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PeoplesBank Issues Annual Corporate Green Report

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2020 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place in which to live, work, and raise a family. The bank puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations, volunteerism, support of green-energy projects, and construction of LEED-certified offices. PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $188 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects. Over 2019-20, PeoplesBank supported several green community projects in Western Mass., including the Center for EcoTechnology’s ‘eco fellows’ and more than 100 community-education events; the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) Food for All campaign; e-recycle and shred day at the bank’s Suffield Banking Center; Grow Food Northampton; the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Local Farmer program and awards; scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; a mobile farmers’ market that travels to underserved/food-desert areas of Springfield and surrounding communities; the Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River, which also includes hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank; and ValleyBike Share, the region’s new bike-sharing program. Community banks, like PeoplesBank, are not generally known for building green offices, but PeoplesBank has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a Green Seal from the city of Springfield. The bank will pursue a fourth LEED certification for its Pedlar Banking Center in Holyoke in the near future. Three PeoplesBank offices (Northampton, West Springfield, and 330 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke) have electric vehicle-charging stations. The bank also launched a “Choose to Reuse” campaign designed to eliminate the use of disposable paper products internally. PeoplesBank has traditionally commemorated Earth Day by giving away tomato plants and seeds at several banking centers throughout the region. Due to the extenuating circumstances this year, in lieu of those customer giveaways, a donation will be made to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to assist in its COVID relief outreach.

Contribution Clothing Supports Women-focused Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — Kelly Partridge, founder of Contribution Clothing, launched her mission-driven online boutique (contributionclothing.com) last June. The boutique, which retails women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass.-based nonprofit organizations that have a vision of empowering women and girls as well as community support. Contribution Clothing is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to the Care Center of Holyoke, a nonprofit organization that helps young mothers grasp how powerful they are, gives them tools to learn, and provides them with an exciting and engaging learning environment. Since its website launch, the boutique has provided monetary donations to Dress for Success, Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, and Safe Passage. In additional to the boutique’s quarterly contributions, Partridge, a Bay Path University alumna, has worked with the university to create the Contribution Clothing Scholarship Fund, which annually provides a Bay Path student with $500 toward tuition. The clothing line has also supported community-based events and fundraisers such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendar for Girls Inc., and the Unify Against Bullying fashion show, where Partridge provided six different outfits to help raise awareness against bullying. Partridge’s goal for her business is to use her story and passion for social justice to make a positive impact within her community. She hopes to use fashion as a way of helping women feel confident and empowered.

MGHPCC Expands Access to Researchers Working on COVID-19

HOLYOKE — The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), operated by a consortium consisting of Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern University, and the University of Massachusetts system, announced it will provide access to outside researchers working on projects in which high-speed computing would accelerate resolution of the COVID-19 crisis. The MGHPCC’s member institutions are already heavily engaged in coronavirus-related research in areas that include understanding the fundamentals of the disease, contributing to the development of vaccines, treatment and tests, and public-health solutions. Much of this research, and most scientific academic research today, rely on high-performance computing. The MGHPCC, which is among the largest high-performance computing facilities in the country, is now expanding access to its storage and computational systems to academic and commercial enterprises beyond the facility’s member institutions. Total available capacity across all systems includes more than 200,000 CPU cores, 2,000 recent-generation GPUs, and 5 petabytes of temporary storage. The additional work will not impact day-to-day university needs. The MGHPCC consortium is also working with Mass Open Cloud and two of its sponsors, Red Hat and Intel, to launch a site that connects potentially impactful projects with people who have strong computing skills but are unable to work on their regular assignments due to travel restrictions.

Home City Development Wins Funds for Affordable-housing Renovations

NORTHAMPTON — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded $2.88 million and seven project-based vouchers by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Funds were awarded for renovations of New South Street Apartments, an 18-unit historic building located at 24-34 New South St. in Northampton. Project-based vouchers and supportive service funds will provide housing for seven homeless families. In addition, the city of Northampton awarded $50,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds for this project. Homeless households will be selected from the Three County Continuum of Care Coordinated Entry system. This system includes Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire county emergency-assistance shelters and other assistance organizations. HCDI will provide case management and related support services for residents at New South Street Apartments, including those who were formerly homeless. HCDI is working with Architecture EL as project architect and Henry General Contractors as contractor. Renovation work is expected to begin this fall and take about nine months to complete. Home City Development Inc. is a nonprofit, resident-centered developer of multi-family and mixed-use properties in Western Mass. HCDI was founded as Better Homes Inc. in 1968 by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Over more than 50 years, HCDI has worked to facilitate community stability and growth in collaboration with numerous partners and residents.

Freedom Credit Union Makes $55,000 Donation to Fight Coronavirus Crisis

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union (FCU) announced a donation of $55,000 to be dispersed among several community organizations at the front lines of the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. FCU announced that the following slate of organizations will receive a portion of the $55,000 donation: Baystate Health Foundation; Mercy Medical Center; Cooley Dickinson Health Care; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts; Hampshire Hospitality Group, whose Hampshire County Heroes feed first responders in Hampshire County; and Feed the Fight, an initiative of Peter Pan Bus Lines and area restaurants to feed healthcare workers and first responders in the community. Welch indicated that FCU will continue to assist the community throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to these community donations, Welch said FCU has offered resources to its individual members intended to provide financial assistance or relief during the crisis, including online banking services and the new Freedom Relief Loan, which provides up to $10,000 to members dealing with consequences of the pandemic, including layoffs, furloughs, and bills. In addition, FCU’s Skip-a-Pay program allows members with a consumer loan — auto, mortgage, home equity, or home improvement — to defer payments up to 90 days. Members should contact their local branch for details. FCU can also work with member businesses needing financial relief on their specific circumstances. Business members should speak with the Member Business Lending department. For contact information, visit freedom.coop.

 

First American Insurance Agency Launches New Client Portal

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced the launch of a new online customer portal designed to enhance service and support for its customers. The portal, called CSR24, enables clients to access insurance ID cards and insurance documents (including renewal paperwork), request policy changes, and more. Clients can also submit claim photos, such as a cracked windshield. For truckers, the portal allows the quick and straightforward download of certificates. The portal is accessible on any device via the agency’s website and requires a login and username. The agency will release a matching app later in the year.

Phillips Insurance Delivers Pizza, Food Boxes to Clients, First Responders

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance partnered with clients Fazio’s Ristorante of East Longmeadow and Simos Produce of Springfield to deliver pizza and grocery boxes to its clients and first responders. Phillips Insurance delivered dozens of grocery boxes from Simos Produce to clients so they could avoid going to the supermarket. In addition, Phillips and Fazio’s Ristorante delivered pizzas and grinders to first responders and heathcare providers, while Phillips Insurance delivered pizza and subs to the Chicopee Police Department in appreciation of all they do for the community. Phillips Insurance Agency was established in 1953 and is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 28 professionals.

Western Mass. Wedding Vendors Say ‘Thank You’ to Frontline Workers

HOLYOKE — The wedding industry is being hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Couples are being forced to restructure or delay their wedding plans, leaving wedding vendors struggling with the financial challenges of delayed business. Thankfully, the wedding industry is also one marked by resilience and camaraderie. That is why a group of Western Mass. wedding vendors has come together to give back and say ‘thank you’ to frontline workers. Spearheaded by local DJ Anthony Corlis from TC’s Disc Jockey Services with assistance from the Log Cabin/Delaney House meal-donation program, more than 75 meals will be delivered to employees of Stop and Shop in Westfield today, April 24, at 11 a.m. by Corlis and Peter Rosskothen, owner of the Log Cabin/Delaney House. One of those employees just happens to be a Log Cabin groom who needed to reschedule his April 26 wedding. Meals were donated by Vivan B Photography, Events by Jackie M., Aliber Bridal Shops, Michelle Anne Hair Design, SHO Productions, Durocher’s Florist, Catherine Jindela, Kasey Richards of Mountain Rose Inn, TC’s Disc Jockey Services, and Log Cabin/Delaney House. Anyone looking to donate meals should visit delaneyhouse.com/feedalocalhero.

Wellfleet, EIS Group Partner on Innovative Insurance Solution

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway insurance company, and industry technology leader EIS Group are building a next-generation insurance-administration platform to meet the evolving demands of the employee-benefits market. In the complex voluntary-benefits landscape, brokers and their clients commonly work with multiple systems, fighting to integrate with carriers’ patchworked legacy systems. Whether it’s product sophistication, internal workflow monitoring, enrollment and third-party integration, or communications across multiple modules, carriers struggle to administer plans in a digitally unified way. Wellfleet Workplace entered the voluntary market last year, on a mission to be the digitally enabled carrier of choice. Partnering with EIS Group helps drive this differentiation by jointly creating an open-architecture and cloud-based software system designed to support the full broker and customer life cycle. The software provider’s cloud-based platform supports broker and customer life cycles, including rating and quoting, policy issuance and administration, and billing and claims management. Multi-channel touch points are easily created and managed through EIS Group’s digital-experience platform.

Pearson Wallace, Arbella Offer Premium Relief

AMHERST — Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Arbella has committed to providing a 20% credit for three months on all personal auto policies until June 30. This is a per-vehicle refund that applies to existing and new policies from Pearson Wallace Insurance, said Alex Bennett, the agency’s vice president. Arbella Insurance also announced the Arbella Here. For Good. Give Back Program. Subject to approval by state regulators, Arbella’s personal auto customers will receive a credit equal to 20% of their auto premium for the months of April, May, and June. These savings would result in an estimated average of $60 per vehicle, and customers with multiple vehicles on their policy could see significant savings, Bennett noted.

Ascent Laser Aesthetics Introduces Innovative Hair-removal System

EAST LONGMEADOW — Ascent Laser Aesthetics, a medical spa located in East Longmeadow, has partnered with Cartessa Aesthetics to bring the hair-removal system Motux AX to the practice. Motux AX is the most effective laser wavelength for hair removal for the widest array of skin types, Dr. Kevin Coughlin said, adding that the procedure is virtually pain-free and significantly more comfortable than standard methods, while providing quicker treatment of large areas (less than five minutes) and fewer subsequent treatments to achieve optimal results. Through proprietary Moveo technology, risk of side effects is virtually non-existent.

EforAll Holyoke Launches Accelerator Program for Spanish-speaking Entrepreneurs

HOLYOKE — Continuing to expand its proven approach to help under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses, Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Holyoke announced that it is accepting applications for its new EparaTodos program in Holyoke, which will focus on supporting Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the Greater Holyoke community. EforAll’s free, one-year business-accelerator program helps under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses or nonprofits across a wide range of industries, including personal and professional services, food, manufacturing, and both online and traditional retail. The program offers a combination of immersive business training, dedicated mentorship, and access to a professional network. The organization typically offers its programs in person, but it is prepared to deliver classroom training and mentor sessions online if necessary. Among the businesses started by EforAll participants, 75% are owned by women, 56% are owned by people of color, 54% are owned by immigrants, and 56% are owned by people who were previously unemployed. EforAll is accepting applications for this new Spanish-language accelerator, as well as its English accelerator program (EforAll), through Wednesday, May 20 at 5 p.m. Interested applicants can learn more and apply at www.eforall.org, where they will find information in both English and Spanish. To support its new Spanish-language programming, EforAll Holyoke has hired a dedicated EparaTodos program manager, Gabriella Candelario. Before joining EparaTodos Holyoke, she worked with the Springfield Public Schools as a program coordinator. She can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook

Community Foundation Gives $341,000 Through Innovation Grant Program

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ (CFWM) Innovation Grant Program has awarded a total of $341,000 to three change-making nonprofit organizations to continue creating innovative solutions around critical issues facing the region. CFWM’s Innovation Grant Program was launched in 2016 to encourage nonprofits to develop and execute novel ideas in partnership with other entities, as well as allow organizations to construct inventive solutions with measurable impact. In January 2018, CFWM awarded first-year funding to Five Colleges Inc., the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity to implement innovative projects that were refined and tested during a planning period in 2017. Now entering their third year of funding, these grantees are seeing the tangible impact of their work. Twenty paraprofessionals of color are making their way toward receiving their licensure to become a full-fledged teachers, food-insecure patients are being identified and referred to healthy-food opportunities, and small homes have been built and are being occupied by first-time homebuyers. Five Colleges Inc. will continue to develop its “Paradigm Shift” initiative and bring in new partners. This initiative is focused on creating a more diverse teacher workforce in Western Mass. by helping para-educators of color overcome obstacles to obtaining licensure to become teachers in area schools. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts will spend its third year expanding and analyzing the impact of its Food Insecurity Screening and Referral Initiative that conducts and tracks food insecurity screening and social-service referrals at the Holyoke Health Center and its Chicopee location. Additionally, it will partner with WestMass ElderCare and Springfield Senior Services to address the food needs of patients who screen positive for food insecurity and have a specific medical condition. Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity will continue with a third year of its “Big Enough: the Small Home Revolution in Western Mass.” initiative, which aims to launch more individuals and families into the middle class by empowering them to become first-time owners of small, simple, affordable, energy-efficient homes.

MBK Donates $10,000 to MHA for Crisis-intervention Training

SPRINGFIELD — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., (MBK) recently made a $10,000 donation to the Mental Health Assoc. Inc. (MHA) to fund non-violent crisis-intervention training for MHA’s direct-care staff. “To train in non-violent crisis intervention is an important professional-development opportunity for MHA staff,” said Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA Inc. “MHA does not use physical restraint in any form, so our staff members need skills to safely de-escalate and manage challenging behaviors in a non-violent manner. Our training curriculum from the Crisis Prevention Institute goes further by also helping better equip our staff to prevent difficult situations from escalating.” The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) is an international training organization committed to best practices and safe behavior-management methods that focus on prevention. Since 1980, more than 10 million professionals around the world have participated in CPI training programs.

HCC Extends Scholarship Application Deadline

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has extended by two weeks the deadline to apply for scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year. The new application deadline is Wednesday, April 8. Students must be currently enrolled at HCC or have been accepted for the upcoming academic year to be eligible for scholarships, which are awarded through the HCC Foundation, HCC’s nonprofit fundraising corporation. Awards totaling more than $200,000 are available for incoming, continuing, and transferring HCC students. Applicants need only to fill out a single online form to be automatically matched with the scholarships they are most qualified to receive. There are scholarships for new students, current students and students transferring to other institutions, scholarships based on financial need, scholarships for students in specific majors, scholarships for residents of certain communities, and scholarships that recognize academic achievement. For the 2019-20 academic year, the HCC Foundation awarded $223,000 in scholarships to 231 students. To begin the application process, visit www.hcc.edu/scholarships. Questions should be directed to the HCC Foundation office at (413) 552-2182 or Donahue 170 on the HCC campus, 303 Homestead Ave.

PTK Honor Society Presents ACC with Awards During Virtual Ceremony

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College’s Alpha Lambda Zeta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was recognized as being the Most Distinguished Chapter for the New England Region during a virtual awards ceremony held last weekend. The chapter and its members were awarded other honors during its first-ever virtual ceremony. These awards included Distinguished College Project Award and Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award. The chapter elected to do its Honors in Action project within a Politics of Identity theme. Working with various departments at the college, as well as outside agencies, including the Jordan Porco Foundation, the students concentrated on the issue of mental-health awareness. They also established an interactive exhibit on mental-health issues at Asnuntuck, with a digitized version, titled “Art|Mind,” available for those who could not make it to campus. The college project focused on getting information into the hands of students through campus brochures and during the college’s orientation. Asnuntuck student Victoria Orifice was awarded first-place honors for being the Distinguished Chapter Officer.

Beta Gamma Sigma at WNEU Earns Highest Chapter Recognition

SPRINGFIELD — For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. According to Beta Gamma Sigma CEO Chris Carosella, earning highest honors “is indicative of a campus where academic excellence is highly valued and where the faculty and chapter leaders work diligently to enhance Beta Gamma Sigma’s stature on campus.” One indicator of this engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide.

Junior Achievement of Western Mass. Receives Five Star Award

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts has been awarded one of Junior Achievement USA’s highest honors: the Five Star Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize staff and boards of JA areas that meet Junior Achievement’s national standards in operational efficiency and through strong representation of the JA brand. Recipients must demonstrate growth in student impact and superior fiscal performance. Achievement against these criteria is certified through JA USA and audited financial statements. Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which serves more than 13,000 students throughout Western Mass. and Vermont, will be presented with the award in July at Junior Achievement USA’s National Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Robinson Donovan Moves to Expanded Northampton Location

NORTHAMPTON — Robinson Donovan, P.C., a full-service law firm, announced it has moved from its previous Northampton office to a more expansive location at 351 Pleasant St. The firm’s phone number, (413) 732-2301, remains the same. “We wanted to make things as convenient as possible for our growing list of clients in Hampshire County,” Partner Michael Simolo said. “We can now meet with them more comfortably. The response from clients has been very positive.” Partner Jeffrey Trapani, added that “our new office in Northampton has plenty of meeting space, free parking, and easier access. Quite a few of our attorneys live in Hampshire County, so having an expanded office in Northampton makes sense for us operationally as well and helps us better serve our clients throughout the Pioneer Valley.”

Behavioral Health Network Receives $15,000 Grant from Country Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $15,000 grant from Country Bank, which will fund direct services for BHN’s domestic-violence programs in Ware. Country Bank’s grant to BHN will be used for innovative support and advocacy services for domestic-violence survivors, which includes partnering with Country Bank employees in offering the economic-freedom initiative known as Money School. BHN’s Money School program is an award-winning, trauma-informed financial-independence initiative designed to create long-term safety and economic security for survivors of domestic violence. The grant will also be used to provide prevention-education work in local schools, and for interruption and prevention services for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Springfield WORKS Programs to Benefit from State Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield WORKS leads local employers, educators, community leaders, and job seekers in developing innovative solutions to meet the economic needs of area residents and local businesses. A founding member in the Springfield WORKS collaboration, Springfield Partners for Community Action, recently received a second $50,000 award from the Baker-Polito Community Services Block Grant Special Projects Fund to support Springfield WORKS financial-wellness strategies. This award comes on the heels of a recent $100,000 Baker-Polito Urban Agenda Grant to Springfield WORKS and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. The funds will enable families to achieve economic stability as they navigate workforce-development training into a career pathway.

Company Notebook

Bay Path University Names Sandra Doran Its Sixth President

Sandra Doran

LONGMEADOW — The Bay Path University board of trustees announced today that Sandra Doran has been selected by unanimous vote to become the sixth president of Bay Path effective June 30. She will succeed Carol Leary, who retires in June following her 25-year presidency of Bay Path. Doran’s appointment is the culmination of a comprehensive, 10-month, national search process. “Sandy Doran is a charismatic leader who cares deeply about women’s education and is passionate about access to education and student success,” said Jonathan Besse, board chair. “She has an impressive and broad background in a variety of complex organizations, all of which flourished greatly under her leadership.” Doran is currently president of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, N.C. As president, she led an inclusive and aggressive strategic planning process that resulted in a transformation of the college as evidenced by unprecedented growth in enrollment and fundraising. “I am humbled by the trust the board has placed in me to continue the spirit of innovation here at Bay Path,” Doran said. “The visionary nature of President Leary is inspiring and unprecedented in higher education, and I look forward to working with the Bay Path faculty and staff to build on her legacy. Serving our students, and providing them with a superior learning experience, gives us all great joy. I look forward to engaging with all members of our community, students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and our business and philanthropic partners.” Doran holds a juris doctor degree from the Syracuse University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southern Methodist University. Before serving at Salem, Doran was CEO at Castle Point Learning Systems (CPLS), a company that develops innovative teaching and learning technologies incorporating artificial intelligence and adaptive learning algorithms to provide better student outcomes in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Prior to her position at CPLS, she was president of the American College of Education in Indianapolis, where she grew the organization into the fifth-largest graduate school of education in the country, serving more than 5,000 adult and non-traditional students. Her professional experience also includes positions at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey as an entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as at the New England Board of Higher Education as national policy director. Early in her legal career, she transitioned into higher education, joining Lesley University in Cambridge in 2004 as chief of staff, vice president, and general counsel. Doran currently serves as chair of the board for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation and on the board of the Online Learning Consortium. She was named the Triad Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO, and Power Player of 2019.

AIC to Offer Graduate Program in Cannabis Science and Commerce

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) will offer a master of science program in cannabis science and commerce beginning in the fall of 2020, the first of its kind in this region. The 30-credit, hybrid graduate program is designed for individuals interested in a career in the cannabis industry and will provide students with an understanding of the science, business, and legal issues associated with the cannabis industry. The program offers education in the areas of basic science, including chemistry, horticulture, cultivation, uses, and delivery systems; business management, marketing, and operations; and federal and state laws and policies. According to a March 2020 jobs report issued by Leafly, the world’s largest cannabis website, over the past four years, legal cannabis has supported nearly a quarter of a million jobs. That equates to a 15% annual uptick in employment. For more information regarding the AIC’s master of science program in cannabis science and commerce, visit www.aic.edu/cannabis.

MGM Springfield Revenues Rebound in January

SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that gross gaming revenue (GGR) at MGM Springfield totaled $20.6 million in January, up from $18.9 million in December, which was its worst-ever full month. Meanwhile, the Encore Boston Harbor casino recorded $48.6 million in GGR in January, down from $54 million in December, while Plainridge Park Casino posted $11.1 million in January, an almost $900,000 increase from December and its first monthly uptick since last spring. MGM Springfield’s January GGR totaled included $14.9 million from slot machines and $5.7 million from from table games. The facility named a new president and chief operating officer following December’s poor numbers, replacing Michael Mathis with Chris Kelley.

