Home Posts tagged Business Notes
Company Notebook

Greenfield Savings Bank Donates $50,000 to Iron Horse Music Hall

NORTHAMPTON — Greenfield Savings Bank announced it is making a donation of $50,000 to the Parlor Room Collective in support of its $750,000 capital campaign to revive the Iron Horse Music Hall in downtown Northampton. The Parlor Room Collective, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the health and vitality of the community through the power of music, purchased the Iron Horse last fall and launched a capital campaign to raise funds for renovations and updates to the historic music venue. Updates included expanding to the neighboring storefront at 18 Center St. and putting in 10 bathrooms on the first floor. The Iron Horse reopened its doors to the public for the first time on May 15 to a sold-out crowd with Taylor Ashton and Rachael & Vilray playing to an audience eager to celebrate the return of this beloved venue. Chris Freeman, executive director of the Parlor Room Collective, said the gift from Greenfield Savings Bank will help cover the costs of the extensive renovations that have made the Iron Horse a more accessible space, as well as the startup costs for the restaurant and the staff more than doubling in size to account for the new venue and restaurant. Along with the bar space and bathrooms, Iron Horse updates include flooring, lighting, HVAC, and a new sound system. These updates prioritize the customer and artist experience, making the space more comfortable and accessible than ever before.

 

Kuhn Riddle Rolls Out New Name, Logo

AMHERST — Kuhn Riddle Architects, an Amherst firm established in 1988 by John Kuhn and Chris Riddle, has rolled out its new name and new look. The firm is now Kuhn Riddle Architects & Designers and is headed by its second generation of leadership, President Aelan Tierney and Principals Jonathan Salvon and Charles Roberts. The firm worked with a Northampton-based creative studio, Transit Authority Figures, to develop a logo, signature colors, fonts, and a name that reflects the firm’s foundation, as well as its transitions, growth, and views toward the future. The new Kuhn Riddle logo is built on a simple grid using elemental shapes to create a symmetrical, abstract ‘KR’ monogram. These forms, each consisting of a quarter-circle and a triangle, face each other and together form a square. The new logo reflects Kuhn Riddle’s dedication to smart and creative problem solving rooted in timeless foundational principles. The font used in the new logo recalls the Goudy Old Style used in the original firm logo, yet has its own history, weight, and meaning. The new font, called Martina Plantijn, was developed by the Klim Type Foundry and named after the strong and formidable Dutch businesswomen who ran the Plantin-Moretus publishing house — then the world’s largest — in the early 17th century. As a woman-owned business, Kuhn Riddle takes inspiration from Plantjin’s entrepreneurial spirit and the family-owned company’s legacy of empowering women, which inspired a series of women descendants who went on to manage the business for much of the next three centuries. To complement the new logo, the firm chose deep blue and radiant yellow, color hues that are unique, bright, and friendly.

 

Eversource Named Among Climate Leaders by USA TODAY

BOSTON — For a second consecutive year, Eversource Energy has been recognized by USA TODAY and Statista Inc. as one of America’s Climate Leaders for 2024. Ranked among the top utilities on the list, this distinction highlights the energy company’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions intensity, which is rooted in a commitment to sustainability throughout its operations. The USA TODAY list of America’s Climate Leaders recognizes the top 450 companies across the U.S. that have achieved the greatest reduction in their operational emissions intensity between 2020 and 2022, a measure of the amount of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gases a company produces relative to its revenue. Following Eversource’s recognition in last year’s list, the company is ranked fourth in the Energy & Utilities category and 173rd overall for 2024.

 

Enlite Cannabis Dispensary Opens in Indian Orchard

INDIAN ORCHARD — Enlite Cannabis Dispensary celebrated the grand opening of its newest location at 479 Main St., Indian Orchard on June 4. The grand-opening event commenced with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring special guests, including state Sen. Adam Gomez, Mayor Domenic Sarno, and Ward 8 City Councilor Zaida Govan. As a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and social-equity dispensary, Enlite is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion within the cannabis industry. The Indian Orchard location marks Enlite’s second opening in Western Mass., reinforcing the company’s dedication to expanding access to high-quality cannabis products in the region. In conjunction with the grand opening, Enlite hosted a food drive to support the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

 

UMass Amherst to Join NSF SafeInsights Project

AMHERST — The Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst has joined the newly announced U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) SafeInsights, a five-year, $90 million research and development infrastructure for inclusive education research. Led by OpenStax at Rice University, SafeInsights is a large-scale education research hub that will safely connect digital learning platforms and educational institutions to learn about learning. This initiative represents the NSF’s largest single investment in R&D infrastructure for education at a national scale and will be the first national infrastructure of its kind. SafeInsights includes a multi-disciplinary network of 80 collaborating institutions and partners, including major digital learning platforms that currently serve tens of millions of students. Lan and UMass Amherst will join together with researchers and large-scale, digital learning platforms to enable privacy-preserving research studies to better understand student learning. According to national polls conducted by the Data Quality Campaign, 86% of teachers recognize the importance of research in effective teaching. However, the majority of teachers must individually piece together research-informed teaching and learning strategies, often with limited resources. SafeInsights will enable research studies that help researchers understand how students learn best, no matter who they are, what they are learning, or how they are learning. The insights gained can lead to the development of better, research-informed teaching tools and practices, promoting educational equity. SafeInsights stringently protects learner privacy. It uses a unique technique called ‘secure data enclaves,’ which unlocks valuable insights without revealing any student information to researchers or moving student information from the learning tools that it safely lives in today.

 

PeoplesBank Partner NYMBUS Wins FinTech Futures Award

HOLYOKE — FinTech Futures, the global market intelligence platform for financial-services technology, has named NYMBUS the Excellence in Tech winner for Core Banking System at the recent Banking Tech Awards USA ceremony held in New York City. The awards, recognizing the outstanding achievements and successes in the banking and FinTech industry across the U.S., included many of the most well-known and well-respected brands within the industry. Nymbus is a leading technology partner for PeoplesBank. “We are incredibly excited for this recognition for the NYMBUS team and their staff partners here at PeoplesBank,” said Aleda De Maria, executive vice president for Consumer Banking and Operations at PeoplesBank. “We believe that banks need to be able to offer the best technology for their customers, to create a simple banking experience. We are proud to align ourselves with an award-winning tech partner, which has allowed us distinguish ourselves in a competitive category.”

 

Westover Metropolitan Airport Launches New Website

CHICOPEE — Westover Metropolitan Airport announced the launch of its new website, westoverairport.com, designed to streamline the user experience and provide valuable information for travelers, pilots, and aircraft tenants. For close to five decades, Westover Metropolitan Airport has been committed to ensuring safe, convenient, and cost-effective travel. Situated in Chicopee, Westover Municipal Airport’s strategic location offers easy access to major highways. The newly launched website aims to further enhance the airport’s commitment and reputation to exceptional service by providing a user-friendly platform to access essential travel and destination information. Westover Metropolitan Airport benefits from the worldwide reputation of Westover Air Force Reserve Base, but it is important to provide the distinction between the military facility and high-profile operations and the civilian operations. The new website’s focus will help achieve that.

 

Summerlin Floors Makes Donation to Greenfield Community College

AMHERST — Summerlin Floors, woman-owned flooring business based in Amherst, made its annual donation of $2,500 to Greenfield Community College (GCC) in memory of Erin Summerlin, daughter of owner Ann Bronner, who hopes the gift makes a lasting impact and positive contribution toward the educational community. Bronner, a GCC alumna, aims to support the future generation of scholars and give back to the GCC community.

 

Goodwill Receives Grant from Eversource Foundation

PITTSFIELD — Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont announced it has received a grant of $1,200 from the Eversource Foundation for its Soar for Success program. In the last year, Goodwill’s Soar for Success program served 53 individuals with job coaching and other services, while providing 1,168 vouchers for clothing and household items to individuals in need. Goodwill’s Soar for Success job-training program focuses on teaching essential employment skills, provides interview and work-appropriate clothing, and helps community members secure meaningful work. The program is offered free of charge to all Berkshire County residents.

Company Notebook

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

Local Farmer Awards

Through Jan. 31: Farmers in Western Mass. are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards of up to $2,500. These awards are for capital and infrastructure improvement projects related to planting, growing, harvesting, and processing that will help farms compete in the marketplace. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF), in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with the support of other funders, is entering the 10th year of the awards program, which has helped more than 260 farmers carry out a total of 572 projects. The Three County Fair is a new addition to the group of funders this year. The awards have helped farmers make necessary improvements, such as upgrading electric fencing, purchasing no-till equipment, expanding irrigation, installing frost-free water systems, purchasing feed troughs, and applying shade cloths for greenhouses. To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 and be located in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, or Berkshire County. For a full list of eligibility requirements and application information, visit www.farmerawards.org. The deadline for applying is Jan. 31.

 

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.

 

Margaritaville at Herrell’s

Jan. 21-28: Herrell’s Ice Cream in Northampton will celebrate its annual Margaritaville. Some of the flavors being served this year will be winning flavors from the UMass ice-cream-making competition from the last several years. These flavors have become popular rotating flavors at Herrell’s and are often served during summer months. The Margaritaville flavors this year will include Berry Tequila Tango (UMass), Mango Sorbet, Mango Ice Cream, Coconut Chocolate Chip, Piña Colada, Aloha Sunrise, Key Lime Cream, Sublime (UMass), Strawberry Banana, and Spicy Pineapple Margarita (UMass).

 

Free Music Fridays

Jan. 26 to Feb. 23: MGM Springfield is once again bringing summer inside. The popular Free Music Fridays Summer Concert Series on the MGM Springfield Plaza will move into MGM Springfield’s ARIA Ballroom beginning Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Kicking off the 2024 indoor series is the Blushing Brides, billed as the original tribute to the Rolling Stones. The lineup also includes ’80s rock and metal band Aquanett, local modern country music fan favorite Trailer Trash, party band Darik and the Funbags, and, closing out the series, the Eagles Experience tribute show. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available during the shows. Guests also can enjoy MGM Springfield’s diverse food and beverage offerings before or after the concerts, with options including the Chandler Steakhouse, Costa, Tap Sports Bar, and South End Market. For additional details on the Free Music Fridays Concert Series, including lineup updates, visit mgmspringfield.mgmresorts.com/en/entertainment/free-music-fridays.html.

 

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. 19 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Event ticket information will follow. The Royal Law Firm is a partner sponsor of Difference Makers this year, and other sponsorships are available.

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Grant from Collins Aerospace

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced a grant of $30,000 from Collins Aerospace for the Her Future, Our Future comprehensive campaign. This commitment from Collins Aerospace will support the creation of a dynamic MakerSpace in Girls Inc. of the Valley’s new headquarters and program center. The collaboration between Collins Aerospace and Girls Inc. of the Valley will include volunteer opportunities to conduct STEM workshops for students and assist teens navigating the college-application process, as well as job shadowing and internship opportunities. The MakerSpace and Collins Aerospace volunteers will have a major impact on Girls Inc.’s Eureka! Program, a unique curriculum that offers youth a sustained, five-year experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Eureka! is open to all Hampden County girls in grades 8-12. With $4.8 million raised toward the $5 million goal, Her Future, Our Future is Girls Inc. of the Valley’s comprehensive campaign that has three important goals: expand Girls Inc. programming to more Valley communities, support the growth of Eureka!, and complete a new headquarters and program center.

 

UMass Amherst, AIC to Share Classroom, Lab Space After Fire

SPRINGFIELD — UMass Amherst and American International College (AIC) signed an agreement allowing AIC to use clinical simulation laboratories and classrooms at the UMass Amherst Center at Springfield following a fire on the AIC campus in July. The agreement will assist AIC nursing students in continuing their education uninterrupted as repairs are made to AIC’s health-sciences facilities. The July 27 fire on AIC’s campus in Springfield, sparked by a lightning strike, caused extensive damage to Courniotes Hall, which houses the college’s nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and public health programs. Under the agreement, the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst and AIC’s nursing program have developed a schedule to share instruction space at Tower Square in downtown Springfield through May 2024. This fall, more than 50 AIC students have used the facilities for instruction, assessments, and other activities.

 

The Children’s Trust Honors Square One with Award

BOSTON — The Children’s Trust, the state’s child-abuse-prevention agency, awarded Square One in Springfield with its Community Partnership Award at its annual A View from All Sides conference. The Community Partnership Award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated a commitment to the mission of the Children’s Trust and has developed strong and long-lasting relationships, understands the shared responsibility to support families and children, and has directly impacted the goals of the Children’s Trust. Square One’s programs include early education and care, serving 500 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers each day; and family-support services that impact more than 1,500 families each year. This past June, the Children’s Trust partnered with Square One to launch the Commonwealth’s first Financial Support Program for young, first-time parents. The pilot program provides cash assistance to parents enrolled in the Children’s Trust’s Healthy Families program in Springfield. Program participants receive $500 per month for the first 15 months, then three additional monthly payments of $550, $650, and $750, respectively, for a total of 18 months. Participants who enroll in the financial-assistance program while pregnant receive a lower monthly stipend of $100. Upon the baby’s birth, parents are then eligible to receive regular monthly payments to help support the transition to parenting and the baby’s first months. The Children’s Trust also offers optional financial skill-building courses to program participants. Because Healthy Families program participants meet with home visitors regularly, the first-of-its-kind financial-assistance program is unique in its built-in case-management component as well as access to referrals for other basic family needs.

 

IT’SUGAR Now Open at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — IT’SUGAR, one of the largest specialty candy retailers in the U.S., has opened a 2,400-square-foot candy store inside Holyoke Mall. The Holyoke Mall location epitomizes what the brand is known for: hundreds of varieties of over-the-top sweets, humorous products, and immersive candy experiences from America’s beloved brands, including Sour Patch Kids, OREO, Nerds, Skittles, Reese’s, and Starburst. It also includes shops devoted to retro and international candy, TikTok-trending treats, and much more. IT’SUGAR’s new store is located on the upper level in Center Court, next to H&M.

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

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.

 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Nov. 1-30: Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, is kicking off the bank’s 2023 Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. This marks the third year of the bank’s annual appeal, which invites bank customers, employees, and community members to donate money between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 to help fight food insecurity. 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 2022, through contributions and matching donations, the campaign raised $35,000, and since inception, the bank has donated $74,000. Donations of any amount are encouraged. As an added incentive to give, the bank offers those who donate the opportunity to enter a drawing for a $25 gift card, which will be awarded at each of its 11 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. A total of 14 food pantries will be supported this year, including the Best Life Food Ministry, Agawam; BUCC Helping Hands Cupboard Food Pantry, Belchertown; the Chicopee Cupboard; Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry; Easthampton Congregational Church Food Cupboard & Oasis Kitchen; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hatfield; the Hadley Food Pantry; Hilltown Food Pantry, Goshen; Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke; Neighbors Helping Neighbors Inc., South Hadley; Northampton Survival Center; Not Bread Alone, Amherst; Southampton Community Cupboard; and Westfield Food Pantry.

 

The Mighty Oktoberfest

Nov. 3-4: The Student Prince and the Fort Restaurant will celebrate the Mighty Oktoberfest. The two-night event kicks off on Nov. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with the Berkshire Mountain Wanderers on stage and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on site to tap the ceremonial keg. Oktoberfest food will include bratwurst, knockwurst, and burgers, with a full menu indoors that includes German fare such as sauerbraten, braised lamb, and pork shanks. Other live music includes Trailer Trash at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by Saturday’s lineup of Berkshire Mountain Wanderers at 5 p.m., American Badass (Kid Rock tribute) at 6 p.m., Jagged Little Pam (Alanis Morissette tribute) at 7:15 p.m., and a Foo Fighters tribute at 8:30 p.m. Single-night and two-night passes are available at the gate. Passes include one complimentary ‘haus beer’ from a list for those who are 21 or older.

