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Thunderbirds Announce Suspension of 2020-21 Season

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus toward the 2021-22 season. The Thunderbirds will maintain their status as active members of the AHL and return to play next season. “Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with the St. Louis Blues to explore every possible avenue for returning to play this season,” Thunderbirds President Nate Costa said. “Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, travel logistics, new player-supply rules, and other considerations, the Blues and Thunderbirds collectively determined that it was in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season. Given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, it has also become clear that we will be unable to host fans at our games in the foreseeable future. As an independently owned franchise, our foremost obligation is to ensure that our team is financially viable for the long term, something that is not possible without game-day revenue.”

 

Hazen Paper Wins Award for 2020 Holographic Calendar

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) recently named Hazen Paper’s 2020 holographic calendar Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the Excellence in Holography Awards 2020. Featuring a fire-breathing dragon with three-dimensional scales, the oversized calendar utilized an array of innovative holographic techniques to create a decorative design the IHMA called “outstanding.” These holographic designs included Hazen-Lens behind the months of the year, gray-motion for the sky background, color-motion for the dragon, and two-channel color-motion lenses and fire-motion lenses to animate the flames. The calendar was originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in Hazen’s Holyoke facility on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Made with renewable energy, transfer-metallized Envirofoil is made with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, a recycled film carrier that is reused again and again, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks with customized opaque white by AM Lithography of Chicopee.

 

Tighe & Bond Named Finalist for Engineering Excellence Awards

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) as a 2020 Engineering Excellence Award Finalist (Gold Award). Tighe & Bond, in conjunction with a team of subconsultants and property owner ENGIE North America, transformed the site of the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant into the state’s largest community solar and energy-storage facility. In 2014, the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke stopped operations, and ENGIE North America began the task of decommissioning and closing the power-plant site. This undertaking involved demolition of the coal-fired plant and remediation of many areas of the property. A portion of the site was also used for renewable-energy generation and energy storage to benefit the region and the city of Holyoke. The project team aided with the decommissioning design of the property and worked to obtain a complex array of environmental and land-use permits for the entire project for future industrial and commercial redevelopment. The Tighe & Bond environmental team developed the remedial design for the power plant and the associated coal ash management on the property. The largest component of the property restoration included risk-based evaluations and various capping strategies to address coal ash that has been deposited over much of the property. The successful coal-ash closure approach resulted in preserving and protecting nearby waterways, including the Connecticut River and Kennedy Brook, as well as more than 50 acres of vegetated forest and associated rare and endangered species habitat. For the solar project, the project team provided permit-level design and engineering support as well as construction-period design for the energy-storage system. This project developed the largest community solar project in Massachusetts and the largest utility-scale energy-storage installation in the Commonwealth.

 

UMass Amherst Grad Students Receive Financial Support

AMHERST — The economic and research hardships stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic have strained campuses around the country, including UMass Amherst. Especially hard-hit are graduate students in the sciences, as their research opportunities and funding trajectories have been greatly reduced by COVID-19 public-health restrictions. In response, the university’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS) created the Graduate Student Fellowship Fund this fall to provide additional funding to graduate students who need to extend their work for another year, and to make available innovations in data collection for those who are unable to conduct in-person experiments. The largest gift to the fund so far has come from alumni and long-time supporters Richard and Barbara Mahoney, who contributed $100,000 in early December. The contribution has sparked additional donations from donors who recognize the value of graduate-student research in the college and want to support those students. Graduate students are at the core of the research enterprise on campus, putting in thousands of hours to run experiments, collect data, and analyze findings. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduate students have lost the opportunities they previously had to spend much-needed time in labs or out in the field. More than 1,000 graduate students are working toward degrees across CNS.

 

Florence Bank Donates Nearly $100,000 in 2020 to Ease Food Insecurity

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated nearly $100,000 in 2020 to support a new food-distribution collaborative and nine other longtime nonprofits with a mission to feed people who are battling food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley. The gifts have been made since March to organizations in all corners of the region, including the hilltowns, to help ease the economic strain brought on by COVID-19. In the spring, Florence Bank donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution in the early months of the pandemic. The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions at nearly a dozen local sites. Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton established the organization in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools. Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center each received $25,000 from the bank. Since May, Florence Bank has also made the following gifts to these local nonprofits: Amherst Survival Center, $10,000; Springfield Rescue Mission, $10,000; Easthampton Community Center, $7,500; Chesterfield Community Cupboard, $5,000; the Gray House Market of Springfield, $5,000; Easthampton Congregational Church, $2,500; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as part of Monte’s March, $1,000; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry of Chicopee, $1,000; and Open Pantry Community Services Inc. of Springfield, $1,000. Florence Bank also nominated Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen to receive a $5,000 award from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation, which the nonprofit has accepted.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. According to Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, “while the demand for healthcare professionals grows each year, at no time has that need been more critical than now. The School of Health Sciences at American International College provides access to educational opportunities that develop a diverse network of skilled individuals who provide comprehensive nursing care in a variety of settings and who are able to demonstrate leadership in evidence-based practice to promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare.”

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Homepro Handyman Service Inc., 67 Hunt St. Suite 107 Agawam, MA 01001. Demyan Volkov, 7 Rising Corner Road, Southwick, MA 01077. Handyman services.

PS Remodeling Inc., 31 Editha Ave., Agawam, MA 01001. Pavel Stakhnyuk MA, same. Remodeling.

Rinemil Liquor Corporation, 525 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Navin K. Patel, same. Retail package store.

AMHERST

Elateq Inc., 31 Salem Place Amherst, MA 01002. Ljilana Rajic, same. Develop, deploy, and maintain sustainable technologies for water treatment and purification systems.

CHICOPEE

The Corner Pocket Billiard Hall Inc., 39 Pheasant Way, Chicopee, MA 01022. Christopher J. Rogers, same. Billiard hall/bar.

The Healing Coop, Inc., 334 Britton St. Chicopee, MA 01020. Saskia Cote, same. Alternative therapy space and retail.

J C Trucking Inc., 109 Church St., Unit 2, Chicopee, MA 01020. Jonathon William Chartier, same. Trucking service.

GREENFIELD

Sabelawski Financial Group Corporation, 1 Village Green, Greenfield, MA 01301. Edward P. Sabelawski, same. Taxes and investments.

HAMPDEN

JCDC Construction Inc., 205 Chapin Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Corey Chenevert, same. Construction.

HOLYOKE

PH Select Inc., 10 Hospital Dr., Suite 306, Holyoke, MA 01040. John J. Swlerzewski, same. Research, manufacture, and distribution of consumer health and hygiene products.

LONGMEADOW

Counselink, Inc., 175 Dwight Road, Suite 306 Longmeadow, MA 01106. Joseph Leonard, 46 Arnold Road, Pelham, MA 01002. Mental health services.

Moving Specialist, Inc., 162 Field Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Lori Conte, same. To operate a moving and packing company.

NORTH ADAMS

The Yellow Door Restaurant Inc., 66 Main St. North Adams, MA 01247. Thomas Krens, 25 Fort Hoosac Place, Williamstown, MA 01267. Food and beverage sales and service.

NORTHAMPTON

Bardwell Creative Inc., 9 ½ Market St., Northampton, MA 01060. Kenneth Butler, same. Business consulting.

Golden Age Sounds Inc., 32 Masonic St., Northampton, MA 01060. Peter Hamelin, 37 B Woodmont Road, Northampton, MA 01060. Operation of music, arts, and entertainment venue.

Mill River Music Inc., 16 Armory St., Northampton, MA 01060. Jonathon Aronstein, same. Sales, repair, and exchange of musical instruments.

WEST BROOKFIELD

Xtremepaintball Inc., 153 Shea Road, West Brookfield, MA 01585. Joseph P. O’Malley, same. Paintball activities.

Economic Outlook

Restaurants

Andy Yee was still slogging — his word, and he would use it more than a few times — through the holiday season when he talked with BusinessWest for this Outlook section. But he was already thinking about the next one and what it might be like.

And his thoughts were colored with optimism.

“I think there is going to be a lot of pent-up demand,” he said, referring to that day when the clouds eventually lift and people feel confident returning to restaurants and especially indoor dining. “People have been cooped up a long time. I know people who haven’t been out, and have barely left their houses, since March. When this is over, people are going to be ready to get out and go on the town.”

While he feels confident in that assessment, and even offered a timeline of sorts — projecting some improvement by spring as vaccines are rolled out, much more by summer, and perhaps something approximating normal by Q4, or certainly next holiday season — what he doesn’t know is how many restaurateurs currently doing business in the region be along for that ride, whenever it does come.

Andy Yee

Andy Yee

“People have been cooped up a long time. I know people who haven’t been out, and have barely left their houses, since March. When this is over, people are going to be ready to get out and go on the town.”

Indeed, several have already been forced to shut their doors, he said, and others will be challenged to survive what will likely be another several months of slogging, even with the promise of additional help coming in the form of support from the state.

“January and February are traditionally leaner months — people have that holiday hangover, although I’m not sure what that will be like this year,” he noted. “It’s going to be hard for some people to hang on. There will be some casualties; there will be more closures.”

There have been several already, due directly to COVID-19 or perhaps the pandemic accelerating the timeline for retirement, said Yee, adding quickly that the number of additional losses to the landscape will be determined by a number of factors, from how quickly and effectively vaccines reach the general population to the level of confidence people have with going back out again, even with a vaccine, to the overall experience level and savvy of the restaurateurs in question.

“This really will be survival of the fittest,” he told BusinessWest, adding that his definition of ‘fittest’ is those with the experience and will to maneuver through this whitewater. “There are some people who have been doing this a long time, and this is a tough business; these are the ones who will probably buckle down and adjust to leaner times.”

Summing up 2020 and speaking for everyone in his sector, Yee said it’s been a long, long, long haul.

Indeed it has, a nine-month stretch of restrictions that have varied in their severity, but have been generally punitive to restaurateurs, limiting how, where, and when they can serve diners. Some have fared reasonably well with takeout, outdoor dining, and reduced indoor seating, he noted, but none are doing anything approaching what they were doing a year ago, revenue-wise.

And many have decided they can’t continue to slug it out, he said, noting closures up and down the Pioneer Valley and also in the Berkshires. As bad as it’s been, it’s been far worse in major cities with much higher commercial lease rates, he told BusinessWest, adding that Boston has been devasted, and perhaps 35% of all the restaurants in New York will chose for good due to the pandemic.

Despite the devastation, the pandemic did provide some positive learning experiences, especially when it came to outdoor dining, something few restaurants had tried, but now were all but forced to undertake. It’s something that may become a permanent fixture.

“It has been a good learning experience for us,” he said, citing the Student Prince in Springfield as perhaps the best example from within the Bean Group of an establishment that invested heavily in outdoor dining and saw some success. “We are going to try to emulate that and duplicate that next year.”

Looking ahead, he does have confidence that the vaccines are cause for optimism, and also that, when this pandemic is over, people will go back to their old habits of dining out — a question that many have been asking over the past several months as the discussion turns to how the pandemic may change societal norms for the long term.

“I agree with people who say we can see the finish line with COVID,” he told BusinessWest. “My feeling is that, by March, things will start to loosen up a little; by the summertime we’ll be back to some kind of new normal, whatever that means; and in the fourth quarter we’ll roar back with people going out and celebrating.”

Meanwhile, for the entrepreneurial — and he certainly falls into that category — there will be opportunities within this sector as the pandemic draws on and more establishments grow weary of the fight.

Yee said he’s already received a number of calls from individuals looking to sell, and he expects those calls to keep coming.

In that respect, 2021 might see many more changes to the landscape in this important sector.

 

—George O’Brien

Agenda

Women’s Leadership Training Program

Starting Jan. 6: Building on the success of its popular Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, Holyoke Community College (HCC) is launching an eight-week training program for women who want to develop and enhance their leadership skills.

For convenience, the program, “Women Leaning Into Leadership 2021: Empowering Your Voice,” is being offered over Zoom in two separate, eight-week sessions. One meets on Wednesdays, Jan. 6 through Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., while the other meets on Thursdays, Jan. 7 through Feb. 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The interactive workshops will be facilitated by Annie Shibata, owner of Growth Mindset Leadership and Communication Coaching. Enrollment is limited by design. In addition to weekly 90-minute group seminars, each participant can schedule a private, 30-minute session of personalized coaching with the instructor. During the program sessions, participants will learn to evaluate their communication skills and apply new communication techniques, practice the power of mindfulness, distinguish forms of influence and persuasion to create powerful messages, assess their leadership strengths, and create short- and long-term plans for career development. To register for the Wednesday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-1. To register for the Thursday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-2.

 

Asnuntuck Super Saturday

Jan. 9: Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will hold a virtual Super Saturday event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., aimed at helping new and continuing students who have questions about how to apply, would like to speak to an advisor, or have questions regarding financial aid and registering. The college’s spring semester begins on Friday, Jan. 22. New and continuing students are invited to attend the event. Participants will also be able to virtually meet with Asnuntuck’s Manufacturing department, as well as speak with staff from ACC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Office to learn about our non-credit certificate options. Anyone who is interested in attending the online event, but has not yet applied, should complete the application ahead of time to maximize their time during the event. Participants may pre-register at asnuntuck.edu/virtualsupersaturday if there is a specific department they plan to meet with. If seeking to meet with an advisor during the event, it is strongly encouraged to pre-register ahead of time at asnuntuck.edu/student-resources/casa to request an appointment.

 

Virtual Event Series on Vaccination

Jan. 13, 20, 27: The Springfield Regional Chamber will host three virtual events dedicated to helping business leaders understand the COVID-19 vaccine. “What to Expect with the COVID-19 Vaccine” is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, will lead a conversation about what businesses can expect, how and when the vaccine may be distributed, and more. “Navigating the Legal Complexities of the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace” will follow on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 9 to 10 a.m. Employment attorney Meghan Sullivan of Sullivan Hayes & Quinn will offer insights about the HR complexities of the vaccine and the issues surrounding deployment to the business community. “Effectively Communicating the COVID-19 Vaccine” will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 9 to 10 a.m. Justine Griffin from Rasky Partners will discuss developing cross-cultural communications strategies, messaging, and more to gain buy-in on the importance of the vaccine for employees, business, and the entire community. To learn more or register, visit springfieldregionalchamber.com. Chamber members receive exclusive discounts.

 

Healthcare Heroes

Jan. 14: BusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate this year’s Healthcare Heroes with a free virtual event. This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield. The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center. A link to access this free event will be available at businesswest.com and healthcarenews.com, or you can RSVP by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

 

Women of Impact

Jan. 28: BusinessWest will celebrate this year’s Women of Impact with a virtual event. This year’s honorees include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet. The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), and WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor). More details about the event will be announced soon.

 

‘Establishing Resilience: Building Happiness’

Feb. 6: Past year got you down? Need a brighter outlook for 2021? Holyoke Community College has a class for you. HCC is partnering with Pam Victor, president and founder of Happier Valley Comedy, to offer a Zoom workshop titled “Establishing Resilience: Building Happiness” from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Victor, a comedian and improv facilitator who prefers the title ‘head of happiness,’ will lead participants on an experiential exploration of happiness and resilience building to enhance their joy and ease at work and home. She will share stress-relieving exercises and techniques to help people bring more well-being, laughter, gratitude, and play into their daily lives. The cost of the class is $99. To register, visit hcc.edu/happiness.

 

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]


 

Celebrating Heroes

Supporters were out bright and early in the morning cold last week to cheer Hillcrest Commons staffers during a shift change for their tireless efforts the last several weeks caring for residents through the coronavirus surge. They planned to be out the following day for a similar morale-boosting event during the afternoon shift change.

 

 


 

 

I Can See Clearly Now

Several months ago, Jackie Santana (left), a deaf woman who depends on lip reading as well as sign language, wrote about her frustrations communicating with people wearing face masks in a newsletter published by the Holyoke Community College Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center, where she is a student. Inspired by Santana’s essay, Ash Aliengena (right), a literacy specialist at the center, started making masks with clear plastic windows and created a website offering free, accessible face-mask patterns, where people can “Click. Print. Cut. Trace. Go.” To date, Aliengena has hand-sewn more than 60 masks and donated most of them to people at the center and to public-school teachers in Holyoke.

 

 


 

 

Provider of Choice

 

Golden Years Home Care Services recently received the 2020 Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice Award, which is based on client satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction-research firm for home care. Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice award-winning providers have contracted with Home Care Pulse to gather feedback by conducting live phone interviews with their clients each month. Because Home Care Pulse is a third-party company, it is able to collect honest and unbiased feedback.

 

 


 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AMHERST

Free Journal Network, Inc., 710 North Pleasant St., Dept of Math&Stat c/o Mark Wilson Amherst, MA 01003. Mark Curtis Wilson, 40 Summerfield Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Promotion of the theory and practice of publishing scholarly research without financial barriers to readers or authors (“diamond open access” or “platinum open access”).

ASHFIELD

Mozaik, Inc., 947 Apple Valley Road, Ashfield, MA 01330. Abigail K. Straus, same. Management Consulting and Systems Development.

ASHLEY FALLS

High Five Inc., 20 Hillside Lane Ashley Falls, MA 01222. Christos Christodoulou, same. Applying for a license with the CCC.

CHICOPEE

Kings Student Transport Inc., 975-A Springfield St. Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Dennis King, 40 Mountainview St., Agawam, MA 01001. Transportation services.

Ramcity Corp., 40 Dale St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Vadzim Loban, same. Trucking.

EASTHAMPTON

Abbetor Inc., 3 Zabek Dr. Easthampton, MA 01027. Andrea A. Przybyla, same. Express employment franchise.

Chemetal, Inc., 51 Ferry St. Easthampton, MA 01027. H. Michael Schaefer, 16 Pleasant St. Southampton, MA 01073. Metal laminate business.

GRANBY

Rightwise Inc., 362 East State St. Granby, MA 01033. Sarib Nawaz Ma, 1 Eagle Dr., South Hadley, MA 01075. Retail convenience store.

GREENFIELD

Beckwith Electric Inc., 780 Bernardston Road, Greenfield, MA 01301. Steven Beckwith, same. Electrical services.

Greenfield Makers Co-operative Inc., 231 Main St., Second Floor, Greenfield, MA 01301. Adrienne LaPierre, 20 Union St., Montague, MA 01351. P.O. Box 8, Montague, MA 01351.

Grew-It-Yourself Hydroponic Consulting, Inc., 39 Abbot St. Greenfield, MA 01301. Devin William Joseph Duval, same. The purpose of Grew-It-Yourself Hydroponic Consulting Inc. is to provide to people from marginalized groups, no-cost equipment and training to grow their own hydroponic plants, including but not limited to, fruits and vegetables for those seeking food security, medical cannabis for those who qualify under Massachusetts statute, and otherwise therapeutic hydroponic plants.

HAMPDEN

Roots to Ends Hair Salon Inc., 346 Bennett Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Stephanie M. Guyer, same. Conduct and carry on business of a hair salon.

LONGMEADOW

National Fitness and Wellness for the Blind Inc., 127 Bel Air Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Payman Sadeghinejad, same. Be devoted to providing blind and legally blind people with a means to exercise their right to safely and independently maintain their physical and mental health by providing safe, regular, and convenient physical training services, wellness service, and related services.

LUDLOW

E&S Consulting, Inc., 77 Howard St. Ludlow, MA 01056. Suzette F. Batista, same. Consulting services for business management.

PITTSFIELD

Benjamin Builds Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100 Pittsfield, MA 01201. Andrew Benjamin, 47 Upland Ave. Haverhill, MA 01835. Woodwork, construction, property management.

Delivering Hope Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100 Pittsfield, MA 01201. Victor Aleman, same. Delivering backpacks and schools supplies to children in need.

Special Coverage Women in Businesss

Knowledge Is Power

The WBOA team with a mural

The WBOA team with a mural commissioned from member and artist Mary Kearney.

 

When the Women Business Owners Alliance launched in 1982, there wasn’t anything quite like it, Anita Eliason said.

“Because there were so few women business owners in the Valley, they felt a need to get together and kind of strengthen their bond and share the experiences they were having that, maybe, were different than the experiences of men in business,” said Eliason, WBOA’s president. “They kind of broke some barriers and did it with a sense of camaraderie with other women business owners.”

These days, business groups, including those focused on women, are much more prevalent, but she thinks the WBOA is still unique — because of its diligent focus on education.

When the alliance became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit recently, “the goal was to establish ourselves as an educational organization,” she said. “Some organizations exist to bring people together to be one another’s customers, like BNI; the whole point of getting together is so I can get to your six degrees, and you can get to my six degrees, and we can all create business.

“We’re really about education and upping skills for people looking to be successful in business, much more than we are about getting business from one another. We’re here to help people be better at business, and we’re mutually learning from one another.”

“That’s not how we operate,” she went on. “We really come together to be enlightened, to be educated, to be inspired so go out and do the business of work. It’s not so much that your sister’s going to be my client, and my mother’s going to be yours. It’s mutually getting together to up our skill level.”

Members of the WBOA say the organization has proven beneficial on many levels, offering inspiration and knowledge from other women’s experiences in a supportive and non-competitive atmosphere. There’s a comfort level many say they haven’t found elsewhere, and it’s helping them gain the confidence and connections to succeed at business and in life.

The organization’s tagline is “going the extra mile for women in business,” reflecting that desire to be more than a networking group or one solely focused on generating new business. In fact, the WBOA tends to avoid the word ‘networking,’ and concentrates instead on making connections and sharing information in a variety of ways.

Eliason, who is also the senior business advisor for the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center’s (MSBDC) Western Regional Office, said not all alliance members are business owners. Some aspire to own a business, while others — such as managers of banks and insurance companies — aren’t technically owners, but are responsible for a company’s day-to-day operations.

“Some people think it’s a social organization, and I think 40 years ago it was something like that. I have the sense that, when they started, they met over dinner in restaurants to start with and then became more formal,” she noted. “Many networking organizations have cropped up in the meantime that are women-focused, and we see ourselves as complementary to those.”

Meaning, the WBOA adds value women professionals may not find elsewhere, and education is at the heart of that value proposition.

For example, the group holds a breakfast meeting every second Thursday at the Scibelli Enterprise Center in Springfield, where the WBOA is based. While the organization has operated remotely since March and the events are virtual for the time being, they have continued without interruption.

Members of the alliance

Members of the alliance meet for an evening roundtable discussion during pre-pandemic times; all meetings since the spring have been remote, but none have been canceled.

Last month, the guest speaker was an electrical engineer at Raytheon and a Six Sigma lean-manufacturing black belt, who talked about organization and creating leaner operations. A week later, as is typical following the breakfast events, a longer evening program took a deeper dive into the subject matter, and more specific strategies were introduced.

