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Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Mark Avery, co-founder of Two Weeks Notice Brewing, says the company is working hard to build its brand.

Mark Avery says he doesn’t tell the story as much as he used to — maybe because so many people have heard it by now — but he still gets asked on a fairly regular basis.

And he never tires of telling it, because it’s a good story — and, perhaps more importantly, it’s good marketing.

As he recalls, he was out driving one day and thinking about how great it would be to finally give his two weeks notice at work and start making a living doing what had become his passion — brewing beer.

“And that’s when a lightbulb went off in my head,” he said, “and Two Weeks Notice Brewing was essentially born. I Googled it to see if anyone else had it, and luckily no one else did.”

“The vast majority of what we see is redevelopment projects, and we see a steady amount of development happening every year.”

Today, Avery and business partner Derrick Upson — the individual to whom he left those two weeks notice — are brewing a number of labels at their location on Bosworth Street in West Springfield, across Memorial Avenue from the Big E. They include everything from ‘Resignation IPA’ to ‘Casual Friday,’ a pale ale; from ‘West Side Big Slide,’ another IPA that features the Big E’s famous yellow slide on the label, to ‘Bumby Love,’ an imperial stout. Meanwhile, the tap room the partners opened soon after labeling their first can has become an increasingly popular venue, as evidenced by the large crowd on a recent Saturday.

Thus, Two Weeks Notice has become one of many intriguing development stories in West Springfield in recent months. Or redevelopment stories, as the case may be. Indeed, while this community of 29,000 lies on the crossroads of New England, literally — both I-91 and the Mass Turnpike have exits in it — there isn’t much undeveloped land left. Thus, most of the new-business stories involve redevelopment of existing property.

City Planner Allyson Manuel says many of the business projects in West Springfield involve redevelopment of existing properties.

In the case of Two Weeks Notice, it was a comprehensive renovation of the former Angie’s Tortellinis property, a complicated undertaking, as we’ll see. And there have been several others in recent years, said City Planner Allyson Manuel, listing everything from a new seafood restaurant taking the site of the old Bertucci’s on Riverdale Street to remaking an old junkyard operation into the Hot Brass shooting and archery range just off Memorial Avenue.

And now, the city is looking to write more of these stories, especially at two landmark restaurants on or just off Memorial Avenue that are now sporting ‘closed’ signs in their windows.

One is the site that most still refer to as the Hofbrahaus, even though that restaurant closed several years ago, with 1105 Main (also the address) opening in that same space. The other is the small but nonetheless significant White Hut, an eatery with a very loyal following that closed abruptly a few weeks ago.

The site has been in the news almost constantly since, with TV film crews seen getting close-up shots of that aforementioned sign, with most of the news centered on exploratory efforts by Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee, principals of the Bean Restaurant Group, to launch another rescue operation.

The first, of course, was a reopening of another culinary landmark, the Student Prince in downtown Springfield, after it closed briefly in 2014. At press time, the partners were still essentially crunching numbers, said a spokesperson for the Bean Group, adding that a decision on the fate of the beloved burger restaurant would be coming “soon.”

Two landmark restaurants in West Side — the White Hut, above, and 1105 Main (formerly the Hofbrauhaus), now have ‘closed’ signs in their windows.

Meanwhile, there are other properties awaiting redevelopment, said Manuel, listing the former home to United Bank on Elm Street and a mill property off Front Street that was gifted to the city by Neenah Paper Co. in 2018, among others.

But the more pressing news involves infrastructure, she told BusinessWest, adding that the city, and especially businesses along Memorial Avenue, eagerly await the completion of what amounts to the replacement and widening of the Morgan-Sullivan Bridge, which connects the city to Agawam; the latest target date is late summer 2021, an improvement over the original timetable due to incentives being offered by the state for early completion. The other major project is an upgrade to Memorial Avenue itself, a comprehensive project that calls for reconfigured lanes and a bike lane and promises improved traffic flow.

For this, the latest installment in its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest tells West Side’s story, which is increasingly one of redevelopment.

Feeling a Draught

Avery told BusinessWest that the Angie’s Tortellinis property — it actually had other uses after Angie’s moved to Westfield several years ago — had been vacant for some time when he and Upson first looked at it.

By then, at least a few other brewers had been through and decided that the property would be too difficult to convert for that use. They thought otherwise, although they conceded it would be a stern challenge.

“There were drop ceilings everywhere, the heat hadn’t been on in more than a year, probably … it was a dump when we got it,” he recalled, adding that a number of refrigeration units had to be ripped out and the area that is now that tap room required almost complete demolition and rebuilding.

Backing up a bit, and returning to that story about the name now over the door, he said Upson was his boss at a company called Pioneer Tool Supply, which was located in West Springfield when he started and eventually relocated to the industrial park in Agawam. When not working, Avery was spending most of his time home brewing — and thinking about taking that from a pastime to a career.

After that lightbulb moment noted earlier, he had a name, and he also had several recipes. He was set to partner with another individual and open a brewery in Westfield, but the two eventually concluded that the partnership wasn’t going to work. That’s when Upson, who by then was big into craft beers, entered the equation, and Avery eventually did give his two weeks notice.

They started selling cans in the fall of 2018 and haven’t looked back. The company’s various brands are now on tap in a number of area bars and restaurants, including several in West Springfield and Agawam, and loyal followers can buy cans at the brewery. On the Saturday we visited, Avery had just finished brewing a batch of what he called Performance Review 13 — and, yes, there were a dozen versions before it.

“These are the beers where I kind of play around with different hops, different yeasts, and different styles if I want to,” he explained. “It gives me a little creativity to break up the monotony of production.”

The tap room is now open Thursday through Sunday, and while business — and growth — have been steady, Avery says more aggressive marketing, and just getting the word out, is perhaps the company’s top priority at the moment.

“We’re working to get our name out — we’re still fairly unknown at this point,” he explained. “People will come in and say, ‘this is the first time we’re been here,’ or ‘we’ve never heard of you guys’ — even people in West Side. So we need to change that and grow the brand. For the most part, it’s just doing interesting and fun events.”

While Two Weeks Notice Brewing goes about building its brand, there are other things brewing in West Springfield, pun intended. Especially those infrastructure projects.

Like its neighbor to the west, Agawam, West Side has struggled during the lengthy but very necessary project to replace the 70-year-old Morgan-Sullivan Bridge. Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Big E, which worked with officials in both cities to minimize the impact of the bridge work during the fair’s 17-day run, said businesses along Memorial Avenue have definitely been affected by the project, which began roughly 18 months ago.

“In the late afternoons, traffic gets backed up all the way to our to our main entrance,” he said, noting that it is several hundred yards from the bridge. “Many businesses are struggling, and people are going elsewhere to do business.”

He praised the state for incentivizing the contractor handling the work, Palmer-based Northern Construction Service, thus pushing up the closing date and making this fall’s Big E hopefully the last that will have to cope with the bridge work.

But not long after that project is over, another much-anticipated project, the redesign and reconstruction of Memorial Avenue, will commence, said Manuel, noting there is no timetable at present, but the target date is the spring or summer of 2022 — after the bridge project is done.