 

Whisker Wonderland

Nov. 4: Dakin Humane Society will present Whisker Wonderland from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 171 Union St., Springfield. Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed. The second-annual holiday craft event will include a variety of local artisans offering pet-centric crafts and gifts. Last year’s first-ever Whisker Wonderland event attracted many pet lovers and craft enthusiasts across Western Mass. and Northern Conn., as well as holiday shoppers and people seeking eco-friendly, locally focused gift items. Vendors featured at the event will include Auntie’s Best Creations, Best Dressed Cup, Brodester’s Bandannas, Cindy’s Creations, Chicken Frosty, Diane’s Little Creations, Fine Design Solutions, Fleece4Fun, FroebelArt, Gifted Vine, Grandma Hubbard’s Candy Cupboard, Laura Louise (author), M&M Rustic Designs, Make It Wright Creations, MJ’s Creative Crochet, Noni’s Notions, Paintings by Sandy, Pet Rocks by LF, Sand and Sea, Sew Cozy by Abby, Sew Kreative, Toby’s Treats, and the Tragic Whale. In addition, Dakin’s Home Again thrift shop will be open at that time to provide additional shopping options. There will be a raffle of donated gift items to support animals at Dakin Humane Society, and Dakin’s holiday merchandise will be for sale. The family-friendly event will also feature a bake sale with hot chocolate. Sponsors for Whisker Wonderland include VCA Animal Hospitals and Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc.

 

Trees of Hope

Nov. 4-17: Ronald McDonald House of Springfield announced the third annual Trees of Hope holiday celebration, being held at Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. Trees of Hope is a festive fundraising event that supports the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield’s mission to provide the critical link between specialized medical treatment and the children who desperately need it. The event will feature creative holiday trees, dream gifts, and displays donated by local businesses, individuals, and community organizations. There is no entry fee to view the displays. Each display will be raffled off using an online raffle system that allows people to participate both in person and virtually. On Thursday, Nov. 9, a Halfway to Hope reception will be held for sponsors, display donors, and friends of Ronald McDonald House. Center Square Grill, Jackalope Restaurant, Pete’s Sweets, LoopHole Brewing, and Horizon Beverage will donate the evening’s refreshments. Trees of Hope will also include a Paint & Sip fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m., and a craft fair on Sunday, Nov. 12 from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., both hosted at Gary Rome Hyundai. The craft fair is open to the public. The Paint & Sip event is by reservation only. To register, contact Cathy Riley of Gary Rome Hyundai at [email protected] or (413) 536-4328, ext. 1062.

 

Super 60

Nov. 9: Ashley Kohl, owner of Ohana School of Performing Arts and an entrepreneur with an inspiring story to tell, will be the keynote speaker at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Super 60 lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Super 60, a program that traces its roots back to the late ’80s, when it was the Fabulous 50 before being expanded, is being revamped for 2023. In addition to the two traditional categories — Total Revenue and Revenue Growth — there will be three new categories recognizing nonprofits, startups, and giving back to the community. There are 12 winners in each category; read about them starting on page 22. Tickets will be available for purchase at the chamber’s website, springfieldregionalchamber.com. For more information on Super 60, call (413) 787-1555.

 

ignite 2023 Conference

Nov. 15-16: “The Future of Work/Humanification in the Age of AI” will be the topic of the Chamber of Greater Easthampton’s ignite 2023 professional-development conference at Abandoned Building Brewery, 142 Pleasant St., Easthampton. The two-day conference is designed to empower leaders, business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs, employers, and employees with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of work. The conference will emphasis the latest trends and best practices in artificial intelligence (AI) and explore the intersection of AI and the human workforce. Over the course of the two days, ignite 2023 attendees will better understand how AI is reshaping industries; discover ways to utilize AI integration to propel sales; learn new approaches to boosting employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention using AI; explore cutting-edge communications tools, techniques, and insights into customer behavior; and identify actionable strategies and tactics for implementation. The ignite 2023 conference will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and will include speakers, interactive workshops, group problem-solving activities, and relationship-building opportunities. Registration for the ignite 2023 conference costs $179 for chamber members and $199 for non-member, and includes all conference materials as well as lunch both days. Pre-registration is required, and the deadline for registration is Wednesday, Nov. 8. For more details about the conference and to register, visit www.easthampton.org.

 

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).

 

 

Company Notebook

Springfield Museums Announce Free First Wednesdays

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums have been awarded a three-year, $800,000 grant from the Art Bridges Foundation as part of a new Access for All initiative meant to help increase access to museums across the country. Thanks to this funding, the Springfield Museums will introduce Free First Wednesdays beginning in January 2024. All visitors will receive free admission on the first Wednesday of every month for the next three years. The Springfield Museums are one of just 64 museums in 36 states — and one of only seven in New England — to be awarded one of these prestigious grants. There are 33,000 museums in the U.S., according to the American Alliance of Museums. Based in Bentonville, Ark., the Art Bridges Foundation is a national arts nonprofit founded by philanthropist Alice Walton. With its $40 million investment in the Access for All initiative, the foundation hopes to eliminate barriers and encourage more people to visit and engage in more museums across the country.

 

MicroTek Receives Disability Employment Awareness Award

CHICOPEE — MicroTek Inc., a not-for-profit manufacturer of custom wire harnesses and cable assemblies, received the inaugural National Disabilities Awareness Month award for small to medium-sized Massachusetts companies, presented at the Massachusetts State House. MicroTek, founded in 1983, was established to provide employment opportunities and support to individuals with developmental disabilities. MicroTek is led by an all-women volunteer board of directors. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh presented the keynote and spoke about the state’s support for employing people with disabilities. “When we prioritize hiring people with disabilities, everyone wins. We can address the ongoing workforce crisis, foster independence, and become a stronger workforce with a better understanding of the lived experience of people with disabilities. We need to take this opportunity to break down stigma and become more inclusive.”

 

Greenfield Savings Bank Supports WorkHub on Union

EASTHAMPTON — Greenfield Savings Bank has contributed $5,000 to the Chamber of Greater Easthampton’s co-workspace project, WorkHub on Union. This partnership underscores the shared dedication of both organizations to empower local entrepreneurs and enhance the overall prosperity of the Greater Easthampton community. WorkHub on Union seeks to establish a dynamic hub where local professionals, creative minds, and innovators can converge. This project is envisioned to foster collaboration, idea exchange, and networking among individuals representing diverse industries. The donation from Greenfield Savings Bank reflects its commitment to nurturing initiatives that contribute to the holistic well-being of the community. This collaboration symbolizes the mutual resolve of Greenfield Savings Bank and the chamber to promote entrepreneurial spirit and offer resources that uplift local businesses and residents.

 

 

Bay Path Awarded $1.2 Million for Special-ed Teacher Training

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded a federal grant totaling $1,201,833 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to train special-education teachers. The grant, to be applied over five years, will help Bay Path fund scholarships for graduate students and help the university create and offer professional-development opportunities to faculty and teachers at partnering school districts, which include Holyoke Public Schools, Worcester Public Schools, and the Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction, based in Worcester. Through this project, Bay Path will prepare for accreditation from the Council of Exceptional Children, the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Bay Path is one of 41 colleges and universities nationally to receive funding through this grant competition. The grant comes at a time when Massachusetts has adjusted its licensing requirements as a means of streamlining the process by which an educator becomes qualified to teach special education. In 2019, it was reported that 118,867 students in Massachusetts had complex or challenging special-education needs, up from 62,660 in 2004, representing the majority of the state’s entire special-education student population of nearly 174,000.

 

Kuhn Riddle Receives Award

AMHERST — Kuhn Riddle Architects has been designated a 2023 Emerging Professionals Friendly Firm. The award is presented annually by the New England American Institute of Architects, and Kuhn Riddle has been awarded this title for the third year in a row. The award is presented to architecture firms which demonstrate initiatives that promote the advancement of emerging architectural professionals. The firm must evaluate their policies from an emerging professional lens, show recognition of emerging professionals at their firm, and value the development of emerging professionals to sustain the future growth of their practice. Application for the award must be completed cooperatively by an emerging professional and a firm principal. Kuhn Riddle currently has five emerging professionals who are going through the licensure process.

 

Westfield State University Cuts Ribbon at Parenzo Hall

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 13 for the newly renovated Parenzo Hall. The more than $40 million project, a partnership with Westfield State University and the Massachusetts Division of Capital Assets Management and Maintenance, started its planning phase in 2018 and was completed earlier this month. The newly designed, 90,000-square-foot building will host Dever Stage, the Center for Student Success and Engagement, the Department of Education, the Department of Political Science, and the new Collaboration and Maker Space. Parenzo Hall will also be home to Westfield State’s new Research, Innovation, Design, and Entrepreneurial (RIDE) Center, which will serve as a hub of innovation and workforce development in Western Mass., fulfilling the university’s stewarded agreement to engage students while partnering and collaborating with external stakeholders and community leaders. RIDE will partner with MakerHealth, a division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which will outfit RIDE with equipment and modules that support transdisciplinary innovation, design, and entrepreneurial practices. Westfield State University will be the first undergraduate institution in the nation to establish this partnership.

 

Marcus & Millichap Facilitates

Sale of Industrial Warehouse

AGAWAM — Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real-estate brokerage firm specializing in investment sales, financing, research, and advisory services, announced the sale of 277 Silver St. in Agawam, an industrial warehouse, for $2,850,000. Klein, an investment specialist in Marcus & Millichap’s Boston office, had the exclusive listing to market the property on behalf of the seller, a group of private investors. The buyer, an individual/personal trust, was procured by Tom Hovey and Eric Suffoletto of Atlantic Capital Partners. At closing, the building was 100% occupied by two tenants, including Otis Elevator. The warehouse occupies a 3.4-acre parcel, offering a total of 37,650 square feet, featuring five loading docks and 40 parking spaces.

 

AIC Launches Online Graduate

Forensic Psychology Program

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has introduced an online master of science in forensic psychology program. This new offering, complementing the college’s established in-person program, is tailored for those with a bachelor’s degree interested in psychology, criminal minds and behavior, and the workings of the criminal-justice system. Applications are now being accepted for the inaugural program for the spring 2024 semester, set to begin in January. The online forensic psychology program is a unique opportunity to study the psychopathology of criminal minds and behavior, from serial killers to individuals with co-morbid mental-health and addiction issues. Students will delve into various subjects, including policing, evidence practices, victimization, risk assessment, and other specialized topics. After earning their degree, many forensic psychology students embark on careers in public and private settings, including prisons, youth facilities, social services, and mental-health agencies. Some even explore careers as forensic researchers or positions with federal and state agencies.

 

Country Bank Recognized

for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank announced that the Boston Business Journal has once again named it an honoree in its annual 2023 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. During this year’s celebration on Sept. 7, 100 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities last year, as noted above. This year’s honorees include companies from such industry sectors as financial and professional services, healthcare, technology, retail, and professional sports. Country Bank, ranked 44th, employs 220 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties, many of whom volunteer for various nonprofits throughout the year.

 

Hazen Paper Unveils 11th Cover for Hall of Fame Yearbook

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper’s 11th enshrinement yearbook cover for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, created with Hazen HoloJet paper, projects an amplified refractive three-dimensional image of a basketball symbolizing the Hall of Fame dome. For 2023, this includes Fresnel Lens technology and a new holographic element called “Metal-Morphosis,” utilizing a new deep-groove system for sharper images and greater dimensionality. Appearing to move and change with the angle of light, the holographic treatment induces engagement and interaction with the book. Hazen originated the holography 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 Tango C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil and HoloJet process. The holography is created with an optical structure that is imparted on the surface of the paper (underneath the printed graphics) with an ultra-thin polymer layer that is less than 2 microns in thickness. Envirofoil is a non-plastic paper that is as recyclable as paper.

 

Food Bank of Western Mass.

Adds STCC as Member Agency

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has become the first college in Massachusetts to join the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts as a member agency. Starting this month, STCC will be a part of the region’s food-assistance network. STCC was also the first college in Massachusetts to join the Stop & Shop School Food Pantry Program, which provides donations to support the college’s food pantry, known as the Ram Mini Mart. Students who qualify can visit the on-campus Center for Access Services (CAS) to pick up free meals, groceries, and other necessities stored in the Ram Mini Mart. Stop & Shop offers a school-based food-pantry program to help reduce hunger among students in communities served by the company’s more than 400 stores in the Northeast. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides healthy food to 173 members of the network in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. These independent pantries, meal sites, and shelters are on the front lines, providing food and other resources to individuals, families, seniors, children, college students, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Company Notebook

Food Bank Sells Facility to Myers Produce

HATFIELD — The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts announced the successful sale of its Hatfield building and property to Myers Produce, a woman-owned regional produce distributor and trucking company offering farmer-focused distribution, freight, and warehousing services. The strategic decision to sell the building marks a significant milestone for both businesses. The Food Bank moved to its new location at 25 Carew St., Chicopee, during the last week of August, and Myers Produce will move into its new Hatfield facility in October. Myers Produce has a long-standing commitment to bolster access to regionally grown food and to support farmers in Western Mass. and Vermont. With this strategic move, Myers Produce is taking a significant step to expand the purchasing of food from local growers and producers and transporting and reselling it to food retailers throughout the region and beyond. Moving to Hatfield will generate employment opportunities and place Myers Produce close to farmlands, near highways, and at a central crossroads for serving growers, customers, and fellow distributors in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Both the Food Bank and Myers Produce are looking forward to sharing resources at their respective new facilities, including cross docking and temporary storage. This arrangement will facilitate Food Bank deliveries to its member food pantries and meal sites in Hampshire and Franklin counties. For Myers Produce, this arrangement will contribute to its current ‘donation transportation’ program, facilitating the free transportation of donated food to the Food Bank for distribution to the local community. Foreseeing it was running out of space many years ago, the Food Bank purchased 16.5 acres of vacant land in the Chicopee River Business Park in 2020. In 2021, it launched a successful, $26 million capital campaign to raise funds to build a larger facility, with support from individual and business donors, state and federal governments, and volunteers. In 2022, construction began on its new distribution center and headquarters, which is nearing completion.

 

AIC Introduces Division of Arts, Media, and Design

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has made a significant advance toward meeting the evolving demands of the workforce with the introduction of a new Division of Arts, Media, and Design within the School of Business, Arts, and Sciences. This division encompasses redesigned undergraduate programming in the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science curricula, launching with the upcoming fall 2023 semester. This new division will introduce four undergraduate majors, each crafted to provide students with a comprehensive foundation. The offerings include public relations & social media administration, digital media production, arts and entertainment management, and graphic arts and design. Moreover, AIC unveiled six new undergraduate minors that complement these majors. The minors include public relations and social media administration, digital media production, arts & entertainment management, graphic arts and design, fashion design and merchandising, and music technology & production.

MCLA’s LEAD Academy Expands with Support from Greylock Federal Credit Union

NORTH ADAMS — LEAD Academy, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) almost two-decade-old program to help new students integrate into college life, is getting a huge boost thanks to Greylock Federal Credit Union. Greylock pledged $100,000 to support a reimagined Greylock LEAD Academy, allowing the program to grow from around 30 MCLA students each year to this fall’s cohort of 200 participants. Thanks to Greylock’s generosity, LEAD is now available to all MCLA first-year students at no cost. LEAD, which stands for Leadership, Education, Action, and Development, is a college success, leadership, and civic-engagement program designed to help students develop leadership skills and the skills necessary for college preparation, which they can immediately apply. Beginning Aug. 26, this year’s LEAD students will participate in a holistic onboarding experience before the start of fall classes. The first five days will provide a signature experience focusing on leadership development, team building, community building, and workshops conducted by student leaders.