Country Bank Donates More Than $900,000 in 2019

WARE — Country Bank reported its donations to area nonprofits totaled $905,049 last year. Throughout 2019, more than 500 organizations in the communities the bank serves received donations, including the Children’s Trust, Ludlow Community Center Boys and Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Project Bread, and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, among many others. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank provided monetary donations exceeding $100,000 to food programs throughout the region. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Springfield Rescue Mission, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as well as many local food pantries. In addition, Country Bank’s employee charitable giving program raised more than $30,000 in 2019 through events such as jeans days, bake sales, and raffles, and employees volunteered more than 1,000 hours of personal time at various events within the bank’s communities.

Bank of America Entrusts More Than $22 Million to Community Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — After collaborating with the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) for 29 years, the Bank of America in May transferred three trusts totaling more than $22 million to the Valley-wide grant funder. The move brings CFWM’s total earned assets from roughly $153 million to $175 million and bolsters its role as an enduring philanthropic leader in the Pioneer Valley. Founded in 1990, CFWM administers a charitable endowment consisting of more than 600 separately identified funds totaling approximately $175 million. Some of these charitable assets are unrestricted and used to meet emerging and changing needs in the region. Others support named nonprofit organizations or provide financial support to college-bound students. Still others are donor-advised, offering flexibility to donors in timing, amount, and beneficiary of their giving. Last year, CFWM awarded $7.3 million in grants to nonprofits and $2.2 million in scholarships and interest-free loans to more than 770 area students. The Bank of America funds will continue to support a wide variety of organizations for generations to come, from grassroots community food pantries to region-spanning arts programs — and will preserve the original donors’ wishes to support their communities in perpetuity. The three trusts transferred from the bank to the foundation are the Eugene A. Dexter Charitable Fund, established in 1944; the Nan and Matilda Heydt Fund, established in 1960; and the Valley Charitable Trust Fund, established in 1960. All three were originally created to support and serve charitable organizations and interests with a focus on Springfield and Hampden County.

Eversource Earns Award for Using Smart Technology to Reduce Peak Energy Usage

BOSTON — An Eversource program that pays customers to use less electricity during high-demand periods has received an award for Outstanding Achievement in Residential Program Design & Implementation by the Assoc. of Energy Services Professionals. The award recognizes the company’s ConnectedSolutions demand-response program, which leverages customer-owned devices, such as wireless thermostats, battery storage, and electric-vehicle chargers, to reduce electric use during peak periods, when the cost and greenhouse-gas emissions of electricity in New England are at their highest. More than 9,000 customers have enrolled in the volunteer demand-response program in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Customers allow their devices to automatically communicate with Eversource during regional peak energy periods, resulting in a short reduction of power or, in the case of batteries, a reduction of the stored energy. Residential customers with eligible connected wireless thermostats, battery storage, or electric-vehicle chargers can participate and earn incentives ranging from $20 to more than $1,000 a year. The energy company anticipates that, at full enrollment, the collective ability to call on these customers during high-demand periods could have the environmental equivalent effect of taking 20,000 homes off the grid.

EforAll Holyoke Seeks Mentors for Summer Business Accelerator

HOLYOKE — EforAll Holyoke is actively seeking both English- and Spanish-speaking volunteers to participate as mentors in the summer 2020 business accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have 90-minute, in-person meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone interested can e-mail [email protected] for more information.

Company Notebook

Red Sox Winter Weekend, Hoophall Classic Inject $7 Million into Economy

SPRINGFIELD — More than 10,000 people attended Red Sox Winter Weekend and the Hoophall Classic in Greater Springfield in January, and their economic impact on the region was significant, according to the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), which calculated that approximately $7 million was injected into the local economy as a result of these events. Economic impact is calculated using a tourism-industry tool, inputting spending figures in categories like the number of attendees, room nights sold, venue rental, and the cost of food and beverages during the period. Visitor rooms were booked in downtown Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, and West Springfield. Red Sox Winter Weekend occupied space at the MassMutual Center and MGM Springfield, while the Hoophall Classic was held on the grounds of nearby Springfield College.

PeoplesBank Gives $75,000 to Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank presented $75,000 to Girls Inc. toward a $5 million comprehensive campaign with three primary goals: to build a permanent home in downtown Holyoke; expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and extend the Eureka! STEM education program. As a result of the campaign, Girls Inc. of the Valley will serve more than 1,000 girls each year with intensive, research-based programming designed to empower girls and provide opportunities to succeed in school and beyond. This partnership will help Girls Inc. of the Valley to expand its program offerings and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve, and contributes to the bank’s goals of community vibrancy and academic excellence. The need for qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals in the workforce continues to grow, and women — particularly women of color — continue to be underrepresented in these fields. Girls Inc. of the Valley programs like Eureka! expose girls to the STEM fields and support them with mentors and guidance, specialized curricula, internships, and other hands-on opportunities to nurture their curiosity and interests. The “Her Future, Our Future” comprehensive campaign is designed to significantly move the needle on breaking the cycle of poverty and providing tangible opportunities for Pioneer Valley girls to achieve academic and personal success.

New England Business Associates Launches Learn to Earn Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — New England Business Associates (NEBA), a supported employment provider in Massachusetts and Connecticut, is celebrating the launch of its Learn to Earn initiative, thanks to a Kessler Foundation Signature Employment Grant that will fund the project for two years. The initiative, intended to introduce, train, and place four cohorts of employment candidates with disabilities to entry-level manufacturing positions, is the brainchild of NEBA CEO Jeannine Pavlak. The need for qualified employees to fill positions in the manufacturing industry is becoming critical; in many areas of the U.S., upwards of 35% of current manufacturing jobs will become vacant due to retirement by 2022. Pavlak, who is recognized nationally as a subject matter expert in disability employment, sees this as an opportunity. Manufacturing is not currently viewed as a typical pathway to gainful employment for people with disabilities, but there’s no reason it can’t become one. Learn to Earn will give identified candidates the initial training and skills needed to succeed in a manufacturing environment. Over the next two years, 48 candidates with disabilities and barriers to employment will be identified and receive Level 1 and 2 MACWIC manufacturing training and OSHA training, in partnership with MassMEP in Massachusetts and ConnStep in Connecticut. Candidates will also receive NEBA’s customized career-ladders training, designed to cater to individual needs in building employment skills. The goal of Learn to Earn is to place candidates in manufacturing positions that will allow them to earn a sustainable income, eliminate the need for public assistance, and foster growth and future promotions in the field. After placement, employees and employers will be given access to Tooling U-SME, a customized online platform with more than 800 manufacturing courses, allowing employers to identify and customize specific trainings for Learn to Earn employees. Those interested in learning more about the Learn to Earn initiative may e-mail inquiries to [email protected] or call NEBA at (413) 821-9200.

UMass Online Programs Highly Ranked Nationally

BOSTON — Online programs at UMass received high marks again in this year’s Best Online Programs rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Two UMass programs ranked within the top 30 in the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs category, with UMass Amherst ranking 23rd and UMass Lowell 29th. Amherst and Lowell were also the top two online bachelor’s programs in New England for the second consecutive year. In the same category, UMass Dartmouth ranked 113th, rising 10 spots over last year’s rankings, and UMass Boston ranked 93rd. UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell were also highly ranked in the new Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans category, coming in at 18th and 22nd in the nation, respectively. Three UMass online MBA programs rank in the top 100 nationally, with UMass Lowell placing 22nd, UMass Amherst 28th, and UMass Dartmouth 95th. In the Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans category, the same campuses perform even better, with UMass Lowell ranking 16th, UMass Amherst 22nd, and UMass Dartmouth ranking 53rd. Online programs at UMass have been steadily growing in recent years, with total revenues reaching a record-high $116 million in fiscal year 2019.

Monson Savings Bank Seeks Scholarship Applications

MONSON — The 2020 Monson Savings Bank scholarship application is now available to graduating high-school seniors residing in Hampden and Wilbraham. Applications are available at 15 Somers Road, Hampden, and 100 Post Office Park, Wilbraham. The purpose of the Monson Savings Bank scholarship is to promote the attainment of higher education for graduating seniors who reside within the bank’s footprint. Three $2,000 scholarships will awarded to graduating seniors who reside in Hampden or Wilbraham. Graduating seniors must be planning to attend an accredited college, technical school, or certification program. Scholarship awards will be based on the applicant’s financial need, academic performance, extracurricular activities during and after school, work experience, and music, arts, and sports programs. A candidate for this scholarship should also demonstrate a commitment to his or her community, and include an essay outlining that service and its impact. The deadline for application acceptance is April 6. The completed application and required supporting documents will be accepted by mail or electronically. Any questions should be directed to Donna Easton-Vicalvi at (413) 725-4560 or [email protected]

Five College Consortium Wins $2.5M Grant for Native and Indigenous Studies

AMHERST — Five Colleges Inc. has been awarded a $2.5 million, four-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help its member campuses transform how they approach Native American and indigenous studies (NAIS), with the goal of enhancing teaching, learning, and scholarship in the field. The grant is one of the largest made by foundation to the consortium to date, and is also one of the consortium’s largest grant awards from any funder in its 50-year history. The Five College campuses — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and UMass Amherst — are located in the Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) Valley, which has historically been a crossroads of indigenous nations. Today it remains a central gathering place for NAIS scholars as well as for Native American and indigenous leaders, artists, writers, and activists. Called “Gathering at the Crossroads: Building Native American and Indigenous Studies at the Five College Consortium,” the effort will allow the campuses to develop and establish a set of new academic pathways for students interested in Native American and indigenous Studies — supported by new faculty, new courses, and new course modules — as well as create new advising structures to guide students through these academic options. The grant includes funding to bring a variety of scholars and indigenous experts to the campuses to collaborate in this work.

Land O’Lakes Taps Northstar Recycling for Innovative Sustainability Solutions

EAST LONGMEADOW — Like many major companies, Land O’Lakes has become increasingly committed to sustainability initiatives in recent years. For example, Purina Animal Nutrition, a Land O’Lakes subsidiary, recently set out to develop a cost-effective recycling solution for used Purina feed tubs, a difficult and logistically complex objective. Land O’Lakes called on Northstar Recycling, its recycling partner for all of the U.S. and Canada, to handle this challenge. Purina feed tubs present recycling issues because, by necessity, they need to be constructed of heavy, durable material — often rigid vplastics — to stand up to rough shipping conditions, inclement weather, and, of course, hungry animals. Another challenge was creating a process for collecting the used tubs from farmers across the country. After analyzing the plastics market and consulting with longstanding plastic-recycling partners, Northstar determined that plastic lumber manufacturers would have the greatest demand for the used Purina feed tubs. Northstar then selected the optimal partner and worked with Purina on the logistics of this pilot program to ensure smooth implementation. Additionally, working with a plastic lumber producer gave Purina the opportunity to create a unique and innovative customer experience and launch Project Re-Coop. Through this initiative, the plastic lumber made from recycled Purina feed tubs is used to construct floating chicken coops that protect chickens against flooding — a timely project, as Hurricane Florence alone killed an estimated 3.4 million chickens.

Agenda

Healthcare Heroes Gala

Oct. 17: The third annual class of Healthcare Heroes will be honored at the Sheraton Springfield from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Healthcare Heroes, a recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector, was launched in 2017 by HCN and BusinessWest. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and people providing that care. The class of 2019 was profiled in the Sept. 2 issue of BusinessWest and on businesswest.com. Tickets cost $90 or $900 for a table of 10. To reserve a spot, visit www.businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes-2 or e-mail [email protected] Healthcare Heroes is sponsored by American International College and Baystate Health/Health New England (presenting sponsors), Behavioral Health Network, Comcast Business, and Development Associates (partner sponsors), and Bulkley Richardson, Design to Finish, Elms College, Keiter Builders, Loomis Communities, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health (supporting sponsors).

Disability Awareness Month

Oct. 17, 22: In honor of National Disability Awareness Month in October, Gina Kos, executive director of Sunshine Village, invites the community to attend several events in partnership with local organizations throughout the month. In the spirit of inclusivity and acceptance of differences, these events will bring awareness and celebrate the unique abilities and creativity of the people served by Sunshine Village. To kick off the month, Sunshine Village will host “Collections: An Art Reception Featuring Artists With Distinct Abilities” on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Chicopee Public Library, 449 Front St., Chicopee. Artists will be available to discuss their artwork, and light refreshments will be available. In addition, art will be on display in the community room of the library throughout the month of October. On Tuesday, Oct. 22 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Sunshine Village will team up with Ohana School of Performing Arts for a showcase dance performance at the Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, 580 Meadow St., Chicopee. Through a partial grant from Health New England, Sunshine Village brings Ohana instructors into its programs to share the joy and wellness benefits of dance. Light refreshments will be available.

‘The Emerging Cannabis Industry in Western Mass.’

Oct. 21: Holyoke Community College (HCC) and its social-equity vending partner, Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN), have scheduled the first of what both organizations expect to be an ongoing series of educational and networking events designed to spur investment, economic growth, and job creation in the nascent cannabis industry in Western Mass. “The Emerging Cannabis Industry in Western Mass.” will be held on Monday, Oct. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the PeoplesBank Conference Room on the third floor of the HCC Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke. The event will include data sharing and a panel discussion featuring key figures in the region’s cannabis industry. The event is free and open to all and will be of particular interest to anyone who is or wants to get involved in the cannabis industry in Western Mass. Panelists will include Mark Zatryka, CEO of INSA; Meg Sanders, CEO of Canna Provisions; Marcos Marrero, director of Planning and Economic Development for the city of Holyoke; and Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of SPARK EforAll Holyoke. The discussion will be moderated by Kate Phillips, director of Education for C3RN.

Unify Against Bullying Awards, Fashion Show

Oct. 21: Unify Against Bullying announced it will award $21,000 in microgrants to 22 recipients at its combination grant awards ceremony and all-inclusive fashion show. The event, which coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month, will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Those who attend will have an opportunity to meet all 22 grant recipients and talk with each of them about the work they are doing to combat the pervasive bullying issue. To purchase tickets, visit www.unifyagainstbullying.org and go to the events page and click on ‘tickets.’

Business Woman of the Year Celebration

Oct. 24: The Women’s Business Owners Alliance of the Pioneer Valley (WBOA) will hold its 2019 Business Woman of the Year Celebration at 5:30 p.m. at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Patricia Banas, owner and president of Latka Printing in Westfield, will be named the 2019 Business Woman of the Year, an honor given to a member who has contributed to WBOA in a significant way and is a role model who inspires other women to be successful. Also during this event, the WBOA will recognize its 2019 Outstanding New Members: Lori Novis, owner of Mango Fish Art in Easthampton, and Andrea Kennedy of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicopee. The celebration will carry a Roaring Twenties theme and will include live entertainment provided by Steve and Roxann Bailey. The Baileys will offer a dance demonstration and a dance lesson for attendees to learn about styles from the period. For more information or tickets, visit www.wboa.org or contact Carleen Fischer Hoffman, event chair, at (413) 525-7345 or [email protected].

Employment Law & Human Resource Practice Conference

Nov. 7: The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) announced its annual Employment Law & Human Resource Practice Conference will be held on Thursday, Nov. 7 the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place. Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory and the author of Artificial Intelligence for HR: Use AI to Build a Successful Workforce will be the keynote speaker. In his session, “Artificial Intelligence for HR,” he will cover how artificial intelligence (AI) works at a basic level and how it is infiltrating people’s daily lives at work and home. This session will cover key ways AI can support HR functions, the diversity and inclusion argument for AI at work, and the five human skills of the future that AI alone can’t replace. Several sessions are scheduled throughout the day, including presentations from the Massachusetts Department of Paid Family Medical Leave, the Department of Labor, and Springfield law firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser. In addition to compliance-based training, there are sessions on the agenda to help employers invest in best practices for growing their businesses through video as a means of employee engagement and skill-development plans for their workforce. A complete agenda with the full roster of presenters and topics is available at www.eane.org/elhr. The cost for the program is $360 per person with discounts for three or more. Register at www.eane.org/elhr or (877) 662-6444. The program will offer 5.75 credits from the HR Certification Institute and SHRM.

Boys & Girls Club Black Tie & Sneakers Gala

Nov. 8: The Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee will host its eighth annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. Presented by Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation and Westfield Bank, this event serves the club as its largest fundraiser of the year. Guests will enjoy a sit-down dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions. They will have the opportunity to bid on auction items including a trip to Costa Rica, gift baskets, Adirondack chairs, jewelry, gift certificates, and more. Guests will also see a short production on the impact the club has on its members. This year, the mistress of ceremonies will be Michelle Wirth from Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, and the auctioneer will be John Baran of WWLP-22News. An Aura photo booth from Absolute Photo Booths, a signature cocktail, and a contest for best sneakers will be introduced this year. Guests can enter the contest as they arrive, and the top three will walk the runway for the audience to decide first place. Each year, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee selects members of the community to receive recognition for their support and interest in the mission of the club and the members it serves. This year, the club will recognize Pilgrim Interiors Inc. with its Donald & Lois Prescott Founders Award. About 300 people are expected at this event, which begins at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $50. To attend, e-mail Lynn Morrissette, Marketing & Development director, at [email protected].

Women of Impact Luncheon

Dec. 4: BusinessWest will present its second annual Women of Impact Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at Sheraton Springfield. The keynote speake will be Lisa Tanzer, president of Life Is Good. The 2019 Women of Impact honorees will be announced in the Oct. 14 issue of BusinessWest. Tickets cost $65 per person, or $650 for a table of 10. To purchase tickets, visit www.businesswest.com/women-of-impact or e-mail [email protected] The Women of Impact program is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), New Valley Bank & Trust (speaker sponsor), and WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor).

HMC Annual Gala

Nov. 23: Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) will host its annual gala at the Log Cabin. All proceeds will benefit Valley Health Systems, which includes Holyoke Medical Center, Holyoke Medical Group, Holyoke VNA Hospice Life Care, and River Valley Counseling Center. The annual gala will feature a complimentary cocktail reception; a seven-course chef’s dinner, each with its own wine pairing; a silent auction to support Valley Health Systems; award presentations; and dancing to music performed by the O-Tones. Holyoke Medical Center has selected Dr. M. Saleem Bajwa to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and hard work on behalf of Holyoke Medical Center and the local community for more than 40 years. Also being recognized are select members of the Valley Health Systems staff who exemplify exceptional care in the categories of Best Physician, Best Caregiver, Best Supporting Employee, and Best Leader. Tickets for this black-tie-optional gala are $125 per person and can be purchased at www.holyokehealth.com/gala19 or by calling the Development Office at (413) 534-2579.

Briefcase

Springfield Regional Chamber Releases Legislative Agenda

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) 2019 Outlook has released its legislative agenda outlining the priorities of its more than 500 members for the legislative session and the major issues it will focus on to strengthen business competitiveness, lower business costs, and stimulate growth in the Greater Springfield region. The SRC’s 2019-20 legislative agenda touches upon key issues in the areas of healthcare, workplace issues, workforce development and education, tax policy, and energy. Creed said the cost of healthcare and access to it is the number-one priority of the business community. In support of this focus, Creed serves as a steering committee member of the Employer Health Coalition, an employer-led effort to use its collective influence to uncover solutions that drive real change in the healthcare delivery system and reduce cost. She the SRC will also focus its efforts on the ending of the temporary increase to the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC). To address the rising costs of MassHealth, the Legislature imposed a temporary assessment on businesses to cover these costs. Creed said the assessment was passed as a temporary measure, and the legislation dictates it to sunset at the end of 2019. Creed added that the SRC will also work to ensure mandated benefits be evidence-based and that their values exceeds their cost, while advocating for geographic equity in hospital reimbursements. She was part of the group that negotiated the legislative compromise which came to be known as the ‘grand bargain’ which enacted, among other things, a new Paid Family and Medical Leave program. She said the SRC will remain actively involved in its implementation. In addition, the SRC will encourage reforms to independent-contractor laws. Advocating for a return to prior statutory language for treble damages and opposing changes to wage ‘theft’ laws are also part of the chamber’s advocacy work. Workforce development remains a priority for the SRC and its members. Creed said finding qualified workers is at a critical juncture to the growth of the region. She said that supporting innovation which not only expands educational opportunities but links it to labor-market demand will be key to helping businesses with this need. The SRC will also advocate for modernizing the state funding formula while coupling it with reforms. Creed noted that the SRC will continue its focus on the state budget and how revenues are prioritized and spent, including supporting the rebuilding of the Stabilization Fund, or ‘rainy day’ fund, and encouraging it only in dire circumstances; supporting adequate funding for programs to meet the unique needs of the region’s gateway cities; advocating for adequate funding for local aid; maintaining the state’s high bond rating; ensuring the revenues collected from cannabis taxation are appropriately spent; and opposing any increase in the income tax on business. Rounding out the SRC’s legislative agenda is energy, and to that end, the SRC will advocate for a comprehensive energy strategy which includes a balanced energy portfolio, development of alternative renewable energy sources, expansion of the supply of natural gas and conservation, and energy-efficiency measures.