When asked to summarize the scope of the project, she summoned the phrase ‘road diet’ to describe what will take place before elaborating.

West Springfield at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1774
Population: 28,529
Area: 17.5 square miles
County: Hampden
Residential Tax Rate: $16.99
Commercial Tax Rate: $32.65
Median Household Income: $40,266
Median Family Income: $50,282
Type of Government: Mayor, City Council
Largest Employers: Eversource Energy, Harris Corp., Home Depot, Interim Health Care, Mercy Home Care
* Latest information available

“This is the new best practice, and it involves reducing the amount of pavement while at the same time incorporating amenities or facilities for transportation other than personal vehicles, such as bikes, pedestrians, and buses,” she explained. “By designing it more efficiently, especially when it comes to the intersections and turning areas, you ideally need fewer lanes — that’s what is meant by road diet.

“The plans are not finalized,” she went on. “But it will have a bike lane and new sidewalks and trees; in addition to trying to improve traffic flow, it’s also a beautification project.”

Thus, there will be significant change to a thoroughfare that is already in a seemingly constant state of motion, not only with vehicular traffic, but also with businesses coming and going.

That’s certainly the case today, with a new, larger Planet Fitness opening in the Century Plaza, and the fate of both the White Hut and the Hofbrauhaus property still unknown.

Both landmarks date back to the 1930s, and they have become part of the landscape on Memorial Avenue, said Manuel, adding that the hope is that both will soon have new names over the door, or, in the case of the White Hut, perhaps the same name but with new ownership.

As for the Hofbrauhaus property, it presents both challenges and opportunities.

“The size of the facility is a bit daunting for another restaurant,” she noted. “But the location is so good that I’m sure that something will happen there.”

Meanwhile, movement is also a constant on the other major thoroughfare in the city, Riverdale Street, where the new seafood restaurant is set to open soon, said Manuel. It’s not far from a recently opened Marriott Courtyard, which was built on the site of the former Boston Billiards, yet another example of redevelopment in this city.

“The vast majority of what we see is redevelopment projects, and we see a steady amount of development happening every year,” she said, adding there are many other examples of this, including the ongoing expansion of Titan Industries on Baldwin Street, Hot Brass, and the Holyoke Creative Arts Center moving into one of the mills vacated by Neenah Paper.

Lager Than Life

The hope, and the expectation, is that this pattern will continue, Manuel said, adding that, while the city is indeed land-poor, it is opportunity-rich given its location, easy accessibility, and inventory of properties that can be redeveloped.

Sometimes it takes some imagination and determination — as was certainly the case with Two Weeks Notice and the former tortellini factory — but West Springfield has generally proven to be a mailing address worthy of such diligence.

Avery noted the same while finishing that batch of Performance Review 13, which will hopefully become yet another positive chapter in a business story written in a city where more such sagas are penned each year.

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

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 14: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed HERE. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, WWLP-22News is the media sponsor, and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield is a partner. Other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Elms College Art Exhibit

Feb. 4 to March 2: The Borgia Gallery at Elms College of Our Lady of the Elms will present an exhibition of artwork by Andrae and Priya Nadkarni Green, married painters from Springfield. “Ambidextrous” will be on display in the gallery from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except college holidays and school closures. An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 4 from noon to 1 p.m. Andrae and Priya have been married for the better part of the last decade. Although they work separately in their respective styles, they find inspiration in similar experiences and concepts. The couple recently began working together through public art projects, teaching together, as well as challenging each other to ‘paint battles’ where they both paint the same image in their own styles. This exhibition celebrates the spirit of competition, camaraderie, and partnership. Each time the show travels, the work changes, and it is a chance to see their works in conversation with each other — to observe the similarities, differences, and the overall effect of the two bodies of work in harmony. Admission to the Borgia Gallery is free and open to the public. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Dooley College Center on the Elms College campus at 291 Springfield St. in Chicopee.

Black History Month Event at Bay Path

Feb. 5: Vocalist, strategist, and speaker Traciana Graves believes people have the ability to change the world with the power of their voice, and she’ll bring that inspirational message to Bay Path University as the keynote speaker for its Black History Month celebration. Having presented to more than 300 Fortune 500 companies and colleges, including Forbes, JPMorgan, American Express, and the WNBA, Graves strives to make the potentially uncomfortable conversation about diversity and inclusion safe, engaging, and effective. Voted one of America’s Most Fearless Women by the Huffington Post, Graves’ will bring her unique perspective to Bay Path with a discussion focusing on hopes, dreams, and social justice. The talk will begin at 7 p.m., with a reception to follow. This free event is open to the community and will be held on the Bay Path Longmeadow campus at Mills Theatre in Carr Hall, 588 Longmeadow St. For more information and to register, visit tracianagraves.eventbrite.com.

Rotary Club of Enfield Wine and Beer Tasting

Feb. 6: The Rotary Club of Enfield announced that local musician Brian Jarvis will perform at the club’s wine- and beer-tasting event from 6 to 8 p.m. in Asnuntuck Community College’s Conference Center. The evening includes live music, appetizers and desserts, beer and wine tastings, and a silent auction. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased by contacting Julie Cotnoir at (860) 745-3350 or Caroline Salazar at (619) 997-0548.

Sweetheart Dance to Benefit Harmony House

Feb. 15: Harmony House of Western Massachusetts will be the beneficiary of the upcoming Sweetheart Dance sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Harley Owner’s Group (HOG) and the Knights of Columbus (K of C) Council 4044 of Chicopee, to be held at the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. The event begins at 5 p.m. with cocktails, and dinner will be served at 6 p.m., followed by dancing, fun, and raffle prizes. The cost is $40 per person or $75 per couple, and included will be dinner, dessert, and music by DJ Stephan. Dress is casual — Valentine’s Day attire is optional — and seating is open. Proceeds from this event will benefit Harmony House of Western Massachusetts, a home for the terminally ill, along with the Thanksgiving Dinner produced annually by the Knights of Columbus, Council 4044. Tickets are available at the K of C member lounge on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 to 7:30 p.m., or by calling Steve Dubreuil of the K of C at (413) 250-1677, Libby Martel of Pioneer Valley HOG at (413) 530-1389, or Amy Corcoran of Harmony House at (954) 495-3236.

Children’s Safety Program

Feb. 15, 22: Holyoke Community College (HCC) is running a two-day program designed to teach children how to protect themselves from violence and harm in their daily lives. The program, called radKIDS, is for children 6 to 12 years old and will run over two consecutive Saturdays at HCC’s Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation. The sessions will be led by Kellie Cournoyer-Cronk and Maggie Brown, two area law-enforcement veterans and trainers certified by the radKIDS national nonprofit network. According to its website, radKIDS is a “fun, activity-based program” whose curriculum includes home, school, and vehicle safety; bullying prevention; abduction defense; and personal space/personal touch safety with a goal of “replacing fear with knowledge, skills, and power by enhancing a child’s critical-thinking abilities and physical-resistance skills.” The $75 program fee includes snacks, water, and a T-shirt. To register, visit hcc.edu/bce and search for ‘radKIDS’ or call HCC Community Services at (413) 552-2123.