 

Community Music School Receives $10,000 Grant from New York Life

SPRINGFIELD — Community Music School of Springfield (CMSS), which provides accessible, affordable music education, has been awarded a $10,000 Community Impact Grant from New York Life. The grant will support the Adaptive Music Program (AMP), which connects music education and special education to improve students’ lives, impacting their social/emotional, academic, and artistic development. “We are grateful for New York Life’s investment in AMP, which will change many lives for the better,” said Jean Deliso, CFP, an agent with New York Life’s Connecticut Valley General Office and CMSS board member. “We are pleased that our partnership will have a long-lasting impact on CMSS and the population they serve.” The Community Impact Grant program awards grants of up to $25,000 to local nonprofit organizations, which are championed by New York Life agents and employees. Since the program’s inception in 2008, nearly 800 grants totaling more than $10 million have been awarded to nonprofits across the country. “With this generous support from New York Life, this year, AMP will be able to work with over 800 students at more than 15 Springfield public schools, providing critical skill building, including receptive and expressive language, motor skills, and building social relationships, helping these vulnerable children build their foundation for future success in all types of academic and personal areas,” said Eileen McCaffery, executive director of CMSS.

 

Maybury Material Handling, Community Action Pioneer Valley Win HNE Well Worth It Award

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has awarded Maybury Material Handling of East Longmeadow and Community Action Pioneer Valley of Greenfield its Well Worth It Award, Gold designation, for outstanding employee-wellness programs. Maybury Material Handling provides industrial products and services to manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing customers. Community Action Pioneer Valley is a not-for-profit that helps those with low incomes achieve economic stability and security, and works to build communities in which all people can thrive. Both employers demonstrated their responsibility to the health and well-being of their employees by encouraging them to use Health New England’s suite of health and wellness services. These include its Healthy Choices Rewards Program that offers monetary rewards for healthy activities, such as joining a gym, nutrition counseling, smoking cessation, and more. Health New England also awarded Well Worth It Awards in the Silver designation to Scantic Valley Regional Health Trust and PeoplesBank, and in the Bronze designation to Springfield Area Transit Co. Inc./Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. Well Worth It Award winners will be honored at a luncheon on Oct. 5 at the Sheraton Springfield.

 

Country Bank, WooSox Foundation Announce 2023 WooStars

WARE — Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox Foundation recently announced the 2023 WooStars, a program that supports nonprofit leaders throughout the region. Country Bank recently recognized nine local WooStars and the nonprofits they are affiliated with at Polar Park, including Mari Gonzalez of El Buen Samaritano Food Program Inc., Jenna Rahkonen of HomeFront Strong, Brian Feeley of Miracle League of Western Massachusetts, Todd Stewart of Camp Putnam, Sharon MacDonald of Guild of St. Agnes of Worcester Inc., Anna Rice of Dismas House, Gina and John Connolly of Lou Gehrig Little League, and Joseph Kenadek of Jack Barry Little League. Each nonprofit was presented with a $5,000 donation. In the past three years, 27 WooStars have been awarded a total of $135,000 in donations.

 

The Stubblebine Co., JLL Announce Sale of Property

WESTFIELD — The Stubblebine Co./CORFAC International and JLL announced the sale of 323 Lockhouse Road, Westfield to ERD Metal Inc. for $14.5 million. The property consists of a 229,867-square-foot industrial building on 26.09 acres. Situated two miles from I-90 and seven miles from I-91, the property is located adjacent to Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport. Erdoganlar Aluminum (ERD Metal Inc.) was established in 1987 in Istanbul, Turkey as a family-owned aluminum-extrusion company. Its vision is to fulfill the needs of its partners by offering a wide range of products and services, including custom fabrications, plastic injection, aluminum casting, custom aluminum extrusions, custom packaging, and more. Established in 1987, the Stubblebine Co./COFAC International specializes in selling and leasing large industrial investment properties and adaptive reuse sites throughout New England.

Company Notebook

Whittlesey Named a Top 200 Accounting Firm for 2023

HOLYOKE — Whittlesey was recognized again as a Top 200 Accounting Firm in the country by INSIDE Public Accounting for 2023. “We are honored to be recognized as a Top 200 Accounting Firm. This award is a testament to our sustained growth and ability to bring exceptional value to our clients,” Managing Partner and CEO Drew Andrews said. “Our unique approach of combining outstanding client service at the regional level with the technical prowess of a national entity is the differentiator that drives our growth. We are deeply thankful for the chance to serve our clients, team members, and communities.” INSIDE Public Accounting is an award-recognized newsletter for the accounting profession. It ranks the country’s top 500 accounting firms. This year nearly 600 accounting firms participated in its annual nationwide survey.

 

UMass Amherst Again Top-ranked for Campus Food

AMHERST — For the seventh consecutive time, UMass Amherst has earned the top spot for Best Campus Food in annual rankings published by the Princeton Review. The rankings are derived from student reports of their experiences at the schools in its annual “Best Colleges” guidebook. The 2024 rankings are based on feedback from 165,000 students at the schools in the guide. UMass Dining, the largest collegiate dining program in the U.S., is committed to providing the campus community with locally sourced, healthy, sustainable, and globally inspired cuisine, and its leadership believes in helping to build community through food.

 

Berkshire Black Economic Council Issues Vibe North Street Grants

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Black Economic Council (BBEC) announced four grant awardees for the Vibe North Street storefront recruitment grant program, in collaboration with Downtown Pittsfield Inc. This grant program, funded by MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), aims to revitalize downtown Pittsfield by supporting businesses relocating to the North Street TDI district. The awardees are Guelce Collaborative Marketing, which specializes in website development and management services for small businesses, and will use its grant award to establish a physical presence in the North Street district and expand its digital and marketing expertise to downtown Pittsfield by providing social-media management, advertising, and recording and editing support; BB’s Hot Spot LLC, which brings the flavors of Caribbean barbecue and jerk to the Berkshires, and will bring its eatery to downtown Pittsfield and add a unique culinary experience for local foodies; Dolce Rose Beauty Supply, formerly operated online and vended at pop-up events, which will now open the only Black-owned beauty-supply store within a 40-mile radius, and will use the funding to establish a brick-and-mortar presence, bringing diverse beauty products to the local community; and Brazzucas, a Brazilian market that will bring the tastes, colors, and culture of Brazil to the heart of Pittsfield, with plans to move onto North Street in the former General Store.

 

AIC Receives Grant to Support Mental-health Initiative for Youth

SPRINGFIELD — The Division of Occupational Therapy (OT) Services at American International College (AIC) announced its receipt of a $15,000 grant from the Hope for Youth and Families Foundation, established by Bob Bolduc, former CEO of Pride Stores. This grant will facilitate collaboration among the division, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services of Springfield (MLKFS), and the MLK Charter School of Excellence in Springfield to implement the evidence-based mental-health promotion initiative “Every Moment Counts.” The objective of this program is to empower participating youths, including 60 students in the MLK after-school program and 340 students at the MLK Charter School, through engaging activities tailored to promote mental health, enhance self-esteem, and foster resilience. This partnership is the result of a proposal developed by Professor and Post-professional OTD Faculty Lead Dr. Allison Sullivan, who also serves on the board of directors at MLKFS. AIC’s faculty leadership in this initiative offers valuable field-work opportunities for emerging practitioners enrolled in AIC’s Occupational Therapy program. Sullivan and her AIC colleague, Dr. Christine Helfrich, will provide comprehensive training to AIC OT students and staff members at both MLKFS and the MLK Charter School of Excellence on the principles of the “Every Moment Counts” program to enhance mental well-being in children. The first training session begins in late August.

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 addional 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].

 

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.

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.

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.

Company Notebook

Berkshire Bank Foundation Announces 2022 Donations

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced more than $2.8 million in foundation philanthropic investments during 2022. During the fourth quarter of 2022, more than $764,000 was contributed to help the communities Berkshire Bank serves. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual and small-business success, particularly for underrepresented populations. The investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. In total, Berkshire’s foundation assisted 155 nonprofit organizations during the fourth quarter of 2022 through grants supporting a wide range of critical projects like food insecurity, health, wellness, homelessness, educational advancement, arts, culture, diversity, and inclusion. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunities for economic prosperity. In addition, the foundation supports programs that align with the bank’s Center for Women, Wellness, and Wealth.

 

LEGO Group to Move American Headquarters to Boston

ENFIELD, Conn. — The LEGO Group announced it has selected Boston for its future head office in the Americas and will move its current office from Enfield, Conn. by the end of 2026. Skip Kodak, president of the LEGO Group in the Americas, said the move will support the company’s long-term growth ambitions to bring LEGO play to even more children in the U.S. and the Americas region. The LEGO Group opened its office in Enfield in 1975. The move to the new office will happen in a phased way beginning in mid-2025 and completed by the end of 2026. Until then, LEGO employees will work across two sites: the existing office in Enfield and the company’s LEGO Education office in Back Bay, Boston, where new roles will be located. All colleagues based in Enfield will have a position in the new location and will receive relocation assistance if they wish to make the move. Colleagues who choose not to relocate will receive financial support and job-placement assistance to transition to new opportunities outside the company.

 

BANKW Staffing Acquires Johnson & Hill Staffing

BOSTON — BANKW Staffing’s family of locally owned companies just got bigger with the addition of Johnson & Hill Staffing to its family of full-service staffing and recruiting agencies. Johnson & Hill will become part of the KNF&T Staffing Resources brand, and will continue to provide temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct-hire services in Western Mass. and Connecticut as it has for more than 28 years. BANKW’s investment in Johnson & Hill is part of the firm’s plan to continue its organic and strategic growth in the New England employment market. This acquisition is a natural choice for BANKW as Johnson & Hill fits seamlessly with staffing solutions in similar professional areas, including accounting, administrative, legal, and finance. In addition to gaining access to KNF&T’s broad base in verticals like healthcare, higher education, financial services, and nonprofits, Johnson & Hill clients will enjoy the added benefit of information-technology staffing solutions and sales placement through BANKW’s other companies, Alexander Technology Group and Sales Search Partners. BANKW Staffing’s portfolio of companies includes Alexander Technology Group, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, Sales Search Partners, the Nagler Group, KNF&T Staffing Resources, and now Johnson & Hill Staffing, which has been rebranded under the KNF&T name. All are staffing providers in the areas of IT, finance, accounting, sales, human resources, legal, administrative, healthcare, higher education, and marketing.

 

Country Bank Donates More Than $1.3 Million in 2022

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2022 totaled more than $1.3 million. The bank’s philanthropic efforts supported local nonprofits throughout its communities; more than 350 organizations received grants in 2022. In addition, the bank’s team members volunteered 1,091 hours of service, and 64 team members served on 33 nonprofit boards and committees throughout the region. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, in addition to the $1 million, five-year pledge it made in 2021 to the Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Country Bank provided an additional $100,000 in donations to food programs throughout the region. Other organizations receiving donations included Behavioral Health Network, the Hanover Theater, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Revitalize Community Development Corp., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Children’s Trust, Juniper Outreach, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Ronald McDonald House, and YWCA. During its annual “Season of Difference” campaign, Country Bank supported more than 1,000 local individuals with gifts of toys, blankets, hats, and other essential items for those in nursing homes, shelters, local YMCAs, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

 

Fortune Names MassMutual Among World’s Most Admired Companies

SPRINGFIELD — MassMutual has been named a World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine, placing second in the life- and health-insurance industry category and leading among mutual company peers. Notably, MassMutual ranked first for innovation in its industry category, the fifth time in the past six years the company has received this honor. The company has been named to the Fortune World’s Most Admired Company list 20 times since 2000. The 2023 Fortune World’s Most Admired Company survey was conducted in the fall of 2022 among executives, directors, and analysts in 52 industries. The annual poll assessed nine reputation drivers considered to be crucial to a company’s global success: innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment value, quality of products/services, and global competitiveness.

 

 

Businesses Join GCAi in Celebrating 25 Years at Tower Square with Video

SPRINGFIELD — Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) recently finished a production called “Life at Tower Square” for the Tower Square management group. GCAi produced the video for free for Tower Square in celebration of a quarter-century of doing business in the building. Joining GCAi President John Garvey in the video were attorney Scott Foster of Bulkley Richardson, Diane Varypatackas of Le Greque, Patricia and Michael Matty of St. Germain Investment Management, Carlo Bonavita of Springfield Wine Exchange, Ray Berry of White Lion Brewing Co., and Brandon Quiterio and Melissa Halton of Wolf & Co. The “Life at Tower Square” video is not the first Tower Square-related video produced by GCAi. Several months ago, a division of GCAi, New England Corporate Video, produced a video on the post-pandemic return of Le Greque to the mezzanine, where it has been located for 40 years.

 

WSU Athletic Training Program Receives Lengthy Reaccreditation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) Athletic Training program has earned the maximum reaccreditation duration after a recent review by the Committee on Accreditation for Athletic Training Education (CAATE). It is common for reaccreditation of three- or five-year periods. The 10-year reaccreditation recently earned by WSU Athletic Training program extends through the 2032 academic year. WSU has been accredited by CAATE since 2001, and the curriculum has undergone considerable changes due to evolving practices in the field. The reaccreditation process now details compliance in 109 profession-specific standards. WSU graduates are working as athletic trainers in high schools, universities, and clinics throughout the region. Alumni are also employed in professional baseball, professional ice hockey, industrial settings, and leading research hospitals. Recent graduates have also furthered their professional knowledge by adding graduate degrees in related fields to extend their impact on healthcare delivery.

 

LEDC Awards Mini-Grants to Nine Local Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — The Latino Economic Development Corp. awarded nine grants to Latino-owned businesses that are focusing on growing in the new year. This round includes a security business, a honey farmer, a bakery on wheels, and a juice bar, just to name a few. The LEDC is excited to offer not only these grants, but also the services of more than 25 business coaches to help the recipients achieve the goals for their business. The grantees include Pedro Arroyo, Juguitos Healthy Grab & Go ($2,500), Jose Burgos, Burgos & Son Trucking LLC ($3,000), Stephanie Figueroa, 50/50 Food Truck ($2,000), Josh Montanez, who works in security ($1,000), and Thomas Peralta, Thomas’ Cleaning ($1,000), all in Springfield; Gustavo Agudelo, Agudelo Apiary ($2,000), Johnny Colon, JC Carriers ($1,000), and Erika Matos, Top-Flight Nutrition ($2,000), all in Holyoke; and Ricardo Diaz-Vargas, Faded Barber Lounge in Chicopee ($2,500).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Labor and Employment Law Briefing

June 29: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., a labor and employment law firm serving employers in the greater Springfield and Worcester areas, will stage a breakfast briefing on June 29 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, One Monarch Place, Springfield. Attorneys John Gannon and Meaghan Murphy will discuss important decisions from the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court involving payment of wages and a new type of employment claim related to personnel files. They will also talk about several significant labor and employment law cases including:

• Cases that address mandatory vaccination and other COVID-related issues;

• Amazon and Starbucks unionization cases; and

• A few (not-so) fun cases that involve strange and unusual discrimination claims

“Due to the pandemic, it’s been two years since we last held one of our live breakfast briefings,” said Gannon, a partner at Skoler Abbott. “We are happy to be able to return to our regular format for this popular event designed to help business owners, managers and human resources professionals stay up-to-date with employment and labor law mandates.” The cost for the briefing is $35 per person, which includes a continental breakfast and parking. For more information or to register, email [email protected] with the attendee’s name and company, or register online at bit.ly/SAPJuneBreakfastBriefing.