The WBOA also holds quarterly events like social-media boot camps, which, last spring, featured a general session and 14 breakout sessions. Next month, a virtual financial workshop will present an accountant, an enrolled agent, and a tax preparer, who will speak about tax laws, PPP forgiveness, and a host of other issues. “The goal is to leave with a profit-loss statement and a balance sheet from this year and then set up a blank one for the following year.”

One of the positives of hosting the organization — and, before the pandemic, these events — at the Enterprise Center is that so many resources, from the SBA to SCORE, are also located there, and that aspect has been missed, Eliason said.

“It’s a great hub of activity for women business owners. But when we had to shift online, we never missed a meeting. We continued to meet without exception, which we’re kind of proud of,” she said, noting that even more programming was added, such as ‘happy hour’ events that are more motivational in nature than the breakfast discussions, with topics ranging from personal wellness to navigating remote work. “It’s really relevant stuff.”

 

Making Connections

It also requires resources to make it all happen, which is why the WBOA seeks sponsorships from organizations to underwrite its work. “We’re nonprofit, but there are expenses,” Eliason said, noting that fundraising has been more difficult in a year when businesses of all kinds are struggling.

Still, she made a point of listing many of the businesses that do support the alliance’s work, including Advanced Manufacturing, Allstate Longmeadow, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Attorney Marie T. Jablonski, Bacon Wilson, Dale A. Frank Financial Group, Fletcher Sewer and Drain, Goss and McLain, Jerome’s Party Plus, JL Raymaakers & Sons, Latka Printing, Main Street Deli, New England Disc Golf, Veryl’s Automotive Services, and WEIB-FM.

Collaborators include the MSBDC, SCORE, Valley Community Development, the Franklin County CDC, the Center for Women and Enterprise, and Common Capital. The WBOA also created the first TedX event in Easthampton and established the WINGS mentor program at STCC.

“We see ourselves as a place to learn about all the other resources that are available and always come back for additional education. That’s why we’re strategically placed at the Scibelli Enterprise Center,” she said. “We’re really about education and upping skills for people looking to be successful in business, much more than we are about getting business from one another. We’re here to help people be better at business, and we’re mutually learning from one another.”

It’s been called a sisterhood in the past, and Eliason appreciates that.

“I think of it almost like a sorority — we’re going through similar experiences, we have similar challenges, and for every challenge we face, there’s someone who was at that level with their business years ago, and someone who hasn’t gotten there yet.”

Elaborating, she noted that BOA members feel comfortable calling on professionals who have been through what they’re experiencing. “It’s an evolving group of people at different stages of business ownership, so there are people you can call on, really, for anything.”

Right now, the group boasts about 45 members, though it has topped 100 in the past, and Eliason expects the number to rise to about 70 next year, once the pandemic slows. That number, she said, would be a sweet spot, generating a rich pool of experience and connections, but not such a high number that events become unwieldy.

As for those events, she said platforms like Zoom will continue to have a place at the WBOA even after members return to meeting in person, because the virtual events have cast a wider geographic net, and those technologies also allow the organization to archive webinars where important information gets shared.

In each meeting and newsletter, members also learn about available loan and grant opportunities to help them grapple with a pandemic that has hit small businesses hard, and forced many to close altogether. Other members are trying to keep their businesses afloat while working at home and balancing their careers with what their kids need in terms of remote learning.

“They’re doubling as a teacher for their kids,” Eliason said. “That’s not just a woman’s challenge, but for many of them, it’s been tough trying to juggle those two roles. It’s a lot to navigate.”

Even without the adjustments wrought by COVID-19, there’s always more to learn about how to build and grow a business, and to that end, WBOA leadership will continue to identify categories of information that would be most useful to its members.

“We’re looking for even more diversity of speakers in terms of the industries they come from,” she said. “It’s about linking what’s deliverable to really out-of-the-box thinking.”

 

Making the Time

In this difficult year, Eliason knows women aren’t necessarily looking for another networking group. But the WBOA isn’t just another networking group.

“Just come,” she said when asked what she’d say to women wondering whether the alliance is for them. “Attending a meeting is significant. It’s a really safe place to learn information. A lot of people say, ‘I didn’t need what the main speaker had to say, but one of the other people who spoke for five or six minutes, she made it worth coming.’

“We think of it as a think tank,” she continued. “If you’re stuck or in a rut, you can just put yourself in a place where there’s every possibility that someone will say something that will further you. Someone will say something in the course of a meeting that makes you say, ‘yeah, that was great.’”

And the learning — and, hopefully, growing — continues.

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Coronavirus Features

Looking Up

Could better times be around the corner? A growing number of executives across the U.S. think so.

In the just-released 2021 National Business Trends Survey from the Employer Associations of America (EAA), 44% of company executives see an improving economic outlook in 2021. This annual survey shares information on what executives nationally are doing to address the changing business climate. Survey responses also reflect the impact COVID-19 has had on this year’s business trends.

When executives were asked if the overall U.S. economy in the next 12 months will “improve, stay the same, or decline,” the largest segment of respondents (44%) think it will improve, as opposed to last year, with only 12% expecting the economy to improve — and that was before the pandemic had come into view. This year, 33% think it will stay the same, as opposed to 52% last year. Only 24% think it will decline, compared to 36% a year ago.

“COVID certainly has had a significant impact, and perhaps many are feeling that the economy can only get better moving forward into 2021,” said Thoran Towler, who chairs the EAA board of directors. “In fact, fueling that optimism, 57% of executives project slight to significant increases in sales and revenue. American businesses are showing their resilience and readiness to tackle today’s challenges and come out stronger than ever before.”

An additional 11 questions were added to this year’s survey regarding COVID-19’s impact on business, addressing employee safety, stay-at-home measures and social distancing, remote work, online interviews and training, hazard pay and bonuses, and candidates who are unwilling to work in the office or out in the field.

When asked how concerned respondents are regarding COVID-19 and its impact on business continuity (specifically the supply chain, financial implications, and temporary shutdowns), 52% indicated they are “extremely to moderately concerned.” In the Northeast, 43% of the region’s executives expect the pandemic to negatively impact business and capital spending either moderately or significantly.

However, companies are already starting to pivot from a focus on pandemic measures to investing in the future. As the charts the two charts demonstrate, respondents expect to put less effort into COVID-specific activities in 2021 than they did in 2020, and more effort into investing in technology, equipment, and other efforts to grow their business.

“The pandemic has forced companies to be agile and innovative during these uncertain times,” said Mark Adams, director of Compliance at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. “While expenditures are being scrutinized now more than ever before, the need to invest strategically nonetheless remains important as businesses seek to position themselves to rebound in 2021 and make up for lost ground.”

Similar to last year’s survey responses, the top three serious challenges for business executives include talent acquisition, talent retention, and the ability to pay competitive wages. The ability to pay for benefit costs and the cost of regulatory compliance rounded out the top five.

Also noteworthy for 2021, 64% of the survey respondents are planning to award wage and salary increases, while 29% plan to award variable pay bonuses next year.

The EAA is a national nonprofit association that provides this annual survey to business executives. The 2021 survey included 1,484 participating organizations throughout the U.S., an increase of nearly 400 over last year’s survey.

Opinion

Opinion

By John Regan

Joe Biden, set to become the 46th president of the U.S., will take office at a singular moment in the history of a nation struggling to confront the convergence of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and social upheaval.

It’s also a singular moment for Massachusetts employers. The change of administrations in Washington will have enormous consequences for employers on everything from federal stimulus to the tenor of labor relations.

Record numbers of voters cast ballots either in person, by absentee ballot, or through the mail in an election conducted amid a second surge of COVID-19 cases around the country. It was an election marked by stark polarization on the issues, a backlash against globalization, the growing influence of technology, and cultural and social struggles.

The new administration and Congress will set the nation’s economic agenda for the next two to four years. Biden’s ability to implement his economic plans will ultimately be determined by two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

The issues for employers will range from taxes to business regulation. The most immediate concern for Massachusetts companies and for the Commonwealth itself is the prospect that a Biden administration could break the logjam over a new economic-recovery package as a follow-up to the CARES Act passed in March. Such a package could reopen the door to the popular Paycheck Protection Program for employers and provide financial support to the state as it seeks to close a project budget shortfall of $3 billion to $6 billion.

Biden’s ability to implement his economic plans will ultimately be determined by two runoff elections in Georgia that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

It is also anticipated that the new administration will initiate a more aggressive federal approach to moderating the COVID-19 pandemic than that taken by the Trump administration. Federal regulations such as a mask mandate and broad health protocols will affect Massachusetts companies that do business in multiple states.

President-elect Biden has proposed raising taxes on corporations and imposing a corporate minimum book tax. He would also increase taxes on individuals with income above $400,000, including raising individual income, capital gains, and payroll taxes.

Most observers expect regulation of business to become more aggressive in areas such as occupational safety, union activity, and environmental compliance. The development of wind energy, including proposed projects just south of Martha’s Vineyard, is likely to accelerate after several years of slowdowns.

U.S. financial markets are likely to be affected. The stock market generally produces below-average returns during the first two years of a presidency and strong returns during in the second two years as investors gain confidence in the predictability and certainty of an administration.

The nation’s approach to international trade, which was marked by aggressive imposition of tariffs by the Trump administration, may also change under a Biden administration. While the president-elect has refrained from releasing any detailed policy proposals on trade, he has emphasized the importance of training the U.S. workforce for a competitive global environment, a renewed commitment to reducing trade barriers, and a coordinated approach to negotiations with China that utilizes U.S. allies and international institutions.

AIM members should be assured that the association remains committed to representing your best interests whatever direction the political winds might shift. v

 

John Regan is president and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

ADAMS

Berkshire Helping Hands, Inc., 12 Beecher St. Adams, MA 01220. Marilyn Honig, 4651 Main Road, Stamford, VT 05352. To promote and carry out the assistance of the poor and distressed and the promotion of social welfare by assisting the homeless and those at risk of being homeless, transitioning from homelessness, or unable to manage necessary aspects of maintaining their living situation.

AGAWAM

JGB Industries Inc., 378 Walnut St. Ext., Agawam, MA 01001. Joseph M. Carlos, 20 Peach Tree Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. To own and operate a restaurant business.

LS Express Inc., 242 River Road, Agawam, MA 01001. Serge Nakhabenko, same. Trucking.

BLANDFORD

Blandford Animal Hospital, 46 Woronoco Road. Blandford, MA 01008. Russ Lapierre, same. Veterinary hospital and any related activity.

BARRE

Donahue & Sons Mgmt., Inc., 123 Cutoff Road, Barre, MA 01005. Thomas P. Donahue, same. Solar farm operations and management; land management.

CHICOPEE

Christopher Rogers Inc., 39 Pheasant Way, Chicopee, MA 01022. Christopher Rogers, same. Transportation logistics.

Scott Lee Management Inc., 39 Ferwood St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Scott Lee, same. Musical artist management.

CONWAY

Molding Search Group Inc., 149 Whately Road Conway, MA 01341. Robbie J. Edwards, same. Plastic injection molding recruitment.

EAST LONGMEADOW

DK Drywall Inc., 15 Barnum St. East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Daniel C. Ryan, same. Construction services.

The East Longmeadow Baseball Association Inc., 22 Brookhaven Dr., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. William Berks, 78 Lasalle St. East Longmeadow, MA 01028. The East Longmeadow Baseball Association (ELBA) shall provide baseball related services to any youth who take part in any such activities or programs within the Town of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

FLORENCE

Grace Paint and Tile Inc., 303 Riverside Dr., Florence, MA 01062. Jeffrey Brian Vaughan, same. Painting and tile.

Vietnamese Restaurant Corp, 311 Riverside Dr., Florence, MA 01062. Maruone Sothi Thach, same. Full-service restaurant.

GREENFIELD

Davis Property Management Inc., 36 Log Plain Road, Greenfield, MA 01301. Allen G. Davis, same. Purchase, sale and rental of retail property.

Greenfield Beauty Inc., 130 Main St. Greenfield, MA 01301. Phong Duong, 51 Cypress St. Greenfield, MA 01301. Nail salon and spa.

Whitney Hill Corp., 122 Main St. Greenfield, MA 01301. Dale S. Whitney, 178 Old Vernon Road, Northfield, MA 01360. Said organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes.

SPRINGFIELD

Fusion Pest Management Inc., 125 Pine Acre Road, Springfield, MA 01129. Christopher W. Morin, same. Pest control.

One Stop Boston Road, Inc., 475 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01109. Bharatkumar S. Patel, 110 Wheatland Ave. Chicopee, MA 01020. Convenience and package store.

WESTFIELD

Mass Obtain Corp., 50 Medeiros Way, Westfield, MA 01085. Dale Unsderfer, 48 Sunset Dr. Westfield, MA 01085. Salvage and resale of architectural items for demo.

Psych Coastal Billing Inc., 15 Susan Dr., Westfield, MA 01085. Nancy R. Veto, same. Medical billing.

Unbroken Wings, Inc., 99 Northridge Road, Westfield, MA 01085. Michael Perrier, same. Unbroken Wings Inc. will give tangible assistance to those in need, and to support charities such as, but not limited to, the local children’s miracle network through charity festivals and other fundraising efforts.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


 

 

Help Where It’s Needed

Monson Savings Bank President Dan Moriarty (left) and CEO Steve Lowell (right) recently presented a $5,000 check to Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The bank made the donation to help address the food-insecurity challenges being faced by many local residents. “This year has been more difficult than ever for many residents,” Lowell said. “As a local community bank, it is our duty to help those most in need. We take our responsibility very seriously and do whatever is possible to help residents who are struggling.”

 

 


 

 

Celebrating STEM Week

As a way to celebrate STEM Week in Massachusetts last month, the Red Sox Foundation and the Museum of Science in Boston partnered to distribute nearly 650 at-home science and engineering design-challenge kits to children at Springfield’s Square One (pictured), the Lawrence YMCA, and the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club. The Try It! kits are a part of the virtual learning resources the museum has developed through its curricular division, EiE, and its MOS at Home digital platform, to provide families with all the materials needed to enjoy fun and engaging science education any time, any place.

 


 

 

Supporting Girls

The Junior League of Greater Springfield (JLGS) recently donated 90 backpacks to Girls Inc. of the Valley to be given to elementary-school girls. “The Junior League of Greater Springfield is committed to the promotion of literacy and serving women and children in our community. With the backpack-donation project, our volunteers recognized an urgent need for the girls of the Pioneer Valley and jumped into service,” said Jamie Margolis, assistant treasurer of JLGS. “It has never been more important to us to help lift and support young women in our community.”

 

 


 

 

 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Floors N More Inc., 44 North St. Agawam, MA 01001. Igor Moshkivskyy, same. Floors.

ATHOL

Los Agaves Grill Inc., 491 Main St. Athol, MA 03131. Crisoforo Lopez, 2 Washington St. Amesbury, MA 01913. Mexican Restaurant.

CHICOPEE

Iglesia Cristiana Centro Restauracion Misionera Inc., 49 Perkins St. Chicopee, MA 01013. Nelly Alvarez, 20 Mobile Home Way Springfield, MA 01119. This corporation is a church.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Advanced Remodeling and Maintenance Inc., 15 Hanward Hill East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Shawn P. Blanchard, same. Interior and exterior construction, maintenance and repair of residential and commercial property.

Burack Consulting Inc., 194 Elm St. East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Gregory Burack, same. Consulting.

FLORENCE

Build Repair Grow Inc., 9 Berkshire Terrace Florence, MA 01062. Elizabeth Valdez, 84 Allen Road, Belchertown, MA 01007. Build Repair Grow is organized exclusively for charitable educational purposes in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code.

Unicorn Precision Inc., 34 North Maple St., Suite 7, Florence, MA 01062. Rui Fernandes, 121 Leonard Road, Shutesbury, MA 01072. Manufacturing company.

GREENFIELD

LDS Cargo Inc., 44 Oak Ct., Greenfield, MA 01301. Lidia Sofronovici, same. Transportation.

HAMPDEN

Rubner Oil Inc., 36 Allen Court Hampden, MA 01036. Todd Rubner, same. Oil delivery.

LONGMEADOW

Lawnwood Enterprises, Inc., 33 Woodlawn Place Longmeadow, MA 01106. Ian Coogan, same. Hair salon.

LUDLOW

All State Plumbing, Inc., 1400 Center St. Ludlow, MA 01056. Fernando Blanco, same. Plumbing business.

LYNN

Dino’s Auto Repair Inc., 51 Willow St. PO Box 2622 Lynn, MA 01901. Misael Colon Andino, 77 Monmouth St. 1st Floor Springfield, MA 01109. Auto repair services.

NORTHFIELD

Daniels Books, Inc., 181 School St. Northfield, MA 01360. Edward Foster, same. To engage in charitable literary and education purposes, specifically the publishing, marketing and promoting of innovative, experimental, and avant garde poetry.

NORTH ADAMS

Victory Lounge Inc., 82 Winter St. North Adams, MA 01247. Brian Intraversato, same. Entertainment, food, and alcohol services.

PHILLIPSTON

Mark E Johnson Concrete Inc., 3 Pine Meadow Road, Phillipston, MA 01331. Mark E Johnson, same. Foundations for commercial and residential.

MEJ Leasing Inc., 3 Pine Meadow Road, Phillipston, MA 01331. Mark E Johnson, same. Leasing equipment.

SPRINGFIELD

Softeye Solutions Inc., 27 Lyman St. Apt. D606 Springfield, MA 01103. Adonte Harrell, same. Provide free and low-cost technical assistance to individuals and businesses within the commonwealth for the creation of start-up business websites, hosting, and e-mail services.

Heredia Inc., 134 Woodside Ter. Springfield, MA 01108. Orlando Heredia, same. Cargo transportation in trucks.

DBA Certificates

The following business certificates and/or trade names were issued or renewed during the month of November 2020. (Filings are limited due to closures or reduced staffing hours at municipal offices due to COVID-19 restrictions).

DEERFIELD

Impact Merchant Solutions
252 Lower Road
Michael Rifanburg

Soul Trek Coaching
9 Conway St.
William Dziura

HADLEY

Homewood Suites
340 Russell St.
Kishore Parmar

Qigong Infused Yoga
64 Comins Road
Lynne Smith

T-Mobile
344 Russell St.
Lindsey Romano

T-Mobile Financial
344 Russell St.
Lindsey Romano

T-Mobile Leasing
344 Russell St.
T-Mobile Northeast

SOUTHWICK

American Way Home Improvement
24 Eagle St.
Andrew Gorenc

Kim Hartman House Cleaning
26 Fernwood Road
Kim Hartman

Thompson Transportation
719 College Highway
Shane Thompson

WESTFIELD

Andrew York Photography, LLC
16 Union Ave.
Andrea York

Armbrook Village Senior Living Residence
551 North Road
Westfield Senior Housing I Opco, LLC

Cindy’s Cleaning
44 Laro Road
Cindy Donahue

Greg’s Auto Repair Inc.
301 North Elm St.
Greg’s Auto Repair Inc.

Quality Machining & Manufacturing
179 Joseph Ave.
Steven Sobczyk

Rovithis Realty, LLC
16 Union Ave., Suite 26
Steven Rovithis

Seven Colors Painting
26 Hunter Slope
Pavel Shevchuk

Sophy Nails and Spa
84 Main St.
Lida Lim

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Beauty Admired
1027 Westfield St.
Sapphire Torres

Becker Cleaning Services
69 Hanover St.
Anthony Becker

Big Lots #1863
1150 Union St.
Doris Greathouse

Comfort Bagel
163 Falmouth Road
Janet Blake

Taj Indian Cuisine
1506 Riverdale St.
Shambhu Rana

T-Mobile
233 Memorial Ave.
Lindsey Romano

Company Notebook

UMass Donahue Institute Receives $32.5 Million from Head Start

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a new five-year, $6.5 million per year cooperative agreement to direct the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO), a role it has filled for the past five years under an earlier award. Under the new cooperative agreement, the institute will continue to work in collaboration with its partners: Family Health International 360, Zero to Three, and the UCLA Anderson School of Management. NCPMFO will continue to disseminate clear, consistent guidance, materials, and trainings on Office of Head Start priorities for the development and implementation of sound management systems and strong internal controls in Head Start programs across the country. NCPMFO’s work addresses topics such as risk management, governance, data collection and analysis, budgeting, management of multiple funding sources, and leadership, including the annual Head Start Management Fellows Program conducted at UCLA. NCPMFO’s work reaches approximately 1,700 grantees of Early Head Start and Head Start programs located in all states, including those programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and migrant and seasonal workers. NCPMFO is one of four national center cooperative agreements recently awarded. The others address early childhood development, teaching, and learning; early childhood health; behavioral health and safety; and parent, family, and community engagement.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates $15,000 to Rays of Hope

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa presented a check for $15,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation for Rays of Hope from proceeds raised by the sale of specialty pink jerseys worn at the 2020 Pink in the Rink night in March. Each year since the team’s inception, the Thunderbirds have held a Pink in the Rink night to benefit Rays of Hope, complete with participation by breast-cancer survivors, pink ice, and pink specialty jerseys. The event has sold out each of the past four seasons, and has become a signature event in the area to raise awareness. This past season’s event took place on March 7, and was again sold out, with a capacity crowd of 6,793. The Thunderbirds Foundation has contributed more than $80,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation and the Rays of Hope through the proceeds of specialty jersey auctions from the annual Pink in the Rink night.

 

Davis Family Establishes New Scholarship Fund in Honor of Mary Walachy

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis family has established the Joseph F. and Helen C. McGovern Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in honor of the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation’s recently retired Executive Director Mary Walachy. Walachy retired in June after serving 23 years as executive director of the family foundation, and the fund is named after Walachy’s parents, both strong advocates for education. Walachy’s father, Joseph McGovern, was an entrepreneur who owned and operated Notion Thread, a manufacturing company in West Springfield. Walachy’s mother, Helen, also worked with her husband at the company. The scholarship fund will provide resources for successful applicants studying education or social work. It will be awarded through the Community Foundation’s scholarship program, which awards approximately 1,000 scholarships to 800 students annually. The program considers academic merit and financial need in its applicant reviews. Walachy earned a master’s degree in social work and, prior to joining the Davis Foundation, served as CEO of the Mental Health Assoc. Walachy was hired in 1997 as the first executive director of the foundation. Under her leadership, the foundation created several signature programs, including Cherish Every Child, the nationally-recognized Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, and the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, as well as the establishment of Springfield Business Leaders for Education and the launch of Educare Springfield.

 

Berkshire Theatre Group Awarded $1 Million Gift

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire announced a generous gift of just over $1 million from the family of the late Mary Anne Gross in honor of her lifetime love of both theatre and the Berkshires. This award also recognizes the tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity-approved musical in the U.S. this past summer, following the shutdown of live performing arts due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The Gross family will also award just over $1 million to Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company. The Gross family gift will support payroll and basic operating costs for the next six months in order to ensure there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theater continues to raise funds in support of future artistic programming. A portion of the gift is structured as a matching grant to leverage additional donations for 2021. In July, Berkshire Theatre Group’s musical, Godspell, the first musical in the U.S. approved by the Actors’ Equity Assoc. (AEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a five-week run under a tent outside of the Colonial Theatre. Due to popular demand and critical acclaim, the run was extended for two weeks. The musical ran from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Berkshire Theatre Group has just been approved once again by AEA and will present Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories outdoors at its Stockbridge campus from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20.

