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Company Notebook

Normandeau Technologies Inc. Can Help Companies Comply Kari’s Law

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Is your business telephone system compliant with Kari’s Law, which went into effect on Feb. 16? Normandeau Technologies Inc. (NTI) can help businesses determine compliance with the law. To reach NTI, call (413) 584-3131. Kari’s Law requires telephone systems to provide direct dial and routing to 911 with no prefixes or other button press, as well as on-site notification of a 911 call being made, with a ‘dispatchable location’ conveyed (for example, which floor and room of an office building a worker is on or which classroom a student is calling from). In addition to facing potentially devastating civil liabilities should a tragedy occur, businesses that fail to comply with the law risk fines, and may be subject to additional penalties for each day they remain non-compliant. With Kari’s Law now included within the amended Communications Act, the Federal Communications Commission has the power to enforce the rules, assign judgments, and collect penalties. Kari’s Law is named after Kari Hunt, who was tragically murdered in her hotel room in 2013 after multiple failed attempts by her daughter to dial 911. Medical examiners agree that, had her daughter been able to reach emergency services, Hunt would have survived the attack. The law is designed to ensure that anyone, anywhere can reach emergency services and that critical location data is provided with that call.

Springfield Museums Seeking Ubora, Ahadi Nominations

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums is seeking nominations for the 29th annual Ubora Award and the 11th annual Ahadi Youth Award. These prestigious awards — conferred by the African Hall subcommittee — are awarded to African-American people from Greater Springfield who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating commitment to fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts. The nomination deadline for both awards is March 31. True to the Swahili word that comprises its name, the Ubora Award recognizes an adult of African heritage who exemplifies excellence in their commitment to creating a better community through service. Named for the Swahili word for promise, the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African-American who excels in academics and performs admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12. A full list of past awardees can be found on the Springfield Museums website. The Ubora and Ahadi awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September. Nomination forms can be downloaded by visiting springfieldmuseums.org/ubora. Nominations may be e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to African Hall Subcommittee, c/o Valerie Cavagni, Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, MA 01103.

United Personnel Wins Best of Staffing Designation

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel, a leading Springfield-based staffing firm serving Massachusetts and Connecticut, has won ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Client and Talent Award for the third consecutive year. According to ClearlyRated, this industry award recognizes staffing firms that have demonstrated exceptional service quality based exclusively on ratings provided by their clients and placed talent. The Best of Staffing designation serves as a credible point of differentiation for a firm’s commitment to service excellence, providing prospective clients and job seekers with qualitative data critical to vetting staffing and recruiting agencies. United Personnel is based in Springfield with additional offices in Northampton and Chelmsford, as well as New Haven and Hartford, Conn. The agency manages temporary, contract, and direct-hire placements in professional, administrative, information-technology, and light-industrial roles. Focused on placing highly qualified candidates with their clients, United Personnel received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from a significant number of both clients and candidates placed in jobs, resulting in the Best of Staffing Client and Candidate recognition. These two awards are distinctions that fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada have earned.

Eversource Customers Benefit from Increase in Reliability

BOSTON — Eversource’s commitment to enhancing system reliability is significantly reducing the number of power interruptions that customers experience, with outages in the Commonwealth down by nearly 17% in 2019 compared to 2018, the company reports. This improvement stems from the energy company’s investments in strengthening and modernizing its electric system, including a program to install more than 1,000 smart fuses to the system throughout the Commonwealth. These smart fuses can automatically restore power to customers when a tree limb temporarily contacts wires and help to protect the electric system when a problem is detected, such as a current surge or overload. Eversource has invested more than $2.5 million to install more than 350 smart fuses on its electric system throughout Massachusetts since 2018. The energy company plans to expand the program in 2020 by installing more than 300 devices on the system throughout the state. In addition to its smart-fuse program, Eversource will continue to install smart switches, devices that enable system operators to remotely reroute power to customers in minutes. The energy company has installed more than 1,100 smart switches over the last five years and continues to replace utility poles with more durable structures, install hundreds of miles of covered wire, and conduct robust tree-trimming programs to ensure the reliable delivery of energy to customers. Eversource customers across New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all experienced a significant improvement in reliability in 2019. January through December of this year represented the system’s strongest reliability performance across Eversource’s entire service territory since 2013.

Bay Path University Programs Rank Highly on Intelligent.com

LONGMEADOW — Intelligent.com has recognized eight Bay Path University degree programs as some of the best online degree programs available in multiple areas of study. The website is a free, privately supported online platform that’s editorially independent and claims to provide unbiased, accurate, and fact-based information on a wide range of issues surrounding education. According to the website, programs were evaluated on reputation, course strength, cost, faculty, and flexibility. In addition to their numerical rankings, Bay Path’s master of science in accounting and bachelor of science in health services administration degree programs were recognized as “Best Student Resources” in their respective categories, while its bachelor of arts in psychology – counseling foundations and master of science in nonprofit management and philanthropy programs were recognized as the “Best in the Northeast” out of all degree programs assessed in their respective fields. Bay Path’s master of science in leadership and negotiation program was awarded “Best Job Placement Rate” out of the 147 colleges and universities assessed. Other programs awarded include the master of science in applied behavior analysis, the master of science in higher education administration, and the master of fine arts in creative nonfiction, which ranked in the top 8% of creative-writing graduate programs reviewed.

STCC Kicks Off Fundraising Effort

SPRINGFIELD — In celebration of the leap year, the Springfield Technical Community College Foundation has launched a fundraising campaign called “Leap Forward” to support students. The foundation is asking alumni, parents, the community, and friends of the college to make a gift of $29 in the month of February. The contribution will go directly to support the students currently enrolled at STCC. To donate, visit stcc.edu/leap and click on ‘give now.’ The website gives donors the choice to donate in $29 increments, and each $29 represents support for one student. Donors also can enter any amount in an ‘other’ box. In addition, donors can use a drop-down menu to designate their gift for a specific category (where the need is greatest, general scholarship fund, Society of Women Engineers, Hispanic Assoc. in Higher Education, Arts at STCC, STCC athletics, or a named scholarship fund). STCC graduates said financial support from donors made a meaningful difference and were excited to hear about the “Leap Forward” campaign. For questions about the campaign or the STCC Foundation, contact Galanis at (413) 755-4529 or [email protected]

Wilbraham & Monson Academy Cuts Day Tuition by 20%

WILBRAHAM — Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) announced a 20% cut in its day student tuition rate for the 2020-21 academic year. The tuition for Upper School day students will decrease from $42,500 to $34,000. The tuition reset, recently approved by the board of trustees, was made in part because WMA recognized the growing cost of private secondary education, which has outpaced growth in regional household median income. In turn, this has created uncertainty for local families about the attainability of an independent school education. The reset is paired with a new five-day boarding option, two recent $10 million bequests to the endowment, a $6 million library set to open this spring, and a new, 4,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art STEM Lab that will be ready for use in September.