Independent Hospital Systems Launch Mass. Value Alliance

HOLYOKE — A coalition of 10 independent Massachusetts health systems, including 14 community hospitals, have formed the Massachusetts Value Alliance (MVA) to enhance their efforts in delivering high-quality, patient-centered, and cost-effective care to their communities. The member hospitals of the MVA collectively represent the largest collaboration of independent healthcare providers in the Commonwealth, with a combined $3.1 billion in total revenue. The 10-member collaborative spans the breadth of Massachusetts geographically, and serves approximately 2 million people in their combined market areas. This alliance is unique in Massachusetts as the only collaboration of independent healthcare systems. The MVA was founded in 2016 by Emerson Hospital, Sturdy Memorial Hospital, and South Shore Health. Membership has continued to grow and now also includes Holyoke Medical Center, Berkshire Health Systems, Harrington HealthCare System, Heywood Healthcare, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Healthcare, and Southcoast Health. The specific goals of the MVA include the development of group purchasing and shared service arrangements, identification and sharing of best practices to enhance each organization’s ability to affect and lower the total cost of care while enhancing quality of care, and support for the development of population-health-management and care-coordination skill sets and capabilities. To date, the MVA has worked to facilitate cost savings for its member organizations through group purchasing of services, including reference-lab services and employee health benefits. Other initiatives are underway, including several MVA hospitals working together on the selection and implementation of a common electronic-medical-record platform. The MVA is governed by a board of directors and operates on a shared decision-making platform. MVA member health systems remain competitive and independent, each maintaining their community focus.

Statewide Unemployment Holds Steady In March

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.0% in March, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 4,100 jobs in March. Over the month, the private sector added 5,400 jobs as gains occurred in education and health services; manufacturing; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; other services; financial activities; trade, transportation, and utilities; and information. Leisure and hospitality lost jobs over the month. 

From March 2018 to March 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Massachusetts added 28,200 jobs. The March unemployment rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.8% reported by the BLS. The labor force increased by 100 from 3,843,600 in February, as 1,700 more residents were employed and 1,600 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped five-tenths of a percentage point. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — decreased one-tenth of a percentage point to 67.9%. Compared to March 2018, the labor force participation rate is up 0.7%. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in other services; professional, scientific, and business services; and education and health services.

Baystate Health Informs Patients of E-mail Phishing Incident

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health announced it has mailed letters to patients about an e-mail phishing incident that affected approximately 12,000 patients. On Feb. 7, Baystate Health learned of unauthorized access to an employee’s e-mail account and immediately launched an investigation. During the course of the investigation, it learned that nine employee e-mail accounts were compromised as a result of an e-mail phishing incident. “As soon as Baystate identified the unauthorized access, each account was secured,” said Kevin Hamel, chief Information Security officer for Baystate Health. “Baystate hired an experienced computer forensic firm to assist in this investigation.” The investigation determined that some patient information was contained in the e-mail accounts, including patient names, dates of birth, health information (such as diagnoses, treatment information, and medications), and, in some instances, health-insurance information, as well as a limited number of Medicare numbers and Social Security numbers. Neither patient medical records nor any of Baystate’s electronic-medical-record systems were compromised. Baystate is offering a complimentary one-year membership to credit-monitoring and identity-protection services for those patients whose Social Security numbers were exposed. “The integrity of our information systems and e-mail security is a high priority, and we are committed to maintaining and securing patient information at all times,” said Joel Vengco, senior vice president and chief Information officer for Baystate Health. To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, the health system required a password change for all affected employees, increased the level of e-mail logging (and is reviewing those logs regularly), and has blocked access to e-mail accounts outside of its network. It is also reinforcing its current, ongoing training and education of all employees focused on detecting and avoiding phishing e-mails. More information may be found on Baystate’s website at baystatehealth.org/phishing.

Valley Blue Sox Seek Volunteer Host Families

SPRINGFIELD — The Valley Blue Sox are currently searching for volunteer host families for the upcoming 2019 New England Collegiate Baseball League season. The Blue Sox are a nonprofit, collegiate summer baseball team that recruits baseball players from across the country. Players come to the Valley in hopes of enhancing their draft status and furthering their professional baseball careers. Volunteer host families offer Blue Sox players housing for the duration of the summer season, which runs from June 5 to August 1. Families who volunteer to host Blue Sox players will receive the following: paid general admission and concessions vouchers for all family members in the household at all 2019 Blue Sox home games, access to special team events, on-field recognition at the end of the 2019 season, and two tickets to the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame induction banquet. Families are required to provide a private bedroom, which may be shared with another Blue Sox player, with proper bedding, linens, and towels. Questions regarding hosting Blue Sox players can be addressed to Blue Sox General Manager Chris Weyant at [email protected]

Company Notebook

MBK Recognized as Regional Accounting Leader

HOLYOKE — Accounting Today, a leading publication in the certified public accounting industry, has named Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. a regional leader in its top-100 listing in the March issue. Accounting Today’s annual ranking surveys the largest practices in both tax and accounting in 10 major geographic regions across the country. It employs a host of benchmarking data to evaluate the firms’ growth strategies, service areas, and specific client niches. MBK was recognized as a top firm in the New England region. “MBK is dedicated to our belief in the power and potential of Western Massachusetts,” said Managing Partner James Barrett. “We are very proud to have this local commitment recognized on a national level. Our staff works very hard to provide excellent service to our clients as well as resources and information to business owners and decision makers in our marketplace.”

Western New England Wins National Marketing Awards

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) was named among the top institutions in the nation in the 2018 Collegiate Advertising Awards and the 34th annual Education Advertising Awards, two programs designed to recognize higher-education organizations for excellence in communications, marketing, advertising, and promotion of their schools. Western New England University and its creative partner, Spark451, received a total of four Gold awards. The university’s centennial logo, created to commemorate 100 years, claimed gold in both competitions. The recently launched WNE: The Magazine of Western New England University claimed gold in the Collegiate Advertising Awards competition. The biannual publication explores stories drawn from a cross section of the university, highlighting faculty research, campus happenings, and alumni achievements. Meanwhile, the “What’s New at WNE?” brochure took home top honors in the brochure category. The annual publication shines the spotlight on the latest university developments, including new facilities, academic programs, and faculty and student accomplishments. 

Smith & Wesson Donates Proceeds from Game Dinner to Pioneer Valley USO

SPRINGFIELD — Smith & Wesson Corp. announced it has contributed more than $32,000 to the Pioneer Valley USO. Proceeds raised from the company’s annual game dinner have benefited the Pioneer Valley USO and its programs supporting American military personnel and their families for more than a decade. Armed-forces members and families access the USO for social, recreational, educational, and entertainment programs and services. At the annual event, Smith & Wesson game dinner attendees enjoy a variety of wild game dishes prepared by a team of dedicated volunteers. One of the most popular events of its kind, the dinner hosts nearly 500 guests, and this year featured menu items including pheasant, elk, bear, boar, moose, and venison. Led by Chef Norm Boucher from Chicopee Comprehensive High School’s culinary department, volunteers created dishes like antelope meatballs marinara, southern-style pulled boar, pot roast of Maine black bear, and wild bird pot pie. In addition to the food-preparation team, Smith & Wesson volunteers donated more than 500 personal hours to make the event a success. The game meat was donated by hunters affiliated with Smith & Wesson, Foggy Mountain Guide Service, and Linx Wildlife Management, among others. This year’s event included a limited number of sponsorships, giving local businesses the opportunity to show their support. Big-game sponsor Thorn Industries of Three Rivers, as well as other area businesses, provided additional support for the USO.

Governor Celebrates Opening of New Physical Sciences Building at UMass Amherst

AMHERST — Gov. Charlie Baker recently celebrated the opening of the new Physical Sciences Building (PSB) at UMass Amherst, a facility funded by the state that fosters and expands cutting-edge collaborative learning and research at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus. “We were pleased to invest in the new Physical Sciences Building, which will serve as a hub for the natural sciences at UMass Amherst,” Baker said. “The facility’s expansion will help foster new research and career opportunities, which will help support the STEM workforce pipeline here in Massachusetts.” The 95,000-square-foot PSB opened this academic year after three years of construction and incorporates the reconstructed West Experiment Station, a 19th-century agricultural soils research laboratory and one of the university’s most historic buildings. Funding for the $101.8 million project included $85 million from the state and $16.8 million financed by the campus through the UMass Building Authority. The PSB provides offices, specialized laboratories, and approximately 130 laboratory benches for the Physics and Chemistry departments. The laboratories are constructed in a layout that can be reconfigured many times during the life of the building. Among other fields, the PSB supports scientific discovery in material science, condensed matter and nuclear physics, and organic chemistry. The faculty hosted in these facilities have collectively been awarded $127 million in grants and are working on the forefront of science.

Franklin First Federal Credit Union Honored with Community Hero Award

SPRINGFIELD — Franklin First Federal Credit Union was honored as a Community Hero at the Credit Union Heroes and Community Bank Heroes Awards Gala on March 28, hosted at MGM Springfield by American Business Media, publisher of Banking New England and Centerpoint magazines. Wolf and Co., one of the nation’s leading tax, audit, and CPA firms, was the gala’s presenting sponsor. The gala recognized 18 community banks and credit unions from across New England for their creation of community partnerships and going beyond the call to aid their community. Franklin First was recognized for its partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County through the creation of a financial carnival designed to educate youth in the community about identifying, earning, and spending money. Franklin First organized several financial carnivals to coincide with mentoring sessions with local ‘bigs’ (Age 16-18) and ‘littles’ (ages 8-11) as a fun, educational alternative to their normal mentoring sessions. The carnivals involved a series of games designed to identify currency, separate wants from needs, recognize expenses, and experience financial gains and losses, all while tracking their earnings and expenses in a savings register to save up for a fun prize at the end of the night. Franklin First received Silver in the category of credit unions with less than $500 million in assets.

PeoplesBank Named Second-Fastest-Growing Bank In Massachusetts

HOLYOKE — The Boston Business Journal published its list of the fastest-growing banks in Massachusetts, and, following its acquisition of First National Bank of Suffield, PeoplesBank ranked second on the list. “About 50% of our growth came from the merger,” said Brian Canina, chief financial officer of PeoplesBank. “But the untold story is that the rest of that growth was organic. We attribute our organic growth to our mutual charter. We do not have to divert earnings to shareholders, so we can reinvest in our organization and the communities we serve. That means improved technology, better products and services — including rates and terms — as well as a level of investment in the community that is unmatched by our competitors.”

Bay Path Receives Truth Initiative Grant, Pledges to Go Tobacco-free

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University recently announced it is one of 48 colleges and universities to be awarded a grant from Truth Initiative to adopt a 100% tobacco-free or smoke-free campus policy. The effort is part of a national movement among students, faculty, and administrators to address smoking and tobacco use at college campuses throughout the U.S. Ninety-nine percent of all smokers start smoking before the age of 26, making college campuses a critical part in the fight against youth tobacco use. Since 2015, the Truth Initiative Tobacco-Free College Program, in partnership with CVS Health, has awarded more than $1.8 million in funding to 154 colleges and universities to prevent young adults from starting tobacco use, help tobacco smokers quit, and reduce everyone’s exposure to secondhand smoke. Bay Path University’s efforts are part of a growing trend to clean the air on campuses. Currently, more than 2,342 higher-education institutions in the U.S. have gone smoke- or tobacco-free.

Springfield College Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Wins Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship has been awarded a $265,000 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to assist in the creation of faculty-development opportunities focused on the implementation of real-time assessment procedures to help increase and maintain student academic success. The grant will allow the center to fund faculty from across departments and schools to engage in workshops on assessment, implement those strategies into their courses, and use the assessment data to evaluate program-learning outcomes. The goals are to improve the timelines of interventions when students are not meeting learning objectives and to move the class forward when all students are meeting those objectives. The center will coordinate the training and provide faculty with the ability to engage in scholarship around the development of these assessment procedures.

Briefcase

Employer Confidence Slips in March

BOSTON — Business confidence weakened slightly in March amid signs of both a cyclical global slowdown and persistent demographic factors limiting the growth of the labor force in Massachusetts. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 0.3 points to 57.9 during March. Confidence remains within optimistic territory but has lost 5.6 points during the past 12 months. The decrease reflected employer concerns about economic prospects for the next six months. Those concerns outweighed growing optimism among manufacturing companies and rising confidence in the Massachusetts economy. The March survey took place as the government announced that Massachusetts created only 20,000 jobs during 2018 instead of the 65,500 previously estimated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that average payroll job growth in Massachusetts fell from 1.3% in 2017 to 0.9% last year. The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. AIM President and CEO Richard Lord said employers remain concerned as Beacon Hill lawmakers undertake a broad discussion of how to fund expensive policy priorities such as transportation infrastructure, public education, and clean energy. He noted that AIM will be part of a group assembled by the state Senate to look at the Massachusetts tax code, adding that “Massachusetts must develop a fair strategy to address its spending needs without harming employers who are already struggling to implement a $1 billion paid family and medical leave program along with the rising cost of both health insurance and energy.”

Two Massachusetts Organizations Call for an End to Trashed Rivers

GREENFIELD — The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) and the Charles River Watershed Assoc. (CRWA), two national leaders in the effort to clean up the nation’s rivers, called on Massachusetts lawmakers to take legislative action on reducing trash before it reaches rivers. The two organizations pointed to a number of bills currently working their way through the Massachusetts State House that would, if approved, go a long way to reduce or eliminate trash that might otherwise end up in the state’s waterways. The proposed legislation includes measures to eliminate single-use plastic bags, restrict single-use plastic straws, and eliminate foam from food containers. “For years, thousands of volunteers from these two organizations have been doing their part to keep our rivers clean,” noted CRC Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard. “Now we want decision makers at the state level to do their part in helping redesign our economy so there isn’t waste in the first place.” Added Emily Norton, CRWA’s executive director, “with environmental regulations being rolled back weekly at the federal level, it is more important than ever that we have strong protections for our waterways at both the state and the local levels. We need your help to make sure that happens.” CRC and CRWA also called on the public to join them in urging legislators to do their part by signing CRC’s petition telling manufacturers, businesses, and local government to lead the way on overhauling how plastic and other waste products are made and used, and to take greater responsibility in solving the trash crisis (visit www.ctriver.org/takeaction); joining the 23rd annual Source to Sea Cleanup on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27-28, along the Connecticut River and tributary streams across the four-state watershed (visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup to learn more); and participating in the 20th annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to noon (www.crwa.org/cleanup).

Sportsmen’s Land Trust Announces New License Plate

BOSTON — A new Massachusetts passenger plate is now available at all full-service RMV locations for outdoor enthusiasts interested in wildlife conservation, habitat improvement, and guaranteed public access to Massachusetts land. The new “Habitat and Heritage” plate features a whitetail deer buck drawn by Springfield wildlife artist Edward Snyder. Proceeds from the plate will benefit the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sportsmen’s National Land Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 2007, dedicated to conserving and improving wildlife habitat for use by the public. With funds from the license plate, the Sportsmen’s Land Trust can further its mission to acquire open space and partner with other like-minded organizations to complete habitat improvement projects across Massachusetts. For more information, visit the special plates section of the Massachusetts RMV website, or e-mail the SNLT at [email protected].

BusinessWest Accepting Continued Excellence Award Nominations

SPRINGFIELD — BusinessWest is looking for nominees for its fifth Continued Excellence Award, and will accept nominations through Friday, May 3. The winner of the award will be unveiled at the magazine’s 40 Under Forty gala on Thursday, June 20. Four years ago, BusinessWest inaugurated the award to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who had significantly built on their achievements since they were honored. The first two winners were Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT, and Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center. Both were originally named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2008. The judges chose two winners in 2017: Scott Foster, an attorney with Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas (40 Under Forty class of 2011); and Nicole Griffin, owner of Griffin Staffing Network (class of 2014). Last year, Samalid Hogan, regional director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (class of 2013), took home the honor. Candidates must hail from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award — in this case, classes 2007-18 — and will be judged on qualities including outstanding leadership, dedicated community involvement, professional achievement, and ability to inspire. The award’s presenting sponsor is Health New England. The nomination form is available HERE. A list of the past 12 40 Under Forty classes may be found HERE. For more information, call Bevin Peters, Marketing and Events director, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Agenda

Real-estate Sales Licensing Course

Feb. 20 to March 25: The Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. Tuition costs $400 and includes the book and materials. The course curriculum includes property rights, ownership, condos, land use, contracts, deeds, financing, mortgages, real-estate brokerage, appraisal, fair housing, consumer protection, Massachusetts license law, and more. Classes meet Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at the association office, 221 Industry Ave., Springfield. For an application, contact Joanne Leblond at (413) 785-1328 or [email protected] or visit www.rapv.com.

‘Living Contemplatively in a Busy World’

March 3: Elms College will host a day of reflection titled “Living Contemplatively in a Busy World” on Sunday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Decice Hall at the Marian Center, 1365 Northampton St., Holyoke. “This day of reflections, personal exploration, and prayer invites you to respond, from the busy-ness of your days, to God’s desire for deeper life with you,” said Virginia Collins-English, a certified spiritual director, retreat director, writer, and psychotherapist who will lead the day of reflection. All are welcome, including those who are ‘spiritual but not religious,’ those who feel marginalized by the church, and those of all faiths. Attendees should bring a bag lunch. Beverages and dessert will be provided. Sponsored by the Religious Studies Department and the Institute for Theology and Pastoral Studies, this event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, call (413) 265-2575 or e-mail [email protected]

 

Outlook Luncheon

March 4: Margaret Carlson, columnist for the Daily Beast, will be the keynote speaker at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s annual Outlook luncheon, to be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 pm. at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. Presented by Health New England, the Springfield Regional Chamber Outlook is the area’s largest legislative event, attracting more than 700 guests and presenting expert speakers on local, state, and federal issues. The event is sponsored by platinum sponsors Eastern States Exposition, Eversource, MassMutual Financial Group, and United Personnel; and gold sponsors Bulkley Richardson and Berkshire Bank. Program/reception sponsors are Comcast, Mercy Medical Center, BusinessWest, the Healthcare News, and the Republican, with Zasco Productions as sound sponsor. Carlson was formerly chief political columnist for Bloomberg News and White House correspondent for Time. She appeared on CNN’s Capital Gang for 15 years. Speaking about the federal outlook will be U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, whose new role is chair of the powerful, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He will provide his insights into the committee’s work, the 116th Congress, and front-burner issues facing the American people. In addition, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy will offer the state outlook. Tickets cost $60 for Springfield Regional Chamber members and $80 for general admission. Reserved tables of 10 are available. Reservations must be made by Wednesday, Feb. 20 by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com or e-mailing [email protected] No walk-ins will be accepted, and no cancellations will be accepted once the reservation deadline has passed.

Difference Makers

March 28: BusinessWest launched its Difference Makers program in 2009 to celebrate individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. The class of 2019 was profiled in the Feb. 4 issue and will be feted at the Difference Makers Gala on March 28 at 5 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Tickets are on sale now for $75. To reserve a spot, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected] The presenting sponsor is Baystate Health/Health New England, and other event sponsors include Royal, P.C., Burkhart Pizzanelli, P.C., Development Associates, Tommy Car Auto Group, and Viability Inc.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 29: In celebration of women everywhere knocking down doors and breaking through glass ceilings, Bay Path University will host its 24th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. This one-day event, which has become the region’s prime women’s leadership event for professional networking and enrichment, will challenge women seeking to make career or life changes to look at the power within to make their dreams a reality, and to dare to ask “why not me?” instead of “why me?” Delivering the keynote address will be award-winning actress, dancer, and singer Rita Moreno, one of only four women who have achieved the EGOT, the grand slam of entertainment-industry awards, by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Throughout her 70-year career, Moreno has had memorable roles in the musical films The King and I and West Side Story, and in 2004 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Mel Robbins, a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, life strategist, internationally recognized social-media influencer, and one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the world, will deliver the conference’s luncheon keynote. She is the CEO and co-founder of the Confidence Project, a media and digital learning company working with Fortune 500 brands to help employees build habits of confidence and courage. The conference’s opening keynote speaker will be announced soon. In addition to the three keynote speakers, breakout sessions focused on reimagining the narrative around women in leadership will be led by Cy Wakeman, drama researcher, global thought leader, New York Times best-selling author, and president and founder of Reality-Based Leadership; Kim Meninger, certified executive and leadership development coach and president and founder of Executive Career Success; Dr. Kristina Hallet, board-certified clinical psychologist, and associate professor of Psychology at Bay Path, executive coach, and best-selling author; and Kim Lear, founder of Inlay Insights, storyteller, writer, and researcher. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Springfield Art Stop

April 26: The Springfield Cultural Partnership (SCP) announced the return of Art Stop, a pop-up gallery/street festival hybrid, from 5 to 8 p.m. The SCP is partnering with venues downtown to open galleries in unexpected spaces simultaneously. Additionally, several existing Springfield art galleries along this year’s route will also participate as stops along the Art Stop. Between the galleries, which will have the typical artist talks and receptions, there will be street performances. Art Stop was designed to activate underutilized community spaces with colorful art, create economic opportunity for artists, and bring communities together. Galleries will all be located in downtown Springfield. Each individual gallery opening will have an reception with the artist on site to both sell and talk about their work. This year, the SCP has also partnered with several downtown restaurants that will offer a discount on food to Art Stop attendees who present their Art Stop ‘passport’ on April 26. The SCP, along with organizing the curation of art in the pop-up spaces, is hiring unique buskers to encourage attendees to walk from place to place. Guides will be strategically placed to guide attendees along the Art Stop route. The performers will showcase an array of dance, music, and entertainment. All locations are within a walkable area.

