastfield Mall to its new location at 45 Lyman St. in downtown Springfield. The new location is ideally situated close to major transportation, including Union Station and the main bus terminal. This will be more accessible for users of public transit and provides Dress for Success Western Massachusetts additional space to provide services and programs to reach more women, transgender, and non-binary people. This transition to the new space will be performed with minimal interruption of services. The organization’s programs — Foot in the Door, Digital Literacy Coaching, the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentorship Program, and the Professional Women’s Group — are not being affected by the move.

 

Hackworth School of Performing Arts Wins Prestigious Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hackworth School of Performing Arts (HSPA) owners Alison Forance and Lisa Anthony announced that they were named Ultimate Studio of the Year by the American Dance Awards on July 9. This honor is given to a dance studio that shows success in training dancers in all age groups in various different styles, including but not limited to ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, acro, and musical theater. The American Dance Awards values the wide range of quality dance education offered to students and feels it should be rewarded. The nominees for this prestigious award included studios from all over the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Hackworth School of Performing Arts strives to create a well-rounded program and is honored to receive this award, Forance said. The studio is entering its their 90th season. Families looking to join the HSPA dance family should email [email protected].

 

PeoplesBank Named Among Top Corporate Charitable Contributors

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank has been recognized as a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor for the 16th year in a row by the Boston Business Journal. Only 100 companies throughout the state are recognized, and PeoplesBank shares the spotlight with such national brands as Procter & Gamble, AT&T, and Dell Technologies, as well as local names like the Red Sox Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and MassMutual. PeoplesBank supported more than 450 nonprofits in the communities it serves in 2022, with both financial support and volunteerism from the associates.

 

Bradley International Airport, Paradies Lagardère Partner to Add, Upgrade Concessions

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that its partner and award-winning airport concessionaire Paradies Lagardère will be upgrading its existing establishments at Bradley International Airport and adding two new dining concepts. Paradies Lagardère currently operates six retail locations at the airport, including two CNBC Stores, two New England Travelmarts, one iStore, and one Avanti Marketplace. As part of the upcoming upgrades, Paradies Lagardère will be updating all six concepts. Four will be refreshed within their existing brand. Two concepts will reopen under a new name, including CT River Landing and Charter Oak Emporium. In addition, a Starbucks will be introduced. This will be the airport’s first Starbucks post-TSA screening, located in the food-court area. A sit-down restaurant, called Beercode Kitchen & Bar, is also planned for the Gates 20-30 concourse, which currently does not offer a sit-down option. The restaurant is a gastropub-style concept offering a wide array of cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as an eclectic lineup of local craft beer and other beverages. Over the next year, passengers will see the locations come to life gradually, with Starbucks opening first at the end of this summer.

 

Freedom Credit Union Supports ‘A Bed for Every Child’

SPRINGFIELD — Knowing that a good night’s sleep is essential for children’s health, growth, and development, Freedom Credit Union again partnered with the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. to help provide ‘A Bed for Every Child’ across the Pioneer Valley. Throughout the month of May, Freedom accepted cash donations, raising a total of $2,385. This effort began in 2011, when the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless learned that many public-school students were not getting enough sleep because they did not have their own beds. In response, they launched A Bed for Every Child with a mission to help children get the restful sleep they need to learn and succeed. To date, more than 14,250 children have been helped. Throughout the month of June, Freedom also accepted donations at all its branches to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families.

People on the Move
Andrea O’Connor

Andrea O’Connor

Christina Turgeon

Christina Turgeon

Fitzgerald Law named attorney Andrea O’Connor a shareholder and announced that attorney Christina Turgeon has joined the firm. O’Connor counsels corporate and consumer clients in all aspects of insolvency law, primarily including bankruptcy, asset protection, taxation, real estate, and commercial matters. Her experience representing debtors and creditors in all types of matters, from complex Chapter 11 cases to adversary proceeding litigation, as well as serving as a Chapter 7 trustee for the District of Connecticut, allows her to analyze problems from all angles and develop creative solutions. She has 13 years of legal experience, including a clerkship for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. She earned a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from the University of Connecticut, and graduated magna cum laude from Western New England University School of Law. Turgeon has more than 21 years of practice experience and is primarily engaged in business litigation and counseling services, including reviewing and preparing discovery and trial strategies in Fitzgerald Law’s Litigation Department. In addition, her concentrations include bankruptcy law representing debtors and trustees before the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in Massachusetts and Connecticut; commercial evictions; real-estate law representing buyers, sellers, and financial institutions in real-estate transactions; and general civil litigation representing plaintiffs and defendants in district and Superior courts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in English literature from Western New England University and is also a graduate of Western New England University School of Law.

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Jim Hickey

Jim Hickey

Florence Bank announced that Jim Hickey, vice president and director of Marketing Operations, has been promoted to lead the bank’s marketing efforts as senior vice president and director of Marketing. Hickey replaces Monica Curhan, who retired on April 7 after serving as senior vice president and director of Marketing for nearly 10 years. Hickey was hired in November 2021 as director of Marketing Operations with the explicit plan to one day take the helm as director of Marketing. He has 25 years of strategic marketing experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UMass Amherst. He has experience in areas that include account management, creative development, media plan execution, and media buying. Before joining Florence Bank, he was vice president of Account Service at Communicators Group, a marketing communications firm in Keene, N.H. He has also served as vice president and director of Marketing for Westbank, a financial institution formerly based in West Springfield. Active in the community, he sits on the board for the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity.

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Country Bank announced that Crystal Mansfield, Customer Experience and Sales Support specialist, is the recipient of the 2023 President’s Platinum Award. The Bank’s recognition program, Above and Beyond, encourages team members to look for co-workers who embody the bank’s corporate values of integrity, service, teamwork, excellence, and prosperity (iSTEP). Within this program, members can receive different levels of recognition: Silver Spotlight, Gold Star, and the President’s Platinum. “Crystal embodies the bank’s corporate values in every interaction she has,” Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully said. “Her nominator recognized her contributions to the organization, customers, and co-workers.”

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Martha Page

Martha Page

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV), a growing nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local agriculture and a resilient regional food system, announced the appointment of Martha Page to its board of directors. With her extensive experience in nonprofit, government, and private-sector management, Page brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to further strengthen BAV’s mission and impact across the Berkshire-Taconic region. Page joins the board following her successful tenure as executive director of Hartford Food System Inc., where she spearheaded innovative initiatives to address food security, promote equitable access to nutritious food, and foster community development. Her deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the food system will be invaluable in helping guide BAV’s strategic vision. Throughout her career, Page has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to collaborative problem solving. Her multi-disciplinary background has allowed her to navigate complex landscapes and build strong partnerships across sectors that will play a vital role in helping to shape BAV’s initiatives.

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ISO New England, the operator of the region’s bulk power system and wholesale electricity marketplace, announced the election of its 2023 board of directors slate. The slate includes new member Craig Ivey, retired president of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., who brings three decades of experience in the electricity industry. His three-year term will begin on Oct. 1. Current board members Brook Colangelo and Mark Vannoy have been reelected to their third and second terms, respectively. Roberto Denis will retire from the board this fall. Ivey served as president of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. for nine years, retiring in 2017. While in this role, he was responsible for all aspects of the electric system that serves more than 9 million New Yorkers. He previously spent 25 years at Dominion Energy, rising through the ranks from a part-time position during his college years to become senior vice president of Transmission and Distribution. Ivey serves on the board for Ameren Corp., as well as the Fresh Air Fund, a nonprofit serving children in low-income communities in New York City. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University and has completed executive-education programs at the University of Michigan and Harvard University. Colangelo, elected to his third and final term, is vice president and chief information officer for Waters Corp. Earlier in his career, he served as chief information officer of the White House under President Obama. He holds a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University. Vannoy joined the ISO board in 2020 and was re-elected to a second term. He is currently president of Maine Water and previously served as the chairperson of the Maine Public Utilities Commission. He is a retired U.S. Navy officer, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and holds a master’s degree from Cornell University.

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Greg LaCasse

Greg LaCasse

Whittlesey, a leading tax and advisory services provider, announced the promotion of Greg LaCasse, CPA to partner. LaCasse joined the firm in 2017 and has 30 years of experience in public and private accounting, including roles with the Big 4, as well as serving as chief financial officer for an international IT consulting firm. He is an active member of Whittlesey’s real-estate, construction, and manufacturing niche and specializes in providing tax and advisory services to both businesses and individuals, with a focus on working with clients in the professional service, medical, real-estate, retail, wholesale, and manufacturing and distribution industries. LaCasse holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in taxation from the University of Hartford. He also pursues continuing professional education in taxation and business-advisory services. He is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants.

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Nonotuck Resource Associates Inc. announced the recent hiring of Gretchen Parker as Human Resources director. Parker comes to Nonotuck with 20 years of experience in human resources, as well as a career spent working with nonprofits. At Nonotuck, she will lead the HR team and tackle new initiatives, such as performance management and coordinating trainings for supervisors across the agency. Parker most recently worked as associate director of Human Resources for Highland Valley Elder Services and also worked for LifePath, UMass Amherst, and Franklin Regional Council of Governments. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and master’s degree from Fitchburg State University.

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Tim Czerniejewski

Tim Czerniejewski

bankESB recently promoted Tim Czerniejewski to assistant vice president, commercial lending. Czerniejewski has 16 years of experience in banking. He joined bankESB in 2016 as a credit analyst and was promoted in 2018 to assistant vice president, portfolio manager. In his new role, he will be responsible for developing, structuring, and closing commercial loans, as well as maintaining and servicing existing accounts. Before joining bankESB, he was a risk analyst and credit analyst at TD Bank. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Western New England University and an associate degree in accounting from Springfield Technical Community College, and is a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute.

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Dhaval Patel has been selected for the 2023 class of 30 Under 30, highlighting his remarkable accomplishments and the impact he has made throughout his career. Dhaval, 27, of Rovi Homes, was selected by REALTOR Magazine, which recognizes members of the National Assoc. of Realtors (NAR) under age 30 who have demonstrated exceptional skills in areas such as sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, technology, association leadership, and community involvement.

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Anthony Worden, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp MHC, announced that the following actions were taken at the company’s 118th annual meeting on June 20. Darci Brown and Jeffrey Collura were re-elected as corporators of Greenfield Bancorp MHC, while new candidates Khama Ennis, Jennifer Ewers, Matthew Sheehy, Terri Mitchell, and Brandon Lively were elected as corporators of Greenfield Bancorp MHC. Nancy Fournier, JoAnne Finck, and Peter Whalen were re-elected to three year terms as directors of the bank and Greenfield Bancorp MHC, while Catherine Coleman was elected to a three-year term as a director of the bank and Greenfield Bancorp MHC.

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Linda Thompson, President of Westfield State University, has joined the board of trustees at Goddard House Assisted Living in Brookline. Prior to her role as president of Westfield State University, Thompson held the role of dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UMass Boston. She has an extensive background in healthcare leadership and public policy. In Baltimore City, Md., she served as director of Occupational Medicine and Safety and developed programs and policies to promote the health of the city workforce, including the implementation of policies for HIV prevention and substance use and abuse. At the state level in Maryland, she served as special secretary of Children, Youth and Families, where she developed programs and policies to improve quality of care for vulnerable populations of children.

Agenda

‘Invisible Wounds of War Made Visible’ Exhibit

Through July: Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program, is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for veterans, service members, and their families. Home Base’s “Invisible Wounds of War Made Visible” exhibit will be on display at the VA Central Western Massachusetts Health Care System in Leeds through July. The exhibit is designed to bring community awareness to the experiences of service members. Providing civilians and service members alike a window into these experiences enhances an empathetic look at the invisible wounds of war. Making these invisible wounds visible allows the viewer to understand more deeply the impact of war on the individual and the continued sacrifices that linger long after a service member returns home. It is an opportunity for civilians to gain perspective and respect for soldiers. Additionally, it is an opportunity for fellow service members to see representation of themselves, knowing they are not alone, and help is available. VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System’s Creative Arts Therapist Courtney Bennett holds open studios weekdays from 2:30 to 4:30 in Mountain Building 11, Room B2. Research shows that trauma and intense stress affect the language systems in the brain, making it difficult to talk about the experiences of trauma. Art and creative expression allow veterans to use a ‘language’ that does not rely on words alone.

 

MOSSO Summer Concerts

July 23, Aug. 3: MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) will present two chamber-music concerts this summer, one at the prestigious Sevenars Music Festival in Worthington on Sunday, July 23, and the second at the Longmeadow Adult Center on Thursday, Aug. 3. At Sevenars, the MOSSO Horn Trio (Beth Welty, violin; Sarah Sutherland, horn; and Elizabeth Skavish, piano) will perform the world premiere of “Triptych” for Piano, Violin, and Horn, a commissioned work by Max Mueller, in a program that also includes: Frédéric Duvernoy’s Trio No. 1 for Violin, Horn, and Piano; Trygve Madsen’s Trio, Op. 110 for Violin, Horn, and Piano; and Johannes Brahms’ Trio in Eb Major for Violin, Horn, and Piano. The Sevenars concert begins at 4 p.m. and is free, with donations requested at the door. For details, visit www.sevenars.org. The Keep It Fresh Quartet, an ensemble including MOSSO musicians Beth Welty, violin; Dani Rimoni, viola; Joel Wolfe, cello; and Jill Dreeben, flute, will perform on the lawn at the Longmeadow Adult Center, 211 Maple Road, Longmeadow, on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. The program includes Gordon Jacob’s Four Fancies for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello; Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola in G, K. 423; Reger’s Serenade for Flute, Violin, and Viola, Op 141a; selected movements from Mozart’s Divertimento for Violin, Viola, and Cello, K. 563; Mozart’s Quartet in D for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello; and additional pieces to be announced from the stage. The concert will be performed rain or shine, and will be moved indoors at the Adult Center if there is inclement weather. Tickets are free, but advance reservations are required. For details, call (413) 565-4150 (option 1), or visit www.longmeadowma.gov/149/adult-center.

 

Brew at the Zoo

Aug. 5: The Zoo in Forest Park will host its fifth annual Brew at The Zoo fundraising event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event is ideal for both beer fanatics and animal lovers, combining craft-beer samples from local breweries with animal interactions. Attendees can also vote for their favorite home brews in a home-brew competition, listen to live music, play games, and enjoy food from various food trucks. VIP tickets are available for guests wanting an extra hour of sampling and more interactive encounters with animal ambassadors. The VIP hour runs from noon to 1 p.m. The zoo is focused on education, conservation, and rehabilitation and provides homes to animals that may not otherwise survive in the wild. All money raised goes toward the daily care of the 225-plus animals that call the Zoo their home. The zoo will be closed to the public on Aug. 5. Advanced tickets are required, and IDs will be checked at the door. Limited tickets are available. For a list of participating breweries and to purchase tickets, visit www.forestparkzoo.org/brew.

 

Jack Rome Memorial 5K

Oct. 7: Local canine celebrity Jack Rome, official greeter of Gary Rome Auto Group, who peacefully passed away last year, will now be memorialized with an annual 5K run/walk to benefit the Foundation for Thomas J. O’Connor (TJO) Animals. Sponsored by Gary Rome Hyundai and Western Mass News, the first annual Jack Rome Memorial 5K will take place at 10 a.m. at Forest Park in Springfield, and will be a family- and dog-friendly event. Visit runsignup.com/race/ma/springfield/jackromememorial5k to register. All funds raised will be donated directly to the Foundation for TJO Animals and will be used specifically for medical and veterinary care, emergency surgery, and rehabilitation services to help the animals find new, loving homes. To inquire about sponsorship opportunities or for more information, contact Dara Davignon, executive assistant to Gary Rome, at [email protected] or (413) 420-8049.

Company Notebook

ShopOne Acquires Heritage Park Plaza

EAST LONGMEADOW — ShopOne Centers REIT Inc., a fully integrated, grocery-anchored shopping center investment, management, and operating platform, together with its joint venture (JV) partners, Pantheon and a leading global institutional investor, announced their entry into Massachusetts with the acquisition of Heritage Park Plaza in East Longmeadow, a 117,337-square-foot shopping center anchored by Stop & Shop. Heritage Park Plaza, which is 98% occupied, is strategically located along Route 83, a heavily traveled thoroughfare, and is serviced by three major highways, Interstates 90, 91, and 291. More than 202,300 people reside within five miles of the center, with an average household income of $88,500. Heritage Park Plaza has benefited from strong and consistent sales from its diverse tenant mix, which includes a variety of leading national retailers and regional brands such as Petco, Orangetheory Fitness, Panera, Dollar Tree, Pure Barre, 99 Restaurant and Pub, and H&R Block.

 

Country Bank Receives Two Marketing Awards

WARE — Country Bank announced it has received two marketing awards from the New England Financial Marketing Assoc. for its 2022 marketing efforts. Country Bank achieved first place with a gold award for its “Made to Make a Difference” rebrand. In May 2022, Country Bank introduced the rebrand in partnership with the bank’s advertising agency, Financial Marketing Solutions. The new tagline was created from focus groups that consisted of Country Bank team members, board members, consumer and business customers, non-customers, and community nonprofits throughout the bank’s marketplace. Since 1850, Country Bank has been a part of the fabric of the communities it serves, so it was deemed essential to include the community in the process. The common theme of how the bank makes a difference became a clear indicator of how its stakeholders received the brand in the market. In addition, the bank received a silver award for its Police vs. Fire Baseball Game in association with the WooSox Foundation. This game was a century-old tradition brought back to life on Sept. 26, 2022. Part of the game is giving back to the community, something the WooSox Foundation and Country Bank are passionate about. The teams chose the Manny 267 Foundation, which received a $15,000 donation.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County Honored with Gold Standard Award

WEST SPRINGFIELD — For the tenth year in a row, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) has been recognized for its quality of service by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). This time around, BBBSHC has been named a Gold Standard Award winner. Every year, the BBBSA Nationwide Leadership Council, made up of local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency leaders and board members, selects agencies for excellence in the organization’s signature one-to-one youth-mentoring program. Out of 225 agencies across the country, BBBSHC is one of 26 organizations to receive this top honor. The Gold Standard Award recognizes agencies that have increased their revenue and grown the number of mentors (‘bigs’) and youth (‘littles’) who are matched through the program, year over year. In the past year, BBBSHC has served approximately 300 youth and grown its local services by 10%. For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been dedicated to igniting potential for at-risk youth, making a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Today, the organization creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships, helping to build self-confidence and emotional well-being and empowering young people on a path to graduate with a plan for their futures and a mentor whose impact can last a lifetime. The Gold Standard Award winners will be formally recognized at the 2023 Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigger Together National Conference, held June 26-29 in California.

 

State Awards $1.37 Million for Fintech Incubator at WNE

SPRINGFIELD — The Healey-Driscoll administration and MassTech recently awarded Western New England University (WNE) a $1.37 million Tech and Innovation Ecosystem grant to establish an incubator that will drive innovation in financial technology, or fintech. WNE’s new Springfield-based fintech incubator will bolster talent development in the growing tech sector; fund new, on-campus computing infrastructure for hands-on learning opportunities; and allow faculty and students to work directly with private-sector companies and other financial-sector organizations on real-world challenges. The new incubator, a two-year, $2,125,000 project, will become a technical resource for fintech startups across the state, with an initial focus on those located in Western Mass. The $1.37 million state grant comes from the state’s Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program. The incubator will be managed by a team of WNE faculty who are deeply entrenched in the fintech space.

 

Davis Foundation Supports Surgical Care at Baystate

SPRINGFIELD — The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation made a generous donation to Baystate Health Foundation in support of the new surgical and interventional procedural rooms at Baystate Medical Center. A portion of this 82,000-square-foot space, which opened in March, is located in what is now known as the Robert S. Davis Wing. It was formally dedicated on May 30 with a celebration that included the Davis family and members of the Baystate Health team. Robert Davis was the second of four Davis children, including his siblings John, Jane, and Steve. He passed away in 2021, and, as a way to celebrate his memory, the family chose to name the former South Wing in his honor. The Robert S. Davis Wing also houses the Pediatric Procedure Unit, the Sadowsky Center for Children, the Baystate Medical Center inpatient pharmacy, and two floors of patient rooms. The tribute is fitting, as he spent time at Baystate Medical Center during his final year receiving care and dialysis treatment.

 

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Supports RiverCulture Events

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank announced its sponsorship of the 2023 Summer Event Series organized by RiverCulture, the creative-economy program of the town of Montague. The series features a variety of cultural events happening in the five villages of Montague and the Turners Falls Cultural District, including live music, outdoor movies, theater, family activities, and festivals. The series aims to showcase the rich and diverse cultural offerings of the region and to foster community engagement and enjoyment. As a community bank, Greenfield Cooperative Bank is committed to supporting local arts and culture and to enhancing quality of life for its customers and neighbors. Paper copies of the calendar of events are available at local retail stores and restaurants, or can be downloaded at www.riverculture.org.

 

LightHouse Signs Agreement for Possible New Home

HOLYOKE — LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke announced it has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the historic Congregation of the Sons of Zion building at 378 Maple St. in downtown Holyoke. The agreement establishes a 120-day inspection and planning period to determine the viability of the move. LightHouse is a personalized, competency-based middle and high school now in its eighth year in its current location in the STEAM Building at 208 Race Street in Holyoke. LightHouse’s tagline is “changing what school can be.” Current renovation estimates are being drawn up and are expected to run well into the millions of dollars, so LightHouse is in the beginning stages of applying for grants and preparing for a capital campaign to fund all the work that needs to be done. LightHouse has grown strategically during its eight years, from a program serving 36 students in its first year, 2015, to its current enrollment of 75 students. Students come from towns and cities across the Pioneer Valley, including Holyoke, and as far away as New Haven, Conn. Almost half of the student body are Holyoke public-school students who attend LightHouse full-time through a public-private partnership, a model for innovation for school districts everywhere.

 

Food Bank Honored with Lauren Arms Ledwith Award

BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced that the Lauren Arms Ledwith Award for 2023 has been awarded to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its outstanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach team. The Food Bank was awarded this honor at the Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) annual meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community-outreach partners. The award was presented to Christina Maxwell, Beth Ziemba, Megan Schuck, Stephanie Gibbs, and Luis Perez Jr. for continuously demonstrating a commitment to creating a better tomorrow for their communities by helping to eliminate hunger. At the meeting, acting DTA Commissioner Mary Sheehan recognized the outstanding work done during the past year to connect residents with SNAP. Currently, almost 656,000 households receive SNAP benefits, a 45% increase from pre-pandemic levels. Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the community by providing food to individuals and families located in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. It has addressed food insecurity by meeting people where they are, conducting outreach at food pantries, meal sites, shelters, colleges, senior centers, correctional facilities, libraries, and veteran-serving agencies.

 

 

Cedar Chest Partners with Grow Food Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — For the second year in a row, Cedar Chest, the anchor store in Thornes Marketplace on Main Street in downtown Northampton, will partner with food-justice organization Grow Food Northampton to ensure that community members grappling with food insecurity and hunger are able to access healthy, local farm foods all year long at Grow Food Northampton’s farmers markets, Tuesday Market, and Winter market. The Grow Food Northampton SNAP Match program allows community members who use SNAP (formerly called food stamps) to more than double their purchase of nutritious local produce and other farm products at the weekly Tuesday Market farmers market behind Thornes Marketplace, and in the winter at the Winter Market at the Northampton Senior Center. The ‘give $10, get $10’ promotion allows Cedar Chest customers to donate $10 to Grow Food Northampton’s SNAP Match program and, in turn, receive a $10 gift card to spend at Cedar Chest.

Company Notebook

Elms Receives $1 Million to Expand Two Programs

CHICOPEE — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently joined Elms College President Harry Dumay to announce a $1 million earmark to expand the education and social work programs at Elms College. The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the U.S. Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. With this funding, Elms College will address community workforce development by expanding its education and social work programs. This expansion will include investments in the Center for Equity in Urban Education at Elms College, which was created to bolster educator talent and diversity through innovative programs that target existing and aspiring educators. Funding will also be used to invest in the master’s in social work program in an effort to address the shortage of social workers in the Greater Springfield community.

 

AIC Signs Housing Agreements to Benefit HCC, STCC Students

HOLYOKE — Representatives from American International College (AIC) and Holyoke Community College recently signed a historic agreement that will allow HCC students to live in residence halls and apartments on the AIC campus in Springfield. In addition, a new agreement between AIC and Springfield Technical Community College will allow STCC students to reside in the AIC campus residence halls and apartments. The agreements call for AIC to discount its room rates for HCC and STCC students. The housing option will be offered to all students 18 and older who are enrolled full- or part-time and in good academic standing. According to the agreements, HCC and STCC students who opt to live at AIC will have access to other amenities there as well, including health services, the college library, laundry facilities, and a gym. Dining and parking plans are also available for an additional cost. There is no age limit for students, couples can live together, and campus apartments are also a possibility.

 

WNE, BCC Sign Joint Admissions Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — Berkshire Community College (BCC) signed an articulation agreement with Western New England University (WNE) on May 8, allowing BCC students to transfer seamlessly to WNE. The joint admissions program, which is consistent with the individual missions, policies, and regulations of each institution, seeks to strengthen the academic and student-support partnerships between BCC and WNE, facilitate student access to baccalaureate and graduate education, and provide barrier-free movement for students enrolled in an associate-degree program at BCC to the baccalaureate graduate degrees at WNE. Students will be informed about the opportunity to participate in the joint admissions program at the time they are applying to BCC. Students who satisfy the requirements of the joint admissions program are eligible for guaranteed acceptance to WNE, provided they complete an approved associate-degree program at BCC and meet the requirements of the joint admissions program and major-specific requirements; guarantee of junior status at WNE upon matriculation with an associate degree; and guarantee of 60 transfer credits, with some stipulations.