MGM Springfield to Welcome Casual Italian Restaurant Costa

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield will welcome Costa, a classic Italian restaurant serving housemade charcuterie, pizzas, pastas, salads, desserts, and more, to the resort’s food and beverage portfolio on Friday, Feb. 28. This will be Costa’s third outpost, having debuted as Osteria Costa at the Mirage Las Vegas and MGM National Harbor in 2018. Costa at MGM Springfield will be located in the Cal Mare space, which will close on Monday, Feb. 24. For reservations, visit Open Table or call (413) 273-5430.

Company Notebook

Westmass Moves Corporate Offices to Downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Westmass Area Development Corp. announced the opening of its new corporate offices in downtown Springfield. Located at One Monarch Place, Suite 1350, the new offices will host all corporate functions of Westmass with capacity to continue regional awareness and growth. The new office location will enable Westmass to continue to brand itself as a regional development company focusing on opportunities in real estate and economic development in Western Mass. “An opportunity to move into downtown Springfield is great for Westmass,” said Jeff Daley, president and CEO. “We look to expand our market throughout Western Mass. for real-estate development opportunities as well as working with municipalities and private developers providing consulting services to assist with the technical details of real estate and economic-development projects in Western Mass.” He noted that Westmass also maintains offices at Ludlow Mills. “As a nationally recognized brownfield-redevelopment site and the marquee project in our portfolio, with hundreds of residents and employees living and working at the Mills, it is important to not only have our facilities management office there, but to house our expanding leasing and marketing departments as well.”

Florence Bank Unveils Renovated Easthampton Branch

EASTHAMPTON — Florence Bank has completed a renovation of the interior and drive-through at its existing Easthampton branch at 5 Main St. The renovation is part of Florence Bank’s ongoing effort to align its physical branch locations with modern banking offerings and customer needs. The Easthampton renovation included interior updates and modernizations, along with two new ATMs. Florence Bank is a full-service, mutually owned bank based in Florence and has served the Easthampton community for 20 years. It first merged with Easthampton Cooperative Bank and expanded and remodeled its present location on Main Street in 1999. The Easthampton location serves more than 6,400 customers annually. The renovations were intended to maintain the branch’s charm while also embracing the innovative design of Florence Bank’s newly constructed locations. The bank partnered with the following local contractors on the project: HAI Architecture in Northampton, Pioneer Contractors in Easthampton, Broadway Office Interiors in Springfield, Fine Woodworks Millwork in South Hadley, Mercier Carpets in West Springfield, and Grimaldi Painting in East Longmeadow. Inside, the lobby, teller line, and customer-service area were renovated and updated, making the interior brighter and more contemporary. A new digital screen has also been installed to keep customers up to date on bank-wide enhancements and notifications. Outside, two new ATMs are now available, and the drive-up teller equipment was enhanced to provide two-way audio/video communication. Florence Bank opened a branch on Allen Street in Springfield in late 2018. In 2020, the bank will open its newest Hampden County location in Chicopee, expanding its network to 12 locations.

Behavioral Health Network Receives $10,000 Grant from PeoplesBank

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from PeoplesBank to be used for BHN’s Money School program, a financial-independence initiative for survivors of domestic or sexual violence who are also recovering from addiction. PeoplesBank’s grant to BHN will support the operation of the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Money School program. Money School is an award-winning, trauma-informed, financial-independence initiative designed to create long-term safety and economic security for survivors. Participants are given individually tailored financial and career mentoring as well as intensive advocacy and support for their substance-use recovery and healing in the aftermath of domestic or sexual violence. The program helps survivors achieve and maintain safety, economic independence, and family well-being for themselves and their children. Kathy Wilson, president and CEO of BHN, noted that “much of our work at BHN has to do with supporting and engaging with people as they overcome obstacles and plan a better future for themselves. The Money School program has been particularly effective in helping women to take control of their finances, one of the most difficult challenges for anyone when navigating the long-term impact of domestic violence. We deeply appreciate the resources being provided by PeoplesBank in this vital program that is changing the lives of the women served.” The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that one in four women report experiencing domestic violence. In addition to physical abuse, domestic-violence survivors often experience financial duress, and almost half of domestic-violence victims struggle with substance-use disorders.

Tighe & Bond Opens Office in Portland, Maine

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. a northeastern leader in engineering and environmental consulting, opened a new office in Portland, Maine this month. The 4,400-square-foot office, located just minutes from Portland City Hall and the Old Port, will allow the firm to better serve its growing base of clients throughout Maine and the region while providing an opportunity to employ professionals native to the area. Senior Project Manager Dan Bisson will provide leadership for Tighe & Bond’s newest office. Bisson has more than 25 years of experience with management, permitting, planning, design, and construction of water infrastructure projects for municipalities, utilities, and private clients. Tighe & Bond’s strategic plan calls for geographic growth to further reinforce its position as a Northeast regional leader in engineering and environmental services. The company is experiencing office expansions and staffing growth in multiple locations throughout the Northeast, adding four offices in the past five years and expanding its Worcester office earlier this year.

Davis Educational Foundation Awards $100,000 to CCGS Joint Purchasing Initiative

LONGMEADOW — The Davis Educational Foundation has awarded the CCGS Joint Purchasing Initiative a $100,000 grant to be distributed over two years. This is the third grant by the Davis Educational Foundation to underwrite this collaborative project. The Joint Purchasing Initiative (JPI) consists of the five private member institutions of the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield (CCGS), including American International College, Bay Path University, Elms College, Springfield College, and Western New England University. The goal of the JPI, which will continue to be administered by Bay Path University, is to identify and implement strategic opportunities for collaboration where shared purchasing and shared services in high-cost and high-impact areas will result in significant institutional cost savings across the JPI’s partner institutions, ultimately containing the cost of higher education for students. Since its founding in 2017, the efforts of the JPI have resulted in collective cost savings of nearly $900,000, with varying degrees of savings by institution. During this time, the JPI reduced costs by negotiating better deals on contracted services with vendors, such as student transportation for athletics and van leasing, rental-car agreements, contract management, corporate payment systems, IRB software, employee and student background checks, electricity and solar sources of energy, interpretive and captioning services, medical-waste-disposal services, and computer purchases. With the funding from the latest grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, the next step in the evolution of the JPI is to explore and develop potential plans for shared services, implement best practices, reduce duplication of efforts, and drive efficiency gains with the expertise already existing within the institutions.

HCC Marks 20th Year of Giving Tree Campaign

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Giving Tree campaign Thursday, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 consumers from four nonprofits that aid and support some of the area’s most at-risk residents. During the campaign’s closing ceremony, HCC students, faculty, and staff gathered with representatives from WestMass Elder Care, Homework House, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), and the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to share food, stories, and gifts. Eleven HCC departments participated in this year’s Fall Food Fest in November, raising $833 for the Giving Tree campaign. The money was used to fulfill 26 gift tags for MSPCC and create gift boxes that included baby wipes, diapers, clothing, books, and toys. Each year during the annual campaign, Giving Trees are set up in designated areas around the HCC campus. Participants choose colored-coded tags from one of the nonprofit agencies based on the age of the recipient and their wish for a gift. The wrapped gifts are then sorted and piled on tables for the closing celebration.