 

Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour

Ongoing: Starting this past 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. 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

HNE, Peoplesbank Donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and Health New England have partnered to donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community (GTC) of Springfield. The money will support the non-profit’s urban garden, farm store, youth leadership program, and other programs. The companies’ collaborative donation came about as representatives from each were discussing needs in the Springfield community and the non-profit organizations each supports. Both support GTC and, knowing that more than 15% percent of children in Hampden County are food insecure, the two companies agreed to help. “We believe that this donation from two of our most valued corporate partners is an investment in our organization, economically and spiritually. It is especially appreciated during this time of rising food costs, as we work to bring forth a just food system that works for all,” said Liz O’Gilvie of GTC. “We will use the funds to support our efforts to grow food that’s affordable while we help our young people to understand the inequities in our food. system.” Said Matthew Bannister, senior vice president of marketing and corporate responsibility for PeoplesBank, “PeoplesBank and Health New England are like-minded in our belief that companies have a responsibility to improve the communities in which they do business. In working with Health New England as our health plan, we found that we both supported several of the same area non-profits, including Gardening the Community. We decided to demonstrate our partnership with this combined donation.” Keith Ledoux, vice president Commercial Line of Business and Business Development for Health New England, agreed. “Both Health New England and PeoplesBank know that our companies are part of a larger ecosystem – our community – and when it thrives, we thrive. Together, our support of Gardening the Community will not only fight hunger and promote good health but will bring opportunity to the Mason Square neighborhood.” Gardening the Community (GTC) grows organic food on formerly empty lots increasing access to healthy food in food-insecure areas. They emphasize youth leadership development, racial justice, and intergenerational relationship building in all their work. GTC serves Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, a low income, predominantly Black and Latinx community as well as residents from across the city.

 

Florence Bank Donates $5,000 to Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield

Florence Bank has donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield to help bolster the nonprofit’s 2022 Change a Child’s Future campaign. The club serves members ranging in age from 2.9 months to 18 years. This year’s $50,000 campaign goal will raise funds for financial aid to families in need and allow the club to enhance programming for before- and after-school programs, expand the Little Futures Preschool, purchase art and S.T.E.M. materials, and offer a variety of sports clinics. To learn more visit www.wsbgclub.org. “Florence Bank is committed to ensuring our local youth have the opportunity to become productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Michael Moriarty, Florence Bank senior vice president, commercial team leader and chairman of the Boys & Girls Club. “The funds we provide to the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club help support a variety of programs as well as families in need of financial assistance.” Sarah G. Calabrese, the club’s resource development director, said, “Florence Bank’s support of our mission will help to enable all youth to reach their full potential. We are proud to call Florence Bank a partner in supporting us so that we can ensure all children and teens have the opportunity for a great future.”

 

Big Y Implements Pay Increases

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Foods Inc. is investing in its store teams in order to show appreciation for their hard work, and customer service. This multi-million dollar investment will increase starting pay rates for all clerks, customer service, fresh food and center store specialists, and assistant department managers as of June 26. Almost three fourths of the company’s retail workforce will receive a pay increase which will assist them with the rising cost of living. These hourly store operations teams work in the Big Y Markets, Table & Vine, and Big Y Express Gas and Convenience Stores. Once implemented, all retail Big Y employees will be paid above minimum wage in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Members of upper management are not included in this increase. “We are proud to be investing in our store teams who have been on the front lines these past two years to support our customers and our community,” said Charles L. D’Amour, Big Y president and CEO. “We know that household budgets are being squeezed by inflation- we hope that by boosting their hourly rates, we will help them to weather these tough times as we recognize and appreciate their efforts and their loyalty.”

 

TRE Olive Wins Gold at Competition

EAST LONGMEADOW — TRE Olive, located in East Longmeadow, is a Gold Award winner for a second time at this year’s 2022 New York International Olive Oil Competition. TRE Olive won the Gold Award for its TRE Olive Select. In 2020 TRE Olive won a gold and silver award for both its TRE Select & Campo Dieci brands. “It’s very humbling and rewarding to receive such a prestigious award from some of the top olive oil experts in the world. Our team in Italy and here in the U.S. are committed to producing a premium extra virgin olive oil for our customers and this validates all the hard work and commitment it takes.” said Joe Maruca, co-owner of TRE Olive. In addition to its award-winning extra virgin olive oil, TRE Olive also offers corporate gifts and a tree-adoption program. When an olive tree is adopted, the recipient will receive an adoption certificate, a gift box, a photo of their tree, a welcome brochure, and three tins of olive oil to get started. The tree is also tagged with the adoptee’s name for one year. TRE Olive has been featured on the TODAY Show, as well as in the Real Simple and Eating Well magazines as top gifts for the foodies in your life.

 

GCAi/New England Corporate Video Helps Nativity School Fund Free Tuition

Darcy Young and Mary Cate Mannion, producers for New England Corporate Video (NECV), recently completed a pro bono video series for the Nativity School of Worcester. The feature video was shown at a fundraising event that raised a record-setting $340,000 which will ensure that the school can continue to provide a tuition-free education. The Nativity School is an accredited, independent, Jesuit middle school that provides an education to underserved boys of all faiths. Young and Mannion are two of the most experienced female video producers in New England and experts in brand journalism and corporate video production. Young is an award-winning video producer and Mannion is a former award-winning news anchor and reporter. Their pro bono video work includes videos for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Willie Ross School for the Deaf, where Mary Cate serves on the board of directors, The Children’s Study Home, where Darcy serves on the executive board, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services. ECV is a recently launched division of Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), which was co-founded by Young and Mannion. The NECV Nativity School video can be viewed at https://bit.ly/nativityvideo22.

 

Founders of Park Square Realty Celebrate 35th Anniversary

Carolyn Coughlen and Kate Cheever, two of the three founders of Park Square Realty are celebrating 35 years with the company. The two were recognized at the recent Park Square Realty Awards and Recognition Event held at Tucker’s Restaurant in Southwick. They are still actively practicing real estate. Natives of Westfield, the founding brokers desired to use their real estate experience to open what many called a “boutique” real estate firm in 1987, to serve the area with excellent service to clients and a local connection. Over the years Park Square Realty has stayed true to the vision that the founders had and has grown with 56 agents and two offices in Westfield and West Springfield.

 

United Way of Pioneer Valley Partners with Stop & Shop for Fundraiser

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley is partnering with local Stop & Shop stores to fight food insecurity by hosting a fundraiser the entire month of June in support of the Chicopee Community Cupboard (CCC). Stop & Shop shoppers can purchase a Bloomin’ for Good Bouquet at the local Stop & Shop. From the purchase price of each bouquet, $1 will go directly to the Chicopee Community Cupboard, a United Way owned and operated food pantry located at 32 Center Street in Chicopee. The Chicopee Community Cupboard opened in the spring of 2021 to help create food security for the residents of Chicopee and all those in need throughout Western Mass. Extensive community research into gaps of services in basic needs was done prior to its establishment to support impoverished persons. “We cannot thank Stop & Shop of Chicopee enough for their generous time and support of our Chicopee Community Cupboard,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “We service over 300 families in the City of Chicopee alone and these donations will greatly help combat the need.” Anyone facing food insecurity can visit the Chicopee Community Cupboard between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Currently clients are requested to fill out an application and schedule a monthly appointment, but all those in need will be served.

 

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.

“As community members for more than 60 years, we care deeply about our neighbors and the environment where we live and work,” said Drew Andrews, CEO and managing partner at Whittlesey. “Our commitment to service is rooted deeply in the fabric of our firm, which is why we sponsor several community-driven events throughout the year. Working with many incredible nonprofit organizations across the region for the past several decades has been a privilege. I am proud of the impact our team has continued to make by working collectively to give back.”

 

Company Notebook

State Awards $30 Million to STCC to Relocate Health Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College has received $30 million in state funding to move healthcare programs out of an aging building on campus that has outlived its usefulness. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the award on Wednesday. College officials in December asked the state for the maximum amount of $30 million to vacate Building 20, which houses 18 degree and certificate allied health programs as well as the acclaimedSIMS Medical Center. STCC has secured $11.5 million from other sources for the $41.5 million project. The award announced by the governor comes from the state Division of Capital Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). Constructed in 1941, Building 20 is past its useful life and has a history of expensive emergency repairs. The healthcare programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation educate more than 700 students per semester and employ more than 120 faculty and staff. The STCC Board of Trustees committed $6 million from the college’s budget to the project. Trustees Chair Marikate Murren said, “We’re thrilled and grateful to Gov. Baker and DCAMM for their support to make this move possible. The relocation of the programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation will allow STCC to continue to prepare students for healthcare careers. The investment in this project represents an investment in the City of Springfield and the region. To best summarize the outlook for the College, Cook said, “I am delighted for our students and faculty as this ensures that STCC stays on the leading edge of healthcare education; the future of STCC is bright.”

 

Monson Savings Launches 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign

MONSON — The celebratory planning for Monson Savings Bank’s 150thanniversary continues, with the bank pledging to show extra support to nonprofits and have an extra level of community participation throughout the year. A large and very fun part of that support comes in the form of theMonson Savings Bank 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign. For this campaign, MSB will be purchasing more than $20,000 worth of children’s bicycles and helmets from the Family Bicycle Shop in East Longmeadow, with guidance from the shop’s owner Ray Plouffe. To gear up for the campaign, Monson Savings Bank has also teamed up with five local non-profits to identify children who are in need of a bicycle: the YMCA of Greater Springfield; the YWCAof Western Massachusetts; I Found Light Against All Odds; Educare Springfield; and the South End Community Center. Beginning this spring, MSB will be planning events hosted with each nonprofit. The bank’s team members will assemble the bikes, when possible alongside the very children who will be receiving them. Nonprofit employees will be welcomed to join the activity, and representatives from the Family Bicycle Shop will be on site to assist and ensure children are properly fitted with helmets and training wheels. Monson Savings Bank will provide and share a meal for attendees. “When exploring the various ways we could celebrate Monson Savings Bank’s 150thAnniversary, there were so many ideas,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank.“We wanted to be sure to do something that would make a difference on many fronts and spread some joy. With the 150 Build-a-Bike campaign, we are able to connect with the vital community nonprofits and their leaders. Our team gets to work together on hands-on projects to further foster our culture of teamwork and community support. Plus, we are able to provide the children with the experience of building and riding a bike, a joy-filled activity, and something they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience. I could not think of a better way to commemorate our 150thAnniversary.” To see a full schedule of events for MSB’s 150th anniversary, visit www.monsonsavings.bank/anniversary.

 

Big Y Express Launches New Downtown Format

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y has announced plans to build a new concept Big Y Express Fresh Market at 1500 Main St. as part of Tower Square in Springfield. The new, 10,000-square-foot Big Y Express Fresh Market will be tailored to fit the needs of the city’s downtown community. Currently, there are workers and area residents who are eager to have access to delicious, nutritious and affordable offerings that are not currently available in a convenient way, said Colin D’Amour, senior director of Big Y Express. “Between the UMass classrooms, YMCA daycare, area office workers and downtown residents, many are looking for an option to meet their food needs.” While not a complete supermarket due to its size, this location will have a full assortment of items from each department, he said. The offerings will include prepared meals and sandwiches along with natural and organic products and everyday necessities. In addition, there will be an inhouse sushi chef preparing fresh sushi daily. “We are excited to bring an entirely new concept to downtown Springfield,” said D’Amour. “We know that there has been an appetite for Big Y’s fresh and local foods for many years now. We are confident that customers will enjoy our many offerings. We are working diligently with our contractors to establish a timeline for opening and are excited to be a part of the downtown community.”

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Purchases Nine New Stores in Ohio

SPRINGFIELD –Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, has purchased the nine Ohio-based Handyman Ace Hardware stores, which have been family-owned and operated since 1939. The new Ohio stores are located in Dayton, Fairborn, Xenia, Centerville, New Carlisle, Kettering, Springfield, and Miamisburg. Rocky’s Ace Hardware now has 47 locations in nine states. “It is very exciting for us to be expanding into a new state and continuing the family-owned values and service Handyman customers have come to expect,” said Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone. “We are also family-owned and share many of the same values as Handyman, including putting the customer first in all business actions.”alcone noted that customers will see the same faces from Handyman at Rocky’s, and former owner David Grimes, who is retiring, will be integral in the transition. Falcone also said customers will benefit from some exciting changes over the next few months including expanded Ace Rewards features, product selection and online capabilities. “We plant roots in each of our neighborhood locations and intend to maintain this community focus in our Ohio stores,” he said. “We’re excited to be a part of the greater Dayton community.”

 

Baystate Health Awards $1 Million in Better Together Grants

SPRINGFIELD —Baystate Healthhas awarded $1 million in Better Together Grants to five community initiatives with partner organizations as part of itsCommunity Benefits Program. “Baystate Health is proud to invest our Determination of Need (DoN) Community Health Initiative (CHI) funding in the communities served by our four hospitals. It is an honor to partner with these very deserving local non-profit organizations over the next three years,” said Annamarie Golden, director, Community Relations for Baystate Health

This year’s recipients, who submitted requests for proposals in January 2022 include: Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation in partnership with the Town of Ware, The Care Center in partnership with Greenfield Technical Community College, Westfield State University in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College, Montague Catholic Social Ministries in partnership with The Brick House Community Resource Center, and the Western Mass. Training Consortium in partnership with the Bridge Program community organizations — The Recover Project, The Salasin Project and The Wildflower Alliance. “Baystate’s Community Benefits Program, in partnership with our hospital Community Benefits Advisory Councils (CBACs) and Grant Review Teams, is making investments through Better Together grants that will have lasting and meaningful impacts on health outcomes, health equity, and social determinants of health throughout the Pioneer Valley,” said Golden. Funding for the Better Together grants is made possible through the Mass. Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) Determination of Need (DoN) requirements related to the replacement of Baystate Medical Center’s Operating Rooms approved in November 2020. Although this project was unique to the hospital, Baystate Health’s goal is to equitably distribute the Community Health Initiative funds for grant making to all four Baystate Health hospitals. This was an intentional step toward health equity, recognizing that Baystate’s community hospitals historically have lower likelihood of accessing DoN CHI funds. The aim of the Better Together grant opportunity is to develop approaches that by targeting the social determinants of health, will improve people’s overall well-being and make our communities healthier places to live in, while complementing the health care system’s current offerings. In addition to funding the grantees, Baystate Health has also contracted with the Public Health Institute of Western Mass. to provide technical assistance and evaluation support to the grantee cohort over the next three years.

 

OneZo Opens in the Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall has welcomed, OneZo, with its unique house-made boba, to the shopping center. Boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with sweet balls or “pearls,” made from tapioca starch and can be made from milk tea, green tea or fruit tea. Established in Taiwan in 2015, OneZo was the first café in the world to make their own boba in-store.Their goal is to serve the freshest boba drinks and use their creativity to develop new boba flavors. Some of the more popular flavors include Brown Sugar Bubble Latte, Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Strawberry Slush Milk Tea, Grapefruit Green Tea, and Thai Tea.

OneZo tea can be found in 17 countries and has several locations in Massachusetts including Quincy and Worcester.Holyoke Mall guests can experience freshly made bubble tea in their new location in Café Square.

 

CDK Global Named Presenting Sponsor for Tom Cosenzi Driving for The Cure Golf Tournament

HADLEY — The 14th Annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will take place Sept. 27 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, and will be joined by presenting sponsor, CDK Global. The 14th Annual Driving for the Cure Charity Golf supports neuro-oncology research in honor of Tom Cosenzi, a successful businessman and father of four who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009 at 52. Since its inception, this annual golf tournament has raised more than $1.3 million with its partnership with the Jimmy Fund, one of the largest organized golf programs in the U.S. All proceeds support Dr. Patrick Wen and his team of researchers in the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana Farber Cancer Institute “My brother Tom and I started this charity golf tournament to honor the legacy of our dad,” said TommyCar co-owner, Carla Cosenzi. “His vision was that no other family would experience the pain that he and his family endured. It was Tom’s 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. We’re so thankful to CDK Global for their partnership and we are proud to be able to support the world class research that is ongoing at Dana-Farber.” The scramble style tournament features a “Tee off against Cancer” shotgun start. Players will enjoy 18 holes of golf at one of the area’s top private golf courses, lunch, on-course activities, an evening cocktail reception with live entertainment, a gourmet dinner, raffle prizes, and silent and live auctions. For more information on the Tom Cosenzi Driving For The Cure Charity Golf Tournament visit www.TomCosenziDrivingForTheCure.com.