 

Chris Marion Celebrates Grand Opening of Studio

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield native Chris Marion celebrated the grand opening of his new Chris Marion Photography studio, located at 270 Albany St. in Springfield, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 18. The ceremony included brief remarks, with appearances by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, City Council President Jesse Lederman, and other local dignitaries. Marion said he chose the 1,000-square-foot space to be a part of the surging Gasoline Alley section of the city and its proximity to downtown Springfield. He has also recently hosted photography workshops in the new studio.

 

UMassFive Donates Items to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced the success of its personal-care-items drive, which was held during March in its Hadley, Northampton, and Springfield branches. The drive collected more than 365 pounds of personal-care items, which were donated to three local organizations: Amherst Survival Center, Northampton Survival Center, and the Gray House in Springfield. UMassFive is committed to supporting the communities it serves, and this drive was just one example of its ongoing efforts to give back. Members and staff at all three branches enthusiastically participated in the drive, donating a wide variety of items, such as toothpaste, shampoo, soap, menstrual products, diapers, and more.

 

Local Farm Awards Distribute $225,000 for Projects in 2023

AGAWAM — The Local Farmer Awards distributed grants totaling $225,000 to 97 farms in Western Mass. this year, a 30% increase over the number of 2022 recipients. These grants of up to $2,500 empower farmers to purchase essential equipment for planting, growing, harvesting, and processing. All projects include a funding commitment by the farm as well. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with 12 other funders, provide financial support for these Local Farmer Awards. Other community sponsors include Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Audrey and Chick Taylor, PeoplesBank, the DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Farm Credit East, HP Hood, Eastern States Exposition, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Franklin First Federal Credit Union, and bankESB. This year the Local Farmer Awards received a record 182 applications. Roughly two-thirds of this year’s awards went to farms in Hampshire and Franklin counties, with the remainder split between Hampden and Berkshire counties, and a few awards going to farms just across the Massachusetts border that participate in Massachusetts farming programs. About 25% of the recipients were new farmers (five or fewer years in business), and another 34% have been in business more than 20 years, many being multi-generational farms. The largest number of winners focus on vegetables and meat, while others include maple, fruit, dairy, and flower farms.

 

WSU, HCC Announce Nursing-degree Partnership

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Westfield State University (WSU) will announce a new pathway for individuals to earn both an associate and a baccalaureate degree in nursing simultaneously or in a streamlined manner by combining the curricula of both programs. The concurrent program is the first in the Commonwealth. Beginning one’s professional life as an RN with all the demands on new nurses in a post-COVID era can make it challenging to go back to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This program provides an opportunity for students to earn both their ASN and BSN credentials simultaneously before entering the workforce. The ADN-to-BSN pathway creates efficiency for students as it incorporates a joint admission process, thereby eliminating the need for students to submit a separate application for admission to the university. By facilitating the attainment of a BSN, this pathway helps to meet the evolving demands of the healthcare industry. The concurrent nursing program will help address the nursing shortage by increasing the number of students who can get into a bachelor of nursing program and allow them to earn their degree faster.

 

MassHire Franklin Hampshire Announces New Location

GREENFIELD — MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center and Workforce Board, the leading workforce-development agencies providing employment and training services to job seekers and employers in Franklin and Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin area, are moving to a new location in Greenfield. Doors will open to customers at the new location at the Greenfield Corporate Center, 101 Monson St., Suite 210, on Thursday, June 1. The new MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center features 13,000 square feet of modern space with state-of-the-art resources to provide in-person, virtual, and hybrid services and allows MassHire Franklin Hampshire to provide even better service to more customers. Partner agencies with a staff presence at the Career Center include the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Literacy Project, the Center for New Americans, International Language Institute of Massachusetts, Westover Job Corps, Greenfield Community College, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, and Community Action Pioneer Valley. Core partner Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission already has office space at the Greenfield Corporate Center.

Company Notebook

HCC Receives Pledge of Historic $10 Million Gift

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) received a pledge of more than $10 million, the largest single gift commitment in the college’s 77-year history and one of the largest gifts ever to any community college. The pledged gift is included in the estate plan of HCC alumna Margaret (Peg) Wendlandt ’58 and her husband, Gary Wendlandt, longtime supporters and frequent donors to the college. The money, estimated to be at least $10 million, will go toward student scholarships and the college’s greatest needs. The Wendlandts’ many gifts to the college in their lifetime already total more than $1 million and include donations to the President’s Student Emergency Fund and two endowed scholarships administered by the HCC Foundation: the Peg ’58 and Gary Wendlandt Scholarship, for students with financial need; and the Peg ’58 and Gary Wendlandt Health Scholarship, for students in nursing or health-related fields. In each of the past three years, the Wendlandts have made matching gift donations of $100,000 during the HCC Foundation’s one-day “Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives” fundraising campaign. Their $10 million-plus gift will be among the largest so far to any community college in the U.S., rivaling a $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to Amarillo College in Texas in 2021 and a $10 million gift to Arapahoe Community College in Colorado from the Sturm Family Foundation in 2019.

 

WNE School of Law Recognized Among Nation’s Best Law Schools

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University’s (WNE) School of Law recently earned a spot on the Princeton Review’s “Best Law Schools for 2023” list. The Princeton Review’s rankings are based on data the company gathers from surveys of administrators at the law schools, as well as surveys of students attending the schools, who rate and report on their experiences at them. The rankings for 2023 are based on surveys of administrators at 168 law schools in 2021-22 and surveys of 17,000 students enrolled in the schools over the past three academic years. More than 60 data points are factored into the company’s rankings. Founded more than a century ago to provide legal education to underrepresented populations, the WNE School of Law today welcomes students from all walks of life who are seeking a rigorous education that blends theory, skills, and ethical values. The School of Law’s Center for Social Justice fosters student interest in establishing a more equitable and just society and serves as a focal point for community engagement through research, innovation, education, and advocacy.

 

UMassFive Federal Credit Union Joins MassHousing Program

HADLEY — UMassFive College Credit Union announced it is offering MassHousing loans to its members in partnership with Member Advantage Mortgage, its mortgage service organization. As a community-focused financial institution, UMassFive is always looking for more ways to make a positive difference in the financial lives of its members. Joining the MassHousing program contributes to this aim by helping to make homeownership accessible to more prospective buyers. MassHousing is an independent agency created in 1966, charged with providing financing for affordable housing in Massachusetts. It offers proprietary products, including down-payment assistance; affordable, straightforward terms; and unique mortgage insurance. UMassFive and partner Member Advantage Mortgage are excited to offer these options to their membership. The MassHousing program offers benefits including down-payment assistance up to $50,000; loans with affordable rates that are fixed for the life of the loan; and MIPlus, a unique mortgage insurance that includes job-loss protection. MassHousing has already helped more than 70,000 Massachusetts residents buy a home in the Commonwealth. To learn more about MassHousing and potential eligibility, visit umassfive.coop/mahousing.

 

Springfield College Recognized by Campus Prevention Network

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College has been named a recipient of the Campus Prevention Network (CPN) Seal of Prevention. Presented by Vector Solutions, the CPN Seal of Prevention is awarded to institutions of higher education that have demonstrated leadership in digital prevention programming focused on student safety, well-being, and inclusion. Each recipient of the CPN Seal of Prevention has taken action to create a safer, more inclusive campus through comprehensive, evidence-based digital prevention education on issues such as sexual assault, alcohol misuse, mental health, and discrimination. It establishes guidelines for discerning quality online prevention education and implementation practices, and positions prevention as central to key institutional outcomes. At Springfield College, incoming students complete three courses: “AlcoholEdu” (first-year and transfer students), “Sexual Assault Prevention” (all new undergraduate, graduate, and regional and online students), and “Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for Students” (all new students). Sophomores complete “Sexual Assault Prevention Ongoing: Healthy Relationships,” juniors complete “Sexual Assault Prevention Ongoing: Taking Action,” and student-athletes complete “Sexual Assault Prevention for Student-Athletes.” In addition, all new employees complete “Title IX and Sexual Harassment Prevention” (supervisor or non-supervisor courses), “FERPA: Confidentiality of Records,” “Data Security & Privacy,” and “Managing Bias.”

 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Receives $450,000 Grant for Alzheimer’s Services

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital has a received a $450,000 grant from the Eisenberg Family Trust to provide free services to older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and the family members who care for them. The grant funds the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative (PVMCI), a collaborative program that empowers older adults with dementia to improve their quality of life through personalized support in coordination with their medical care. PVMCI was founded in 2020 with the support of the Eisenberg Family Trust. Over the past three years, the program has provided personalized services to nearly 200 patients with dementia and their family members. It has also hosted family support groups and educational programming, facilitated training for volunteers at partnering organizations, and convened local nonprofits to coordinate services. All these activities were made possible through the Eisenberg Family Trust’s grant funding and in part by a grant from Highland Valley Elder Services through funding under the Federal Older Americans Act. With the renewed grant funding from the Eisenberg Family Trust, PVMCI can deepen support for patients with Alzheimer’s and their families.

 

Bradley Unveils New Identity-verification Technology

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced the launch of CLEAR and its biometric identity-verification technology at Bradley International Airport. CLEAR already serves nine of Bradley’s top 10 domestic destinations, allowing members traveling through the airport to use CLEAR on both ends of their journey. Nationally, it offers an expedited security program at 52 airports, serving more than 15 million members. Members use CLEAR’s network of dedicated lanes to verify their identity with their eyes or fingers, replacing the need to take out their wallet and driver’s license. After verification, a CLEAR ambassador escorts members through the dedicated lane and directly to TSA physical security, saving them time waiting in line at the security checkpoint. CLEAR’s launch at Bradley is expected to create 23 jobs and generate approximately $1.2 million in local economic activity every year. CLEAR Plus, an opt-in membership that provides access to CLEAR’s expedited identity-verification lanes, costs about $16 a month billed annually, with discounts available for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Express members. Newly enrolling active military, veterans, and government officials are also eligible for discounted memberships, and additional family members can be added to an existing CLEAR Plus account for $60 per adult per year.

 

Berkshire Museum Offers Foster Families Free Admission

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Museum announced a partnership with Wonderfund, a nonprofit working with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to provide enrichment opportunities to foster children and families. Under this program, foster families receive free admission to Berkshire Museum for two adults and two children. Free admission to the museum also gives families access to museum programs such as WeeMuse Littlest Learners, a weekly, educator-led activity for infants and toddlers to spark curiosity with hands-on cognitive and social experiences, on Thursdays from 4 to 4:45 p.m. The museum’s aquarium also hosts Discovery Tank, an educator-led program, on Fridays from 3 to 4 p.m., featuring the animals of the aquarium’s tide pool and demonstrating the behavior and life of crustaceans, sea urchins, starfish, and many other creatures of the shallows.

 

Springfield Thunderbirds Raise $30,000 for Rays of Hope

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced a donation of $30,000 to Rays of Hope as a result of proceeds from the live jersey auction during the T-Birds’ sixth annual Pink in the Rink game on March 11. Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa and Vice President of Sales & Strategy Todd McDonald presented a check to Rays of Hope earlier this week inside the MassMutual Center. This year’s Pink in the Rink game set new records for total funds generated, and the MassMutual Center came out in full force with a sixth straight Pink night sellout crowd of 6,793. Established during the T-Birds’ inaugural season in 2016-17, Pink in the Rink serves as a kickoff to the Rays of Hope fundraising efforts each March to shine a light on breast-cancer awareness outside of the traditional October awareness month. Each year, the fundraising efforts culminate in the annual Rays of Hope Walk & Run in October. Since the establishment of this staple night, the Thunderbirds have generated more than $100,000 for the Rays of Hope Foundation, all of which stays local in Western Mass. in hopes of finding a cure. Proceeds for this donation were raised primarily via the post-game live jersey auction, as every Thunderbirds player had his jersey sold to directly benefit Rays of Hope. In addition, Chris Hayes, general manager of Oak View Group Hospitality, the food and beverage partner for the MassMutual Center, contributed toward the donation total through the sales of Pink Whitney beverages throughout the evening.

 

Health New England Earns Award for Workplace Wellness

SPRINGFIELD — The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) awarded Health New England its Well Workplace Award at the gold level. The awards recognize organizations that contribute to workplace health and employees’ ability to lead healthy, resilient, and fulfilling lives through their wellness efforts. WELCOA, a membership organization for health promotion and wellness professionals, judged employers over seven benchmarks, including support for the whole employee, support for a health-promoting environment, policies and practices, commitment of leadership, and meaningful data collection. Health New England’s employees have access to the same health programs the insurer offers its customers. Its Healthy Directions worksite wellness programs include reimbursements for fitness and wellness activities, nutritional counseling, tobacco-cessation programs, health education, and more. Health New England has been honored in past years with the Well Workplace Award at the bronze level. In 2022, the company concentrated even more on expanding its programs and ensuring its employees understand the resources available to support their mental, physical, and emotional health.

Agenda

Free Shred Days

April 15, May 13: bankESB invites customers and members of the community to two free shred days at local offices. The events will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on the following dates and locations: April 15, bankESB, 241 Northampton St., Easthampton; and May 13, Home Depot parking lot, 350 Russell St., Hadley. No appointment is necessary. Local residents can reduce their risk of identity theft by bringing old mail, receipts, statements or bills, canceled checks, pay stubs, medical records, or any other unwanted paper documents containing personal or confidential information and shredding them safely and securely for free. Valley Green Shredding, a professional document-destruction company, will be on site and can accept up to two boxes of documents per person.

 

En-ROADS Presentation

April 20: Westfield State University and its partners will host a free presentation of En-ROADS at 6:30 p.m. on campus in Wilson Hall, Room 130. The program is designed for the general public, secondary teachers, and students of all ages. En-ROADS is an evidence-based global climate simulator that allows users to explore the impact of specific policies — such as electrifying transport, pricing carbon, and improving agricultural practices — on hundreds of factors, including energy prices, temperature, air quality, and sea-level rise. Developed by Climate Interactive, the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, and Ventana Systems, En-ROADS helps people make connections between things they care about and the possibilities available to help ensure a resilient future. Users can quickly see the long-term effects of the global climate policies and actions they imagine. Anyone interested in learning which climate solutions are most impactful, teachers wondering how to enhance students’ learning about climate issues, and others will benefit from the En-ROADS presentation, which will explore the benefits, challenges, and equity implications of a wide range of climate policies, while stakeholders work together to build a scenario for a better climate future. The presentation will include information on using En-ROADS in classrooms and other community settings, and will help attendees understand actions they can take to address climate change. Light refreshments will be provided.

 

Harmonia V Concert

April 20: The Westfield Athenaeum and MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) will present the third of a three-concert chamber music series, with Harmonia V performing at 7 p.m. This is the second year of MOSSO’s partnership with the Westfield Athenaeum. Guy McLain, executive director of the Westfield Athenaeum, will offer a pre-performance talk at 6 p.m., which is free to ticket holders. The Connecticut-based Harmonia V, an innovative woodwind quintet, performs standard literature, seldom-heard treasures, and dynamic contemporary music. Members of the quintet include Springfield Symphony Orchestra and MOSSO horn player Robert Hoyle; Jennifer Berman, flute; Janet Rosen, oboe; Jim Forgey, clarinet; and Jackie Sifford Joyner, bassoon. The Harmonia V program, “April in Paris,” includes music by Fauré, Ravel, and Debussy. For information on Harmonia V, visit www.harmoniav.com. Tickets for the concert cost $25 and must be purchased in advance at the Westfield Athenaeum during business hours, or online at www.westath.org.

 

Technology Recycling Drive

April 21: For individuals and companies looking to get rid of their old computer equipment and do some good, Paragus IT will host a technology recycling drive to promote sustainability and benefit Dakin Humane Society. Paragus will take old, unwanted computers, laptops, printers, and other equipment and prepare them for reuse or make sure they’re properly disposed of. In exchange, Paragus will collect $5 per piece of equipment, all of which will benefit Dakin Humane Society. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., those looking to recycle equipment have two choices of drop-off sites: Paragus IT at 122 Russell St. in Hadley or Dakin Humane Society at 171 Union St. in Springfield. Paragus has also partnered with the Lexington Group, which has offered its vehicles and services for pick-up from local businesses. A minimum of five pieces of equipment and a minimum $50 donation are required for pick-up. Interested businesses can contact Jackie Deiana at [email protected] or (413) 343-1104 to reserve a spot.

 

5K Dash and Dine

April 22: UMass Dining Services will host its 12th annual UMass 5K Dash and Dine on campus. The goal of the event is to promote health and wellness at the university while raising funds for the Amherst Survival Center. In total, UMass Dining has been able to raise more than $57,000 for the Amherst Survival Center. The 5K features a USA Track and Field (USATF) certified course to runners, walkers, and wheelchair participants. When race participants are finished, all are welcome to have lunch at an award-winning Dining Commons on campus. The race fee is $10 for all UMass and Five College students, $20 for UMass Amherst faculty and staff, and $25 for the general public. Children 8 years and under may participate for free at the annual fun run at 10 a.m. The fee includes registration, T-shirt, and the complimentary meal at the Hampshire or Berkshire Dining Commons. Online registration ends on Wednesday, April 19, but walk-up registration is available on race day. The schedule includes check-in at the Southwest Horseshoe at 9 a.m., the fun run at 10 a.m., the start of the race at 11 a.m., an award ceremony at 11:30 a.m., and lunch at noon. To register for the event or make a donation, visit runumass.com.

 

Difference Makers Gala

April 27: The 15th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2023 Difference Makers was announced, and their stories told, in the Feb. 20 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $85 each, and tables of 10-12 are available. To purchase tickets, visit businesswest.com/difference-makers. Partner sponsors for this year’s program include Burkhart Pizzanelli P.C., the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and Westfield Bank.

 

Pioneer Valley Conference for Women

May 4: The Pioneer Valley Conference for Women will host its first in-person event at the Marriott in downtown Springfield. The theme of the conference is “Let Go.” Leading the speaker lineup are Paulette Piñero, social entrepreneur, writer, and leadership coach, and Yvonne Williams, author of Tested Faith and It’s All About the Shoes. Each will provide a keynote address to an expected audience of more than 300 attendees. The conference highlights topics that were chosen by the women of Western Mass., based on current trends and interests. Alison Maloni, owner of Alison May Public Relations, news anchor for a national network, and bestselling author of Breaking in the News: Build Buzz for Your Brand, will emcee the conference. Local comedian Jess Miller will entertain attendees during a VIP Comedy Kick-off the evening before the conference; tickets cost $35. The cost to attend the Pioneer Valley Conference is $52, which includes breakfast, lunch, a swag bag, and an afternoon celebration with a female DJ and complementary wine and hors d’oeuvres following the full-day conference. The lunch sponsor is M&T Bank. The panel sponsor is Westfield Bank. The network sponsors are Smith Executive Education and USI Insurance. The small-business sponsors are Lovelace Design and Rooted Flowers. Keeping with the goal of accessibility, the conference will also be available virtually for those who are more comfortable watching through a screen. Sessions will be taped for future viewing. For more information on keynote speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and panelists, visit sheslocal.org/pioneer-valley-conference-for-women.

 

Sundae Funday 5K and Family Fun Fest

May 6: Marianna Litovich, founder and executive director of All Our Kids Inc., announced the organization’s third annual Sundae Funday 5K and Family Fun Fest will take place on from 9 a.m. to noon at Stanley Park in Westfield. The event will kick off with a 5K run/walk and simultaneous family festival that is open to the public. Families can enjoy games, crafts, prizes, food, community information, and lots of entertainment. “This event helps All Our Kids raise awareness, celebrate foster and adoptive families, bring our community together, and have fun,” Litovich said. Anyone interested in registering to run or walk the 5K or sponsor this nonprofit fundraiser can visit fosteringaok.org/aok5k.

 

Hooplandia

June 23-25: Registration for Hooplandia, a 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, is now open at www.hooplandia.com and includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. The tournament, presented by the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will take place on the grounds of ESE in West Springfield June 23-25, with special games at the Hall of Fame in Springfield. The event is expected to attract thousands of fans and players as hundreds of games take place across more than 70 courts. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. With brackets that include veterans, first responders, youth, wheelchair athletes, college elites, and many more, there’s a spot on the court for everyone. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at www.hooplandia.com. Team fees range from $75 to $190, with children under 8 and participants in the Special Olympics category being free of charge. Hooplandia has teamed up with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Partnership opportunities for Hooplandia are available at a variety of levels to help underwrite all areas of play, including Boys & Girls Club youth, active military, veterans divisions, and more. Anyone interested should email [email protected]. Hooplandia welcomes participation from youth team referees, scorekeepers, Fan Village contest facilitators, and volunteers for myriad duties to help make this inaugural year a success. Those interested in participating in this groundbreaking event can fill out the volunteer form at www.hooplandia.com.

 

MOSSO Concert

July 23: MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) will make its Sevenars Concerts debut in Worthington at 4 p.m. MOSSO and Friends, which opened the Westfield Athenaeum series, features violinist Beth Welty, horn player Sarah Sutherland, and pianist Elizabeth Skavish. They will perform Frédéric Duvernoy’s Trio No. 1 for Violin, Horn, and Piano; Trygve Madsen’s Trio, Op. 110 for Violin, Horn, and Piano; and Johannes Brahms’ Trio in E-flat Major for Violin, Horn, and Piano. Sevenars performances are held at the Academy, South Ireland Street and Route 112, South Worthington. There is no charge for admission to the performance, and no tickets are needed, although donations at the door are welcome ($20 or more per person is suggested to help defray expenses). For program details and information on Sevenars, visit www.sevenars.org.

Company Notebook

Business Editor George O’Brien to Retire

After nearly 30 years as editor of the region’s premier business publication, BusinessWest editor George O’Brien will retire from that position later this spring. A search for a successor is ongoing. O’Brien, who started his career in journalism at the Westfield Evening News in 1980, said that he will always covet his years at BusinessWest and the relationships forged during his time here. “I’ve always told people that behind every business there are people, and these people have stories,” he noted. “I’ve always loved telling those stories.” O’Brien joined BusinessWest in 1995 after serving a lengthy stint as editor of the Westfield Evening News. He has been at the forefront of expansion at BusinessWest that has come in many forms — from making the formerly monthly publication twice monthly, to the introduction of several events, including Difference Makers and 40 Under Forty, to the introduction of the healthcare publication Healthcare News. He said he has enjoyed all aspects of his work at BusinessWest, but especially emceeing events and meeting business owners, telling their stories, and keeping readers informed. A frequent public speaker who has addressed chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, and other groups about the publication and the business scene in the 413, O’Brien said he told them that the region’s best assets are its resiliency and strong entrepreneurial spirit.“I’ve always been impressed with the entrepreneurial energy in Western Mass.,” he said. “There have always been people willing to take risks, innovate, and convert ideas into businesses.”O’Brien said he intends to find opportunities to write a little and stay active in Western Mass., working with area nonprofits such as Link to Libraries, which he has served as a board member and reader in the classroom, most recently at Springfield’s DeBerry Elementary School, for more than a decade. “The best thing about being in Western Mass. is that around every corner, and on every street, there’s a business I’ve profiled,” he noted. “This hasn’t been a job, really, it’s been a privilege.”

 

Square One Announces Plans for Expanded Access to Services

SPRINGFIELD — On March 24, Square One leaders were joined by state and local officials to formally announce plans to expand access to high-quality early learning and care for the region’s children and families. The announcement was held at 947 Main St., Springfield, the site where Square One once stood prior to the 2011 tornado. There, Square One plans to build a new facility, which will include four preschool classrooms, a full-service family-support center, and administrative offices. Early support for the estimated $10 million project is coming from both the city of Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has committed nearly $1 million in funding, while state Sen. Adam Gomez and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez sponsored and secured a $2 million earmark in the state budget to support Square One’s expansion of services. The 26,000-square-foot facility is being developed by well-known developers Fran Cataldo, Juan Prieto, Paul Picknelly, and Charles Irving, who formed a partnership in 2016 for the purpose of developing the property that was once occupied by Square One. Known as Davenport Square 1, the partners represent a legacy of investment, development, and redevelopment in Springfield and Western Mass., including retail, housing, office, and hospitality projects. Together, they are committed to projects that support the revitalization of downtown Springfield.

 

Veritas Prep Charter School Approved as Early College Program

SPRINGFIELD — Following a rigorous, nine-month application process, Springfield’s Veritas Preparatory Charter School, in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Worcester State University (WSU), has been approved for designation as a Massachusetts Early College program by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, starting this fall. The unique local program allows Veritas Prep High School students to take college courses through STCC and WSU and earn 30 to 60 credits, even working towards obtaining an associate degree upon high-school graduation, for free. This designation will add more than 100 students to early-college enrollment this fall and 334 students by 2026, with pathways concentrated in health sciences and healthcare, education, business and finance, computer science, engineering, and liberal arts. Starting last fall, Veritas High School opened with 100 students in grade 9, working with STCC and WSU to begin implementing early-college activities for the inaugural ninth-grade class. Veritas Prep’s freshmen were offered two college courses this semester with professors from STCC and WSU, each course earning them credit toward high-school graduation and transferable college credits. With the average cost of college in Massachusetts around $20,000 per year, the intensive early-college program can save students $40,000 to $75,000 or more. The general studies associate degree that students can earn from STCC while still in high school means they can start as juniors at other Massachusetts public colleges or universities.