Family Business Center Awards Grand-funded Memberships to Three Women Business Owners

HOLYOKE — At the Family Business Center’s (FBC) December Log Cabin Dinner Forum, Lakisha Coppedge of Coppedge Consulting, Kimberley Betts of Betts Plumbing & Heating Supply, and Sherryla Diola of Mundo Artisan Foods were awarded grant-funded memberships for the 2020 year. This inaugural grant, aimed at supporting women business leaders in Western Mass., was funded by Encharter Insurance. “My goal is to grow our trusted business learning community intentionally, and to increase diversity and inclusion,” said Jessi Kirley, FBC executive director, who collaborated with the women leaders of local partner organizations, including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Leadership Pioneer Valley, EforAll, and Valley CDC, for nominations and selection of the award recipients. Added Tracey Benison, president of Encharter Insurance, “women-owned businesses are critical to the success of small business in the Pioneer Valley. As a women-led insurance agency, Encharter looks for meaningful ways to support women-owned businesses. The recipients of the scholarships are standouts in their professions. We are excited to support their continued journey of learning.”

Company Notebook

City, MGM Springfield Win Economic-development Award

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield and the city of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED) have received a 2019 Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for the MGM Springfield project. The award was presented by the IEDC last month at its annual conference in October in Indianapolis. The Gold Excellence in Public-Private Partnership Award was presented to Brian Connors, the city’s deputy director of Economic Development, and was the only award category highlighted during the conference keynote event. The award recognizes outstanding and innovative development projects that have significantly enhanced revitalizations. OPED’s team was led through the MGM Springfield project by now-retired Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, and also included Phillip Dromey, deputy director of Planning, and Scott Hanson, principal planner. The MGM Springfield project represented a $960 million private investment, resulting in several new-to-market amenities, including a downtown movie theater, bowling alley, ice-skating rink, four-star hotel, and several new retail and restaurant offerings. In addition, MGM’s commitment to populate existing offsite entertainment facilities became another highlight to economic spinoff, as did the commitment to $50 million each year in spending with local vendors. The project has created several thousand construction and permanent jobs and greatly enhanced local revenues, which helped fund additional public-safety, early-education, and park improvements.

United Personnel Named Among Top 100 Women-led Businesses In Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced it has been named one of the top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts by the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports female business owners. The list, published in the Boston Globe, was developed based on revenue, number of full-time employees in the state, team diversity, and innovation. The rankings feature a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, business services, healthcare, education, human services, and retail. United Personnel was number 75 on the list, and was one of only two companies based in Western Mass. represented. Focused on helping to connect people with job openings at local companies, United Personnel has seen decades of success as a women-led organization. Founded by Mary Ellen Scott in 1984 with her late husband, Jay Canavan, United Personnel is now on its second generation of female leadership under President Tricia Canavan.

Hampshire College Maintains Accreditation, Advances Plans

AMHERST — Hampshire College remains in compliance and will continue its accreditation, according to a vote by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) at its meeting on Nov. 22. NECHE reviewed Hampshire’s progress report and five-year plans before acting to continue the college’s accreditation. The commissioners lifted their notation on Hampshire’s compliance with the standard of organization and governance, citing significant progress in this area. NECHE recognized such progress as the hiring of a new president, substantial achievements with respect to good practices for governing boards, and considerable progress in realistic planning with respect to enrollment, fundraising, and finances. The commissioners continued Hampshire’s notation on the standard of institutional resources and asked the college for a full progress report in two years, in December 2021. A team of Hampshire College administrators and trustees, led by Wingenbach and board chair Luis Hernandez, met with the NECHE commissioners on Nov. 21 and reported that Hampshire’s leadership is secure and its board of trustees governance is strong. The college is actively recruiting new students for 2020, its 50th-anniversary year, as it plans to rebuild to full enrollment by 2023-24. The college has also been conducting a rapid, community-wide process to reinvent its curriculum and student experience. In the coming months, Hampshire will draw on the continued support of its alumni, donors, friends, and community members to meet admissions and fundraising goals. Hampshire College also kicked off a major capital campaign, announcing it has already raised $11.2 million in gifts toward its campaign goal of $60 million by 2024. “Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire” is currently led by four alumni co-chairs: Ken Burns (’71), award-winning documentary filmmaker; Gail Caulkins (’73), president of the Greenacre Foundation and former Hampshire College trustee; Lucy Ann McFadden (’70), retired astrophysicist, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, and a member of the Hampshire board of trustees and chair of its advancement committee; and Julie Schecter (’71), director and trustee of numerous organizations, including the SHIFT Foundation, co-founder of Hampshire’s Ethics and the Common Good program, vice chair of Hampshire’s board of trustees, and chair of its trusteeship and governance committee. The co-chairs are working actively to secure additional major gifts, supported by a campaign council, a diverse group of volunteers that represents the board of trustees, major donors, college leaders, faculty, staff, students, and parents. The campaign is administered by Chief Advancement Officer Jennifer Chrisler and the college’s Advancement Division staff.

People’s United Bank to Close Three Springfield-area Branches

SPRINGFIELD — Following its acquisition of United Bank, People’s United Bank plans to close three Springfield-area branches in April, all of them because they are near other People’s United locations. The closures include the former United branch at 1355 Boston Road in Springfield, the former United Branch at 1414 Main St. in Springfield, and a former Farmington Bank location at 85 Elm St. in West Springfield that People’s United acquired in 2018. All employees have been offered jobs at other People’s United offices. People’s United Financial announced in July it was purchasing United Financial Bancorp for $759 million.

Elms College Ranked in Top 15% of State’s Best Schools for Veterans

CHICOPEE — Elms College ranks in the top 15% of 2020 Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, according to data-analytics company College Factual. The college is also in the top 15% of colleges and universities in the company’s national rankings. In the list of Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, Elms College was rated ninth out of 70 higher-education institutions for veteran friendliness as reviewed by College Factual. Elms improved its standing five slots over last year’s 14th position. According to College Factual’s national list, Elms College moved from the top 25% to the top 15% with a rating of 214 out of 1,751 institutions, improving its position by 225 slots over last year’s standing at 439. This list highlights colleges and universities that are working hard to provide quality educational outcomes to veterans, active-duty military students, and their families, College Factual stated. Some of the factors taken into account by College Factual include affordability to veterans, support services, and resources specific to the needs of veterans, whether they are traditional or non-traditional students.

UMassFive Opens Branch at Northampton VA Medical Center

NORTHAMPTON — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union introduced its newest branch location at the Northampton VA Medical Center. As of October, the Northampton VAF Federal Credit Union has formally merged with UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, and former Northampton VAF members have transitioned to banking with UMassFive. With this merger, current employees of the Northampton VA Medical Center and their immediate family members are now eligible for UMassFive membership. Along with the merger, the existing credit-union branch located in Building 1, Room B204 of the Northampton VA Medical Center has been completely renovated. The new, open floor plan includes seated service areas where UMassFive representatives can provide members access to a range of credit-union products and services, including checking, auto loans, home-equity loans, solar loans, mortgages, credit cards, and investment guidance. The space also now features a video teller machine that can be accessed in the branch entryway, and allows members to perform video transactions with UMassFive tellers, even while the branch is closed. As with other UMassFive locations, members at the Northampton VA branch will have access to free financial workshops on topics like budgeting essentials, homebuying, identity theft, and planning for retirement. The hours for this new UMassFive branch are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Off-hours access to the lobby video teller machine are available when the building and basement are open, and during regular video-teller hours. Any credit or debit card may be swiped for after-hours entry.