 

Leadership Pioneer Valley Accepting Applications for LEAP Class of 2023

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) is now accepting applications for enrollment in the LEAP class of 2023, a regional leadership-development program. This year’s class is expected to have a fully in-person experience. Applicants are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The LEAP program engages the Pioneer Valley’s most promising emerging leaders through learning, exploration, and connecting. Participants are trained in applied leadership skills by experts. They also explore critical community issues by connecting with local leaders and visiting businesses and local towns across the region. The upcoming program runs from September through May. In its 12th year, more than 350 individuals representing more than 125 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated. The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region. Fifty-three percent of alumni have a new leadership role at work, 64% have joined a new board of directors, and 99% made new, meaningful connections. LPV is seeking applicants from all over the Pioneer Valley, including Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, representing different employment sectors. The program is made for those in nonprofits, businesses, and government who are eager to increase their leadership skills and take action to better the region. Applicants are considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying. The deadline for LPV class of 2023 applications is July 1. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

 

Veritas Prep Charter School Establishes Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund

SPRINGFIELD — Veritas Prep Charter School(VPCS) has been awarded $53,883from theMass. Teacher Diversification Pilot Program, a state-funded grant program that provides approximately $2 million in competitive funding to support local school and district efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. VPCS is using this grant to establish the Veritas Prep Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund to help educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color enter or remain in education by removing common financial barriers. Candidates can apply for access to funding for education, MTEL test fees, relocation assistance and tuition and loan reimbursement. New and current associate teachers and lead teachers are eligible to apply, and Teach Western Mass (TWM) residents can also apply for TWM tuition coverage. Recipients must commit to working at Veritas Prep middle or high school for three years. All recipients will receive access to free MTEL test preparation, if applicable. Launched in April 2019, the Massachusetts Teacher Diversification Pilot Program provides tuition assistance to support enrollment into an approved-educator preparation program and MTEL preparation and examination. Schools and districts may also use grant funds to enhance teacher recruitment and retention efforts. Educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color can learn more about the Veritas Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund and apply for support here: veritasprepma.org/teacher-diversification-fund/.

 

Former Landsdowne Dormitories Renovated into Apartments

WESTFIELD — Shawna Gutowski and Maritza Zavala, of the Slope to Shore Team of William Raveis Real Estate, announced that the former Landsdowne Dorms in Westfield have been fully renovated and are officially on the market for lease under the name Landsdowne Place. “We’re excited to make these beautifully-renovated apartments available in downtown Westfield, where residents can shop, experience downtown events, and enjoy quick access to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail right outside their door,” said Project Manager Anthony Leroux. The newly renovated apartments are a mixture of one bedroom/one bath and two bedroom/two bath units, which were formerly used as housing for Westfield State College students. The complex also features gym and laundry facilities on-site, as well as access to the bike trail. Apartment leases start at $1,400 per month and will require first, last, security, and credit check.

Company Notebook

Country Bank Gives Back with $1.1 Million in Donations in 2021

WARE — Country Bank reported that its community donations for 2021 totaled more than $1.1 million. The bank’s philanthropic efforts supported local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves, with more than 300 organizations receiving grants in 2021. In addition, the bank’s staff volunteered 478 hours of service. The bank’s annual meeting at Polar Park created a buzz when it surprised the executive directors of two regional food banks by pledging a total of $1 million to the Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The bank didn’t stop there; recognizing the need to address hunger throughout its markets, in addition to the $1 million pledge, it provided an additional $100,000 in donations to food programs throughout the region. Other organizations receiving donations included Behavioral Health Network, Hanover Theater, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Revitalize Community Development Corp., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Children’s Trust, Provision Ministry, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Ronald McDonald House, and YWCA. During its annual Season of Giving campaign, Country Bank supported more than 2,500 local individuals with gifts of meals, toys, winter hats, mittens, and other essential items for those in nursing homes, shelters, and local schools.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Gives $596,800 to 87 Nonprofits in Q4

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced $596,800 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the fourth quarter of 2021. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. The investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. Eighty-seven local nonprofit organizations received grants at the end of last year to assist with a wide range of critical projects in the areas of housing, education, economic revitalization, and health. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunity for economic prosperity.

 

Valley Vodka Supports Ukraine; Founder Paul Kozub Visits Border

HADLEY — Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced it will donate $1 for every bottle sold in the month of March, according to founder Paul Kozub. Kozub also visited the V-One distillery located in Kamien, Poland on March 6 and brought $5,000 directly to the border to support refugees. The distillery is located about two hours from the Ukraine border. “My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft-vodka business,” Kozub said. “In 2019, I purchased a distillery in Kamie, Poland. It is just a few hours from the Ukrainian border. I feel compelled to do something to help the people of Ukraine.” V-One Vodka has been crafting small-batch vodka in Eastern Poland since 2005, and in 2019, it purchased its own distillery in Kamien, about two hours southeast of Warsaw.

 

Three Western Mass. Firms Take Home Impact Awards

WATERTOWN — MassEcon, the state’s private-sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, recently announced its 18th annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award winners, recognizing 14 companies for their outstanding contributions to the Massachusetts economy, including three based in Western Mass. The companies were selected for establishing new operations in Massachusetts or expanded existing operations. Each employer added new jobs and facility investment; pursued social impact through community involvement or philanthropic efforts; and embraced equity, diversity, and inclusion practices. The winners will be honored at Gillette Stadium on April 7. The winning companies from Western Mass. include Big Y Foods of Springfield (gold), which, since January 2020, has added 52 new jobs and invested $50.9 million in a 232,000-square-foot expansion in Springfield for its Fresh & Local Distribution Center; White Lion Brewing Co. of Springfield (silver), which reactivated 8,000 square feet of space that sat vacant for more than 15 years and on-boarded an additional 3,000 square feet of storage, marking a total expansion of 11,000 square feet in Springfield, as well as adding 13 new employees and donating close to $25,000 to the community; and United Aircraft Technologies of Pittsfield (bronze), which plans on investing in 7,000 square feet of vacant office space in Pittsfield and is looking to hire four new team members in 2021 in addition to the five already onboarded earlier this year.

 

Phillips Insurance Agency Named 2021 Elite Agent by Liberty Mutual

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. was named a 2021 Elite agent by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The award recognizes the contributions of the top-performing agencies in the country. Phillips is the only agency in Massachusetts to win the award for 15 straight years, and was recognized at the President’s Club award ceremony at the Four Seasons in Kapolei, Hawaii in December. Phillips Insurance Agency, established in 1953, is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 31 professionals and the largest independently owned agency in Western Mass. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the Northeast.

 

Pittsfield YMCA to Modernize, Expand Child Care

PITTSFIELD — MassDevelopment has partnered with Lee Bank, Adams Community Bank, and Greylock Credit Union to provide $6.5 million in loan financing to Berkshire Family YMCA, which is using the proceeds to renovate and expand its main facility at 292 North St. in downtown Pittsfield. Constructed in 1909, the historic building’s last major renovation took place in 1981. As part of this new renovation, Berkshire Family YMCA is building an accessible indoor track for exercise and rehabilitation purposes for use by people of all abilities, adding a youth basketball court, and upgrading its fitness center. The organization is also creating newly configured program spaces and updating restrooms, improvements that will increase capacity of its nationally accredited child-development program to serve an additional 25 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. MassDevelopment provided a $5 million loan, with Adams Community Bank, Greylock Credit Union, and Lee Bank each providing $500,000 loans. The project is also supported by a $1 million Massachusetts Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) grant. Berkshire Family YMCA consists of three branches serving Berkshire County and Southern Vermont: the Pittsfield branch at 292 North St., a Northern Berkshire branch located at 22 Brickyard Court in North Adams, and the Bennington Recreation Center branch located at 655 Gage St. in Bennington, Vt.

 

BFAIR, Greylock Federal Credit Union Promote Brain-injury Awareness

NORTH ADAMS — BFAIR and Greylock Federal Credit Union have partnered together to raise awareness during the month of March to promote brain-injury awareness. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. In the U.S., more than 5.3 million children and adults have a brain injury, or about one in 60. Acquired brain injuries (ABI) are those that happen after birth and can result in physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive impairments. The primary causes of ABI are trauma, stroke, tumors, degenerative diseases, alcohol and other toxins, and lack of oxygen to the brain, according to the Brain Injury Assoc. of America. With support from presenting sponsor Greylock Federal Credit Union, BFAIR will be distributing bike helmets to promote brain health and safety. More information on distribution will be available on the BFAIR website at www.bfair.org/brain-injury-awareness-month.

 

Amherst College Music Department Donates Steinway Piano to the Drake

AMHERST — The Drake, the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s (DAF) soon-to-open arts and cultural venue, will be the permanent home of a Steinway & Sons piano, thanks to a gift from the Amherst College Department of Music. The department donated the instrument after the college made a $100,000 gift to the Drake project in January 2022. Steinway pianos are widely recognized as the best pianos made. The specific model the college is donating, the Steinway B, is considered the finest high-resolution piano in the world, and is generally used in mid-sized venues like the Drake, according to the Steinway & Sons website. The instrument will arrive after construction is complete in April. The Downtown Amherst Foundation is in the final stages of fundraising for the Drake, Amherst’s first dedicated live performance and music venue. In addition to the music-loving supporters who have donated to the Drake’s Patronicity page, Amherst College, the town of Amherst, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development have offered support to the project.

 

Bradley International Airport Welcomes Back Air Canada

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Air Canada will restore its non-stop service between Bradley International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport this summer. The airline last operated the flight in the spring of 2020, before international travel was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting June 1, the flights will operate daily, year-round. “After nearly two years of international travel disruptions, we are thrilled to welcome back Air Canada to Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Air Canada has been an important partner for many years at our airport, facilitating seamless connectivity between our regions. The resumption of the Toronto service is a major milestone on our road to recovery. Today, we extend our thanks to Air Canada for their continued commitment to Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the importance of this route with their return to Connecticut.”

Company Notebook

Pride Stores Sold to ArcLight Capital Partners

SPRINGFIELD — Eight months after announcing plans to sell the chain, Pride Stores CEO Bob Bolduc announced a sale to ArcLight Capital Partners. The 31 stores — with several more in development — will keep the Pride name, and the company’s customers and 525 employees will see little change in day-to-day operations, Bolduc told local news outlets, which is one of the reasons ArcLight won out over several other interested parties. In 1976, Bolduc bought a self-serve gas station in Indian Orchard and gradually expanded his business over the years, creating the chain of stores known today as Pride. He also developed a reputation as an industry innovator by marrying the self-service station with another emerging phenomenon, the convenience store. Other innovations would follow; Pride would eventually become the first chain in Western Mass. to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in the stores, and the first to incorporate a Subway. But where the company has really made a name, in recent years, is with its own fresh-food production, supported by the Pride Kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters on Cottage Street in Springfield.

 

TD Bank Center Sold to New Real-estate Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The 240,000-square-foot, class-A office complex located at 1441 Main St. in Springfield, known as the TD Bank Center, has been sold. The property, located at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue, was sold by an affiliate of TD Bank to a limited-liability company comprised of the principals of Colebrook Realty Services and a company controlled by Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Auto Group. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Originally known as Center Square, the property was developed in the early 1980s by a subsidiary of SIS Bank in a project led by Colebrook CEO Jack Dill. Colebrook has managed and leased the building since its opening in January 1982. Most recently, Colebrook partners Mitch Bolotin and Kevin Morin have had responsibility for leasing and managing TD Bank Center. Balise and Colebrook have worked together for nearly two decades on Balise real-estate projects, represented by Bolotin.

 

 

Western New England University Cited Among Top Online Programs

SPRINGFIELD — In newly released rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Western New England University (WNE) was again recognized among the 2022 Best Online Programs. Among online MBA Programs, WNE made significant gains, jumping 71 places and ranking 153rd (up from 224th in 2021); among Online Graduate Business Programs (Non-MBA), the university ranked 110th (up from 129th in 2021); and among Online Master’s in Engineering Programs, it ranked 79th, up from 104th. The rankings place Western New England University in the top 10 in Massachusetts for accredited online MBA and graduate business programs and in the top three in Massachusetts for accredited master’s in engineering programs. For the 2022 edition, U.S. News & World Report assessed 1,728 online degree programs and ranked 1,646, both all-time highs. Best Online Programs rankings credit schools for long-term investments in designing and scaling their student services, technologies, curricula, and instructor training toward distance learners. The Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Online Master’s in Engineering Programs category. For the 2022 Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs rankings, U.S. News ranked ABET-accredited schools using five categories: engagement, faculty credentials, and training; expert opinion, services, and technologies; and student excellence. The College of Engineering offers several full master’s programs online: MS in industrial engineering, MS in engineering management, and MS in electrical engineering. The colleges of Engineering and Business offer a dual-degree master of science in engineering management and an MBA that can be completed entirely online.

 

Holyoke Community College to Introduce Free Child-watch Service

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will soon introduce a free, drop-in child-watch program for parents who need safe and affordable supervision for their children while they tend to their college studies. When the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch opens in March, HCC will be just the second community college in the state — and the only one in Western Mass. — to offer a child-watch service for its students. The Itsy Bitsy Child Watch will offer free, short-term care to children 6 weeks to 12 years old, provided their parents sign up in advance and remain inside on the Homestead Avenue campus. Parents will be given a restaurant-style pager to alert them to return if necessary. The pilot phase is being funded through a $100,000 allocation in the 2022 Massachusetts budget secured by state Sen. John Velis. HCC is in the process of hiring an interim director to get the child-watch program up and running. Many of the details still need to be worked out, such as days and hours of operation.

 

Forest Park Zoo Again Honored for Education Programming

SPRINGFIELD — For the second time in six months, the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center is being recognized for its innovative education programming. Most recently, the zoo received the 2021 Educational Award of Excellence, presented by the Zoological Assoc. of America for its Kids Go Wild programming. Kids Go Wild provides a fun, interactive way for school-aged children to learn about various animal species while exploring diets, habitats, adaptations, daily zoo life, and more through cross-hatched science, literacy, and art lessons. Each lesson also meets state education standards set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in at least one or more of the aforementioned disciplines. These lessons were created, developed, and ultimately implemented by the zoo’s director of education, Caroline Cay Adams. The one-on-one, hands-on interactions offered as part of Kids Go Wild bring the typical textbook science lessons right off the page. Kids Go Wild goes beyond single-program learning objectives by encouraging groups to book multiple programs that are implemented over a longer period of time. This ensures that the educator can scaffold lessons to incorporate themes, vocabulary, and topics from previous lesson plans, as well as offer plenty of opportunities for participants to engage with ambassador animals. Examples of lessons include Animal Adaptations; the Food Web; Living Dinosaurs; and Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores. In August 2021, Adams also received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Assoc. of Zookeepers for her work on Kids Go Wild.

 

Berkshire Bank Earns Top Marks in Corporate Equality Index

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced that it received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Berkshire joins the ranks of more than 840 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year. “We are honored to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Gary Levante, senior vice president, Corporate Responsibility. “Our goal at Berkshire is always to be a shining example of how a purpose-driven organization can be successful while lifting up everyone in our community. Our Pride Employee Resource Group has been steadfast in their work to create a more equitable workplace, and this honor is a testament to their tireless efforts. We hope that this recognition and our culture will inspire more members of our LGBTQIA+ family to join the Berkshire team as customers and employees.”

 

MCLA, Habitat for Humanity Partner to Offer Free Tax Assistance

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and its Department of Business Administration will once again partner with Habitat for Humanity to offer free tax-preparation services to local residents in need through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Habitat for Humanity administers VITA, a program of the IRS, to assist taxpayers with disabilities or limited English-speaking skills, those 60 years of age or older, and individuals who make $57,000 or less per year. MCLA students will be available to complete both basic and advanced returns, including those with itemized deductions. The students who participate in this program undergo a rigorous training, become IRS-certified, and will work under the supervision of MCLA Professor of Accounting Tara Barboza, an enrolled agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a certified public accountant (CPA). In addition to meeting a significant need in Northern Berkshire County, participating in the VITA program is an opportunity for students to gain valuable, hands-on preparation experience. They will earn college credit, and accounting students can use this credit toward the requirements for the CPA exam. Interested individuals should call Habitat for Humanity offices at (413) 442-0002 or (413) 442-3181 to find out if they qualify and schedule an appointment. Hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in Murdock Hall on the MCLA campus in North Adams. The program will continue through April 13.