 

Home City Development Wins Funding for Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded resources from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to adapt and rehabilitate the former Elias Brookings School into 42 affordable rental housing units, to be known as Elias Brookings Apartments. The award includes $1 million in low-income housing tax credits (to generate more than $9 million in equity), $4.4 million of soft debt, and project-based rental vouchers. Other funds for the project include state and federal historic tax credits, city of Springfield HOME and Community Preservation Act funds, and construction and permanent loans. MassHousing will provide the permanent first mortgage loan and a subordinate workforce-housing loan. HCDI plans to begin construction in early 2021 and complete the work in 12 months. The project will serve a range of incomes, including extremely low-income households, low-income households, and workforce housing. Select apartments are reserved for clients of the Department of Mental Health, people with disabilities, and homeless households. HCDI will offer a variety of supportive services to all residents. The property will be managed by Housing Management Resources, an organization with extensive experience managing comparable properties. Built as the Elias Brookings School in 1925, the building was severely damaged in the June 2011 tornado and was closed. This redevelopment aims to contribute significantly to the revitalization of the of the Maple Hill, Six Corners, and Old Hill neighborhoods, which were heavily impacted by the tornado. HCDI is working with Davis Square Architects, development consultant Gerry Joseph, Allegrone Construction, Klein-Hornig LLP, and Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C., as well as many other partners on this project.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Wins Community Service Award

CHICOPEE — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Mercedes-Benz of Springfield was chosen as its Community Service Award recipient. This award honors a business, nonprofit, or individual which has benefited the lives of the Amherst-area community through their work and outreach. The Driven by Community platform officially launched in March, although it has been implemented at the dealership since the doors opened three years ago. Since then, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield has partnered with more than 250 local organizations, raised more than $20,000 when COVID-19 impacted local businesses, and hosted numerous fundraising and charity events at the dealership — most recently, a drive-in movie night with proceeds donated to the Urban League of Springfield to support its mission. The virtual A+ Awards Show will be livestreamed from Hadley Farms Meeting House on Thursday, Nov. 12.

 

Wellfleet Partners with binx health to Keep College Students Safe

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet Insurance has teamed up with binx health to offer college clients access to easy at-home/in-dorm sample collection for COVID-19 testing using binx’s enterprise solutions for population health screening. The ‘binx boxes’ are showing up in dorm rooms of thousands of students on Wellfleet’s college client campuses, offering school officials a quick, easy way to test a campus population, with oversight and test ordering by on-site university clinicians. The model amplifies the power and reach of university administration in their efforts to test, track, and trace the COVID-19 infection status among students, faculty, staff, and vendors. Students ‘activate’ binx boxes online, complete sample collection in their dorms or at home, then drop off completed kits at centralized locations for lab processing. Results are rapid, often under 24 hours from sample receipt. Wellfleet, one of the nation’s leading student health-insurance carriers, worked with binx on behalf of client colleges and universities to deliver a first-of-its-kind platform that makes population testing a reality for the nation’s college campuses. The testing platform offers a unique, modular approach enabling tailored rollout and customized deployment based on university population needs. Serving as a ‘digital hub,’ binx enables seamless linking of patients to university administration via clinician ordering tools, global logistics, at-home/in-dorm sample collection, viral trend analysis and reporting, rapid lab testing, contact tracing, and live customer service and support, all offered at an affordable, per-test fee by university. In addition to introducing clients to tailored COVID-19 testing solutions, Wellfleet has also adapted policies to help members, including helping to ensure student members aren’t saddled with out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19, and enhanced coverage for telemedicine visits.

 

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

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

 

MCLA Adopts Test-blind Policy Through Fall 2022

NORTH ADAMS — In support of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in recognition of the public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCLA Office of Admission will be waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for students who apply for fall 2021 and fall 2022. MCLA will also pilot a test-blind/test-free policy for fall 2021 applicants. National and institutional data point to high-school work being indicative of student success in college and a more equitable means of assessment than standardized-test scores. For many years, research studies have found that wealthy students have significant advantages through the college-application process. A 2013 study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California, for example, found that the difference in SAT scores between high- and low-income students was twice as large among black students compared to white students. MCLA’s application is free, and students are considered for merit-based scholarships at the same time as they submit their application. MCLA has an early-action deadline of Dec. 1. Those who apply must submit their official high-school transcript, including first-quarter senior grades and any transcripts for college-level courses taken, as well as a personal statement/essay. To find out more, visit mcla.edu/apply.

 

AIC Hosts Mural Honoring Mason Square Resident

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently honored a Springfield individual known to residents in Mason Square as Preacherman with a mural on the college’s maintenance building located at the corner of State and Reed streets. Born Randolph Lester, he was a well-known community member who was given the Preacherman moniker as he was often seen walking around the Mason Square area carrying a Bible. Collaborating on the construction of the mural was Britt Ruhe, the founder of Fresh Paint Springfield, a creative initiative in 2019 that invited artists to paint building walls downtown. Ruhe is the director of Commonwealth Murals and manages the Community Muralist Institute, featuring individual mural installations that meaningfully engage and uplift communities. AIC alumnus Andrew Cade, president of the Springfield Cultural Council and senior vice president of the Urban League of Springfield, supported the project with a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council and other resources to assist with the mural. The artist, Greta McLain, has has extensive mural-making experience and created the “Home, Here” mural on the Chestnut Towers parking garage on Dwight Street.

 

Summerlin Floors Awarded Woman-owned Business Certificate

AMHERST — Summerlin Floors has been awarded the official woman-owned business certificate from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. Summerlin Floors has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, completing the certification process and reaching its goal of achieving the woman-owned business certificate, along with announcing a new scholarship that will be awarded to a woman of color. To achieve WBENC certification, woman-owned businesses complete a formal documentation and site-visit process administered by one of WBENC’s 14 regional partner organizations. The WBENC certification gives woman-owned businesses the ability to compete for real-time business opportunities provided by WBENC corporate members and government agencies. To give back to the community and future generations, the company launched a new scholarship last month, awarding a $2,500 scholarship to a woman of color pursuing a degree in business at Greenfield Community College (GCC). For more information and to apply for this scholarship, contact the GCC Admissions Office at www.gcc.mass.edu/admissions or (413) 775-1801.

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

BRIMFIELD

Infinite Granite Inc., 116 Little Alum Road, Brimfield, MA 01010. Cody Langlitz, same. Granite construction.

CHICOPEE

Save Our Youth, Inc., 6 Ralph Circle, Chicopee, MA 01020. Luiz Nevarez, same. Said organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposed, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under 50 1(C)(3) of the internal revenue code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code. Specific purpose is to provide assistance and resources to inner city/underprivileged youth, so they have a safe after-school program and better opportunities for the future.

YAAD Food Bar and Grill Inc., 66 Cabot St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Orlando Roberts, 199 Fargo St. Springfield, MA 01119. Restaurant and bar business.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Visit Madhesh Nepal, Inc., 7 High Meadow Circle, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Pramod Sarraf, same. Travel and business promotion.

GRANBY

Mandolin New England, Inc., 117 Amherst St., Granby, MA 01033. Adam Sweet, same. We are a musical organization that puts on free concerts for the needy throughout New England, but specifically in Western Massachusetts and Rhode Island where our principals are based.

GILL

Renaissance Repair Inc., 390 Main Road, Gill, MA 01354. Douglas A. Edson, same. Maintenance/repair of commercial vehicles and equip.

HOLYOKE

Crossover Corporation, 522 Maple St. Holyoke, MA 01040. Elisandro Cuevas, same. Holding company.

LONGMEADOW

Nubeco, Corp., 82 Canterbury Lane, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Brian Newburn, same. Restoration.

Trusted Caregivers Inc., 123 Dwight Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Tonia Giggs, 931 North St. Suffield, CT 06078. Home care.

NORTHAMPTON

Organization of Biological Field Stations, 5 Chapin Dr., Northampton, MA 01063. Christopher N. Lorentz, Ohio River Biology Field Station 8309 Mary Ingles High California, KY 41007. The purposes of Organization of Biological Field Stations Inc. include the following: to facilitate the highest quality environment for scientists, students, teachers and the public to pursue research and education, and to enhance biological and environmental understanding.

PALMER

Lowmat, Inc., 3012 Thorndike St., Palmer, MA 01069. Gary Buelow, same. Develop and operate software app.

San Mac Medical Inc., 1199 South Main St., Palmer, MA 01069. Mark Borsari, 2 Sutton Place East Granby, CT 06026. Manufacturing of medical supplies.

PITTSFIELD

Kanoa, Inc., 11 Westview Circle, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Cristina Oncken Cook Dubin, same. Consulting services.

SPRINGFIELD

Ekmalian Tools Inc., 355 Trafton Road, Springfield, MA 01108. James G. Ekmalian Jr., same. Retail sale of tools and equipment.

Ken G Transport Inc., 37 Tiffany St. Springfield, MA 01108. Edith Nunez, same. Transport.

WESTFIELD

McCabe and Son Home Improvement Inc., 15 May St., Westfield, MA 01085. Samantha Galvin, same. Home remodeling.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Blackhorse Transportation Inc., 425 Union St., Room 16 West Springfield, MA 01089. Ruvim Rakhubenko, 41 Irving St. West Springfield, MA 01089. Trucking.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


 

Manufacturer of the Year

State Sen. Eric Lesser, Senate chair of the Manufacturing Caucus, recognized Toner Plastics as the First Hampden and Hampshire Manufacturer of the Year in a virtual, reimagined fifth annual Manufacturing Awards ceremony also attended by state Rep. Jeff Roy, Manufacturing Caucus co-chair; House Speaker Robert DeLeo; Senate President Karen Spilka; and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy. This followed an in-person presentation of the award by Lesser (pictured, left) at the East Longmeadow facility on Oct. 15 alongside company President Jack Warren and members of his team.


 

Grand Opening in Amherst

bankESB recently celebrated the virtual grand opening of its newest branch location at 253 Triangle St., Amherst. The event was commemorated in a Facebook Live broadcast hosted by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured, from left: Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; Nancy Lapointe, senior vice president of Retail Administration at bankESB; Matt Sosik, bankESB president and CEO; Jessica West, bankESB assistant vice president and Amherst branch officer; and stste Rep. Mindy Domb

 


 

COVID-19 Relief

The state awarded Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) two grants totaling nearly $662,000 for COVID-19 relief. The money will be used to help keep the campus safe during the pandemic, compensate faculty for their work developing online courses, and boost student aid. Pictured: STCC President John Cook speaks at a news conference announcing the funding, alongside, from left, Heriberto “Herbie” Flores, president and CEO of Partners for Community; state Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr; state Rep. Bud Williams; state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; and Denise Hurst, vice president of Advancement and External Affairs at STCC.

 


 

Halloween, 2020-Style

 

The United Way of Pioneer Valley staged a unique, COVID-era Halloween-day celebration at the TD Bank building in downtown Springfield. Sponsored by Colebrook Realty Services and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, the event drew more than 3,000 cars, with those driving through dressed for the occasion. From top to bottom: Sarno waves to an approaching car; Paula Wysocka, a United Way staff member, gets into the spirit of the event; some of the goodies that were handed out to the young people being driven through; the entrance to the building was decorated for the holiday.

 


 

Celebrating STEM Week

As a way to celebrate STEM Week in Massachusetts last month, the Red Sox Foundation and the Museum of Science in Boston partnered to distribute nearly 650 at-home science and engineering design-challenge kits to children at Springfield’s Square One (pictured), the Lawrence YMCA, and the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club. The Try It! kits are a part of the virtual learning resources the museum has developed through its curricular division, EiE, and its MOS at Home digital platform, to provide families with all the materials needed to enjoy fun and engaging science education any time, any place.


 

COVID-19

PPP Loan Forgiveness 101

By Jeff Laboe, CPA

Please realize that the information available today is different than it was a four months ago, and will most likely look different two months from now, so keep that in mind while reading this article.

With all the uncertainty these days, the last thing taxpayers should be worrying about is how to complete the application for your Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness. The intent of this article is to give taxpayers an idea of the application process and forms that need to be submitted for forgiveness of the PPP loan the business received.

Jeff Laboe

Jeff Laboe

A business of any type (LLC, S-corp, sole proprietor, etc.) that received funds via a PPP loan in 2020 may apply for the forgiveness of repayment of this loan. Taxpayers who received a loan, maintained proper records, followed the Small Business Administration rules and guidelines with respect as to how the loan proceeds were spent, and performed all necessary calculations should qualify for forgiveness on the repayment of the loan or the portion of the loan that qualifies.

There are three different application forms that may have to be completed based upon your individual PPP loan program. You have 10 months from the completion of your loan period to file one of these forgiveness applications. The three forms to be used are Form 3508S, 3508EZ, and Form 3508, or the equivalent forms offered by your bank.

The first is Form 3508S, which can be used only by those who received $50,000 or less in PPP loan proceeds. The application asks taxpayers to provide the forgiveness amount requested and to certify with signatures that all the conditions were met. There are no calculations required on the application and no reductions in forgiveness due to reduced head count or salaries or wages. This form is the most straightforward.

Form 3508EZ may be used by self-employed individuals, independent contractors, or sole proprietors that have no employees and/or wages at the time of the loan-application process.

A business also qualifies to use this form if it received more than $50,000 but less than $150,000 in PPP funds, and met one of two additional scenarios:

• Salary and wages were not reduced by more than 25% during the loan period, and the employee head count was restored by the end of the chosen loan period — essentially, the net head count wasn’t affected; or

• Salary and wages were not reduced by more than 25% during the loan period and you were unable to operate the same level of business due to compliance with requirements to any work or customer safety requirements related to COVID-19. Similar to the 3508S application, there are no calculations required. Taxpayers instead need to confirm and provide support that the loan proceeds were used for eligible costs.

The last form is the standard Form 3508. This application is for all taxpayers who do not meet the thresholds to file one of the previously discussed forms. This standard application is much more detailed and complex, and may require some additional time and supporting documents. Taxpayers might want to seek assistance from their professional advisors.

“With all the uncertainty these days, the last thing taxpayers should be worrying about is how to complete the application for your Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness.”

Additionally, if your business also obtained an EIDL advance, that amount needs to be subtracted from the amount of loan proceeds that would otherwise be eligible for forgiveness. This applies for all three loan-forgiveness forms. Legislation has also been introduced (U.S. Senate Bill 4321) that details potential automatic forgiveness for any PPP loan under $150,000 if the debtee “signs and submits to the lender an attestation that the eligible recipient made a good-faith effort to comply with the requirements under section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act.” The status of the bill is uncertain at this time.

Once you have submitted your application, the loan provider has 60 days from the date the application was received to issue a decision to the SBA. The SBA then has 90 days to review the application and remit the forgiveness amount to the lender.

When it comes to PPP loan-forgiveness applications, remember the three different levels: less than $50,000, between $50,000 and $150,000, and above $150,000. As of now, taxpayers have to apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the end of the loan period. Be sure you complied with all the rules and guidelines on what the qualified expenses are and kept accurate and complete records. And don’t be overwhelmed by the applications. If you need assistance, there are resources for you.

 

Jeff Laboe is a senior tax associate with MP CPAs; www.thempgroupcpa.com

Company Notebook

Elms College Establishes St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced the creation of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture (CERC), thanks to the generous support of three foundational donors. A seven-figure naming gift from an anonymous donor and two six-figure contributions, from Carolyn Jacobs and B. John and Collette Dill and family, will help the college launch the center. The CERC will examine the most pressing and complex questions related to ethics, religion, and culture in today’s society and lead the regional community in thoughtful, engaging discourse. From an academic perspective, programming for the CERC will focus on the infusion of ethical leadership across the curriculum, the integration of ethics within the healthcare and business fields of study, and the provision of innovative experiential learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. “The creation of the CERC reflects the college’s goals of training the next generation of ethical leaders, sharing the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, encouraging interfaith dialogue, and promoting our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Peter DePergola II, associate professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Elms College and a member of the CERC advisory board. An official launch of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture will take place in late October and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held virtually.

 

MassMutual Center, UMass, AIC to Co-host 2024 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional

SPRINGFIELD — The National Collegiate Athletic Assoc. (NCAA) announced that the MassMutual Center, in conjunction with American International College and UMass Amherst, has been selected to host the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional, marking the first time the event has been held at the MassMutual Center. The two-day regional will feature four teams competing in two first-round games, with the winners advancing to the regional final the following day. The winner of the regional final will advance to the 2024 Frozen Four, which will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. “We are incredibly proud to partner with American International College and the MassMutual Center for a 2024 regional,” said Ryan Bamford, director of Athletics at UMass Amherst. “We have been privileged to see first-hand the passion that fans in this region have for college hockey, and we are looking forward to playing a part in hosting a first-class event in Springfield during one of the most exciting weekends on the college hockey calendar.” Added Jessica Chapin, interim director of Athletics at AIC, “we are thrilled to be awarded the bid for the Division I Ice Hockey Regional with UMass and the MassMutual Center for 2024,” “This will be a wonderful opportunity to add to the storied history of hockey in the Springfield, Massachusetts area.”

 

Northern Tree Service Transitions to Employee Stock-ownership Plan

PALMER — Northern Tree Service Inc. announced it has transitioned the ownership of its business lines over to an employee stock-ownership plan, or ESOP. The Lazear Capital Partners team worked with the management of Northern Tree Service to design a custom solution that included employee benefits, financial flexibility, and maximum tax advantages. Founded in 1932 by Walter Cambo, the company was first established to service state and municipal tree work in Eastern Mass. Under the leadership of Paul Cambo, Northern Tree Service grew to provide land-clearing services for the ever-expanding energy grid in the Northeast. Furthering Northern’s expansion, now under the leadership of Paul’s son, Philip, Northern Tree Service has continued its growth to become one of the most diversified tree-care companies in the industry, servicing all New England and surrounding states. “The ESOP was the choice we made to maintain the business’s current direction while simultaneously rewarding the 250-plus employees that have been so critical to the business’ success,” President Timothy LaMotte said. “We have a very specialized and highly skilled group of professionals focused on safety and integrity, and we are excited to see that continue.” With the new ESOP in place, both Philip Cambo and LaMotte will continue their current roles for the foreseeable future and gradually hand over the business’ operational control to the next generation of leaders.

 

Berkshire Bank Enhances Leave for Employees Experiencing Gender-based Violence

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced enhanced protections that will provide its 1,500 employees with paid and protected leave to manage the consequences of intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Berkshire Bank has partnered with FreeFrom, a nonprofit creating pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence, to increase its existing leave policies to benefit its employees. The enhanced policy gives employees 15 days of leave a year to seek medical care, attend court proceedings, and relocate — all without missing a paycheck or depleting their accrued sick or vacation days. Since 2014, Berkshire Bank has had a domestic-violence leave policy in compliance with relevant state laws. These new enhancements go beyond the mandated requirements of state laws to offer additional support for survivors and their families impacted by this type of abuse. Berkshire Bank employees will also now have access to FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a tool designed to assist survivors of domestic abuse in understanding whether they are eligible for compensation to cover some of the costs of the harm they experienced. In addition, the bank plans to collaborate with FreeFrom as part of its Survivor Safety Banking Initiative to explore how to design products and policies to better support customers that have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse. This approach eliminates barriers to access for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences by providing innovative financial solutions, including an online account-opening experience that will help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

 

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

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

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. “I am a strong proponent of in-person learning, and I applaud the efforts of Square One to reopen its preschool programs back in June, with appropriate protocols in place,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer Inc. “However, not all children have been able to return to school in the fall, which has created additional expenses to provide these children with remote learning support.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. “The past few months have greatly reinforced the demand for our programs and services,” said Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication at Square One. “With that growing demand and the unanticipated COVID-related expenses — including providing full-day support during remote learning — we have a tremendous need to expand our donor base.” Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Company Notebook

bankESB Earns Recognition for Quality, Community Commitment

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB was recently honored for overall quality and commitment to the community. The bank earned the number-one spot for Overall Quality in Western Mass. in the 2020 New England Banking Choice Awards. The awards are presented annually by American Business Media, publisher of Banking New England, and are based on the results of the Rivel Banking Benchmarks, the largest and most comprehensive measure of banking customer experience in the world. The 2020 results are based on more than 11,000 interviews and 300,000 reviews of nearly 300 Massachusetts institutions. The bank also was named an honoree by the Boston Business Journal in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. Companies qualify for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year.

 

Florence Bank Gives $10,000 to Amherst Survival Center

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently donated $10,000 to the Amherst Survival Center, which connects residents of Hampshire and Franklin counties to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts. Since mid-March, the Amherst Survival Center has focused its resources on food and nutrition programs, ensuring its ability to provide hot meals to go, daily access to fresh produce and bread, and full grocery shops from its food pantry in as safe a manner as possible. This summer, the center established a strategic plan to address the steady rise of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their plan entails doubling the food provided by the food pantry while also expanding grocery offerings to roughly two weeks each month. Additionally, the center will expand its staff in order to implement evening and weekend hours and integrate deliveries into the schedule with a goal of delivering food to 1,000 to 1,500 area residents per month. These efforts have been fueled by generous donations like the one from Florence Bank.

 

ValleyBike Share Offers Discount to Area Students

PIONEER VALLEY — ValleyBike Share has begun offering a special discount to all area students with an .edu e-mail address. The pass costs $60 for an annual membership that includes unlimited 45-minute rides. ValleyBike Share is the all-electric-assist bike-share program of the Pioneer Valley, which includes Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and the UMass Amherst campus. Students can use ValleyBike Share to explore the Pioneer Valley without a car. The electric-assist bikes can go from one town to another with ease within the system, which makes them perfect to use if a student has classes at any of the other colleges in the service area. To join, visit www.valleybike.org. ValleyBike is open from approximately April 1 to Nov. 30, weather permitting.

 

UMass Donahue Institute Wins $14 Million Contract

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a five-year, $14 million contract to provide training and technical assistance to Head Start and Early Head Start programs for all six New England states. The grants allows the institute to continue to work with local Head Start programs on their educational, health, and family services as well as management systems to strengthen their ability to serve children and their families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide comprehensive services that support the development of children from birth to age 5, and their families, in centers, childcare partner locations, and their own homes. Early Head Start also provides services to pregnant women. Head Start and Early Head Start services include early learning, health, and family well-being. The contract was awarded by the Office of Head Start in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationally, Head Start/Early Head Start is divided into 12 regions. UMass Donahue Institute will be the sole provider of training and technical assistance to Region 1, which includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The institute was first awarded the New England training and technical assistance grant in 2003.