Freedom Credit Union Launches Cherish the Children Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — To a child in need, one special gift can be a holiday wish come true. That’s the spirit behind Freedom Credit Union’s 12th annual Cherish the Children campaign, which provides presents to hundreds of local children in time for the holidays. Freedom Credit Union (FCU), headquartered on Main Street in Springfield and serving members throughout Western Mass. through 10 additional branches, will host this year’s endeavor through Dec. 23. Equipped with ‘wish lists’ of names, ages, and gift ideas from the local area offices of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), FCU aims to provide gifts for a total of 600 children in need. From the wish lists, FCU has produced a tag for each child, which they will place on holiday trees at all Freedom branches, excluding the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. Employees and members are encouraged to choose one or more tags from a tree, purchase the item the child has requested, bring it to the branch (unwrapped and with tag attached), and place it under the tree. Monetary donations are also welcome, as FCU’s own ‘elves’ will be going on a festive shopping spree at local stores that provide them a discount for this campaign.

Yankee Home Improvement Holds Annual Food Drive

CHICOPEE — For the second year in a row, Yankee Home is engaging customers in a pay-it-forward event to provide food for those in need this holiday season. For every non-perishable food item donated, Yankee Home will give customers 1% off the cost of their home-improvement service, up to 10%. All food items will be donated to Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts that works to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste in the community. Through the end of December, Yankee Home will be accepting non-perishable food items Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its 36 Justin Dr. headquarters in Chicopee. While the discount is capped at 10% of the total cost of the service, people are encouraged to donate as much as they can. The discount applies to installed, new work only. A Yankee Home specialist can provide complete details.

Florence Bank Receives Award From U.S. Small Business Administration

FLORENCE — Florence Bank was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Western Massachusetts Third Party Lender of the Year for loans the bank administers to small businesses in the area. Michael Davey and Erin Couture, both vice presidents and commercial loan officers with the bank, accepted the award on Nov. 8 at an event held during SBA’s annual meeting at Clark University in Worcester. Davey explained that third-party loans, called SBA 504 loans, are offered by the bank in collaboration with certified development corporations such as Granite State Development Corp., Bay Colony Development Corp., and BDC Capital/CDC New England. He said the program allows small-business owners who might be lacking the traditional 20% down payment to purchase business property with only 10% down, while also reducing the bank’s exposure to risk.

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).

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Ranks 24th in U.S. News Rankings

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has climbed into the top 25 of the nation’s premier public universities, coming in 24th among the approximately 130 public institutions ranked in the “Best Colleges 2020” guide published by U.S. News & World Report. The Commonwealth’s flagship campus moved up two slots this year. With student success, graduation rates, and other key metrics on the rise, the university continued its ascent as one of the fastest-rising, top-tier public-research universities in the country, advancing from 52nd in 2010 to 24th in 2020. For six years running, UMass Amherst has been ranked in the top 30 public universities. UMass Amherst also ranks 64th in the U.S. News & World Report Best National Universities category, moving up six places from last year’s rankings among 312 public and private institutions rated by U.S. News. The U.S. News rankings are based on a variety of weighted factors: graduation rate, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, graduation and retention rates, social mobility, alumni giving, financial resources, student selectivity, and high-school counselor ratings.

 

UMassFive Voted Best Credit Union in Poll

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union has once again been honored with the title of Best Credit Union in the Valley Advocate’s annual reader voting poll, extending its streak in the number-one position to 13 years in a row. The credit union was also favored in multiple categories in the Hampshire Gazette’s Reader’s Choice poll, where it took home the titles of Best Credit Union for the sixth year in a row, the Best Place to Get an Auto Loan, and Best Financial Planning. Jon Reske, vice president of Marketing, attributes UMassFive’s success in the polls to a company culture centered on personalized experience that has created a loyal community of members.

Hampshire College to Reinvent Its Academic Program This Fall

AMHERST — Hampshire College announced a major effort to reinvent its pioneering academic program, engaging its campus community and 12,000 alumni in ongoing meetings this fall and promising to publish a plan by November. The initiative, called Hampshire Launch, marks the college’s 50th anniversary next year and the launch of its second half-century. The effort is led by President Ed Wingenbach and supported by a campus planning group, who are facilitating weekly meetings with students, faculty, and staff, as well as virtual meetings with alumni. The intensive community discussions will lead to board of trustees action on a plan in October. The college is exploring new academic and financial models as it creates a vision and roadmap for its future, an effort critical to its admissions recruiting and fundraising. The goal is to produce an inspiring, realistic plan, which also exemplifies its identity and reputation as an experimenting college and presents a model for others in higher education. The academic plan will be accompanied by a sustainable financial plan.

Third Delaney’s Market Opens in Wilbraham

WILBRAHAM — The third Delaney’s Market store opened on Tuesday at 2030 Boston Road, Wilbraham. Delaney’s Market is a retail store that features chef-inspired meals that are fresh and ready to serve with little effort. It also features a selection of wine and craft beers. Delaney’s Market strives to assist the busy individual or family that wants to eat a quality lunch or dinner at their home or office without the hassle of long prep times and/or high costs. The first Delaney’s Markey store opened in 2016 at the Longmeadow Shops in Longmeadow. The Springfield location opened just two months ago downtown on Main Street. One more store will open later this year in Westfield.

Elms College Ranks Highly in Northern Region, Social Mobility

CHICOPEE — Elms College ranks in the top half of schools in U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 list of Best Regional Universities (North). Elms College improved significantly in the 2020 rankings, moving to 86th among regional universities in the northern U.S. region, up from 99th in 2019. Elms College also was named in the top 20% (37th) among Regional Universities (North) in a new category, Top Performers on Social Mobility, which ranks schools for enrolling and graduating large proportions of students who have received federal Pell Grants. 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.

Springfield College Earns Top-20 Ranking from U.S. News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College has advanced into the top 20 in its category in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. In the Best Regional Universities – North category, Springfield College is ranked 19th. This year’s position represents a continuing rise in the rankings for Springfield College over the last 10 years. The college’s overall Best Colleges score has increased each year since the 2011 rankings. Also, Springfield College has moved up in the rankings in nine of the last 10 years, including jumping up nine spots from last year. The college has moved up 48 spots from its ranking in 2011. The college’s constant ranking in the top tier in its category is spurred by improved graduation rates and improved retention of first-year students. The ratings are based on such variables as peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, class size, alumni giving, and student-faculty ratio. Springfield College was also ranked 15th in its category of the U.S. News Best Values rankings that showcase colleges with high quality and a lower cost, up four spots from last year. This is the fourth consecutive year that Springfield College has been listed in the Best Values category, which takes into account a college’s academic quality and net cost of attendance. Springfield College was also ranked once again in the U.S. News A+ Schools for B Students category. Colleges in this category have strong ratings and accept a significant number of students with non-stratospheric transcripts.