 

Company Notebook

Webber & Grinnell Insurance Joins Alera Group

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced that it has joined a national network of insurance agencies called the Alera Group. The Alera Group was formed by 24 agencies similar to Webber & Grinnell in 2017. Since then, it has added many others across the country and is now one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the U.S. Joining Alera allows Webber & Grinnell to tap into a wealth of best practices and insurance resources, enabling the company to better serve its diverse clientele. Examples include more insurance-carrier choices, the ability to converse with subject-matter experts, and having more resources to help hire and train employees. Joining Alera also provides a perpetuation plan for the agency. The agency’s staff and their roles are staying exactly the same, so clients will continue being serviced the same way they have been all along. Grinnell will also continue to lead the agency at the local level.

 

Dietz & Co. Architects Designated as Emerging Professional Friendly Firm

SPRINGFIELD — Dietz & Co. Architects Inc. has been designated by AIA New England as a 2021 Emerging Professional (EP) Friendly Firm. This program recognizes architecture firms that promote the advancement of emerging professionals through professional development and personal-growth opportunities. “Here at Dietz & Company, investing in the professional growth of our staff is the foundation of our firm culture,” Principal Jason Newman said. “We want our people to achieve their personal and professional goals, and we want them to feel supported and encouraged as they pursue them. This philosophy not only builds the confidence and the skills of our team, it helps us keep them as well.” Dietz & Co. Architects has been awarded this designation each year since 2019.

 

Hoops Star Marcus Camby Partners with White Lion

SPRINGFIELD — UMass and NBA star Marcus Camby has joined White Lion Brewing Co. in a strategic partnership. White Lion currently distributes a small independent portfolio of artisan brands in Massachusetts, primarily in the western part of the state. Camby’s goal is to help open new markets throughout New England and beyond, as well as release his own portfolio of beer brewed by White Lion. “White Lion continues to expand its community reach,” President Ray Berry said. “We have a proven track record and incredible community partners like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds, and MGM Springfield, to name a few. I remember when Marcus electrified the region — just thinking about it brings back so many great memories. He loves our brand and what it represents. We are very excited and think we have a game winner.” Added Camby, “I am extremely impressed by the brewery’s commitment to the community and its approach to diversifying the craft-beer trade. I look forward to being a part of expanding the brand throughout the New England and Tri-State region. This is my home, and to be able to have a quality beer named after me, and be able to tell its story, is something I’m truly excited about.”

 

MassDevelopment Bond Boosts Springfield College Projects

SPRINGFIELD — MassDevelopment has issued a $106,675,000 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Springfield College, which will use proceeds to fund several capital projects.

The college will use $45,095,000 to build and equip a new environmentally friendly and sustainable, 76,000-square-foot health sciences building; this portion of the financing received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, which are approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. The college will use the remaining proceeds to build an academic quad and campus pavilion; renovate classrooms, residence halls, administrative buildings, and the existing health sciences building; improve a steam-plant facility; upgrade walking and running paths and outdoor seating; and refinance previously issued debt. The bond was sold through a public offering underwritten by Hilltop Securities Inc. “This major investment represents Springfield College’s commitment to its students, staff, and the entire Greater Springfield community,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera said. “MassDevelopment is proud to lend a helping hand to support construction of a new health sciences building and significant upgrades to the college’s campus and academic facilities.”

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Reaccreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — In recognition of its continued health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley International Airport has achieved reaccreditation from the Airports Council International (ACI) World Health Accreditation program. During the extensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures throughout the entire passenger journey in line with industry best practices. This includes evaluation of the airport’s cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical-layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger-facility enhancements. The Connecticut Airport Authority voluntary initiated the reassessment after receiving its initial health accreditation from ACI in December 2020. In addition to surpassing these high industry safety standards, Bradley International Airport offers contactless access to the parking garage and surfaces lots through the airport’s free parking-rewards program; an opportunity to apply for TSA PreCheck at the airport’s enrollment site, which speeds up the screening process and also helps reduce touchpoints; and contactless meal ordering, allowing passengers to easily purchase food online for pickup on their journey through the airport. Additionally, the airport is continuing to offer voluntary COVID testing for passengers and airport employees in the main terminal’s baggage claim. Free COVID vaccinations and boosters are also available on certain days in the same location. A federal face-covering mandate is also in place for everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.

 

NIH Grant Will Support Research in UMass Amherst Lab

AMHERST — Jianhan Chen, a UMass Amherst chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology professor, has received a five-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to support research in his computational biophysics lab aimed at better understanding the role of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) in biology and human disease. The grant falls under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences MIRA program, which stands for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award. It’s designed to give highly talented researchers more flexibility and stability to achieve important scientific advances in their labs. “The MIRA award enables us to continue working on several central problems regarding the study of disordered proteins and dynamic interactions. The flexibility of this funding mechanism also allows us to follow new research directions as they emerge,” Chen said. Until relatively recently, it was thought that proteins needed to adopt a well-defined structure to perform their biological function. But about two decades ago, he explained, IDPs were recognized as a new class of proteins that rely on a lack of stable structures to function. They make up about one-third of proteins that human bodies make, and two-thirds of cancer-associated proteins contain large, disordered segments or domains. “This disorder seems to provide some unique functional advantage, and that’s why we have so much disorder in certain kinds of proteins,” Chen said. “These IDPs play really important roles in biology, and when something breaks down, they lead to very serious diseases, like cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.”

 

Happier Valley Comedy Offering Free Events to Local Nonprofits

HADLEY — After the year nonprofit organizations have had, who couldn’t use more happiness? Happier Valley Comedy offers the Free Happiness Program, through which nonprofits serving underrepresented, marginalized communities can apply for a free Happier Valley Comedy event, such as an improv show, a personal- or professional-development training session, a keynote, or a workplace-wellness event to be held either online or in person at a venue selected by the organization or Happier Valley Comedy’s theater and lounge in Hadley. The Free Happiness Program is one part of the comedy theater and training program’s ‘green-lining’ efforts, which aim to provide some balance for the historic, grossly unjust ‘red-lining’ of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities in the greater worlds of comedy, personal and professional development, wellness, and beyond. Preference is given to local organizations serving underrepresented, marginalized, and/or BIPOC individuals and communities. Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to qualify. The next round of applications are being awarded by Happier Valley Comedy’s board of directors in late February. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis at www.happiervalley.com/free-happiness.html.

Agenda

Local Farmer Awards Applications

Through Jan. 31: Farmers in Western Mass. are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards of up to $2,500. These awards are for capital and infrastructure-improvement projects related to growing, harvesting, and processing that will help farms compete in the marketplace. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, is entering the eighth year of the awards program, which has helped more than 225 farmers carry out a total of 400 projects. Some examples of how the awards have been used include a commercial egg washer, irrigation systems, shade cloth for a greenhouse, high-tensile fencing for rotational grazing, a feed wagon, and a maple cream machine. To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 or above and either be a member of Berkshire Grown or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture or reside in one the four counties of Western Mass. The deadline for applying is Jan. 31. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.farmerawards.org for more information.

 

Free Legal Help Hotline

Jan. 20: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold a Legal Help Hotline on Thursday, Jan. 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. Local, experienced attorneys will be available to provide legal advice on various topics, including divorce and family, bankruptcy, business, employment, landlord/tenant, and real estate. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 732-4648 to speak to a volunteer.

 

YPS, Ad Club Mix & Mingle

Jan. 20: The Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) and the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts will host an annual Mix & Mingle membership event to support young professionals and encourage them to become more involved and invested in their local communities. The Mix & Mingle membership event will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Paper City Bar & Grill, 241 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. The Springfield YPS is an organization built to exchange ideas, share common interests, and cultivate its membership to serve as the Pioneer Valley’s leaders of tomorrow. YPS aims to engage the younger demographic in distinct areas such as business and career development, networking, cultural involvement, community involvement, educational opportunities, volunteerism, recreational and social activities, and more. The Ad Club of Western Massachusetts is the premier organization for all marketing and communications professionals in Western Mass. and Northern Connecticut. The club offers its members the ability to advance and enrich the advertising community by acting as a catalyst for idea exchange, professional development, and creative energy. Members can register for the event at www.eventbrite.com/e/mix-mingle-registration-219246591457.

 

Cannabis Training Programs

Jan. 22-23: The Cannabis Education Center (CEC) at Holyoke Community College announced its schedule of industry training programs for the spring 2022 semester. The CEC will offer four 12-hour, introductory Cannabis Core educational training courses, with the first set to run Saturday, Jan. 22, and Sunday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. each day over Zoom. The Cannabis Core program provides an overview of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts and is geared for people looking for general knowledge as they consider a cannabis career. During four three-hour sessions, students will interact with cannabis experts and guest speakers in reviews of the plant, various cannabis products, the endocannabinoid system, laws and prohibition, growing and plant care, labeling, packaging, testing, employment considerations, and more. The Cannabis Core program is a foundational course and a prerequisite for the following career track courses: patient services associate (classes start Feb. 5), cultivation assistant (Feb. 26), extraction technician (April 2), and culinary assistant (April 19). Additional Cannabis Core programs will run Feb. 19-20, March 19-20, and April 5-6. The cost of the Cannabis Core training is $599, but scholarships are available to those who qualify. To register, visit hcc.edu/cannabis-core.

 

LPV Board-development Program

Jan. 26: Leadership Pioneer Valley will offer programming starting in January focused on leadership and board development for regional nonprofits through its Leaders OnBoard program. On Wednesday, Jan. 26, Leaders OnBoard will kick off its year of board-development events with “Board Basics,” a free, two-hour training led by Eric Phelps from Rainmaker Consulting that covers topics like what it means to sit on a board, roles and responsibilities, and how to be effective as a board member. To register, e-mail Samantha Rudd at [email protected]. The next “Board Basics” will be offered in March. Leaders OnBoard will provide several training sessions and events focused on nonprofit board leadership and development throughout the Pioneer Valley this year, including workshops focused on fundraising, diversity, strategic planning, and board matching. Leaders OnBoard is an ideal way for nonprofits to enhance the knowledge base and skills of their board members, while also offering people who are looking for a way to get involved in their community some training and personal support so they feel confident serving a nonprofit they feel passionate about. A12-month membership is available for Leaders OnBoard, with a sliding fee scale based on the organization’s budget. Membership includes free tickets and unlimited participation in all program workshops and training sessions, including Peer2Peer Conversations and board-matching opportunities. For full benefits and fees, visit leadershippv.org.

 

Human Service Forum Events

Jan. 28, Feb. 3: The Human Service Forum (HSF), a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Massachusetts public-service leaders, announced two upcoming events to support local nonprofit professionals in building skills and relationships. On Friday, Jan. 28 from 8 to 10:30 a.m., HSF will host its annual Legislative Reception. With more than 20 local lawmakers confirmed to attend, this event is a chance for public-service leaders to connect and build awareness for the key issues and priorities in the community. The event will be held via Zoom. Visit www.humanserviceforum.org/event/2021-hsf-legislative-reception to register. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 3, HSF will offer “Supervisory Skills Certificate Series,” an eight-week online training program for public-service professionals who are new to supervising staff. The series, which will be offered virtually, will cover a wide range of supervisory competencies, from multicultural sensitivity to legal issues, cybersecurity, and more. The training is open to all HSF members as well as the general public. Visit www.humanserviceforum.org/event/winter-2022-virtual-supervisory-skills-certificate-series/2022-02-03 to register or learn more.

Company Notebook

HCC Culinary Arts Program Ranked Among Best in U.S.

HOLYOKE — The Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been ranked among the best in the U.S., according to Best Choice Schools, an online college resource guide. HCC placed 50th among the Best Culinary Schools in America for 2021, a list that also includes such esteemed institutions as the Culinary Institute of America, which has branches in New York, California, and Texas. HCC’s culinary program ranked third in New England after Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and Southern Maine Community College in Portland. In particular, HCC was cited for the quality of its one-year certificate and two-year associate-degree programs in culinary arts, as well as its 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which opened in downtown Holyoke in 2018. The program summary notes that the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute is equipped with four modern kitchens, a bakery, a hotel lab, and a student-run dining room. Since it opened, the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street has become a favorite host site for college, community, and regional events. Best Choice Schools also notes that HCC is the only public college or university in Massachusetts with a culinary-arts program accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

 

Polish National Credit Union to Merge with Premier Source Credit Union

CHICOPEE — Polish National Credit Union (PNCU), headquartered in Chicopee, and Premier Source Federal Credit Union (PSFCU), headquartered in East Longmeadow, have signed a definitive merger agreement. PNCU will be the continuing credit union and acquire PSFCU’s 4,526 members and nearly $70 million in assets. The PSFCU headquarters will become the East Longmeadow branch of PNCU. This year, PNCU celebrates 100 years of service and has approximately $700 million in assets. Upon completion of the merger, PSFCU members will enjoy full use of PNCU’s seven full-service branches and access to business banking services, investment services, and insurance products. Having negotiated a definitive merger agreement, both credit unions will now seek regulatory approval from the Massachusetts Division of Banks, the National Credit Union Administration, the Mass. Credit Union Share Insurance Corp., and their memberships. The merger is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.

 

UMass Dining Services Awarded $319,000 to Support Use of Kelp

AMHERST — UMass Dining Services has been awarded $319,000 by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation for its “Strategies to Onboard Kelp into College Dining Programs” project. Between 2013 and 2020, the Kendall Foundation’s gift of $1,395,000 supported UMass Dining’s commitment to local, healthy and sustainable sourcing. As an example, the Real Food Challenge initiative of 20% ‘real food’ by 2020 — a goal UMass Dining exceeded, achieving 29% — was supported by this funding. In addition, the grant supported infrastructure improvements, relationship building, promotional campaigns, local partnerships, innovative programs, and regional convening for key stakeholders. This two-year project will introduce nutrient-dense, regeneratively grown New England kelp into the UMass Dining program as a choice for students and an opportunity for climate action. UMass Dining is partnering with New England-based Atlantic Sea Farms on the project as an innovative leader in the kelp industry on the East Coast. Atlantic Sea Farms offers not only kelp products, but expertise in the climate impact of growing and eating kelp, as well as the volume necessary for a large campus dining program. This partnership with Atlantic Sea Farms will drive normalization and inclusion of kelp on university menus. Along with recipe and concept development, UMass Dining plans to engage students by integrating kelp into its Low Carbon Dining campaign and its Diet for a Cooler Planet campaign. This project aims to lay the path for replication so that kelp can be introduced to menus in college and university dining programs across the country.

 

WNEU Offers New MS Program in Pharmacogenomics

SPRINGFIELD — The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Western New England University (WNE) announced a new master of science degree in pharmacogenomics degree starting in the fall of 2022. Pharmacogenomics is a fast-growing field that helps medical practitioners prescribe personalized treatment plans to patients based on how they may respond to medications due to their DNA sequence. Pharmacogenomics supports personalized or precision medicine, which explores a patient’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle as a way to craft a treatment plan that will best suit the patient. The goal of this modern approach to medication therapy is to limit adverse effects while optimizing response and beneficial outcomes. The master of science in pharmacogenomics degree from WNE — the only degree of this type in New England — prepares graduates for careers that will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare and make the most of emerging opportunities from basic laboratory research to clinical implementation of personalized healthcare.