 

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 10, 107 companies — a record number — qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year’s honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 60th, employs 209 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. In 2019, staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering more than 1,100 hours of community service.

 

AIC Receives High Marks for Teaching and Education Degrees

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is ranked 17th among the top 50 colleges and universities for teaching and education degrees, as ranked by learn.org for academic year 2020-21. Established in 2003, learn.org provides free resources for students and working professionals to research potential schools and degrees by providing information on career opportunities and institutions of higher education that help individuals reach their goals, including school connections, scholarships, and online college planning for quality and affordable education. Citing AIC, learn.org highlights the college’s master’s programs, including its master of education in early childhood education and a master of education in middle or secondary education. The organization additionally notes that AIC offers a doctoral program with multiple tracks, the doctor of education in teaching and learning, and called attention to students’ ability to take part in a practicum or field-based research to ensure preparedness for future careers. The organization also credits the School of Education with employing “top-notch staff and faculty members, many of whom hold terminal degrees in their field.”

 

Square One Responds to Need for Remote-learning Support

SPRINGFIELD — As working parents continue to navigate the unchartered territory surrounding remote education, Square One is answering the call for help. The agency is now providing full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to expanded offerings for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Enrollment is available at three Square One early-learning centers in Springfield, as well as the agency’s network of home-based child-care providers who operate throughout the region. Through the generosity of funders, including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and Square One’s corporate and individual donors, all locations are outfitted with the technology and staffing needed to accommodate each student’s remote-learning needs. All guidelines surrounding social distancing, cleanliness, and personal protective equipment will be strictly enforced. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. For more information, parents are urged to contact the Square One enrollment office at (413) 732-5183. With the growing demand for programs and services at Square One comes a greater need for additional financial support. Donors are asked to support the Campaign for Healthy Kids by texting ABC123 to 4432, visiting www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mailing Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication, at [email protected].

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Contributes More Than $1 Million in COVID-19 Relief

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Bank Foundation announced that, due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has contributed more than $1 million to collaborative efforts supporting nonprofit organizations responding to community-based needs. Guided by the foundation’s mission of investing in those living and working in its local communities, the total relief provided represents an additional $1 million over the foundation’s $3 million total annual grant budget. The organizations supported in the Pioneer Valley through Berkshire Bank Foundation’s contributions include the Mental Health Assoc. Inc., YMCA of Greater Springfield, the SCORE Foundation – Western Massachusetts SCORE, and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, among others. The foundation’s grants this year have supported community-based organizations to help local families in the areas of affordable and safe housing, food security, health supplies, students in distress, and assistance to small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The foundation has also allowed nonprofits to utilize funds given for specific programs to help cover general operating costs and extended requirements and/or reporting deadlines where needed.

 

Beveridge Family Foundation Partners with Innovation Accelerator

WEST NEWBURY — The Beveridge Family Foundation provides support to nonprofits within Hampden and Hampshire counties. While continuing that critical work, it has started investing directly into social-impact projects and ventures. By leveraging its endowment, the Beveridge Foundation is significantly increasing the amount of funding it can deploy. Local organizations with proposals for economically sustainable programs can now apply for investments of up to $250,000. These proposals must be at the pilot stage or later and already have significant evidence of demand and viability. Innovation Accelerator trains nonprofits to develop high-impact social ventures. Alumni have gone from sticky notes on a whiteboard to live programs that have raised more than $1 million in seed funding. Each team that participates in the flagship accelerator program generates mission-aligned ideas, gathers concrete evidence, and receives direct feedback from the Beveridge Foundation and other funders.

 

Education Equity Focus of Grant to Holyoke Community College

HOLYOKE — When Holyoke Community College (HCC) unveiled its four-year strategic plan in 2018, one of its top priorities was increasing success rates of students of color. That aligned with goals established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which in the same year made equity the top policy and performance objective for the entire state public higher-education system. To support those ongoing efforts, the Lumina Foundation recently awarded the Massachusetts DHE grants worth $1.2 million, with half the money earmarked for six state colleges and universities, including HCC. HCC’s $100,000 award will be used to further the work of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion task force and expand mentorship programs that focus on students of color. Through its Talent, Innovation, Equity, and Equity Institution grants, the Lumina Foundation seeks to dismantle systemic barriers to student success and degree attainment, particularly for black and Latinx students. Massachusetts was only the fifth state to receive grants from the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Indianapolis. Latinx students participating in HCC’s ALANA Men in Motion program show a fall-to-fall retention rate of 75%, compared to 45% for Latinx students not participating in ALANA, an academic support, mentoring, and counseling program for African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American men. HCC’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group focuses on making sure students of color succeed at the same rate as their white peers, using benchmarks such as retention and college completion rates.

 

United Way Distributes PPE to Area Nonprofits, Municipalities

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its COVID-19 response efforts, United Way of Pioneer Valley has distributed a round of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related items to multiple area nonprofits and municipalities. Recipients of PPE to date include the Agawam Department of Public Health, Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, Chicopee Food Force, Granville Fire Department, Granville Police Department, Granville Public Library, Link to Libraries, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Ludlow Senior Center, Ministry en Motion, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, One Holyoke CDC, Quarry Hill Community School in Monson, Southwick Senior Center, Tolland Fire Department, and Westfield Senior Center. Distributions include various sizes of hand-sanitizer bottles, hand-sanitizing stations, disposable masks, gloves, face masks, face shields, cleaning wipes, and countertop sneeze guards. Donations also included hula hoops and pool noodles to help young children learn about social distancing.

 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

CHICOPEE

The Prince Express Inc., 53 Elizabeth St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Nawar D. Khaleel, same. Trucking.

EAST LONGMEADOW

The Society of St. Vincent De Paul At St. Michael’s Parish Conference Inc., 128 Maple St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Toni Raczkowski, 37 Timber Dr., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Offers tangible assistance to those in need on a person-to-person basis.

Ahealthyhome199 Inc., 119 Industrial Ave., #352, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Michael R. Sacenti, 24 Crescent Hill, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Building remediation and maintenance services.

HOLYOKE

Viva Nation TV Inc., 723 Homestead Ave., Holyoke, MA 01040. Antos Stella, 15 Broad St., Suite 2606, New York, NY 10005. Multi-media production and distribution.

Absolute Quality Floor Refinishing Inc., 187 Walnut St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Frederick A. Tavares, same. Floor refinishing.

PITTSFIELD

Xonier Technologies Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Vijay Parmar, same. Computer software and IT services.

SOUTH DEERFIELD

The Lux Corporation, 16 Braeburn Road, South Deerfield, MA 01373. Matthew Carlson, same. Providing a social networking platform for individuals or organizations to promote events.

SOUTHWICK

USA Resurfacing Inc., 7 Shefton Dr., Southwick, MA 01077. James Robert Kingsbury, same. Concrete polishing, epoxy flooring.

SPRINGFIELD

The Eastern Band of Woodland Metis People Inc., 34 Cambridge St., Springfield, MA 01109. James Leo Lafleur, same. Native Americans helping others threw fundraising, tag sales, benefit dinners and donations

Transit Health Inc., 95 Frank B Murray St., Springfield, MA 01103. Jennifer Collins, 45 California Ave., Springfield, MA 01118. Community transportation to mental health services.

Vu Nguyen Inc., 836 Bay St., Springfield, MA 01109. Vu Nguyen, 230 Senator St., Springfield, MA 01128. Bottle and can redemption center.

William Gaudet & River Gaudet Inc., 834 Kinney St., Springfield, MA 01103. William Van Gaudet, 1220 Huntington Drive, Modesto, CA 95350. Bookkeeping and human resources consultation.

ABT Beauty Inc., 1704 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01129. Thi Tai, 120 Marengo Park, Springfield, MA 01108. Nail salon and spa.

WESTFIELD

Ubuntu Community Resources Inc., 1029 North Road, PMB 160, Westfield, MA 01085. Patricia P. O’Garro-Ellis, 940 Enfield St., Enfield, CT 06082. Providing services for developmentally disabled people.

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith says getting town business done during COVID-19 has been more challenging than usual, but projects continue to be approved.

Wilbraham is a mostly residential town with two main business districts — the town center, as it’s known, on Main Street, and along a lengthy stretch of Route 20, or Boston Road.

The fact that both have seen development activity during the ongoing pandemic is good news indeed, said Jeffrey Smith, chairman of the Planning Board.

Take, for example, a couple of vacant buildings next to Home Depot that have been vacant for about a decade. They will soon become a 7,000-square-foot O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store and a 2,340-square-foot Valvoline instant oil-change facility.

“It’s great,” Smith said. “Being on the Planning Board and being a resident in town, I hear from people all the time, in casual converations, ‘what’s going on with that place?’ This is one of those vacant and seemingly abandoned properties that is getting a great redo, and I think it’s going to be a welcome addition. The site has been an eyesore for some time.”

Then there’s the former Papa Gino’s restaurant near the Springfield line that’s been vacant several years, but will soon be home to an expansion of Springfield-based Vanguard Dental. Meanwhile, Excel Therapy and Conditioning, a physical-therapy practice that’s expanding to sports rehabilitation and personal training, will set up shop on Boston Road as well.

“We had to work fast to fast-track this during the height of the pandemic, with Town Hall closed,” recalled John Pearsall, director of Planning. “They were in a situation where their lease was running out and they had a chance to purchase this building and move and expand their practice. That’s been a good success story, saving a local business during these difficult times.”

Doing due diligence on development projects hasn’t been easy with offices closed, Smith noted.

“Just like every other town, we’re dealing with COVID, and all Planning and Zoning board meetings have to be done remotely. John and I used to meet quite a bit more in person during the week and outside our regularly scheduled meetings, and we do a little less of that right now. Everything has become more cumbersome, with a lot of extra steps.”

“For a long time, residents in the center of town have complained that it’s a little sleepy, and they want to have more activity there. We’re finally getting some actual development and change. The project will be a real catalyst for the center of town.”

Yet, important work continues, including efforts by the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, and licensing authorities to get restaurants reopened in recent months.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to help our businesses stay afloat during these difficult times,” Pearsall said. “And they seem to be very active. I think people are happy to have that option, whether it’s curbside pickup or being able to go out and have a meal outside the home. That’s a big thing for people these days.”

As the town continues to develop a Route 20 renovation plan — including widening driving lanes, adding sidewalks and bike lanes, and more — business continue to see it as an attractive destination, Smith and Pearsall said. That bodes well for 2021, when the process of getting anything permitted in town — and, let’s be honest, life in general — promises to be slightly easier.

Center of Activity

Most schools throughout Western Mass. are currently teaching students remotely. But not Wilbraham & Monson Academy, which launched an ambitious plan earlier this year — including everything from reconfiguring buildings to implementing strict safety guidelines — to bring students back to campus.

“We worked extensively as a town with WMA to reopen and allow students back,” Smith said, recalling Head of School Brian Easler working the Planning Board, Board of Health, and Board of Selectmen to produce a comprehensive plan to get students back safely for in-person learning. “I was surprised at the lengths they went and the protocols they put in place to get reopened.”

The town had a stake in the plan that went beyond what was best for students and their families, Pearsall said. “We were happy to see them open because they provide a real anchor to the town center.”

It’s a center that has long been the subject of speculation. Two years ago, an effort to allow a mixed-use development in the area of Main and Springfield streets failed to garner the necessary two-thirds approval at a town meeting, falling short by about a dozen votes. Since then, town officials have struggled to balance the need to fill vacant buildings with general pushback when it comes to change.

Currently, two vacant buildings at the corner of Main Street and Burt Lane have been slated for demolition and development, Smith said.

“We’ve been working at least the last two years with the owner of the property and getting something viable in place for those buildings,” he told BusinessWest. “If everything goes as planned, that will be a major change in the way the town center looks. The owner of the property has worked extensively with us and other committees and boards in town to come up with a design concept that would fit in with the town center.

“It’s a very sensitive area; it’s looked the way it has for quite some time,” he added. “This is a new use on this spot — mixed-use development, with retail on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor. Actually, it’s bringing in an old use. At one point, a hotel stood on this spot. So we’re bringing residential use back, and resurrecting something that was done years ago.”

Wilbraham at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1763
Population: 14,868
Area: 22.4 square miles
County: Hampden
Residential Tax Rate: $22.38
Commercial Tax Rate: $22.38
Median Household Income: $65,014
Median Family Income: $73,825
Type of government: Board of Selectmen, Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Baystate Wing Wilbraham Medical Center; Friendly Ice Cream Corp.; Big Y; Home Depot; Wilbraham & Monson Academy
*Latest information available

Some folks in the neighborhood are open to change, Pearsall said. “For a long time, residents in the center of town have complained that it’s a little sleepy, and they want to have more activity there. We’re finally getting some actual development and change. The project will be a real catalyst for the center of town.”

The former post office on Crane Park Drive recently changed ownership and could be repurposed as commercial office space, he added, while a new cosmetology business, Inner Glow Skin Studio, is moving in. Meanwhile, the old Masonic Hall on Woodland Dell Road was purchased by a local resident who is converting it to office space for his dental-management business.

“We’re taking a property that was tax-exempt and putting it back on the tax rolls,” Smith added.

Also along Main Street, Rice’s Fruit Farm and adjoining Fern Valley Farms have been enjoying a strong year, with pick-your-own-apples business boosted by cooperative weather and families looking for something to do. In fact, Rice’s has been working with town Planning and Zoning officials on parking expansions to accommodate the enterprise’s growth.

“It’s been very successful,” Smith said, adding that a parking crunch is, in one sense, a good problem to have. “They’re kind of taking the next step.”

Developing Stories

Wilbraham also has two solar farms under construction, a 1.4-MW project on Tinkham Road and a 3.4-MW project on Beebe Road; the latter development straddles the Hampden town line, with another 2 MW available for that community.

Another development in the works is part of a ‘community compact’ to identify and explore the potential for expanding municipal fiber along Boston Road to determine how that might impact business opportunities.

“There’s a need for fiber and high-speed internet,” Smith said. “We moved some time ago to be a municipal light plant, which means we can essentially be a supplier of high-speed internet.”

“There’s a broadband committee, being coordinated by our IT director, to move that project forward,” Pearsall added.

Residential growth advances slowly in a small town, but some trends have emerged. Even before COVID-19 struck, Pearsall noted, more people were starting to work from home.

“We’ve seen a lot more interest and activity from people trying to do home-based businesses,” he said. “We’ve also seen a lot of interest in so-called in-law apartments in town, and we have zoning for that, where elderly parents own a home and want their children to live with them, or the children own the home and create an apartment for their parents. That seems very popular right now.”

It’s another way times are changing and town leaders must adapt — in a year when they’ve certainly had plenty of practice.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]


 

First Responders Luncheon

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual First Responders Luncheon. Pictured below, from top to bottom: chamber board members and event organizers (from left) Hannah Rechtschaffen of the Mill District, Beth Pearson of Pearson Wallace Insurance, and Heidi Flanders of Integrity Development and Construction, gather outside Pasta E Basta to receive fresh lunches to deliver to first responders in seven communities the chamber serves; Amherst firefighters and EMTs gather for lunch at North Station, flanked by Rechtschaffen and Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber; Pearson (left) delivers meals to the Leverett Police and Fire departments.

 

 

 


 

Strike Out Hunger

KFC was the presenting sponsor of the Westfield Starfires Strike Out Hunger Campaign, donating $10 for every strikeout at Bullens Field during the 2020 season. $1,500 was presented at the Starfires season finale to benefit the Westfield Boys & Girls Club summer meals program. Pictured: Starfires Manager Tony Deshler, Director of Baseball Operations Evan Moorhouse, Westfield Boys and Girls Club Chief Advancement Officer Bo Sullivan, Starfires co-owner Christopher Thompson, Westfield Boys & Girls Club CEO Bill Parks, and Starfires pitcher of the year and strikeout leader Chase Jeter.

 

 

 

 


 

Agenda

Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Sept. 30, Oct. 28: Tanisha Arena, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Arise for Social Justice, and Pam Victor, owner of Happier Valley Comedy, will be the featured presenters on Wednesday, Sept. 30, during the third session of the 2020 Virtual Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series. Arena and Victor will present “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice” from noon to 1 p.m. over Zoom. The series, postponed from spring because of COVID-19, is sponsored by Holyoke Community College and Training and Workforce Options, a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Each of four lunchtime events features two presenters leading discussions on different topics. For the final session on Oct. 28, Colleen Loveless, president and CEO of Revitalize Community Development Corp., and Nicole Palange, vice president of V&F Auto, will lead a discussion titled “Women Leaders in Non-traditional Businesses.” Each session costs $20, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

Virtual Info Session for WSU Master of Social Work Program

Oct. 7: Westfield State University’s (WSU) College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE) will host a virtual information session for the master of social work program at 6 p.m. on Zoom. The program, one of only four located in Western Mass., is also offered at the YWCA at Salem Square in Worcester. The master of social work (MSW) program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and prepares students to become licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) and to work in a variety of positions in the human-services field. The program aims to prepare advanced-level social-work practitioners who have specialized knowledge and skills for clinical practice, based on a firm generalist foundation. “The MSW program at Westfield State University provides students with a competitive, accessible, and affordable social-work education,” program Director Maria del Mar Farinam said. “As future social-work professionals, students will be exceptionally well-prepared to meet the increasingly complex needs of the diverse communities served by our profession.” With full- or part-time options — and the consistency of having all of one’s classes on Monday and Thursday evenings — the MSW program offers flexibility and affordability. Information-session attendees will have an opportunity to speak with faculty and members of the outreach team about the program and its application process. The $50 application fee will be waived for all attendees. To RSVP, visit www.gobacknow.com. For more information, call (413) 572-8020 or e-mail [email protected].

40 Under Forty

Oct. 7-8: BusinessWest’s celebration of the 40 Under Forty class of 2020, rescheduled from June, will be held at the upper vista at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. This two-day event will include two sessions each day, ‘mini-events’ where we will celebrate 10 honorees at a time, with their guests and event sponsors in attendance, and ‘virtual guests’ able to access a live stream as the class of 2020 — and this year’s Alumni Achievement Award winners, Carla Cosenzi and Peter DePergola — take to the stage to accept their awards. For a list of this year’s honorees, visit businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40-under-forty. The 40 Under Forty program is sponsored by Health New England and PeoplesBank (presenting sponsors), and Comcast Business, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, and Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, with event partners WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield.

STCC Virtual Open House

Oct. 14-15: Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will hold its annual fall open house on two dates: Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Thursday, Oct. 15 from 1 to 3:30 p.m., in a virtual format. High-school students, adult learners, and their family members can log into Zoom and meet virtually with representatives from the college’s degree and certificate programs and departments. For information about registering to attend the virtual event, visit stcc.edu/apply/open-house. Open to the public, STCC’s open house is an opportunity for anyone thinking about becoming a student to learn more about what the college has to offer, including associate-degree and certificate programs, transfer opportunities, financial aid, athletics and student life, online learning, workforce-training options, high-school equivalency exam (HiSET), and classes for English language learners. Representatives from specific programs and departments will hold breakout sessions to speak with anyone who joins. For more information, contact the STCC Admissions Office at (413) 755-3333 or [email protected]. To apply to STCC, visit stcc.edu/apply. STCC is accepting applications for Fall Flex Term 2, which starts Oct. 28, and for the spring term, which begins in January.

Company Notebook

Big Y Expands Legacy of Helping Farmers and Small Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — In 1936, Paul and Gerry D’Amour were passionate about providing fresh local food to their customers at the Y Cash Market in Chicopee. Today, close to 85 years after its founding, Big Y World Class Markets have more than 500 partnerships with local farmers like Meadowbrook Farms and local food producers like Millie’s Pierogi. The passion of its founders continues with Big Y announcing the Fresh & Local Distribution Center, which provides local farmers and food producers with an efficient, one-stop location that saves them the time and cost of delivering to individual stores. It also features state-of-the-art technology and temperature controls to help Big Y maintain and deliver food at the peak of freshness to customers. Currently, through Big Y’s Fresh & Local Distribution Center, 70 farmers — accounting for more than 9,000 acres of farmland in the region — supply Big Y’s stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut with 1,200 types of native fruits and vegetables each year. For many farmers, this partnership helps them grow their business and preserve farmland and open space in area communities. More that 3,000 different products from local food producers can be found at a typical Big Y supermarket. Big Y actively searches for new craft-food artisans to bring into their stores and can provide them with support for marketing and packaging, help with barcodes, or even advice on business matters like insurance. The new Fresh & Local Distribution center has close to 425,000 square feet of space and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is located adjacent to Big Y headquarters at 2145 Roosevelt Ave. in Springfield.

Elms College Climbs U.S. News List of ‘Top Performers on Social Mobility’

CHICOPEE — Elms College improved its ranking by 30 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Top Performers on Social Mobility” in the northern U.S. region. The list ranks schools for enrolling and graduating large proportions of students who have received federal Pell Grants. Elms College improved its ranking dramatically, moving to seventh among 89 regional universities in the region, up from 37th in 2020. On U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Best Regional Universities,” Elms College retains its ranking in the top 55% among 176 other colleges and universities in the northern U.S. region. U.S. News ranks Elms College as a university because of changes to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s basic classification system and the number of graduate programs Elms offers. The Carnegie categories are the accepted standard in U.S. higher education. The U.S. News “Best Colleges” rankings are designed to help students and their families find colleges that offer the best academic value for their money. The list provides at-a-glance breakdowns of each institution and ranks them based on such indicators of excellence including value and first-year student retention rate. The full rankings are viewable at www.usnews.com/colleges.

MCLA Ranked a Top Ten Collegeby U.S. News & World Report

NORTH ADAMS — For the third consecutive year, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is ranked as a Top Ten College by U.S. News & World Report. MCLA ranks ninth on the organization’s list of top public colleges and also appears on U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges. The college also is ranked among the top 50 public and private schools on U.S. News’ Top Performers on Social Mobility list, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000. Only eight other public colleges are ranked higher than MCLA on this list. The college has appeared on U.S. News’ list of top public colleges for eight of the last 10 years. This year, during the pandemic, MCLA was also able to distribute more than $257,000 to students who found themselves dire economic circumstances due to COVID-19 through the MCLA Resiliency Fund. MCLA was also awarded a federal TRIO grant, which will provide $1.3 million to enhance our support for under-resourced students for the next five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, faculty, and financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

WSU Among Top Public Universities in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University (WSU) is again one of Massachusetts’ top public universities among its peers, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2021 list. The rankings underscore the university’s commitment to accessibility, affordability, and intentional outcomes. In this year’s release, Westfield State is ranked 90th among 170 institutions in “Regional Universities – North.” It is ranked ahead of its peer Massachusetts state universities in both that category and U.S. News’ Best Public Schools, where it placed 26th. Rankings were determined by a number of factors, including a peer assessment, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, class sizes, student/faculty ratio, student selectivity, and alumni-giving rate.