Briefcase

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in December

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.3% in December, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 5,600 jobs in December. Over the month, the private sector added 5,500 jobs as gains occurred in professional, scientific, and business services; other services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; manufacturing; financial activities; and information. Construction and trade, transportation, and utilities lost jobs over the month. From December 2017 to December 2018, BLS estimates Massachusetts has added 65,800 jobs. The December unemployment rate was six-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.9% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Preliminary estimates show an addition of 184,700 residents to the labor force during 2018 — the largest yearly increase in the labor force since the beginning of the series in 1976. These labor-force gains, alongside the 65,800 jobs added to the economy last year, are indicators of the continued strength of the job market in the Commonwealth,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said. The labor force increased by 5,000 from 3,837,000 in November, as 8,800 more residents were employed and 3,800 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 68.1%. Compared to December 2017, the labor-force participation rate is up 2.8%. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in professional, scientific, and business services; information; other services; and education and health services.

HCC Secures Grant to Create Hotel Training Lab

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) secured a $35,000 grant to establish a hotel training lab on the second floor of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. The award, announced by Gov. Charlie Baker and other administration officials, comes from the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, which funds the purchase of new equipment for educational initiatives linked to workforce needs. The lab will be set up like a hotel reception area with front desk and adjoining guest room and equipped with up-to-date technology and software. It will be used for non-credit workforce-training programs as well as credit-based associate degree and certificate programs in Hospitality Management. The lab is expected to be up and running in February. The competitive Skills Capital Grants require institutions to partner with local businesses and align the curriculum to meet industry requirements. HCC’s partners include the Log Cabin Delaney House, the Tower Square Hotel Springfield, and MassHire career centers in Holyoke and Springfield. Over the past three years, HCC has been awarded nearly $400,000 through the Skills Capital Grant Program, including $127,741 in 2016 to expand and enhance its EMT Training Program and $229,500 in 2017 for kitchen equipment at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, which opened in January 2018 on Race Street in the Holyoke Innovation District. This new round of Skills Capital Grants mainly targets educational programs for people who may need help overcoming barriers to employment — those who may be unemployed or underemployed, lack English proficiency, or do not yet hold college credentials and want to develop new skills.

UMass Amherst Study Looks at Drought, Virus Impact on Plant Roots and Soil Carbon

AMHERST — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded biogeochemist Marco Keiluweit, assistant professor of Soils and the Environment in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst, along with his collaborators elsewhere, two grants to study how climate change affects the capacity of soils to remove carbon from the atmosphere and retain enough nutrients for food production. In particular, the teams will investigate climate-change-related effects of drought and virus infection in plants, and their interaction with soils. Keiluweit and colleagues received $200,000 and $300,000 exploratory research awards from DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research program, which supports “high-risk, high-reward” research, the soil-chemistry expert says. Keiluweit’s collaborators include Zoe Cardon at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory, the principal investigator on one of the grants, and Malak Tfaily at the University of Arizona, Carolyn Malmstrom at Michigan State University, and William J. Riley at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their drought-focused research will look at plants in an alpine watershed near Gothic, Colo., where root-soil interactions are key regulators of ecosystem carbon storage and downstream nutrient loadings, the researchers say. These areas have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, they point out. For this work, Keiluweit says he and collaborators will make “very fine scale measurements of what is happening at the interface between roots and soil” in both greenhouse and field experiments. They want to explore what they call “elusive mechanisms” driving root-soil interaction, which may mobilize a “vast pool of organic matter that has been stabilized by associations with minerals for centuries or millennia.” Such mechanisms are missing from conceptual and numerical models of carbon cycling in soils, they note.

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke Opens New Boxing Program Space

HOLYOKE — In its heyday, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke was the boxing capital of Massachusetts. Its boxing program attracted seasoned and novice fighters as well as spectators from all over the Commonwealth, as well as Connecticut, New York, and other surrounding states. Some of the more prominent names even included Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson. After years of planning and six months of buildout, the Boys & Girls Club opened its new boxing program space, equipped with a regulation, 20-foot boxing ring and a variety of punching bags and workout stations. The club will reintroduce the sport as a non-contact youth-development program for after-school and summer-camp members. All activities will focus on mentoring, character development, teamwork, and discipline. Coaches will include members of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the Holyoke Police Department, and past club alumni.

Briefcase

Employer Confidence Weakens in December

BOSTON — Massachusetts employers gave a big “bah, humbug” to the year-end economy as business confidence withered in the face of a government shutdown and the largest one-month stock-market decline since the Great Depression. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost three points to 58.6 during December, its lowest level since December 2016. Confidence readings have dropped five points during the past 12 months. The retreat was led by an 8.6-point drop in employer views of the national economy, and a 4.7-point drop among manufacturing companies. Overall confidence remains within optimistic territory, but less comfortably so than earlier in 2018. “The Massachusetts economy remains strong, with a 3.3% growth rate and an unemployment rate of 3.4%, but employers are increasingly concerned about factors such as financial-market volatility, a dysfunctional national political debate, and challenges such as the cost of providing health insurance to employees,” said Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design. The AIM Index, based on a survey of Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009. It has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Bradley Adds New Non-stop Service to Raleigh-Durham, Orlando, Pittsburgh

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut in 2019 of new, non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Orlando International Airport on low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, as well as the addition of non-stop service to Pittsburgh on Via Airlines. The service to Raleigh-Durham will commence on April 30 on an Airbus A320. It will operate seasonally on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. The service to Orlando will commence on May 1 on an Airbus A321. It will operate seasonally on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The service to Pittsburgh will commence on July 22 on an Embraer ERJ145 with 50 seats. It will operate four times a week, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

 

Community Foundation Awards $665,200 to 45 Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) recently awarded $665,200 to 45 area nonprofits through its capital grant and capacity grant programs, two of the foundation’s six competitive grant-making programs that focus on improving and supporting quality of life for people in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. CFWM capital grants help local nonprofit organizations expand their impact by funding new and upgraded technology, equipment, and facilities. Capacity grants support local nonprofits to build their own organizational effectiveness and operational efficiency. Grant awards range from $4,500 to $40,000 and address community needs in the areas of arts and culture, education, the environment, health, housing, and human services. More than 25 of the projects funded were supported by trusts administered by Bank of America. CFWM receives and reviews grant applications on behalf of Bank of America for four charitable trusts for which the bank serves as a trustee. Total grant awards by county are as follows: Hampden, $412,000, Hampshire, $144,400, and Franklin, $108,800. Capital grants were awarded to the following programs and organizations: Ascentria Community Services, Baystate Health Foundation, Bethlehem House, Chester Theatre Company, Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, Davenport Child Care, Franklin County Community Meals Program, Franklin Land Trust, Friends of the Montague Common Hall, Friends of the Springfield Public Library, Gardening the Community, Hilltown Community Health Center, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, Holyoke YMCA, MHA, Multicultural Community Services of the Pioneer Valley, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Robert F. Kennedy Academy, Roca, Second Chance Animal Services, ServiceNet, Springfield Museums, Stanley Park, Tapestry Health Systems, Tolland Volunteer Fire Department, Valley Eye Radio, Willie Ross School for the Deaf, and Womanshelter Companeras. Capacity Grants were awarded to the following programs and organizations: 1794 Meetinghouse Inc., Birthday Wishes, Brick House Community Resource Center, Cancer Connection, Double Edge Theatre Productions, Hilltown Land Trust, Kestrel Land Trust, Link to Libraries, Mary Lyon Education Fund, Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, Massachusetts Review, North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy, Northampton Education Foundation, Trauma Institute and Child Trauma Institute, and the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts.

Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y Announce Local Farmer Awards

AGAWAM — Starting Jan. 1, farmers in Western Mass. are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards up to $2,500 toward equipment and infrastructure projects to help them complete in the marketplace. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF), in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, is entering the fifth year of the awards program, which has helped more than 125 farmers carry out a total of 188 projects. Some examples of how the awards have been used include a high-efficiency vegetable washer, a walk-in cooler aging room, an egg washer, high tunnel irrigation, electric fencing, and a milkplan bulk tank. To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 or above and either be a member of Berkshire Grow or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) or reside in one the four Western Mass. counties. Berkshire Grown and CISA share their passion for local farms by providing ongoing guidance and help with promotion of the of the Local Farmer Awards. The deadline for applying is Thursday, Jan. 31. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.farmerawards.org for more information.

Horace Smith Fund Offers Scholarship, Fellowship Funds

WESTFIELD — The Horace Smith Fund, now in its 120th year, has scholarship and fellowship money available for graduates of Hampden County public and private high schools. Scholarship awards of $12,000 are distributed as $3,000 annually and renewable each year until graduation. Fellowship awards of $15,000 are distributed as $5,000 annually and renewable for two additional years. Students must maintain at least a B average in college. Recipients are selected on a variety of criteria, including financial need, college entrance-exam scores, class rank, extracurricular activities, and recommendations. Of great importance is a personal, written account of why the student feels deserving of financial assistance. Fellowship applicants must also submit their transcripts and, if applicable, GRE or degree-specific test scores. All recipients must be full-time students and residents of Hampden County. Last year, $382,000 was awarded to 37 individuals. Scholarships were given to 26 graduating seniors from 13 Hampden County high schools. Five scholarships were also awarded to current college students to assist them in completing their undergraduate degrees. Six fellowships were given to college graduates pursuing graduate degrees, who had graduated from Hampden County high schools. Completed applications must be received either electronically or by mail to the Horace Smith Fund at 16 Union Ave., Suite 2K, Westfield, MA 01085 no later than March 15, 2019. Applications are available at local high-school guidance offices, college financial-aid offices, online at www.horacesmithfund.org, or by phoning (413) 739-4222.

Small Businesses Starting to Feel Impact of Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the partial government shutdown continues, small businesses across the country are starting to feel the effects of the shutdown, resulting in unnecessary uncertainty at the start of a new fiscal year. Keith Hall, president and CEO of the National Assoc. for the Self-Employed, the nation’s leading advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-business community, called on Congress and the White House to work together to end the shutdown on behalf of America’s small-business community. The Washington Post reported that, as of Dec. 22, the Small Business Administration stopped processing new small-business loans due to the government shutdown. Thousands of small-business owners across the country are unable to receive critical funding to start and grow their businesses because of the partial government shutdown. Even when full funding is restored, a backlog is likely. “The negative consequences of one of the longest shutdowns in U.S. history is now fully impacting our country’s small-business community,” said Hall. “From uncertainty around how the shutdown could impact delays in tax refunds small businesses were looking to invest from this year’s new tax law to the shuttering of the Small Business Administration impacting small-business loans, America’s small businesses are on the front lines feeling the adverse impact.  “The government shutdown has created additional uncertainty during a critical time when small businesses are starting a new fiscal year,” he continued. “Small businesses must continue to abide by their tax obligations, including paying quarterly tax estimates and adhering to all filing deadlines. However, the federal government is unlikely to keep their end of the deal by processing tax refunds on time and providing small businesses access to critical answers they may have to questions about filing for the first time under the new tax law.” During the shutdown, about 12% of IRS staff are expected to continue working, according to the agency’s lapsed funding contingency plan. This will result in the inability of such functions as staff being available to answer questions for small businesses filing for the first time under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law going into full effect this tax year. It could also negatively impact the ability of IRS staff to process tax refunds in a timely manner, resulting in delays.

Company Notebook

White Lion Brewery Moving into Tower Square

SPRINGFIELD — White Lion Brewery has signed a long-term lease to occupy 10,000 square feet of space at the former Spaghetti Freddy’s location in Tower Square. The space was vacant for close to 15 years, but will now house a full-scale production and packaging facility with a taproom. Brewing equipment and mechanicals arrived at Tower Square on Dec. 20. The ownership at Tower Square has taken another step to show its commitment to the city of Springfield by becoming a strategic equity partner in White Lion. The agreement provides further support and financial assistance during the brewery’s growth. White Lion acquired its brewing, mechanical, and refrigeration systems from Rooster Fish Brewing out of Watkins Glen, N.Y. The system will allow White Lion to brew approximately 10,000 barrels, or in excess of 100,000 cases, of beer annually from the downtown Springfield location. The company expects to invest approximately $1 million in the project, which includes expanding its independent distribution model and hiring up to 20 employees. The brewery is expected to open in the spring of 2019.

TommyCar Auto Group Adds Volvo Franchise

SOUTH DEERFIELD — TommyCar Auto Group announced its ownership of the Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership, formerly Pioneer Valley Volvo. Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, noted that Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley will bring amenities that all TommyCar Auto Group dealerships offer, including Click.Drive.Buy, a new way to buy a car online; TommyCard Rewards, through which customers can earn 15% back of every dollar they spend; and efforts to support the local community; the company has contributed more than $4 million to local organizations, schools, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley will commemorate the new ownership with an “Eat.Meet. Greet” event on Wednesday, Jan. 16 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Customers can get an early look at the long-awaited 2019 Volvo S60, hors d’ouevres from Seth Mias Catering, cocktails from Hitchcock Brewing, and giveaways.

Dress for Success Receives $10K for Mentoring Program

SPRINGFIELD — Dress for Success Western Massachusetts received a donation of $10,000 in continued support of its Margaret R. Fitzgerald mentoring program. This program was initially launched with a $10,000 donation from this anonymous family member in 2017, and this new donation is intended to continue and expand the success of the mentoring program. Fitzgerald was a secretary in the Physics department at Mount Holyoke College in the 1970s. The only woman who worked in the department, she became a point of support for the students enrolled in the exclusively male-led department. Affectionately called ‘Mom’ by many of the women enrolled in the department, the students looked to her for advice, help, counsel, and encouragement. She was known to intervene with certain professors to advocate on behalf of students when there were issues or problems. She reminded students that they were clearing the way for future generations of scientists. Because of her, many of the women achieved advanced degrees from prestigious universities all over the world. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is currently accepting applications for mentors interested in the Margaret R. Fitzgerald program. Contact Tantillo at (860) 638-8980.

Webster Bank Rated Best Overall Bank in Northeast

WATERBURY, Conn. — Webster Bank was named best overall bank in the Northeast in Bank Director’s annual RankingBanking study released late last month. The 2019 RankingBanking study identifies the top public U.S. retail and commercial banks between $10 billion and $250 billion in assets within each region — the South, the West, the Midwest, and the Northeast. In addition to placing first overall in the Northeast, Webster was also the top bank in the Northeast in three key categories: Best Technology Strategy, Best Board, and Best Small Business Strategy. The rankings were calculated using Bank Director’s proprietary algorithm, which incorporates more than 60 critical data points to measure banks’ relative strengths and weaknesses. The data points used were both qualitative and quantitative, including case studies and analyst opinions. Many factors went into Webster’s top rankings, including the bank’s high-level focus on digital banking and user experience, the diversity and expertise of its board, and its small-business loan growth and volume. “We also noted Webster’s robust selection of products and services tailored for small businesses, the fact that customers can apply for loan and deposit products online, and Webster’s ability to generate online loan decisions within 48 hours,” said Emily McCormick, Bank Director’s vice president of Research. Bank Director is a leading information resource for the directors and officers of financial institutions across the nation.

People’s United Foundation Gives $105,000 to Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — People’s United Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm of People’s United Bank, N.A., announced it awarded $105,000 to nonprofits located in Western and Central Mass. during its third grant cycle of 2018. Funding was allocated to 21 nonprofit organizations in support of activities that ranged from basic needs services and affordable-housing initiatives to education and workforce-development programs. Some of the grant recipients included the Literacy Project, the Gray House, YMCA of Greater Springfield, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Entrepreneurship for All, Roca, and Veterans Inc. In total, People’s United Community Foundation awarded $875,500 during its third grant cycle of 2018 to 171 organizations throughout the communities it serves in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The grants were disseminated in alignment with the foundations’ three areas of focus, including 43% to community and economic development, 37% to youth development, and 20% to affordable-housing initiatives. For a detailed list of organizations that People’s United Community Foundation supported during the final grant cycle of 2018, visit www.pucf.org.

Holyoke Community College Celebrates Success of Arrivals from Puerto Rico

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College recently celebrated the success of 30 evacuees who left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and have just completed a five-month program to help them improve their English literacy skills, adjust to life on the U.S. mainland, and find jobs. The celebration and recognition ceremony was held on Dec. 20. The festivities included a feast of traditional Puerto Rican food for participants, their families, and program staff. The Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program started July 23. The HCC division of Business and Community Services offered the free ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) program specifically for residents of Puerto Rico who left the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and relocated to Western Mass. The classes were held Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and funded through a National Dislocated Worker grant administered by the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board in partnership with the MassHire Holyoke and MassHire Springfield career centers. The purpose of the program was to help individuals improve their English writing, speaking, and comprehension skills; adapt to U.S. culture; and successfully transition to jobs or continued educational opportunities. Classes included civic lessons from guest speakers including Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and state Rep. Aaron Vega, who talked about local and state government.

Comcast Selected for Broadband Project in Town of Worthington

WESTBOROUGH — The Mass. Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) formally approved an award of $2.2 million to Comcast to support the construction of a broadband network in the town of Worthington. The grant, which was approved by both the MassTech Executive Committee and the MBI board of directors, followed a majority vote at Worthington’s town meeting in May choosing Comcast and supporting the construction of its advanced fiber network to deliver broadband to the town, including approval of a project coverage map. Comcast and Worthington also signed a formal cable franchise agreement on Dec. 11. The proposed broadband network will deliver expanded connectivity to more than 96% of Worthington’s residential and business premises once the project is complete. Under the grant agreement, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will provide an award of $2,213,809 from the Last Mile program, funds which will supplement Comcast’s capital investment in the construction of the Worthington network. The MBI will utilize Worthington’s original Last Mile allocation of $1,070,000, with the remaining funds coming from additional investments from both the Commonwealth and the town, utilizing an agreement which will allow the town to contribute year over year without having to use municipal bonds.

Smith Brothers Insurance Helps Local Children

EASTHAMPTON — Smith Brothers Insurance sponsored 25 children in need this holiday season and raised $5,000 for the 2018 Holiday Bear Project. For 12 straight years, Smith Brothers’ team members donated money and time for this annual gift-giving program for needy public-school children. Team members individually sponsored a child, donated money, and coordinated company fundraising activities. Hundreds of gifts were purchased and wrapped for students ranging in age from 5 to 17. More than 10,000 public-school students have benefited from the holiday program since the Holiday Bear Project began in 1998. The Smith Brothers team also conducted a toy drive for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and a food collection for a local food bank.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBancorp, MHC Closes on Acquisition of First National Bank of Suffield

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBancorp, MHC, the parent company of PeoplesBank, has closed on its acquisition of the First National Bank of Suffield, effective Nov. 30. All the current branches of the First National Bank of Suffield opened and conducted business on Dec. 1 under the trade name First Suffield Bank, a Division of PeoplesBank. First Suffield Bank has four branches located in Suffield, West Suffield, East Granby, and Windsor Locks, Conn. PeoplesBank has 20 banking centers located throughout Hampden and Hampshire counties in Massachusetts. In connection with the completion of the acquisition, one member of the board of directors of First Suffield Bank will join the board of directors of PeoplesBank and the board of trustees of PeoplesBancorp, MHC, the parent company of PeoplesBank, and certain other directors of First Suffield Bank will be provided the opportunity to serve as corporators of PeoplesBancorp. The combined organization has approximately $2.8 billion in assets and $1.9 billion in deposits.

Berkshire Hills to Acquire SI Financial Group

BOSTON — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. and SI Financial Group Inc. announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Berkshire will acquire SIFI and its subsidiary, Savings Institute Bank and Trust Co., in an all-stock transaction valued at $180 million based on Berkshire’s stock price as of the close of business on Dec. 10. Berkshire’s total assets will increase to $13.6 billion, including the $1.6 billion in acquired SIFI assets. SIFI reported $1.3 billion in loans and $1.3 billion in deposits as of Sept. 30. This merger agreement increases Berkshire’s market presence with 18 branches in Eastern Conn. and five branches in Rhode Island, adding to Berkshire’s nine existing Connecticut branches.

MachineMetrics Announces $11.3 Million Funding Round

NORTHAMPTON — MachineMetrics, which equips factories with the digital tools needed to increase productivity and win more business, announced it has raised $11.3 million in Series A financing. Tola Capital led the round with participation from existing investors Hyperplane Venture Capital, Long River Ventures, Mass Ventures, Hub Angels, and Firebolt Ventures. With the new funds, the company will expand its data-science and product-development teams while accelerating global sales. MachineMetrics is a pioneer in industrial IoT (internet of things) technology. Its system is designed so customers can install it themselves without the need for expensive and time-consuming customization. Once installed, manufacturers can collect, visualize, and analyze data from any industrial machine. It automatically senses when there is a problem, even predicting some problems hours or minutes before they occur, and recommends solutions that reduce costly unplanned outages. In addition, MachineMetrics benchmarks a company’s machine performance against those of its peers to help guide future investments. Integrated into factories globally, MachineMetrics serves customers including Fastenal, Snap-On Tools, National Oilwell Varco, Gardner Denver, Continental, Saint Gobain, Shiloh Automotive, and SECO Tools.