Real-estate Licensing Course

Feb. 19 to March 19: 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. The course will be completed on March 19. Tuition is $400 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328 or visit www.rapv.com.

Legal Interpreting Certificate Program

Starting Feb. 25: Interested in working as a legal interpreter? Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will a training course that runs through April, with classes meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Offered as a certificate program through the Workforce Development Center at STCC, this class is open to Spanish-, Portuguese-, Arabic-, and Russian-speaking students who would like to expand their interpreting skills in legal settings. Interpreting is a high-demand field, with jobs expected to grow by 19% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Large increases in the number of non-English-speaking people in the U.S. will drive growth, the bureau reports. The course will cover the most in-demand types of hearings, such as due-process hearings, unemployment hearings, and depositions. Students will learn legal terminology and procedural protocols needed to interpret for these various types of hearings. In addition, students will have the opportunity for intense practice through mock hearings, which will give them the experience and comfort level needed to apply for work in the field. Trained legal interpreters are in demand throughout Massachusetts and nationwide in law offices, schools, state agencies, and contracting agencies. For more information and to enroll online, visit stcc.edu/wdc/descriptions/legal-interpreting. To contact the Workforce Development Center office, call (413) 755-4225.

Difference Makers Gala

March 19: The 11th annual Difference Makers gala will take place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. BusinessWest launched its Difference Makers program in 2009 to celebrate individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. The class of 2020 is profiled in this issue of BusinessWest. Tickets cost $75. To reserve a spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit businesswest.com. Difference Makers is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournement, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Suzy Batiz, who will deliver the morning address to open the conference, earned a place on Forbes’ list of most successful self-made women — and an estimated net worth of $260 million — by creating of a suite of eco-minded household products, including Poo-Pourri, a toilet spray she developed to combat bathroom odors. Patrice Banks (no relation to Tyra) will address the audience at lunchtime. She is the owner of the Girls Auto Clinic and Clutch Beauty Bar, an auto mechanic shop and beauty bar staffed by women. She is also the founder of the SheCANics movement, which looks to demystify car repair and engage more women in the automotive industry. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 14: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-nomination-form. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, media sponsor WWLP22 News, and partner YPS of Greater Springfield. Other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Howdy Award Nominations

Through March 1: Through March 1, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) is providing an opportunity to thank individuals who provide great service by nominating them for a Howdy Award for Hospitality Excellence. To nominate someone, visit explorewesternmass.com and click on the Howdy logo. For 25 years, the Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence program has recognized outstanding restaurant servers, attraction attendants, bartenders, hotel personnel, retail clerks, and others across Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Official categories include accommodations, attractions, banquets and meetings, beverage, food casual, food tableside, public service, retail, transportation, and people’s choice (a category voted on by the public via social media). Since the program’s inception, she noted, dozens of winners have taken home a trophy from the annual awards dinner. This year’s dinner is Monday, May 18 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Howdy sponsors for 2020 include Yankee Candle Village, Eastern States Exposition, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, MGM Springfield, MassMutual Center, Aladco Linen Service, Freedom Credit Union, New Belgium Fat Tire, Baystate Health, People’s United Bank, iHeartMedia, WWLP, the Republican, and MassLive.

Valley District Dental Society Winter Membership Meeting

Jan. 22: The Valley District Dental Society will hold its winter membership meeting at Hotel Northampton, 36 King St., Northampton. The event will begin with cocktails at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and a business meeting from 6 to 7 p.m., and a seminar, “Transitioning: Planning Your Future,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Practice owners and doctor associates will learn about how owners prepare for transition and how associates evaluate a practice for associateship or purchase. Doctors will hear from the professionals who position private practices for transition and advise associates on how to choose a practice that will help them grow and thrive. Presenters include Carolyn Carpenter, CPA, Rosen & Associates; Stefan Green, Bank of America Practice Solutions; Matt Kolcum, CARR Health Care Realty; Maria Melone, MORR Dental Transitions; and Patricia Sweitzer, Sweitzer Construction (facilitator). The cost to attend is $55. To register and select a meal option, visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4475373.

Chefs for Jimmy

Jan. 24: From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Student Prince & the Fort Restaurant will join nearly 30 other restaurants to participate in the 30th annual Chefs for Jimmy at Chez Josef in Agawam. Chefs for Jimmy is an annual fundraising event that, since 1990, has raised more than $1.8 million for adult and pediatric cancer care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston. Chefs for Jimmy offers a delicious way to raise funds because it features dishes created by more than 30 chefs from 30 different local restaurants. It’s a fun culinary tasting tour, and the event also includes an ‘opportunity drawing’ and a silent auction. The theme for 2020 to be reflected in the décor and the food presentation is “one night of peace, love, and food.” Participating restaurants will include 350 Grill, Burgundy Brook Café, Cerrato’s Pastry Shop, the Chandler Steakhouse, Chez Josef, Dana’s Main Street Tavern, Delaney’s Grill & the Mick, Elegant Affairs, Fazio’s Ristorante, Johnny’s Tavern, Leone’s Restaurant, Longmeadow Country Club, Max’s Tavern, Murphy’s Pub, Nadim’s Downtown, Nina’s Cookies, Nosh Restaurant & Café, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters, Pintu’s Indian Restaurant, Rondeau’s Dairy Bar, Shortstop Bar & Grill, the Starting Gate at GreatHorse, Steaming Tender, Storrowton Tavern Restaurant & Carriage House, the Student Prince & the Fort, Tekoa Country Club, Tokyo Asian Cuisine, and Tucker’s Restaurant.

Workshop on Wage and Hour Laws

Jan. 28: MassHire Holyoke Career Center will present a free workshop on the laws enforced by the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, including the payment of wages, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time. At the event — slated for 8 to 10 a.m. at 850 High St., Holyoke — guest speaker Barbara Dillon DeSouza will also discuss the broad powers of the Fair Labor Division to investigate and enforce violations of these laws and explain the various ways a company can become the subject of an investigation. Finally, she will note some resources available to companies to keep informed of the laws. DeSouza is an assistant attorney general in the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. She focuses on enforcing Massachusetts wage and hour laws, including prevailing-wage laws. She has been with the office since March 2010. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to reserve a seat early. Register by contacting Yolanda Rodriguez at (413) 322-7186 or [email protected].

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Black History Month Event at Bay Path

Feb. 5: Vocalist, strategist, and speaker Traciana Graves believes people have the ability to change the world with the power of their voice, and she’ll bring that inspirational message to Bay Path University as the keynote speaker for its Black History Month celebration. Having presented to more than 300 Fortune 500 companies and colleges, including Forbes, JPMorgan, American Express, and the WNBA, Graves strives to make the potentially uncomfortable conversation about diversity and inclusion safe, engaging, and effective. Voted one of America’s Most Fearless Women by the Huffington Post, Graves’ will bring her unique perspective to Bay Path with a discussion focusing on hopes, dreams, and social justice. The talk will begin at 7 p.m., with a reception to follow. This free event is open to the community and will be held on the Bay Path Longmeadow campus at Mills Theatre in Carr Hall, 588 Longmeadow St. For more information and to register, visit tracianagraves.eventbrite.com.