 

Eversource Recognized Among 100 Most Sustainable Companies

BOSTON — For the fourth consecutive year, Eversource Energy has been recognized by Barron’s on its list of America’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, appearing as the top utility in the annual ranking for the second time in the last three years. Eversource’s rank also improved significantly to 17th overall on this year’s list from 40th last year, reflecting the strides the company has made in executing its strategic commitment to sustainability throughout its operations. The Barron’s list of 100 Most Sustainable Companies is based on more than 230 environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics. To create the ranking, the top 1,000 publicly traded companies by market value were evaluated by how they performed for five key constituencies — customers, communities, employees, the planet, and shareholders — looking at ESG performance indicators such as workplace diversity, data security, and greenhouse-gas emissions. To qualify for the list, a company must be rated above the bottom quarter in each of the five stakeholder categories.

 

Westfield State Nets $1 Million for Nursing, Health Science Programs

WESTFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently joined Westfield State University President Linda Thompson to announce a $1 million earmark to enhance the university’s training capacity for nursing and health science students. The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. Westfield State’s plans for this funding are threefold: to double the university’s simulation space that is utilized to develop students’ skills and confidence in applying healthcare practices, provide a new Easy Street simulation space that will allow healthcare students to apply concepts of home-based and community care in their learning, and provide new spaces for the practice of healthcare innovation.

 

Bay Path University Launches MS in Nursing Degree

LONGMEADOW — In response to the growing demand for nurse practioners, educators, and administrators, Bay Path University has announced its fully online, new master of science in nursing (MSN) program, which will begin accepting nursing candidates for the fall 2023 semester. The fully asynchronous MS in nursing is ideal for working adults, allowing students to learn on their time and on their schedule, and enrolled nursing candidates can earn their degree within two years. The online master of science in nursing is also a pathway to Bay Path’s online doctor of nurse practice – family nurse practitioner program, which is a terminal nursing credential preparing nurses with the critical skills needed to translate evidence-based care into practice, improve systems of care, and measure outcomes for patients and communities. Nurses who wish to pursue a terminal nursing credential and who have graduated from Bay Path’s MS in nursing program may also be able to apply courses to the doctoral program.

 

Aer Lingus Resumes Service from Bradley to Dublin

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Aer Lingus has resumed non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Dublin, Ireland. The first flight departed Bradley International Airport on March 26. The resumed service operates daily through the end of October via Aer Lingus’ Airbus A321neo LR aircraft and offers connectivity to 28 key U.K. and European airports, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Prague, and more. The service is expected to operate annually on a seasonal basis until year-round demand is realized from the return of business travel. Aer Lingus, the Irish flag carrier, first started operating out of Bradley International Airport in 2016. After nearly four successful years and thousands of passengers served, the non-stop service was interrupted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Elms, HCC Sign Transfer Agreement

CHICOPEE — Elms College and Holyoke Community College (HCC) signed an articulation transfer agreement that will make it easier for HCC students to complete their bachelor’s degree at Elms College in either biology or biotechnology. HCC students who earn an associate degree in biology or biotechnology with a minimum GPA of 2.0 will be able to transfer at least 60 credits and enroll into Elms College’s bachelor-degree programs in either biology or biotechnology. The agreement is effective immediately so that HCC biology and biotechnology students who graduate this spring and meet the requirements of the agreement can matriculate into Elms this fall as third-year students. For information about the program, email [email protected] or [email protected].

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge Announces New Location

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles Lounge announced it will be relocating to a larger, more expansive space at 46 Cabot St. in downtown Chicopee. The advanced beauty and wellness spa will offer a larger scale of wellness services, including cryotherapy, to its clientele, as well as new job opportunities within the community. The new lounge will consist of new equipment allowing Beauty Batlles to offer cryo facial, cryo body sculpt, cryo skin, and cryo hair rejuvenation. Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, exposes the body to cold temperatures to heal and treat various medical ailments. Beauty Batlles Lounge uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to clients’ specific needs and deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with insecurities.

 

Data Center Planned for Thorndike Mill

PALMER — Thorndike Energy Group announced a partnership with Worldwide Environmental Services in the development of a state-of-the-art data center at Thorndike Mill in Palmer. The repurposed mill currently houses multiple DC hydroelectric generation units and offers a unique application of clean, renewable power that inherently has a significant amount of storage in the upstream water reservoir. This power source will serve as the initial energy component for a campus-wide microgrid that will allow for the addition of wind, solar, and hydrogen-fueled energy sources along with connection to the local grid.

Chamber Corners

1BERKSHIRE

(413) 499-1600; www.1berkshire.com

 

March 29: Go Fund U Session #3: “The Bandwagon Effect and VIPs,” 5-7 p.m., hybrid event, hosted online or at Berkshire Innovation Center, 45 Woodlawn Ave., Pittsfield. Create a bandwagon that other folks want to jump onto. Understand how to identify and communicate with your VIPs before launch to increase your chances of reaching your funding goal. In this session, we’ll also discuss setting your funding target, determining reward levels, and strategies for during and after your campaign. This is your opportunity to learn the secret recipe for crowdfunding success. Register at www.1berkshire.com.

 

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 253-0700; www.amherstarea.com

 

March 30: Margarita Madness, 5:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Interskate 91 at the Hampshire Mall, 367 Russell St., Hadley. TommyCar Auto Group returns as presenting sponsor. Mix, mingle, and network at our largest signature event of the year. Enjoy an evening of tasty margaritas and vote for your favorite. Local restaurants showcase their fare, and there are dozens of raffles prizes donated by Amherst Area Chamber members. Cost: $35 pre-registered at www.amherstarea.com, $45 at the door.

 

 

EAST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 575-7230; www.erc5.com

April 4: Coffee Hour Connections with ERC5, 8:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Hillary Lynn Photography, 200 Center St., Suite 5, Ludlow. Join us as we gather to build relationships and Hillary shares more about the work she is doing with brand imagery that tells a story and connects with your dream clients. Register online at www.erc5.com.

 

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 534-3376; www.holyokechamber.com

 

March 29: After Hours and Ribbon Cutting at Fame, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Fame, 386 Dwight St., Holyoke. Join as we celebrate the grand opening of Fame with small, homemade bites; craft beer and cocktails; and connections. To register, visit www.business.holyokechamber.com/events.

 

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 584-1900; www.northamptonchamber.com

 

April 4: Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Danco Modern, 10 West St., Hatfield. Our monthly networking get-together is the perfect place to expand your circle of connections in the business community. New to (or nervous about) networking? Join us at 4 p.m. for a Warm Welcome pre-party and get tips from our experts. Sponsored by Reider Media, Delap Real Estate, and Applied Mortgage. First Impressions sponsored by Finck & Perras. This is a free event. Register online at www.explorenorthampton.com.

 

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 568-1618; www.westfieldbiz.org

 

April 5: Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 551 North Road, Westfield. Mayor Michael McCabe will update the attendees on City Hall activities, and there will be an opportunity to ask the mayor questions. This event is free to attend. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org.

 

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 426-3880; www.ourwrc.com

 

April 4: April Lunch & Learn with ERC5, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Villa Rose, 1428 Center St., Ludlow. Learn from our panelists how to maintain and grow in 2023 and beyond. Hear valuable tips for making every penny count in your business and how to effectively use your dollars to your advantage. Cost: $25 for members, $35 for non-members. To register, visit www.ourwrc.com.

Company Notebook

American International College Announces Three New Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The School of Business, Arts, and Sciences at American International College (AIC) has begun recruiting students for three new academic degree programs designed to prepare students for fields in high demand. Launching in the fall of 2023, these new offerings expand AIC’s academic portfolio of more than 40 interdisciplinary programs grounded in the liberal arts. AIC’s new cybersecurity program will equip students with the technical and business knowledge needed to secure high-paying and growing jobs in this field. Students will assess modern cybersecurity challenges threatening privacy, security, and safety and gain the knowledge and hands-on technical skills to protect digital assets from cybercriminals. Cybersecurity is an ideal degree for people who want to work in a future-focused field with a high earning potential. And with 33% job growth by 2030, opportunities continue to grow. The new bachelor’s degree in public administration program at AIC was developed to provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in public-sector roles. This program emphasizes experiential learning, with projects in government administration, public health, social science, history, and more. Public administration is a field for those who want to enact change in their communities and beyond. With more than half of all federal workers nearing retirement age, demand for fresh talent is set to skyrocket in the coming years. The esports and gaming administration program at AIC offers a business degree with a gaming-industry specialization, providing business fundamentals that will last a lifetime. This program addresses the greatest needs in the esports and gaming industry, identified through interviews with major companies, including Capcom and Riot. AIC’s coursework will provide students with the necessary context for understanding the games industry and a basic understanding of how technology-based companies get things done. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of jobs in esports nearly doubled, growing a staggering 85%.

 

Cooley Dickinson Receives $250,000 Gift from Smith College

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital announced it has received a $250,000 gift from Smith College to support the expansion and renovation of Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department. The gift will support the $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the evolving emergency-medicine needs of the community it serves. To accomplish this goal, the hospital has embarked on an ambitious and comprehensive fundraising campaign. Approximately $6.4 million has been raised to date. The project is expected to break ground this spring. Smith College has been a long-time supporter of Cooley Dickinson. Significant donations to the hospital have included helping to fund the hospital’s North Building and Kittredge Surgery Center, as well as its Nurse Development program and comprehensive Breast Center. Cooley Dickinson is expected to serve approximately 40,000 Emergency Department patients this year. That care will be provided in a 1970s-era building that was designed for 17,000 patients annually and is currently 40% undersized. A shortage of space means some patients are treated in hallways. The Emergency Department also needs to expand its services to care for an aging population (three times the population from 10 years ago). In addition, the expansion will provide additional beds for people experiencing mental-health emergencies. The two-year project calls for adding 7,500 square feet of space, including nine new patient rooms; two behavioral-health beds and two ‘flex’ beds to use as patient needs arise; and a family waiting area. When the project is completed, the Emergency Department will occupy more than 23,000 square feet. In addition, a computerized tomography (CT scan) machine, which provides timely access to diagnostic imaging, will be added to the Emergency Department.

 

MCLA Launches BSN Program

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will launch a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program for the fall 2023 semester. This will be the first BSN program in Berkshire County and the only BSN program within an hour’s drive of the rural tri-state corner of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. This nursing-education initiative will help address the current and future rural nursing workforce shortages. MCLA received final approval from the Board of Higher Education this month and received initial approval to launch a BSN in January from the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN). The next phase of BORN approval is anticipated after MCLA graduates the first nursing cohort in 2027. MCLA’s BSN degree can be completed over a four-year period. After accepting pre-nursing students this fall, the college will formally accept up to 25 students into the nursing major at the conclusion of their first year of study. Students must complete required pre-nursing courses in math and sciences during that first year for admission into the program. Transfer students may also apply to the nursing program during their first year of study at MCLA and transfer in non-nursing courses for consideration toward graduation. MCLA expects that the first BSN class will graduate in May 2027. At the conclusion of the program, students will be awarded a bachelor of science in nursing degree and be prepared and eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

 

The MH Group Marks 10 Years, Launches Nonprofit Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — The MH Group (formerly ManeHire Talent Solutions), a Springfield-based staffing and recruiting agency, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Founder and CEO Nicole Polite’s roots run deep in Springfield, as her great-great-granduncle was Primus Parsons Mason, a Black entrepreneur and real-estate investor who is most well-known as the namesake of the city’s Mason Square neighborhood. To continue his legacy, Polite is launching the nonprofit Polite Foundation, focusing on providing career resources to underserved populations. In addition, she has served on multiple nonprofit boards, such as the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (now operating as MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s Dora D. Robinson Women’s Leadership Council, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission council. She also served as a business advisor at the Entrepreneurial & Women’s Business Center at the University of Hartford.

 

 

HCC, Arizona State University Announce Transfer Pact

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) announced a new alliance with Arizona State University (ASU) to provide students a seamless transfer experience through the MyPath2ASU program, which allows students to take the steps needed at the start of their college experience to successfully plan their transfer from HCC to ASU, where they can complete their bachelor’s degree online. MyPath2ASU provides a set of customized transfer tools for students from accredited institutions, end-to-end learner navigation through course-by-course guided pathways; advising to assist students in course selection to ensure their credits fulfill requirements at both HCC and ASU; guaranteed general admission to ASU and admission into their choice of MyPath2ASU major, if all requirements are satisfied (some majors have additional or higher admission requirements); more than 400 course-by-course guided pathways into immersion and online ASU degree programs; self-service degree-progress tracking through the ASU My Transfer Guide to minimize loss of credits; and connected experience through personalized ASU communications to prepare students academically and build an early connection to ASU.

 

Monson Savings Bank Receives 5-Star Rating from BauerFinancial

MONSON — BauerFinancial Inc., a leading, national bank-rating firm, announced that Monson Savings Bank has once again earned its top (5-Star) rating for financial strength and stability. Having earned Bauer’s 5-Star rating for 40 or more consecutive quarters, Monson Savings Bank has earned an even higher designation as an Exceptional Performance Bank. This marks the bank’s 53rd consecutive 5-Star rating. Bauer rates every federally insured U.S. chartered bank with the same strict standards, and reported that Monson Savings Bank continues to outperform its peers.

 

White Lion Brewing Co. Recognizes Holyoke’s 150th with Special Release

SPRINGFIELD — The city of Holyoke, known as Paper City, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. White Lion Brewing Co. collaborated with the city of Holyoke, Explore Holyoke, regional design firm TSM, and Holyoke Craft Beer to create a commemorative label and beer release to celebrate the rich history of the city during its sesquicentennial. Holyoke 150, an American lager, was released during the annual Holyoke Road Race on March 18. Holyoke 150 will be also available at special events and local accounts throughout 2023.

 

BetMGM Launches Mobile Sports Betting in Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — BetMGM, a leading sports-betting and iGaming operator, launched its mobile app in Massachusetts, giving customers access to a variety of online betting options and benefits tied to MGM Resorts’ ddestinations nationwide, including MGM Springfield. The BetMGM app gives Massachusetts sports fans the ability to customize pre-game, live in-play, futures, and parlay wagers. Integration with MGM Rewards allows Massachusetts’s BetMGM users to redeem their gameplay for experiences at MGM Resorts properties nationwide. The mobile app complements MGM Springfield’s BetMGM Sportsbook & Lounge that opened in January. The space features a 45-foot LED viewing wall and four betting windows, making it easy for guests to access a variety of sports-wagering options. The resort is home to 18 sports-betting kiosks located throughout the gaming area.

 

Square One Creates Alumni Association

SPRINGFIELD — It’s time to go back to Square One, where thousands of young children had their first early-learning experience. Formerly Springfield Day Nursery, Square One has been nurturing and educating infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children since 1883. The agency, now in its 140th year, is looking to gather its program graduates to formalize an alumni group. Alumni are asked to contact to complete a brief questionnaire, which can be found at startatsquareone.org, or email Matt deloria at [email protected] to learn more.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 17: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2023. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 17. 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 announced and profiled in the May 1 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 15. Event sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

Westfield River Brewing Co.Winter Concert Series

Through April: Sergio Bonavita, owner of Westfield River Brewing Co. (WRBCo), located at 707 College Highway, Southwick, is working with brewery co-owner and JJK Productions founder Josh Kelleher to bring a unique wintertime music series to Western Mass. Notable acts include tributes to Jimmy Buffett, Sublime, the Eagles, Dave Matthews, Nirvana, and Johnny Cash. Attendees will be able to catch ’80s and country cover bands, as well as the 413’s own Dr. Westchesterson. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and showtimes vary by artist. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.etix.com/ticket/v/15983.

 

HCC Pickleball Clinics

Through May: Holyoke Community College (HCC) has launched a series of Saturday pickleball clinics for beginners and those who want to improve their game all the way up to tournament-level play. The group classes are led by pickleball coach and racquet sports instructor Kelly Canniff, who has 25 years of experience educating children, adolescents, and adults. All sessions run on Saturdays from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on the new indoor pickleball courts at Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation on the main HCC campus, 303 Homestead Ave. The cost for each three-session series is $75. The “Beginner Pickleball” clinic already began on Feb. 11 and will continue on Feb. 18 and 25, covering the rules of play, court layout, equipment, basic game play, and strategy. “Advanced Beginner Pickleball” will run March 4, 18, and April 1, and is designed for players who have taken the beginner classes or already have some familiarity and experience with the game and want to advance their play by improving their groundstrokes, overhead shots, volleys, and serves, as well as adding direction, control, and accuracy. “Intermediate Pickleball” runs April 8, 15, and 22 and will help players better understand court positioning; sustain longer rallies; improve strokes, volley, and drop shots; and focus on moving to the NVZ line, which marks the ‘non-volley zone,’ also known as the ‘kitchen.’ “Advanced Pickleball,” on May 13, 20, and 27, is designed to prepare players for tournament-level play, with practice to help them improve shot variety and accuracy and develop better strategies for playing doubles. To register, visit hcc.edu/health-and-fitness.

 

Junior Achievement Bowl-a-Thon

Feb. 17: Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) will hold its Bowl-a-Thon from 6 to 9 p.m. at Shaker Bowl in East Longmeadow. Registration fees will support Junior Achievement programs and events for youth throughout the region. In keeping with the Music Legend Night theme, prizes will be awarded for the best group, male, and female music-legend costumes. There are three levels of participation for bowling teams of four to five people: Perfect Game ($400), which includes T-shirts, three strings with shoe rental, a special JA gift per team, two large pizzas, soda, popcorn, and one alcoholic drink per adult player; Strike ($300), which includes T-shirts, three strings with shoe rental, a special JA gift per team, one large pizza, soda, and popcorn; and Spare ($200), which includes T-shirts, three strings with shoe rental, and a special JA gift per team. For more information or to register, visit jawm.org/bowl.

 

MOSSO Concert Series at Westfield Athenaeum

Feb. 23, March 23, April 20: The Westfield Athenaeum will present a three-concert chamber-music series with MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) performing. This is the second year of this partnership. Guy McLain, executive director of the Westfield Athenaeum, will offer a pre-performance talk at 6 p.m., which is free to ticket holders. The Westfield Athenaeum series opens with MOSSO and Friends on Feb. 23. Violinist Beth Welty, horn player Sarah Sutherland, and pianist Elizabeth Skavish will perform horn trios of Frédéric Duvernoy, Trygve Madsen, and Johannes Brahms. Welty, chair of MOSSO, is acting principal second violin of MOSSO and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO). Sutherland, MOSSO and SSO horn player, is also MOSSO’s finance director. The series continues on Thursday, March 23 with a performance by the Vermont-based Champlain Trio, which includes MOSSO and SSO principal cello Emily Taubl. The Champlain Trio will perform “Brilliant Colors,” a program that features music by Tchaikovsky, Erik Neilsen (“Trio No. 2” written for the ensemble), Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beach, and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” The series concludes on Thursday, April 20 with MOSSO and SSO horn player Robert Hoyle’s quintet, the Connecticut-based Harmonia V. The quintet will celebrate April in Paris with an all-French program, featuring pieces by Barthe, Fauré, Ravel, Poulenc, Debussy, Pierné, and Lefebvre. Tickets for the concerts, $25 per person, must be purchased in advance at the Westfield Athenaeum during business hours, or online at www.westath.org.

 

Springfield Thunderbirds Sensory-friendly Game

Feb. 26: The Springfield Thunderbirds, in conjunction with the Center for Human Development (CHD) and Springfield College’s Department of Occupational Therapy, will host their third annual sensory-friendly game at 3:05 p.m., when the Thunderbirds host the Charlotte Checkers. The game presentation will feature decreased stimulation, including no goal horn or noise meters, decreased microphone and music volume, no strobing lights, and consistent lighting throughout the game and pregame, as well as two ‘cool-down stations,’ quiet areas on the concourse and main entry level of the MassMutual Center, away from the seating bowl, and a ‘sensory story’ booklet and other supportive items for guests. Fans with questions regarding the sensory-friendly game can direct them to the Thunderbirds front office at (413) 739- 4625 or by visiting www.springfieldthunderbirds.com.

 

Difference Makers Gala

April 27: The 15th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2023 Difference Makers are announced, and their stories told, in this issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $85 each, and tables of 10-12 are available. To purchase tickets, visit businesswest.com/difference-makers. Partner sponsors for this year’s program include Burkhart Pizzanelli, the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and Westfield Bank.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Donation Supports Rent-stabilization Initiative

HOLYOKE — OneHolyoke Community Development Corp. announced a $20,000 donation from PeoplesBank to support OneHolyoke’s Working Families – Rent Stabilization initiative. The lead grant from PeoplesBank has allowed the organization to freeze rents for those in OneHolyoke housing units. “At a time when housing costs are spiking and rents are becoming unaffordable for many, OneHolyoke has maintained our rents without any increase over the past year,” Executive Director Michael Moriarty said. “We are able to accomplish this due to the community partnerships we have formed leading to grants such as this $20,000 gift from PeoplesBank. PeoplesBank understands the importance of community, and we appreciate their partnership in this important initiative to keep housing that is affordable to families in Holyoke.” OneHolyoke manages more than 160 units of non-subsidized housing in the Holyoke neighborhoods of the Flats, Churchill, and South Holyoke.

 

One Way Brewing Celebrates One-year Anniversary

LONGMEADOW — It’s been one year since One Way Brewing opened its taproom at 807 Maple Road in Longmeadow. In that year, the One Way crew has welcomed thousands of customers, released more than two dozen new beers, and made lots of friends in the community. In recognition of and gratitude for this milestone, One Way Brewing hosted a celebration on Jan. 22 at the brewery. The event featured live music from the Hard to Read band, as well as the release of a New England IPA anniversary beer that was brewed only for this occasion. Co-owners Jason Tsitso and Zach Schwartz also partnered with Fletcher’s BBQ Shop and Steakhouse for the event. “Zach and I would like to thank everyone who supported us this past year, from our awesome patrons to our One Way family,” Tsitso said. “But, to quote Bill Belichick, we’re on to year two.”

 

HCC Grant to Expand Outreach to Formerly Incarcerated

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded an $81,605 Bridges to College grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to expand community outreach to adult learners who have been previously incarcerated. Specifically, the money goes to Western Mass CORE, an HCC program that works in partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department to facilitate pathways to education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. CORE stands for community, opportunity, resources, and education. The program was founded in 2019 by two HCC professors, Nicole Hendricks (criminal justice) and Mary Orisich (economics). The Bridges to College grant will allow Western Mass CORE to expand office hours, advising services, and information sessions at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s AISS facility, located in the WW Johnson Life Center on State Street in Springfield. AISS stands for Al Inclusive Support Services (formerly After Incarceration Support Services). The grant will also support the hiring of a new community-navigator position to lead this outreach work. This is Western Mass CORE’s third Bridges to College grant as project lead. The grant also will provide funding for Western Mass CORE to host a series of community events, including a monthly children’s story hour at the Holyoke Public Library for parents who have been previously incarcerated and their children, and community coffee hours at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street. On March 24, as part of the grant and in partnership with Western New England University, Western Mass CORE will host an expungement event and CORI-friendly career fair in HCC’s Bartley Center for Athletics & Recreation, where formerly incarcerated individuals will be able to consult with lawyers to help have their criminal records expunged. In the meantime, Western Mass CORE will continue its work inside the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow and the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee. This spring, at the Ludlow jail, Hendricks will teach a criminology course, while Orisich will lead an economics class. HCC theater professor Patricia Sandoval will teach a fundamentals of acting class at the women’s jail.

 

UWPV to Distribute $258,500 in Emergency Food and Shelter Funds

SPRINGFIELD — The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is a program funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and designed to supplement and expand the ongoing work of local social0service organizations to provide shelter, food, and supportive services to individuals and families who are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, homelessness or hunger. The United Way Pioneer Valley (UWPV) serves as the administrator for Hampden County, South Hadley, and Granby for all EFSP funds. With the help of a local board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV determines how funding is allocated through a competitive grant application process. EFSP funding for Phase 40 recently became available, resulting in the distribution of $258,500 to be disbursed on a reimbursement basis to local nonprofit organizations.

 

Bulkley Richardson Supports Greater Westfield Emergency Food Pantry

WESTFIELD — The Greater Westfield Emergency Food Pantry received recently a $2,000 donation from the Springfield-based law firm Bulkley Richardson. “Since the expiration of special government assistance during the pandemic, we have witnessed the need for additional aid in feeding the hungry,” said Rebecca Hart, director of the Greater Westfield Emergency Food Pantry. “Along with a dramatic rise in prices for food and housing, food insecurity remains a growing concern.” Mike Roundy, partner at Bulkley Richardson and longtime Westfield resident, added that “seeing the real struggles that members of our community face every day to meet basic needs is painful. I am pleased that our firm can be a small part of the solution to help combat hunger, but there is so much more work to be done. I encourage others to help in ways that they are able.” The mission of the Greater Westfield Emergency Food Pantry is to provide food to those in need in the Westfield area; to foster self-sufficiency in individuals through encouragement, support, guidance, and education; and to identify and address the root causes of hunger in the community and to strive to provide long-term solutions.

Agenda

IRS Tax Changes

Jan. 12: The Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council Inc. announced that its next event will be held at the Hotel Northampton. The planned topic is an update on IRS tax changes that may result in changes to the tax code and estate-planning techniques. A buffet-style breakfast will be served. Social hour begins at 7:30 a.m. The event cost is $40 for both members and non-members. Checks will be accepted at the door. As an update, the council received $800 from the National Council as reimbursement of fees for the current fiscal year, helping to replenish its bank account. Full details will be provided at the January meeting.