NAI Plotkin Sells Historic Hampden Bank Building

SPRINGFIELD — NAI Plotkin, a leading commercial real-estate brokerage firm, announced it represented the seller in the sale of 1665 Main St., a 2,010-square-foot commercial building, formerly Hampden Savings Bank, located in downtown Springfield. The building was constructed in 1918 and has a glass ceiling with an ornate supporting structure, marble walls, and copper entrance. The asset sold for $285,000, although it last assessed for $127,600. Wilfredo Lopez of NAI Plotkin was the listing broker for the property. RLTY Development Springfield LLC secured the property and, as the new owner, plans to complete restoration of the original bank building and open a retail cannabis location. The building is also located directly across the street from the Paramount Theater and one block from the newly renovated Union Station. The next steps for the new owner will be to gain approval for the retail establishment by the Commonwealth’s Cannabis Control Commission, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and the City Council.

Bay Path University Named Safest College in Massachusetts

LONGMEADOW — Campus safety is a top consideration for many individuals and their families when it comes to choosing a college to attend. Niche.com compiled a list of the safest college campuses in America, and Bay Path University ranked third out of nearly 1,500 reviewed. The university ranked first for safety in both Massachusetts and New England. “We do as much as we can to ensure that the Bay Path University campus is a safe place,” said Michael Giampietro, vice president for Finance & Administrative Services. “Campus safety is a top priority here. Our Longmeadow campus, in particular, is well-lit with emergency call boxes, and our staff performs routine building checks.” He also credited Bay Path’s small size, and the fact that students, facuty, and staff tend to know each other. “We’re also fortunate for our location in the very safe town of Longmeadow, where we work to maintain a good relationship with the local fire and police departments.” According to Niche.com, the 2019 Safest College Campuses ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. The site states that top-ranked colleges offer a safe and healthy environment with little or no campus crime, drugs, or alcohol usage. Specific factors considered include campus crime rate, local crime grade, student surveys on safety, residence-hall date violence rate, residence-hall rape rate, alcohol-related arrests, and drug-related arrests.

AIC Awarded Matching Grant from George I. Alden Trust

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been awarded a $150,000 matching grant from the George I. Alden Trust in Worcester to be applied to the Colaccino Center for Health Sciences building project. George Alden established the George I. Alden Trust in 1912 for the purpose of maintenance of charitable or philanthropic enterprises, with specific interest in the promotion of education in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions. This grant is the largest ever given to AIC by Alden Trust and offers a unique and inspiring challenge: the funds will be realized only if the college’s alumni match the pledge within 18 months. “It is an all-or-nothing match,” said Heather Gawron, executive director of Institutional Advancement for AIC. “We must raise the full $150,000 in order to receive any of the matched funds. With the support of our alumni, we are confident that this prerequisite is achievable and will strive to meet our goal by September 2019.” Alumni interested in learning more about the Alden Trust challenge are encouraged to contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (413) 205-3520, [email protected], or www.aic.edu/give/alden-grant.

The Channel Company Names NetLogix to Next-Gen 250 List

WESTFIELD — NetLogix announced that CRN, a brand of the Channel Company, named NetLogix to to its 2018 Next-Gen 250 list. The annual list identifies IT solution providers who have embraced emerging technologies and are setting the pace for the rest of the channel in their adoption. Those on the list have been able to meet their customers’ ever-changing IT needs in leading-edge technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, virtualization, mobility, business analytics, and business intelligence.

NetLogix is a network-management, cloud, and systems-technology integrator providing end-to-end solutions that ensure business integrity for small, medium-sized, and enterprise-level clients. The Westfield-based company designs, implements and manages IT solutions spanning computing infrastructure, enterprise management, VoIP, security, and cloud solutions.

Worcester State University, WNEU School of Law Forge Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — Worcester State University (WSU) and Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law have signed a 3+3 articulation agreement that allows undergraduate students attending Worcester State University to apply for admission to the private law school and begin their legal education during their senior year. The agreement shortens the time required for students to earn both a bachelor’s and law degree from seven years to six years. WNEU President Anthony Caprio, who codified the agreement on behalf of Western New England University at the signing ceremony, noted that “this collaborative arrangement with Worcester State University will open doors for more students to access high-caliber legal education with our special brand of individualized student attention.” The agreement means qualified Worcester State University students who successfully complete their major requirements in three years, leaving them with only free electives, will have a seamless transition to Western New England University’s law school during what would be their senior year. Credits earned during the first year of law school will count towards the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Three academic departments at Worcester State will offer an academic gateway into the program: Criminal Justice, History and Political Science, and Philosophy. Upon completion of three years of law school, students earn a juris doctor (JD) from WNEU. With an emphasis on practical lawyering skills, Western New England University’s juris doctor program combines rigorous coursework covering the theory and practical application of the law with extensive experiential opportunities in legal clinics and externships. A variety of concentrations allows individual students to customize their legal education to gain added experience in specific practice areas.

Briefcase

UMass Report Details Costs of Reporting Sexual Harassment

AMHERST — Employees who file sexual harassment complaints often face harsh outcomes, with 65% losing their jobs within a year, and 68% reporting some form of retaliation by their employer, according to new research from the UMass Amherst Center for Employment Equity (CEE). In their report, “Employer’s Responses to Sexual Harassment,” co-authors Carly McCann, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, and M.V. Lee Badgett analyzed more than 46,000 harassment claims sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs) from 2012 to 2016. These cases represent only a small amount (0.2%) of the estimated 25.6 million experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace that occurred over this same five-year window. “Since the legal standards are high, it is not surprising that only a very few file a charge,” said McCann, a UMass Amherst doctoral student and CEE research assistant. “The good news in the report is that the EEOC clearly takes sexual-harassment discrimination charges seriously. These charges are more likely to be found legally plausible, and the charging party is more likely to receive benefits, than other discrimination charges. At the same time, only a minority receive any benefit, and a majority lose their job and experience employer retaliation, so not filing a charge may also make economic and social sense. There are often severe negative consequences to filing a charge, and most people who do file a charge receive no benefits.” Even among the 27% of cases that did result in a benefit, redress was typically unsubstantial. The most common benefit — and the result of 23% of total charges that proceed through the agencies’ processed cases — was financial compensation; however, the average settlement of $24,700 (with a median amount of $10,000) is unlikely to make up for the economic cost of job loss. The discrepancy between the average and median amounts is due in large part to a handful of high-profile cases. Large monetary settlements are very rare, with only 1% of those who received monetary compensation exceeding $100,000. Just 12% of the total charges led to managerial agreements to change workplace practices. As the report notes, this lack of accountability often engenders further incidents of harassment. “Most employer responses tend to be harsh both via retaliation and firing employees who complain,” said Tomaskovic-Devey, professor of Sociology at UMass Amherst and CEE founding director. “The very low proportion of employees who file sexual-harassment complaints is very likely to be related to employers’ typically punitive responses.” While these numbers represent averages across all cases filed with the EEOC or FEPAs, gender and race influenced both the number and outcome of cases. “Although they comprise 47% of the labor force, women file 81% of sexual-harassment charges,” McCann said. “Black women, in particular, report a disproportionality large percentage of workplace sexual-harassment charges; they account for 7% of the labor force but file 27% of sexual-harassment charges.” Following recommendations given by the EEOC, the authors advocate having workplaces address sexual harassment internally through better managerial training and programs that train employees to identify and address harassment incidents.

Employer Confidence Ticks Up in November

BOSTON — Business confidence in Massachusetts recovered slightly during November amid a swirl of contradictory economic indicators ranging from agitated financial markets to international trade tensions to steady-but-slowing growth in the Bay State. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index gained 0.6 points to 61.6 in November, ending a three-month slide that brought confidence to its lowest level in more than a year. The November reading was one point lower than in November 2017 and 2.5 points lower than at the beginning of the year. Increased optimism about the state and national economies balanced employer concerns about their own operations and hiring plans during November. The reading remained well within optimistic territory, but employers also clearly see risk on the horizon. The constituent indicators that make up the overall Business Confidence Index were mixed during November. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth rose 2.4 points to 67.1, leaving it 1.9 points higher than in November 2017. The U.S. Index gained 2.1 points to 63.7, up 1.5 points from a year earlier. The Company Index measuring employer assessments of their own operations dropped 0.4 points to 59.2, down 3.1 points year-to-year. The Employment Index slid 3.8 points for the month while the Sales Index was up 2.3 points. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, fell 0.7 points last month to 62.6 and 0.8 points for the year. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, gained 2.1 points for the month and lost 1.1 points for the year.

Nexamp Expands Access to Solar Power in Western Mass.

BOSTON — Nexamp Inc. and HCG are working together to promote community solar projects totaling more than 21 megawatts across Western Mass., enough to power approximately 4,000 homes. The solar arrays provide the opportunity for residents, businesses, and municipalities to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on their annual electricity bills while supporting local, renewable electricity. The collaborative effort is known as Hampshire Renewables. Hundreds of local residents, nonprofits, and small businesses have already signed up through the Hampshire Renewables website or with HCG or Nexamp representatives. Customers who subscribe to Nexamp’s community solar projects through Hampshire Renewables will realize a guaranteed 15% discount on electricity from the solar projects delivered to their National Grid or Eversource utility bills. In Eversource/WMECo territory, projects are located in Amherst, Whately, Plainfield, and Hadley (Nexamp’s third project in Hadley). In National Grid territory, project locations include Palmer, Wales, Granby, Oakham, Winchendon, and Charlton (Nexamp’s third project in Charlton). Anyone interested in participating should visit hcg-ma.org/hampshire-renewables.

Florence Bank Asks Customers to Vote for Their Favorite Nonprofits

FLORENCE — Florence Bank customers have until Monday, Dec. 31 to vote in the Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program for one area nonprofit in Western Mass. they want the bank to support with grant funds. The program is a year-long initiative. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 customer votes before the year ends. Customers can vote online at www.florencebank.com/vote, or they can cast a ballot in person in one of the bank’s 10 branches in Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Florence, Granby, Hadley, Northampton, Williamsburg and West Springfield. When Florence Bank presents the awards for the Customers’ Choice program next spring, it will be the 17th year the grant initiative has been helping local nonprofits make an impact in Western Mass. communities. Each year, the bank donates a share of $100,000 to more than 50 local organizations, and in 2019, the bank will surpass the $1.1 million mark in terms of grants made to community nonprofits. The program is unique, as the bank empowers its customers to decide which organizations will receive a portion of the grant funds. The grants program provides funds to a wide spectrum of organizations doing transformative work in the Pioneer Valley, including food pantries, therapy-dog organizations, elementary schools, and health support networks.

JA of Western Massachusetts Receives $5,000 Grant from Webster Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, a local nonprofit organization that provides financial-literacy, entrepreneurship, and career-readiness education, was awarded a $5,000 grant from Webster Bank to support the JA: A Valued Added Authentic Learning Project, providing students with the tools to develop the 21st-century skills needed to become highly skilled, autonomous employees. Through its charitable-giving programs, Webster Bank focuses on helping a broad set of organizations build a strong and self-reliant community. Webster has a long history of supporting Junior Achievement and its efforts to deliver K-12 programs that foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy skills. Webster Bank employees volunteer to teach the JA curriculum at a variety of schools throughout the area. JA: A Valued Added Authentic Learning Project leverages the skills, talent, and educational and career opportunities of this region to create a cadre of role models from the community to weave multiple intersecting pathways for middle-grade and high-school students to engage with JA’s relevant curriculum and instructional materials, supplemental technology-driven simulations, job-shadow experiences, and competitions. The project’s goals are to improve students’ knowledge of financial literacy in order for them to make sound financial judgments in the future; boost students’ entrepreneurial skills; increase students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and raise awareness of career and post-secondary education and career opportunities in Western Mass.

Gaming Revenue Drops at MGM Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Gambling revenues dropped at MGM Springfield in the third month of operation, the Associated Press reported. The state Gaming Commission said the casino generated $21.2 million in revenues from gambling in November, down from October’s $22 million and September’s $27 million. The exact breakdown was $13,371,904 from slots and $7,876,010 from table games. MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said the company is pleased with the casino’s overall performance, and that November represented “another solid month” for the property, which also generates revenues from restaurants, bars, a hotel, and other attractions.

Company Notebook

Hazen Paper Recognized at Manufacturing Award Ceremony

HOLYOKE — The state’s third annual Manufacturing Award Ceremony, sponsored by the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, was recently held at the State House in Boston. Hazen Paper was one of 58 manufacturers recognized for their success. Hazen is known worldwide for its holographic paper and manufacturing in Holyoke. Well-known examples its work include the Stadium Edition Super Bowl Program and the Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Yearbook. Hazen started an apprentice program in 2007 to train the expert workers required for this high-tech factory. Hazen has hired and trained more than 50 apprentices in the last 10 years. In 2010, Hazen started an internship program with engineering students from Western New England University, several of whom now work full-time on the Hazen management team. Hazen has been proactive in helping to build the future workforce via the World Is Our Classroom program, whereby every fifth-grader in Holyoke public schools visits Hazen for a full day of teaching and tours. Hazen started the program in 2004, and an estimated 4,000 fifth-graders have participated since that time.

Big Y Foods, COCC Receive Employer of Choice Recognition

AGAWAM — Big Y Foods Inc. of Springfield and COCC of Southington, Conn. have been selected by the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) as Employer of Choice Award recipients for 2018. Employer of Choice awards recognize companies and organizations for developing workplaces that value employees, foster engagement, invest in employee development, and reward performance. Doing business for over 80 years, Big Y Foods is a family-owned supermarket chain with more than 11,000 employees throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. The chain prides itself on a culture of caring, which manifests itself in the form of workplace ‘huddles’ to celebrate employees who have gone above and beyond, and through the organization’s strong commitment to retain employees. Big Y stands out for its overall benefits, employee satisfaction, training and development, and recognition and rewards. One novel program, called Building Firm Foundations, is a collaboration in which employees help other employees with home-repair needs by utilizing their skills, expertise, and time. Projects have included building ramps, fixing decks and windows, landscaping, and more. Another initiative, called the 10 Foot Rule, combines a user-friendly customer-service model with a fun graphic reinforcing how to treat customers. The Big Y University and Big Y LIFE, an internal communication portal, are among the other employee-centric engagement offerings.

Kuhn Riddle Architects Certified as Woman Business Enterprise

AMHERST — Kuhn Riddle Architects announced that the firm was recently certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts grants the designation of WBE to businesses that demonstrate majority ownership and control of daily management and operations by women. Aelan Tierney, president of Kuhn Riddle Architects, sought the business designation after she became majority owner of the firm in January. She joined Jonathan Salvon and Charles Roberts, who became principals in 2010 when Chris Riddle retired. John Kuhn passed the torch of leadership and ownership to these three architects and will continue to work on selected projects at Kuhn Riddle Architects. Tierney will work on architectural project design while also focusing on new business growth and opportunities. “I see this designation as the continuing evolution of architecture — and of our society as a whole — as professions become more diverse and inclusive,” said Tierney, who has been an architect at Kuhn Riddle since 2005. “This is also as an opportunity for further growth of our firm. We have an immensely talented and capable staff; we are interested in partnering with other firms to take on much larger projects than we have to date. I am hopeful that this designation will open doors and break ceilings for us.”

Comcast Unveils New Xfinity Store at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Comcast recently staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its newest Xfinity Store, which is located on the upper level of the Holyoke Mall. The 4,691-square-foot space is the first Xfinity Store in the region to open in a mall setting. Consumers will have the opportunity to explore, learn about, and interact directly with the latest Xfinity products and services, including Xfinity Mobile. In addition, the store offers a dedicated space where Comcast Business customers and prospects can discover cutting-edge business solutions and get connected with a local expert to discuss their business technology needs. Local officials and community leaders, including Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, state Rep. Aaron Vega, City Council President Todd McGee, Ward 3 City Councilor David Bartley, Ward 2 City Councilor Nelson Roman, and Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce President Barry Feingold, came out to celebrate the grand opening and tour the new store.

American Women’s College at Bay Path University Recognized

LONGMEADOW — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare occupations will add more new jobs than any other occupational group in the next decade, projecting overall growth of 18% by 2026. The American Women’s College at Bay Path University prepares graduates to help meet that growing demand with its online bachelor of science in health service administration program, which has just been recognized on a list of the 30 best in the nation by TheBestSchools.org. The site formulates rankings based on six informational categories: academic excellence, strength of faculty scholarship, reputation, financial aid, range of degree programs, and strength of online instruction methodology. The university’s degree program ranked 18th on the list. The American Women’s College’s digitally enhanced learning model, SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning), uses data-driven intervention strategies to help mitigate achievement gaps, and has been recognized with more than $5 million in support from industry thought leaders and organizations, as well as awards from national foundations, the federal government, and awarding agencies.

Burkhart Pizzanelli Delivers New Coats to More Than 250 Square One Children

SPRINGFIELD — The team at Burkhart Pizzanelli, P.C. is doing its part to spread warmth to more than 250 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. They were delivered to Square One on Dec. 4. “Being a strong community partner is an intergral part of our culture at the firm,” said Julie Quink, managing principal at Burkhart Pizzanelli. “As part of our commitment to the community that we work and live in, we believe giving back is important. Many of our clients share the same philosophy and joined our efforts, for which we are very appreciative. Partnering with Operation Warm to provide brand-new winter coats for the families served by Square One is one way for us to make a small difference in our community. We believe that all children should have opportunities to grow without worry.” Added Kristine Allard, chief Development & Communications officer for Square One, “to be able to provide our children with beautiful, brand-new winter coats does wonders for them. Not only does it help to protect them from the elements, but having a new coat of their own builds confidence and self-esteem.” Operation Warm is a national organization that provides 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.

Bridgestone Retail Operations Presents Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke with New Van

HOLYOKE — Parents at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke agree that having reliable transportation is the biggest challenge to their children’s participation in after-school activities in Holyoke. Lack of reliable transportation is even more of a stressor for low-income families in need. With that in mind, Bridgestone Retail Operations (BSRO) surprised youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke with a brand-new, eight-passenger Toyota Sienna van, valued at $35,000. The van was recently presented by Joe DeAngelis, New England Region manager, and Scott Zimmerman, area manager for Bridgestone Retail Operations, to Eileen Cavanaugh, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club. The club will utilize the van to engage in experiential learning opportunities, take youth on field trips, visit colleges, increase volunteer opportunities for teens, and participate in more career-readiness activities. In addition to these benefits, the four satellite units located within Holyoke Housing Authority communities will now have more access to the main club. The van allows transportation to nearly 1,400 club members to and from the club.

TommyCar Auto Group Supports Unify Against Bullying

SOUTH DEERFIELD — TommyCar Auto Group was the official partner for Unify Against Bullying for October in support of National Bullying Prevention Month. During the entire month of October, each dealership in the group — including Country Nissan, Country Hyundai, Northampton Volkswagen, and the new Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley — donated $20 for every car sold. Thanks to customer involvement, TommyCar Auto Group was able to donate $4,200. “Bullying happens way more than it should, but we have the power to make a difference,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group. “We need to continue to talk about bullying openly and freely, and not be scared to address the issues that happen to us, our family, our friends, or our co-workers. Unify is changing the culture within our communities and the way people are addressing bullying, and I knew we had to be a part of that.”

Company Notebook

Big Y Works to Sack Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — For the ninth year, all Big Y supermarkets are working to help feed the hungry within their local communities through Care to Share Sack Hunger, a large, reusable grocery bag filled with staple non-perishable food items for local food banks. Customers purchase a Sack Hunger bag of groceries for $10, and Big Y distributes the food to that region’s local food bank. In turn, the food banks distribute the filled sacks to area soup kitchens, food pantries, senior food programs, day-care centers, as well as many of its other member agencies. All of the donated sacks are distributed within the supermarket’s marketing area, so every donation stays within the local community. Since its inception nine years ago, more than 133,000 bags of food have been donated to area needy via Big Y’s Care to Share Sack Hunger Program. This year’s campaign runs through Wednesday, Dec. 26. As an additional option, customers may choose to purchase and donate a $10 ‘virtual bag’ at the register that will be used by the agencies to purchase turkeys or whatever is most needed. Online donations will also be accepted. Visit www.bigy.com/rs/giftcards for more information. As an added bonus, any customer donations made on Saturday, Nov. 17 will be matched by Big Y. All five food banks within Big Y’s marketing area are participating in Sack Hunger. These food banks, representing more than 2,100 member agencies throughout the region, include the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare of Greater Hartford, and the Connecticut Food Bank. Last year, Big Y customers donated nearly 22,000 bags of food to those in need, and the company hopes to beat that figure this year.

American Women’s College at Bay Path University Named Among Best Online Colleges

LONGMEADOW — Women have been completing their bachelor’s degrees at rates significantly higher than the national average since the inception of the American Women’s College at Bay Path University in 2013, thanks to its digitally enhanced learning model, SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning). This innovative approach to education has earned it recognition among the 2019 Best Online Colleges in America, as ranked by Niche.com, which ranked colleges based on the following categories: academic excellence, overall value, strength of faculty scholarship, campus quality, diversity, student life, student surveys on overall experience, safety, and location. The university placed 20th on a list of nearly 500 colleges and universities, and is the only New England-based institution to place in the top 20. The SOUL model uses data-driven intervention strategies to help mitigate achievement gaps, and has been recognized with more than $5 million in support from industry thought leaders and organizations. SOUL was developed after the American Women’s College was awarded a grant through the First in the World competition administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The four-year, $3.5 million award was used to develop and continually hone the program by improving educator access to learning data, allowing for targeted feedback and personalized guidance. SOUL has been recognized with several other grants and awards from national foundations, the federal government, and awarding agencies.