Difference Makers Gala

March 19: The 11th annual Difference Makers gala will take place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. BusinessWest launched its Difference Makers program in 2009 to celebrate individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. The class of 2020 will be revealed in the Feb. 3 issue of BusinessWest. Tickets cost $75. To reserve spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit HERE. Event sponsorship opportunities are available. Sponsored by Royal, P.C.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Suzy Batiz, who will deliver the morning address to open the conference, earned a place on Forbes’ list of most successful self-made women — and an estimated net worth of $260 million — by creating of a suite of eco-minded household products, including Poo-Pourri, a toilet spray she developed to combat bathroom odors. Patrice Banks (no relation to Tyra) will address the audience at lunchtime. She is the owner of the Girls Auto Clinic and Clutch Beauty Bar, an auto mechanic shop and beauty bar staffed by women, and the founder of the SheCANics movement, which looks to demystify car repair and engage more women in the automotive industry. Breakout sessions — focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities — will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Incorporations

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

AMHERST

Amherst Youth Football Inc., 170 Chestnut St. Suite 1, Amherst, MA 01002. Michael Isabelle, 7 Cadwell St., Pelham, MA 01002. To promote youth football and to provide instruction related to the game of football in an environment that is positive and safe for children.

BARRE

Barre Food Pantry, A Non-For Profit Corporation, 167 Grogan Road, Barre, MA 01005. David Petrovick, same. To collect and provide food and to serve members of our community who face insufficiency, food insecurity, or hunger.

BELCHERTOWN

All Connections Electric Inc., 91 Eskett Road, Belchertown, MA 01007. Cory Mckenna, same. To provide electrical contract and service work to businesses and residences.

CHICOPEE

Western Mass Distance Project Inc., 27 Reed St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Joseph Czupryna, 1325 Commonwealth Ave., Apt 25, Boston, MA 02134. To foster national and international amateur sports competition; to support and develop amateur athletes for participation in national and international competition in track and field and long-distance running events.

Black Cat Theater Inc., 60 Pembroke Place, Chicopee, MA 01020. Richard S. Matteson, 9 Pine Grove Dr., South Hadley, MA 01075. Real estate.

Chicopee Dentistry and Braces, P.C., 591 Memorial Marketplace , Chicopee, MA 01020. Patrick Assioun,10 Museum Way, Unit 2424, Cambridge, MA 02141. General and orthodontic dentistry.

HOLYOKE

Webmaster — Tri-County Baseball Inc., 287 Essex St., # 601, Holyoke, MA 01040. Kevin McGurk, 74 Overlook Dr., West Springfield, MA 01040. To provide publicity and promotional activities for the tri-county baseball league.

INDIAN ORCHARD

Deep Cleaning Auto Detailing Inc., 337 Main St., Indian Orchard, MA 01151. Nehemias Enrique Rodriguez, same. Auto detailing.

LONGMEADOW

C.F. Murphy & Associates Inc., 39 Oakwood Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Caroline F. Murphy, same. Real estate appraisal.

ORANGE

CJ Asian Inc., 326 East Main St., Orange, MA 01364. Kan So, same. To engage in restaurant business.

SUNDERLAND

Country Strong Fitness Inc., 231 Plumtree Road, Sunderland, MA 01375. Brennan Mckenna, same. Training and fitness.

CVA Soccer, Inc., 52 Kulessa Cross Road, Sunderland, MA 01375. Ailton R. Monteiro, 30 Colonial Village, Amherst, MA 01002. To promote and execute programs that increase awareness and participation in soccer, culture, and education initiatives within the community and internationally.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

American Sport A+ Inc., 99 Pine St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Asif Bayramov, same. To improve judo and other sports, write and print books, as well as to produce a documentary in the area.

Cannabis Matters Inc., 4 Wilder Terrace, West Springfield, MA 01089. Michael Anthony Skowron, same. Marketing, online t-shirts, advertising, education.

Car Shipped Inc., 96 Kings Highway, West Springfield, MA 01089. Vitaliy Dipon, same. Transportation.

WESTIFELD

300 Union Street Inc., 300 Union St., Westfield, MA 01085. Armand R. Cote, 149 Birnie Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. To own and operation commercial and residential real estate.

Cannabis Connection Inc., 48 Elm St., Suite 3, Westfield, MA 01085. Thomas P. Keenan, same. Retail sale of consumer products.

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

MJ Adams, Greenfield’s director of Communty and Economic Development

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. And it certainly is bad news.

Wilson’s department store, an anchor and destination in downtown Greenfield for a century or so, will be closing its doors as its owner moves into retirement, leaving a very large hole to fill in the middle of Main Street.

The store was practically synonymous with the city and its downtown, drawing visitors of all ages who wanted to shop in one of the last old-time department stores in this region and maybe in the state.

“It’s devastating and it’s heartbreaking because it’s part of the fabric of the community,” said Diana Szynal, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, headquartered on Main Street in Greenfield. “This will be a serious loss for Greenfield, but…”

That ‘but’ constitutes what amounts to the good news.

Indeed, while unquestionably a loss, the closing of Wilson’s — which was certainly not unexpected by most — isn’t producing anything approaching the hand-wringing such news would have generated a decade or even five years ago.

Redevelopment of this large and highly visible site will certainly pose challenges. But instead of focusing on that aspect of the equation, most are consumed by the other side — the opportunity side, which Szynal referenced as she finished her sentence.

“We are looking at this as an opportunity,” she said. “We know something good will go there, something that reflects a changing landscape in retail.”

Meanwhile, there are enough good things happening and enough positive energy in this city that most are thinking this is something Greenfield can deal with and perhaps even benefit from in the long run as the retail world changes.

Jeremy Goldsher, left, and Jeff Sauser, co-founders of Greenspace co-working space.

As for those good things and positive energy … it’s a fairly long and impressive list that includes:

• New businesses such as the Rise Above coffee shop, and established businesses under new ownership, such as the Greenfield Garden Cinema, another downtown anchor;

• A refocused Greenfield Business Assoc. (GBA), now under the leadership of coordinator Rachel Roberts;

• A burgeoning cultural economy headlined by the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in the heart of downtown, but also a growing number of arts-related ventures;

• Co-working spaces — such as Greenspace, located above Hawks and Reed, as well as Another Castle, a facility that has attracted a number of video-game-related businesses — that are attracting young professionals and bringing more vibrancy to the downtown;

GCET, the municipal provider of reliable high-speed internet, a service that that has made those co-work spaces possible;

The Hive, a makers space now under development on Main Street, just a block or so down from Wilson’s;

• Rail service, specifically in the form of the Yankee Flyer, which brings two trains a day to the city, and enables one to travel to New York and back the same day;

• A new town library, which is expected to bring more vibrancy — and another co-working space — to downtown; and

• A noticeable tightening of the housing market, a tell-tale sign of progress.

“I have some employees who are trying to buy homes in Greenfield, and the inventory is moving so fast, they’re having a hard time getting something,” said Paul Hake, president of HitPoint, a video-game maker and anchor tenant in the Another Castle co-working space. “We have someone who’s trying to buy here from Los Angeles; he’s very excited, but he says, ‘every house I look at is gone by the time I can make an offer.’ The market’s hot, and that’s always good.”