HCC Awarded Grants to Support Childcare Professionals

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $1 million to continue educating and training early-childhood educators and supporting the programs they work for in Western Mass. Both the Career Pathways Grant, for $680,000, and the Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant, for $360,000, come from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which licenses public and private childcare programs in the state. HCC is the lead agent on a six-month Career Pathways Grant that will allow the college to continue its free Childhood Development Associate Plus (CDA-Plus) certificate program. The program was created to help early-childhood educators already working in the field attain their national CDA credential or enhance their certification level, and is offered at no cost to participants. Greenfield Community College and Berkshire Community College are HCC’s partners in the Western Mass. consortium. The three colleges each have their own CDA-Plus programs and collaborate on implementation and support. HCC launched its CDA-Plus program in 2019 after an initial, year-long grant of $2 million to the consortium from the EEC. Students who complete the program are awarded a CDA-Plus certificate and can apply the credits they earn toward an associate degree in early childhood education from HCC. The grant covers all tuition, fees, books, and a $425 CDA credentialing fee, and includes a stipend of about $500 for unexpected costs. HCC graduated its first class of CDA-Plus students in June. A second group started in January 2020 and will complete their program in November. The new funding will pay for a third class set to begin their studies this month. The $360,000 Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant follows an initial award in 2019, establishing HCC as the EEC’s professional-development center for Western Mass.

Local Bus Company First to Use New Disinfectant System

GILL — F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., a family-owned school transportation provider since 1925, is the first and only transportation company in the country to use a new system designed specifically for disinfecting buses. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, the bus company approached Bete Fog Nozzle Inc. in Greenfield about developing a system which would quickly, consistently, and accurately apply an EPA- and CDC-approved disinfecting agent to the interior environment of each of its more than 100 school buses. Working closely with Ted Toothaker, systems engineer at Bete Fog Nozzle, testing and development began in early May. The system, dubbed Bete FastPASS (public area spray system), ends the need for manual spraying and was specifically designed to eliminate human error. Using high-pressure nozzles and air compressors, two buses are treated in just three minutes. Each bus is treated twice a day.

Collaboration Between UMass, IntelliVen Supports Lifelong Learning

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced a new collaboration with IntelliVen, a leading executive-team-development organization, to provide interactive remote-learning programs designed to raise the performance and effectiveness of leadership teams. IntelliVen offers immersive programs designed to help an organization’s core leadership team tackle the unique challenges of managing a growing organization, especially in today’s turbulent markets. IntelliVen’s proprietary set of course modules enables an interactive, remote learning experience that leaders take along with their teams to unlock their true potential to perform and grow. “IntelliVen teaches leaders, teams, and organizations to set direction, achieve team alignment, implement strategy, and make the change they want to grow faster and perform better,” said Peter DiGiammarino, managing partner. Members of the university community will receive a discount on the standard price of IntelliVen’s leadership-development immersion programs.

JetBlue Adds Four New Non-stop Routes at Bradley

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced non-stop service to four new destinations from Bradley International Airport on JetBlue, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cancún, Mexico. The new service to Cancún is slated to commence on Nov. 19, while service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all slated to begin on Dec. 18. This new service will compliment JetBlue’s existing non-stop routes from Bradley to numerous Florida destinations as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. “JetBlue is an important partner for us, and we are very pleased to see that the airline recognizes the potential of the Bradley Airport market,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA.

Picture This

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Feed the Body – Feed the Mind

Link to Libraries and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts announced a partnership to provide books and meals to hundreds of local families in need in Western Mass. In partnership with Northampton Radio Group and Springfield Rocks Radio Group, the organizations launched the “Feed the Body – Feed the Mind” campaign, distributing children’s books and meals to families at several Food Bank member organizations’ designated meal-pickup sites in Springfield, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Holyoke.

 

 


 

Red Alert


Springfield was among cities nationwide to participate in a Red Alert event on Sept. 1 to draw attention to the plight of the entertainment and live-event industry. Zasco Productions, LLC lit up downtown Springfield (pictured) in the color red to raise awareness of the 12 million event professionals currently out of work due to COVID-related economic shutdowns. In addition, CJC Event Lighting lit up its offices, Chez Josef, and the Log Cabin.

 


 

 

Agenda

Gap-semester Course on Social-justice Issues

Sept. 21 to Dec. 21: Bay Path University has put together a unique course for recent high-school graduates looking to explore ways they can impact movements for social justice. The course, “Exploring Pathways to Social Justice,” will combine lectures, discussions, videos, readings, and virtual, experiential learning through the context of history, legal studies, and communications. In addition, the students will participate in presentations by professionals who have channeled their visions for a more just world into careers advocating for social justice and leading their communities. The three-credit course runs from Sept. 21 to Dec. 21 and is open to recent high-school graduates and college students, whether enrolled at Bay Path University; its online program, the American Women’s College; or any other institution, as well as students who are taking a gap semester while they evaluate their college options. Registration runs until Sept. 16. The class is a collaboration between several faculty members and will explore social-justice movements, trace the historical roots of the civil-rights struggle, investigate how race factors into the contemporary criminal justice system, and consider strategies for change. Students will be challenged to apply their passion for social justice while learning to express themselves and developing practical skills for academic and professional settings. Through the course material and ongoing opportunities for conversation, they will connect with other students and become part of an inspired, motivated network. “We created this class for students who may be using this time away from their schools to contemplate how and where to channel their voice and their passion for social justice, as they begin to think about their long-term goals, personally and professionally,” said Gwen Jordan, director of Bay Path’s Justice and Legal Studies department. She will be teaching sections on the criminal justice system, including a focus on the movement devoted to exonerating the wrongly convicted and reforming the system. Additional course information and a registration link are available at www.baypath.edu/academics/undergraduate-programs/the-american-womens-college-online/academics/gap-semester-course.

‘HiSET to Medical Sciences’

Sept. 23: Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) is offering a course that helps students get their high-school equivalency diploma while introducing them to the field of medical science. Offered through the Springfield Adult Learning Center at STCC, the class, called “HiSET to Medical Sciences,” prepares students for the high-school equivalency test (HiSET) while teaching them medical terminology. The class will be offered in three sessions this year, the first beginning Wednesday, Sept. 23. STCC offers an associate degree in health science, which provides the opportunity to explore specialty areas for a career in healthcare, as well as a number of specialized health programs, such as diagnostic medical sonography, dental hygiene, and nursing. The class, which is free for eligible students, will be taught online. To apply or for more information, visit stcc.edu/explore/communityed/adult-learning. For questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 755-4300.

Difference Makers

Sept. 24: BusinessWest’s celebration of the Difference Makers class of 2020, rescheduled from March, will be a hybrid event, with the honorees and sponsors gathered at the Upper Vista at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, and other guests taking in the proceedings virtually. The class of 2020 includes: Christopher (Monte) Belmonte, DJ at WRSI the River Radio and creator of Monte’s March; Ira Bryck, consultant and former executive director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley; Sandy Cassanelli, CEO of Greeno Supply; Dianne Fuller Doherty, retired director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network; Ronn Johnson, president and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank; and Rick’s Place. Guests who have purchased tickets for the event, originally scheduled for March at the Log Cabin, will be able to pick up a boxed meal, a program guide for the event, and gifts from event sponsors at locations to be announced at a later date. The Difference Makers program for 2020 is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England, Royal P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, with nonprofit partners MHA Inc., the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, and United Way of Pioneer Valley.

‘Run for the Bar’

Sept. 26: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold its seventh annual 5K/10K Run/Walk Race Judicata, “A Run for the Bar.” For the safety of the participants, spectators, and volunteers, and to adhere to the current safety guidelines, the event will be held virtually. Proceeds from the event will benefit the William J. Boyle Scholarship, the Colonel Archer B. Battista Veterans Scholarship, and the Children’s Law Project. The cost for the 5K is $30, and the 5K is $40. All registrants will receive a shirt and water bottle. Registration is now available at bit.ly/3gTjult. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Virtual Info Session for WSU Accounting Graduate Program

Sept. 29: The College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE) at Westfield State University will host a virtual information session for the master of science in accounting (MSA) program at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The graduate program is designed to foster leadership skills and prepare students for successful careers in public and private accounting. It allows students to complete the additional 30 credit hours necessary to fulfill the educational requirements for the certified public accountancy (CPA) license in Massachusetts and several other states. The program offers a foundation curriculum for students who have a business background but lack the necessary coursework in accounting to complete a series of prerequisite courses as part of the master’s program. This curriculum can be completed entirely online with courses offered on a rotating basis (students can also take courses in person). The advanced curriculum is for students with an undergraduate major or concentration in accounting. It includes 10 courses (the majority are offered in a hybrid format, and certain courses are 100% online) that can be completed in only two semesters. The MSA program offers students flexibility and affordability to achieve a greater degree of sophistication in accounting and auditing. Information-session attendees will have an opportunity to speak with faculty and members of the outreach team about the program and its application process. The $50 application fee will be waived for all attendees. To RSVP, visit www.gobacknow.com. For more information, call (413) 572-8020 or e-mail [email protected]

 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Gourmet to Go Inc., 26 Perry Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Stephen A. Amato, same. On-site catering and food preparation.

ATHOL

King’s Memorials Inc., 1265 South Main St., Athol, MA 01331. Peter D. King, 5 Sanders Street, Apt. B, Athol, MA 01331. Design, carve, and sell public memorials.

CHICOPEE

Hidden Tradition Distilling Company, 185 Frontenac St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Michael Alan Styckiewicz, same. Alcoholic beverages and distilled spirits.

CUMMINGTON

Hilltown Vision Fund Inc., 17 Packard Road, Cummington, MA 01026. Kathryn Regina Eiseman, same. To support activities that further a common vision for an ecologically and financially sustainable rural economy and culture in the Hampshire County.

EAST LONGMEADOW

KM Corporate Services, 82 Birch Ave., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Alfred Adegboyegun, same. Provide physician support services and innovation.

GRANBY

Kingston Estates Inc., 83 Harris St., Granby, MA 01033. Nolan R. Hodgins, same. Purchase, sell, improve, manage, rent real estate.

GREAT BARRINGTON

Jetstream Support Services Inc., 777 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. Rebecca Shoval, 407 East 12th St., New York, NY 10009. Provision of payroll, benefits and other support.

LENOX

Holborn Foundation Limited, 14 Pine Knoll Road, Lenox, MA 01240. Yuko Torigoe, 27 Langley Road, Newton Center, MA 02459. Promotes experimentation in cultural design, supports discovery, and seeks to support and document important conclusions about the crossroads of technology, philanthropy, and creative culture.

PITTSFIELD

Honey Am Home Corp., 82 Wendell Ave., Ste 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Yeyson Pimentel, same. Sale of honey and organic products.

JI Mei Inc., 26 Dunham Mall, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Kang Chen, same. Limited-service restaurant.

Kessler Alair Insurance Services Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Charles Kessler, same. Insurance sales.

Krupa Realty Inc., 31 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Rakeshkumar Vyas, 12 West Dr., Edison, N.J. 08820. Gas station.

SHELBURNE FALLS

Guaranteed Power International Inc., 398 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. Calvin M., Clarak, 745 Williamsburg Road, Ashfield, MA 01330. Make, buy, market, and sell automobile and truck component parts.

SPRINGFIELD

GreenGrab Inc., 172 Birchland Ave., Springfield, MA 01119. Odaliz Breton, same. On demand delivery platform.

Hancock Used Tires Inc., 556 St. James Ave., Springfield, MA 01109. Jose Vardes, same. Operating of an auto tire service business.

Hipress Corp., 432 Belmont Ave., Springfield, MA 01108. Ramon E. Espinal, 23 Tulsa St., Springfield, MA 01118. Retail sales.

WESTFIELD

K&K Services Inc., 16 Hunters Slope, Westfield, MA 01085. Kirill Katalnikov, same. Plumbing and HVAC services.

WILLIAMSTOWN

Growth Generation Inc., 228 Main St., Apt. 129, Williamstown, MA 01267. Arthur Aronov, same. Retail sales.

Coronavirus Features Special Coverage

Plane Speaking

Travelers at Bradley

Travelers at Bradley (and there are fewer of them) will find a number of new protocols, from mandatory face coverings to more frequent cleaning and sanitizing.

Bradley International Airport has a contract with a medical laboratory willing to conduct COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers.

Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA), which manages the airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., thinks that would be an ideal way for healthy travelers to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine instituted by Gov. Ned Lamont in July.

But state leaders turned that option down.

“We have a lab that’s willing to start testing here, yet we can’t convince the Department of Public Health to allow that to occur. It makes no sense,” Dillon said. “Because what’s impacting us now is the travel advisory that’s been put in place here in Connecticut.”

According to the policy, both tourists visiting from other states and Connecticut residents returning from vacations in COVID-infested areas are required to fill out a travel advisory form and indicate where they will self-quarantine. Failure to do so incurs a $1,000 fine.

“Unfortunately, the airlines are reacting to the travel advisory by pulling flights out of the airport,” Dillon explained. “As you can imagine, it’s very, very difficult for someone to take a week vacation and then, when they come back, have to take a two-week quarantine. The same goes for business travel — people aren’t going away for two days when they have to quarantine for 14. That’s had a pretty chilling effect on our level of recovery.”

It’s a recovery — if one can call it that — from the most dramatic loss of business airports across the country have ever experienced, the post-9/11 period included. In April, passenger volume at Bradley was down 98% compared to the same period last year. The airport has recovered some of its volume, but a typical day is still some 70% to 75% below 2019 numbers. And the state of Connecticut is doing the airport no favors with one of the most rigid travelers’ advisories in the nation.

Kevin Dillon

Kevin Dillon

“Airports are competing for some very limited airline assets, aircraft and flights, so we want to present a market that’s viable. This travel advisory really starts to skew how some carriers look at Connecticut and Bradley Airport and this region.”

“I’m not questioning the medical necessity of a travel advisory — I’m not qualified to question that, and I take folks at their word that it’s is a necessary thing,” Dillon told BusinessWest. “What we have asked for here is a testing option. If you get a negative COVID test, you should be able to avoid a 14-day quarantine period. Massachusetts is doing that.”

He has other questions — including why it’s OK to cross the border for a funeral, but not a business meeting — and they all come, he said, from a place of common sense. “We’re not questioning the travel advisory, but I do think testing here at Bradley would make all the sense in the world.”

If the impact of discouraging interstate travel was a short-term thing, it would be less frustrating, but Dillon is looking far beyond 2020, when airlines will emerge from the pandemic as much smaller companies, with fewer planes to spread around the nation’s airports, and some tough decisions to make about where to put them.

“They’re really having a struggle,” he said, with some airlines saying they don’t expect to return to normal operations until 2023 or 2024. “There are going to be winners and losers coming out of this.”

This is true, he said, not only of airlines, but of airports.

“Airports are competing for some very limited airline assets, aircraft and flights, so we want to present a market that’s viable,” Dillon explained. “This travel advisory really starts to skew how some carriers look at Connecticut and Bradley Airport and this region. It’s a concern of ours not only for today but as we look to the future — what damage we’re doing to our relationships to airlines as well as their view of this market.”

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is easier when terminals are less crowded, as they are now.

For this issue’s focus on transportation, BusinessWest spoke with Dillon about how Bradley is navigating an unprecedented business challenge, and why it’s important to keep investing in the future, because the future is where this story really gets interesting.

Shifting on the Fly

Even before COVID-19 was a thing, Dillon often spoke about how Bradley was constantly competing on two levels: with Logan and the New York airports for passengers, and with every airport in the country for those precious aircraft assets. On thar front, Connecticut’s mandatory quarantine isn’t helping.

“Airlines have to be in locations like Boston and New York simply because of the population and business volume. But airlines have alternatives in terms of not having to serve Bradley and still serving a good portion of this market area,” he explained. “I don’t think it would serve the area really well without us, but an airline trying to skinny down as a result of cost-cutting measures could very well look at it that way.”

The more pressing issue in 2020 has been plummeting demand, of course. “If we don’t have passengers coming through the airport, airlines cut back, we don’t get airline fees, and no one’s here utilizing concessions, parking, renting cars, all the businesses here. When your business is off 75% to 80%, you have a corresponding drop in revenue. It’s a difficult balancing act.”

Dillon said Bradley was fortunate to receive some financial assistance from the CARES Act, which allocated $10 billion to airports across the country. Based on the allocation formula, Bradley received $28 million, which sounds like a lot of money, he went on, but to put it in perspective, that covers about three months of operating expenses and debt service. And the pandemic-related travel slowdown is now well into its sixth month.

“We are fortunate that, as an airport authority, we did create what I consider some healthy reserves, and we will rely on those reserves to some extent, but it wouldn’t be prudent to exhaust our reserves,” he said, noting that they impact bond ratings, among other things.

Bradley did institute a hiring freeze, not replacing most employees who chose to retire this year, and has cut department budgets by 10% to 20%. The CAA is also looking at further measures, including a voluntary severance program.

“It is a goal of ours to try to prevent involuntary severances,” Dillon said. “We don’t want to get to a place where we’re talking about layoffs. For now, that’s off the table. We tried to make a commitment to the employee base — first and foremost, to protect their health, and second, to protect their paycheck. As you can imagine, it’s a challenge.”

About $20 million in capital projects are on hold as well, but some are moving on, including an airport-wide restroom-renovation project that should be complete by October, and features a largely touchless experience with sinks, soap dispensers, hand dryers, and more. These features were planned well in advance of the pandemic, but Dillon said travelers will appreciate them more now.

“People want a safe, healthy, clean environment, and we try to deliver that the best we can,” he noted. “Folks think differently about hygiene in public places now; they have different expectations.”

Other protocols in place at Bradley include the expected: mandatory face coverings, more frequent cleaning and sanitization efforts at high-touchpoint areas, plenty of hand-sanitizer stations, signage detailing physical distancing rules, and plexiglass shields in high-passenger-interaction areas.

Some airlines have committed to limited capacity on planes as well, Dillon said, citing Southwest and Delta as two examples. And the airport is developing touchless kiosks where travelers don’t have to interact with an agent or touch the screen to activate the ticketing process.

Bradley’s restrooms

A major renovation of Bradley’s restrooms, including many touchless features to discourage the spread of germs, began well before the pandemic.

“The key for us is to keep differentiating ourselves from our larger competitors,” he told BusinessWest. “We want people to understand that Bradley is going above and beyond in terms of sanitizing and cleaning the facilities. And Bradley might represent a better option because it’s less congested. We’re going to keep highlighting to the traveling public why Bradley is a better alternative.”

View from the Ground

Again, however, all these efforts are blunted by the fact that considerably fewer people are traveling, and Connecticut is making it difficult to do so.

Airlines are struggling too, Dillon said, sending 135-passenger planes into the sky with only 25. And, like airports, they’re all having internal discussions about the future. Bradley’s five-year contract with carriers expired in June, and with no airlines in a position to sign another five-year deal, they opted for one-year extensions.

But even had longer-term contracts been in place, he explained, “I think a lot of people don’t understand how an airline agreement works. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee you full revenue coming in, because airlines pay revenue in large measure based on landing fees. Airlines can have a presence and pay rent for space, but they’re not required to operate a certain number of flights. If you have carriers cut operations in half, the landing fees we get are then cut in half from that carrier.”

As a difficult, uncertain year continues to unspool, there are a few bright spots, especially progress on a $210 million ground transportation center — expected to be fully operational in late 2021 — that will house car-rental services, expand public parking, and incorporate public-transit connections.

“All that money had been bonded prior to the pandemic, so we’re committed to the project,” Dillon said. “It will really transform the look of the airport and our operations. People who haven’t been to the airport recently will be surprised by the magnitude of the project and how it’s transforming the space out there.”

In addition, cargo business at Bradley has remained consistently strong. “I believe one factor is that people are staying home and doing a lot of online ordering, so we’re seeing small-package delivery — UPS, Fedex, and Amazon — all increase at the airport,” he noted. “Unfortunately, the revenue profile of cargo is much different than passenger traffic, as the bulk of the revenue at any airport comes from the passenger side of the house. But I appreciate that cargo is doing well right now.”

After all, in a year of startling setbacks, any good news is welcome. But what airports need now is clarity — and for people to get back on planes.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “I’m convinced that, by working smart and having employees work smart, we’ll be able to get through this. But it will be a balancing act for a while.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Features Special Coverage

On the Right Track

Jeremy Levine

Jeremy Levine says Pioneer Valley Railroad and Railroad Distribution Services have a unique business model that has led to decades of success and steady growth.

When it comes to moving freight, Jeremy Levine says, many business owners believe it comes down to a choice between rail — if it’s available — or trucks.

But in many cases, he believes, the best answer might be rail and trucks.

And this is the answer that has enabled Westfield-based sister businesses Pioneer Valley Railroad (PVRR) and its wholly owned subsidiary Railroad Distribution Services (RDS) — both Pinsly Railroad companies — to thrive for the past 35 years and remain on a steady growth trajectory.

“Railroads and trucking … they have their lobbyists in D.C. on opposite sides of the aisle trying to argue against one another,” said Levine, who is awaiting new business cards that will identify him as the company’s business-development coordinator. “But the truth is, for a short-line railroad like us, we use trucking all the time — we’re sending out hundreds of trucks a year to do the last-mile transit for our customers, either here in Westfield or all across the Northeast.”

As a short-line railroad, PVRR, as it’s known to many in this area, moves on 17 miles of operable track running north from Westfield, said Levine, the fourth-generation administrator of the company started by his great-grandfather, Samuel Pinsly. There is a branch running roughly four miles in Westfield and another branch running 13 miles into Holyoke.

The company interchanges with two class-1 railroads — Norfolk Southern and CSX — and takes freight that last mile, as Levine put it, referring to the last leg of a journey that might begin several states away or even on the other end of the country.

“The number you’ll hear is that four trucks equals one rail car. So if you looking to ship a distance or something that’s very heavy, that’s where we provide economies of scale.”

“If you want to get lumber from Louisiana, a large class-1 railroad such as CSX will bring that up, interchange with us at our yard in Westfield, and we’ll take it the last mile or miles to our customers, if they’re located directly on our line,” he explained, adding that, for customers not on the line — those without a rail siding — RDS will take it the last leg by truck via two warehouses it operates in Westfield.

And in some cases, that last leg might be dozens or even hundreds of miles, he noted, adding that rail is a less expensive, more effective way to move material, and RDS enables customers to take advantage of it, at least for part of the journey.

“The number you’ll hear is that four trucks equals one rail car’s worth of capacity,” he explained. “So if you looking to ship a distance or something that’s very heavy, that’s where we provide economies of scale.”

This has been a successful business model since 1982, and the company continues to look for growth opportunities in this region, he noted, adding that such growth can come organically, from more existing companies using this unique model, or from new companies moving into the region to take advantage of its many amenities — including infrastructure. And Pinsley Railroad owns several tracts of land along its tracks that are suitable for development, he noted.

