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.