Bay Path Recognized Among Top MS in Accounting Programs

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s master of science (MS) in accounting program has been named seventh on a list of the top 50 best in the nation, as ranked by OnlineMasters.com. In addition to this placement, Bay Path’s program was also recognized as the “Most Accelerated Program.” This is the program’s second placement on a national best-of list this year alone. According to the site, the review assessed academic quality, student success, and affordability. Researchers devoted more than 90 hours to analyzing every online master’s in accounting program in the U.S., and consulted 35 industry experts, hiring managers, current students, and alumni.

Veterans at Corps Logistics Build, Maintain ValleyBike Share System

SPRINGFIELD — As ValleyBike Share started taking shape in several municipalities in the Pioneer Valley this year, veteran-owned and operated service contractor Corps Logistics was tasked with building and maintaining the 48 stations and more than 200 bikes. Corps Logistics provides a military-grade approach to bike-share system implementation and operations. It works to find talented veterans that care about their community and the mission at hand. Many of its veteran employees come home with physical and emotional limitations, and Corps Logistics offers them the opportunity to continue the utilization of their talents and skills to better the lives of the community around them. Launched this past June, the ValleyBike Share system offers electric-assist bicycles to users. The service is available 24/7 and is ideal for errands, commuting, or recreation.

Ten Practice Areas at Bulkley Richardson Ranked Among ‘Best Law Firms’

SPRINGFIELD — Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, has included Bulkley Richardson in its 2019 “Best Law Firms” list, ranking the firm in the top tier for 10 practice areas, the most of any Springfield law firm. They include bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, 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 who is included in Best Lawyers. Bulkley Richardson has 13 of its lawyers included on the 2019 Best Lawyers list, the most from any Springfield law firm. Two of the firm’s partners, John Pucci and Liz Sillin, were also named 2019 Springfield Lawyer of the Year. The 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.

CBS Xerox Supports MHA’s Good to Go Program

SPRINGFIELD — CBS Xerox, an integrated provider of office-productivity systems, organized a donation drive to benefit Good to Go, a new initiative of MHA to supply every individual who arrives for emergency respite care with basic personal-care items, such as soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, undergarments, and socks. According to Patrick Roberts, nonprofit specialist and GEM representative for CBS Xerox, his company had been working with MHA as a business partner for about a year when the opportunity to do more presented itself. “We handle their printers and copiers and developed a way to manage that part of their business,” Roberts explained. “In coming up with the solution, we met a lot of their staff, and every time we had an interaction with someone at MHA, it was so positive. They invited us to their annual meeting, and I heard this incredible story from a client who at one time felt suicidal, but through counseling and the efforts of MHA, this person now feels like they are worth something. Now this person is doing so well. What a story. The experience cemented our desire to do more for MHA, and organizing a Good to Go drive was a good place to start.” The 25 staff members at the CBS Xerox office in West Springfield were joined by 100 staff at the company’s headquarters in Wethersfield, Conn., to collect donations. A truck with donations from Wethersfield drove to West Springfield to pick up donations collected there, then delivered it all to MHA in Springfield.

DiGrigoli School Honored by Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center

SPRINGFIELD — On the morning of Oct. 5, during the Western Mass Stand Down at the Greek Culture Center in Springfield, Paul DiGrigoli accepted an award from the Western Mass. Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center on behalf of DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology for its continued support of homeless and needy veterans in the community. The school, located on Riverdale Street in West Springfield, offers free haircuts to all veterans and active service members year-round, and has participated in several veteran-honoring events since opening its doors in 2002. The Western Mass. Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center, headquartered on Franklin Street in Springfield, operates with the mission of serving veterans once out of uniform, regardless of race, gender, or nationality. Most recently, it built 20 apartments for homeless veterans in Springfield and has continually offered financial and job services, healthcare, clothing, and other support.

Briefcase

Gaming Commission Releases October Revenue Figures for MGM Springfield, Plainridge

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that the month of October at Plainridge Park Casino (PPC) and MGM Springfield generated approximately $35.8 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). MGM Springfield generated $14.623 million in revenue from slots and $7.6 million from table games. PPC, an all-slots facility, generated $13.5 million in revenue. MGM Springfield paid a total of $5.56 million in taxes on that revenue, while PPC paid $6.6 million, for a total of more than $12.2 million. PPC, 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. MGM Springfield, a category-1 resort casino, is taxed on 25% of GGR; those monies are allocated to several specific state funds as determined by the gaming statute. To date, the Commonwealth has collected approximately $285.5 million in total taxes and assessments from PPC and MGM since the respective openings of each gaming facility, the commission said.
 

Employer Confidence Drops During October

BOSTON — Business confidence in Massachusetts declined to its lowest level in 17 months during October as the uncertainties that roiled global financial markets seeped into employer outlooks. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 1.6 points to 61.0 last month, the fourth decline in the last five months. The reading remains well within optimistic territory, but the BCI now sits 1.7 points lower than its level of a year ago and at its lowest point since May 2017. Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design, said the October decline is noteworthy because of large declines in employer confidence in their own operations, and among manufacturers. “Fears about slowing growth, trade wars, and rising interest rates buffeted financial markets this month, and some of those same fears, combined with an increasingly acrimonious midterm election, affected employers as well,” Torto said. “The good news is that the fundamentals of the economy remain strong. MassBenchmarks reports that the Massachusetts economy grew at a 3.3% annual rate during the third quarter, and the national economy added 250,000 jobs last month.” The constituent indicators that make up the overall Business Confidence Index were almost all lower during October. The one exception was the Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth, which rose 0.2 points to 64.7. Confidence in the state economy has declined 0.4 points since October 2017. The U.S. Index lost 2.0 points to 61.6, leaving it 0.9 points lower than a year ago. The Company Index, measuring employer assessments of their own operations, dropped 2.0 points to 59.6, down 2.4 points year-to-year. The Employment Index lost 0.3 points during October, while the Sales Index tumbled 3.1 points to 57.4. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, fell 1.0 point last month to 63.3 and 0.3 points for the year. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, lost 2.1 points for the month and 3.2 points for the year. AIM President and CEO Richard Lord, also a BEA member, agreed that international trade friction and uncertainty about the duration and scope of new tariffs are clouding employer views of an otherwise solid economy. “Concerns about trade and tariffs are likely to influence employer decisions as we move toward the end of 2018 and into the New Year. Hopefully, the results of the midterm elections will shed some light on the direction of trade policy moving forward.”

 

UMass Study: Pedal Desks Could Improve Health of Workplace

AMHERST — A recent pilot study by kinesiologists at UMass Amherst found that pedaling while conducting work tasks improved insulin responses to a test meal. Investigators led by Dr. Stuart Chipkin found that insulin levels following the meal were lower when sedentary workers used a pedal desk compared to a standard desk. In addition, work skills were not decreased in the pedaling condition. Chipkin and colleagues concluded that pedal desks “could have the potential to achieve public and occupational health goals in sedentary work environments.” They pointed out that physical inactivity and sedentary work environments have been linked to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease through insulin resistance and other mechanisms. Results appear in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Chipkin, an endocrinologist who studies the impact of physical activity and medications on insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle metabolism at UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, explained that, instead of approaching the problem by trying to squeeze intermittent activity into a largely sedentary work routine, “we chose to consider integrating physical activity into the workday.” He and colleagues felt that the alternatives now available for office workers — standing desks and treadmill desks — are not feasible to use for whole shifts and may even pose some barriers, such as standing too long. By contrast, a pedal desk can be used in a seated position at the user’s own pace for as little or as much time as the worker chooses. Though there are currently no commercial pedal desks on the market, Chipkin and colleagues were able to use a prototype Pennington Pedal Desk co-invented by UMass Amherst kinesiology researcher Catrine Tudor-Locke, a co-author who did not determine study design or have any contact with participants or study data. For this work, the researchers recruited 12 overweight or obese full-time sedentary office workers — six men and six women — and tested them in two conditions, pedaling at self-selected light-intensity pace for two hours, and working while seated for two hours at a conventional desk. In both conditions, participants performed computer-based tasks and were tested on mouse proficiency, typing speed and accuracy, reading comprehension, and concentration/attention. The participants also provided blood samples after eating a light meal for analysis of metabolic responses of glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids, a link between obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Chipkin and colleagues reported that pedal-desk use required significantly less insulin to maintain glucose concentrations compared with using the standard desk.

 

Travelers Aid Begins Service at Bradley International Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) and Travelers Aid announced that Travelers Aid International has begun serving the passengers of Bradley International Airport as the operator of the guest-service volunteer program at the airport. Travelers Aid now operates the Information Center in Terminal A on the lower level, which is the baggage-claim level. There are currently 45 volunteers, and Travelers Aid will be recruiting additional volunteers in order to better serve the airport’s passengers. The center’s current hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Mary Kate Doherty, an experienced volunteer manager, has been retained by Travelers Aid to manage and expand the program. Bradley International Airport will be the 18th airport in the Travelers Aid Transportation Network, which also includes four North American railroad stations and a cruise terminal. In the coming months, Travelers Aid will be reaching out to the residents of the region seeking additional volunteers. Doherty said Travelers Aid will be seeking anyone, both students and adults, interested in assisting a traveler with their questions. Anyone interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities should contact Doherty at (860) 500-8582 or [email protected].

Agenda

Hartley Economic Forum

Nov. 13: The South Hadley & Granby Chamber of Commerce will host the annual Hartley Economic Forum at 7:45 a.m. at the Willits-Hallowell Center at Mount Holyoke College. A hot breakfast will be served, followed by James Hartley’s annual analysis of the economic picture. Hartley chairs the Department of Economics at Mount Holyoke, and his economic forum is a perennial favorite of the South Hadley & Granby Chamber. It will be an interactive presentation, with Hartley speaking briefly about the state of the economy as he sees it, followed by questions and answers. Attendees are asked to pre-register to ensure adequate space. The cost is $15 for chamber members and $20 for non-members. To register, click on the event link at www.shgchamber.com, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 532-6451.

Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself

Nov. 13: Bay Path University’s Center of Excellence for Women in STEM is hosting a discussion on personal branding and marketing yourself with expert executive coach Rita Allen at 5:30 p.m. in Breck Suite at Wright Hall located on Bay Path’s Longmeadow campus. Allen wants to know: are you comfortable talking about your own accomplishments, talents, and the value you have to offer to your employers? Most women aren’t — yet, personal branding and marketing are vital ingredients when seeking a new job, promotion, or career change. Allen, an executive coach, trainer, consultant, and author of Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself, will share her “Three Ps Marketing Technique” as a key to empowering oneself and building a successful career. A reception and book signing will follow her presentation. One attendee may win a signed copy of her book. This event is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, visit www.baypath.edu and click on ‘Events.’

Sparkle! Springfield

Nov. 14: Mercy Medical Center’s Spirit of Women network will present its inaugural Sparkle! Springfield event from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chez Josef in Agawam. Sparkle! is a health and wellness event designed especially for women and offers a wide array of resources to support mind, body, and spirit. The Spirit of Women network provides educational opportunities for women to learn more about their health in fun and inspiring ways. Through events, podcasts, and a dynamic website, women of all ages have access to resources to help educate and empower them to take ownership of their health and well-being. Sparkle! Springfield will feature dozens of Mercy Medical Center physicians and service providers, as well as community partners and vendors. The program will also feature interactive sessions such as complimentary chair massages, energy therapy, and an art project. Providers representing many specialties will be available to engage with women one-on-one during “Dessert with the Docs.” Pre-registration and pre-payment is required. Admission is $15 and includes dinner and signature sparkling cupcakes and other desserts. For more information or to register, visit www.mercycares.com or call (877) 783-7262.

Peter V. Karpovich Lecture

Nov. 14: The Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation will present the Peter V. Karpovich Lecture featuring Army reservist Bradley Nindl, professor in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Cleveland E. and Phyllis B. Dodge Room inside the Flynn Campus Union. The event is free and open to the public. Nindl, who received his master’s degree in physiology of exercise from Springfield College in 1993, is the current director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and Warrior Human Performance Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. He will discuss how leveraging scientific and technological advances and evidence-based best practices in physical education and exercise science will yield a fit, ready, and injury-free military. Nindl has a strong focus on exploring science and strategies to help bolster military readiness and national security. If you have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to fully participate in this event, call (413) 748-3413 to discuss your accessibility needs.

Cancer House Of Hope Luminaria Fundraiser

Nov. 15: A Night of Light, the CHD Cancer House of Hope’s annual luminaria fundraising event, returns to the Green at Storrowton Village on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition from 6 to 8 p.m. Storrowton Tavern will serve hot chocolate, cider, and snacks. The event features hundreds of luminary bags that are lit and placed on the Storrowton Village Green to honor and remember those lost to cancer and those who are survivors. This evening of music, remembrance, and hope honors friends and loved ones and supports the many programs and services of Cancer House of Hope. Luminary bags cost $5 each and can be personally inscribed in honor of a friend or loved one. To dedicate a luminaria bag, visit www.chd.org/luminaria. Advanced Restoration Group in Easthampton is the presenting sponsor for the event, with other major sponsors including Westfield Bank, Spherion Staffing, Liberty Mutual, Bearingstar Insurance, Northwestern Mutual, Comcast Business, and Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

Lawyer on the Line

Nov. 19: The Hampden County Bar Assoc., in conjunction with WGGB Channel 40, will present a Lawyer on the Line event from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Volunteers will provide legal advice on a variety of topics from callers during the evening news broadcast. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 846-0240 to speak to a volunteer.

Company Notebook

Bay Path Partners with Google for Applied Computing Series

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced a new collaboration with Google to offer computer science, data science, and machine-learning courses to its undergraduate students. Bay Path is one of only four colleges and universities and the only women’s college selected nationally to collaborate with Google to pilot all three offerings in its new Applied Computing Series. These courses aim to increase undergraduate access to quality data science and machine-learning education by leveraging new technologies and teaching styles. The Applied Computing Series teaches the foundations of computer and data science through hands-on, project-based course content, topically designed to attract students who might not consider themselves destined for a technology career. The most advanced of these offerings, the Applied Machine Learning Intensive, will be a 10-week summer program designed to offer non-computer science majors a crash course in data engineering and machine learning. All the courses leverage tools and techniques used at Google and in the wider tech industry, while also teaching the non-tech skills needed for success in every industry, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, collaboration, and the ability to communicate and network.

NSF Selects UMass Amherst as Innovation Corps Site

AMHERST — The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that it has selected UMass Amherst to be one of its national network of Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Sites. The program is intended to increase research commercialization and campus startups while enriching existing innovation infrastructure. Organizers hope to help new ventures bring economic development and jobs to the region. Kenneth Carter, professor of Polymer Science and Engineering and a faculty inventor, leads the site as its principal investigator. His co-principal investigators are Robert MacWright, director of the campus’s Technology Transfer Office, and Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences. NSF funds I-Corps Sites to nurture and support mixed teams of students, faculty, and mentors who learn together and explore translation of their tech concepts into the marketplace. The award will provide training and funding to 24 teams per year beginning with a cohort of 12 in the spring of 2019. The I-Corps organizers expect most participants to be graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, or recent graduates, but the program is open to undergraduate participation as well.

Comcast Now Largest Provider of Gigabit Internet in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced it is the nation’s largest provider of gigabit broadband, with the ultra-fast Xfinity Gigabit Internet and Comcast Business Gigabit services now available to nearly all of the company’s 58 million homes and businesses in 39 states and the District of Columbia. This availability includes nearly 100% of Comcast Internet serviceable households in Western Mass., including the communities of Agawam, Amherst, Bernardston, Buckland, Chester, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Granby, Granville, Greenfield, Hatfield, Hardwick, Holyoke, Huntington, Longmeadow, Monson, Montague, Northfield, Northampton, Palmer, Pelham, Shelburne, South Hadley, Southwick, Springfield, Sunderland, Ware, West Springfield, Westfield, Westhampton, Whately, and Williamsburg. This national deployment represents the fastest rollout of gigabit speeds to the most homes in the country. Comcast has increased speeds 17 times in 17 years and doubles the capacity of its broadband network every 18 to 24 months.

Springfield College to Deliver Fully Online Programs in 2019

SPRINGFIELD — The New England Commission on Higher Education has granted Springfield College approval to offer distance-education programming. Springfield College will launch its first fully online programs in January 2019. Fully accredited online programs will be available to students in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with programs including a bachelor of Science in human services, with concentrations in criminal justice, early childhood education, substance-use disorder counseling (addictions), as well as community youth development; and a leadership MBA with a concentration in nonprofit management. The online courses are offered via the learning management system Brightspace by D2L, a state-of-art network that makes online learning highly interactive, social, and engaging.

$1.6M Grant to Benefit HCC, Community Health Centers

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) is the lead partner in a project that will bring $1.6 million in federal grant money to the Pioneer Valley to train community health workers in the battle against opioid addiction. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded HCC $400,000 over two years to add as many as 36 seats per year to its existing community health worker program. In addition to core studies in community health, students in the program will receive specific instruction and training in addiction and substance-abuse disorders. Also, HCC’s three regional partners — Holyoke Health Center, Community Health Center of Franklin County, and the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services — will each receive separate $400,000 grants to support on-site practical training of those students. The course of study will include three classes, free to all participants. The first cohort will begin in spring 2019 with “Core Competencies for Community Health Workers,” followed by “Introduction to Addiction Studies” in the summer of 2019, and concluding with a 125-hour practicum at one of the three health centers in the fall of 2019.

Elms Students Mentor Ninth-graders at JA Event

SPRINGFIELD — More than 50 students from Elms College volunteered to serve as mentors at a JA Economics for Success event hosted by Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts on Oct. 10. The event was held at Putnam High School in Springfield. The JA Economics for Success event offered ninth-grade students practical information about personal finance, as well as the importance of identifying education and career goals based on a student’s skills, interests, and values. Through a series of six 45-minute sessions, students learned how to explore their skills, interests, values, and the world of work to make informed education, career, and life decisions. They also developed their knowledge of personal finance so they can apply strong financial-management skills regardless of their income. The program was designed to correlate with state social studies, English, and math standards, as well as to the Common Core state standards in English/language arts and mathematics. The Elms College students were on hand to act as mentors, guiding the ninth-graders through the sessions and helping them learn important life skills, including decision making, planning, spending, and more.

Chicopee Businesses Step Up for School Trip

CHICOPEE — Students at Fairview Veterans Memorial Elementary School were not happy when they learned their field trip to the New England Aquarium in Boston was going to be cancelled due to lack of funding. In fact, many of them were crying. That’s when Marty Topor, owner of Central Oil, decided to step in and see what he could do. Over the course of an afternoon, he reached out to Bob Pion Buick/GMC and E.J. O’Neill Insurance Agency to enlist them in a fundraising effort to put the field trip back on track. Within a few hours, the three businesses had pooled together enough money to pay for the two buses needed to transport the 100 students to Boston for a day at the aquarium on Thursday, Nov. 1.

Berkshire Bank Wins Award for Employee Volunteerism

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank was recently named a winner of PR Daily’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Awards in the Employee Volunteer Program category. Berkshire Bank was chosen from a wide pool of entries to receive first prize in the category for the ingenuity and impact of its XTEAM volunteer program. Berkshire’s nationally acclaimed employee volunteer program provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours. Last year, 100% of Berkshire’s employees nationally donated 40,000 hours of service to benefit community organizations. Berkshire also closes down its offices each June for its Xtraordinary Day of Service, providing all employees with an opportunity to go out in the community and volunteer as a team. In 2018, Berkshire employees completed 74 service projects that ultimately benefited more than 500,000 individuals.

PV Squared Named Cooperative of the Year for Principle 7 Leadership

GREENFIELD — PV Squared, a worker-owned cooperative helping Western Mass. and Southern Vermont go solar since 2002, was recently named Cooperative of the Year for Principle 7 – Leadership in Community at the 2018 U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) annual conference. The award was given to PV Squared “for receiving national recognition in their field with company accreditation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, an accreditation awarded to companies that meet a rigorous set of standards regarding installation, employee training and qualification, safe work practices, and customer accountability, as well as their work to provide solar power to communities in Puerto Rico through their work with Amicus Solar Cooperative.” Each year, USFWC recognizes standout cooperatives and cooperators that are making a difference and leading the way toward workplace democracy.

Agenda

‘Cold Cases and the Politics of Murder’

Nov. 1: The Center for Law & Justice at Elms College will host a lecture by Sarah Stein of the Center for the Resolution of Unresolved Crime from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Alumnae Library Theater. Stein, a forensic and behavioral analyst who works with law-enforcement agencies as a consultant and investigator on cold cases and death investigations, will give a talk titled “Cold Cases and the Politics of Murder.” She has been involved in the case of Joanne Ringer of Clarksburg, who had been missing for over a year before her remains were found in Hatfield earlier this year. She also was involved in the case of Molly Bish, who had been missing for three years before her remains were found in Hampden County in 2003. Stein began consulting on cold cases during her studies at the University of New Haven, under the direction of the Henry C. Lee Institute. Since that time, she has consulted independently for numerous law-enforcement agencies and families on cold-case homicides, missing-persons cases, and child-abduction homicides. Currently, she provides both training and case-consultation services to law enforcement.