For this issue and its focus on transportation, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at PVRR and RDS, and how those letters can add up to growth potential — for the company and the region itself.

Train of Thought

Levine told BusinessWest that, while he didn’t work at what he called the “family business” in his youth, he was around it at times, well aware of it, and always intrigued by it.

“When my grandmother was running the business, that’s when they moved the headquarters from Boston to Westfield,” said Levine, who grew up in nearby Granby. “You grow up going to the rail yard, and you’re around these people; you’re definitely going to be inclined to the business.”

But he didn’t take a direct route, as they might say in this industry, to PVRR’s headquarters on Lockhouse Road. Indeed, after graduating from George Washington University in 2015, he stayed in D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill, specifically on transportation policy. He later moved to the private sector and worked at a firm advocating for railroads.

Eventually, he decided he wanted to be a part of the family’s business and relocated to Western Mass. “It’s been quite a ride,” he said while borrowing more language from the industry, noting that he started at PVRR and RDS roughly a year ago.

He came to a company that had a small, steady, and diverse group of rail customers, some that receive thousands of rail cars of material a year and others merely a handful of cars, and more than three dozen RDS customers.

He said his new job description is essentially to generate new business, and he believes there is enormous potential to do just that — again, because of the unique business model these companies have developed and the benefits that rail (or a combination of rail and trucks known as ‘transloading’) brings to potential customers.

As Levine talked about the sister companies and how they operate together, one could hear the drone of forklifts operating in the warehouse outside his office, which led to an explanation of how it all works.

“We have some rail cars here this morning,” he explained. “They got dropped off by CSX late last night; early morning, or 3 a.m. crew [at PVRR] dropped them off here. The crews have been unloading them, staging them, and placing them outbound on trucks to head off to our various customers.”

There are other operations like this, or somewhat like this, in the Northeast, he explained, but what sets this operation apart, beyond the interchange with the two class-1 railroads, is the fact that the company owns both its railroad and distribution services.

“There are companies like our Railroad Distribution Services that are directly on CSX’s line,” he noted. “But the difference there is they don’t control the trains; I can pick up the phone and call the train operator and ask him when he’s going to be here with my rail cars, and with that comes a lot of security that your stuff is not going to backlogged or jammed up and that your deliveries are going to come on time.”

It is this security — and these benefits — that Levine is selling to potential customers. And as he goes about that task, he has the Pinsly team, if you will, focused solely on the Westfield operation and its future. Indeed, the company, which operated short-line railroads in Florida and Arkansas, has divested itself of those operations, with PVRR and RDS being the only holdings in the portfolio.

“What that has allowed us to do is reinvest and recalibrate,” he explained. “We had a very large team throughout the years and a lot of focus on Florida, where we had 250 miles of track; we can now take that talent and focus on our operations here.

“My go-to line is that ‘even you don’t have rail siding, that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from railroading,’” he continued, adding that he can back up those words with numbers, and he intends to use them to build the company’s portfolio of customers.

PVRR owns a 1930s-era passenger rail car that it calls the ‘dinner train.’ As that name suggests, it’s used for fundraising events, a customer-appreciation gathering, and even as a means to transport Santa Claus to Holyoke Heritage State Park for annual festivities there.

It hasn’t been out of the yard much in the era of COVID-19, but U.S. Rep. Richard Neal recently used it as a backdrop for an event, said Levine, adding that the dinner train has become a highly visible part of this company for decades now.

But the bottom line — in virtually every respect — is that PVRR and RDS are about getting freight, not people, from one place to another.

It’s a moving story, and one that could well add a number of new chapters in the years to come as the company tries to get customers on the right track when it comes to freight — literally and figuratively.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


 

Helping Local Kids

Carr Hardware in Pittsfield launched a program called ​“Round Up for the Schools”​ to benefit local Berkshire County school districts. Customers have the option to round up the cost of their purchases to the nearest dollar, and Carr will then match those donations and purchase needed personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, sanitizer, and other items, to donate to local schools, said company President Bart Raser (pictured). Carr Hardware will also have collection jars stationed at all locations for customers to donate.

 


 

 

Boosting Access to Food

 

Florence Bank donated $5,000 to Chesterfield’s Community Food Cupboard, which was recently established by Chesterfield’s Council on Aging and a group of volunteers to help needy families access food during the COVID-19 crisis. The team includes members of the Select Board, trustees of the Chesterfield Library, along with Council on Aging board members and the Chesterfield Finance Committee. Pictured, from left: Chesterfield Community Food Cupboard volunteer Denise Cormier, Florence Bank Branch Manager and Vice President April O’Brien, and Janice Gibeau, director of Chesterfield’s Council on Aging.

 


 

 

Ribbon Cutting at F45 Training

 

Dan and Jessye Deane recently opened F45 Training at 1464 Riverdale St. in West Springfield. The interval training studio is a franchise out of Australia that is just getting its start in the U.S. Unlike traditional box gyms, F45 blends high-intensity interval training, functional training, and circuit training and pulls from 4,100 exercises, ensuring that no workout is ever the same. Pictured, from left: Brennan McKenna, West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, Dan Deane, Jessye Deane, Charley, Brady, Cooper, and Kristina Cordova.

 


 

 

Driving for the Cure

It wasn’t exactly business — or even golf — as usual, but the 12th Annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament was staged Aug. 17 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. The field was smaller than in years past — 140 golfers — and there were other changes made due to COVID-19, but roughly $70,000 was raised to aid research into cures for brain cancer. Top to bottom: Tom Cosenzi Jr. and Carla Cosenzi, co-owners of TommyCar Auto Group and founders of the tournament, named in honor of their father, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009; Golfers line up at the registration table; The event T-shirts tell the story; over the years, the tournament has raised more than $1 million to fight brain cancer.

 


 

Open for Business

 

Sport Clips Haircuts Hadley owner Ian Coogan was joined recently by his wife, Lisa Scheff, and daughter, along with state Rep. Dan Carey, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Claudia Pazmany, and the Sport Clips team to cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony for their new location along Route 9 in Hadley.

 


 

Agenda

Real-estate Licensing Course

Sept. 9 to Oct. 15: 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 $400 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the (413) 785-1328 or visit www.rapv.com. The Realtors Assoc. has taken all necessary COVID-19 sanitary precautions in accordance with CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines to ensure the safety of its students. Classes are limited to 18 students.

Golf FORE Health Tournament

Sept. 14-15: The 31st annual Golf FORE Health Tournament, Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s only major fundraising event, will be held at the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. COVID-19 has altered every aspect of people’s personal and professional lives. Today, the need for support for the local hospital is greater than ever, and many businesses have reached out asking how to help Cooley Dickinson care for its patients and our community. This year’s tournament will be played in a social-distancing format with tee times every 10 minutes starting at 8 a.m., and will now be played over two days and adhere to all current Massachusetts COVID-19 golf guidelines. Each team will play on one of the two days. This means the annual post-event banquet will not take place, but organizers say they have been able to incorporate some exciting new tournament additions and give sponsors the greatest amount of exposure. The lead platinum sponsors are bankESB and MJ Moran Inc. To secure a team or to sponsor the event, visit www.cooleydickinson.org/golf. Questions should be directed to Jennifer Margolis at [email protected] or (413) 582-2255.

Virtual Information Session on WSU Graduate Programs

Sept. 23: A virtual information session for Westfield State University’s (WSU) master’s degrees in counseling and applied behavior analysis will be held at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Individuals interested in careers as behavior analysts, clinicians, family and marriage counselors, and guidance or adjustment counselors should consider attending to learn how a graduate degree could help them attain one of these positions. The Department of Psychology offers a 60-credit graduate program designed to serve the student who plans to enter the applied fields of counseling or psychology after receiving a master of arts degree. The program offers four specialized tracks: school guidance counseling, school adjustment counseling, forensic mental-health counseling, and mental-health counseling. Westfield State also offers a 48-credit master of arts degree in applied behavior analysis to individuals who work, or aspire to work, in a number of different settings, such as schools, including regular and special-education classrooms; business and industry; healthcare; and other community-based settings. Information-session attendees will have an opportunity to speak with faculty and members of the outreach team about the program and its application process. The $50 application fee will be waived for all attendees. To RSVP, visit www.gobacknow.com. For more information, call (413) 572-8020 or e-mail [email protected].

Difference Makers

Sept. 24: BusinessWest has rescheduled its celebration of the Difference Makers Class of 2020 for Sept. 24. This will be a hybrid event, with the honorees and sponsors gathered at the Upper Vista at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, with other guests taking in the proceedings virtually. The Class of 2020 includes: Christopher (Monte) Belmonte, DJ at WRSI the River Radio and creator of Monte’s March; Ira Bryck, consultant and former executive director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley; Sandy Cassanelli, CEO of Greeno Supply; Dianne Fuller Doherty, retired director of the Mass. Small Business Development Center Network; Ronn Johnson, president and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank; and Rick’s Place. Guests who have purchased tickets for the event, originally scheduled for March at the Log Cabin, will be able to pick up a boxed meal, a program guide for the event, and gifts from events sponsors at locations to be announced at a later date. The Difference Makers program for 2020 is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health of New England, Royal P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, with non-profit partners MHA Inc., the Tom Cosenzi Drive for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, and United Way of Pioneer Valley.

40 Under Forty:

Oct. 8: BusinessWest has rescheduled its celebration of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2020 for Oct. 8 at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield. This will be a drive-in event, with more than 400 attendees expected to park at the spacious lot at the dealership, tailgate next to their cars (a boxed meal, gifts from sponsors, and a program guide will be presented to each attendee upon arrival), and watch the Class of 2020 — and this year’s Alumni Achievement Award winner — take to the stage to accept their awards. For a list of this year’s honorees, visit https://businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40-under-forty. The 40 Under Forty program is being sponsored by Health New England and PeoplesBank (presenting sponsors), and Comcast Business, UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management, and Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, with event partners WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield.

Gap-semester Course on Social-justice Issues

Sept. 21 to Dec. 21: Bay Path University has put together a unique course for recent high-school graduates looking to explore ways they can impact movements for social justice. The course, “Exploring Pathways to Social Justice,” will combine lectures, discussions, videos, readings, and virtual, experiential learning through the context of history, legal studies, and communications. In addition, the students will participate in presentations by professionals who have channeled their visions for a more just world into careers advocating for social justice and leading their communities. The three-credit course runs from Sept. 21 to Dec. 21 and is open to recent high-school graduates and college students, whether enrolled at Bay Path University; its online program, the American Women’s College; or any other institution, as well as students who are taking a gap semester while they evaluate their college options. Registration runs until Sept. 16. The class is a collaboration between several faculty members and will explore social-justice movements, trace the historical roots of the civil-rights struggle, investigate how race factors into the contemporary criminal justice system, and consider strategies for change. Students will be challenged to apply their passion for social justice while learning to express themselves and developing practical skills for academic and professional settings. Through the course material and ongoing opportunities for conversation, they will connect with other students and become part of an inspired, motivated network. “We created this class for students who may be using this time away from their schools to contemplate how and where to channel their voice and their passion for social justice, as they begin to think about their long-term goals, personally and professionally,” said Gwen Jordan, director of Bay Path’s Justice and Legal Studies department. She will be teaching sections on the criminal justice system, including a focus on the movement devoted to exonerating the wrongly convicted and reforming the system. Additional course information and a registration link are available at www.baypath.edu/academics/undergraduate-programs/the-american-womens-college-online/academics/gap-semester-course.

People on the Move
Joan Kagan

Joan Kagan

Following a human-services career spanning more than 45 years, Square One President and CEO Joan Kagan has announced plans to retire. Kagan has served in her current role since 2003. Although her retirement will take effect on Dec. 31, 2020, Kagan will continue to serve the agency as an advisor to support the leadership team during transition. “When you think about the nonprofit community in Western Massachusetts, the name Joan Kagan immediately comes to mind,” said Peter Testori, chair of Square One’s board of directors and dean of Academic Support Services and assistant Title IX coordinator at Bay Path University. “For decades, Joan has been a champion for the well-being and education of our region’s children. Her passion and commitment have positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and families.” Under Kagan’s leadership, Square One (formerly known as Springfield Day Nursery) expanded its offerings from providing child care exclusively to a full menu of family-support services. This expansion was built upon Kagan’s experience as a child and family social worker and her in-depth understanding of the need for all children to have a high-quality early education, nurturing adults to care for them, and a safe and healthy community in which to live. A committee of Square One staff and board members, as well as other community leaders, will conduct a search to determine the next president and CEO.

•••••

Nathaniel Munson

Nathaniel Munson

Leighanne Sullivan

Leighanne Sullivan

bankESB promoted Nathaniel Munson to assistant vice president – portfolio manager, and announced that Leighanne Sullivan has joined the bank’s Marketing Department as its social-media coordinator. Munson joined bankESB in 2018 as portfolio manager, and prior to that was with Westfield Bank for six years, most recently as senior credit analyst. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and is an active member of the Mountain View Baptist Church in Holyoke, currently serving as a trustee, Sunday school director, and youth leader. Prior to joining bankESB, Sullivan was a marketing assistant with Project Look Sharp in Ithaca, N.Y., and before that was a marketing intern with Westfield Bank and a public-relations and social-media intern with Sarah Hall Productions. She will be responsible for maintaining the bank’s social-media presence across all platforms as well as those of the member banks of its parent company, Hometown Financial Group. Additionally, she will produce video content and serve as the primary administrator for the company intranet. This spring, Sullivan earned her bachelor’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Ithaca College, where she was a participant in the college’s Leadership Academy and a member of the women’s crew team.

•••••

Richard Juang

Richard Juang

Attorney Richard Juang has joined the Royal Law Firm. He brings to Royal a decade of experience working with nonprofits and small businesses on their core operations and transactions. He also provides clients with Massachusetts legislative and public-policy advocacy. Juang’s clients have ranged from human-services organizations to cannabis entrepreneurs to restauranteurs, reflecting the breadth of economic activity that makes Massachusetts a vibrant state in which to live and work. He is available to represent clients in transactions, regulatory and nonprofit compliance, and administrative-law matters. For clients facing legislative, regulatory, or public-policy changes, he is also able to help them navigate the Massachusetts legislative, budgetary, and regulatory landscapes. Juang received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and his juris doctor from Northeastern University. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts.

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Justin Monell

Justin Monell

Elms College announced the hiring of Justin Monell as director of Career Services. Monell will help ensure that current Elms students are career-ready by providing them resources to help determine their career path, find internships in their field of study, prepare for graduate school, or look for employment. He will also be a resource for alumni seeking assistance with job searches, networking, or planning for a career change. Throughout his career, Monell has worked in various roles within student affairs, career services, and student success. Most recently, he was assistant director of Career Development at Clark University in Worcester. He has also worked in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of South Florida and the Center for Advising & Student Success at Florida International University. Monell holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science from the University of Connecticut and a master of education degree in student affairs administration from Springfield College.

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Tyra Good

Tyra Good

Elms College announced the appointment of Tyra Good as the college’s first faculty director of the Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE). Good has more than 10 years of experience teaching education, and, most recently, she was assistant professor of Practice in Education at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. In this new position, she is responsible for the strategic oversight and management of the college’s efforts to address this issue. The CEUE was launched in September 2019 to increase the number and diversity of qualified teachers in the Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield school systems. In these school systems, the racial and ethnic composition of teachers is not representative of the students. This area also experiences an annual 800-teacher gap across K-12 schools, especially in specific roles such as special education, English-language learners, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Through a partnership with philanthropists, school districts, and charter-school networks, and with a reimagined curriculum, Elms College and Good aim to increase the pipeline of teachers, including teachers of color, who are culturally prepared to inspire the students whom they teach. Good is the founder and chief academic consultant for GOOD Knowledge Connections and the founder of the Black Educators Network (BEN) of Greater Pittsburgh. The BEN is a strategic team of K-12, higher-education, and community educators working across school-district and community lines to help ensure the academic and personal success of African-American youth from underserved communities. For her dedication and commitment to diversifying the teaching pipeline and preparing pre-service teachers to work in urban settings, Good has received myriad award recognitions. Most recently, she was awarded a 2019 National Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship through Big Picture Learning and Internationals Network for Public Schools. Good received her bachelor’s degree in business management from Howard University, a master’s degree in teaching from Chatham University, and a doctorate in educational leadership and evaluation from Duquesne University.

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Loretta Dansereau

Loretta Dansereau

River East School-to-Career Inc. announced that Director Loretta Dansereau will retire in August after more than 16 years of service to the organization. Dansereau has been the driving force behind growing the organization since 2004, when it was still in its infancy, to be a recognized local business and education partnership under the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In addition to helping incorporate as a non-profit 501(c)(3), she has been instrumental in building a community of more than 300 business partners, increasing partnership awareness, and mentoring numerous students. Under Dansereau’s leadership, River East School-to-Career has become a model for other school-to-career organizations in Massachusetts. In the just the past five years, the organization has impacted the lives of more than 1,000 students in Hampden and Hampshire counties by bringing together schools, businesses, and organizations to create career-exploration opportunities. The aim is to help students make informed decisions regarding their career and educational goals through work-based learning and internship opportunities, co-op placements, career days, and work-readiness workshops. Dansereau will be succeeded by Amy Scribner, who has been part of the organization in various capacities for more than 10 years.

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Christopher Silipigno

Christopher Silipigno

Christopher Silipigno, chief operating officer and managing director at Renaissance Investment Group, LLC, earned the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) professional designation from the American College of Financial Services. Candidates for the ChFC designation must complete a minimum of eight college-level courses and 18 hours of supervised examinations. They must also fulfill stringent experience and ethics requirements and participate in continuing education to maintain professional recertification. Since its inception in 1982, the credential has been widely regarded as a premier standard of knowledge and trust for financial-planning professionals. The ChFC program prepares professionals to apply advanced skills to address the financial planning needs of individuals, families, and small-business owners in a diverse environment. Having held licenses in mortgage lending, property and casualty insurance, and real estate, Silipigno provides Renaissance clients with a wide breadth of experience and expertise. In addition to fulfilling his role as COO, he works directly with the firm’s high-net-worth clients and foundations in the areas of investment management, cash-flow analysis, estate planning, charitable-giving strategies, and other complex financial-counseling domains.

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Jeremy Therrien

Jeremy Therrien

The Westfield Starfires announced the addition of Jeremy Therrien to the staff as Game Operations and Promotions coordinator. Therrien, a Westfield native and senior at Springfield College, has served in that position since late in 2019 and has spent much of the 2020 season implementing the organization’s COVID-19 readiness plan. For three consecutive years, Therrien has served as a student leader at the Hoophall Classic, an annual, Springfield-based tournament that features the top high-school basketball players and teams from around the country. He is also a Game Operations supervisor for the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League.

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Scott Ganhao

Scott Ganhao

PeoplesBank announced the appointment of Scott Ganhao as the manager of its new banking center located at 450 Center St. in Ludlow. He has more than 13 years of financial services and banking experience. In his new position, Ganhao will aim to ensure the banking center meets and exceeds service and sales goals, provides excellent customer service, operates according to all bank policies and procedures, and serves as a leader within the community. Ganhao earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Western New England University. He is the president of the Our Lady of Fatima Preservation Society and a member of the board of directors of the Wilbraham Rotary Memorial Foundation Inc. and the Lusitania Institute. He is a member of the Wilbraham-Hampden Rotary Club and has served as chairman of the Our Lady of Fatima finance committee, president of the Our Lady of Fatima Parish council committee, and director of the Our Lady of Fatima Festa committee. He is fluent in spoken Portuguese.

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Jennifer Halpin

Jennifer Halpin

Florence Bank promoted Jennifer Halpin to the position of Employee Relations officer in the Human Resources department at the main office in Florence. Halpin joined Florence Bank in 2014. Prior to her recent promotion, she served as the Employee Relations manager. She holds a bachelor of business administration degree from UMass Amherst. During her tenure at the bank, she has been the recipient of the President’s Award, which is awarded to employees who demonstrate superior levels of performance, customer service, and overall contribution to the bank.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Grant Helps Fund WNEU Student Startup

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Western New England University (WNEU) College of Business are working together to help students expand their entrepreneurship education beyond the classroom. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WNEU works to develop students’ entrepreneurial mindset. Through co-curricular efforts, such as Startup Weekend and the cross-disciplinary business/engineering “Product Development and Innovation” course, students are able to create ideas, products, and services that have market potential. PeoplesBank is taking this one step further by providing grant funding to advance qualifying startups that show promise and demonstrate success. Joseph Ferrera, a 2020 graduate of the Entrepreneurship program at Western New England University, is the first recipient of a PeoplesBank grant. He founded Double O Joe, a Ludlow-based videography startup, in his sophomore year and continued to advance the business model through his entrepreneurship courses at WNEU. He is currently serving several small businesses in the Greater Springfield area. The grant funded a more advanced drone and camera in order to continue to grow his customer base and video offerings.

STCC Launches Certificate in Social-media Strategy, Design

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer a new social-media strategy and design certificate this fall in the Department of Technical Arts and Design. The coursework is designed to prepare students for the planning and implementation of a promotional strategy using a variety of social-media platforms, including social networking, microblogging, photo sharing, and video sharing. In addition, students will take courses in graphic design, motion graphics, marketing, and advertising to blend social-media strategy and design, a combination that is very much in demand, said Professor Philip Ruderman, a faculty member in the Graphic Communications & Photography program at STCC. Ruderman called the program a vehicle to help students promote their talents, showcase their work, and develop relationships that will grow their employer’s business, or their own. The new social-media tools course offered this fall will focus on the basic elements needed to create and maintain a successful social-media campaign, including social-media marketing basics, social-media mix, social marketing process, analysis, strategy development, program and communication design, and implementation. This online course will put students on the path for self-promotion and promotion of businesses. The training enables them to build awareness within the marketplace and to target and engage online viewers and build a community of followers. An online search for social-media jobs in the region will yield a number of results, including digital content creators, digital content producers, social-media designers, and social-media specialists. In addition, a number of marketing positions requiring social-media skills can also be found. Nine courses, or 27 credits, are required to complete the program, which could be completed in as few as two semesters. To learn more about the program, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/smsd.coc. For questions, call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $10,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it received a grant of $10,000 from Westfield Bank to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank has been a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp. Due to COVID-19, this summer Kamp for Kids is being held virtually in order to provide a safe camp experience for the campers and their families. The virtual camp is open to all who wish to participate and offered free of charge, and consists of recreational activities, nature time, and arts and crafts. To register and participate in virtual camp, visit www.bhninc.org/kamp-kids. The camp has created three themes for this year’s activities: “In My Backyard,” “Only in New England,” and “All Around the World.” Kamp for Kids has also continued its partnership with the Westfield Cultural Council and Berkshire Hills Music Academy, a music-based program for people with disabilities in Franklin County, to offer musical programming for participants.