 

Cirque du Soleil Presents ‘Corteo’

Jan. 12-15: Corteo, the arena production from Cirque du Soleil, is back in North America and heading to Worcester. This unique production, directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, first premiered in Montreal under the Big Top in April 2005. Since its creation, the show has amazed more than 10 million spectators in 20 countries on four continents. Corteo will be presented at the DCU Center on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 14 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. Corteo, which means ‘cortege’ in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy, and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth. In a Cirque du Soleil first, the stage is central in the arena and divides the venue, with each half of the audience facing the other half, giving a unique perspective not only of the show, but also a performer’s eye view of the audience, an atmosphere never seen before in Cirque du Soleil arena shows. Tickets for Corteo in Worcester are currently available at cirquedusoleil.com/corteo.

 

 

World Affairs Council

Jan. 13: The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts announced that its next Instant Issues brown-bag lunchtime discussion will take place at noon on the new, ninth-floor event space at 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield. Longtime friend of the council Mahsa Khanbabai, an attorney with Khanbabai Immigration Law, will speak on the current status of women in Iran. Khanbabai was born in Iran and raised in Western Mass. She is regularly interviewed by news agencies such as NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, MSNBC, and others. Her legal advocacy and strategic use of the media spotlight has led to numerous high-impact immigration changes, including the reinstatement of deferred action. Admission to the event is $5 for council members without a lunch provided, or $20 with a box lunch. Non-members’ admission cost is $10 without a lunch or $25 with a lunch. For those who purchase a meal, box lunches with a choice of sandwich — turkey, tuna, roast beef, or vegetarian — will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Lunches also include a deli salad, cookie, chips, and soda or water. At the request of the speaker, this event will not be recorded. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/instant-issues-mahsa-khanbabai-on-women-youth-movements-in-iran-tickets-490513698677.

 

SSO to Celebrate MLK

Jan. 14: The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will celebrate the life and spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. on the Symphony Hall stage at 7:30 p.m. Music of African-American composers will be performed by the orchestra and guest pianist Artina McCain, and highlighted by a spoken-word presentation by Springfield’s poet laureate, Magdalena Gómez.

Tickets are on sale, starting at $15, on the SSO website, www.springfieldsymphony.org. Kevin Scott, an African-American conductor, composer, and native New Yorker, will lead the orchestra on Jan. 14. Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, Scott has led various orchestras, choruses, and bands throughout the Greater New York area and in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Varna, Bulgaria. His works have been performed by the orchestras of Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. Concert attendees will hear works such as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson, arr. Hale Smith); “Rise to the Occasion” (Quinn Mason); “The Audacity of Hope” (Ozie Cargile II); and “Fannie’s Homecoming,” composed by the evening’s conductor, who has been inspired by the legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader in the civil-rights movement. Music of Florence Price and William Grant Still will also be performed. A ‘classical conversation’ with Scott will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 for all ticketholders, and there will be a meet and greet following the performance in the Mahogany Room.

 

MOSSO Concert Series at Westfield Athenaeum

Feb. 23, March 23, April 20: The Westfield Athenaeum will present a three-concert chamber-music series with MOSSO (Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra) performing. This is the second year of this partnership. Guy McLain, executive director of the Westfield Athenaeum, will offer a pre-performance talk at 6 p.m., which is free to ticket holders. The Westfield Athenaeum series opens with MOSSO and Friends on Feb. 23. Violinist Beth Welty, horn player Sarah Sutherland, and pianist Elizabeth Skavish will perform horn trios of Frédéric Duvernoy, Trygve Madsen, and Johannes Brahms. Welty, chair of MOSSO, is acting principal second violin of MOSSO and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO). Sutherland, MOSSO and SSO horn player, is also MOSSO’s finance director. The series continues on Thursday, March 23 with a performance by the Vermont-based Champlain Trio, which includes MOSSO and SSO principal cello Emily Taubl. The Champlain Trio will perform “Brilliant Colors,” a program that features music by Tchaikovsky, Erik Neilsen (“Trio No. 2” written for the ensemble), Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beach, and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” The series concludes on Thursday, April 20 with MOSSO and SSO horn player Robert Hoyle’s quintet, the Connecticut-based Harmonia V. The quintet will celebrate April in Paris with an all-French program, featuring pieces by Barthe, Fauré, Ravel, Poulenc, Debussy, Pierné, and Lefebvre. Tickets for the concerts, $25 per person, must be purchased in advance at the Westfield Athenaeum during business hours, or online at www.westath.org.

Company Notebook

MassMutual Foundation Awards $2 Million Grant to Way Finders

SPRINGFIELD — Way Finders and the MassMutual Foundation announced that Way Finders has been provided with a $2 million gift from the MassMutual Foundation to help fund its City of Homes (COH) initiative. This pilot program will address the need for quality, affordable homeownership opportunities in Springfield, the headquarters city of MassMutual and Way Finders. COH will create homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers by leveraging the receivership process to acquire and rehabilitate single-family homes or properties for sale at affordable prices in pilot neighborhoods in Springfield. To qualify for the applicant lottery, prospective homebuyers must have either attended a first-time-homebuyer seminar with Way Finders or another certified organization and secured mortgage funding with MassHousing or a private lender. By focusing on Springfield’s North End and Mason Square neighborhoods, where 75% or more of the residents are Black or Hispanic and 50% or more live below the poverty line, the project will provide much-needed access to homeownership opportunities traditionally unavailable to many residents in these communities. Since 2018, the MassMutual Foundation has supported Way Finders’ financial-capability programming, which lays the groundwork for homeownership with financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops. Through the COH pilot program, Way Finders will be able to help Springfield residents turn this education into action as they become first-time homebuyers. In 2022, Way Finders programs impacted the lives of more than 46,000 people through services including homelessness and foreclosure prevention, financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops, and small-business loans.

 

 

MassDevelopment, PeoplesBank Complete Financing Package for New Girls Inc. Facility

HOLYOKE — The new Girls Inc. of the Valley headquarters and program center is one big step closer to reality thanks to a new financing package developed by MassDevelopment and PeoplesBank. Girls Inc. recently announced the closing of financing on a $2,275,000 MassDevelopment revenue bond for the new program center in Holyoke. PeoplesBank was the purchaser of the bond, continuing the bank’s longtime support of Girls Inc. of the Valley. MassDevelopment enhanced the bond with a $455,000 mortgage insurance guarantee. The newly renovated, 16,000-square foot facility will allow the organization to consolidate its programs at one location. It will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, a library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices. “We are thrilled to be able to continue our support of Girls Inc. of the Valley and be a part of this exciting project,” said Vicky Crouse, senior vice president, Commercial Banking at PeoplesBank. “Their mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold by providing them the opportunity to develop and achieve their full potential is one that we embrace as well.” Dan Rivera, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, noted that “Girls Inc. has a proven track record of supporting girls in all their academic and social endeavors, while also empowering them to unlock the best version of themselves. We are pleased to partner with PeoplesBank to help this nonprofit purchase a new building in Holyoke to call home.”

 

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures Awards Grant to Gould Farm

GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) awarded Gould Farm a resilience grant of $5,000 to complete construction of a new hoop house that will enable the farm to extend its growing season. This grant was awarded in conjunction with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Services. Gould Farm will use this hoop house (also known as a ‘high tunnel system’) to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, and frost, and increase spring and fall crop production in an environmentally safe manner. Gould Farm produces crops as part of its mental-health programming, through which clients grow, cook, and consume vegetables from the farm. During the growing season, Gould Farm also supplies the multicultural BRIDGE food pantry. With the hoop-house addition, Gould Farm will be able to increase the amount and availability of fresh produce for the farm and pantry.

 

Rocky’s Raises Nearly $26,000 to Support Children’s Hospitals

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers with 47 locations in nine states, kicked off the season of giving in November with its semi-annual Round Up for Kids fundraiser, raising a grand total of $25,908 across all participating locations. Customers were asked to round up their purchase total to the next dollar, and the difference was donated to Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals. This was the third Round Up for Kids fundraiser Rocky’s has held this year, with 100% of the money raised going to benefit local CMN hospitals, including Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield. Participating Rocky’s locations included the Island Pond Road and Liberty Street stores in Springfield and the stores in Agawam, East Longmeadow, Westfield, Ludlow, Palmer, and South Hadley. Since 1983, CMN hospitals have helped fill funding gaps by raising more than $7 billion. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.

 

 

Country Bank Supports Nonprofits During ‘Season of Difference’

WARE — Children, seniors, and those who are most in need got a lot of care this holiday season from Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass. The bank’s 210 team members gathered on Dec. 14 to write holiday greetings, wrap gifts, and pack homeless care bags in a show of support for the numerous nonprofits that serve the region. During the bank’s Season of Difference Campaign event, team members (also called Difference Makers) wrapped gifts for 400 children at the Worcester and Springfield YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs and the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club, along with 300 gifts for local nursing homes, including Quaboag Rehabilitation Center & Skilled Care and Brookhaven Assisted Care in West Brookfield, as well as Life Care Center in Wilbraham. They also packed 300 homeless care bags, which were delivered to Friends of the Homeless in Springfield and St. John’s Food for the Poor Program in Worcester. Team members volunteered at other local nonprofits, including the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Juniper Outreach, Wreaths Across America, Friends of the Homeless dinner service, St. John’s Food for the Poor breakfast service, and local senior-center holiday celebrations, as well as ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in Ware and Belchertown. Country Bank also announced donations to 21 senior centers throughout the region. A total of $42,000 in donations were made to local senior centers. These donations are made without restriction for those necessary items that may not be met within annual budgets. In addition to its annual monetary support, Country Bank also sends teams of its Difference Makers to volunteer at local senior centers on a monthly basis.

Agenda

Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 10: BusinessWest is now accepting nominations for its Difference Makers class of 2023. This program, initiated in 2009, is a celebration of individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. As previous classes have shown, there are many ways to do this: through work within the community on one or many initiatives to improve quality of life; through success in business, public service, or education; through contributions that inspire others to get involved; through imaginative efforts to help solve one or more societal issues; or through a combination of the above. Nominations for the class of 2023 are due by Saturday, Dec. 10, and can be submitted at businesswest.com/difference-makers-nomination-form. For more information, call Melissa Hallock, Marketing and Events director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or email [email protected].

 

LumiNAMA Holiday Lights

Nov. 23 to Jan. 1: The North Adams Chamber of Commerce announced the first citywide LumiNAMA holiday lights initiative. LumiNAMA is intended to brighten up the city, give residents and visitors a memorable experience, and encourage foot traffic during the holiday season. All businesses, not just downtown businesses, in North Adams are encouraged to create a window display and illuminate their windows with holiday lights from 4 to 8 p.m. daily, coinciding with the city’s tree-lighting ceremony on the evening of Nov. 23. The LumiNAMA downtown holiday lights route will run along Marshall, Holden, Main, and Eagle streets, and Route 2 between Big Y and behind 85 Main St. Many downtown businesses have already committed to participating in the initiative, including MASS MoCA, MCLA, and Gallery 51. The city of North Adams will also assist in installing lights along Route 2. Additionally, the chamber is connecting commercial real-estate owners with local artists and community groups to activate unoccupied storefronts. Businesses interested in participating in LumiNAMA are encouraged to register their display by Nov. 18 at nachamber.org/luminama. Those who register will be considered for the following awards: Brightest Lights, Best Window Display, and Best Art Installation. Voting begins on Nov. 23 and ends on Dec. 14. Winners will be announced on Dec. 16.

 

Back to Business Career and Transfer Fair

Dec. 8: Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will host a Back to Business Career and Transfer Fair with area employers seeking to attract and retain employees. The event, which is free and open to students, alumni, and friends of STCC looking for their next career move, will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons (Building 19). The fair is an opportunity for businesses in the region to connect with STCC students, alumni, and friends who are searching for their next career move. Attendees also will have a chance to meet with representatives from four-year colleges and universities who can discuss transfer options. During an employer breakfast, the college will host a moderated panel of industry experts discussing the future of work. Conversations will include focus on how managers are responding to such topics as quiet quitting, hybrid/remote work requests, losing women in the workforce, and more. Participants can visit stcc.edu/backtobusiness to find more information, including a link to download the CareerFair Plus app and links to register.

 

Women of Impact Gala

Dec. 8: BusinessWest has long recognized the contributions of women within the business community and created the Women of Impact awards in 2018 to further honor women who have the authority and power to move the needle in their business, are respected for accomplishments within their industries, give back to the community, and are sought out as respected advisors and mentors within their field of influence. The class of 2022 features Latoya Bosworth, program officer at Mass Humanities; Sr. Mary Caritas of the Sisters of Providence; Jodi Falk, executive director of Rachel’s Table; Anika Lopes, Amherst town councilor and president of Ancestral Bridges; Laurie Raymaakers, president of J.L. Raymaakers & Sons Inc.; Hilda Roqué, executive director of Nuestras Raíces Inc.; Ashley Sullivan, president of O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun; and Aelan Tierney, president of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Their stories are told in the Oct. 31 issue of BusinessWest and at BusinessWest.com. The fifth annual Women of Impact Gala will take place at the Sheraton Springfield, One Monarch Place. The livestream begins at 6:30 p.m. and is available at businesswest.com/womenofimpact. The event’s presenting sponsors are Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group, and the supporting sponsors are Comcast Business, Granite State Development Corp., and Smith Executive Education.

 

Light UP the Fairgrounds

Dec. 9-11: Light UP the Fairgrounds, Franklin County’s drive-through holiday light spectacular, will run through one more weekend. The Franklin County Fairgrounds is the site of this holiday tradition. For a minimum donation of $5 per car (cash only), visitors are invited to drive through the main gates of the fairground and witness the light extravaganza starting at 5 p.m., with the last car allowed into the fairgrounds at 8 p.m. Queueing for the event will be via Laurel Street to Fairview Street and will wrap around the fairgrounds to the main entrance.

 

 

‘A Holiday Musicale’

Dec. 11: MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, will present “MOSSO and Friends: A Holiday Musicale” at 4 p.m. at First Church of Christ, 763 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. The family-friendly concert showcases the talents of violinist Marsha Harbison, cellist Boris Kogan, pianist Sofya Shainskaya, and baritone John Thomas. The program features selections from Bach, Beethoven, Beach, Broadway, and holiday favorites.The full program will be announced from the stage. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased in advance by visiting www.eventbrite.com/e/mosso-and-friends-a-holiday-musicale-tickets-456534696567. Tickets may also be available at the door one hour prior to the performance.

 

 

Service Above Self Luncheon

Dec. 15: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Rotary Club of Springfield announced the honorees for the Westfield Bank 2022 Basketball Hall of Fame/Springfield Rotary Service Above Self Luncheon, which will take place at noon on Center Court of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The public is invited to attend. This year’s honorees are Judy Matt, president of the Spirit of Springfield, and the V Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by the late NCAA championship Coach Jim Valvano and ESPN. In addition to these two honorees, a Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Jack Toner, a third-generation Springfield business owner and Rotarian. Tickets to the luncheon cost $75. To purchase tickets, contact Jeremy Therrien at the Basketball Hall of Fame at (413) 231-5521 or [email protected]m.

Company Notebook

Freedom Credit Union Opens Loan Production Office in Enfield

ENFIELD, Conn. — Freedom Credit Union, with 10 branches throughout the Pioneer Valley, announced the opening of its first location in Connecticut at 115 Elm St., Unit 214, in Enfield. The office, which recently opened, is dedicated exclusively to mortgage and business lending for the time being. The mortgage loan originator, Jackson Findlay, will help guide members through mortgage loan options, prepare and submit mortgage loan applications, and work with prospective homebuyers throughout the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international business from Newbury College and an MBA from Elms College. John Santaniello, assistant vice president of Member Business Lending, will work with businesses that are seeking loans including term, Small Business Administration, commercial real estate, and commercial vehicle loans. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2020, Freedom expanded its charter from people who live, work, or attend school in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties to also include people in Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.

 

AIC Recognized in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been recognized as a top performer for social mobility in the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. AIC’s ranking tied for 69th, placing the college second in Massachusetts in the report’s National College category, behind only UMass Boston. Economically disadvantaged students are less likely to finish college, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, some institutions, such as AIC, have shown an intentional commitment to increase access to education, and as a result are showing progress in advancing social mobility. This is done in part by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students who have been awarded federal Pell Grants as part of their financial-aid packages. Most of these federal grants are awarded to students whose adjusted gross family incomes are under $50,000. Of the 1,168 undergraduate students enrolled at AIC for the fall 2022 semester, nearly half received a Pell Grant. The overall rankings from U.S. News & World Report assess more than 1,800 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 metrics and place the largest emphasis on a college’s retention and graduation rates.

 

Smith College Campus Center to be Named for Julia Child

NORTHAMPTON — The trustees of Smith College unanimously voted to name the college’s Campus Center in honor of Julia McWilliams Child, who graduated from Smith in 1934. The 60,000-square-foot Campus Center, which serves as the heart of student life on campus, was partially funded by proceeds from the 2002 sale of Child’s home in Cambridge, which the famed chef donated to the college. It includes flexible meeting spaces, the Campus Center Café, and areas for studying and socializing. Since 2004, Smith has celebrated Child’s legacy on Julia Child Day, a tradition held each year on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. On Nov. 17, the dining halls and the Campus Center Café served many of her famous recipes, like coq au vin, fruit crêpes and French onion soup.

 

Breeze Airways Adds Flights at Bradley International Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Breeze Airways is once again growing its presence at Bradley International Airport and will be launching new nonstop service to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., in February. In the new year, the airline will also return nonstop service to Pittsburgh and introduce one-stop/no-plane-change ‘BreezeThru’ service to New Orleans. From Bradley, Breeze currently offers non-stop service to Charleston, S.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Nashville, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga. In 2023, the airline will also be introducing nonstop service to Phoenix and Vero Beach, Fla. Bradley International Airport is a national base for Breeze Airways.

 

Women’s Foundation of Boston Awards $25,000 to Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass.

BOSTON — Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) announced that it received a $25,000 Catalyst Grant from the Women’s Foundation of Boston. The grant will fund new donor technology software. GSCWM is one of 11 nonprofits that exclusively serves women and girls awarded the supplemental Catalyst Grant. According to Christina Gordon, co-founder and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Boston, “this supplemental alternative grant offering allows us to deepen our impact and support a greater number of effective women- and girl-serving nonprofits. As with our annual multi-year grants, the rigorous process for choosing recipients of our Catalyst Grants is based on mission alignment and proven outcomes.” The grant will fund new technology software to improve fundraising efficiency, donor engagement, and volunteer awareness.

 

EDM Designing New Net-zero Fire Station for Williamstown

PITTSFIELD — EDM, an integrated architecture and engineering firm with offices in Pittsfield; Unionville, Conn.; and Troy, N.Y., in partnership with Mitchell Associates Architects, recently provided programming and schematic design for a new net-zero fire station in Williamstown. The station will be an example of sustainable design for public-safety buildings and will comply with the strictest requirements of the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Carbon Certification. This requires no burning of fossil fuels on site, 100% of energy to be created by renewable energy sources, and the achievement of a 10% reduction in the building’s embodied carbon. The new facility will be located at the corner of Main Street and Linear Park Drive and will feature state-of-the-art firematic design strategies. The current design is approximately 28,000 square feet and is set to have six bays with a two-story administration/training/bunk wing. The design will utilize innovative systems and materials such as an all-electric variable refrigerant flow HVAC system, building and ground-mounted photovoltaic panels, low-carbon concrete masonry units, 100% recycled brick, triple-glazed windows, high-recycled-content steel structure, and timber construction where allowed, to name a few strategies. The project is currently awaiting funding approval from Williamstown residents, with an official vote set to be held on Feb. 28, 2023.

 

Earthbound Trading Company Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Earthbound Trading Company, a bohemian lifestyle brand, opened a 3,465-square-foot space on Nov. 15 on the upper level of Holyoke Mall near Macy’s. The company features gifts and fashion for hippies at heart. Earthbound offers a full range of home décor, meditation essentials, textiles, stones, accessories, clothing, and more. From humble beginnings in 1994 as a rock and mineral shop, Earthbound Trading now has 146 locations throughout the U.S.

 

Big Y Joins Massachusetts’ SNAP Online Purchasing Program

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced that Massachusetts residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can now use their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) SNAP benefits to buy groceries online from Big Y. Big Y is the latest retailer in the Commonwealth to accept EBT SNAP online. It joins Amazon, BJ’s, Daily Table, Geissler’s Supermarket, Shaw’s, Star Market, Stop & Shop, and Walmart, as well as Aldi, Brothers Marketplace, Hannaford, McKinnon’s Supermarkets, Price Chopper, Price Rite Marketplace, Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms, and Wegmans via Instacart. Across all eligible retailers, Massachusetts residents have spent more than $240 million in SNAP benefits to date, buying groceries online from eligible retailers. Big Y customers can now use their SNAP benefits when purchasing their groceries online through the Instacart marketplace. Shoppers must enter their EBT card as the form of payment on their Instacart account and select items from the list of EBT SNAP-eligible products as part of their Big Y order. Similar to using SNAP benefits to purchase food in a store, benefits can be used to buy SNAP-eligible foods online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy, and eggs. For more information on using SNAP benefits via Instacart, visit www.instacart.com/ebt-snap.

 

Canna Provisions, Aruna to Offer Sun-grown Indoor Cannabis in Lee

LEE — Canna Provisions, a Lee-based, woman-owned, award-winning cannabis dispensary, announced it has entered into a product partnership with Aruna, the first legal cannabis-cultivation facility to launch operations in Lee. Aruna, located at 845 Pleasant St. in Lee, is a Desi-owned minority legal cannabis-cultivation business boasting a state-of-the-art, fully sealed greenhouse facility creating sun-grown indoor cannabis. Typically the choice is either to grow indoors for the controlled environment, or grow outdoors for greater sustainability while risking various contaminant risks. Harsh Patel, Aruna CEO, said the company’s approach, to do both, is the most difficult. He explained that the ability to harness the key strengths of both indoor and outdoor methods of cultivation means the aesthetics and plant expression from natural sun growth and the tight-knit controls of an indoor facility yields something fresh for the market that’s also focused on sustainability and avoiding various issues that plague outdoor and hybrid greenhouse grows. Aruna has just under 10,000 square feet of canopy in a building just under 20,000 square feet. Canna Provisions is headquartered in 300 yards off the Lee exit on the Mass Pike, and also has a retail store in downtown Holyoke. Canna Provisions cultivation is located in Sheffield.

 

Burkhart Pizzanelli Delivers Coats to 200 Square One Children

SPRINGFIELD — The team at Burkhart Pizzanelli, a regional certified public accounting firm located in West Springfield, is doing its part to spread warmth to 200 children in need of winter coats this season. The local accounting firm organized a campaign through Operation Warm to purchase the new coats for children served by Square One. The coats were distributed by Square One staff and employees of Burkhart Pizzanelli on Nov. 14 at Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center in Springfield. Operation Warm is a national organization that provides brand-new winter coats to children in need, helping to improve self-confidence, peer acceptance, school attendance, and overall wellness. Funding support comes from businesses and individuals within the communities they serve.

Company Notebook

HCC Named One of State’s Top Women-led Businesses

HOLYOKE — For the second year in a row, Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named one of the top women-led businesses in Massachusetts by Boston Globe Magazine and the Women’s Edge, formerly the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports top female executives. Taken together, the 100 companies on the list represent a total revenue and operating budget of $75.9 billion. HCC and its president, Christina Royal, were ranked 61st. The full list was published Oct. 30 in the annual “Women & Power” edition of the magazine. Royal was also one of 11 executives from the list featured in a separate article, “‘Resist the Temptation to Fit the Mold: Eleven Leaders Share Insights on Cultivating Diverse, Dynamic Teams in Challenging Times.” Royal has been the president of HCC since January 2017. She is the fourth president in HCC’s 75-year history and the first woman to hold that office. In August, she announced that she will retire from HCC after the 2022-23 academic year. Also making the Top 100 list at number 59 was 1983 HCC alumna and Westfield native Linda Markham, president of Cape Air and Nantucket Airlines, based in Hyannis.

 

UMass Amherst Named a Bike Friendly University

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has been designated as a Bike Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists, a grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike. UMass Amherst is one of only eight universities in Massachusetts to receive the commendation for providing safe, accessible biking on campus. Providing bike-friendly accommodations is a vital part of the university’s Sustainable UMass initiative. In recent years, four-foot-wide bicycle lanes have been constructed on the primary campus roadways of Massachusetts Avenue, North Pleasant Street, and Commonwealth Avenue to promote safe bike travel. In 2016, the university expanded its bike access for students, faculty, and staff by becoming a founding member of ValleyBike Share, and six bike-share stations are now spread across campus to allow students, faculty, and staff to easily rent and return bikes. The UMass Bicycle Commuter Program coordinates the Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee to help the university prioritize bike-related goals on campus, and the UMass Amherst Bike Library rental program, operated by the Student Government Assoc. and the Physical Plant, lets students, faculty, and staff borrow bikes for free, for as long as an entire academic year. UMass joins Harvard, MIT, UMass Lowell, Bentley University, Tufts University, and Boston University’s Charles River and medical-school campuses as Bike Friendly Universities. Since the program launched in 2011, such designations have been certified at 222 U.S. colleges and universities in 47 states.