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — Each year, the Boston Business Journal celebrates Massachusetts corporations and nonprofits for their contributions in giving back to communities in Massachusetts. During this year’s celebration held on Sept. 5, Country Bank was recognized as one of the Top Charitable Contributors in 2019 and received a Corporate Citizenship Award. A total of 105 companies were recognized during the evening; Country Bank ranked 62nd with total donations of $1 million to various nonprofits within the region. Country Bank employs 235 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. In 2018, staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering more than 1,100 hours in community service.

UMass Amherst Startup a Winner in Technology Transfer Contest

AMHERST — Ernest Pharmaceuticals, a startup venture based at UMass Amherst’s Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS), is one of four companies to win $2,500 from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) in a business-pitch poster competition in Boston. This recognizes the groundbreaking young biotech firm as it brings its research on programmed bacteria that deliver anti-cancer treatment to tumors from lab to market. Ernest Pharmaceuticals CEO and bioengineer Nele Van Dessel presented the poster at MTTC’s 12th annual Massachusetts Life Sciences Innovation Day; the company was one among 30 vying for four prizes. She said she and co-founder Neil Forbes, a professor of Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst, believe the company’s association with IALS has been a crucial factor in its steady success. Van Dessel, who earned a Ph.D. in bioengineering at home in Belgium, came to UMass Amherst looking specifically for Forbes after she read all his published papers on what she calls his unconventional but effective use of Salmonella bacteria to deliver cancer-busting compounds to kill metastatic breast cancer tumors from inside. Forbes named the company after his grandfather Ernest, who died of prostate cancer. Since co-founding Ernest Pharmaceuticals with Forbes, Van Dessel has talked with a large number of oncologists to learn where the greatest need is in cancer treatment today, in particular which metastatic diseases are the hardest to treat. In this way, she and Forbes identified an urgent need for new tools to treat metastatic liver, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers. Also benefiting from the UMass Amherst – IALS Business Innovation Fellows program, Ernest and three other campus startups received Small Business Innovation Research phase I grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in 2018, bringing them into this year with significant funding.

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces Thrive To Go!

SPRINGFIELD — The United Way of Pioneer Valley announced the expansion of its successful Thrive Financial Success Centers with Thrive to Go!, a mobile version of the same one-on-one financial coaching that has been available in Holyoke, Westfield, and Springfield. This free program served 585 low- to moderate-income residents of Hampden County last year and, with Thrive to Go!, aims to reach even more residents in a wider area within the United Way service footprint. At Thrive, the client works one-on-one with a financial coach, who offers assistance with setting financial goals, opening bank accounts, budgeting, building credit and credit repair, reviewing credit reports, debt reduction, building assets, referrals to social services, and assistance with income-support applications. Thrive provides services in a bundled, sequential manner so that clients can build on their knowledge for their future successes and goal completion.

Company Notebook

Eversource Receives Award for Supporting Employees in the Military

BOSTON — Eversource Energy has been selected as a winner of the 2019 Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the government’s highest honor for a company for its support of employees who participate in the U.S. National Guard and Reserves. Eversource is one of only 15 companies nationwide that were selected among more than 2,400 nominations. The award is the result of the perseverance of Bill Gelinas, a control-room supervisor for Eversource in Berlin, Conn. Gelinas wanted to show his appreciation for the support he received from the company and its employees throughout his 15-year military service, which included four overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gelinas said he was deeply touched by the warmth and support he has received from his Eversource colleagues, especially during his numerous deployments. Each time he went overseas, he was overwhelmed by thoughtful care packages and almost daily encouraging e-mails from employees and company leaders. It also made him empathetic of other soldiers who didn’t have a support system like he did. The Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is administered by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program that since 1966 has promoted relations and understanding between military reservists and their civilian employers. The winning companies will be invited to Washington, D.C. to receive the award from the Secretary of Defense at a ceremony held at the Pentagon in August.

Holyoke Mall Celebrates 40th Anniversary

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall marked its 40th anniversary on July 5. Since opening in 1979, Holyoke Mall has established itself as the largest shopping destination in Western Mass., currently offering more than 150 dining, entertainment, and retail destinations. Throughout the last 40 years, Pyramid Management Group has continued to adapt, evolve, and thrive in an ever-changing market. In 1995, the shopping center expanded, adding an additional 500,000 square feet, and welcomed big-box tenants such as Best Buy and Target. Traditionally located in free-standing or strip-mall locations, the addition of these anchor tenants began an industry-wide trend. Over the years, Holyoke Mall has welcomed Massachusetts’ first Hobby Lobby, and the Xfinity Store, Toys R Us, and Christmas Tree Shops’ first in-mall locations. The center also continues to attract and expand its dining and entertainment options, most recently adding 110 Grill, Flight Fit N Fun, Round1 Bowling & Amusement, and Sumo Japanese Steakhouse. Stores celebrating 40 years at Holyoke Mall include American Eagle, Foot Locker, Gap, GNC, JCPenney, Kay Jewelers, Motherhood Maternity, and the Greek Place.

Florence Bank a Winner in 2019 Banking Choice Awards

FLORENCE — Florence Bank accepted three of the four potential awards for banking excellence in Western Mass. and took part in a panel discussion at the Bank Best Expo! at MGM Springfield on June 28. As part of the 2019 Banking Choice Awards review by 278,359 independent consumers in a double-blind scientific study, Florence Bank came out on top in Western Mass. in almost every category. At the expo, Monica Curhan, the bank’s senior vice president and Marketing director, accepted two first-place awards, for customer service and overall quality, and a second-place honor for excellence in technology and tools. Curhan also sat on a panel of bankers whose institutions consistently rank at the top in independent consumer surveys to discuss best industry practices. She was joined by Stephen Lewis, president of Thomaston Savings Bank and chairman of the Connecticut Bankers Assoc.; Todd Tallman, president and treasurer of Cornerstone Bank in Massachusetts; and Mark Bodin, president of Savings Bank of Walpole in New Hampshire. The Banking Choice Awards recognize banks that receive the highest ratings from their own customers in four categories: customer service, technology, community contribution, and overall quality.

Different Leaf Magazine Announces Premiere Issue

NORTHAMPTON — July marks the publication of the premiere issue of Different Leaf magazine, a journal of cannabis culture. Targeted to readers 45 and over, Different Leaf’s editorial content covers the rapidly evolving cannabis industry in Massachusetts and makes it accessible for consumers who are new to cannabis and those looking for new ways to integrate it into their lives. Launching with a quarterly publication schedule, regular features in Different Leaf will include “Merch + More,” a roundup of cannabis products from Massachusetts and beyond including smoking accessories, THC and CBD products, and books. The back of the book contains practical, educational information on using cannabis for health and wellness, cooking, nutrition, fitness, sexuality, pets, and more. Features will look in depth at innovators in the industry, medical news, and social and cultural issues surrounding the legalization of cannabis. Different Leaf will depart from the more traditional publishing model of posting text-based content online and will instead launch a companion podcast series with the October issue. The podcast will expand on the topics in the print magazine and delve into issues and stories that don’t mesh with a print publication timetable. A calendar of events that tie into the print publication is also planned.