‘Facilitating Difficult Conversations’

Nov. 2, 3: Holyoke Community College (HCC) is offering two one-day seminars aimed at teaching people how to better manage difficult conversations, both in their professional and personal lives. “Facilitating Difficult Conversations” will run on Friday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and again on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in HCC’s Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on the main HCC campus at 303 Homestead Ave. The seminars, led by Debbie Lynangale, director of the Mediation & Training Collaborative in Greenfield, are appropriate for managers, public officials, educators, parents, customer-service personnel, law-enforcement professionals, or anyone else who wants to learn techniques for setting up and preparing for difficult conversations, conveying tough messages, receiving challenging feedback, and harnessing the creative energy that conflict can bring. Participants will practice de-escalation techniques and ways to develop better listening skills to support problem solving. The cost of each one-day seminar is $125. For more information or to register, visit hcc.edu/bce or call HCC Community Services at (413) 552-2123.

Film Screening of ‘Living While Dying’

Nov. 3: Harmony House of Western Massachusetts, a home for the terminally ill, will sponsor a showing of the film Living While Dying at 10 a.m. at South Hadley’s Tower Theaters. A $10 donation is suggested to attend. After the film, a question-and-answer session and panel discussion will be held with the filmmaker, Cathy Zheutlin, and representatives from Harmony House. The 45-minute documentary film, currently on tour throughout the country, tells the stories of four friends with terminal illnesses who chose to live out their final days at home with creativity, humor, and courage. In a world that sees death as something to vanquish, this film presents an alternative. Though the subject is difficult, the film is surprisingly uplifting. Dispelling traditional fears and expectations about death, Living While Dying allows viewers to reimagine and set the stage for their own inevitable ending. It offers profound opportunities to uncover value, grace, and meaning in all stages of life. For more information or tickets, call Karen Buscemi, a member of the Harmony House boaerd of directors, at (413) 531-7640. Tickets are also available on the Harmony House website at www.harmonyhousewma.org or at the theater the day of the film showing.

Real-estate Licensing Course

Nov. 5 to Dec. 12: The Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. Tuition is $379 and includes the book and materials. For more information and an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328.

Briefcase

Invesco, MassMutual Announce Strategic Partnership of Invesco, OppenheimerFunds

SPRINGFIELD — Invesco Ltd. and MassMutual announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement, whereby Invesco will acquire MassMutual asset-management affiliate OppenheimerFunds Inc. In turn, MassMutual and OppenheimerFunds employee shareholders will receive a combination of common and preferred equity consideration, and MassMutual will become a significant shareholder in Invesco, with an approximate 15.5% stake. This strategic transaction will bring Invesco’s total assets under management to more than $1.2 trillion, making it the 13th-largest global investment manager and sixth- largest U.S. retail investment manager, further enhancing the company’s ability to meet client needs through its comprehensive range of high-conviction active, passive, and alternative capabilities. “The combination with OppenheimerFunds and the strategic partnership with MassMutual will meaningfully enhance our ability to meet client needs, accelerate growth, and strengthen our business over the long term,” said Martin Flanagan, president and CEO of Invesco. “This is a compelling, highly strategic and accretive transaction for Invesco that will help us achieve a number of objectives: enhance our leadership in the U.S. and global markets, deliver the outcomes clients seek, broaden our relevance among top clients, deliver strong financial results, and continue attracting the best talent in the industry.” “We have long held OppenheimerFunds’ people and strong investment performance track record in high regard,” Flanagan continued. “OppenheimerFunds’ culture and commitment to high-conviction investing complement our own, and the combination will create significant opportunities for the talented professionals of both companies.” MassMutual Chairman, President, and CEO Roger Crandall added that “MassMutual is excited for the next chapter in our successful asset-management strategy. Invesco is a highly regarded asset manager, and OppenheimerFunds has been an incredibly successful affiliate of MassMutual for the past 28 years. We look forward to participating in the future growth of the combined entity as a long-term partner and shareholder. This strategic combination positions us well to continue to benefit from a strong, diversified, global asset-management business, which will further strengthen our financial position and support our ability to invest in the long term, provide increased value to our policy owners and customers, and help us deliver on our purpose to help people secure their future and protect the ones they love.”

Report Evaluates Potential of New Water Technologies to Boost Jobs, Environment

AMHERST — The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has released a comprehensive study that evaluates the potential of developing a network of water-testing demonstration centers in the Commonwealth, including one at UMass Amherst. The centers would pilot new water technologies to position Massachusetts as a global leader in the water-innovation and energy-efficiency sector, providing significant business and employment opportunities. The report was released at the Innovations and Opportunities in Water Technologies Conference held at the Life Sciences Laboratories at UMass Amherst. The conference was sponsored by MassCEC and the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Massachusetts. Speakers included Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection; Stephen Pike, CEO of MassCEC; Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Mass. EDC; and Kumble Subbaswamy, chancellor of UMass Amherst. The report calls for creating a network of three demonstration centers around the state. They would be located at the Wastewater Pilot Plant at UMass Amherst, the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center in Barnstable, and a pilot plant located at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s Deer Island Treatment Plant in Boston Harbor. Establishing this network of water-technology demonstration centers could create jobs, lower energy costs, and optimize municipal operations in addition to supporting water-technology research, the study says. A successfully established test-bed network could serve existing Massachusetts-based water-technology companies, help attract new companies to the Commonwealth, advance new solutions to both local and global water challenges, and provide a strong foundation for innovation. The Amherst site is ideal for this work, Sullivan said. “UMass Amherst is already a leader in this sector. The campus is positioned to undertake further research and development that will support industry growth and help grow a talented workforce for related industries.” Authorization for an investment in water technologies was approved as part of the state’s 2014 environmental bond bill. Release of state capital funds for such an investment must be evaluated and approved by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker.

Agenda

Family Business Center Events

Oct. 16, 19: On Oct. 16 at the Delaney House in Holyoke, the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley will host Sheila Heen, best-selling author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Heen teaches at Harvard Law School and in the Harvard Negotiation Project. Also, Ross Giombetti of Giombetti Associates will explain why and how companies would benefit from a “users manual of YOU.” The Family Business Center will also present a morning event on Oct. 19 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the MassMutual Learning and Conference Center in Chicopee. This spirited conversation between Delcie Bean of Paragus IT and Charlie Epstein of Epstein Financial Services will delve into how future technologies will be disruptive in a way that cannot be ignored, now or then. To register for either event, contact Ira Bryck at [email protected] or (413) 835-0810.

HCC Foundation Golf Classic

Oct. 16: Postponed from an earlier date because of rain, the 31st annual Holyoke Community College Foundation Golf Classic will be played at Springfield County Club in West Springfield. Proceeds from the tournament will support the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, the home for culinary-arts and hospitality-management training programs. The HCC Foundation, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College. Over 30 years, the annual HCC Foundation Golf Classic has raised more than $500,000 for HCC scholarships and educational technology for HCC classrooms. As before, the program begins with buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The $185 fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. After an afternoon of golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch and dinner, and will have the opportunity to enter raffles and bid on dozens of items, including restaurant gift certificates, Red Sox memorabilia, wine baskets, and more. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. To register or sponsor the golf tournament, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.

Bartender Classes

Oct. 16: As part of a continuing series of non-credit hospitality courses at the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, Holyoke Community College is offering classes this fall for anyone interested in becoming a professional bartender or just looking to perfect classic cocktails at home. The interactive class runs for seven consecutive Tuesdays, Oct. 16 through Nov. 27, from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. at the culinary institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. The course will cover all the skills necessary to launch a career as a professional bartender. Students will learn how to handle various types of alcohol and how to prepare cocktails from the classics to the trendy, including pouring techniques, glassware, garnishes, legal liability, and customer service. Quincy McCray, the course instructor, has 23 years of experience in the mixology industry. His company, Liquid Solutions, consults with businesses and trains bar staff, ensuring compliance with liability laws, liquor-inventory management, and TIPS certification. The course costs $269 plus textbook. For more information or to register, visit hcc.edu/bce or call (413) 552-2324.

Panel Discussion on Question 1

Oct. 18: The School of Nursing at Elms College, in partnership with Baystate Medical Center Nursing, will host a discussion about the upcoming Massachusetts ballot question regarding nurse-staffing ratios from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Elms College’s Veritas Auditorium. Amanda Stefancyk Oberlies, CEO of the Organization of Nurse Leaders in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont, will introduce the issues surrounding Question 1, and then a panel of practicing nurses will speak and take audience questions. Baystate nurses Karissa Gorman, Brittany Foley, and Tara Budriewicz will appear on the panel. The Elms College School of Nursing has joined with Massachusetts nurses, hospitals, and prominent healthcare organizations in opposing Question 1, which which would institute government-mandated nurse staffing levels at all hospitals statewide. “If approved, the law would require every hospital to adopt rigid registered-nurse-to-patient ratios at all times — without consideration of a hospital’s size or location, and regardless of individual patients’ specific care needs,” said Kathleen Scoble, dean of the School of Nursing at Elms College. This event will allow the public to hear directly from nurses and healthcare experts about the issues surrounding Question 1 and how it would affect the day-to-day practice of nursing in Massachusetts, as well as the long-term effects of such legislation on patient care and the nursing profession as a whole.

‘Come Roar’ with STCC at MGM Springfield

Oct. 19: Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will join forces with its partner in education, MGM Springfield, to raise money for student scholarships and support services. The “Come Roar” event, to be held at MGM Springfield from 7 to 10 p.m., will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live music, gift bags, and prizes, said Frank Quigley, president of the STCC Foundation board of directors. Admission is $150 per person and includes food, music, and gifts. Cocktails can be purchased at the bar. A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible. The MGM Springfield fundraiser supports the mission of the STCC Foundation to help the college meet its goals and commitment to provide superior educational opportunities in the community. Each year, STCC and its foundation give more than $1 million in scholarships to students. The foundation relies on donations and has held fundraising events similar to the one planned at MGM Springfield. Proceeds will go toward scholarships and services for students. STCC has collaborated with MGM Springfield to provide education through the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute. The gaming school at 95 State St., Springfield, was created to help people acquire skills to work at MGM Springfield, which opened on Aug. 24. Ticket buyers will be invited to sign up for MGM Springfield’s M life Rewards loyalty-card program, which grants access to discounted room rates, pre-sale show tickets, priority reservations, and invitations to members-only events at MGM Resorts properties across the country. Businesses that would like to sponsor the event should call Michael Buckley, interim director of Operations and Donor Relations, at (413) 755-4529. To purchase tickets, visit www.stcc.edu/mgmevent.

Seminar on Social Media in the Workplace

Oct. 25: One of the many challenges employers face in today’s business world is the ever-present impact of technology. Tim Netkovick, an attorney with Royal, P.C., will discuss the impact of employees’ social-media accounts on the workplace, and employees’ right to privacy in e-mail and internet communications. The seminar, slated for 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Royal, P.C., 270 Pleasant St., Northampton, will cover topics such as using social media during hiring, conducting an effective interview, dealing with confidentiality issues, and taking action on potentially harassing posts on social media. Human-resources professionals, CFOs, CEOs, and anyone in a management position, responsible for overseeing and/or hiring employees, may be interested in attending. The cost is $30. For more information and to register, call Heather Loges at (413) 586-2288.

Healthcare Heroes

Oct. 25: The second annual class of Healthcare Heroes will be honored at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Healthcare Heroes, a recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector, was launched last spring by HCN and BusinessWest. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and people providing that care. This year’s honorees by category are: Mary Paquette, director of Health Services and nurse practitioner, American International College; Celeste Surreira, assistant director of Nursing, the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke; Peter DePergola II, director of Clinical Ethics, Baystate Health; Dr. Matthew Sadof, pediatrician, Baystate Children’s Hospital; TechSpring; the Consortium and the Opioid Task Force; and Robert Fazzi, founder, Fazzi Associates. The seven winners were profiled in the Sept. 4 issue of BusinessWest and the September issue of HCN, and will be feted at the Oct. 25 gala. Tickets cost $90, and tables of 10 are available. To order tickets, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or go HERE. Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health/Health New England (presenting sponsor), National Grid (partner), and supporting sponsors Renew.Calm, the Elms College MBA program, Bay Path University, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England.

Sparkle! Springfield

Nov. 14: Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health will present the inaugural Sparkle! Springfield at Chez Josef in Agawam, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Described by organizers as a “fabulous and engaging girls’ night out,” this unique event has been designed by Mercy’s Spirit of Women network to support women — mind, body, and spirit — and encourage them to take action for their health. They can do this through a number of special programs and presentations that night, including visits to a wide range of health and wellness experts from Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates; indulging in complementary treats and one-on-one time with physicians, who will answer questions over “Dessert with the Docs”; free chair massages; opportunities to meet community resources and vendors; door prizes; tote bags; and more. Admission to Sparkle Springfield is $15. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required. To register, visit www.mercycares.com, or call (877) 783-7262 and press 1.

Agenda

Future Tense Lecture

Sept. 20: The third installment of the BusinessWest lecture series Future Tense, titled “Change Considerations: An Examination of Lean Process, Market Disruption, and the Future of Your Business,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Tech Foundry, 1391 Main St., ninth floor, Springfield. The lecture, open exclusively to CEOs and business owners, will be delivered by Mark Borsari, president of Sanderson MacLeod. The cost is a $25 donation to Tech Foundry. Event sponsors include Paragus IT, the Jamrog Group, and Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. With increasingly automated business processes, AI, and machine manufacturing, lean concepts are becoming more important than ever in terms of staying competitive.  Borsari will discuss change and innovation through lean concepts and focus on resulting cultural considerations. The presentation will also address already-active market disrupters that will affect business processes in various industries. To register, visit businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Free Legal Help Hotline

Sept. 20: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold a Legal Help Hotline in conjunction with Western New England University School of Law from 4 to 7 p.m. at the law school, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. The volunteers will provide legal advice on a variety of topics, including divorce and family law, bankruptcy, business, landlord/tenant, and real estate. Spanish-speaking attorneys will be available. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 796-2057 to speak to a volunteer.

‘Hacks for Your Hindrances’

Sept. 21: The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley (FBCPV) will present a workshop by business coach Julia Mines, called “Mindset: Hacks for Your Hindrances.” Attendees will learn how to gain some control over their amygdala, set better boundaries, be more courageous, stop procrastinating, and increase their self-esteem and happiness. Attendance is free for members and strategic partners of the FBCPV and $30 per person for others, who are owners and key managers of Western Mass. closely held and family owned companies. Contact Ira Bryck at [email protected] to register or for more information.

‘Paradigm Shifting in Healthcare’

Sept. 28: Bay Path University will host its first-ever healthcare summit, aimed at addressing current trends and best practices across the many disciplines of the field. The summit, “Paradigm Shifting in Healthcare,” will be held at the Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, 1 Denslow Road, East Longmeadow, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event’s keynote speaker is Steve Walsh, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Assoc. (MHA). A member of the American College of Health Care Executives, he has extensive career experience in working with executives from Massachusetts healthcare institutions to promote and drive innovative change in healthcare delivery, policy, and regulation, and is credited with overseeing the drafting and passage of the Commonwealth’s 2012 landmark healthcare payment-reform law, Chapter 224. At the Summit, he will discuss what is driving and influencing the transitions in healthcare delivery models. Other sessions include: “Telemedicine and Its Effect in the Field of Genetic Counseling,” presented by Susan Capasso; “Assessing and Treating Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” by Mark Benander; “Best Practices for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” by Cheryl Boucakis; “The Social Determinants of Health and How They Impact Healthcare,” by Marie Meckel; and “Self-Care for the Healthcare Practitioner,” by Kristina Hallett. This event is free to the public, but registration is required. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Learn more at www.baypath.edu/healthcaresummit.

Source to Sea Cleanup

Sept. 28-29: Registration is now open for the Connecticut River Conservancy’s (CRC) Source to Sea Cleanup. This annual event, now in its 22nd year, has grown into New England’s largest river cleanup, winning an American Rivers award for most miles cleaned in 2017. There are three ways for volunteers to get involved in the Source to Sea Cleanup this year: report a trash site in need of cleaning, find a cleanup group near you to join, or organize and register your own local cleanup group. For more information or to register for the event, visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup. The annual Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day river cleanup coordinated by CRC in all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin. Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails, and more. In 2017, more than 2,500 volunteers hauled more than 46 tons of trash from riverbanks and waterways in the four river states. Volunteers remove everything from recyclables, fishing equipment, and food waste to tires, televisions, and refrigerators. To date, volunteers have removed more than 1,043 tons of trash from our rivers. If your group wants to get involved but needs a cleanup site, if you have questions, or if you know of a trash site in need of cleaning, contact CRC Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard at [email protected] Learn more about the event at www.ctriver.org/cleanup.

HCC 24-hour Theater Festival

Sept. 29: Holyoke Community College theater alumni, together with students from the HCC Theater Department, will gather once again this fall to put on an evening of one-act plays written in just 24 hours. The 24-hour theater festival, renamed the HCC Phillips Festival this year in memory of Leslie Phillips, the late HCC drama teacher who inspired the festival’s creation, will be presented at 8 p.m. in the Leslie Phillips Theater in HCC’s Fine & Performing Arts Building. Like the previous two festivals, the third is a benefit show, and all proceeds will go toward the Leslie Phillips Fund for Theater Arts and Education at Holyoke Community College. HCC alumni along with current HCC students will meet on Friday, Sept. 28 to begin writing and rehearsing the one-act plays they will perform the following night. Anyone who would like to participate in this year’s festival can contact the HCC Alumni Players at [email protected] or on the group’s Facebook page. Tickets for the show are $15 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors, HCC faculty, and staff.  To order tickets, call (413) 552-2485 or visit hcc.edu/alumnievents.

Drone Pilot Certification

Sept. 29 to Oct. 20: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will again offer a hands-on program for individuals who want to become FAA-licensed drone pilots. “Flying Drones for Profit, Public Safety, and Commercial Applications” will run on four consecutive Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the main campus of HCC, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke. The course will prepare individuals to take the Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot in Charge exam, which they must pass to become licensed drone operators. All classes will be taught by Larry Harmon, co-director of the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State University and an industry consultant on small, unmanned aircraft systems. The lecture portion of the course will meet in the HCC Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on the main campus. Students will fly drones outside on the college sports fields. The course focuses on all content required to pass the FAA test, including regulations, national airspace system rules, weather, aircraft loading, aircraft performance, and flight operations. The cost for the four-week, non-credit course is $315. Space is limited. Drones will be provided for use in class. Participants can bring their own, but that is not necessary.

HCC Foundation Golf Classic

Oct. 16: Postponed from an earlier date by rain, the 31st annual Holyoke Community College Foundation Golf Classic will be held at Springfield County Club in West Springfield.Proceeds from the tournament will support the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, the home for culinary-arts and hospitality-management training programs. The HCC Foundation, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College. Over 30 years, the annual HCC Foundation Golf Classic has raised more than $500,000 for HCC scholarships and educational technology for HCC classrooms. As before, the program begins with buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The $185 fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. After an afternoon of golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch and dinner, and will have the opportunity to enter raffles and bid on dozens of items, including restaurant gift certificates, Red Sox memorabilia, wine baskets, and more. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. To register or sponsor the golf tournament, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.

Healthcare Heroes

Oct. 25: The second annual class of Healthcare Heroes will be honored at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Healthcare Heroes, a recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector, was launched last spring by BusinessWest and HCN. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and people providing that care. The seven winners were profiled in the Sept. 4 issue of BusinessWest and the September issue of HCN, and will be feted at the Oct. 25 gala. Tickets cost $90, and tables of 10 are available. To order tickets, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or visit www.businesswest.com. call Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health/Health New England (presenting sponsor), National Grid (partner), and supporting sponsors Renew.Calm, the Elms College MBA program, Bay Path University, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England.

Chamber Corners

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

• Oct. 17: Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Hillcrest Commons, 169 Valentine Road, Pittsfield. Chamber networking event. Free for members.

• Oct. 24: Good News Business Salute, featuring Women in Business Month, 5-7 p.m, hosted by Seven Hills Inn, 40 Plunkett St., Lenox.

• Oct. 28: Berkshire Young Professionals Event, 4-8 p.m., hosted by St. James Place, 352 Main St., Great Barrington.

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.amherstarea.com
(413) 253-0700

• Oct. 4: A+ Awards Banquet, 5-9 p.m., hosted by UMass Student Ballroom, 280 Hicks Way, Amherst. Each year, the chamber takes a moment to collectively celebrate the outstanding achievements of community members and entities that contribute to the growth and well-being of the place we choose to work and live. Cost: $80, $75 for a table of 10. Register at amherstarea.com.

• Oct. 24: Multi-chamber Oktoberfest, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St., Hadley. Register at amherstarea.com.

• Oct. 25: Legislative Breakfast, 7:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Lord Jeffery Inn, 30 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. The annual legislative breakfast brings together legislators, local officials, and business leaders to network and discuss current and upcoming policy issues. Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members. Register at amherstarea.com.

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101

• Sept. 19: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Tru By Hilton, 440 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Chief greeter: Tony Cignoli. Keynote speaker: state Rep. Joseph Wagner. Series sponsored by United Personnel, Westfield Bank, Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Gaudreau Group, Spherion Staffing Services, PeoplesBank, and Interstate Towing Inc. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

• Sept. 28: Chamber Seminar: “Authenticity in Leadership,” 9-11 a.m., hosted by Residence Inn, 500 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Presenter: Lora Wondolowski of Leadership Pioneer Valley. Presented by Westfield Bank. Cost: $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

• Oct. 2: Multi-chamber Business Table Top Expo, 4:30-7 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by LaQuinta Inns & Suites, Holyoke Medical Center, Westfield Bank, BusinessWest, and Polish National Credit Union. The Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, South Hadley & Granby, Springfield Regional, and Quaboag Hills chambers of commerce will host more than 100 vendors in this networking event. Vendor tables are booking now at $125, with a $25 charge for electricity. Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available. Sponsorship packages are still available. Free to the public to attend. Register a vendor table online at chicopeechamber.org/events, and ask about the new-member discount.