 

V-One Earns Top Honors at Warsaw Spirits Competition

HADLEY — From its distillery in Kamien, Poland and its headquarters in Hadley, Valley Vodka Inc. recently announced that its original V-One Vodka earned its third Double Gold medal at the Warsaw Spirits Competition in Poland. The Warsaw Spirits Competition is in its fifth year, and this was the third time V-One has competed. This year, the number of entries and producers was record-breaking, with hundreds of alcoholic beverages from more than 32 countries. In the most competitive category, unflavored vodka (in the wheat/spelt/barley category), V-One earned the Double Gold with a score of 93.14.

 

Bulkley Richardson Named Best Law Firm in 12 Areas

Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, ranked Bulkley Richardson as 2023’s Best Law Firm in the Springfield region in the following 12 practice areas: banking and finance law, bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, business organizations (including LLCs and partnerships), commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense – general practice, criminal defense – white collar, litigation – labor and employment, medical-malpractice law – defendants, personal-injury litigation – defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer included in the year’s list of Best Lawyers. Bulkley Richardson had 16 lawyers included on the 2023 Best Lawyers list, and two of the firm’s partners, Mark Cress and John Pucci, were named 2023 Springfield-area Lawyers of the Year. Rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field.

 

GCAi’s Video for Harvard Tours Middle East

SPRINGFIELD — Harvard Graduate School of Education tapped GCAi’s New England Corporate Video (NECV) division over the summer to produce a series of videos (click here to view) on the Middle East Professional Learning Initiative (MEPLI). MEPLI aims to develop the capacity of teachers in the region. The fellowship is job-embedded and lasts for one year, providing scholarships for professional-education courses (online and/or residential) and support for incorporating learning into existing work. Fellows receive a certificate in professional education upon successful completion of the program. The NECV-produced videos, now being shown at presentations on the program in the Middle East, were shot on campus at Harvard University and produced at NECV’s edit suite in Springfield. Three separate videos were produced, including English, English and Arabic, and all-Arabic language versions. Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP3aBOEQqz0 to view the videos.

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Agenda

Fall Workshop Series to Support Small Businesses

Nov. 7, 14, 21: The North Adams Chamber of Commerce (NAC) will host a series of fall workshops to assist small businesses in the Northern Berkshires. In November, the NAC will start a technology-makeover series that will dive into online commerce, effective software options, and digital marketing. Each class costs $15 to attend, or $30 for all three. The Monday sessions run from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be held in the NAC office at 85 Main St., Suite 200A, North Adams. The sessions include “Get Organized: Digital Management Tools for Workflow Efficiency,” Nov. 7; “Get Found: Digital Marketing Basics to Get Your Business Found,” Nov. 14; and “Get Social: Social Media Marketing Strategies and Content Planning,” Nov. 21. This workshop series is the result of two years of recognizing the technology needs of local businesses through the chamber’s Business Assistance program. In 2019, the organization received grant funding through the Franklin County CDC to launch this one-on-one consulting program and has since helped the business community grow and maintain jobs, get access to legal and financial help, and grow their social-media presence. After an event the NAC hosted in June called “Reimagine the Chamber,” two dozen business owners expressed their everyday challenges. Many of those challenges were related to implementing technology to run their businesses more efficiently and learn how to use digital marketing tools more effectively. All businesses throughout Northern Berkshire County interested in improving their digital marketing or learning how to make their business more efficient using the latest tech tools are encouraged to attend one or all of the upcoming workshops. Learn more about the workshops and register at nachamber.org.

 

Free Line-cook Training Course

Nov. 8 to Dec. 16: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will be running a free, six-week line-cook training course. The course runs Tuesdays to Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at 164 Race St. in Holyoke. The program is designed for those already in the restaurant industry who want to upgrade their skills as well as unemployed or underemployed individuals interested in starting a new career. The program is taught both online and in person at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. Participants will learn all the essential competencies they need to become successful line cooks: knife skills; how to prepare stocks, soups, sauces, desserts, poultry, fish, and meat; culinary math and measurements; moist and dry-heat cooking methods; as well as workplace soft skills, such as building a résumé and searching for jobs. Offered as part of HCC’s Business & Workforce Development division, the line-cook course is free to qualifying applicants. For more information, contact Laura Smith, HCC job-placement assistant and career-development counselor, at [email protected] or (413) 552-2833, or fill out the inquiry form at hcc.edu/job-ready.

 

A+ Awards

Nov. 17: The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will present its 2022 A+ Awards from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the UMass Student Ballroom at UMass Amherst, with returning presenting sponsor Peoples Bank and major supporting sponsor UMass Amherst. Each year, the Amherst Area Chamber bestows A+ Awards to individuals and organizations that enrich the life of the community through their work in business, education, and civic engagement across the area that the chamber serves: Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Sunderland, and the Pioneer Valley as a whole. This year’s awardees include United Way Franklin & Hampshire Region (Legacy Award), Angelina Ramirez , CEO of Stavros Center for Independent Living (Lifetime Achievement Award), Joshua Rousseau, CEO of Amherst Intelligent Security (Leader in Innovation Award), Taylor Robbins of UMassFive College Federal Credit Union (Young Professional Award), Sean Barry of Four Seasons Wines & Liquors (Community Service Award), and Kyle Dumas of Greenfield Savings Bank (Chamber MVP Award). The chamber will also honor its 2022 Cooley Dickinson Health Care & Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce $1,000 Scholarship Award recipients — four deserving seniors from Amherst Regional High School, Hopkins Academy, Belchertown High School, and Frontier Regional School pursuing business- and/or healthcare-related studies at an institution of higher education. Tickets to the A+ Awards event cost $90 per person and $700 for a table of eight, and registration is open at amherstarea.com.

 

LumiNAMA Holiday Lights

Nov. 23 to Jan. 1: The North Adams Chamber of Commerce announced the first citywide LumiNAMA holiday lights initiative. LumiNAMA is intended to brighten up the city, give residents and visitors a memorable experience, and encourage foot traffic during the holiday season. All businesses, not just downtown businesses, in North Adams are encouraged to create a window display and illuminate their windows with holiday lights from 4 to 8 p.m. daily, coinciding with the city’s tree-lighting ceremony on the evening of Nov. 23. The LumiNAMA downtown holiday lights route will run along Marshall, Holden, Main, and Eagle streets, and Route 2 between Big Y and behind 85 Main St. Many downtown businesses have already committed to participating in the initiative, including MASS MoCA, MCLA, and Gallery 51. The city of North Adams will also assist in installing lights along Route 2. Additionally, the chamber is connecting commercial real-estate owners with local artists and community groups to activate unoccupied storefronts. Businesses interested in participating in LumiNAMA are encouraged to register their display by Nov. 18 at nachamber.org/luminama. Those who register will be considered for the following awards: Brightest Lights, Best Window Display, and Best Art Installation. Voting begins on Nov. 23 and ends on Dec. 14. Winners will be announced on Dec. 16.

 

Women of Impact Gala

Dec. 8: BusinessWest has long recognized the contributions of women within the business community and created the Women of Impact awards in 2018 to further honor women who have the authority and power to move the needle in their business, are respected for accomplishments within their industries, give back to the community, and are sought out as respected advisors and mentors within their field of influence. The class of 2022 features Latoya Bosworth, program officer at Mass Humanities; Sr. Mary Caritas of the Sisters of Providence; Jodi Falk, executive director of Rachel’s Table; Anika Lopes, Amherst town councilor and president of Ancestral Bridges; Laurie Raymaakers, president of J.L. Raymaakers & Sons Inc.; Hilda Roqué, executive director of Nuestras Raíces Inc.; Ashley Sullivan, president of O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun; and Aelan Tierney, president of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Their stories are told in the Oct. 31 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. The fifth annual Women of Impact Gala will take place at the Sheraton Springfield, One Monarch Place. Tickets cost $85 per person, and tables of 10 are available. Visit businesswest.com/blog/women-of-impact-event-tickets to purchase tickets. The event’s presenting sponsors are Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group, and the supporting sponsors are Comcast Business, Granite State Development Corp., and Smith Executive Education.

Company Notebook

Collins Electric Wins Project Excellence Award in Education

CHICOPEE — Collins Electric Co. Inc., an electrical contractor based in Chicopee, was recently recognized by the National Electrical Contractors Assoc. with a NECA Project Excellence Award in Education in the over $1 million category for Smith College Neilson Library. NECA established the Project Excellence Award to showcase the exceptional work that its members perform throughout the country. Collins Electric was recognized along with this year’s other winners during NECA’s 2022 convention in Austin, Texas on Oct. 17. The renovation gutted the historic building with a new focus on the future. Additions to the library in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s were demolished along with the entire interior of the original 1909 library. The front and rear brick brownstone façades were the only remaining parts. The project involved 150,000 square feet with 5,000 LED, energy-efficient light fixtures; glass skylights; dimming; and windo- shade controls to deliver the best-quality energy-efficient lighting possible. Strict attention was paid to controlling temperature and humidity, as well as tight security, for the library’s rare-books collection.

 

Breeze Airways to Expand Flights at Bradley in 2023

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Breeze Airways is launching four new destinations from Bradley International Airport, including non-stop service to Vero Beach, Fla., and Phoenix, Ariz., starting from $79 and $99 one-way, respectively; and one-stop/no-plane-change ‘BreezeThru’ flights to Provo, Utah, and San Bernardino, Calif, starting from $99. The new routes will operate on an A220 aircraft as follows: Vero Beach daily, starting Feb 2; Phoenix and Provo Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 9; and San Bernardino Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 16. “Partnering with Breeze on their expansion has been transformative for Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, Connecticut Airport Authority’s executive director. “Their national growth, ongoing innovation, and expanding local network offer our passengers more opportunities to travel conveniently and affordably. We thank Breeze for their partnership in bringing these exciting new routes to this key market and for their continued commitment to our community.”

 

bankESB Supports Food Pantries with Annual Fundraising Drive

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced the kickoff of the bank’s 2022 Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. This marks the second year of the bank’s annual appeal, inviting bank customers, employees, and members of the community to donate money toward food pantries throughout the month of November. All donations (up to $2,500 per customer) will be matched dollar for dollar by bankESB, and the total raised will be divided among participating food pantries across Western Mass. in communities the bank serves. In 2021, a total of more than $39,000 was raised, which equated to $3,000 for each participating pantry. Donations of any amount are encouraged, and as an added incentive to give, the bank will offer those who donate the opportunity to win a $25 gift card at each of its locations. Those who wish to participate have until Nov. 30 to make their donations. Checks should be made payable to “bankESB Neighbors” and can be dropped off at any bankESB branch or mailed to Margaret Prendergast, bankESB, 36 Main St., Easthampton, MA 01027. The food pantries to be supported include Amherst Survival Center Food Pantry; Best Life Food Ministry, Agawam; BUCC Helping Hands Cupboard Food Pantry, Belchertown; Chicopee Cupboard; Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry; Easthampton Congregational Church Food Cupboard & Oasis Kitchen; Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hatfield; Hadley Food Pantry; Hilltown Food Pantry, Goshen; Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke; Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., South Hadley; Northampton Survival Center; Southampton Community Cupboard; and Westfield Food Pantry.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $48,600 in Year’s Third Grant Round

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $48,600 to 16 Berkshire-area organizations in its third round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,600 to support local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences and Food Security Grants for organizations with programs focused on providing food to community members in need. The following organizations received funding from Lee Bank Foundation: Berkshire Innovation Center, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Center for Peace Through Culture, Chabad of the Berkshires, CDCSB, the Christian Center, Dalton CRA, EforAll, Good Work Institute (Alliance for a Viable Future), Housatonic Heritage (the Mastheads), Lee Historical Society, Life Needs Co-Op (Stanton Home), the People’s Pantry, Second Street Second Chances, Volunteers in Medicine, and WAM Theatre. Lee Bank Foundation was established in 2021 to support Lee Bank’s long-standing mission of community reinvestment. In its first year, 2021, the foundation awarded a total of $228,610 in grants, and the bank contributed an additional $84,000 in sponsorships.

 

Berkshire Bank’s Foundation Supports 160 Nonprofits During Q3

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced more than $660,000 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the third quarter of 2022. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster community DEI-focused programs, support education and youth, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. These investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. “We are so pleased to support nonprofit organizations once again with philanthropy to sustain vital community services in all the regions that Berkshire Bank serves during challenging economic times,” said Lori Gazzillo Kiely, foundation director. “Since January 2022, the Berkshire Bank Foundation has provided nearly $2 million to support the needs of the community.”

 

 

JimBuddy’s Rec Shop Hosts Grand Opening

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grand opening of JimBuddy’s Rec Shop at 1269 Memorial Dr. with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 2. It officially opened to the public on Oct. 1. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is owned by Jim and Lisa Robinson, who opened JimBuddy’s Glass Gallery & Vape Shop next door at 1271 Memorial Dr. in 2015. When the space next door at 1269 became available in 2018 — the year cannabis was legalized by Massachusetts voters — the Robinsons rented the space with hopes to open a dispensary. JimBuddy’s received a special permit from the city of Chicopee in April 2021, making it the third recreational cannabis dispensary approved in the city. As a small family business, JimBuddy’s focus is offering quality products from small, local businesses in the cannabis industry like those based Florence, Whately, and Pittsfield. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is open to customers who are age 21+ with valid ID.

 

Girl Scouts Receive $10,000 from TD Charitable Foundation

HOLYOKE — The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts announced that it has received a $10,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation in support of On Your Own: Financial Literary for Girls. The grant will provide a free badge program to all Girl Scouts designed to empower them to control their financial futures. All participants complete age-appropriate activities to gain real-world money-management skills. Girl Scouts develop leadership skills and self-esteem as they build a greater understanding of becoming responsible consumers, creating and living by a budget, building and managing credit, increasing their income, and saving and investing for whatever’s next. With the support of contributors such as the TD Charitable Foundation, Girl Scouts is able to help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. On Your Own: Financial Literacy for Girls is available to all members in grades K through 12. Learn more and sign up to be a member at www.gscwm.org.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life. “We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Company Notebook

New Valley Bank & Trust Opens West Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — New Valley Bank & Trust cut the ribbon on its newest full-service branch at 333 Elm St., West Springfield, on Oct. 7. Joining the bank’s board chair, Frank Fitzgerald, was West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, state Sen. John Velis, and state Rep. Michael Finn. “Our customers and prospects have been asking us to open a branch on the west side of the Connecticut River for some time,” New Valley President Jeff Sullivan said. “We have recognized the need to increase the convenience of doing business with the bank, and we are proud to be able to offer our services in West Springfield. I spent 11 years of my career working on Elm Street, and many members of the New Valley team have had similar past experiences. We are thrilled to be back in the neighborhood with friendly, familiar faces. As a gesture of good will, the bank recently donated to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club, the first of many new community partnerships to come.”

 

Country Bank Pledges $10 Million to Support Affordable Housing

WARE — Country Bank has introduced a new affordable-housing program featuring no down payment for first-time homebuyers. The first-of-its-kind program will assist low- to moderate-income families in purchasing a home. Country Bank has pledged $10 million to the program to help make a difference for these first-time homebuyers. This program is designed to help those who need it most by offering 100% financing for single-family homes or condominiums and 95% financing for two-family properties, with no down payment. In addition, the bank will cover 100% of the private mortgage insurance (PMI) that traditionally adds to the monthly payment, saving the borrower hundreds of dollars each month. This feature also gives the borrower more purchasing power by not having to pay the cost of mortgage insurance. Certain restrictions and locations apply for this program. “Buying your first home can be very stressful, and not having the ability to save for a down payment prohibits many from purchasing a home, even when they can afford the monthly payment. Country Bank’s mortgage experts can assist those interested in learning more about the program or who may be ready to purchase a home. The no-down-payment, first-time homebuyer program is available until the $10 million commitment has been allocated. To learn more, visit www.countrybank.com/mortgages or a banking center, or call the Customer Care Center at (800) 322-8233.

 

Arts Integration Studio Opens

HOLYOKE — Priscilla Kane Hellweg announced the launch of a new consulting firm, the Arts Integration Studio. Hellweg, who retired in December 2021 after 40 years as the executive/artistic director of Enchanted Circle Theater in Holyoke, said the Arts Integration Studio is a creative makerspace designed to address critical needs in education, community health, and the environment. The studio incorporates creativity, the arts, and cultural engagement, and collaborates with others to promote positive outcomes and sustainable solutions to pressing educational and social concerns. This fall, the studio announced four partnerships: with Pittsfield Public Schools and Berkshire Educational Resources on comprehensive professional development in arts integration, open to all K-12 teachers and specialists in Berkshire county; with Mount Holyoke College and its Professional and Graduate Education Department on a graduate fellowship focused on producing research and publications on arts and learning; with the town of Longmeadow, Bay Path University, and Deza Studios to produce a public art exhibit that illuminates community-wide perspectives around climate despair, resilience, and action as the town embarks on updating its master municipal plan with a focus on equity and climate change; and with the Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community in Easthampton designed to support families with children who have experienced foster care. The Arts Integration Studio is also developing ARTS CORPS, a work/study/professional training program for college students and emerging teaching artists interested in the intersectionality of arts, education, social justice, and community well-being.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Celebrates Five Years

CHICOPEE — Mercedes-Benz of Springfield is celebrating five years since opening its doors on Oct. 16, 2017. Mercedes-Benz of Springfield’s early and sustained success continues to validate the brand’s decision to put a site in the Pioneer Valley, despite the 11-year hiatus in having a local Mercedes-Benz dealership. Since opening five years ago, the dealership has serviced 53,795 cars, conducted 68,000 car washes, sold and delivered more than 6,400 vehicles, partnered with more than 350 organizations, and increased its team from 30 employees on opening day to 55 today. It has been honored with two BusinessWest 40 Under Forty awards, three Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Awards, and an Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce A+ Award, and was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Reopens Agawam Store

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, celebrated the reopening of its Agawam location on Oct. 22. “This renovation has allowed us to expand options for our customers and offer a more well-rounded shopping experience,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “Aside from a complete indoor and outdoor remodel, we have added full fishing and Carhartt departments to the store, as well as expanded tool and grill departments. We are really excited to show off these renovations to our new and returning customers.”

 

Hometown Financial Group Welcomes Envision Bank

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group Inc., the multi-bank mutual holding company for bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank, has completed its acquisition of Randolph Bancorp Inc, the bank holding company for Envision Bank. Under the agreement, the acquired Envision Bank branches have been rebranded as Abington Bank. Abington Bank now has $1.4 billion in assets and 10 branches located throughout the South Shore and South Coast, adding offices in Braintree, Randolph, and two in Stoughton to its existing network of offices in Abington, Avon, Holbrook, Marion, and two in Cohasset. The transaction expands Hometown Financial Group’s market presence in Eastern Mass., bringing consolidated assets to $4.5 billion with 37 branches located throughout Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut. In addition, Envision Mortgage, with offices in Braintree, North Attleboro, and Westport, will join Hometown Financial Group within the newly formed Hometown Mortgage. This transaction is the sixth strategic merger for Hometown in the last seven years. In 2015, Hometown acquired Citizens National Bancorp. Inc., based in Putnam, Connecticut, then merged with Hometown Community Bancorp. MHC, the holding company for Hometown Bank, in 2016. It then acquired Pilgrim Bancshares Inc. and Abington Bank in 2019, and later that year acquired Millbury Savings Bank.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life.

“We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Chamber Corners

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 594-2101; chicopeechamber.org

 

Oct. 29: Chicopee Thriller 5K Road Race & Walk. 10 a.m. registration, 11 a.m. start. Start and finish at Grise Funeral Home, 280 Springfield St., Chicopee. Wear your spookiest costume. Awards for best costume and fastest runners at the afterparty at Rumbleseat Bar and Grille. Half of all proceeds go to benefit Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry. Presented by N. Riley Construction. Cost: $35, which includes lunch, beverage ticket, and T-shirt. Registration coming soon at chicopeechamber.org. Sponsorships available now.

 

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 534-3376; holyokechamber.com

 

Oct. 12: Meet the Candidates, 5-8 p.m., hosted by Holyoke Country Club, 2 Country Club Road, Holyoke. Mingle and hear from Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia, the City Council, and officials who will be on the ballot for the November election. This is an informal opportunity to get your voice heard and make an informative vote this election season. Register at business.holyokechamber.com/events or by calling (413) 534-3376.

 

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 568-1618; westfieldbiz.org

 

Oct. 12: After 5 Connections, 5-7 p.m., hosted by East Mountain Country Club, 1458 East Mountain Road, Westfield. Join us for our Octoberfest-themed After 5 networking event. Cost: free to chamber members, $5 for non-members. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

Oct. 21: Legislative Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Tucker’s Restaurant, 625 College Highway, Southwick. Don’t miss this opportunity for your voice to be heard on issues that impact your business, whether it’s employment taxes, east-west rail, healthcare and energy costs, or other issues. Cost: $45 for chamber members, $55 for the general public. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

Oct. 27: Morning Brew, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club, 866 Shaker Road, Westfield. Introduce your business to the group and take advantage of this networking opportunity. Cost: free. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

(413) 787-1555; www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

 

Oct. 12: Rise & Shine Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by MGM Springfield. As they celebrate a decade of commitment to the chamber and investing in Greater Springfield, executives from MGM Springfield will speak at the first Springfield Regional Chamber Rise & Shine Business Breakfast of the 2022-23! The breakfast begins with networking at 7:30 a.m. Arlen Carballo, MGM Springfield’s executive director of Finance, and Beth Ward, director of Community Affairs, will address the transformative economic impact the casino continues to have on the region following the pandemic, the recent passage of sports betting that will lead to the opening of the new MGM Sports Lounge, upcoming entertainment, and more. Cost: $30 for members ($35 at the door), $40 general admission ($45 at the door).

 

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 426-3880; www.ourwrc.com

 

Oct. 19: Food Fest West, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern/Carriage House, West Springfield. Local restaurants will show off their cuisine at this popular event. Vote for your favorite restaurant. A raffle, silent auction, and entertainment will round out this event. Proceeds raised by Food Fest West will go toward the WRC Educational Fund, which provides grants to businesses for on-the-job training and continuing-education needs. To purchase tickets and sponsorships, visit www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Breaks Ground on New Computer Sciences Building

AMHERST — UMass Amherst and state officials broke ground on Thursday for the new, $125 million Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences building, designed to respond to enormous growth in the college’s enrollment over the past five years and provide talent to fuel business growth and research collaborations that benefit the entire Commonwealth. The new facility is substantially funded by a $75 million state capital commitment from the Baker-Polito administration. The building will expand facilities by creating approximately 90,000 gross square feet in new space devoted to the college’s community-building, research, and teaching missions. Speakers at the groundbreaking included UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, UMass President Marty Meehan, board of trustees Chair Robert Manning, trustees Steve Karam and Mary Burns, Provost Tricia Serio, Manning CICS Dean Laura Haas, and Distinguished Professor Prashant Shenoy.

 

The Big E Sets Single-day Attendance Records

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A total of 1,603,354 visitors attended the 2022 Big E in West Springfield. During the fair’s 17-day run, an all-time single-day attendance record was set when 177,789 visitors arrived on Saturday, Sept. 24. Five additional daily attendance records were also set. The event featured a diverse concert lineup of more than 80 individual performances, plenty of fair foods, rides, and unique shopping experiences. The tradition continues next fall from Sept. 15 through Oct. 1, 2023.

 

Whittlesey Named a 2022 Best of the Best Firm

HARTFORD, Conn. — Whittlesey, an accounting, advisory, and technology firm, has been named a Best of the Best Firm by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA), an award-winning newsletter for the public-accounting profession. It is one of only 50 firms in the nation to receive this accolade. IPA’s annual Best of the Best list ranks top accounting firms that have delivered superior financial and operational performance in the most recent fiscal year. The firms are selected from nearly 600 firms across the U.S. and Canada. Selections for the list are based on more than 50 metrics related to firm growth, productivity, staff development, and more. Along with being named a Best of the Best Firm, Whittlesey was also named a 2022 Top 200 Accounting Firm in the nation. There are more than 46,000 public accounting firms in the U.S.

 

Endowed Professorship Established to Honor UMass Amherst Chancellor

AMHERST — Massachusetts businessman and philanthropist Robert Epstein has made a commitment of $1.5 million to establish the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Professorship in UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. The gift honors Epstein’s friendship with UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and the chancellor’s decade of service to the university. The Epstein Endowed Professorship will help attract or retain an outstanding faculty member, with a preference for faculty in hospitality and tourism management, who will strengthen the academic excellence of the Isenberg School of Management and advance industry knowledge through research, scholarship, and inspired teaching. The fund will cover costs such as salary supplementation, education and travel expenses, graduate assistantships, research expenses, and support services for the faculty member’s program. Epstein, who earned a degree in marketing from the Isenberg School of Management in 1967, has been an ambassador for the university and an ardent supporter of Isenberg faculty and students. He has served as a member of the UMass Amherst Foundation board since 2010 and was appointed to the UMass board of trustees in 2015. In addition, he co-chaired UMass Rising, the largest fundraising campaign in UMass Amherst history; served as a guest lecturer at Isenberg; established the Robert L. Epstein Endowed Scholarship; and supported Isenberg’s Business Innovation Hub, among other university priorities. For years, Epstein has been a leader in the beverage and alcohol industry. As co-owner and president of the Horizon Beverage Group and former chairman of Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, he has worked with producers, unions, legislators, and more than 15,000 retail and restaurant customers. With his gift, he aims to enhance the reputation of UMass Amherst and Isenberg within the hospitality industry and provide the university with the resources it needs to retain world-class faculty to mold the next generation of industry leaders. The university hopes to appoint a faculty member to the Epstein Endowed Chair by July 1, 2025, when the fund will have been invested with the endowment for a full year.