The landscape in downtown Greenfield is changing. Long-time anchor Wilson’s is closing, while new businesses, such as the coffee shop Rise Above, have opened their doors.

These pieces to a large puzzle are coming together and complementing one another, thus creating an attractive picture and intriguing landing spot for entrepreneurs looking for quality of life and an affordable alternative to Boston or Northampton. And they’re also creating momentum that, as noted, will hopefully make the closing of Wilson’s a manageable loss.

“We’re sad to see Wilson’s go,” said William Baker, president of Baker Office Supply, another Main Street staple (pun intended) since the 1930s, and also president of the Greenfield Business Assoc. “But we’re all excited to see what comes next.”

Roberts agreed.

“Downtown is at a crossroads, and we’re working together to see what fits and put the pieces together,” she noted, adding that there is a great deal of collaboration going on as the community hits this fork in the road, an important ingredient in its resurgence. “We support each other, and that’s huge. I’ve lived in plenty of other places where you see isolation and people hitting walls. We don’t hit walls here — we just make a new window and figure out how you’re going to reach across that window to your neighbor and say, ‘how are we going to make this work?’”

For this, the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest opens a window onto Greenfield, or what could be called a new Greenfield.

Banding Together

Jeremy Goldsher was born in Greenfield and grew up in nearby Conway. Like many other young people, he moved on from Franklin County to find opportunity, but unlike most, he returned to his roots — and found it there, in a number of different ways.

Indeed, he’s now at the forefront of a number of the initiatives creating momentum in Greenfield. He and Jeff Sauser co-founded Greenspace, which bills itself as “flexible, on-demand co-working space in the heart of downtown,” and is part of the ownership team at Hawks and Reed, which is drawing people from across the region, and well beyond, with a diverse lineup of shows, ranging from open-mic night on Jan. 7 to Bombtrack, a Rage Against the Machine tribute, on Jan. 10.

He’s also on a host of committees, including the Downtown Greenfield Neighborhood Assoc. and the GBA, and was active in the push for a new library.

He told BusinessWest there is considerable positive energy in the city, generated by a host of factors, but especially a burgeoning cultural economy, a growing number of young entrepreneurs finding their way to the city (thanks to fast, reliable internet service), and a downtown that is becoming ever more attractive to the younger generations.

What’s made it all possible, he noted, is a spirit of collaboration and a number of groups working together.

“It really does a take a village,” he said. “It’s such a blessed time to be a part of this community; there’s a wave of construction and development happening, and it’s just exciting to be part of it.”

MJ Adams, director of Community and Economic Development for Greenfield, agreed. She told BusinessWest that, as a new year and a new mayoral administration — Roxann Wedegartner was elected last November — begins, a number of initiatives launched over the past several years are starting to generate progress and vibrancy.

These include everything from the new courthouse, transportation center, and parking garage in the downtown to GCET’s expanding footprint; from Greenfield Community College’s growing presence downtown — and across the city, for that matter — to redevelopment of the former Lunt Silversmith property into a healthcare campus.

“The city conducted a master-planning process about five years ago that really engaged the community in a robust conversation of what we saw as our future,” Adams explained. “As we come up on the five-year anniversary of that initiative, the community is talking about focusing more specifically on the downtown and downtown revitalization.

“We’ve seen a major shift in how our downtown plays itself out,” she went on. “And I think we’re trying to figure out what role the city should be playing and what’s the role of the various partners in the community as we try to continue moving forward and seeing Greenfield become the robust, vibrant arts and cultural hub of Franklin County.”

There are a number of these partners, starting with GCC, the only college in Franklin County. The school has long had a presence in the downtown, and is working to become more impactful in areas ranging from workforce development to entrepreneurship, said Mary Ellen Fydenkevez, chief Academic and Student Affairs officer.

As examples, she said the college, which is in the midst of its own strategic-planning process, has launched a creative-economy initiative in collaboration with retired Congressman John Olver; put together a ‘Take the Floor’ event, a pitch contest with a $10,000 first prize; and blueprinted a new ideation center to be created in the East Building within the school’s main campus.

“There, we hope to bring together all different kinds of entrepreneurs to work together in a working space,” she explained, adding that the college plans to stage workshops on various aspects of entrepreneurship to help fledgling businesses develop.

Meanwhile, it plans to start a new business of its own, a coffee shop to be managed by student interns.

“One of our focal points is experiential learning,” she told BusinessWest. “And this business will provide that — it will give students opportunities to learn while doing; they’ll be running their own business.”

Meanwhile, on the academic side, the college is looking at new programs to support workforce-building initiatives in healthcare precision manufacturing and other sectors, and it is also blazing a trail, if you will, with a new program in adventure education.

Indeed, the school recently received approval from the state Department of Higher Education for an associate-degree program to focus on preparing individuals to lead businesses in the outdoor-adventure sector, which includes ziplining, rafting, and more.

“We feel that Western Mass. is a great place for such a program,” Fydenkevez said. “And we’re optimistic that we’ll get some good response; this is an important part of the economy here.”

Art of the Matter

The same can be said of the broad arts and entertainment sector that has emerged over the past several years, said Rachel Katz, owner of the Greenfield Gallery, billed as the city’s premier (and also its only) art gallery, and president of the Crossroads Cultural District.

“I’m a big believer in the creative economy driving growth, especially after an industrial exodus, as we’ve seen in so many small New England towns — it’s a model we’ve seen repeated all through the country,” said Katz, who converted the former Rooney’s department store in 2015 with the intention of creating a gallery and leading the way in a creative-economy revival.

“I saw when I came here that there were already a lot of creative people here doing some amazing things,” Katz went on. “There just wasn’t a home for them; I created a home.”

Since then, the arts and music sector, if you will, has continued to grow, said Katz, who believes it is leading the revival now taking place. And another major piece to the puzzle with be added with the Hive makers space.

Like other facilities of this type taking shape in other communities, The Hive will be a membership-based community workshop with tools and equipment — from computer-controlled precision machining equipment to 3D printers to traditional sewing machines — made available to these members.

“This space is critical,” Katz said, “because it provides a bridge between the creative economy and the more traditional technological economy. And the one resource we still have — it’s never gone away despite the closing of all the tap-and-die shops — is the people that are here.

Jeremy Goldsher at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, the anchor of a growing cultural economy in Greenfield.

“Those people still have skills and ideas; they just don’t have a place to actualize them,” she went on. “The Hive will give these people an outlet, and when you put tools in the hands of people with ideas, only good things can happen.”

Good things also happen when you can give people with ideas reliable, high-speed internet and attractive spaces in which to work, said Sauser, Goldsher’s partner at Greenspace and an urban-planning consultant by trade.

He told BusinessWest that the Greenspace model is to take obsolete or underutilized space and “make it cool again.” He and Goldsher have done this above Hawks and Reed and across the street at 278 Main Street, and they’re currently scouting other locations in which to expand.

Rachel Roberts, coordinator of a revitalized Greenfield Business Assoc.