Bay Path’s Leadership and Organizational Studies Program Nationally Ranked

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s bachelor of arts (BA) in leadership and organizational studies (LOS) has been named among the top 20 online programs in the country, as ranked by thebestschools.org. According to the site, bachelor-degree programs in leadership and organizational studies were ranked based on several categories, including academic excellence, strength of faculty scholarship, reputation, range of degree programs, and strength of online-instruction methodology. Bay Path’s program, offered by its American Women’s College, was acknowledged for its accelerated degree program and its distinct Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders program. The BA in leadership and organizational studies at the American Women’s College offers 100% online or a combination of online and on-campus courses, with six different start dates per year. The program is offered in an accelerated version, and has the flexibility to be taken full-time or part-time. It also includes access to mentoring, tutoring, library resources, academic resources, and career services.

Miller Dyer Spears Selected as Architect for WSU’s Parenzo Hall Renovation

WESTFIELD — Miller Dyer Spears (MDS) has been chosen as the architectural firm to design Westfield State University’s (WSU) $40 million, multi-year Parenzo Hall renovation project. Following a request for proposals set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), the Massachusetts Designer Selection Board (an autonomous, 11-member board) reviewed and selected Boston-based MDS from three finalists among more than 20 applicants. Westfield State received $21.25 million in state funding last year for the renovation of Parenzo Hall, the university’s oldest building, which opened in 1956. Nearly matching the state’s $21.25 million investment, WSU will invest approximately $20 million of university funds into the project. The renovations will create two new centers — the Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships and the Center for Student Success and Engagement. The Center for Innovation in Education and Industry Partnerships will leverage technology to serve as the 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 engage productively in online-hybrid environments that increase flexibility for students, facilitate co-enrollment, expand course choices, and provide a bridge to employment. The Center for Student Success and Engagement will address the student-outcomes goals of WSU’s Vision Project (increasing retention and graduation rates, and reducing the achievement gap). The project will also address the continuing decline in the number of working-age adults. The center 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. In addition to the centers, several academic departments will be located in the renovated facility, including Education and Political Science.

AIC Celebrates Rex’s Pantry Garden with Ribbon Cutting

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently expanded its efforts to help serve the community with the official ribbon cutting for the Rex’s Pantry Garden. Rex’s Pantry was launched in December 2017 in an effort to provide the less fortunate in Springfield with hot meals, canned food, and other living necessities. Since its founding, Rex’s Pantry has served more than 2,000 meals and collected thousands of pounds of canned goods. Rex, a yellowjacket, is the AIC mascot. The Rex’s Pantry Garden, located on the AIC campus in the heart of the city, is the newest addition to the Rex’s Pantry initiative. The first harvest will include tomatoes and pumpkins. The tomatoes will be distributed to neighborhood residents, who often do not have the resources to purchase fresh produce. Pumpkins will be given to local children during the Halloween season. Until one month ago, the Rex’s Pantry Garden was a long-standing vacant lot, but the plot was transformed by the C&W Services grounds crew at the college. Local businesses also donated to the creation of the garden, including Associated Building Wreckers, C&W Services, Capone’s Pool Water, GMH Fence Co., Go Graphix, Ondrick Natural Earth, and Wallace Tree Service. Student-athletes and representatives from the AIC basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling teams, along with student groups — including IMPACT, a residential community for AIC students in pursuit of leadership experiences in and outside the classroom, and the Student Nurses Assoc. — have supported Rex’s Pantry by serving hot meals throughout the academic year. AIC staff and student volunteers will maintain the garden throughout the growing season.

Company Notebook

Wright-Pierce Opens Westfield Office

WESTFIELD — Wright-Pierce, an environmental/civil infrastructure engineering firm, announced the opening of an office in Westfield. “Opening the Westfield office is the next step in our strategic plan to better serve our expanding client base in Central and Western Massachusetts,” said Wright-Pierce President and CEO John Braccio. “We look forward to being an active community partner with municipalities throughout the region, helping to engineer environmentally sustainable and economically sound solutions to New England’s aging water, wastewater, and civil infrastructure challenges.” Thomas Hogan, regional group leader for Central and Western Massachusetts, will serve as office manager. Prior to joining Wright-Pierce, he served more than 20 years as an engineering consultant to Massachusetts municipal, institutional, industrial, commercial, and energy-sector clients. Wright-Pierce is an award-winning, multi-discipline engineering firm that has been providing water, wastewater, and civil infrastructure services since 1947. Employee-owned, Wright-Pierce’s more than 200 engineers and support professionals are strategically located in offices throughout New England and Florida.

Hampshire College Resolves to Admit Full Class for 2020

AMHERST — In a letter to the Hampshire College community, interim President Ken Rosenthal said the school is committed to admitting a full class for 2020, only a few months after the troubled institution decided to admit only a partial class this fall. “People have asked, why is the board confident they can enroll a new class next fall 2020 when they voted four months ago not to accept a full class for fall 2019 and spring 2020? What changed?” he wrote. “The answer is the remarkable, historic outpouring of support this spring from Hampshire alums, friends, and people who believe in our college. We are deeply grateful for the unprecedented energy and giving to secure an independent Hampshire.” Rosenthal said the college and its board are working on a number of fronts simultaneously. These include reinforcing its governance and leadership; defining and improving its value proposition; restructuring its business model so it is sustainable, and continuing to operate efficiently and reduce costs where possible; renewing its academic program; leading a successful fundraising campaign, including building the endowment; investing in improving the student experience on campus and upgrading campus facilities to benefit recruitment and retention; and continuing to participate fully in the Five College Consortium for the benefit of students and employees. The school is also making strides toward hiring a new president.

Open Square Creates Headquarters for VertitechIT

HOLYOKE — Architect John Aubin announced plans for the build-out of a company headquarters at his flagship mixed-use development, Open Square. Aubin is creating a new, custom-designed and custom-built workspace in his historic zero-net-energy development in Holyoke. The modern office environment will provide approximately 6,000 square feet of work and meeting space for 25 employees. Current tenant and national healthcare IT consultancy VertitechIT is expanding its presence at Open Square. The new space will also house employees of two sister companies — Akiro Consulting, a firm that facilitates medical practice transactions and acquisitions, and BaytechIT, an IT services provider to physician practices, clinics, and nonprofit healthcare companies. BaytechIT is a joint venture between VertitechIT and Baystate Health. The new space will allow collaboration between the three companies while giving each their own autonomy, said Greg Pellerin, VertitechIT’s chief operating officer.

Basketball Celebration Nets $7,500 for Five Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — A basketball event that celebrated the restoration of the court at the Greenleaf Community Center — just in time for summer pick-up games — netted $7,500 in donations for five area nonprofits. Roughly 50 area residents attended the festivities, which included a demonstration by a comedic basketball troupe called the Court Jesters. Several dozen adults and children took part in the Helping Hoops Challenge. As part of this game that benefited nonprofits, participants took shots at the basket from three designated points on the court — one that was kid-friendly for younger children.  The plan was to give each nonprofit $100 or $25 per basket, depending on the distance from the hoop. But Florence Bank and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were feeling generous during the event. John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank, ended the celebration by announcing that each nonprofit would receive $1,000 from the bank. Additionally, Jason Fiddler, vice president of Sales, Marketing and Partnerships for the Hall of Fame, offered $500 per nonprofit from his organization. The following nonprofits received the donations: Camp STAR Angelina, Dunbar Community Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Urban League of Springfield, and Open Pantry Community Services. The event was a celebration of the rejuvenation of the basketball court at Greenleaf Community Center, which is only a few miles from Florence Bank’s new Allen Street branch. The city of Springfield and Florence Bank each contributed $15,000 to repave and paint the court at the center for young people in the neighborhood. Two new hoops and backboards were also installed.