 

UPS Stores Accepting Donations for JA of Western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) will be the recipient of donations made through the UPS Store’s “Start Small, Grow Big” initiative. Customers who shop at one of the UPS Store’s more than 5,100 locations will have the opportunity to donate to their local Junior Achievement chapter at checkout now through the end of the year. At UPS Stores here in Western Mass. and Vermont, donations will go directly to benefit JAWM’s efforts in the community. JAWM is dedicated to providing economic-education and financial-literacy programs to the youth of Western Mass. and Vermont, opening their minds to their potential and preparing them for life after graduation. The organizaion’s age‐appropriate, academically challenging programs are offered to local schools and community groups free of charge because of the financial support they receive from hundreds of local businesses, individuals, and foundations, in addition to special events.

 

Big Y’s Online Ordering Marks One Year of Growth

SPRINGFIELD — This fall marks the one-year anniversary for myPicks Online Ordering, Big Y’s e-commerce platform. In recent years, Big Y has seen an explosion of online ordering and an increased customer demand for another way to shop. These factors led Big Y to enter the e-commerce realm and launch its myPicks Online Ordering platform. The chain is continuing to gather valuable feedback from customers and is working hard to develop new ways to improve customers’ online experience. Recently, myPicks launched an upgraded website with improved functionality that will make possible services like home delivery powered by Instacart and the ability to accept payments via EBT and SNAP benefits. It has expanded pick-up windows to include same-day order and pick up, and continuew to expand its offerings of fresh and local products. Currently, Big Y offers myPicks in 11 store locations: Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow, South Hadley, West Springfield, Wilbraham, two in Springfield, and two in Westfield.

 

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass., announced that the Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The magazine annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities — a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and crisis. During this year’s celebration held on Sept. 8, 95 companies were honored for qualifying for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year, the honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 44th, employs 215 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. Staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering to a variety of nonprofits.

 

HCC Joins Pickleball Craze by Opening Seven Indoor Courts

HOLYOKE — The Bartley Center for Athletics & Recreation at Holyoke Community College (HCC) is now open five days a week for pickleball after the college recently installed seven indoor courts. Now, for a $5 per visit fee, any member of the general public can come to HCC to play what has been touted as the fastest-growing sport in America. The pickleball courts at the Bartley Center are available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Courts cannot be reserved in advance but instead are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no fee for HCC students and other Bartley Center members. Pickleball, which is like a hybrid of tennis, table tennis, and badminton, became possible at HCC after the floor in the Bartley Center gym was redone over the summer. Inserts for existing indoor tennis nets were removed, and inserts for pickleball nets were installed along with permanent pickleball court lines.

 

Yankee Mattress Factory Raising Funds for American Cancer Society

AGAWAM — Yankee Mattress Factory, a manufacturer of handcrafted mattresses locally in its Agawam factory, with showrooms in Agawam, Springfield, Northampton, and Greenfield, is raising money to benefit the American Cancer Society now through Oct. 31. In the past three years, the wives of two employee-owners were diagnosed with breast cancer. Both women are now in remission, and in their honor, Yankee Mattress Factory has set a goal to raise $10,000 for cancer research and support for patients going through treatment in the Western Mass. region. Through Oct. 31, Yankee Mattress Factory will donate $25 for every Silver Collection mattress and $50 for every Gold or Black Collection mattress purchased at its four stores. The company is also accepting donations from customers; anyone who donates $20 or more will be entered into a raffle to win one of 10 Malpaca queen pillows valued at $240 each. A team from Yankee Mattress Factory will also participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, Oct. 16 in Hartford, Conn. Stores will be closed that day to allow all employee-owners and their families to participate. To learn more about the event or join the Yankee Mattress Factory team, visit yankeemattressfactory.com/acs.

 

PeoplesBank Named an Adoption-Friendly Workplace by Dave Thomas Foundation

HOLYOKE — More than 25 years ago, Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, began advocating for better adoption benefits in the workplace. Today, the Dave Thomas Foundation has continued his work through the Adoption-Friendly Workplace program, which recognizes organizations that strive to make adoption a supported option for every working parent. The foundation recently named PeoplesBank to the Adoption-Friendly Workplace 100 Best 2022 list (54th overall and eighth with 100 to 1,000 employees). As the only bank in Massachusetts and Connecticut to receive the honor, PeoplesBank joins other leading national corporations such as American Express, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Paramount, Yale University, Microsoft Corp., 3M Co., and Johnson & Johnson on the list. Along with a number of measures meant to ensure a family-friendly workplace, PeoplesBank provides a $5,000 grant to employees for each adoption.

 

Pure Life Soaps Hosts Grand Opening of New Store

WEST SPRINGFIELD — After handcrafting all-natural organic soaps from a workshop in her home and selling them online and at farmers’ markets, Kay Hernandez, owner of Pure Life Soaps, opened her first retail store at 80 Windsor St. in West Springfield, hosting a grand-opening celebration on Oct. 8. “We are excited to offer Western Massachusetts a soap shop offering quality, unique bath products that are free of chemicals and harmful ingredients and made with exotic and healing essential oils,” she said. Hernandez began making soaps after becoming ill from a hormone imbalance caused by chemicals in the commercial soaps she had been using. Some of Pure Life’s featured soaps include Oatmeal Scrub, Wildflower, Grapefruit Tea Tree, Moringa Mango, Turmeric Orange Oatmeal, Lavender Oatmeal, as well as unscented soaps. The Pure Life Soaps shop will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be found online at www.purelifeshop.co.

Company Notebook

Cisco’s Café to Open This Fall in the Mill District

AMHERST — Francisco Perez, owner of Amherst House of Pizza (AHOP) at Riverside Park, is opening a second restaurant in the Mill District in North Amherst this fall. Cisco’s Café will feature Latino and American breakfast and lunch. “We will have several types of breakfast burritos and sandwiches. Vegan and vegetarian options will be offered along with several meat and fish choices at breakfast and lunch,” said Perez, a native of El Salvador and 10-year owner of AHOP. The Mill District in North Amherst was created to invigorate community connections in the internet age, providing experiential retail, food, and fun for all ages. North Square is becoming a gourmet food corridor with Provisions (wine, beer, and fine foods) moving across the square and joining Futura Coffee Roasters and the Carefree Cakery, which are coming soon. Riverside Park recently welcomed Big Basket Market, an international grocery store. Seven thousand square feet of retail space remains available for lease in the Mill District. Other existing tenants include Balanced Birch Pilates, the Closet, GrazeCraze, the Mill District General Store and Local Art Gallery, the Lift Salon, Cowls Building Supply, and the Riverside Park Shops, including Amherst House of Pizza, Shine Laundry, and Big Guy Liquors.

 

U.S. News Ranks Bay Path Fourth for Social Mobility

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been ranked fourth in the 2022-23 Social Mobility category by U.S. News & World Report. Now in its 38th year, the rankings evaluate more than 1,450 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality. U.S. News publishes the Best Colleges rankings each year to provide prospective students and their families with helpful data and information on factors such as graduation rates, social mobility, and graduate indebtedness. The social-mobility rankings are calculated by assessing the six-year graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants compared with the graduation rate of other students. Those grant recipients generally come from households with annual incomes under $50,000. Bay Path has long been committed to fostering an environment that is supportive and inclusive, reflecting the diversity of its students. For the 2022 incoming fall class of traditional students, 50% were the first in their family to attend college, and 47% were diverse. The university offers numerous scholarship opportunities, as well as academic assistance and other supports, such as the ALLI program, which helps young women transition from high school to their first year as a university student, and an extensive peer-tutoring support system.

 

MCLA Earns Multiple Spots on U.S. News College Rankings

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) continued commitment to an excellent, affordable education is reflected in the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The college now ranks seventh on the list of Top Public Liberal Arts Colleges for the second year in a row, 33rd as a Top Performer on Social Mobility among national liberal-arts colleges, and first among all Massachusetts liberal-arts schools. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges. MCLA has appeared on U.S. News’ list of Top Public Colleges for 10 of the past 12 years. The college has also been acknowledged in the list of National Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Mobility since the organization adopted this ranking in 2019. This list measures how well institutions graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000, though most Pell Grant money goes to families with income below $20,000. Slightly more than 42% of MCLA undergraduate students receive Pell Grants, and 51.4% are the first in their families to go to college. Overall, 93.1% of students receive some kind of financial aid. U.S. News ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, its faculty, and its financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

 

bankESB Named Among State’s Most Charitable Companies

EASTHAMPTON — The Boston Business Journal has named bankESB an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The journal annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. Through its sponsorship and charitable giving program, the Giving Tree, bankESB and the Easthampton Savings Bank Charitable Foundation support nonprofit organizations and causes throughout Hampden and Hampshire counties. In 2021, the Giving Tree donated nearly $352,000 and over the past decade has donated more than $3.1 million. This year, 95 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities last year. The honorees this year include companies from such industry sectors as financial and professional services, healthcare, technology, retail, and professional sports.

 

PeoplesBank Named to List of Top Corporate Charitable Contributors

HOLYOKE — A record $1.3 million in contributions in 2021 marks a new level of charitable support for PeoplesBank, earning recognition from the Boston Business Journal and its Corporate Citizenship Awards for the 15th year in a row. With a focus on food insecurity, housing, and literacy, PeoplesBank announced record donations reaching $1,315,000 in 2021, with a total of close to $11 million donated since 2011. This marks a new level of contributions, making PeoplesBank the leading community bank for charitable donations in Western and Central Mass. The bank has doubled its donations in the last five years. Headquartered in Holyoke, PeoplesBank increased its donations across its whole market of Massachusetts and Connecticut to assist the customers and communities it serves. Meanwhile, PeoplesBank’s associates donate 10,000 volunteer hours per year, and 74 of them have served on 54 nonprofit boards.

 

Elms College Wins $1.5 Million Grant from National Science Foundation

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that it has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Through the six-year grant, “Growing STEM Student Success Through Scholarship and Community Building with Experiential Learning and Data Science,” Elms College will provide need-based scholarships to at least 40 high-achieving first-year and community-college transfer students who want to pursue careers in science, technology, and mathematics. The scholarship amount will be up to $10,000 per year. Scholarships will be available to community-college transfer students in the spring 2023 semester and to first-year Elms students beginning in the fall 2023 semester. In addition to scholarship funding, all STEM scholars will be provided community-engaged experiential learning activities and opportunities to build data-science skills in each year of their studies, culminating in an internship or research experience. For more information on the S-STEM scholarships at Elms and eligibility requirements, visit www.elms.edu/academics/nsmt/elmsstem.

 

Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember

WARE — Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass., recently supported the Ride to Remember, a 50-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters, with a $10,000 donation. This year’s ride, “The Tour of Western Massachusetts,” celebrated its 10th anniversary, honoring those who have died in the line of duty. “Country Bank’s support of this meaningful event is a great way for us to show our gratitude and support for all the frontline workers,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We deeply appreciate the work they do throughout our communities, and we know that it truly makes a difference to the people and businesses they serve.”

 

Gaming Commission Releases Gross Gaming Revenue for August

SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that the month of August at MGM Springfield, Plainridge Park Casino, and Encore Boston Harbor generated approximately $92 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). MGM Springfield generated $4,474,746.40 from table games and $17,518,085.09 from slots for a total of $21,992,831.49, generating $5,498,207.87 in taxes. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, category-1 resort casinos, are taxed on 25% of GGR; those monies are allocated to several specific state funds as determined by the gaming statute. Plainridge Park, a category-2 slots facility, is taxed on 49% of GGR. Of that total taxed amount, 82% is paid to local aid and 18% is allotted to the Race Horse Development Fund. To date, the Commonwealth has collected approximately $1.181 billion in total taxes and assessments from MGM, Plainridge Park, and Encore since the respective openings of each gaming facility.

Agenda

Second Installation of

‘Voices of Resilience’ Exhibit

Sept. 18 to Oct. 15: With a team of collaborators and scholars, the second installation of “Voices of Resilience: The Intersection of Women on the Move” will be presented by South Hadley’s Center Church. The opening event will be held Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. Taking an inclusive look at local and national women’s history while exploring the pursuit of a more complete narrative of American history, the exhibition celebrates the intersecting lives of women — and women of color — in Massachusetts and beyond who changed the course of history. The exhibit launched at the Springfield Museums during the pandemic. The new installation will open at Center Church and reflect on local history and political shifts in our culture. The exhibit is free and open to the public Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Wednesdays 4 to 7 p.m. Group visits at other times are available by appointment. “Voices of Resilience” showcases a range of voices from early Black feminists such as Barbara Smith to longtime columnist Barbara Bernard. The exhibit celebrates both spiritual and lay leaders, artists, musicians, and educators such as Amy Hughes, formerly of the MacDuffie School, as well as Lucie Lewis, who traces her story to the Salem witch trials. Many voices from Springfield, South Hadley, Amherst, and beyond are featured. To learn more about the exhibit, visit centerchurchsouthhadley.org/voices. For questions or to schedule a tour, call (413) 532-2262 or email [email protected].

 

United Way Day of Caring

Sept. 23: United Way of Pioneer Valley announced the 2022 Day of Caring. Anyone interested in local volunteer opportunities can visit volunteer.uwpv.org to register as a volunteer. Day of Caring opportunities will be posted as the details are finalized, and other opportunities year-round are hosted on this site as well. Agencies who are interested in hosting a Day of Caring location, or corporations interested in sponsorships and/or bringing a group of volunteers, can contact Jennifer Kinsman, director of Community Impact, at [email protected] or (413) 693-0212.

 

HCC Women’s Leadership Series

Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Dec. 21: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will begin its fall 2022 Women’s Leadership Series on Wednesday, Sept. 21 with presenter Trayce Whitfield, executive director of the Coalition for an Equitable Economy, leading a discussion titled “Leaning Into the Positive.” Whitfield will be followed in subsequent months by Michelle Lemoi, chief operating officer of Zora Builders in Newton (“How Claiming ‘I Don’t Know’ Opens Up Opportunities to Bolster Confidence”); Christina Royal, president of HCC (“Growth Mindset”); and Suzanne Blake, a career coach and consultant based in Medfield (“Ask for It and Get It”). All sessions run from noon to 1 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month over Zoom. During each session, participants will join prominent women leaders for discussions on relevant topics and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network to help navigate their own careers. The cost of each session is $25. The full four-session series can be purchased for $75. Email Lanre Ajayi, HCC’s executive director of Education & Corporate Learning, at [email protected] if pricing is an issue. Registration will open soon at hcc.edu/womens-leadership. Space is limited, so advance registration is required.

 

MOSSO Chamber Concert

Sept. 22: Bing Productions will present MOSSO’s “Mix and Match: A Chamber Music Medley” at 7 p.m. in Asbury Hall at Trinity United Methodist Church, 361 Sumner Ave., Springfield. This performance by the MOSSO Chamber Players features violinists Robert Lawrence and Miho Matsuno, violist Masako Yanagita, cellist Patricia Edens, double bassist Boots Maleson, clarinetist Christopher Cullen, horn player Robert Hoyle, and bassoonist Shotaro Mori. According to Lawrence, the program — including the music of Mozart, Brahms, Dvoák, and Schubert — will be family-friendly and last approximately 75 minutes. General-admission tickets, $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/mosso-chamber-ensemble-tickets-408920240447.

 

Free Shred Days

Sept. 24, Oct. 29: bankESB invites customers and members of the community to two free Shred Days at local offices. No appointment is necessary. Events will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the 253 Triangle St. office in Amherst, and on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the 241 Northampton St. office in Easthampton. Local residents can reduce their risk of identity theft by bringing old mail, receipts, statements or bills, canceled checks, pay stubs, medical records, or any other unwanted paper documents containing personal or confidential information and shredding them safely and securely for free. Valley Green Shredding, a professional document-destruction company, will be on site in the bank’s parking lot and can accept up to two boxes of documents per person.

 

World Affairs Council Talk

on Indo-Pacific Developments

Sept. 28: The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts will present its first Instant Issues brown bag lunchtime discussion of the 2022-23 program year at noon at 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield. Dennis Yasutomo, Esther Cloudman Dunn professor emeritus of Government at Smith College, will speak on “Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific: Evolution of a Eurasian Century?” A longtime member and friend of the Council, Yasutomo’s field of research is contemporary Japanese foreign policy, and he is the author of numerous books and articles on Japanese politics and diplomacy. He will look at the impact of the crisis in Ukraine on the emerging Euro-Asian geopolitical dynamics involving China, the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Europe’s enhanced involvement in the Indo-Pacific region. Advance registration is required at www.eventbrite.com/e/instant-issues-ukraine-and-the-indo-pacific-tickets-399638689077. No walk-ins will be allowed. Admission to the event is $5 for council members without a lunch provided, $20 with a box lunch. Non-members’ admission cost is $10 without a lunch and $25 with lunch.

 

Free Fall Community Shred Day

Oct. 15: Freedom Credit Union is again offering the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free Community Shred Day at two branches. Shredding will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. at 226 King St., Northampton, and from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at 74 Main St., Greenfield. The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for quick, secure on-site shredding. Credit union members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags per vehicle to the events. There is no charge for this service.

 

Asnuntuck 50th Anniversary Event

Oct. 18: Asnuntuck Community College’s 50th-anniversary celebration will take flight from 5 to 8 p.m. at Broad Brook Brewery at 915 South St. in Suffield. The Fifty and Flights event ticket of $50 will provide guests with a tasting flight of beer, bar bites, and live music, and include donations to the scholarship fund. Sam Chevalier and Acoustic Thunder will perform live music for the event. The evening will also include a drawing featuring gift baskets, specialty items, and gift cards. Proceeds from the event will benefit student scholarships and mini-grants for the college. Sponsorship and donation opportunities are available. Individuals and businesses are being asked to consider donating a prize for the drawing or making a financial commitment with a sponsorship, which includes tickets to the event and providing textbook vouchers or a scholarship to an Asnuntuck student. To learn more about the event and giving opportunities, contact Keith Madore, executive director of the Asnuntuck Foundation, at (860) 253-3041 or [email protected].

 

Healthcare Heroes

Oct. 27: BusinessWest and the Healthcare News will honor eight individuals and groups as Healthcare Heroes for 2022 at a celebration dinner at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke. The Healthcare Heroes class of 2022, profiled in this issue of BusinessWest, and the categories they represent are: Helen Caulton-Harris, director of Health and Human Services, city of Springfield (Lifetime Achievement); Mark Paglia, chief operating officer, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center (Administrator); Dr. Philip Glynn, director of Medical Oncology, Mercy Medical Center (Provider); Dr. Paul Pirraglia, division chief, General Medicine and Community Health, Baystate Health (Collaboration); ServiceNet’s Enrichment Center & Strive Clinic and its partners at Springfield College and UMass Amherst (Collaboration); the Addiction Consult Service at Holyoke Medical Center (Community Health); Dr. Sundeep Shukla, chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Baystate Noble Hospital (Emerging Leader); and the Elaine Marieb Center for Nursing and Engineering Innovation (Innovation). The Healthcare Heroes program is being sponsored by presenting sponsors Elms College and Baystate Health/Health New England, and partner sponsors Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center, American International College, and MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. Tickets cost $85 each, and tables of 10 or 12 are available. Visit businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes/healthcare-heroes-tickets to reserve a spot.

Company Notebook

Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store Change Hands

NORTHAMPTON — Richard ‘Rich’ Cooper, whose family built and nurtured the Cooper’s Corner and State Street Fruit Store markets, announced that he is selling the businesses to a dedicated, longtime employee who is committed to honoring the legacy. Cooper will retire this fall and sell the markets to Michael Natale, who has worked at State Street and Cooper’s since 2006 in various roles, steadily rising into management and most recently serving as general manager. His father, five siblings, a niece, and a nephew have also worked at the popular, hometown convenience stores. “Mike is a clone of me. He sees what I see. He knows what customer service really means, and he understands the importance of community,” Cooper said. “Mike has a great way with the employees and customers. He is enthusiastic, dedicated and has long-term commitment.” Cooper will work part-time alongside Natale for a few months after the sale as Natale takes over full ownership. “Mike is the ideal buyer. This choice feels right to me,” Cooper added. “It meets the obligation I feel toward employees and to the community to keep the stores locally owned and locally committed, the way we’ve been from day one. I didn’t want to sell to a chain or the highest bidder or someone from outside the community.” Between the two stores, there are 104 employees, most of whom live locally and work part time; roughly 40 work full time.

 

Hitchcock Center Receives Grant for SEEDS Program

AMHERST — The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst was recently awarded a $222,076 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) FY2022 Museums for America grant for its SEEDS (Schools Exploring Engineering, Design, and Sustainability) program in partnership with Springfield Public Schools. This grant requires a 1:1 match in funding and will rely upon community support to fully fund this new initiative. SEEDS is a new Hitchcock Center program that focuses on using an engineering design-challenge approach to build STEM capacity in third-grade classrooms in the Springfield school system. Project activities will include developing and implementing experiential learning in classrooms through school-based design challenges and creating professional training and mentoring support for each teacher participating in the program. The center will schedule field trips for participating classrooms to its certified Living Building, a net-zero energy facility that harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets, and was constructed with responsibly sourced, non-toxic materials. The project will enhance materials and curriculum for participating schools and encourage students and teachers to explore the intersections of engineering, technology, and design and their role in addressing environmental challenges that confront society. “The Springfield Public Schools are very happy to be able to partner with the Hitchcock Center, who will work with our teachers to get our kids excited and inspired about science and nature,” said Ronald St. Amand, director of Science for Springfield Public Schools, adding that SEEDS “will provide our students with opportunities to learn about STEM careers and to see themselves in STEM. Through the program, kids will come to understand that climate change is urgent, but that we are not powerless against it. Our students can be hopeful about and be part of climate-change solutions.” The mission of the Hitchcock Center is to educate and to inspire action for a healthy planet. Instead of simply teaching about climate change, the Hitchcock Center is helping people develop the skills needed to create climate solutions and foster climate resilience by helping them reconnect to and learn from nature’s efficient and sustainable systems, develop a problem-solving mindset, and share a positive vision for the future.

 

Eversource Named Among State’s Most Charitable Companies

BOSTON — For the fifth year in a row, the Boston Business Journal has named Eversource an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. “Having the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers is a privilege,” said Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Eversource Foundation president and vice president for Corporate Citizenship and Equity. “We have a responsibility to invest in organizations, initiatives, and services that provide broad, meaningful, and sustainable change in the communities we serve that are most at-risk, overburdened, and under-resourced. We look forward to that continued spirit of partnership as we all work together to create conditions for all of our communities to thrive.” The Boston Business Journal annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities, a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and crisis, such as those collectively experienced throughout 2021. In addition to financial support, Eversource also empowers employees to volunteer and give back to local organizations by providing regular volunteer opportunities and a program to match charitable contributions by individual employees. In 2021, Eversource’s volunteer programs engaged more than 4,900 employees and their families, who volunteered more than 23,700 hours at company-sponsored events.

 

Monson Savings Donates $5,000 to Healing Racism Institute

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently made a $5,000 donation to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, headquartered in Springfield, in support of its work in the region. The Healing Racism Institute aims to help create a better understanding of the root causes and effects of racism, while also explaining the institutional nature of racism. Its hallmark program is its two-day Healing Racism sessions, which provide a safe environment to learn about the impact of racism on our nation and community in an engaging and transformative process. “Monson Savings Bank supports the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley and the important work that they are doing for our communities,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “We commend them for all of the work that they do to make the world a better place, specifically working to make the communities we live in a better place. Monson Savings is a local bank, meaning everyone who works at the bank lives here. We are working, raising our families, and living in the communities that the Healing Racism Institute serves. The organization holds a special place in our hearts because they are making the places we live a better, more equitable place.” A contribution from Monson Savings Bank will support Healing Racism Institute’s campaign to be self-sustaining within three years by building infrastructure and building capacity. Funds will be used to hire staff, create a training center, increase the number of trained facilitators, and provide scholarship support. “On behalf of the Healing Racism Institute, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Monson Savings Bank for their generous donation,” said Vanessa Otero, Healing Racism executive director. “This donation will help us in our mission to help build racism-free communities.”

 

bankESB Donates $5,000 to Easthampton Neighbors

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB recently made a $5,000 donation to Easthampton Neighbors to help provide services and programs to assist Easthampton seniors and to support the organization’s participation in the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative. Easthampton Neighbors is a member-driven, nonprofit organization that provides volunteer services and programs to seniors who strive to live independent, engaged lives at home. Its ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ approach creates a local support network for area seniors. It are a partnering organization of the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative, which is a coalition of healthcare and community providers, based out of the Cooley Dickinson Geriatrics program, dedicated to empowering and supporting older adults living with dementia and their family caregivers to improve their quality of life. “Seniors are the backbone of our community,” said Matthew Sosik, the bank’s president and CEO. “bankESB is proud to support Easthampton Neighbors as they work to keep seniors in our area engaged, connected, and thriving.” The donation was made as part of the bank’s charitable-giving program, the Giving Tree, which reflects the roots the bank has in its communities, its commitment to making a real difference in the neighborhoods it serves, and the belief that everyone’s quality of life is enhanced when parties work together to solve their communities’ biggest problems.