Their spaces have become home to a diverse membership base, he said, one that includes an anchor tenant, smaller businesses, and individuals. Above Hawks and Reed, the anchor tenant is Australis Aquaculture, a producer and marketer of farm-raised barramundi — with the farm in Vietnam.

“They wanted to move their executive and sales teams from Montague to downtown Greenfield, in part to retain staff, keep people happy, and have people enjoy coming to work — many of their employees now walk to work,” Sauser explained, adding that the other anchor, Common Media, a digital-marketing company, was based on Route 9 in a building people didn’t enjoy coming to.

Both moves speak volumes about Greenfield’s revitalization, he went on, adding that both companies have lower overhead then they had before, and their employees are happier, both strong selling points.

“My observation, and my personal experience, is that Greenfield is great at attracting people who are looking for a certain quality of life and sense of community — and can work wherever they want,” he noted. “And there’s more and more people like that in this world.”

Creating a Buzz

All those we spoke with said that easily the best thing Greenfield has going for it at present is a spirit of collaboration, a number of parties, public and private, working together to forge a new, stronger, and more diverse economy.

This collaborative spirit is being celebrated — sort of — in another intriguing initiative certain to bring more color to the downtown. It’s the latest in a region-wide series of public art-installation projects, initiatives that brought dozens of painted sneakers to Springfield, bears to Easthampton, terriers to West Springfield, and C5As to Chicopee.

Greenfield will soon be populated with giant bees, said Sarah Kanaby, board president of Progress Partnership Inc.

“These bees are a symbol of the collective energy and the buzz — there have been 5 million bee puns to come out of this project — that we’re seeing in Greenfield,” she explained, noting that artists are painting and decorating the bees now, and they are scheduled to be installed in May or June. “We strongly believe, because of Greenfield’s connection to the modern beehive and all that the beehive represents in terms of collectivism and cooperation, that this is the right image.”

Roberts agreed, noting that a revitalized GBA is one of those groups working with other public and private entities to bring more vibrancy to the downtown and the city as a whole.

“We’re trying to work more collaboratively with the town government to create more things to benefit businesses here in Greenfield as well as the greater community,” she said, adding that one example of this is the addition of new holiday lights on the town common and other holiday-season touches throughout the downtown.

“We’re focusing on taking what we’ve already done and making those programs better, and also finding new ways to support the businesses as well as the community,” she said, adding that, while much attention is directed toward new businesses and attracting still more ventures, her agency doesn’t want to look past long-standing anchors, both small and large, that are still a big part of the picture.

Efforts toward securing not only a new library but also a new fire station are part of this work, she said, adding both facilities are desperately needed, and both with contribute toward quality of life and a greater sense of pride in the community.

Baker, the third-generation owner of the family business, one that has been on Main Street since 1936, agreed, and noted that the GBA has given a voice to a business community that historically hasn’t had one, and at a time when its voice is needed.

“The downtown is re-inventing itself right now; we’re in the midst of trying to figure out what a downtown should be in this new day and age,” he told BusinessWest. “And in talking to people, I think we’re on the right track; there are a lot of great new ideas. We just have to continue with the creative economy, the co-work space, the fantastic internet service that we have, and draw people downtown as we try to figure out the next chapter and what a downtown should look like.”

What’s in Store?

This brings us back to the elephant in the room — the closing of Wilson’s and the huge void it will leave downtown — and where we started this discussion.

Yes, this development is a blow to the city and the end of the area in a number of ways. But this is a new era Greenfield and a different time.

Specifically, it’s a time of collaboration and working together to create new and different kinds of opportunities and new uses for existing spaces.

“Wilson’s was an anchor for this downtown for the longest time, for 137 years,” Adams said. “But it’s exciting to think about what’s next; we’re about to turn the page and see what’s next.”

As Roberts said, those working within this collaborative don’t hit walls, they create new windows. And the view from those windows is very promising.

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

Health Care

More Than a Gym

Dexter Johnson says people who work downtown are excited about having the YMCA nearby.

Dexter Johnson can rattle off the amenities found in any chain gym. Weights and cardio equipment. A sauna or pool. Perhaps a playroom for kids to hang out while their parents work out.

But the YMCA offers more than just fitness equipment and childcare for its members — it gives them a community, said Johnson, CEO of YMCA of Greater Springfield, which recently relocated from Chestnut Street in Springfield to Tower Square in the heart of downtown.

The nonprofit recently held its grand opening, and is well underway with programs, fitness classes, and more activities open to members.

The fact that Tower Square, Monarch Place, 1550 Main Street, and other surrounding offices are home to more than 2,000 employees in downtown Springfield is one of several benefits of the YMCA’s move, Johnson told BusinessWest. “The reception has been great. The people that work in this building or in the adjoining buildings have been excited about having us here.”

And it’s no secret why.

The new Child Care Center for the Springfield Y boasts a 15,000-square-foot education center, including classrooms, serving infants through elementary-school students. The Wellness Center continues its popular fitness and health programming with a new, 12,000-square-foot facility on the mezzanine level of Tower Square, complete with a group exercise room, state-of-the-art spin room, sauna, steam room, and walking track.

But Johnson knows the Y is more than just a gym — it’s a cause-driven organization that focuses on giving back to the community through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

“We don’t call ourselves a gym, despite the fact that we have gym equipment,” he said. “We are a community organization, and this is just one of the ways that we serve the community.”

The Bigger Picture

One of the many programs the Y offers is LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a 12-week personal-training program for adult cancer survivors offered without cost to participants. It also provides families with nearly $700,000 in financial scholarships every year — just two examples of how the Y is much more than just a gym, Johnson said.

“Our goal as an organization is to really make the Y stronger,” he noted, adding that the move to a new facility will greatly reduce costs to allow the organization to expand its services and impact. “The Y is looking to serve the community and to help from the spirit, mind, and body aspects of what people need.”

Before the move, Johnson anticipated the Y would lose about 20% of its members due to lack of a pool and change of location, but added that it has since gained new members and partners that are taking advantage of the services. About 50 new memberships were sold before the move into the new space, just because people knew it was coming.

“Nearly 2,000 people work in these three buildings, so we’re really hoping that those folks will understand the convenience of having something like this right here and not having to go to your car and drive elsewhere to meet your wellness needs,” he said.

Right now, the number of membership units, both families and individuals, is up to about 1,000. In order to increase these numbers, Johnson says the Y is giving tours, reaching out to local businesses and neighbors, and will be offering specials starting in 2020 to get people in the door.

“We’re hoping that we will get a good turnout of people that will give us a try,” he said, adding that a new sauna, steam room, and more than 40 group exercise classes a week are just some of the benefits.

While welcoming those newcomers, Johnson emphasized that the Y is also hoping its long-time members will enjoy the new facility as well.

“Despite the fact that we are heavily focused on the business population, we continue to serve the population as a whole, and we want our members to remember that part because that’s crucial for us,” he said. “We’re really looking to build upon the existing membership by moving here.”

A New Venture

While the new location has more limited space than the original, Johnson says he’s focused on making the most of the new location. That includes utilizing the parking garage by offering members free parking for up to three hours — as well as letting people know what other amenities exist in Tower Square, from retail and banking to UMass Amherst and numerous restaurants, most of them in the food court.