STCC Rolls Out Child Development Associate Plus Program

SPRINGFIELD — This fall, Springfield Technical Community College will launch a new certificate program to help early-childhood educators or school paraprofessionals take their careers to the next level. The Child Development Associate Plus (CDA Plus) certificate of completion is designed for educators who want to get their CDA credential and earn college credit at the same time. An individual with a CDA credential, which is nationally recognized, has demonstrated competency in meeting the needs of children and working with parents and other adults to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth, said Nancy Ward, STCC’s Early Education and Care Pathways Grant and Activity director. The Career Pathways Grant, funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care, enables STCC to provide a range of support for CDA Plus students. STCC also has credit-earning opportunities available for educators who have earned their CDA credential or have acquired other skills in the field or from existing certifications. Students with a CDA credential can receive 17 credits toward an associate degree, Greco said. STCC has named experienced educator Aimee Dalenta as chair of the Early Childhood Education Department. Among her responsibilities, she will oversee the new CDA program.

Delaney’s Market Store Opens in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Owner Peter Rosskothen held a grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 19 at Delaney’s Market at 1365 Main St. in Springfield. Delaney’s Market is a retail store that features chef-inspired meals that are fresh and ready to serve with little effort. It also features a selection of beer and wine. The Delaney’s Market target audience is a busy individual or family who wants to eat a quality lunch or dinner at their home or office without the hassle of long prep times and/or high costs. Delaney’s Market Springfield will also feature delivery to its immediate area, as well as curbside pick-up. “We are so excited to be part of downtown Springfield,” said Roberta Hurwitz, general manager, who oversees operations and an eight-member team at the Springfield store. “The renaissance of the city is happening; we look forward to being a great citizen and neighbor.” This is the second Delaney’s Market store; its flagship store is located at the Longmeadow Shops in Longmeadow and has been open since 2016. Additional stores will open later this year, one in Wilbraham and one in Westfield.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Reports FY 2019 Results

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC, shared the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as announced at the 114th annual meeting of the bank on June 18. Tucker reported that FY 2019, which ended on March 31, was very successful, and the assets of the bank grew by $26.3 million (up 4.3%) over the prior year. Also in FY 2019, GCB originated more than $117 million in loans of all types, including $30.16 million in residential mortgages, $46.02 million in commercial real-estate/C&I lending, $28.31 million in municipal lending, $11.88 million in home-equity loans and lines, and $1.05 million in Mass Save zero-interest energy loans and Mass Solar loans. GCB had an increase of $11.4 million in deposits (up 2.14%) over the past year. Interest paid to depositors of GCB increased by $531,000 (23%) over last year. Total equity grew to $73.45 million. GCB’s tier 1 capital to average assets is 12%, and total capital to risk-weighted assets is 21.40%. The bank is considered well-capitalized by all regulatory definitions. The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was up to $5.723 million for the year ended March 31, and the net income after taxes was $4.491 million. The bank also paid its fair share of federal and Massachusetts income taxes ($1.23 million) and local property taxes (more than $133,000) in the cities and towns where it has offices. As a result of these earnings and the fact that Greenfield Cooperative Bank targets its charitable and civic giving at 5% of the prior year’s pre-tax operating income, GCB and its employees were able to contribute $224,054 to 218 charities, community groups, school events, youth teams, and cultural events throughout both Hampshire and Franklin counties during the past fiscal year. This was a 13.8% increase over the prior year. Greenfield Cooperative Bank management noted it has received regulatory approvals for opening its new South Hadley location, and the bank expects to open the office by the end of 2019.

Company Notebook

Springfield College Criminal Justice Program Partners with Secret Service

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Criminal Justice program recently agreed to a partnership with the U.S. Secret Service to identify and guide first-year students and sophomores toward a career with the Secret Service. Led by John Mazza, U.S. Secret Service senior special agent; and Raj Karira, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge of talent and employee acquisition and global recruiting, the agents will meet with individuals and small groups of students during the academic year offering guidance and support so students can navigate the application and hiring process. Both Mazza and Karira visited Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Gary Berte’s Introduction to Criminal Justice class during the spring semester to meet with students and answer any questions they had regarding a career with the Secret Service. Mazza is a former recruit officer for Berte, and Mazza gained his emergency medical services management training at Springfield College. Springfield College Criminal Justice program graduates are prepared for graduate school or careers in national, state, and local government, law enforcement, and community mediation.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Offers Equity-building Assistance to Homebuyers

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative Bank Division has been selected to participate in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Equity Builder Program, which assists local homebuyers with down-payment and closing costs as well as homebuyer counseling and rehabilitation assistance. The $3.6 million program provides grants to financial institutions to assist households at or below 80% of the area median income. Borrowers are eligible to receive up to $15,000 in assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Buyers must also complete a homebuyer-counseling program. Greenfield Cooperative Bank is eligible to receive up to $150,000 in 2019 through the Equity Builder Program depending on availability of funds. Since 2003, the Equity Builder Program has awarded more than $38.8 million in funds, assisting 3,512 income-eligible households to purchase a home. Credit approval and other conditions apply. For more information, contact Greenfield Cooperative Bank’s Residential Loan Origination Department at (413) 772-5000, ext. 490.

Florence Bank Recognizes 11 Individuals for Service, Gives $5,500 to Nonprofits

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently announced its 11 Community Champions for 2019. As part of its Community Champions Sweepstakes program, the bank offered each of the 11 champions a $500 grant to be donated to a nonprofit of their choice. In all, 218 nominations were cast at Florence Bank’s 11 branches for 11 champions, and Florence Bank granted a total of $5,500 to 11 nonprofits in Hampshire and Hampden counties, and beyond. As part of the sweepstakes, customers in each branch were invited to cast one vote in their neighborhood branch for a person in their community who goes above and beyond to ensure that residents are safe, healthy, and happy. Voting took place from April 15 through May 6. Winners were selected at random from all the nominees in each branch. The winners had the privilege of selecting an area nonprofit to receive a $500 grant. The 11 branch champions and the nonprofits they chose to support with the $500 grant are: Springfield: Myles Callender, Revitalize Community Development Corp.; West Springfield: Allen Howard, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield; Granby: Gayle Bradley, LukeStronger Inc.; Belchertown: Jim Phaneuf, the Jimmy Fund; Amherst: Naz Mohamed, who split the award evenly between Amherst Community Connections, Amherst Survival Center, and the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership; Hadley, Gary Glenn, Newman Catholic Center at UMass Amherst; King Street, Northampton: Jane Lyons, Friends of Children; downtown Northampton: Diane Porcella, Northampton Neighbors; Easthampton: Robin Bialecki, Easthampton Community Center; Florence: Jacob Fine, Pioneer Valley Workers Center; and Williamsburg: Sue Labrie, Goshen Firefighters Assoc.