 

UMassFive Featured on ‘World’s Greatest!’ TV Series

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union was featured in episode 326 of World’s Greatest!, a television series produced by How2Media. World’s Greatest! is a 30-minute show dedicated to highlighting the world’s greatest companies, products, places, and people. Each show is a fast-paced tour around the world featuring behind-the-scenes footage, informative interviews, and exciting visuals. The episode featuring UMassFive premiered on Bloomberg TV on Sept. 3 and re-ran on Sept. 10. In recent years, credit unions have become more and more popular as people transition away from for-profit banks and toward more customer and member-oriented institutions. With a history dating back to 1967, a focus on sustainability, and a commitment to keeping the local economy strong, UMassFive has continued to grow and innovate. “We think their story will be meaningful as well as educational to our viewers,” said Kyle Freeman, executive producer of World’s Greatest! As part of the show, How2Media sent a film crew to spend time at UMassFive’s headquarters in Hadley to discover the company’s story and to show viewers why the credit union was selected as the best in its category, and therefore featured on the show. “We are immensely thankful to How2Media for providing us this opportunity to amplify the mission of the credit union,” said Craig Boivin, vice president of Marketing at UMassFive.

Chamber Corners

1BERKSHIRE

(413) 499-1600; 1berkshire.com

 

Sept. 20: Virtual Dulye Leadership Experience Workshop: “Demystify Digital Currency,” 5-6 p.m. With its dramatic swings, the world of cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and blockchains has been volatile and perplexing. Sort through the confusion with nationally recognized experts Paul Farella and Alexandra Renders of Berkshire-based Willow Investments, who will provide a balanced take on the current landscape, how it works, and where they see digital currency heading. This interactive program features a question-and-answer exchange with the speakers. Register for this virtual event at 1berkshirestrategicalliancemacoc.weblinkconnect.com/events.

 

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 253-0700; amherstarea.com

 

Sept. 8: Amherst Area Internship Fair, 12-2 p.m., hosted by UMass Amherst, Goodell Bernie Dallas Room. Is your business looking for an intern? Meet with UMass students from all majors who can support you in a variety of areas: communications and marketing, data, analytics, statistics, research, technology, security, websites, databases, creative arts, design, finance and accounting, writing, editing, content management, sales, lead creation, database cleanup, metrics evaluation, lab and environmental data collection, and/or analysis. For more information, visit amherstarea.com.

 

Sept. 14: Grillin’ & Chillin’ Under the Pavillion, 4:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Summit View Banquet. Join us for a multi-chamber event with the Amherst Area, Greater Holyoke, Greater Chicopee, and South Hadley Granby chambers of commerce at Summit View Banquet and Pavilion with a BBQ buffet, games, a photo booth, door prizes, and featuring DJ Jay Entertainment, Totally Hitched Photo Booth Camper, and Loophole and Leadfoot breweries. Sponsored by Keiter, Polish National Credit Union, Superior Plus Energy Services, Holyoke Gas & Electric, and the Plan. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Register at amherstarea.com.

 

BRADLEY REGIONAL CHAMBER

(860) 653-3833; bradleyregionalchamber.org

 

Sept. 21: Bradley Regional Chamber of Commerce Lunch & Learn, 12-1 p.m., hosted by Bobby V’s in Windsor Locks, Conn. Join us as Wayne Lerario, vice president of Sales at Nutmeg Technologies, helps chamber members answer the question, do you have the right tech company for your business? We all rely on technology for our businesses, both for our staff and our customers. Lerario will help us consider the benefits of choosing the right IT partner as he talks about the many important things to consider with this critical partnership. Attendees will pay for their own lunch. To register, email Bob Brawders at [email protected].

 

EAST OF THE RIVER FIVE TOWN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 575-7230; www.erc5.com

 

Sept. 7: Coffee Hour Connections with ERC5, 8:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by the Yoga Shop, 185 Miller St., Ludlow. Grab a coffee, energize, and flow into a morning of connecting with colleagues and growing your brand. Sponsored by Community Bank. Register online at www.erc5.com.

 

Sept. 23: 20th Annual Golf Classic, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., hosted by Country Club of Wilbraham. Throughout the day, there will be food, raffles, awards, contests of skill, networking, and spirited competition. To purchase a sponsorship or register for the Classic, visit bit.ly/ERC520thGolfClassic.

 

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 773-5463; franklincc.org

 

Sept. 23: Chamber Breakfast, 7:30 a.m., hosted by Franklin County Tech School, in the gymnasium, located at 82 Industrial Blvd. in the Turners Falls Industrial Park. Our first breakfast of the season will be the United Way of Franklin and Hampshire Region campaign kickoff. Cost: $20 for members, $22 general admission. Register at franklincc.org.

 

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 594-2101; chicopeechamber.org

 

Sept. 14: Grillin’ & Chillin’ Under the Pavillion, 4:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Summit View Banquet. Join us for a multi-chamber event with the Amherst Area, Greater Holyoke, Greater Chicopee, and South Hadley Granby chambers of commerce at Summit View Banquet and Pavilion with a BBQ buffet, games, a photo booth, door prizes, and featuring DJ Jay Entertainment, Totally Hitched Photo Booth Camper, and Loophole and Leadfoot breweries. Sponsored by Keiter, Polish National Credit Union, Superior Plus Energy Services, Holyoke Gas & Electric, and the Plan. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Register at chicopeechamber.org.

 

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 534-3376; holyokechamber.com

 

Sept. 12: 2022 Chamber Cup Golf Tournament, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., hosted by Wyckoff Country Club, Holyoke. Mingle and network, win prizes, make new connections, and enjoy a fun day of golf. Each registration includes lunch, golf, and dinner for four people, and a chance to win prizes. On-course activities include beer and spirit tastings; hole-in-one contests for a car, an all-expenses-paid vacation, and an alcohol-filled YETI cooler; a long-drive contest; and food tastings from local restaurants. Inside are silent auctions on one-of-a-kind sports prizes, with a memorabilia auction before dinner. The dinner will be open to membership and the public and will include a brief annual meeting and the awards ceremony, Register at business.holyokechamber.com/events or by calling (413) 534-3376.

 

Sept. 14: Grillin’ & Chillin’ Under the Pavillion, 4:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Summit View Banquet. Join us for a multi-chamber event with the Amherst Area, Greater Holyoke, Greater Chicopee, and South Hadley Granby chambers of commerce at Summit View Banquet and Pavilion with a BBQ buffet, games, a photo booth, door prizes, and featuring DJ Jay Entertainment, Totally Hitched Photo Booth Camper, and Loophole and Leadfoot breweries. Sponsored by Keiter, Polish National Credit Union, Superior Plus Energy Services, Holyoke Gas & Electric, and the Plan. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Register at business.holyokechamber.com/events or call (413) 534-3376.

 

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 584-1900; northamptonchamber.com

 

Sept. 14: Arrive@5 Networking Event, hosted by the Academy of Music, Northampton. Connect with community and the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce at the next Arrive@5. Sponsored by United Way of Franklin and Hampshire Region, Kuhn Riddle Architects, and Hampshire Hearing and Speech Services. For more information, visit northamptonchamber.com.

 

Sept. 23: netWORK at ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Join us for our netWORK series, where we partner with a local nonprofit and invite our Greater Northampton Chamber community to participate in a project to benefit that organization. For this netWORK event, we’ll team up with ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm, the first therapeutic farming community in the Pioneer Valley, providing meaningful agricultural employment for people with developmental disabilities, autism, or mental-health challenges. Volunteer work for the day will be broken up into two shifts, and tasks will include field work (weeding and harvesting), mushroom work, and animal work. Volunteers should arrive dressed for farm work, with appropriate clothes and shoes. For more information, visit northamptonchamber.com.

 

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 568-1618; westfieldbiz.org

 

Sept. 14: After 5 Connections, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Results in Wellness LLC at 93 Springfield Road, Suite B, Westfield. Join us again or for the first time to discuss the concerns you may have as a business owner and how we may help each other through these challenging times. You will meet fellow business people from this community, exchange business cards, and discuss what’s happening in your business. Cost: free to chamber members; $5 for non-members. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

Sept. 22: September Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by 104th Fighter Wing, 175 Falcon Dr., Westfield. This is one of our most popular events. Platinum sponsor is Baystate Health. Silver sponsors include A Plus HVAC and ProAmpac. Bronze sponsors include Westfield Public Schools, Armbrook Village, Fly Lugu, Northeast Paving, and BHN/Carson Center. Coffee-bar sponsor is the Westfield Starfires. Cost: $35 to chamber members; $40 for the general public. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

Sept. 29: Morning Brew, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club, Westfield. Introduce your business to the group and take advantage of this networking opportunity. Cost: free. For more information, visit westfieldbiz.org.

 

SOUTH HADLEY & GRANBY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 532-6451; shgchamber.com

 

Sept. 14: Grillin’ & Chillin’ Under the Pavillion, 4:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Summit View Banquet. Join us for a multi-chamber event with the Amherst Area, Greater Holyoke, Greater Chicopee, and South Hadley Granby chambers of commerce at Summit View Banquet and Pavilion with a BBQ buffet, games, a photo booth, door prizes, and featuring DJ Jay Entertainment, Totally Hitched Photo Booth Camper, and Loophole and Leadfoot breweries. Sponsored by Keiter, Polish National Credit Union, Superior Plus Energy Services, Holyoke Gas & Electric, and the Plan. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Register at shgchamber.com.

 

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 426-3880; www.ourwrc.com

 

Sept. 8: Job Fair 2022, 4:30-7 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern/Carriage House, West Springfield. West Springfield and Agawam businesses, along with other employment opportunities from around Western Mass., will be showcased for the public. High-school students, college students, and adults will be attending this event looking to begin or advance their careers. This event is free and open to the public. To be a participating vendor, register online: at www.ourwrc.com.

 

Sept. 13: September Social & Celebrity Cornhole Tournament, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Trinity Pub/Irish Cultural Center of New England, West Springfield. Join us for a night of networking as you cheer on the mayors, state senator, state representatives, and police and fire chiefs as they battle it out to be the cornhole champs of 2022. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To register to attend or sponsor, visit www.ourwrc.com.

Company Notebook

Marcella Named to 2022 Inc. 5000

NORTHAMPTON — Marcella, a mission-driven, ethically made direct-to-consumer designer fashion brand committed to advancing women and girls globally, experienced a 909% jump in revenue from 2018 to 2021 and has been listed on the annual Inc. 5000 list as the fastest-growing company in the retail sector in New England, 35th in retail nationally, and 689th overall. The Inc. 5000 is a ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. In addition to impressive growth, the companies on the 2022 Inc. 5000 have also demonstrated resilience amid supply-chain woes, labor shortages, and the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Headquartered in Northampton and founded by husband and wife duo Siyana and Andy Huszar, Marcella’s edgy, affordable women’s minimalist basics are designed in New York and handcrafted in Europe. Core to the brand’s DNA is a commitment to benefiting women and girls around the world: for every design Marcella sells, the company supports three days of school for a marginalized girl around the world, with the goal of supporting 8.5 million school days by the end of 2024. In pursuit of this mission, Marcella partners with CAMFED, the global NGO revolutionizing how girls’ education is delivered. Since April 2021, Marcella has already supported more than 600,000 school days for girls in need. Marcella takes a holistic approach to sustainability that respects both people and the planet. Its original designer apparel and accessories are priced accessibly. Every individual involved in the production of any Marcella product enjoys a truly living wage, generous benefits, and free healthcare. Additionally, the brand’s innovative ‘just in time’ production cycle minimizes the global fashion industry’s typical inventory overproduction and waste, enabling Marcella to sell more than 99% of what it makes and dramatically reducing its ecological footprint. “Marcella began as an Etsy shop and quickly transformed into a successful global e-commerce business fueled by our ‘design that matters’ philosophy of accessible prices, ethical production, sustainability, and social impact,” added Andy Huszar, co-founder and CEO of Marcella. “We moved Marcella’s headquarters from New York City to Western Massachusetts in 2017 because we saw unlimited potential in the region for supporting the growth of a global e-commerce brand. We’re honored to be recognized by Inc. and excited to continue to deliver on our mission to create sustainable fashion that reflects our brand values.”

 

Community Action Pioneer Valley Receives Workforce-training Funds for Formerly Incarcerated Citizens

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced $1.68 million in Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program grants awarded to 14 organizations, including one in Western Mass., Community Action Pioneer Valley in Greenfield. Funds will place formerly incarcerated citizens re-entering the workforce into new occupations, where they will receive on-the-job training. “The efforts of these community organizations, which includes their ability to locally connect individuals and employers, helps improve workforce readiness for those re-entering society,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “These re-entry grants are focused on evidence-based outcomes that best prepare those who have served their time to find employment that helps support themselves and their families.” Community Action Pioneer Valley will receive $160,000 to work with both the Franklin and Hampshire county sheriff’s offices to implement a training program focused on the manufacturing industry. Successful program graduates will be placed into production-occupation roles at Deerfield Packaging, Hillside Plastics, Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center, or Quabbin Wire & Cable Company Inc. The Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program is an outcome of the Baker-Polito administration’s Task Force on Economic Opportunity for Populations Facing Chronically High Rates of Unemployment, chaired by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. The Task Force found that individuals within prison populations experienced complex needs that require intensive interventions for them to be successful in securing and maintaining employment. Access to adequate re-entry services was identified as a barrier to employment that disproportionally impacts the target populations and leads to greater recidivism. “Providing the formerly incarcerated with opportunities for on-the-job-training is an important way to address inequities in the Commonwealth’s workforce,” Acosta said. “Partnering with community organizations through these grants helps those with chronic high rates of unemployment find meaningful career pathways in Massachusetts.”

 

 

Chicopee Cupboard Food Pantry Moves to New Location

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) hosted a ‘new home’ celebration for the Chicopee Cupboard Food Pantry on Aug. 16 at 226 Exchange St. in Chicopee. The Chicopee Cupboard, powered by the United Way of Pioneer Valley, provides shelf-stable food, fresh produce and dairy items, and frozen food to anyone in need. These items are available thanks to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, grants, and donations. “We are honored to be able to battle any and all food insecurity in the great city of Chicopee,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our team is eager to provide our clients the best services possible.” To make an appointment, call Lee Drewitz at (413) 693-0213.

 

Joe Andruzzi Foundation Marks One-Year Anniversary of Food Security Assistance Program

NORTH ATTLEBORO — The Joe Andruzzi Foundation (JAF), providing help and hope to New England cancer patients and their families through financial support when it is needed most, announced that its Food Security Assistance Program is entering its second year of helping cancer patients across New England access healthy and nutritious foods to sustain them during treatment. Since its inception in 2021, the program has raised $436,850 for 1,867 cancer patients across New England. In December 2020, JAF conducted a pilot Food Security Program, which provided aid outside the financial-assistance grants already provided to cancer patients throughout New England, with the support of a $50,000 grant from Stop & Shop. The program pilot funded 199 households to support 478 patients from December 2020 through March 2021. Overall, nearly half (47%) of the grants distributed during the pilot program helped families who reported annual household income losses between 50% to 100% due to a cancer diagnosis. After a successful pilot, JAF formally launched its Food Security Assistance support for patients on August 11, 2021, with ROI Communications as its presenting sponsor. Additional support was received from Oncopeptides, Bearingstar Insurance, and the Dunkin’ Joy Foundation. Through the program, JAF sends grocery-store gift cards directly to the patient to be redeemed at Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Big Y, Hannaford, or Market Basket. Donations to assist New England cancer patients and their families can be made online at joeandruzzifoundation.org/ways-to-give/donate.

 

Agenda

MOSSO Brass Quintet

Aug. 20: Bing Productions will present the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) Brass Quintet in a free concert from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Camp STAR Angelina, 300 Trafton Road, in Springfield’s Forest Park. The rain date is Aug. 21. The MOSSO Brass Quintet features Gerald Serfass and John Charles Thomas on trumpet, Lauren Winter on horn, Scott Cranston on trombone, and Stephen Perry on tuba. According to Perry, the family-friendly program, which will be announced from the stage, will include classics by Bach, Brahms, and Copland; pops and jazz by Ellington, Strayhorn, and Lennon/McCartney, and marches by John Philip Sousa. The Amphitheater at Camp STAR Angelina is outdoors, and people should either bring blankets and cushions or lawn chairs.

 

ONEHolyoke Community Walk

Aug. 27: OneHolyoke CDC has partnered with Holyoke community organizations, including HG&E, to host the ONEHolyoke Community Walk at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. The 5K will bring the community together safely outdoors for a walk and roll (wheelchair, bicycle, stroller) along a Holyoke route featuring family activities and to raise awareness of continued safe practices to keep the community healthy. This is the second annual community walk organized by OneHolyoke CDC. Last year’s inaugural event focused on COVID safety, the importance of getting the community vaccinated, and remembering those lost to the virus. This year’s event will be broadened to emphasize the importance of community and will provide resources, giveaways, and activities for families. The 5K route will begin at the intersection of Race Street, Main Street, and Canal Street (near Lawler’s Insurance) and will end on Race Street at Middle Street, where participants can view the HyggeHaus home donated to OneHolyoke CDC by the UMass Building Construction and Technology Program. The Holyoke Farmers’ Market will be in progress at the end of the route. The event will also feature giveaways and resources by partnering organizations at five water stations along the route, a Holyoke history and local business scavenger hunt along the route, a story walk at the end of the route with an opportunity to bring home a copy of the book, a vaccine clinic at the end of the route (near the Farmer’s Market); and a celebration at the end of the walk. Registration costs $10 for adults and $15 per couple, and children are free. Registration is open at go.rallyup.com/c/participar5k2022, and those who don’t pre-register can also sign up on-site.

 

Housatonic Heritage Walks

Weekends from Sept. 3 to Oct. 2: The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area announced the 20th annual autumn Housatonic Heritage Walks on five weekends: Sept. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, and 24-25; and Oct. 1-2. More than 80 free, guided walks will be offered throughout Berkshire County, Mass., and Litchfield County, Conn. The public is invited to participate in these family-friendly, informative walks, offered in partnership with our region’s historic, cultural, and outdoor recreational organizations. The Heritage Walks are an ideal opportunity to experience and learn about this region’s rich and varied local heritage. Historians, naturalists, and environmentalists will lead participants on explorations through historic estate gardens and town districts, behind-the-scenes cultural-site tours, nature walks, trail hikes, and tours of many of the industrial-site ruins that were once thriving local industries. There will be Native American and African-American history walks, a canoe paddling trip on the Housatonic River and a bike tour on scenic country roads. Detailed Heritage Walks brochures will be available at libraries, post offices, restaurants, and grocery stores in the region. The schedule is also available at housatonicheritage.org/events/heritage-walks. To request a brochure by mail, email [email protected].

 

Sip & Slide FUNd-raiser

Sept. 8: In support of the Eastern States Exposition’s (ESE) youth agriculture programs, the ESE Foundation Sip & Slide FUNd-raiser will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Giant Slide. Attendees can ride down the slide and enjoy craft beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres, live music, raffles, and more. Partners Restaurant and Catering will provide a range of appetizers such as pulled-pork, veggie, and grilled-chicken sliders; potato-skin bites; assorted kabobs; and more. Live music will be provided by Ric & Amy Acoustic. Guests will receive welcome bags stuffed with three event drink tickets, Big E swag, a cream- puff voucher to be used during the Big E (Sept. 16 through Oct. 2), and other surprises. Presented by PeoplesBank, Sip & Slide tickets are available for purchase at thebige.com/sipandslide. Tickets cost $50 per person if purchased in advance and $60 at the door. You must be 21 or over to attend this event.

 

Annual HCC Golf Benefit

Sept. 12: Registration is now open for the Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation’s 35th annual golf tournament at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. Money raised from this year’s tournament will support student scholarships managed by the HCC Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College. The golf outing begins with an 11 a.m. buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. After golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch with scenic views of the Pioneer Valley, followed by dinner. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. The $185 individual fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. The cost per foursome is $740. Dinner only is $40 per person. Sponsorships are also available in various increments from $100 to $10,000. To register or sponsor the golf tournament, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.

 

United Way Day of Caring

Sept. 23: United Way of Pioneer Valley announced the 2022 Day of Caring. Anyone interested in local volunteer opportunities can visit volunteer.uwpv.org to register as a volunteer. Day of Caring opportunities will be posted as the details are finalized, and other opportunities year-round are hosted on this site as well. Agencies who are interested in hosting a Day of Caring location, or corporations interested in sponsorships and/or bringing a group of volunteers, can contact Jennifer Kinsman, director of Community Impact, at [email protected] or (413) 693-0212.

 

Cruise for Critters

Sept. 24: Cruise for Critters returns to Westview Farms Creamery for the 10th annual car show to benefit pets in need at Second Chance Animal Services. The fundraiser, sponsored by Service Connection of Monson, has been helping Massachusetts pets since 2012. This year’s event will have fall fun for everyone, including a vendor fair and the popular Halloween Barktacular kids’ games. Second Chance volunteers are excited to break out the Halloween Barktacular kids’ games. After COVID forced the nonprofit to cancel both the 2020 and 2021 Halloween Barktacular, a group of volunteers brought a few of the games to last year’s Cruise for Critters. This year, volunteers are planning even more fun for kids. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will also feature all the fall fun that Westview Farms Creamery has to offer, including pumpkin picking and a corn maze. Spare Parts will be on hand to provide entertainment, and visitors can take a chance to win some raffle prizes. Event organizers are appealing to local businesses and vendors to join the fight for pets in need. For more information on sponsorships or to become a vendor, visit secondchanceanimals.org/events/cruise. The event will be free to spectators, and there’s a $20 car-show entry fee, with every dollar supporting pets in need. In case of bad weather, the rain date is Saturday, Oct. 1.

 

World Affairs Council Talk on Indo-Pacific Developments

Sept. 28: The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts will present its first Instant Issues brown bag lunchtime discussion of the 2022-23 program year at noon at 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield. Dennis Yasutomo, Esther Cloudman Dunn professor emeritus of Government at Smith College, will speak on “Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific: Evolution of a Eurasian Century?” A longtime member and friend of the Council, Yasutomo’s field of research is contemporary Japanese foreign policy, and he is the author of numerous books and articles on Japanese politics and diplomacy. He will look at the impact of the crisis in Ukraine on the emerging Euro-Asian geopolitical dynamics involving China, the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Europe’s enhanced involvement in the Indo-Pacific region. Advance registration is required at www.eventbrite.com/e/instant-issues-ukraine-and-the-indo-pacific-tickets-399638689077. No walk-ins will be allowed. Admission to the event is $5 for council members without a lunch provided, $20 with a box lunch. Non-members’ admission cost is $10 without a lunch and $25 with lunch.

 

Hooplandia

June 23-25, 2023: After nearly three years of pandemic-era scheduling hurdles, Springfield and West Springfield will host Hooplandia, the largest 3×3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, next spring. The event, which will be hosted by the Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, 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, OGs, wheelchair, Wounded Warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. The event will feature more than 70 outdoor blacktop courts placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield; slam-dunk, three-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions; themed state courts for all six New England states; featured ‘showcase games’ held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; and a festival environment throughout the weekend with food, music, entertainment, and family activities. A year-long community-outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2023.

Company Notebook

Trader Joe’s Employees in Hadley Approve Chain’s First Labor Union

HADLEY — Employees at Trader Joe’s in Hadley have become the chain’s first store to approve a labor union. The union vote passed 45-31. “This victory is historic, but not a surprise. Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company’s best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered,” Trader Joe’s United said in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of the work we have done together to win this union election, but winning is just the beginning. We now begin the difficult work of sitting down at the negotiating table as equals with our employer and securing a contract that will benefit and protect us, the crew, instead of the company’s bottom line.”

 

Tech Foundry Awarded $72,547 Tech Talent Diversity Grant

BOSTON — Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy recently announced three new grants from the Commonwealth’s Tech Talent Diversity Initiative, an effort aimed at boosting diversity hiring and training opportunities for diverse candidates. The three grants, totaling $494,947, were awarded to Tech Foundry in Springfield, Hack.Diversity in Boston, and Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology in Boston. Tech Foundry was founded in 2014 by Pioneer Valley tech employers and other workforce, business, education, and economic-development stakeholders to address the regional skills gap in information technology and drive regional economic growth. The organization offers training programs aimed at filling entry-level IT roles and provides training that is tailored to the needs of partner employers, including a work-experience component where students are placed in a position at a local employer. Tech Foundry’s $72,547 grant award will be used to assist employer partners’ ability to host students, primarily in the Pioneer Valley, for hands-on training, by creating a new platform called Tech Foundry Ventures to host two new programs, including the development of a virtual IT technician-training environment, working with employer partners to create a tool where students will face similar scenarios to those seen on the job, allowing them to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom without the stakes of serving real-world clients; and the launch of a service-learning initiative where students will work with community organizations that cannot afford to utilize commercial services, providing similar IT services to those provided by employer partners. The expanded tools will allow Tech Foundry to train as many as 150 additional students per year, three times its existing number.

 

Chase Bank to Open First Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — Chase Bank plans to open its first Springfield branch next year at 1391 Main St. in downtown Springfield. There are plans to add at least three more locations in the Greater Springfield area over the next few years. The expansion is part of the bank’s recently announced plans to more than double its presence in Massachusetts by 2025. The firm opened its first Massachusetts branch in Boston in 2018 and now has 36 statewide. Beyond Springfield, Chase will open its first branch in Worcester next month. “Springfield is a great city with a rich economic, cultural, and educational environment, which makes it an ideal place for Chase to grow,” said Ali Zaidi, Chase’s market director for Springfield and Worcester. “Our goal is to help the community and support our customers during their most important moments.” This first branch will be about 3,000 square feet in size and feature modern, bright designs with comfortable meeting areas and state-of-the-art banking technology. A dedicated Chase Private Client team will provide premium banking services, personalized attention, and access to the expertise and investment capabilities of J.P. Morgan to help families reach their goals. Customers may also meet with financial and home-lending advisors and business-banking relationship managers. “Branches are critically important to our customers, but our mission goes beyond service and convenience,” said Jennifer Piepszak, co-CEO of Chase Consumer & Community Banking for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re hiring locally, investing in the community, and bringing all the benefits our firm has to offer to drive economic growth.”