“We understand that the more activity and the more action taking place in this building, the better for everyone,” he said.

Overall, Johnson strongly believes this new facility will help serve the goals of the Y as a whole.

“We think this facility will stabilize the organization,” he said, “while we continue in our other efforts as they relate to our full service at our Wilbraham location, our childcare facilities throughout the city, and all the things the Y is involved with.”

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

Agenda

Loomis Village Art Exhibit

Jan. 1-31: The public is invited to view a new exhibit coming to Loomis Village in January, “Five Felters, Five Perspectives,” which will showcase bespoke garments, landscapes, and abstract and sculptural wall pieces inspired by nature, historical artifacts, and imagination. The artists are Nina Compagnon, Sally Dillon, Martha Robinson, Flo Rosenstock, and Margaret Stancer. The exhibit will be displayed in the second- and third-floor galleries at Loomis Village, 20 Bayon Dr., South Hadley every day in January from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A reception with the five artists will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m. A demonstration of felting techniques, also open to the public, will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.

Project Management Exam Prep Workshop

Jan. 6-8: Are you ready to become a certified project-management professional (PMP)? Forbes.com lists a PMP certificate as the second-highest-paying IT certification for 2019, and the Project Management Institute (PMI) states that, through 2020, 1.57 million new project-management jobs will be created each year. To help prepare community members to begin the certification process, Bay Path University’s Strategic Alliances division is hosting a three-day workshop that will prepare participants to take the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Exam. The CAPM workshop, led by IT consultant and project manager Rick DeJohn from Camus Consulting Inc., combines lectures, discussions, case studies, and in-class practice testing with a review of test results. Project-management experience is not required, and anyone interested in demonstrating to employers that they have the skill set to become a project manager is encouraged to attend. Participants who complete the program will be awarded a certificate of completion and will earn the required 23 education hours to sit for the CAPM examination. Per the Project Management Institute, a high-school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent is required as an exam prerequisite. This workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on the Bay Path campus, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. To register, visit capm2020.eventbrite.com. For additional information, contact Briana Sitler at [email protected] or (413) 565-1066.

Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information, visit aic.edu/mem.

Cannabis Education Center

Jan. 16, 23: The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started. The first, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” — a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business — was held on Dec. 17. The next, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan. The third, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’

‘Stress Less in 2020’

Jan. 17: The free monthly Lunch and Learn program at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence at JGS Lifecare has announced its next topic. Dr. Bill Bazin, a chiropractor for more than 30 years, will present “Stress Less in 2020 with Time and Energy Efficiency,” offering strategies to better manage stress and increase quality of life. Almost 60% of Americans consider themselves stressed and depressed, and stress can play a major factor in heart attacks. Bazin will talk about stress and offer strategies on what to do to deal with it. Topics will include why we have stress; different types of stress; signs and symptoms of an overstressed life; how to get exponential growth from one’s time and energy; strategic planning for one’s life and family; eliminating fear, panic, and anxiety; the five factors of health; solutions for stress that can be done at home, and when to take the next step to deal with stress. The lunch at noon will be followed by the presentation from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Ruth’s House Lunch and Learn program is free and open to the public. RSVP to Lori Payson at (413) 567-3949, ext. 3105, or [email protected] For more information, visit jgslifecare.org/events.

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Agenda

Starting Gate at GreatHorse Holiday Party

Dec. 14: The Starting Gate at GreatHorse will host a holiday party — including decorations, music, and menu — for any company or group that wants to take part. Attendees can enjoy dinner and dance the night away with staff, co-workers, family, and friends — an ideal option for small businesses. The Clark Eno Orchestra will be playing today’s hits and rock and pop songs from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and beyond, plus big band, swing, and Motown. The event is open to the public for $95 per person. A cash bar will be available. For reservations, call (413) 566-5158.

Micro-emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information about the Micro-Emerging Market: Cannabis Certificate Program, visit aic.edu/mem.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. A graduate of Harvard’s Executive Education program, she has taught graduate courses at Stanford University and is opening Modelland, an interactive attraction based in Los Angeles that will allow visitors to experience a fantasy version of the modeling world. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Picture This

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

 


Toys for the Kids

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin, along with Springfield police officers and state troopers, recently went shopping at Walmart on Boston Road on Tuesday morning with a special delivery in mind. Afterward, they made a large donation of toys to Baystate Children’s Hospital.

 


Honoring a Supporter

At the launch of the college’s first major gifts campaign in more than a decade, Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook announced the naming of the Tuohey Family Welcome Center at the Student Learning Commons. Brian Tuohey (pictured), a generous supporter of STCC, beamed with delight after hearing the news. His family, including his five children and 12 grandchildren, made a surprise appearance at the kickoff event on Oct. 22.

 


Celebrating 100 Years

Balise Auto Group recently held its 100th-anniversary employee-recognition event at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

President Jeb Balise

A shot of all Balise associates who have been with the company for 10 years or more

 


Food Fest West

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) held its annual Food Fest West on Nov. 7  at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. The event featured the foods of area restaurants, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, bNapoli, 110 Grill, Hamel’s Creative Catering, Courtyard by Marriott, Pintu’s Indian Cuisine, Partners Restaurant, Springfield Country Club, Storrowton Tavern, Tekoa Country Club, and more. Storrowton Tavern in West Springfield won the People’s Choice Award.

Guests Kelli Lemelin and Ron Lemelin enjoy food from Springfield Country Club

 

A chef from bNapoli serves WRC Chairman Ryan McL

 


Where Health Matters

Health New England recently awarded five $50,000 Where Health Matters grants to organizations that have a positive impact among vulnerable population groups in Western and Central Mass. The honorees included Men of Color Health Awareness, or MOCHA (represented by Lamont Scott, pictured below); Square One (represented by Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard, pictured at bottom); 18 Degrees, a division of Berkshire Children and Families Inc.; Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and the Center for Youth Engagement at UMass Amherst.

Lamont Scott

Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard

 


Instilling a Love of Books

The start of the 2019-20 school year marked several significant milestones for Link to Libraries. First, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and families, including Monson Savings Bank (MSB), which now sponsors a record five schools, every public elementary school in the city of Springfield is now a part of Link to Libraries’ Community Book Link sponsorship program. During the 2018-19 academic year, Link to Libraries donated 23,000 new books to sponsored libraries throughout the region. In addition, a record 200-plus Link to Libraries volunteer readers began reading in classrooms in underserved elementary schools in Hampden, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Hartford counties.

Principal Terry Powe and students from Elias Brookings Elementary School welcome their new sponsor, MSB President Steve Lowell, and Link to Libraries President and CEO Laurie Flynn

 

William Johnson, vice president of St. Germain Investments, reads to students at Lincoln Elementary School

Longtime volunteer Francie Cornwell reads to students at Homer Elementary School

 


A Challenge from the Commissioner

Carlos Santiago, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, spoke to a crowd at Holyoke Community College on Nov. 5. He emphasized the importance of reconceptualizing the work that educators have been doing for the past 20 to 30 years, examining the students that are coming into the system, and changing the perception of the students themselves.