 

HCC Jump Start Program Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of Jump Start, the college’s job-training and placement program for people who receive public assistance. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2022 Bellwether finalist. This is the second year in a row HCC has been named a Bellwether finalist. HCC’s “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign was selected as a finalist for 2021. For more than 20 years, HCC’s Jump Start program has been creating sustainable career pathways for individuals who were previously unemployed or had limited education and work experience. Jump Start offers workforce training for jobs as culinary workers, nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, customer-service representatives, preschool workers, production technicians, and bus and truck drivers. Finalists for Bellwether Awards are invited to join the consortium and take part in workshops, events, and other activities. Award finalists will undergo a rigorous second and final round of review before the winners are announced in January.

 

Comcast Acquires Russell Municipal Cable TV

RUSSELL — The town of Russell has a new broadband, video, and voice services provider, as Comcast announced it has acquired Russell Municipal Cable TV. Comcast plans to transition residents and businesses to its Xfinity and Comcast Business suite of services through the end of the year. Comcast is now available in 248 communities across Massachusetts and employs local residents at its Xfinity Stores in Springfield and Holyoke, and in several business and technical operations centers across the state, which serve residential customers and businesses.

Agenda

Art Pop-up Shop

Nov. 29 to Dec. 4: Laura Bundesen, an artist-entrepreneur from Huntington, will exhibit and sell her mixed-media ‘brain artwork’ at a one-of-a-kind, neuro-themed pop-up shop at ReevX Labs in Springfield. Bundesen is one of 10 entrepreneurs chosen for the inaugural experience at the community hub at 270 Bridge St., which is funded by Berkshire Bank and supported by Valley Venture Mentors. She is excited to have the opportunity to use the space for her solo display and sale. Her neuro-art pop-up shop will be open Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Community members are invited. Bundesen calls herself a ‘neuro-artist,’ and said her work, which ranges from $14 enamel lapel pins to $3,600 embroidered paintings, especially resonates with people with neurological disorders, their loved ones, and with scientists, neurologists, psychologists, and others in healthcare. At the heart of most of her work is painstaking hand embroidery. A canvas might feature a whimsical rendering of a brain, in handiwork at the center, with paint on a work’s periphery. Each piece is unique and colorful and offers what Bundesen calls “fantastical, imaginary brains.” Her work includes mixed-media originals, prints, earrings, coloring books, and brain-shaped lapel pins. A large selection will be available at the pop-up shop for in-person shopping. Anyone interested in learning more about her wares can visit her website and shop at www.laurabundesen.com.

 

OnBoard Matching Event

Dec. 7: United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has merged with the Springfield-based nonprofit OnBoard. Continuing under the same name as a UWPV program, OnBoard will continue hosting biennial conferences to increase diversity on the boards of local and regional nonprofits, and work more closely with nonprofits to build diversity through trainings and other tools. Leadership Pioneer Valley, which provides training and support for rising nonprofit professionals in the region, will work with UWPV to support the program. An OnBoard matching event is scheduled for Dec. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Valley Venture Mentors, 276 Bridge St., Springfield. Registration information can be found at uwpv.org/onboard, and donations can be made at uwpv.org/donate.

 

Women of Impact

Dec. 9: BusinessWest will honor its fourth annual class of Women of Impact at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel. This year’s class, like the first three, demonstrates the sheer diversity of the ways women leaders in our region are making an impact on the worlds of business, nonprofits, health, and the community. Profiled the Oct. 27 issue of BusinessWest, they are: Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts; Elizabeth Dineen, CEO of the YWCA of Western Masachusetts; Charlene Elvers, director of the Center for Service and Leadership at Springfield College; Karin Jeffers, president and CEO of Clinical and Support Options; Elizabeth Keen, owner of Indian Line Farm; Madeline Landrau, Program Engagement manager at MassMutual; Shannon Mumblo, executive director of Christina’s House; and Tracye Whitfield, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer for the town of West Springfield and Springfield city councilor. The event is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors) and Comcast Business and Health New England (supporting sponsors). Tickets cost $65 per person (tables of 10 are available). For more information, visit www.businesswest.com or call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

 

Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 9: 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 14th annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2022 must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Thursday, Dec. 9. 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. So, 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.

 

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. Unveils Plans for New Home in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — After a four-year search, Girls Inc. of the Valley unveiled what will become its new home — the former ‘O’Connell building’ on Hampden Street in Holyoke. At a press conference, Girls Inc. leaders announced that the nonprofit had acquired the property and has mapped out extensive renovation efforts and plans to open the new facility perhaps as early as a year from now. Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker told those assembled that, as part of a strategic plan created more than four years ago, the nonprofit has sought a new home that will bring all its programs together under one roof and facilitate growth that will enable it to serve more girls in the Pioneer Valley. The search for such a facility has been a long and sometimes difficult undertaking, she noted, one that eventually brought Girls Inc. to the Hampden Street property, which was the longtime home to the O’Connell Companies, and later law offices after O’Connell built a new headquarters on Kelly Way in Holyoke. Girls Inc. closed on the property late last month, acquiring it for $790,000 with financing from PeoplesBank, said Parker, noting that extensive renovations to many portions of the property will bring the price tag for the project to roughly $3.5 million. A capital campaign — the Her Future, Our Future campaign, which has an overall goal of $5 million — was launched more than a year ago, she said, adding that funds raised through that campaign will be used to cover those costs. The site brings a number of benefits, said Parker, listing a 55-space parking lot and ample room — 16,000 square feet over two floors — for facilities that will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, administrative offices, and more.

 

HCC Receives $1 Million Grant to Build New Engineering Program

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a new engineering pathways program to help boost the numbers of Latinx and women engineers working in the field. The grant — $956,458 over four years — will allow HCC to design an accelerated, one-year engineering certificate program that will culminate in paid internships with high-tech research organizations such as the renowned Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The money comes from the NSF’s program for Hispanic Serving Institutions and is intended to improve undergraduate education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. HCC has been a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, since 2016. Colleges and universities are recognized as HSIs when their Hispanic/Latinx enrollment exceeds 25%. HCC’s partners in the grant include Holyoke High School, Westfield High School, Western New England University, UMass Amherst, the Northampton-based Collaborative for Educational Services, a national association called the 50K Coalition, and the Society for Women Engineers. The main goals of HCC’s new Western Massachusetts Engineering Pathways Program are to increase participation in engineering by members of groups historically underrepresented in the field, to revitalize HCC’s engineering programs to be more responsive to a diverse student body, and to ensure the program meets the needs of regional employers. Through the grant, HCC will hire an Engineering Pathways coordinator to recruit high-school students for the program. After students complete their coursework, they will be placed in paid internships. As a further incentive, each student in their final program course will receive a $1,000 stipend. The grant also calls for a review of HCC’s associate-degree program in engineering in consultation with HCC’s partners to increase employer engagement and improve transfer pathways to four-year institutions. In addition, the grant will facilitate the creation of a chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at HCC. Also in conjunction with the grant, HCC has joined the 50K Coalition, a national consortium of professional engineering societies whose goal is graduate 50,000 women engineers and engineers of color by 2025.

 

Big E Sets Single-day Attendance Record

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Big E closed out its 17-day fair with a bang on its final weekend, drawing 177,238 patrons on Saturday, Oct. 2 — the largest single-day attendance in the event’s history. The total 17-day attendance was 1,498,774, short of the record of 1,629,527 set in 2019. This year’s fair set attendance records on three other days as well; Sept. 21 drew the best first-Tuesday crowd ever (56,769), Sept. 26 was the best-ever second Sunday (136,512), and Oct. 1 was the best-ever third Friday (113,827).

 

Western MA Food Processing Center Named Manufacturer of the Year

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Development Corp.’s Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (FPC) was named Manufacturer of the Year in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester state Senate district. The FPC was nominated to receive this award by state Sen. Jo Comerford through the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, of which she is a member. Located in Greenfield, the FPC was established in 2001 and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in October. The center serves as an incubator space for new and growing specialty food businesses to manufacture their products. The FPC team has helped local businesses prototype and launch a wide variety of different products, including sauces, toppings, salsas, dips, syrups, and frozen meals. It has a wide variety of specialized equipment to help local farms add value to their produce. Additionally, the FPC provides one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to support business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, and more. Currently, the FPC has 50 clients and employs eight full-time staff. During the busy harvest season, it employs several part-time staff, including individuals through the re-entry program of Hampshire County House of Corrections. This harvest season, the FPC team made value-added products, like pickles, pestos, and salsas, for 18 farms and offered dry and cold storage services to another eight farms. The FPC is also home to Valley Veggies, as well as the only individual quick-freeze machine in New England, which processes local vegetables for schools, institutions, and retail. The Food Processing Center is continuously improving its manufacturing capabilities by investing in specialized food-processing equipment, much of which is funded by state and federal grant programs.

 

Uvitron International Receives ISO 9001 Certification

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Uvitron International Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-performance UV light-curing systems and accessories, recently received ISO 9001 certification after demonstrating it met international standards of quality management and quality assurance. “Since we were founded in 1993, we have earned a reputation for manufacturing and selling a quality product supported by a high degree of product knowledge,” said Eugene Mikhaylichenko, Uvitron’s Sales and Marketing director. “This certification underscores our efforts to continue to build on this strong foundation.” Uvitron was established as a developer and manufacturer of switch-mode power supplies for light-curing systems, developing the first electronic arc lamp power supply. The company has since evolved into a total solutions provider of light-curing systems and accessories. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety, and efficiency of products, services, and systems. ISO 9001 standards are based on seven quality management principles: customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management.

 

Country Bank Recognized by Boston Business Journal for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2021 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. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 9, 98 companies qualified 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 55th, 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. Paul Scully, president and CEO at Country Bank, added that “we are honored to be recognized by the Boston Business Journal for Country Bank’s philanthropic efforts. As a community bank, it is our mission to help make a difference in the lives of others.”

 

Renaissance Investment Group to Open New Downtown Office

LENOX — Renaissance Investment Group, LLC is joining the growing business community in downtown Lenox with a new office at 45 Walker St. The group will leave its current building in the Lenox Commons and plans to move into the Walker Street space in November. Mill Town Capital is the new owner of the building. Renaissance and Mill Town have agreed on a 10-year lease during which Mill Town will serve as the landlord for the building and will fund property improvements. Mill Town also owns and operates the Gateways Inn and Restaurant at 51 Walker St. Mill Town, an impact-investment firm based in Pittsfield, owns and operates numerous properties in the Berkshires as part of its efforts to expand and improve quality of life in the area. The firm focuses on making impactful business investments and community-development efforts.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Five $1,000 Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Five area students were each awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is awarded annually to a union member affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouse or dependent. Applicants are asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of recent community service, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Emma Cowles of Wilbraham, Samantha Franciosa of Granby, Emma Hayward of Pittsfield, Antonia Perakis of West Springfield, and Elizabeth Sarnacki of East Otis.

 

STCC Receives $7.35 Million to Enhance STEM Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to boost student success among Latinx and low-income students in STEM fields, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announced during a visit to STCC. The first grant, titled “Project Acceleration: Re-engineering Pathways to Student Success in STEM,” will run for five years for a total of $3 million. It will allow STCC to create a STEM studies program and develop support services to increase access to STEM careers. The grant is designed to increase enrollment and improve the graduation rates of Latinx and low-income students in STEM majors and help them continue with their studies instead of withdrawing from school. In addition, the grant will allow STCC to help reduce the time it takes male students of color, particularly Latinx, to complete studies. The grant falls under the federal Title V program, which was created to improve higher education of Hispanic students. The second grant announced by Neal is titled “STEM Access and Retention Strategies.” The five-year grant, totaling $4,352,559, will allow STCC to create and enhance support services for Latinx and low-income students. Services and programs supported by the grant include creation of STEM-focused first-year experience courses; utilization of proactive STEM advisors, which would involves bringing services to students rather than waiting for them to ask; and implementation of additional mental-health services. In recent years, STCC created a STEM Center that offers opportunities for tutoring and group study for all students. The college also provides mentoring and coaching. The new federal grant also will allow STCC to enhance professional development for faculty. STCC, the only technical community college in Massachusetts, is federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with 30% of the students identifying as Hispanic. The city of Springfield suffers high unemployment and poverty. Fifty-six percent of STCC students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to students who display exceptional financial need. Hispanic and low-income students enter college with greater developmental math needs and lower retention and graduation rates, on average, than non-Hispanic and higher-income students. Only 11.4% of Hispanic and 14% of low-income students major in STEM. As part of the grant focusing on access and retention strategies, STCC will partner with UMass Amherst and Central Connecticut State University to expand transfer opportunities for students.

 

Springfield Museums Receive Shuttered Venue Operator Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Small Business Alliance Massachusetts District Office Director Robert Nelson to the Quadrangle green on Oct. 7 to announce a $1,200,000 Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As part of the American Rescue Plan, the SVOG program provided more than $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues and was administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Springfield Museums shut its doors for four months, the first time this has happened in its 164-year history. “As a beloved community anchor and an important informal-learning hub, we were overjoyed to reopen in July 2020,” Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson said. “Our visitors make our museums alive with energy and potential, and we are so glad to have them back in our buildings. We are deeply grateful for the funds provided by the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant, which will help us make up for the lost time during that four-month period.”

 

Springfield College, UMass Launch Accelerated Law Degree Program

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts Law School – Dartmouth have finalized a 3+3 agreement that will create new, accelerated opportunities for Springfield College students to attain a law degree. As part of the agreement, Springfield College pre-law students will spend three years working toward their undergraduate degree before enrolling at UMass Law, where they will begin taking law courses that fulfill their remaining undergraduate requirements while beginning their legal education. Springfield College Professor of History and Pre-Law Advisor Thomas Carty was instrumental in forging this pathway for Springfield College students with UMass Law. Students will earn their bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees in six years rather than the traditional seven. These accelerated degree programs allow students to apply credits earned during their first year of law school to their final year of college, saving students thousands of dollars in tuition payments and living expenses. Over the past five years, UMass Law ranks second in the nation, among nearly 200 ABA-accredited law schools, for enrollment growth, while maintaining the smallest first-year doctrinal course sizes among all Massachusetts law schools. UMass Law’s most recent ABA Standard 316 ‘ultimate’ (two-year) bar pass rate is 92% across all jurisdictions. UMass Law has twice been ranked among the best law schools in the country for its program of practical training. The law school also ranks second among all 15 law schools in New England for the percentage of students entering public service.

 

Jewish Family Service Receives Citizenship and Integration Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) has been awarded a competitive two-year $250,000 Citizenship and Integration Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This grant enables JFS to continue its work helping legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. The fiscal year 2021 grants, which run through September 2023, will fund legal services for citizenship applicants and educational programs designed to deepen an applicant’s knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Since it began in 2009, the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has awarded more than $112 million through 513 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Now in its 13th year, the program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. JFS is one of 40 organizations in 25 states to receive nearly $10 million in funding to support citizenship-preparation services. Now in its 13th year, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. A ‘permanent resident’ is a person authorized by the U.S. government to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. Jewish Family Service is a nonprofit social service agency that has developed both substantive legal and programmatic expertise during its 10 years of experience in citizenship and naturalization services.

 

 

State-of-the-art LEAP@WNE Training Center Established

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). LEAP@WNE is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The LEAP@WNE facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation through its capital grant program and is collaborating on more than 60 projects connecting manufacturers with universities and companies. According to CAM, Massachusetts has made a substantial commitment to developing the Manufacturing USA infrastructure within the state’s academic, research, and manufacturing industry. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M212 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. Funded through the M212 program, LEAP is designed to support AIM Photonics, an industry-driven, public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return on investment to the American economy.

 

Company Notebook

Basketball Hall of Fame Taps White Lion for Enshrinement Release

SPRINGFIELD — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and White Lion Brewing Co. announced the two will collaborate and release a special ale with a commemorative collector’s label designed to capture the imagery of the Hall of Fame’s annual enshrinement program. The collector’s label melds the Hall of Fame’s iconic dome with the city of Springfield skyline into White Lion’s award-winning brand. “White Lion is extremely honored to partner with the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame for an annual release affectionately dubbed Enshrinement Legend Series, which pays homage to the birthplace of basketball, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and class honorees,” said Ray Berry, White Lion president. “The city of Springfield is the home of this global sport, and we are excited to play a role in the annual enshrinement-ceremony experience.” The Basketball Hall of Fame will present the class of 2021 Saturday, Sept. 11 at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.