 

Baystate Medical Center, Roca Create Violence-intervention Program

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Medical Center and Roca Springfield are launching a first-in-the-region hospital-based violence-intervention program called Better Tomorrow to serve as a vital public-health response to violence in local communities. Funded with a $1 million U.S. Department of Justice grant through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, the joint effort will combine medical staff and community-based service providers to intervene with victims of violence in hospital settings, connect them with community services, and reduce further victimization and violent behaviors. Hospital-based violence-intervention programs are multi-disciplinary teams designed to identify patients who are at risk of repeat violent injury and connect them with hospital- and community-based resources to help address underlying risk factors for violence. Research shows that these programs reduce repeat victimization and criminal-justice involvement while also decreasing healthcare and other costs associated with violence. They improve quality of life for patients by addressing disparities in access to healthcare, transportation, case management, and a range of other social determinants of health.

 

Elm Electrical Creates Program to Educate Teens on Electrical Careers

WESTFIELD — Elm Electrical has created a new program for high-school students interested in the electrical field. The students, in grades 10-12, were recommended by their teachers or Elm employees to attend this free, four-day training seminar. These prospective co-op students, or Elm Futures, were then invited to join Elm educators learn new skills as well as showcase their own talents at the First Steps Training Seminar. Monday through Wednesday, students receive instruction and training in the state-of-the-art Elm University multi-media classrooms and hands-on lab. Thursday, the final day, is Challenge Day, when students apply what they’ve learned and complete a project board challenge. Elm project managers are invited to evaluate their work, offer feedback, and get to know the students. Three sessions have been held this summer. The Elm University classrooms and lab are used year-round as Elm’s in-house training facility. Employees who want to become licensed electricians can opt into the company’s four-year apprentice program. They can work their jobs Monday through Thursday and then, every other Friday, attend school at Elm University for free.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Named Presale Ticket Partner for Eastern States Exposition

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE), home of the Big E, announced a new partnership, naming Rocky’s Ace Hardware an official presale partner of the Big E. Through this partnership, Rocky’s and ESE have joined together to utilize a locally owned platform in selling tickets to the 2022 Big E. ESE and Rocky’s have developed a ticketing initiative that will allow fairgoers to purchase 2022 advance discount tickets, advance pay-one-price Midway Magic passes, value passes, and Big E Arena concert tickets through the Rocky’s mobile circular digital app and at www.rockys.com.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Forges Partnership with Kyiv School of Economics

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has signed a series of memoranda of agreement with the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE) to assist students and scholars affected by Russia’s war with Ukraine. UMass Amherst’s new multi-level partnership with KSE will establish several modalities for Ukrainian students and scholars to be part of the UMass academic community. An academic exchange program for students will enable undergraduate and graduate students from Ukraine to study at UMass for a semester or academic year with nearly all costs waived.

In conjunction with the academic exchange program for students, a non-resident, virtual Scholar in Residence program will be created for scholars affiliated with KSE. Selected Ukrainian scholars will collaborate with centers, departments, and faculty at UMass Amherst on relevant research topics virtually and will receive a stipend through the KSE Foundation.

The agreements were finalized between March and July 2022 by KSE President Tymofiy Mylovanov and Rector Tymofii Brik and John McCarthy, now emeritus provost and senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs for UMass Amherst. Anna Nagurney, professor and the Eugene M. Isenberg Chair in Integrative Studies in the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, played a central role in driving these collaborative efforts. As a longstanding member of the International Academic Board at KSE, and now also co-chair of the board of directors at KSE, Nagurney was instrumental in nurturing the relationship between the two institutions. Most recently, Nagurney has been a leading expert in providing insights on Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.

 

Arrha Credit Union Opens New Branch in Enfield

ENFIELD, Conn. — Arrha Credit Union announced the opening of a new branch at 231 Hazard Ave. in Enfield, Conn. “Arrha Credit Union will bring hometown banking back,” said Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO. “This location is perfect to make that happen. Rockville Bank, also known as the Savings Bank of Rockville, once held this location, and they had the same style of hometown, superior customer-service banking. We are excited to welcome these customers back and become members, part of the Arrha financial family. This means offering home-style banking to meet the personal and business needs for families, individuals, and businesses.” Amanda Howie, the branch manager, is sought after for her advice on vehicle lending, low-interest credit cards, free checking with convenient app downloads, online banking, and virtual deposits, Ostrowski noted. Adam Baldwin is the assistant vice president, regional branch and Business Development manager. With more than eight years of banking experience, he has been recognized throughout his career as a rising star with superior service awards. He is a Rotarian, on the board of the Enfield Food Bank, and actively involved in the community. Anthony (Tony) Franco is the vice president of Commercial Lending. With more than 25 years in the financial-services and commercial-lending industry, he has been helping area businesses achieve their goals and direct them to what commercial deposits and lending services work best for them.

 

Springfield Thunderbirds Named AHL’s Team of the Year

SPRINGFIELD — The American Hockey League (AHL) announced the Springfield Thunderbirds as the winner of the President’s Award for the 2021-22 season during the Board of Governors’ annual meeting in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Bestowed upon the team that demonstrates overall excellence both on and off the ice, the Thunderbirds captured Team of the Year honors following a historic season that set team records across a wide range of business categories, including average attendance (5,375), season tickets sold, overall ticket revenue, and corporate sales revenue. The T-Birds achieved these milestones while winning the AHL’s Eastern Conference Championship. This marked the franchise’s first-ever playoff appearance and Springfield’s first trip to the Calder Cup Finals since 1991. See page 4 for much more about the Thunderbirds’ recent success.

 

Hazen Paper Wins Gold Leaf Award for 2021 Hall of Fame Yearbook

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. was presented a Gold Leaf Award by the Foil and Specialty Effects Assoc. (FSEA) at Amplify: the Print, Finishing, and Embellishment Event, held recently by FSEA and the Assoc. for PRINT Technologies in Minneapolis. Hazen garnered recognition in the category “best use of overprinting foil” for the 2021 enshrinement yearbook produced for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Hazen used custom holography to replicate the brilliant LED lighting of the iconic Hall of Fame dome, employing edgeless Hazen-Lens technology to create a pulsating play of light in front of a brilliant radial burst of two-channel holography. Treatment of the Basketball Hall of Fame logo also utilized holography to emphasize the basketball’s pebbled texture against the smooth reflective sphere of the dome. The holography was registered to a tolerance of 1/16” for near-perfect alignment during printing. Hazen originated the holography for the yearbook completely within its vertically integrated Holyoke facility. The custom holograms were created in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, then micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto smooth, 12-point WestRock Crescendo C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. Agency GO of Hartford, Conn. designed the limited-edition yearbook cover, which was printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston. Hazen also received a Silver Leaf Award from FSEA for “best use of foil/embossing in a calendar (industry)” on the holographic Hazen 2022 calendar “Here Comes the Sun.

 

Berkshire Bank’s Foundation Gives $205,000 to Nonprofits

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank recently presented a total of $205,000 in funding to Springfield non-profit organizations during Berkshire’s BEST Community Comeback Tour. The grants aim to help power the financial potential of the local communities the bank serves through organizations impacting the areas of gender equality, small-business technical assistance, housing, neighborhood stabilization, and education. The grants included $75,000 to the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, $25,000 to Revitalize CDC, $5,000 to Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence, and $100,000 to Common Capital, a subsidiary of Way Finders.

 

Berkshire United Way Renews Funding to 40 Programs

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire United Way (BUW) announced renewal funding of $1,029,500 for 40 programs across 24 community partner organizations, providing a much-needed additional year of support. This funding will be for a one-year period, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, and will continue to stabilize BUW’s three main community-impact areas: early childhood development, positive youth development, and economic prosperity. Visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/our-impact to learn more about the 40 programs. BUW’s investments in these programs support family well-being and address gaps in services in the community. Programs generate a whole-family, integrated approach focusing on educational advancement and economic mobility. A new round of funding requests will be announced in early 2023. To donate to BUW’s fundraising campaign, visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/donate.

 

Beauty Batlles Lounge Successfully Hosts Comedy Fundraising Event

CHICOPEE — Beauty Batlles recently welcomed the community to its lounge, hosting a successful fundraising event, Beauty Batlles Moving Forward. About 60 guests were in attendance, and all had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction, raffles, and 50/50 drawing, all while enjoying a cash bar and food at the comedy show. With support from clients, family, local business owners, and others in the community, the event raised about $4,000 that will assist Beauty Batlles in its move. The facility will now be able to offer a larger scale of services to its clients and offer new job opportunities at the new location. Beauty Batlles Lounge offers microblading, waxing, lash lift tint, facials, brow lamination, BB glow, and body-sculpting services. It uses cutting-edge technology and medical-grade products to customize treatment to each client’s specific needs. The goal is to deliver self-confidence to individuals who have been struggling with different insecurities, and the support the community has continued to show will help the facility expand to its new location, allowing it to service the community more effectively.

 

PeoplesBank Named Top Charitable Contributor by Boston Business Journal

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank’s record-setting charitable contributions in 2021 earned recognition from the Boston Business Journal, as the bank secured a spot on the region’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors list for the 15th year in a row. In 2021, while focusing on food insecurity, housing, and literacy, PeoplesBank announced record donations reaching $1,315,000, with a total of close to $11 million donated since 2011. The bank has doubled its donations in the last five years. “It is a big part of who we are as an organization, our employees, and how they volunteer in the community,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “I see 2022 as a tremendous opportunity for us to give back and be committed to the communities that we serve.” PeoplesBank’s associates donate 10,000 volunteer hours per year, and 74 of them have served on 54 nonprofit boards. The region’s top charitable companies will be honored at the Boston Business Journal’s Corporate Citizenship Awards on the Sept. 8 at Revere Hotel in Boston.

 

Agenda

Woodstock Tribute Band

July 9: The Rotary Club of West Springfield will stage a concert appearance by Back to the Garden 1969, a Woodstock tribute band at the Morgan Road Pavilion.

Doors open at 4 p.m. at the pavilion, located behind the Irish Cultural Center, 429 Morgan Road, West Springfield. Opening band Great Acoustics will appear from 5 to 6:30 p.m., followed by Back to the Garden 1969 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The playlist will include as many of the original tracks as time allows. Food and drink will be sold. Outside beverages or food may not be brought into the venue; ’60s inspired attire is highly encouraged. RotaryRocks is a rain or shine event. Seating is available under the pavilion, or guests may bring folding chairs for the lawn. There are only 350 tickets available for this show and patrons are encouraged to order theirs early through www.WestSpringfieldRotaryClub.com. RotaryRocks is the club’s main fundraiser. All Rotary Club fundraising proceeds fund scholarships, community grants and other local projects for the betterment of the community.

 

Celebrity Bartending Fundraiser

July 14: The Hampden County Bar Association Legal Clinic will stage its Celebrity Bartending Tip-Off event at Kaptain Jimmy’s restaurant. The event will start at 4 p.m. and will include celebrity bartenders, a DJ, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the event go toward the agency’s legal clinic programs. The legal clinic is still seeking sponsorships for the event from local businesses. Sponsors will be recognized as supporting the mission of providing legal services to people who cannot afford an attorney. For further information, contact the Hampden County Bar Association Legal Clinic at (413) 733-6500.

 

Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour

Ongoing: Starting with the recent Juneteenth weekend, a new walking tour of local historic homes and museums will showcase the unique history and contributions of generations of Black families in Amherst that ranged from music to manufacturing. Ancestral Bridges, a local nonprofit organization, collaborated with the Amherst Historical Society & Museum, local organizations, and the descendants of local Black families to produce the Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour, a 1.5-mile story-filled tour that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the day-to-day experiences of Black Amherst residents from 200 years ago to more modern times. “There is so much important Black history in Amherst that has been hidden from view for too many years,” said Anika Lopes, founder of Ancestral Bridges. “With this walking tour, we are pulling back the curtain, highlighting the way that my family and other Black and indigenous historic residents of Amherst lived and worked, what they hoped and fought for, so that Black youth and others can understand this part of our history and use it to grow.” The Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour is the first descendant-led and curated walking tour of its kind in the area. A family-friendly event on June 18 will serve as a kick-off of the walking tour and encourage local residents and visitors to explore exhibits featuring historic photographs, artifacts, and millinery that bring to life the essence of Black neighborhoods in Amherst. The tour begins at the historic West Cemetery to honor the lives and contributions of the all-Black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the famed 5th Cavalry, the soldiers who alerted Texas residents that the Civil War and slavery had ended. This event is the origin of the holiday celebrated as Juneteenth. Additional tour stops include special exhibits at the Amherst History Museum with artwork and images from the mid-18th century and on; The Emily Dickinson Museum, where stories of Charles Thompson and other Black residents familiar with the Dickinson Family are featured; Hope Church, the first Black church in Amherst; and Goodwin Memorial AME Zion Church. The event to be emceed by descendant William Harris, Jr., president and CEO of Space Center Houston. Neighborhoods featured on the tour include the Westside District (Hazel Avenue, Baker Street, Snell Street, Northampton Road), which was designated a National Historic District in 2000 thanks to the efforts of Dudley J. Bridges, Sr.; and the neighborhood of McCellan, Beston, and Paige Streets. Also featured on the walking tour will be a special art installation by local artist Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker that will highlight the Tote2Vote campaign, launched recently to raise awareness of voter suppression. Learn more at ancestral-bridges.org.

 

Art with Heart

July 20: Community members are invited to attend a free art exhibit and reception for the debut of Art with Heart, a collaboration between local grieving youth and caregivers and area artists. The exhibit will run the month of July with the reception on July 20 at 6 p.m. at the BOMBYX Center for Arts and Equity. Art with Heart, the vision of Shelly Bathe Lenn, program coordinator at The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens, paired local grieving youth and caregivers with artists to create art as an expression of grief. Children ages 5 to 17 participated in workshops that were held in May. “We believe in reinforcing the connection between the head, heart, and hand to help one express their feelings around grief that may have previously been unspoken,” Lenn said. “Grieving youth can use art to help them further understand their experience and gain a sense of mastery and confidence while serving as a ‘container’ for the intense feelings associated with grief.” Artists Barbara Neulinger, Christine Southworth, Frankie Borrero, and Omarthan Clarke each worked with one of four small groups of grieving youth and caregivers. In each of the groups, the participants learned the artist’s medium and made an art piece. The art piece that was created was designed to help participants express their feelings and/or remember those in their life who have died. The artwork will be on display throughout the Pioneer Valley each month through June 2023 and a culminating event will be timed with the 25th anniversary of The Garden in 2023. To learn more about the Art with Heart program, contact Shelly Bathe Lenn at (413) 727-5749.

Company Notebook

Nominations Sought for Super 60 Program

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) is seeking nominations for its annual Super 60 awards program. Super 60 recognizes the success of the fastest-growing and privately owned businesses in the region. Nominations must be submitted by August 5. Each year, Super 60 identifies the top-performing companies in this region, based on revenue growth and total revenue. In 2019, one-quarter of the Total Revenue winners exceeded $30 million, with all the winners combining for more than $720 million in revenue. In the Revenue Growth category, all winners had growth above 21%, and 50% of the top 30 companies grew by more than 50%. To be considered, companies must be independently and privately owned; based in Hampden or Hampshire counties or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber; have revenues of at least $1 million in the past fiscal year; and have been in business for at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year. Companies may be nominated by financial institutions, attorneys, or accountants, or they can self-nominate. Along with an application, nominators must provide net operating revenue figures for the last three full fiscal years, signed and verified by an independent auditor. All financial information must be reported under generally accepted accounting principles and will be considered confidential. Nomination forms can be found on the Chamber’s website and can be submitted by faxing to SUPER 60, Springfield Regional Chamber, (413) 755-1322. Nomination forms must be submitted no later than August 5. The Super 60 awards will be presented at the annual luncheon and recognition program on Oct. 28, at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The Super 60 award luncheon attracts more than 500 business leaders each year. Super 60 sponsorships are now available. For information, call (413) 755-1309 or e-mail Szynal at [email protected].

 

Greenfield Co-op Reports Solid FY 2022

GREENFIELD — Anthony Worden, president & CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC recently announced the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as announced at the 117th annual meeting of the bank on June 21. Worden reported that FY 2022, which ended March 31, was very successful and the assets of the bank grew by $41.4 million (5%) over the prior year.

Other results include:

• In FY 2022, GCB originated more than $166 million in loans of all types, including $61.3 million in residential mortgages, $92.0 million in commercial loans,

$45.6 million in municipal lending, $9.2 million in home equity loans and lines, and

$1.2 million in MassSave® ‘’zero-interest” energy loans.

• GCB had an increase of $50.5 million in deposits (7.4%) over the past year;

• The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was $4.416 million for the year ended March 31, 2022 and the net income after taxes was $3.454 million;

• GCB’s Tier 1 Capital to average assets is 10.5%. The bank is considered “well capitalized” by all regulatory definitions.

• As a result of these solid earnings, the bank and its employees were able to contribute more than $180,000 to 200 community groups and charities throughout both Hampshire and Franklin County during the past fiscal year.

 

AIC Partners with HCC with Signing of Articulation Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has signed an articulation agreement with Holyoke Community College (HCC), formally establishing a close academic relationship between the two-year college and the four-year institution. The accord between AIC and HCC aligns academic programs that enhance the seamless transition of HCC graduates and qualified candidates from HCC, and promotes a smooth, successful transfer to AIC. This articulation agreement offers time and cost savings for students by recognizing the coursework pursued at the community college and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of both AIC and HCC to the community and its students, by ensuring that educational pathways are created for all those who wish to consider a degree in higher education. At AIC, the program is referred to as Direct Connect. Direct Connect, transfer students automatically receive a $4,000 scholarship in addition to their earned merit scholarship, before any need-based aid is awarded. This means Direct Connect students can earn up to $18,000 in financial gift aid, not loans, before being evaluated for additional need-based aid. And, unlike some other transfer articulation agreements, the Direct Connect program at AIC allows students to study and major in their area of interest while attending their community college.

 

Westfield Bank Supports Camp Atwater Capital Campaign

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank President and CEO James C. Hagan recently presented Springfield Urban League CEO Henry M. Thomas III with a $100,000 contribution to help launch a $7.5 million capital campaign to ensure the future of historic Camp Atwater. The Urban League has owned and operated Camp Atwater, located in North Brookfield, since 1921, making it the longest operating Black-owned summer camp in the nation. In its many years of service, Camp Atwater has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives and careers of the vast majority of the camp’s more than 55,000 alumni. Galvanized by the needs of the Black community in Massachusetts and beyond, the Urban League is embarking on the $7.5 million Centennial Campaign to reimagine and reconfigure Camp Atwater so that it may continue as a foundational experience for campers for the next hundred years. Already recognized for its significance by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Urban League is seeking to capitalize on the opportunity for Atwater to provide the preeminent camp experience for the African American community, and to develop ongoing generations of leaders by providing a unique blend of enriching programs and activities within a setting that is at once nurturing and challenging, while fostering self-discovery and growth. With Westfield Bank’s support, as well as that of other early donors, significant work on the Camp’s buildings and grounds is scheduled to begin this summer and continue onward so that Atwater can welcome overnight campers back in the summer of 2023.

 

Funders Reach Million-dollar Milestone in Awards to Local Farms

AGAWAM — The Local Farmer Awards, a funding initiative launched in 2015 by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF) and Big Y Foods, reached the million-dollar milestone in May. Over the past eight years, more than 470 grants have been made to farmers in Western Mass. and the Berkshires. Along with the Big Y and HGCF are 25 generous community and individual donors including Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, PeoplesBank, DeNucci Group at Merrill Lynch, Farm Credit East, HP Hood LLC, Audrey & Chick Taylor, Baystate Health, Country Bank and others. Last month, 74 farmers primarily located in Western Massachusetts received the 2022 awards — checks of up to $2,500 for infrastructure improvements. Totaling $165,500, these grants help sustain robust projects related to growing, harvesting, and processing. Program director Cari Carpenter said that the publicity generated by the Local Farmer Awards draws much needed attention to the productivity of all farms in the region, whether or not they have been award recipients. “We want to celebrate and encourage every farm in Western Mass and the Berkshires, not only our winners. The program returned in March to an in-person appreciation party, including all 120 farms within our applicant reach this year. Donors were able to grasp the impact of what they are doing — and the potential to do even more!”

 

W.F. Young Receives Visionary and Visibility Awards

EAST LONGMEADOW — W.F. Young, a global leader in animal health products such as Absorbine® and The Missing Link®, received two awards at the 2022National Animal Supplement Council Annual Conference, the NASC Visionary Award, acknowledging the animal wellness company as an originating/founding member, and the Visibility Award, for Outstanding Promotion of the NASC Quality Seal. The National Animal Supplement Council is a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals and horses throughout the United States. Founded in 2001, NASC is an all-industry association of stakeholders concerned with the issues surrounding the supply of health supplements for animals not intended for human consumption, such as dogs, cats, and horses. The 2022 NASC Annual Conference took place recently in St. Louis, Mo. at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel. The event featured networking opportunities for all the attendees, breakout sessions for science, compliance, business, and marketing, as well as exhibiting from sponsors, and a dinner and awards gala. Audra Mulligan, director of Regulatory Affairs and Development, was present at the ceremony and accepted the awards on behalf of W.F. Young.

 

Bella Foodie, Fogbuster Coffee Launch Bella Foodie’s Private Label

SPRINGFIELD — Bella Foodie LLC, in partnership with Fogbusters Coffee, celebrated the launch of its custom private label coffee blend with a special coffee tasting event at Open Square in Holyoke. “Let’s face it, anyone that knows me knows how much I love my coffee! I am so truly happy that Bella Foodie will be having its own custom blend under Fogbuster Coffee,” said Ashley Tresoline, Owner of Bella Foodie LLC. “This partnership has been a dream come true for me and the Pierce brothers are so wonderful to work with. We all understand the value of what we put in our bodies and that it should be only of the highest quality. Their organic, air-roasted coffee is one of a kind and I am so excited for everyone to try it.” Said Sean Pierce, owner of Fogbuster Coffee Works, “we here at Fogbuster Coffee Works are very excited to partner up with Bella Foodie. We have worked closely with Ashley, to develop a special Bella Foodie Blend. One that encompasses both Bella Foodie and Fogbuster Coffee Works philosophies around all foods.”

 

Whittlesey Celebrates Community Day

HARTFORD — More than 90 Whittlesey team members across Connecticut and Western Mass. celebrated Community Day on June 17, an annual day of service representing the firm’s year-round commitment to giving back to local communities. For the past 12 years, hundreds of Whittlesey volunteers have put aside their daily work to partake in various projects ranging from painting classrooms to building homes. This year, the firm focused on efforts related to environmental sustainability. Alongside ReGreen Springfield, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, and Springfield Forestry, team members planted a pollinator garden in Forest Park. Also, teams joined the Bushnell Park Foundation and the United Way of Greater New Haven to plant community gardens, weed, and lay mulch.

 

EforAll Berkshire County Awards Prizes to Accelerator Companies

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County awarded nearly $10,000 in prizes to the Spring 2022 Business Accelerator Cohort at a recent awards ceremony held on Zoom. The celebration and gala began with remarks from state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who emphasized the robust public-private partnership that supports EforAll’s regional efforts and lauded the efforts of the 12 businesses that completed the program. The class speaker, Rachel Hailey of DEI Outdoors was chosen by her colleagues and shared many of the lessons of the program for future EforAll participants.

The awards were granted as follows:

• Jenny Gitlitz of Berkshire Family Advocates received the Paula Buxbaum Award, established in honor of a member of the Fall 2021 cohort who died in a car crash in October 2021. The award is granted to an individual making a career pivot and incorporating a social mission into their business;

• $1,000 to Rachel Hailey for DEI Outdoors;

• $2,300 to Deirdre Horan (Great Barrington) of Dri Ocean Products;

• $2,500 to Jackye Stoddard (Hudson, NY) for Hierba Buena Foods; and

• $3,500 to Elizabeth Heller (Pittsfield) for The Kids Super Journal.

The virtual event was also simulcast on Pittsfield Community Television. The recording is available to view here: https://youtu.be/yTeFMsVcB-4

EforAll’s next accelerator class will begin in September; applications are due at www.eforall.org before August 25.

 

Pare Corporation Opens Facility in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Pare Corporation, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, recently staged a well-attended grand opening for its facility in Holyoke, its third office in the region. “The Pioneer Valley is very community-focused and I appreciate the warm welcome the leaders of the Holyoke community have given us,” said Pare Vice President David Loring. “Because Holyoke is a hub point to the region, it is a perfect location for our new office. We look forward to meeting additional members of the community now that the office is open.” As part of the ceremony, a proclamation was presented by the office of Senator John Velis, who grew up in Holyoke and maintains strong ties to the region. Established in 1970, Pare Corporation has more than 130 staff serving the eastern United States. In addition to Holyoke, Pare has offices in Rhode Island and Foxboro, Mass. Pare has experience designing public and private facilities and the infrastructure that supports them. Clients and markets include state transportation departments, water and wastewater authorities, K-12 and higher education facilities, biotechnology and life science companies, and dams and marine facilities ranging to a wide variety of municipal, industrial, institutional, and commercial developments.