• Oct. 17: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by MassMutual Learning & Conference Center. Featuring a community planning update. Chief greeter: Lee Pouliot, city of Chicopee. Keynote speaker: Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Sponsored by United Personnel, Westfield Bank, Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Gaudreau Group, Spherion Staffing Services, PeoplesBank, Lisa Vachon, CPA, and FutureWorks. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.easthamptonchamber.org
(413) 527-9414

• Sept. 23: Breakfast, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. The Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce joins with other area chambers to provide information concerning the nursing ballot initiative. There will be a continental breakfast and networking beginning at 7:30 a.m., folllowed by a panel discussion beginning at 8 a.m. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

• Sept. 28: Women & the Art of Risk, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A women’s leadership event featuring workshops, discussions, and career-development opportunities, all led by distinguished women from the Pioneer Valley. Hear personal and professional stories of how taking calculated risks led these women to new adventures and made them stronger leaders. The keynote speaker is Dr. Valerie Young, an internationally recognized expert on impostor syndrome. Cost: $119, or $875 for a table of 10. Pre-registration is a must. For more information, a schedule of the day’s events, and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

• Oct. 2: “The Story Behind the Grand Bargain,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A joint event with the Springfield Regional Chamber and 1Berkshire. Lunch will be 11:30 a.m. to noon, and the program will follow from noon to 1 p.m. Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, and John Regan, executive vice president of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, will explain the details of the compromise bill and what it means for businesses. You will learn how they negotiated the compromise with a grassroots coalition and what that process could mean for future hot-button issues and how they affect business. Cost: $30 for members, $40n for non-members. Register at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com. Greater Easthampton Chamber members register with code GBE18.

• Oct. 11: Networking by Night, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Abandoned Building Brewery, 142 Pleasant St., Unit 103A, Easthampton. Sponsored by Tunnel 7 and Fran’s Fine Editing. Food and door prizes will be available, along with a cash bar. Cost: $10 fir members, $15 for non-members. Pre-registration is suggested. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.holyokechamber.com
(413) 534-3376

• Sept. 19: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Gateway City Arts, 92 Race St., Holyoke. Join us for our first After Hours of this fiscal season. The team down at Gateway City Arts is excited to host this networking event in its Biergarten and Bistro. Cost: free to members who register in advance, $10 at the door and for non-members.

• Sept. 21: Now in its 30th season, the chamber and Holyoke Community College present Leadership Holyoke, to be held over a series of eight days. Faculty members from HCC will participate as instructors and facilitators, and community leaders will participate as speakers and discussion leaders. Cost: $600 for all eight sessions. Sign up at holyokechamber.com.

• Sept. 28: Women and the Art of Risk, hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A women’s leadership event, in conjunction with the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, featuring workshops, discussions, and career-development opportunities, all led by distinguished woman from the Pioneer Valley. Hear personal and professional stories of how taking calculated risks led these women to new adventures and made them stronger leaders. Sign up at easthamptonchamber.org.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.explorenorthampton.com
(413) 584-1900

• Oct. 2: October Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., a networking event and chamber open house hosted by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Sponsored by Pioneer Training. Cost: $10 for members.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618

• Sept. 20: Workshop: “Cybersecurity for Cloud-based Solutions: Emphasis on Endpoints in the Data Center,” 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., hosted by Tekoa Country Club, 459 Russell Road, Westfield. Presented by Norhals Group LLC, Carbon Black, and VMWare’s Cloud Force Security. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Cost: $45. For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.

• Sept. 21: September Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by 104th Fighter Wing ANG, 175 Falcon Dr., Westfield. Platinum event sponsor: Baystate Noble Hospital; gold sponsors: Savage Arms, United Bank, and Westfield Gas & Electric; silver sponsor: A Plus HVAC Inc; bronze sponsors: Armbrook Village, Governor’s Center, Micro Abrasives Corp., and Rehab Resolutions. Join us to hear from keynote speaker Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Immediately following breakfast, we will take the 2019-20 directory centerfold photo, and those who have the time can take a tour of the base. Cost: $25 for members, $40 for non-members. For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.

• Sept. 28: Workshop: “Social Media in the Workplace,” 8:30-10 a.m., hosted by Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Presented by attorney Timothy Netkovick of Royal P.C. Cost: free for mmembers; $30/non-members (Paid in Advance). For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.

• Oct. 1: Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 51 North Road, Westfield. Free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register so we may give our host a head count.

• Oct. 4: Multi-Chamber Lunch & Learn, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern Carriage House, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Rick Lord, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, will offer a barometer of the regional business climate and the historic ‘grand bargain’ legislation that promises to have profound effects on businesses and employees. Cost: $30 for members, $40 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

• Oct. 4: Ticket to Ride, hosted by the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, 221 Appleton St., Holyoke. In honor of Manufacturing Month, manufacturers are invited to don casual business attire for a ride down the rails to the Merry-Go-Round in Holyoke. Aboard, you will be treated as a VIP, with an open bar and free hors-d’oeuvres. Non-manufacturers welcome as well. Space is limited. This event is free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register.

• Oct. 10: October After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Chester Railway Station, 10 Prospect St., Chester. Refreshments will be served, and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber’s scholarship fund. Bring your business cards and make connections. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.franklincc.org
(413) 773-5463
 
• Sept. 28: Monthly Breakfast Series, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Franklin County Technical High School, 82 Industrial Blvd., Turners Falls. Full breakfast will be served during the program, which will feature the kickoff of the United Way of Franklin County’s fundraising campaign. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]
 
SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER
www.springfieldregionalchamber.com
(413) 787-1555

• Oct. 2: “The Story Behind the Grand Bargain,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. Cost: $30 for members, $40 for non-members, $45 at the door. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

• Oct. 2: Multi-chamber Business Table Top Expo, 4:30-7 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Presented in collaboration with the Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, Holyoke, Greater Westfield, and Quaboag Hills chambers. Cost: $125 for exhibitors. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

• Oct. 17: Deadline for Super 60 reservations. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

• Oct. 26: Super 60 Awards Celebration, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Join us as we celebrate the success of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the region. Cost: $60 for members, $75 for non-members, $100 at the door. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.ourwrc.com
(413) 426-3880

• Sept. 18: September Legislative Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Join us as we listen to an informative panel discussion with our elected officials. State senators, state representatives, and local mayors will update guests on all things politics. The presenting sponsor is Horizon Services; premier sponsors include the Insurance Center of New England, Health New England, Polish National Credit Union, and Republic Services; and preferred sponsors include Reliable Temps, Spherion Staffing, Westfield Bank, and Partners Restaurant & Catering. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• Oct. 4: Multi-chamber Lunch & Learn, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy lunch while learning about the future of our business climate with guest speaker Richard Lord, CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Cost: $30. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]

• Oct. 18: Networking Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Crestview Country Club, Agawam. You must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Enjoy a sit-down lunch while networking with fellow chamber members. Each attendee will get a chance to offer a brief introduction and company overview. The only cost to attend is the cost of your lunch. Attendees will order off the menu and pay separately the day of the event. We cannot invoice you for these events. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• Oct. 25: Food Fest West, 5:30-8 p.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, West Springfield. Local restaurants show off their cuisine at this well-attended event, which also features a DJ, raffle, and entertainment. Vote for your favorite restaurant. Proceeds raised by Food Fest West will go toward the Partnership for Education and the WRC Educational Fund, which provides grants to businesses for on-the-job training and continuing-education needs. Cost: $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information about this event, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]

Company Notebook

Elms College Launches Student Leadership Institute

CHICOPEE — To expand its offering of leadership-development opportunities to all students, the Elms College will launch the Elms College Student Leadership Institute (SLI) at the start of the fall 2018 semester. SLI — run by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership — encourages leadership development by hosting dynamic workshops and seminars; establishing mentoring relationships with faculty, staff, and students within the campus community; creating opportunities for community service by partnering with local organizations; and sparking discussions with peers about important personal and social issues. Fall 2018 SLI sessions include offerings centered around the college’s core values of faith, community, justice, and excellence. Participants may choose to attend individual sessions for personal enrichment, or take part in a series of sessions to earn a certificate in values-based leadership. This certificate is awarded to students who complete all eight of the SLI programs offered each year. The new institute is an extension of Elms College’s existing Sophomore Leadership Program, which will continue to be offered this year as a part of SLI to encourage second-year students to engage in deep development of their leadership qualities and potential. Through leadership programming, workshops, and activities, sophomores will self-reflect, develop skills, and make changes through action.

Colony Hills Capital Sells Mobile Five Portfolio for $134.3M

WILBRAHAM — Colony Hills Capital announced that it recently sold the 2,013-unit Mobile Five portfolio for $134,300,000. The sale of the multi-family apartment portfolio, purchased for $98 million in May 2013, produced a healthy, double-digit return for the firm’s investors. This sale is the latest example of Colony Hills’ ability to source investment opportunities to which it can add substantial value through strategic capital investments and optimizing on-site management. This profitable investment also highlights how Colony Hills can enter various markets and capitalize on opportunities that others may overlook. Colony Hills recognized that Mobile, Ala. was an underappreciated market for multi-family investments and purchased the portfolio prior to the arrival of major employers like Airbus, Whole Foods, SSAB, and Amazon, as well as the major expansion of Austal, USA. Colony Hills Capital is a real-estate investment company specializing in the acquisition and management of value-add multi-family properties. The investment targets are typically sourced ‘off-market,’ and at the time Colony Hills acquires them, they are underperforming relative to their peers in the marketplace. The Mobile Five portfolio was identified as an ideal investment by President David Kaufman, due to it being mismanaged, undercapitalized, and lacking a clear business plan. The portfolio consists of five separate communities comprising a variety of vintages and styles, which catered to a wide spectrum of renters. The properties are Yester Oaks (587 units), Crossings at Pinebrook (545 units), Windsor Place (384 units), Sandpiper Townhomes (253 units), and Pathways Apartments (244 units). The portfolio is also geographically diversified, from east of Interstate 65 to the western suburbs, and further diversified in product quality ranging from class-A to class-C apartments, demonstrating that Colony Hills has the capability to manage assets of varying classes and in diverse locations. While under Colony Hills’ ownership, the properties benefited from a $4 million capital-improvement program which focused on upgrading unit interiors, modernizing outdated clubhouses, adding resident amenities such as fitness centers and dog parks, and enhancing existing resort-size pools with new furniture and grilling centers. Colony Hills also rebranded the communities with new signage and landscaping, and added management systems to optimize the marketing and sales execution. As a result of these improvements, average rents rose considerably. The neighborhoods surrounding the communities improved as well. A new Whole Foods market moved in a short distance from Crossings at Pinebrook. The city of Mobile garnered a number of awards for the business climate created by the addition of Whole Foods, Airbus, Amazon, and SSAB.

Bay Path’s Online Liberal Studies Program Earns National Accolades

LONGMEADOW — The American Women’s College at Bay Path University has been helping women complete their bachelor’s degrees at twice the rate of the national average since its inception in 2013, thanks to its digitally enhanced learning model, SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning). This innovative approach to education has placed its bachelor of arts degree in liberal studies among the 50 best in the nation, as ranked by TheBestSchools.org, which ranked colleges based on six major categories: academic excellence, strength of faculty scholarship, reputation, financial aid, range of degree programs, and strength of online instruction methodology. The university’s program placed 21st on the list, in which the editor highlighted the freedom it provides to students, particularly adult women who have other responsibilities, including family and work obligations, to design an academic program to suit their needs and schedule. The SOUL model uses data-driven intervention strategies to help mitigate achievement gaps, and has been recognized with more than $5 million in support from industry thought leaders and organizations. SOUL was developed after the American Women’s College was awarded a grant through the First in the World competition administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The four-year, $3.5 million award was used to develop — and continually hone — the program by improving educator access to learning data, allowing for targeted feedback and personalized guidance. SOUL has been recognized with several other grants and awards from national foundations, the federal government, and awarding agencies.

PV Financial Group Makes $5,000 Donation to MHA

SPRINGFIELD — Ed Sokolowski, managing partner of PV Financial Group in Ludlow, presented a $5,000 donation to MHA on Sept. 6. “At PV Financial Group, we are committed to giving back to our community and demonstrating leadership through philanthropy,” said Sokolowski. “Instead of spending money on traditional marketing efforts, we choose instead to invest dollars directly into organizations that support the future growth of our community. MHA is close to our hearts because the organization’s ideals of integrity, respect, and compassion are directly aligned with our values at PV Financial Group. While our organizations may have different clients, we believe they all deserve to be treated with the same level of care.” Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA, noted that the funds will be directed to the agency’s efforts to launch a new outpatient behavioral-health clinic in Springfield this January.

First Connecticut Bancorp Issues Quarterly Dividend

FARMINGTON, Conn. — First Connecticut Bancorp Inc. announced that its board of directors has voted to pay its quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share. Dividends will be payable on Sept. 17 to all shareholders of record as of Sept. 7. First Connecticut Bancorp is the holding company for Farmington Bank, a full-service community bank with 25 branch locations throughout Central Conn. and Western Mass., offering commercial and residential lending as well as wealth-management services. Farmington Bank has assets of $3.3 billion.

Bay Path Recognizes Springfield JCC with Award

LONGMEADOW — Springfield Jewish Community Center was recognized with Bay Path University’s first-ever Community Partnership Spirit Award, which is bestowed upon an individual, team, or organization that has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the Bay Path community, students, and mission by playing an integral role in student success through mentorship, leadership, and fostering career development. The Springfield JCC was selected as this year’s award recipient from a pool of nominations submitted by faculty and staff at Bay Path throughout the spring. The process was thorough, requiring that nominations include a narrative explaining the impact of the partner on Bay Path’s mission and students. A selection committee reviewed submissions and made the final decision. “Students from our occupational therapy, psychology, and education programs have held internships, volunteered, and engaged in service learning projects with the organization,” Bay Path President Carol Leary said. “Most recently, our master’s in occupational therapy faculty and students collaborated with the JCC Kehillah program for individuals with special needs to develop a ‘SensiPlay’ program for children with various disabilities.”

Bulkley Richardson Launches Cannabis Practice

SPRINGFIELD — As the legalization of marijuana continues to roll out in Massachusetts, attorneys at Bulkley Richardson saw an opportunity to meet the unique needs of businesses within the cannabis industry. The firm assembled a group of cross-disciplinary lawyers to form a cannabis practice group. To help launch this new practice, Bulkley Richardson recently sponsored a conference, “That Cannabis Show,” at the MassMutual Center, where the firm’s panel discussed from a legal perspective how cannabis is both like and unlike any other business. The Cannabis Group is led by attorneys Scott Foster, chair of the business and finance group and co-founder of Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), and Andy Levchuk, chair of the cybersecurity group and a 24-year veteran of the Department of Justice. The group also includes Ron Weiss, Kathy Bernardo, Mary Jo Kennedy, Sarah Willey, and Ryan Barry. “When doing business in a highly regulated industry, a rapidly changing legal landscape exists that requires a team of attorneys to collaborate across practice areas,” Foster said. “Bulkley Richardson understands the unique legal needs of cannabis businesses operating in Massachusetts and has developed a comprehensive practice group to specifically meet the many challenges within the cannabis industry.”

Company Notebook

American Women’s College Offers Food Industry Management Degree

LONGMEADOW — The American Women’s College at Bay Path University announced the launch of its bachelor of science degree in business: food industry management, now enrolling. The university’s fully online food industry management major prepares students for a wide array of positions within the industry. The program covers core business fundamentals and combines them with a solid foundation in food science. Business topics include accounting, marketing, operations, and management. The major areas of food science, such as food processing and safety, are also covered and have been adapted for flexible online learning through the university’s digitally enhanced learning model, SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning), which uses data-driven intervention strategies to help mitigate achievement gaps. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illness hits one in six Americans every year. That’s why Sara R. Milillo, senior academic director of the program, believes it’s more important now than ever for professionals in the food industry, all along the chain “from farm to fork,” to understand the business and safety principles for success. Milillo earned her Ph.D. in food science with minors in education and microbiology at Cornell University. She has authored numerous publications, including papers and book chapters, on food science and safety. Prior to being named senior director of Core Curriculum & Science at the American Women’s College at Bay Path University, Milillo served as director of math and science for the college.

Bay Path Named Among Fastest-Growing Colleges in Master’s Institution Category

LONGMEADOW — The Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Bay Path University in its Almanac of Higher Education 2018-19 as one of the fastest-growing colleges in the U.S., currently ranked 13th in the category of private nonprofit master’s institutions, with a 118.1% growth rate over a 10-year period (2006-16). Bay Path was the only institution of higher education from Massachusetts on the list, and the only women’s college in New England ranked in this category. Bay Path offers a range of educational options in response to the shifting needs of prospective students and the changing 21st-century workplace. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report for 2018 that cites the top 20 fastest-growing careers, several professions require master’s degrees, including marriage and family therapists, physician assistants, post-secondary nursing instructors, and genetic counselors, among others. Bay Path offers graduate degrees in these areas, and the recently launched MS in genetic counseling has earned distinction as the first all-online program of its kind in the country.

Holyoke Community College Readies New Biotech Center

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will open its new Center for Life Sciences on Sept. 4, for the start of the fall 2018 semester. The 13,000-square-foot facility, on the first floor of HCC’s Marieb Building, features a suite of new biotechnology classrooms and labs and what is believed to be the only ISO-certified instructional cleanroom at any Massachusetts community college and one of very few at any college or university in Western Mass. The cost of the $4.55 million project, including new equipment, was covered by a $3.8 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, supplemented by $750,000 from the HCC Foundation’s Building Healthy Communities Campaign, which also paid for the construction of the college’s Center for Health Education on Jarvis Avenue. Once it’s fully operational, the cleanroom will have a certification rating of ISO 8, which means air quality of no more than 100,000 particles per cubic foot. Inside the cleanroom will be a hooded biosafety cabinet where the sterility will increase to ISO 7, or no more than 10,000 particles per cubic foot. Grant funds and donations also paid for new equipment, including a high-end, research-grade, fluorescent microscope, like those used in the pharmaceutical industry; a micro volume spectrophotometer, used to measure small amounts of genetic material; and an electroporator for genetic engineering.

Blue Sox Named 2018 Perfect Game Collegiate Summer Team of the Year

HOLYOKE — The Valley Blue Sox have been named Perfect Game’s 2018 Collegiate Summer Team of the Year. Led by Manager and Director of Baseball Operations John Raiola, the Blue Sox paced the league with a 30-12 regular season record before winning all four of their postseason games en route to a second straight NECBL championship. Following the season, Raiola was named the recipient of the 2018 Joel Cooney Award, given to the NECBL’s Manager of the Year. Holyoke native and starting pitcher Endy Morales of Southern New Hampshire University) was named to the All-NECBL First Team. Morales posted a 5-0 record and a 1.12 ERA in 40 innings pitched. His lone postseason start came in Game 1 of the NECBL Championship Series, where he held the Ocean State Waves to one run over seven innings. Morales also received the Robin Roberts Award following the season, given to the league’s best starting pitcher. Starting pitcher Cooper Bradford (North Florida), first baseman Tyler Kapuscinski (Marist), closer Ricky Reynoso (Pacific), and shortstop Jaron Robinson (Murray State) were all named to the All-NECBL Second Team. The Blue Sox led the league with five All-NECBL selections this summer.

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Chicopee

CHICOPEE — Holyoke Medical Center has expanded services to a new facility on Memorial Drive in Chicopee for primary and specialty physician services, lab draws, X-rays, ultrasound, and CORE physical therapy. The primary-care services, provided by HMC affiliate Western Mass Physician Associates, have already opened and began treating patients at 1962 Memorial Dr. in mid-June. This office relocated from 262 New Ludlow Road in Chicopee. The office is accepting new patients and will begin offering walk-in services this fall. To make an appointment, call (413) 552-3250. The Holyoke Medical Center lab-draw station relocated on Aug. 6 from 260 New Ludlow Road to an adjoining space of Western Mass Physician Associates at 1968 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee. In addition to lab services, this space will also offer X-ray and ultrasound services, which previously required patients to go to the hospital campus in Holyoke. HMC CORE Physical Therapy also opened today on Aug. 6, and is located within the same complex at 1970 Memorial Dr. This service relocated from 138 College St. in South Hadley, and will offer a renovated space and new equipment to support the rehabilitation needs of the community. To make an appointment, call (413) 532-9913.

Elms College Ranks in Top 30% Of ‘Best Colleges for Your Money’

CHICOPEE — Elms College ranks in the top 30% of colleges in Money magazine’s list of Best Colleges for Your Money 2018. To determine this year’s value rankings, Money reviewed each institution’s graduation rates, tuition charges, family borrowing, and alumni earnings, in addition to 22 other factors. The colleges on the list each demonstrate educational quality, affordability, and alumni success. “The fact that Elms is the top-ranked school in the Greater Springfield area — ranked higher than nearly all other Western Massachusetts colleges — is a testament to our mission of transforming lives through education, which calls us not only to prepare students with a liberal-arts curriculum and professional studies, but also to remain affordable and therefore accessible,” said Harry Dumay, president of the college.