Keiter Corp. Donates $10,000 for Northampton Gift-card Promotion

FLORENCE — Keiter Corp. has donated $10,000 to the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce for a promotion that will allow consumers to purchase a $25 Northampton gift card and receive $50 in actual spending power. This investment by Keiter, aimed at helping to continue to boost the local economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be supplemented by a $2,500 contribution from the chamber’s Community Revitalization Fund, allowing for 250 of the double-valued, $25 Northampton gift cards to be sold. Billed as a “Kickstart the Community with a Keiter Card” campaign, the promotion launched on Aug. 12, with the cards sold exclusively at the chamber offices at 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. Based in Florence, Keiter has provided general-contracting and construction-management services in the Valley since 2010 for its commercial and residential projects. Scott Keiter is a member of the chamber’s board of directors and its finance committee, so he is personally aware of the financial hit that local merchants took during the pandemic. Knowing the gift-card program has been successful, he thought an investment focused on it would be a win-win-win for his business, the chamber, and shoppers around the region who have also been hard-hit. The Northampton Gift Card is currently accepted at 65 restaurants, shops, and other establishments.

Asnuntuck, Enfield Partner on Early-childhood Initiative

ENFIELD, Conn. — The town of Enfield’s Family Resource Center, a division of the Enfield Department of Social Services, partnered with Asnuntuck Community College’s Early Childhood Education program last month on a creative collaborative program. The two partners provided an educational experience at the Enfield Public Schools’ Stowe Early Learning Center to preschool-aged children who are entering preschool and kindergarten in the fall, and who have had a limited preschool experience due to the pandemic. The summer program was three weeks long, with three classes of 16 children each going to kindergarten and two classes of 10 children each going to preschool. Funding for the program came from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, and it was partially staffed by teaching assistants who are Asnuntuck students or recent graduates.

Businesses Pull Together to Help YMCA’s Camp Weber

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield reached out to several local business for their help with upgrades at its Camp Weber in West Springfield this past year. Over the course of a few months this spring, various projects were completed to upgrade Camp Weber, including paving, new roofs, painting, landscaping, consulting, new equipment, and more. The YMCA was also fortunate to receive donations and grant awards to help with other expenses on the project. In addition, some community friends came together and helped raise enough money to send nearly 300 kids to one-week sessions of camp. Among those who helped the YMCA make improvements at Camp Weber are Adam Quennville Roofing & Siding, anonymous donors, the Agnes M. Lindsay Trust, Big E Trust – Town of West Springfield, Construction Dynamics, Eastman Chemical Co., Excel Dryer, Graybar Electric Supply, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Kelly Building Group, Kittredge Foodservice Equipment & Supply, Noonan Energy, Nora Roberts Foundation, Ondrick Materials & Recycling, Szlachetka Dubay, P.C., West Springfield Rotary Club, and West Springfield Rotary District 7890.

WNEU School of Law Co-Hosts Workshop to Support Asian-American Women

SPRINGFIELD — More than 100 current and aspiring law professors participated in the inaugural Workshop for Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women in the Legal Academy on Aug. 5-6. The event included workshops focused on professional development, scholarship, wellness, and Asian-American history. The AAPI workshop was co-hosted by Sudha Setty, dean and professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, along with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar; clinical professor of Law; and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park. In addition to providing inspiration, the workshop offered tangible support to individuals from populations that are historically underrepresented in the legal field. Given the workshop’s success in its inaugural year, Wadhia said organizers hope it will be an annual event hosted by a rotating group of law schools across the country. Institutional support, she added, is key to making progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy.

Dam Upgrades, Repairs to Begin at Springfield Armory Site

SPRINGFIELD — The city of Springfield recently announced it is beginning the $3.6 million project to repair and upgrade the Watershops Pond Dam at the historic former Springfield Armory manufacturing site. GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a multi-disciplinary firm providing ecological, geotechnical, environmental, water, and construction-management services, designed and provided permitting support for this major infrastructure project. Watershops Pond, which is created by the dam, is surrounded by several historic industrial buildings that were part of the Springfield Armory, the first federal armory and the primary manufacturing center for U.S. military firearms from 1794 until its closing in 1968. Gardner Construction & Industrial Services Inc. of Chicopee was awarded the general contract to construct the improvements at this high-hazard-potential dam. One of the key elements of the dam-improvement project includes replacing the 65-year-old crest gate. The three-foot-tall, 105-foot-long, flap-like structure can be lowered in advance of major storms and hurricanes to release water and reduce the level of the pond to mitigate potential flooding and protect the safety of the dam and downstream areas.
Several other measures will be implemented to bring the dam in compliance with Massachusetts dam-safety regulations and improve access to the gate-control house for city of Springfield personnel. The project is being funded through a $17 million grant the city was awarded in 2017 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Program. In advance of construction, GZA has facilitated and overseen a controlled draw-down of the 200-acre pond for inspection of the dam and pre-construction activities.

Home City Development Secures Permit for Affordable-housing Development in Pelham

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc., a Springfield-based affordable-housing developer, has received a comprehensive permit from the Pelham Zoning Board of Appeals for the construction of 34 mixed-income rental units. On Aug. 10, the Zoning Board approved the comprehensive permit for the property to be known as Amethyst Brook Apartments. This is the first affordable-housing development approved in the town of Pelham and the first time the Zoning Board of Appeals has awarded this type of permit. Two new buildings will be constructed at 20-22 Amherst Road; 22 Amherst Road will be designed to ‘passive house’ standards, which includes energy-efficiency specifications that drastically reduce the building’s ecological footprint. Notable additions to the site construction include a stormwater-management system and electric-vehicle charging stations. Next, Home City Development will finalize project financing, and construction is expected to be completed within 12 to 14 months after the start date, to be announced. The design team is led by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow. Berkshire Design Group of Northampton will conduct civil engineering and landscape design.

SERVPRO of Hampshire County Celebrates 25 Years in Community

BELCHERTOWN — SERVPRO of Hampshire County, a cleanup and restoration company, is recognizing its 25th anniversary in the local business community. The company will celebrate its milestone with an open house on Thursday, Sept. 16 at its offices at 50 Depot St. in Belchertown. Fall has been in business since Aug. 16, 1996. SERVPRO clients include insurance companies seeking restoration services, as well as commercial and residential property owners who require routine cleaning services. With more than 50 years of experience, the SERVPRO system’s time-tested techniques and proprietary cleaning products have earned its franchises a spot as a leader in the restoration and cleaning industry. SERVPRO of Hampshire County is capable of cleaning and restoring a fire-, mold-, or water-damaged building and its contents, including wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces; furniture; fabric; fixtures; and more. Many franchisees also offer cleaning and restoration of special items, such as HVAC duct systems; building exteriors; electronic equipment, including computers; and documents that have sustained water damage.

New Community Center, Housing Coming to Carriage Grove

BELCHERTOWN — MassDevelopment and the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (BEDIC) announced the selection of Brisa Ventures, LLC to develop a 12-acre parcel of land at Carriage Grove into a new mixed-income residential community featuring approximately 100 units of housing. Brisa Ventures will also preserve and redevelop the existing former Belchertown State School administration building into a community center, museum, cultural space, meeting space, and either a restaurant, brewery, or distillery. Construction of the development is projected to begin by the end of 2022 and is expected to be complete within 18 to 24 months. The sale of this BEDIC-owned parcel and building to Brisa Ventures will represent the first phase of a multi-phased, mixed-use project under negotiation with the company intended to include additional commercial, residential, and community-oriented investments. The new rental housing units will be designed as a mix of two- and three-story apartment- and townhome-style residences and built to ultra-low energy-use standards; they are planned to use solar energy to meet net-zero energy use. The development will also include extensive common green areas with play areas, community gathering spaces, and pathways that connect the housing units to each other and to the neighboring trail network.

Company Notebook

ManeHire Awarded $25,000 Power Forward Small Business Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Nicole Polite, the owner of ManeHire, a staffing and recruiting agency, was recently awarded $25,000 through the Power Forward Small Business Grant. This grant is an extension of Boston Celtics United for Social Justice, a multi-focus commitment to addressing racial injustice and social inequities in the Greater Boston area. The program offers recipients the opportunity to be featured on national co-branded platforms and receive marketing and design resources customized to their specific needs to help their business grow and thrive. “It has always been my goal to ensure that the best of the best diverse candidates are well-represented in every executive search we conduct,” Polite said. “We measure and track diversity every step of the way.” With a focus on helping firms realize their potential through workplace diversity, ManeHire believes that a diverse and inclusive workforce enables innovation and that employers should be reflective of the communities in which they serve, she added. “This grant will help us provide workshops and training on ‘Diversity Sensitivity in the Workplace,’ ‘Getting Back to Work,’ and ‘Résumé-building Tips.’ Our community needs this. They need a little extra support to rise up after a challenging year.”

 

Colebrook Realty Brokers Sale of Former Faces Building

NORTHAMPTON — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced the sale of the 33,228-square-foot retail building on Main Street in Northampton between Main Street, LLP and 175 Main Street, LLC, a subsidiary of Redstone. The property is located at 175 Main St. in Northampton. Redstone is a property-management and development company based in Burlington, Vt., that has been investing in properties for nearly 30 years, with a particular focus on commercial real estate, multi-family housing, and student housing throughout New England. The acquisition of 175 Main St. represents Redstone’s affinity for the former Faces building and Northampton’s strong downtown area, said Joe Engelken, senior vice president of Acquisition & Development for the company. “Redstone is delighted to have the opportunity to acquire a prominent piece of Northampton’s downtown and become a part of the community,” he said. “We are excited for the coming years and will strive to recreate the sense of destination that Faces once had.” Half the property has remained vacant since the iconic Faces store shut down in April 2019. TD Bank leases space at the building across from Thornes Marketplace. The sale of the property was handled by Mitch Bolotin and Jack Dill of Colebrook. “The Faces building is an important landmark for Northampton’s Main Street,” Bolotin said, “and Redstone is the right development group to manage the property growing forward.”

 

Bay Path University Joins U.S. Collegiate Athletic Assoc.

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced its membership confirmation to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). The university will sponsor Division I volleyball, soccer, and softball teams in the 2021-22 academic year as members of the USCAA. “This is an exciting time for Bay Path athletics and our student-athletes. Moving from the NCAA to the USCAA provides us with the opportunity to compete at both the regional and national level in new ways,” said Joel Wincowski, vice president for Enrollment Management, Marketing, and Athletics. “In addition, participating at the Division I level enables us to now offer athletic scholarships, which are very attractive to student-athletes and their families when making decisions of where to study and play.” The USCAA’s focus is to enhance member institutions through athletics by providing opportunities for small colleges to compete on an equal level of competition with schools of like size and athletic programs. The USCAA conducts 15 national championships, names All-Americans, recognizes scholar-athletes, and promotes USCAA member schools through various means.

 

Balanced Birch Studio Coming to the Mill District

AMHERST — Balanced Birch Studio — a budding small business that provides experienced, individualized instruction in classical Pilates and Gyrotonic exercise — announced it is joining the diverse community at the Mill District in North Amherst this summer. Located at 77 Cowls Road in North Square, the studio is kitty corner to the Mill District General Store and Hannah’s Local Art Gallery, and across the green from Provisions. Balanced Birch Studio is unique in its approach to individualized personal training for people from all walks of life. From dancers and athletes to the injured and elderly, it offers boutique physical instruction to better a person’s quality of movement, posture, and lifestyle. The studio’s founder, Mary Ellen Liacos, is a certified USPA Authentic Pilates and Gyrotonic method instructor with more than 10 years of teaching experience. She has worked with students of all levels and abilities, specializing in youth and geriatric instruction. She has extensive experience training athletes, particularly pre-professional figure skaters and dancers. She has deep knowledge coaching clients with ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and those who are postpartum or returning from surgical rehab. She incorporates her training as a professional dancer with her Pilates and Gyrotonic practice, integrating these methods through instruction at Balanced Birch Studio. In addition to private, semi-private, and Pilates mat sessions, Balanced Birch also offers several master-class options for the community to partake in throughout the year. Master classes will include Integrative Life Coaching, Self-Massage, Gyrokinesis, Alexander Technique, and more.

 

JA of Western Massachusetts Raises $1,450 with Virtual 5K

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) staged a Virtual 5K Run/Walk on June 11-14 to raise funds to support its literacy, entrepreneurship, and career-exploration programs. A total of 14 participants met the challenge and raised $1,450 for the cause. “The realities of the pandemic prompted us to hold this event virtually, but we are so grateful for the participants who still made the commitment to support us,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. “Every bit helps, as our programs are offered at no cost to schools and youth groups. Our students need financial literacy and work-readiness programs to be prepared for their futures.” Participants paid a $25 entry fee and were encouraged to walk, run, or bike with friends and family and solicit donations through their own fundraising pages. Safety Restore of Westfield was the event’s medal sponsor, and Country Bank was the certificate sponsor.

 

UMassFive Donates Personal-care Items to Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union collected 350 pounds of personal-care items during the month of May and donated them to the pantries of the Amherst Survival Center and Northampton Survival Center. Donations were collected at the credit union’s Hadley and Northampton branch locations, and included incontinence products, toilet paper, diapers, menstrual products, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, sunblock, and many other personal-care items. “We’re so appreciative of our members and employees for donating personal-care items to our annual drive,” said Cait Murray, Community Outreach manager at UMassFive. “We know that personal-care items in the Survival Center pantries may help people avoid making difficult tradeoffs. Nobody should have to choose between food and toilet paper.”

 

Mary Ann’s Dance and More Announces Relocation

EASTHAMPTON — Mary Ann’s Dance and More, a local dance-apparel store, is relocating to make room for a pre-professional conservatory in its current location. The studio will now be located at 163B Northampton St. in Easthampton. Opened since 2007, Mary Ann’s Dance and More offers customers dance supplies, including apparel and accessories, as well as novelty and gift items. An active business in the community, Mary Ann’s Dance and More is recognized as a consistent sponsor of various local organizations. It has also been featured in the national dance retailer magazine Dance Retailer News as a “Retailer Spotlight,” twice on Mass Appeal on WWLP-22News, and in “Lifestyle/Balance Act” in Retail Minded.

 

Visiting Angels of West Springfield Shows Appreciation to Caregivers

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The week of June 14-21 was National Nursing Assistant Week, and Visiting Angels of West Springfield showed its appreciation to all its caregivers for their hard work and dedication with a socially distanced drive-by at the Visiting Angels office with treats and goodies. When a caregiver drove up to the table, the Visiting Angels administrative team presented them with a gift, a choice of treats, and a refreshing beverage. The goodie bags included tea bags, caramel candies, Visiting Angels party favors and tokens, and aromatherapy products for relaxation after a long day of work. Visiting Angels of West Springfield is welcoming new caregivers to its team. Caregivers interested in joining the team can call (413) 733-6900. Visiting Angels offers benefits and flexible schedules designed to adapt to each employee’s specific needs. The home-healthcare service offers senior in-home care, elderly care, and care for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in towns across the Pioneer Valley and the Greater Springfield area, including Springfield, West Springfield, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Agawam, Ludlow, Westfield, Southwick, Chicopee, Holyoke, Southampton, and Montgomery.

Company Notebook

West Springfield Drive-In to Open on Big E Fairgrounds

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

 

Home City Breaks Ground on Elias Brookings Apartments

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

 

Springfield Strain LLC Proposes Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

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

 

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

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

 

Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Amplify Community Reinvestment

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

 

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

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

 

Viability Introduces Program to Better Serve Participants

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

 

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

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