Company Notebook

AIC Gets High Marks in College Salary Report

SPRINGFIELD — PayScale, a Seattle-based software company that performs compensation research, including pay-scale indices and employee engagement, recently released its 2019-20 College Salary Report, ranking American International College (AIC) 39th in the country for health science and nursing programs when considering salary growth. The annual report, based on the salaries of 3.5 million college graduates, provides estimates of early and mid-career pay for 2,500 associate and bachelor’s degree-granting institutions. For health science and nursing programs, PayScale examined 679 institutions offering four-year degrees. At number 39, AIC ranks in the top 6% of the colleges and universities reviewed. “We are very proud of the dedication, motivation, commitment, and diversity of the students in our health sciences programs, including nursing, exercise science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and public health, who strive to be the very best,” said Karen Rousseau, dean of the School of Health Sciences. “Central to American International College’s mission is to provide access, opportunity, and inter-professional collaboration to scholars in the School of Health Sciences, which will serve them well in their career goals as they advance in their chosen fields.” PayScale pioneers the use of big data and unique matching algorithms to power the world’s most advanced compensation platform and continues to be the compensation market leader based on user reviews.

Square One Receives $25,000 Grant from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Square One has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. The grant is part $1 million the Tufts Health Plan Foundation is donating to area nonprofits that are focused on health equity and the social determinants of health in honor of Tufts Health Plan’s 40th anniversary and its longstanding tradition of giving back to the community. “It is a true honor to be recognized by Tufts Health Plan Foundation in such a meaningful and generous way,” said Joan Kagan, Square One President and CEO. “Each and every day, our families are impacted by health disparities and social determinants of health. With these funds, we will continue to seek out creative and effective ways to support the physical, social, and mental health and well-being of our children and families.” The $25,000 grants — 10 in each of the states where Tufts Health Plan serves members — support a range of nonprofit organizations doing exemplary work to promote community health and wellness. “We recognize that nonprofit organizations are on the front lines of service and play a crucial role in building stronger and healthier communities for all of us,” said Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan. “These angel grants are a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Square One and other organizations addressing the economic and social conditions that influence the health of our diverse communities and helping them to keep up the great work they do.” The Tufts Health Plan Foundation has given more than $35 million to community organizations since 2008 and will give nearly $5 million in community grants this year.

KeyBank Recognized as a Leading Disability Employer

CLEVELAND — For the third year, KeyBank was recognized by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) as a Leading Disability Employer. “We are honored to accept this award from the NOD, a leader in inclusion for people with disabilities,” said Kim Manigault, chief Diversity and Inclusion officer. “Inclusion is intentional. This award reflects the work across many lines of business and partnerships that provide supportive experiences for people with disabilities who engage with and work for KeyBank.”

Jewish Family Service Receives $250,000 Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) has been awarded a competitive two-year $250,000 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This grant will allow JFS to expand its current citizenship program to better serve prospective citizens’ assimilation into American civic life in Hampden County. The fiscal-year 2019 grants, which run through September 2021, promote prospective citizens’ assimilation into American civic life by funding educational programs designed to increase their knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. “Our country welcomes legal immigrants from all over the world who come to the United States, positively contribute to our society, and engage in American civic life,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Immigrants who assimilate, embrace our Constitution, understand our history, and abide by our laws add to the vitality and strength of this great nation. Through this grant program, USCIS continues to support efforts to prepare immigrants to become fully vested U.S. citizens.” JFS is one of 41 organizations in 24 states to receive nearly $10 million in funding to support citizenship-preparation services. Now in its 11th year, the USCIS Citizenship and Assimilation Grant program has helped more than 245,000 lawful, permanent residents prepare for citizenship. A ‘permanent resident’ is a person authorized by the US government to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.

Junior Achievement Wins Community Partner Award

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) was recognized recently by Massachusetts’ Department of Youth Services (DYS) for its work with local youth. DYS, the juvenile-justice agency for the Commonwealth, gave JAWM the 2019 Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Community Partner in the Western Region at a ceremony on Oct. 4 in Dorchester. JAWM, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, was nominated by Sharon Bess, youth employment development specialist at the Center for Human Development (CHD) in Springfield. Bess wrote in her nomination that “Junior Achievement has allowed us to introduce career readiness and financial literacy in a unique way that leaves a lasting impact on our young people and creates a foundation toward positive change to their futures.” CHD is a nonprofit that delivers social and mental-health services to people in Western Mass. and Connecticut. “We’re honored to be recognized with this Community Partner award,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. “Starting in 2005, our partnership with CHD helped establish their Exclusive Tees program by introducing local high-school students to the JA Be Entrepreneurial program and the JA Company program. Our partnership also established the Teen Reality Fair, which provides high-school students with information on career opportunities and introduces financial literacy in a hands-on, eye-opening fashion. It’s always a pleasure to work with the youth and the staff at CHD.”

Country Bank Receives Award for Marketing Video

WARE — Country Bank was recognized for its “Pioneers” video at the American Bankers Assoc. Bank Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas. “Pioneers” competed against hundreds of national video submissions, winning first place in its category. The winners were selected by bank marketing professionals who judged the entries based on creativity, production value, and overall messaging. “We were so honored to receive this award; ‘Pioneers’ truly portrays the hardworking communities that we serve in such an impactful way. The imagery captured local landscapes, people, and businesses, which resulted in a genuinely moving video for us,” said Shelley Regin, senior vice president of Marketing at Country Bank. “The closing line, ‘even hard work needs a partner,’ supports the bank’s belief that relationships are life’s most valuable investments.” When the bank decided to create new videos last summer, it turned to its agency partner, Small Army, to develop a storyline that would truly represent both Central and Western Mass., she added. “We could not be more grateful to our agency for creating a true representation of Country Bank’s local communities.”

Employer Confidence Holds Steady in September

BOSTON — Business confidence remained essentially flat in Massachusetts during September despite a darkening outlook among manufacturers. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 0.2 points to 58.9 last month after retreating in August. The Index has lost 3.7 points since September 2018 but remains within optimistic territory. The September reading was weighed down by weakening sentiment among Bay State manufacturers. The Index’s manufacturing component dropped 2.4 points in September and 7.9 points for the year. The results mirrored the national Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, which fell to its lowest level since 2009 last month. A separate report by IHS Markit showed that the manufacturing sector suffered its worst quarter since 2009, though activity increased during September. The constituent indicators that make up the Index were mixed during September. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth fell 0.6 points to 63.3, while the U.S. Index rose to 56.5. The Massachusetts reading has decreased 1.2 points and the U.S. reading has fallen 7.1 points during the past 12 months. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, lost 0.5 points to 56.4, leaving it 4.4 points lower than a year ago. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, increased 0.8 points to 61.3 — 3.0 points lower than its reading of September 2018. The Employment Index rose a point for the month but remained down 3.1 points for the year. Employers continue to struggle to find qualified workers in a full-employment state economy. Non-manufacturers (61.9) were more confident than manufacturers (55.4). Large companies (60.2) were more optimistic than medium-sized companies (59.9) or small companies (55.4), reversing a trend established during the summer. Companies in Eastern Mass. (62.6) continued to be more optimistic than those in the west (53.8).

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