LPV Announces New Path Forward

SPRINGFIELD — Last month, Leadership Pioneer Valley’s (LPV) board of directors approved a plan for the next six months. The plan creates new leadership-development options aimed at addressing the needs of the wider community. Because leadership in a pandemic necessitates both a statewide and national perspective, LPV will continue to collaborate with programs across the Commonwealth and participate in the National Leadership Alumni Network — a first of its kind. It will also continue offering sessions exploring creating more equitable workplaces and communities. These programs and others in the works are designed to address the needs of LPV alumni and the wider community. LPV’s signature LEAP program, a nine-month regional leadership-development program for emerging leaders, will be pushed back to January 2021, and will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person programming that prioritizes safety while building engaging connections. This fall, LPV will offer a number of new opportunities including small Leadership Luncheons, a Leader Roundtable series, and a new Adaptive Leadership series. All sessions will begin virtually and transition to in-person when feasible.

HCC Unveils New Academic Programs for Fall Semester

HOLYOKE — Cannabis cultivation, beer and cider brewing, and winemaking are just a few of the new academic programs being offered this fall at Holyoke Community College (HCC). All three were developed as one-year, 24-credit certificate programs through the college’s Sustainability Studies department. One new course, “Cannabis Today,” provides knowledge of the growing part of the industry. Other requirements for the certificate include classes in agriculture, marketing, and entrepreneurship. The college also developed the brewing and winemaking certificates with an eye on expanding industries. Another new course, “Fermentation Science,” explains the scientific processes of fermentation as it applies to both brewing and winemaking. This fall, HCC is also unveiling new certificate and associate-degree programs in a range of other academic areas, including behaviorial neuroscience (degree), critical social thought (degree), geoscience (degree), child development (certificate), mental health (certiificate,) and veterinary assistant (certificate). The fall semester at Holyoke Community College begins Tuesday, Sept. 8. To enroll for fall, visit hcc.edu/admission, call (413) 552-2321, or e-mail [email protected].

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Six Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Six area students were each recently awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name, Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is an award that goes to a member of a local union affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouses or dependents. Applicants were asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of their community-service activities, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Corey Bryant of Springfield, Alexandria Barnard-Davignon of Longmeadow, Anna MacDonnell of Longmeadow, Lindsay Marjanski of South Hadley, Sarah Meunier of South Deerfield, and Taryn Morse of Hatfield.

Hazen Paper Pioneers New Type of Custom Holography

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. has created an innovative, two-sided promotion to demonstrate cutting-edge holographic technologies. Hazen’s team designed the artwork on both sides to showcase specific visual effects with nano-holography that delivers an even more dramatic three-dimensional effect than lenticular printing. The front features a fire-breathing dragon with minutely detailed glittering scales. The effect of a blast of moving flames was achieved with registered, custom color-motion and multi-channel holography. On the back, a shimless random repeat custom hologram, ‘random burst,’ creates a moving, three-dimensional flash backdrop for a flock of butterflies. Originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in its Holyoke facility, the project was realized on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Sub-micron transfer-metallized Envirofoil uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate and a recycled film carrier, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks by AM Lithography of Chicopee. Vertically integrated, Hazen can take production from design to holographic paper in less than two weeks.

WSU Teacher-education Program Accredited with Commendation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) teacher-education program has received full, seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Assoc. for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, growing work in anti-racism education. WSU is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization. The WSU Education Department’s teacher-education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by several pillars, including critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset. These principles — which undergird the Teacher Education program — set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K-12 schools, and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for WSU students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers. The Accreditation Commission also commended the university’s education programs for their concerted and deepening work in anti-racist education, as these efforts permeate the preparation of educators, are embedded in and impact the wider campus culture, and reach into the community through campus- and program-based partnerships. All education students participate in annual Anti-Racist Education Town Hall events featuring relevant themes like the School-to-Prison Pipeline, share common readings across courses, and participate in guest lectures on campus.

WNEU, Big Y Pharmacy Residency Program Accreditated

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) College of Pharmacy Health Sciences and Big Y Foods, Inc. Community-Based Residency Program has received accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Assoc. (APhA). The accreditation establishes criteria for training pharmacists for the purpose of achieving professional competence in the delivery of patient-centered care and in pharmacy services. The purpose of the post-graduate year one (PGY1) Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program is to build upon the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) education and outcomes to develop community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills who are eligible to pursue advanced training opportunities, including post-graduate year two (PGY2) specialized residencies and professional certifications. ASHP’s Commission on Credentialing extended the accreditation of the residency program through 2024. The accreditation means the program meets or exceeds the national standards set for a residency training program. The WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Big Y Foods Community-Based Residency Program is the only such university-based initiative in Western Mass. This year, the residency program graduated its fifth resident. Three of the graduates are Big Y pharmacists who have created new pharmacy services, and two graduates went on to pursue PGY2 ambulatory-care residencies. WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also offers a PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program with Walgreens. This program began in 2014 and is also accredited by ASHP and APhA.

Multiple Sclerosis Center Opens at Mercy Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Trinity Health Of New England announced the opening of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mercy Medical Center. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the Greater Springfield area are now able to access their healthcare needs in one central location with a team of specialists dedicated to every aspect of their care. The Mandell Center, located at 175 Carew St. in Springfield, offers a combination of cutting-edge treatments, groundbreaking research, and innovative rehabilitation programs, and provides an all-inclusive treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the model will include a nationally recognized team of MS specialists including neurologists, neuropsychologists, urologists, physiatrists, social workers, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, speech pathologists, physician’s assistants, and nurses. The Mandell MS Center at Mercy is partnered with the world-renowned Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Centers at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Conn. and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes a disruption in the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells. MS is a long-lasting disease that can affect a person’s brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, causing problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. Thus, having a variety of specialists in one location is invaluable for MS patients.

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Drjsoto Ministries Inc., 50 Riviera Dr., Agawam, MA 01001. David Daniel Diaz, same. To minister and promote good style of living for anyone and everyone.

AMHERST

European Vehicles of Amherst Inc., 398 Northampton Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Luke Zbylut, 75 Country Corners Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Repair and sales of automobiles.

CHARLEMONT

West County Soccer Association Inc., 46 Charlemont Road, Charlemont, MA 01339. Jake Thurber, same. Youth soccer league.

CHICOPEE

Dsliners Inc., 203 Buckley Blvd., Chicopee, MA 01020. Jason Horowitz, same. Wholesale auto accessories.

Templo Pentecostal Una Voz De Alerta, 95 Main St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Angel L. Cotto, 123 Commonwealth Ave., Apt A, Springfield, MA 01108. Open a church, to preach the gospel and counseling.

EASTHAMPTON

Easthampton High School Athletic Foundation & Hall of Fame Inc., 35 Carillon Circle, Easthampton, MA 01027. Jeff Sealander, same. Recognize those who have made significant contributions to the Easthampton High School Interscholastic Athletic program.

FEEDING HILLS

Friends of Our Lady of The Rosary of Springfield Inc., 178 North West St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Veronica Anne Rovatti, same. Restore, preserve, support and maintain The Our Lady of The Rosary Church located at 334 Franklin St. in Springfield.

GRANBY

DSIS Group Inc., 63 West State St., Suite 972, Granby, MA 01033. Sylvester Jones, same. Real estate and property management.

GREAT BARRINGTON

Steiner Wegman Medical Foundation Inc., 177 East St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. Eugene Gollogly, same. To create, form, and establish an organization to provide educational information regarding the practice of anthroposophic medicine and its uses.

LONGMEADOW

The Old Shoe Club Inc., 54 White Oaks Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. John Rauseo, same. Developing and fostering support for the Springfield College football program through the support of alumni and the general public.

Fads Distribution Inc., 10 Bliss Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Luann Pulliam, same. Provide and/or manage vendor arrangements.

PITTSFIELD

Story Catching Studios Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Heather Richard, same. Providing opportunities for women and girls to create and publish their work.

Gavi Sports Foundation (GSF) Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Sandra Gavi, same. Promote sports and education among children. Support children with great talents and less fortunate to use their talents in achieving their goals.

SOUTHWICK

Vivid Cares Inc., 5 Reservoir Road Southwick, MA 01077. Basia Belz, same. The purpose of this organization is to raise awareness and funding for those in need due to the result of having cancer.

SPRINGFIELD

Dynasty Zheng Inc., 5 Locust St., Springfield, MA 01108. Ya Rong Zheng, same. Takeout restaurant.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Extreme Exterior Cleaning Inc., 57 Amherst St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Joseph Poddubchak, same. Exterior cleaning.

WESTFIELD

Tighe & Bond Designer Services Inc., 53 Southampton Road, Westfield, MA 01085. Francis J. Hoey, same. Engineering, planning, landscape, architecture, environmental science, and other related services.

Coronavirus Manufacturing Special Coverage

Making Do

Kristin Carlson

Kristin Carlson says the pandemic has actually helped business at Peerless Precision, especially when it comes to making parts for defense and law-enforcement-related products.

Mark Borsari says he hasn’t been on a plane since a vacation in early March.

By his reckoning, that’s by far the longest stretch he can remember when he hasn’t been flying somewhere, especially in his role as president of Palmer-based Sanderson MacLeod, a maker of fine wire brushes for everything from makeup kits to gun cleaning.

The six months on the ground has been a time of reflection — and even humor.

“I’m sure my wife’s probably thinking I should be on a plane more,” said Borsari with a laugh, adding that he’s not at all sure when he actually will.

But being effectively grounded from air travel is just one of the many ways COVID-19 has shaken things up for manufacturers, and, in the larger scheme of things, perhaps one of the least consequential given the way Zoom has become the preferred method for communicating with clients and employees alike.

Indeed, the pandemic has prompted everything from weeks-long shutdowns to scrambling for needed parts; from strategies for keeping employees safe to the need to manufacture different products — often PPE — to keep workers busy because demand for the products that were being produced has slowed or stopped.

Much has hinged on the word ‘essential’ — a status bestowed on many manufacturers in the 413, an area with a large number of shops making parts for aerospace, defense, or the broad healthcare sector.

Sanderson MacLeod makes products for all those fields, said Borsari, noting that, after a short but still tension-filled time of uncertainty regarding the company’s status, it was declared essential. The same with Westfield-based Peerless Precision, a company that makes, among other things, products used in the cryogenic cooling systems for thermal imaging, night vision, and infrared cameras — items that are actually in greater demand because of all the tension in the world at the moment.

Mark Borsari

Mark Borsari says being deemed ‘essential’ certainly helps, but there is too much uncertainty with this pandemic for any company to feel secure about the future.

“Any time there’s any trouble going on in the world and more money is being put into the defense budget, we benefit from that,” said Kristin Carlson, the company’s president. “We’re getting new engine parts, new fuel-injection parts … things we’ve never made before. Any time there’s unrest in our country or anywhere in the world, the Defense Department spends more money.”

But not all area manufacturers have been so fortunate. Indeed, while golf balls are important to many, they are not ‘essential’ in the eyes of the state’s governor, so the Callaway plant in Chicopee was shut down as it was heading into its busiest time of the year — the start of the golf season in the Northeast and other colder climes. And shutting down a plant that size, which was running three shifts six days a week, is a complicated undertaking, said Vince Simonds, the company’s director of Global Golf Ball Operations.

“It’s difficult to shut it down so abruptly and then wind it back up again,” he said, noting that the massive plant was shut down from March 25 until May 18, when the first phase of the state’s reopening plan went into effect. “But overall, we’ve done very well.”

Fortunately, the company has been helped by something that could not have been foreseen in those dark days of March — a surge in popularity in the game of golf resulting from the fact that it is one of the few sports people can play while also socially distancing themselves from others.

“It’s difficult to shut it down so abruptly and then wind it back up again. But overall, we’ve done very well.”

This surge now has the company running three shifts seven days a week, said Simonds, adding that Callaway is now struggling to meet global demand, especially for its lower-priced, entry-level products (more on that later).

But even for those companies that were not shut down, have not seen shrinking demand for the products they make, or been helped by the rush to take up golf, the pandemic has led to a time of challenge, uncertainty, and questions about what will, and won’t, come next. And this is a difficult climate to operate in, said Borsari, who tried to put things in perspective for BusinessWest.

“The biggest challenge is that there is no playbook for what we’re dealing with,” he explained. “This thing has come through and almost indiscriminately picked out specific companies and industries and devastated them and left others somewhat unscathed. It depends on who their market is, where they are on the supply chain, who their vendors are, who their customers are … there are so many variables.

“Normally, when you run into these challenges in business, you can at least do some research or talk to some people who have been through it before to get a gauge for what was successful,” he went on. “With this, there is none of that.”

Parts of the Whole

Flashing back to early March, Carlson noted that, at least in one respect, the company was ready for what was coming.

“We had just put in a very large order for toilet paper and other supplies from Staples,” she recalled, adding that, soon thereafter, such essentials were certainly hard to come by. “I was telling everyone that I had something like 180 single rolls of toilet paper … so if you guys can’t find any, we’ll sell it to you for cost.”

But beyond that, there was little way to anticipate, let alone prepare for, the pandemic and the many ways it was going to change the landscape for all businesses, and especially manufacturers. And for many, there was uncertainty about whether the doors would remain open as the state began to shut down businesses to help slow the spread of the virus.

Fortunately, for many, this uncertainty was short-lived.

Vince Simonds

Vince Simonds says a pandemic-related surge in the game of golf has helped take the sting out of being shut down for two months this past spring, Callaway’s busiest time for making golf balls.

“We’re the largest medical and surgical manufacturer in the country, and we also do a lot of work for government agencies and the military with gun-cleaning products,” said Borsari, adding that Sanderson MacLeod was able to get the green light from the state and the town of Palmer to remain open for business.

“Getting deemed essential was important for us,” he recalled. “One of the concerns for the people was whether they’d have a job; they were seeing all these companies shut down around them, and that was the biggest concern they had from the beginning — whether we would be allowed to stay open.”

The company has been fortunate in other ways as well, he said, noting it had undertaken catastrophic planning and redundant sourcing before the pandemic, so there were few if any supply-chain issues once COVID struck. And its supply needs are relatively simple.

“Some of these companies are putting together computers with 4,000 parts,” he explained. “We’re really working with wire fiber and attachment components; it’s not nearly a deep a supply issue as other companies had.”

Meanwhile, demand for many of the products made by the company, especially those in the gun-cleaning realm, has actually grown, again because of the growing levels of turmoil in the world.

“One of the concerns for the people was whether they’d have a job; they were seeing all these companies shut down around them.”

Carlson sounded similar tones, noting that, in many respects, the pandemic hasn’t impacted the overall bottom line; in fact, it has helped generate more business with some clients.

It didn’t look that way back in the spring, when the state’s shutdown, which most thought would last a few weeks, instead stretched to nearly two months. “At that point,” she said, “I was pretty confident that 2020 was going to be a bust.”

Instead, it’s shaping up to be better than last year — which was quite solid.

“We’re not just steady, we’re busy, and we’re getting busier,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the company had a record July, usually one of its slower months. “A lot of that’s on the defense, not aerospace, side, but also our defense aerospace has picked up a lot as well.”

But in addition to creating more work, the pandemic has also changed how work is carried out, creating a number of challenges for those managing plants, especially early on in the pandemic, when there was little guidance on how to keep workers safe — and also little hand sanitizer to be found.

“We had to get people to understand that they can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with one another — you have to maintain that six feet,” Carlson said. “I had put limits on the number of people who could be in rooms with closed doors; we’d take turns disinfecting the entire shop. In the morning, one guy does the shop floor, at lunchtime, another one does it, and at the end of the day, they do it again.”

Simonds agreed, and noted that, by strictly enforcing the rules and following the protocols, the plant has seen no cases, and no interruptions, since reopening.

“We’re sticking to the CDC protocols, and it’s worked for us,” he said. “Everyone is temperature-screened; everyone wears a mask at all times; we’re restricting meeting rooms based on square footage and number of people in the rooms; no employee gatherings beyond the number cited by the state; anyone who goes on vacation and travels outside of Massachusetts to a restricted area has to follow protocols coming back in.

“One of the challenges was just getting used to things,” he went on. “Wearing a mask, especially in the summertime, is difficult, but people have been great, and we’re all used to it now; it’s just a matter of practice.”

Round Numbers

For Simonds and his team, the state-ordered shutdown came, as noted earlier, during the busiest time of the year for the facility, which has enjoyed a resurgence over the past few years as Callaway has made huge strides in gaining market share within the golf-ball industry.

And turning everything off is, as he said, a somewhat complicated undertaking.

“For any machines that have materials in them, they have to be purged properly,” he explained. “We need to take all the raw materials that are sensitive to environmental conditions and put them in environmentally controlled areas. We need to take care of WIP — work in process — and try to process as much as possible so we don’t have time-sensitive WIP sitting on the production floor.

“It’s a matter of systematically shutting down operations so we don’t have inventory sitting in the wrong places,” he went on, adding that the process was made more complicated by the fact that no one really knew for how long the plant would be dark.

Meanwhile, on the personnel side, most all employees were furloughed — and nearly all of them came back, he went on, adding that the operation slowly wound back up, but since then, activity has sped up dramatically, with many of those employees securing large amounts of overtime.

“We’ve gone from zero to 100 as quickly as we could. Once the golf courses started opening up, the demand for product was almost unprecedented — there was so much golf being played,” Simonds said, adding that courses in most all states were open several weeks before the plant was reopened — if they had closed at all. “And the golf business has remained pretty strong; we’re chasing demand.”

The same is true at Peerless and Sanderson MacLeod, where, in addition to meeting orders, the plants are coping with new ways of communicating, meeting as teams, and planning, as much as possible, for what might come next.

And also learning and growing from the shared experience of not only coping with a pandemic and all the challenges it has brought, but in some cases thriving.

Indeed, Carlson said the past several months have brought a close workforce even closer together as they contend with the protocols, the surge in business, and a shared desire to be prepared for the worst-case scenario while hoping for something much better.

Borsari agreed, and said some of the real ‘opportunities,’ a word he’s hesitant to use in this climate, come in the broad area of relationship building when it comes to both clients and the team at Sanderson-MacLeod.

“It’s been a unique opportunity to connect with our client base in a way we haven’t done before,” he told BusinessWest. “It’s all about collaboratively figuring out the best way to keep both companies open; we’re really had a lot of good relationships become even better because we realize how dependent we are on one another.

“And as an organization, finding our way through this together has made us stronger,” he went on. “We’ve done everything we can as a company to make this a place of normalcy. Everything else around them was going crazy, and one of the key points we made in March was to do everything we can to follow the mandates and make sure our people are safe, but we also want to make sure to maintain normalcy as much as we can.”

Up Off the Floor

Looking ahead, Carlson said her company has taken what steps it can to be prepared for what might come next.

Yes, that means stocking up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other pandemic-related needs that were in such short supply when the first wave hit six months ago.

“I’m ready for us to keep moving the way we’re moving,” she explained. “Even if we did walk back any of the phases of the reopening or went back into a shutdown, we’d still be open and still going at the pace we’re going, and perhaps be even busier; we’re prepared.”

But, as Borsari noted, even for manufacturers in the coveted ‘essential’ category, there is too much uncertainty to ever be comfortable, or fully prepared.

“Nothing is stable,” he said. “Just because we’re essential doesn’t mean anything’s safe or easy; so much is dependent on the attitude of the state, or the people who decide to come to work or not come into work, tariff measures, travel bans … all of these could have an impact.”

Such is life in a sector that, like most others, has seen COVID-19 change almost everything and create conditions that are anything but business as usual.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Agenda

‘Heroes in Healthcare’ Exhibit

Through Jan. 24: The Springfield Museums will present “Heroes in Healthcare: Celebrating Springfield’s Medical Community” at the Wood Museum of Springfield History from Aug. 3 through Jan. 24, 2021. As a complementary exhibit to Hall of Heroes, located on the first floor of the Wood Museum of Springfield History, “Heroes in Healthcare” pinpoints the deep appreciation we all feel for those who put themselves in harm’s way in order to help others. From the Civil War through present day, doctors and nurses, public-health employees, social workers, and philanthropists have contributed significantly to improving the health of this community with their skills, compassion, and vision. This exhibit examines that history in Springfield. As stewards of the Baystate Medical Center archives, including materials from its Training School for Nurses, museum staff were able to gather a rich history of healthcare in Springfield. The Visiting Nurses Assoc. archives are also held at the Wood Museum. Exhibit organizers delved into that collection to share remarkable stories of how visiting nurses traveled to the homes of people of all economic backgrounds to not only treat disease, but also to offer wellness training, childcare advice, and, often, a sympathetic ear. With the World Health Organization’s declaration of 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the museums dedicate a part of this exhibit to specifically celebrating the city’s nurses. The museums will also present a Wall of Healthcare Heroes to honor the courageous and dedicated work of area hospitals’ frontline responders. The Springfield Museums are also grateful for the assistance of Mercy Medical Center and the archives of the Sisters of Providence in documenting the history of their organization.

Knights Of Columbus Golf Tournament

Aug. 21: The Greenfield Knights of Columbus Council #133 will host its seventh annual charity golf tournament at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. This year, the Greenfield Council #133 recognizes the United Arc as its tournament partner. The event will be an 18 hole, four-person scramble with tee advantages for senior golfers. The entry fee of $125 per person includes greens fees, carts, use of the practice range, and prizes for the winners. A $35 gift card will be given to all golfers, which can be used at any time for meals, merchandise, or golf-related items. Raffle tickets will be sold, with prizes including a three-day Cape Cod vacation, a sports package, golf certificates, a ‘mystery box’ provided by the United Arc, restaurant certificates, auto packages, and much more. A hole-in-one contest will offer a chance to win a new car or other significant prizes. In addition to the United Arc, the proceeds from the event will be used to fund a number of Council #133’s worthy causes in Greenfield and Franklin County, including the Pan Mass Challenge, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s Wheeling for Healing, Farren Hospital’s Gift of Light, the Greenfield Homeless Shelter, monthly community meals, high-school scholarships, honoring veterans on Memorial Day and having Wreaths Across America wreaths placed on graves at Christmas, several youth sports programs, and more. To sign up or for more information, call Lou Grader at (413) 774-2848, Dan Arsenault at (413) 774-5258, Bob Wanczyk at (413) 774-2465, Paul Doran at (413) 522-1800, or Joe Ruscio at (413) 768-9876.

Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28: On July 29, Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, kicked off a reimagined monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series. The 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, postponed from spring due to COVID-19, will now take place virtually over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of each month from noon to 1 p.m. The series is sponsored by HCC and Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics. On Aug. 26, “Empowering Women in the Workplace” will be presented by Denise Jordan, executive director, Springfield Housing Authority; and Julie Quink, managing partner, Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C. On Sept. 30, “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice” will feature Tanisha Arena, executive director, Arise for Social Justice; and Pam Victor, owner, Happier Valley Comedy. On Oct. 28, “Women Leaders in Non-Traditional Businesses” will be presented by Colleen Loveless, president and CEO, Revitalize Community Development Corp.; and Nicole Palange, vice president, V&F Auto. Each session costs $20 each, or $50 for the full series. Registration is required. Space for each luncheon is limited to 25. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

Real-estate Licensing Course

Sept. 9 to Oct. 15: 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 $400 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the (413) 785-1328 or visit www.rapv.com. The Realtors Assoc. has taken all necessary COVID-19 sanitary precautions in accordance with CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines to ensure the safety of its students. Classes are limited to 18 students.

Gap-semester Course on Social-justice Issues

Sept. 21 to Dec. 21: Bay Path University has put together a unique course for recent high-school graduates looking to explore ways they can impact movements for social justice. The course, “Exploring Pathways to Social Justice,” will combine lectures, discussions, videos, readings, and virtual, experiential learning through the context of history, legal studies, and communications. In addition, the students will participate in presentations by professionals who have channeled their visions for a more just world into careers advocating for social justice and leading their communities. The three-credit course runs from Sept. 21 to Dec. 21 and is open to recent high-school graduates and college students, whether enrolled at Bay Path University; its online program, the American Women’s College; or any other institution, as well as students who are taking a gap semester while they evaluate their college options. Registration runs until Sept. 16. The class is a collaboration between several faculty members and will explore social-justice movements, trace the historical roots of the civil-rights struggle, investigate how race factors into the contemporary criminal justice system, and consider strategies for change. Students will be challenged to apply their passion for social justice while learning to express themselves and developing practical skills for academic and professional settings. Through the course material and ongoing opportunities for conversation, they will connect with other students and become part of an inspired, motivated network. “We created this class for students who may be using this time away from their schools to contemplate how and where to channel their voice and their passion for social justice, as they begin to think about their long-term goals, personally and professionally,” said Gwen Jordan, director of Bay Path’s Justice and Legal Studies department. She will be teaching sections on the criminal justice system, including a focus on the movement devoted to exonerating the wrongly convicted and reforming the system. Additional course information and a registration link are available at www.baypath.edu/academics/undergraduate-programs/the-american-womens-college-online/academics/gap-semester-course.

Agenda

Virtual Job Fair

Aug. 4: With government-mandated social-distancing restrictions in place, the West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) will hold its annual job fair virtually this year. With the extra unemployment money individuals are receiving about to expire, and local businesses beginning to reopen, the WRC is looking to help its members in any way it can. The Zoom event will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This is a free event for attendees, and vendors and attendees can both register online. Each vendor will have the opportunity to speak to the attendees as a whole group about their company and what positions they are looking to fill. At the conclusion of the group session, each vendor will have a breakout room where attendees can ask more detailed information and exchange contact information. The event is sponsored by Reminder Publications. For more information and to register, visit www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

Driving for the Cure Golf Tournament

Aug. 17: TommyCar Auto Group announced that its 12th annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. Money raised supports neuro-oncology research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since its inception, this annual golf tournament has raised more than $1 million. The scramble-style tournament features a ‘Tee Off Against Cancer’ shotgun start. Players will enjoy 18 holes of golf and exciting on-course activities. Sponsorship packages range from $50 to $15,000, and foursomes start at $1,250. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to register a foursome, visit tomcosenzidrivingforthecure.com. Volunteers and sponsors can also contact Gayle Bover at (413) 341-1917 or [email protected].

Knights Of Columbus Golf Tournament

Aug. 21: The Greenfield Knights of Columbus Council #133 will host its seventh annual charity golf tournament at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. This year, the Greenfield Council #133 recognizes the United Arc as its tournament partner. The event will be an 18 hole, four-person scramble with tee advantages for senior golfers. The entry fee of $125 per person includes greens fees, carts, use of the practice range, and prizes for the winners. A $35 gift card will be given to all golfers, which can be used at any time for meals, merchandise, or golf-related items. Raffle tickets will be sold, with prizes including a three-day Cape Cod vacation, a sports package, golf certificates, a ‘mystery box’ provided by the United Arc, restaurant certificates, auto packages, and much more. A hole-in-one contest will offer a chance to win a new car or other significant prizes. In addition to the United Arc, the proceeds from the event will be used to fund a number of Council #133’s worthy causes in Greenfield and Franklin County, including the Pan Mass Challenge, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s Wheeling for Healing, Farren Hospital’s Gift of Light, the Greenfield Homeless Shelter, monthly community meals, high-school scholarships, honoring veterans on Memorial Day and having Wreaths Across America wreaths placed on graves at Christmas, several youth sports programs, and more. To sign up or for more information, call Lou Grader at (413) 774-2848, Dan Arsenault at (413) 774-5258, Bob Wanczyk at (413) 774-2465, Paul Doran at (413) 522-1800, or Joe Ruscio at (413) 768-9876.

Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28: On July 29, Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, kicked off a reimagined monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series. The 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, postponed from spring due to COVID-19, will now take place virtually over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of each month from noon to 1 p.m. The series is sponsored by HCC and Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics. On Aug. 26, “Empowering Women in the Workplace” will be presented by Denise Jordan, executive director, Springfield Housing Authority; and Julie Quink, managing partner, Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C. On Sept. 30, “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice” will feature Tanisha Arena, executive director, Arise for Social Justice; and Pam Victor, owner, Happier Valley Comedy. On Oct. 28, “Women Leaders in Non-Traditional Businesses” will be presented by Colleen Loveless, president and CEO, Revitalize Community Development Corp.; and Nicole Palange, vice president, V&F Auto. Each session costs $20 each, or $50 for the full series. Registration is required. Space for each luncheon is limited to 25. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

Golf FORE Health Tournament

Sept. 14-15: The 31st annual Golf FORE Health Tournament, Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s only major fundraising event, will be held at the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. COVID-19 has altered every aspect of people’s personal and professional lives. Today, the need for support for the local hospital is greater than ever, and many businesses have reached out asking how to help Cooley Dickinson care for its patients and our community. This year’s tournament will be played in a social-distancing format with tee times every 10 minutes starting at 8 a.m., and will now be played over two days and adhere to all current Massachusetts COVID-19 golf guidelines. Each team will play on one of the two days. This means the annual post-event banquet will not take place, but organizers say they have been able to incorporate some exciting new tournament additions and give sponsors the greatest amount of exposure. The lead platinum sponsors are bankESB and MJ Moran Inc. To secure a team or to sponsor the event, visit www.cooleydickinson.org/golf. Questions should be directed to Jennifer Margolis at [email protected] or (413) 582-2255.

Company Notebook

Daniel O’Connell’s Sons Tapped for WSU Parenzo Hall Renovation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University, in partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Assets Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), announced the selection of Holyoke-based Daniel O’Connell’s Sons Inc. to serve as construction manager for the university’s $40 million Parenzo Hall renovation project. The construction manager selection committee — consisting of three DCAMM representatives, architect James Loftus of Miller Dyer Spears of Boston, and David Riggles, associate director for Projects and Space Management at Westfield State — received 12 responses to DCAMM’s request for qualifications and eight final proposals for the project. The final construction-manager selection was made based on the firm’s qualifications, experience, past performances, and reviews of performance records in comparison to the others. The university plans to transform the 64-year-old Parenzo Hall — the oldest building on campus — into a state-of-the-art hub for student success and development. Renovations will include the creation of two new centers — the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) and the CoLab (collaboration laboratory). The renovation of swing space to relocate current Parenzo Hall tenants is underway and expected to be completed this winter. Groundbreaking for Parenzo’s reconstruction is anticipated in summer 2021. The renovation is expected to take approximately two years. The CoLab will leverage technology to serve as a nexus for innovative collaboration in Western Mass., partnering with K-12 school districts, community colleges, and industry partners. It will teach students and community partners how to productively engage in online and hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment. The CoLab will work with community colleges to ease the transfer process by offering financially supported hybrid-style programs and boot camps. It will work with chambers of commerce and economic-development boards to broker relationships, inform curriculum, and secure support. The CSSE will address the university’s goals of increasing retention and graduation rates, as well as reducing achievement gaps and the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. In addition, it will increase student preparation for advanced learning and support exploration of career pathways in elementary and high schools to prepare them for on-the-job training. New and in-demand certificate programs and advanced study options will be offered to its business partners, utilizing technology. The Commonwealth is helping to finance the project via a $21.25 million spending bill that was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker during a July 2018 visit to campus.

Baystate Health, Kindred Healthcare to Partner on Behavioral-health Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health and Kindred Healthcare, LLC announced plans to form a joint venture that will build and operate a $43 million, state-of-the-art behavioral-health hospital in Western Mass. The 120-bed facility will address the shortage of behavioral-health beds in the region, increasing patient access to Baystate Health’s specialty inpatient behavioral healthcare for adults (including geriatrics), adolescents, and children by more than 50%. Kindred will manage day-to-day operations of the hospital, and Baystate Health psychiatrists and advanced practitioners will provide care under the medical leadership of Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of Psychiatry at Baystate Health. The hospital will be designed specifically for behavioral-health services to foster a better healing environment for patients. The hospital will feature distinct units to meet patients’ varying treatment needs and is expected to employ more than 200 direct caregivers and ancillary staff. Baystate had planned last year to partner with US HealthVest, LLC on a $30 million behavioral-health hospital, but ended that relationship in November following news reports alleging substandard care at other HealthVest facilities, and began searching for a new partner. Baystate Health remains interested in a centrally located Holyoke location and is in discussions with the city of Holyoke regarding the potential acquisition and development of a property on Lower Westfield Road. It is anticipated that, from the time the site is secured, it will be at least two years before the new hospital is operational, pending regulatory and other approvals. Until the new hospital is completed, Baystate will continue to operate its inpatient behavioral-health units at its community hospitals — Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Baystate Noble Hospital, and Baystate Wing Hospital. Upon completion of the new facility, those units will be closed. Emergency-care services will continue to be provided at all Baystate Health hospitals, and the treatment of medically complex patients will continue at Baystate Medical Center in its Adult Psychiatric Treatment Unit.

Elms College Receives Grant to Fund Experiential Learning

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced it has been awarded a $240,000 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation (DEF) in support of its Experiential Learning Mastering Success (ELMS) – Real World Ready! learning initiative. The grant will be dispersed over the next three years. The overall goal of the ELMS – Real World Ready! learning initiative is to provide at least one high-impact experiential learning opportunity to every student during their college career. Experiential learning is one of the five pillars of the college’s 2020-23 strategic plan. Students can participate in internships, research, study-abroad trips, and service learning opportunities. The first-year disbursement of the grant will support hiring a director of Experiential Learning, providing professional development for faculty and staff, and broadening of the college’s third annual Innovation Challenge (IC). The IC is a three-day event in which students work in teams and explore the intersection of social relationships, business economics, public education, and social justice. Over the past two years, Elms students have developed creative ideas to alleviate homelessness and address bullying. The upcoming Innovation Challenge in the fall 2020 semester will expand participation from 60 students to the entire first-year class. The ELMS – Real World Ready! learning initiative and the DEF grant build on the philanthropic scholarship funding currently available to students through the donor-funded Keating Schneider Experiential Learning Fund and the Elms Advantage Internship program.

WNEU to Offer MS Program in Construction Management

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced the addition of a new master of science program in construction management to the list of graduate-degree offerings. U.S. News and World Report ranks construction manager first in “Best Construction Jobs” and 43rd in “100 Best Jobs” with a low unemployment rate of 2.3%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows that the job outlook growth (2016-26) for Construction Managers is 11% (faster than average), with a median salary of $93,370 per year. With courses rooted in civil engineering, industrial engineering, and engineering management, the program strives to provide a well-rounded knowledge base in engineering as it pertains to construction management. Elective opportunities in business and management will give students a perspective into the business world that will prepare them for management and leadership roles. The program is tailored for students to choose from three options to complete the degree. The all-course option allows students to complete the 10 graduate courses that include open electives, choosing from courses in civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering as well as engineering management and business. Through the project or thesis options, students will work with a faculty advisor to take a deeper dive in a topic of interest, culminating in a final report and presentation. Applications are now being accepted for the MS in construction management program. Classes begin Sept. 28. To learn more, call the Office of Graduate Studies at (413) 782-1517 or e-mail [email protected].

Dress for Success to Collaborate with the Links Inc. on Mentorship Program

Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts announced a partnership with the Greater Springfield chapter of the Links Inc. Founded in 1946, the Links Inc. is an international, not-for-profit organization that brings together professional women of color to serve their communities through volunteerism and philanthropy. Its ultimate goal is to sustain the culture and economic survival of African-Americans and people of African ancestry. The work of the Links Inc. aligns well with the mission of Dress for Success, specifically the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentor Program. This program, named for a Physics Department secretary from Mount Holyoke College who provided help and encouragement for women entering that male-dominated field in the 1970s, pairs women who are overcoming great odds to achieve economic independence with professional women who volunteer to work with them one-on-one. Together, they establish individual goals and work on self-esteem, résumé building, workplace etiquette, interview skills, work/life balance, and more. By establishing a trusting rapport and sharing the wisdom of experience, mentors helps move their mentees from career readiness to action. Though the mentorships last one year, the impact lasts a lifetime. Beginning on Aug. 14, women from the Greater Springfield chapter of the Links Inc. will serve as mentors to women of color who have been recruited to the Margaret Fitzgerald Mentor Program from both Dress for Success programs as well as their partners in the community. The mentorships will continue until August 2021, when the mentees will be invited to join the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group.

6 Bricks Wins Provisional License to Advance Cannabis Dispensary

SPRINGFIELD — 6 Bricks, LLC was chosen to receive a state provisional license from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. Last year, the city of Springfield awarded 6 Bricks one of just four licenses to operate a cannabis dispensary in the city. For more than a year before the award by Springfield, 6 Bricks had been preparing for the city application process, engaging and working with architects, industry and profession experts, security professionals, and others as to how best to propose a community-oriented facility and operation that would include and benefit the city and surrounding neighborhood community. 6 Bricks incurred substantial expense and invested significant time securing data and planning strategies to put forth a winning application to the city and the state, including hiring and working with engineering firm Vanhasse Hangen Bustin Inc. to produce traffic and other studies. 6 Bricks worked extensively with former Springfield Police Officer John Delaney on a security plan for operation; he assembled a team of former law-enforcement professionals who have advised the project from the idea stages to the present. Achieving provisional-license status means 6 Bricks, LLC has moved one step closer to being able to open a facility on Springfield. Of the four Springfield applicants, 6 Bricks is the first to be awarded this status.

Company Notebook

Melanson Heath Rebrands as Melanson

NASHUA, N.H. — Melanson Heath, one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the U.S., announced that the company will begin operating under a new name and will be known as Melanson, effective immediately. This rebranding strategy reflects both the evolution of the company and its vision for the future. Along with this change, a newly redesigned company logo has been revealed, and a new website, melansoncpas.com, has been launched. “As part of our focus on expansion and business development, our leadership team and I believe it was appropriate to rebrand our firm to more specifically reflect who we are,” said Managing Partner Scott Toothaker, CPA. “We are very excited about the introduction of our new company name, Melanson, because it allows us to better represent our business to our clients and community. We are also very happy about the launch of our new website, which features our own employees and better reflects the personality found at Melanson. We are not just an accounting firm; we are a partner for our clients.”

Phoenix Project Launched to Assist Struggling Businesses

PIONEER VALLEY — The DiStefano Group and Seven Roads Media announced the Phoenix Project, a movement to collaborate and create opportunities within the Pioneer Valley business community based on the principles of kindness and understanding. The goal is to provide a broad range of assistance to businesses that are struggling as a result of the unprecedented happenings of 2020. The two companies, in direct response to the inequities and hardships that so many in the community are facing, will seek to gain a genuine understanding of what local business owners need and address those needs immediately and for free. The process will begin with a video interview to gather raw, first-hand knowledge. Seven Roads Media and the DiStefano Group will provide business and media coaching on the spot, but support for the business won’t end there. The Phoenix Project also includes the expertise of an established group of ‘masterminds’ — local professionals at the top of their fields — to provide coaching in banking, marketing, financial management, real estate, photography, hospitality, events, human resources, psychology, IT, and more. Gina DiStefano, president and CEO of the DiStefano Group and Phoenix Project co-founder, explained that “the video is just the beginning. From there, we will connect the business with our group of masterminds, who will continue to provide pro bono advice. We intend to have a real impact on businesses that have been hit hard. We are willing and able to help.” The project’s model will build supportive relationships not just for the chosen business, but among all of the those represented by the masterminds, said the third co-founder, Jess Roncarati-Howe, a nonprofit consultant and coach with the DiStefano Group who formerly served as president of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce. “An entrepreneurial spirit who truly cares about what’s going on around them can foster tremendous impact,” she added. “It is the driving force behind the Phoenix Project. We will help our community to heal — one interaction, one relationship at a time.”

IALS at UMass Amherst Joins Digital Health Sandbox Network

AMHERST — The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) selected six new healthcare research and development (R&D) hubs to join the Digital Health Sandbox Network, including UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). The Sandbox Network program connects digital-health startups to cutting-edge R&D facilities in the Commonwealth and allows Massachusetts startups to apply for funding to test their innovations at one of the networks’ labs, now including IALS. Sandbox R&D facilities provide a range of services supporting validation and testing for digital health companies throughout their life cycles. “Establishing a translational institute at UMass that provides startup lab space; more than 30 industry-friendly, staffed core equipment facilities; and individualized venture-mentoring services creates an exciting environment for digital-health companies in Western Massachusetts,” IALS Director Peter Reinhart said. IALS helps to shepherd and translate fundamental research into new product candidates, technologies, and services that benefit human health and well-being. IALS also helps users address both basic and translational questions, deliver technologies and product candidates more rapidly, and become more competitive in obtaining funding. Facilities include a state-of-the-art test bed for mobile health experiments at scale, the Center for Human Health and Performance, a roll-to-roll fabrication and processing facility, and research laboratory space for lease. In 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker announced $500,000 in funding for the Sandbox program as part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to boost the digital-health ecosystem under the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative.

Captain Candy to Open Second Store in Holyoke

NORTHAMPTON — Levi Smith, owner of Captain Candy in the lower level of Thornes Marketplace, announced he is opening a second store in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. “I’ve survived the COVID-19 shutdown, and I’m excited to be opening a second store in Holyoke,” Smith said. Captain Candy offers eclectic candies that are not the norm in grocery and convenience stores — everything from gumballs to candy cigarettes, wax bottles full of juice, Turkish taffy, Pop Rocks, and Zotz. Smith was contacted in January by the owners of Pyramid Management Group, which owns more than a dozen malls in the Northeast, including the Holyoke Mall. Smith’s Holyoke store opening comes a little over a year after he purchased the Northampton shop from former owner Nolan Anaya. Smith was 18 at the time. Currently, he is a business student at Holyoke Community College. In the early months, Smith will operate the new store to ensure a smooth start, and then he will hire as needed. Currently, he and six part-time employees operate the Thornes location, which opened in 2013.

Smith College Team Wins Ventilator-design Challenge

NORTHAMPTON — The SmithVent team of engineering alumni, staff, and faculty are the winners of the CoVent-19 challenge to design an easily manufacturable ventilator for use during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Grécourt Gate, Smith College’s online news portal. The team’s breathing device was chosen from more than 200 submissions to the competition launched on April 1. “In two months, we went from knowing nothing to having a functional prototype,” said team co-leader Susannah Howe, director of Smith’s Engineering Design Clinic. “To see that trajectory in such a short period of time, with people who are volunteering their time on top of their other jobs, is amazing and heartwarming and so rewarding.” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney added that “I could not be more proud of the SmithVent team for winning the CoVent-19 Challenge. This win speaks volumes about the power of a liberal-arts education, grounded in experiential learning, to find innovative, collaborative solutions to complex, urgent problems. SmithVent is Smith at its best: a lasting example of our community coming together for the betterment of the world.”

Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. Wins $100,000 NEA Grant

SPRINGFIELD ​— National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of $100,000 to​ the ​Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. in partnership with the Springfield Cultural Partnership for Spark!: Igniting Our Community, a project in the newly renovated Pynchon Park to envision and create public art that serves to connect the city, residents, and visitors. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category. Spark: Igniting Our Community is a two-year public art project that will transform recently reopened Pynchon Park into a vibrant public space through innovative multi-media art installations created by local and national artists. City residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions will be involved in a collective process to imagine, select, and commission public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and heritage. The park, closed for 40 years, will use the arts to connect neighborhoods and people, creating equitable partnerships that demonstrate the power of civic engagement for more vibrant and livable communities. The park’s reopening offers an opportunity to continue momentum by celebrating public art in this passageway and creating a programming and civic-engagement space. This project will create a walkable pathway between the museum district and the commercial downtown, spurring retail and public-space projects along these avenues and encouraging greater tourism throughout the city.

Webster Bank Offers Financial Program for Frontline Heroes

WATERBURY, Conn. — Webster Bank became one of the first financial-services companies nationwide to introduce Frontline Heroes, a program for essential healthcare workers and first responders that enhances the financial well-being of those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In gratitude for their selfless service, Webster’s new Frontline Heroes program offers a range of financial benefits, including checking accounts free of a monthly maintenance fee and free checking withdrawals at any ATM through December 2021. The program provides new customers with the ability to earn a cash incentive, as well as additional discounts and benefits. Frontline Heroes includes any full-time or part-time employee currently in essential healthcare, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical and dental practices, and home healthcare. The program is also available to first responders. For every new Frontline Heroes customer, Webster will also donate $250 to United Way COVID-19 Response Funds, making a minimum donation of $100,000.

Coronavirus Special Coverage

For every business in Western Mass., there is a story about coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Each one, as we’ve noted before, is different. But there are many common themes, especially the need to deal effectively — somehow — with those things that one can control, and cope — again, somehow — with the things one can’t control. And that latter list is, unfortunately, long and complicated. It includes everything from navigating the state’s rules (and short timelines) for reopening to losing large and important clients, like MGM Springfield, to not knowing what the future holds. Here are six more COVID stories.

 

Judy Puffer

Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa

Responding to COVID-19 has been hair-raising to say the least   Read More >>

 


 

White Lion Brewery

For this Springfield business, better times are on tap   Read More >>

 


 

Wilbraham Monson Academy

At this school, pandemic has been a real learning experience    Read More >>

 


 

Jerome’s Party Plus

Growing need for tents is helping company through a trying year   Read More >>

 


 

King Ward Bus Lines

Chicopee-based company is still trying to get out
of first gear   Read More >>

 


 

Park Cleaners

‘The place where COVID goes to die’ is still in recovery mode   Read More >>

 


 

Back on the Clock

COVID-19 era presents unique challenge for older workers   Read More >>