Revenues at MGM Springfield Rise in May

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield reported an uptick in total gambling revenues in May, taking in $22,285,565.57, compared to $21,818,086.34 in April. The past three months were the casino’s three best, revenue-wise, since September 2018, its first full month of operations.

Of the May revenues, $6,182,892 came from table games and $16,102,673 from slot machines. “We continue to be pleased with our performance. We’re capturing market share and growing loyalty,” President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis said. “May was an especially rewarding month for us.”

Berkshire Bank Packages More Than 50,000 Meals for Rise Against Hunger

WESTFIELD — Berkshire Bank employees recently came together to package more than 50,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger, to be sent to nations where starvation is a key concern. The donation was a part of the bank’s annual Xtraordinary Day of Service, where the bank closes its offices early to empower employees to volunteer in their local communities. The event is in its fourth year. The volunteer work for Rise Against Hunger was one of 37 projects completed as a part of Xtraordinary Day. More than 90% of Berkshire Bank’s workforce participated in the event, totaling more than 6,000 hours of volunteer work in a single day throughout the bank’s footprint.

Company Notebook

New England Public Radio, WGBY Join Together to Create New England Public Media

SPRINGFIELD — New England Public Radio and WGBY Public Television announced they will join to create a robust new multi-media organization, New England Public Media (NEPM), with one of the largest newsrooms in Western Mass. With a goal of expanding public media offerings for the people of Western New England, NEPM will build on the strength of each organization to deliver the educational content, cultural and news programs, and community engagement that characterizes public media. Martin Miller, CEO and general manager of New England Public Radio, will become president of NEPM. Anthony Hayes, general manager of WGBY Public Television, will become chief operating officer and general manager of the new organization. NEPM will be an independently run organization with its own governing board. Combined, New England Public Radio and WGBY Public Television have 78 employees, and all current employees will be part of the new organization. NEPM’s enhanced newsroom will total about 21 and is expected to grow over the coming years. The WGBH Educational Foundation, which holds the broadcast license for WGBY, will invest $6 million over six years in the new venture. When combined with critical community support for NEPM, this investment will allow for new programming while ensuring in-depth local journalism remains the centerpiece of the combined organization. WGBH will have a seat on the NEPM board. UMass Amherst will continue to hold the broadcast license for WFCR 88.5FM, and along with the NEPR Foundation board, it has been actively involved in the negotiations that led to the creation of NEPM. The university remains deeply committed to supporting the growth of public media in Western Mass. and will have a seat on the NEPM Board. The support of the Five College Consortium has been a vital part of the history and long-standing excellence of WFCR (Five College Radio) and New England Public Radio since its inception. The executive director of the consortium, which includes Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges as well as UMass Amherst, will also serve on the NEPM board. Along with an expanded news service, NEPM will focus on new content creation including digital music streams, multi-platform and digital programming, and community engagement and education, in addition to the programs audiences now enjoy. A new daily radio program with a local focus will be among the first initiatives the new organization will undertake. Details will be finalized over the coming months with plans and final approval to be completed this summer.

 

Gov. Charlie Baker to Speak at UMass Amherst Commencement

AMHERST — Gov. Charlie Baker will be the featured speaker at the undergraduate commencement at UMass Amherst on Friday, May 10 at 4:30 p.m. at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The governor will address an anticipated crowd of about 20,000 family members, friends, and other guests as approximately 5,500 undergraduates receive their bachelor’s degrees at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus. “We are honored that Governor Baker will deliver this year’s commencement address,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “As a results-driven leader, he combines a concentration on thoughtful data analysis with an emphasis on building relationships that strengthen our Commonwealth. His support for UMass Amherst has provided our students the opportunity to flourish as they play an invaluable role in the state’s innovation economy. “It’s no coincidence that, under the governor’s leadership, Massachusetts has achieved record employment, the highest percentage of citizens with healthcare, and an outstanding education system,” he went on. “At the flagship campus, we are proud of playing a role in providing high-quality, affordable education for our citizens.”

Big Y Express Eliminates Plastic Bags

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the recent announcement of Big Y Foods Inc. to phase out single-use plastic bags at its checkouts, its Big Y Express Gas and Convenience locations became the first division in the 80-store company to eliminate these bags completely. Previously, Big Y Express in Lee was the only gas and convenience location without these bags as part of that town’s ordinance. Now, the other eight locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut have joined in this pursuit. Single-use plastic bags create an inordinate amount of waste. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year. If not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm fish, marine animals, birds, and other wildlife. Big Y has been complying with single-use plastic-bag bans in five of its local communities in Massachusetts (Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee, Northampton, and South Hadley) since 2014. The company also issued a pledge in January to eliminate all single-use plastic bags at its checkouts in 2020. The elimination of these bags at its Express locations is the first phase of the implementation for this pledge. Currently, there are several more towns with bans pending, such as Longmeadow and West Springfield. In addition, the legislatures of both Massachusetts and Connecticut are discussing statewide bans on single-use plastic bags.

Country Bank Reports Record Earnings, New Board Leadership

WARE — Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully announced the appointment of Maura McCaffrey, former CEO of Health New England, and Keith Blanchette, partner at Stolberg, Ebbeling and Blanchette, LLP, to its board of trustees at its recent annual meeting held at the AC Marriott in Worcester. The bank also appointed five new corporators, including Nancy Crimmin, president of Becker College; Cherylann Gengel, co-founder of Be Like Brit; Michael Myers, president of the Worcester Railers; Peter Dawson, partner at Mirick O’Connell; and Mark Donahue, partner at Fletcher Tilton. At the meeting, Country Bank reported its 2018 earnings resulted in record-breaking profits. Net income was reported at $12,853,000, with total assets increasing to $1,624,000,000. Deposit balances increased to $1,083,182,000, and total loans increased from the prior year to $1,240,421,000. Capital was reported at 14.06%, maintaining the bank’s position as one of the higher-capitalized banks in the Commonwealth. As part of its ongoing Worcester expansion, the bank partnered with the Worcester Red Sox as one of the team’s 21 founding partners in anticipation of its move to Worcester in 2021.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q1 Earnings, Dividend

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended March 31. The company reported net income of $12.7 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2019, compared to net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018 of $12.2 million, or $0.24 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $15.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. “Despite the challenging operating environment, the United Financial Bancorp Inc. team is focused on expanding and winning new client relationships, maintaining strong asset quality and ample capital, and providing superior customer service,” said William Crawford, IV, president and CEO of the company and the bank. Assets totaled $7.34 billion at March 31, 2019, decreasing $16.9 million from $7.36 billion at Dec. 31, 2018. At March 31, 2019, total loans were $5.73 billion, representing an increase of $75.1 million, or 1.3%, from the linked quarter. Deposits totaled $5.66 billion at March 31, 2019 and decreased by $6.3 million, or 0.1%, from $5.67 billion at December 31, 2018.

HealthDrive to Acquire New England Geriatrics

WEST SPRINGFIELD — HealthDrive, a leader in delivering integrated specialty healthcare services to residents of long-term care, skilled nursing, and assisted-living facilities, announced it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire New England Geriatrics (NEG), a provider of comprehensive and quality psychiatric care for patients and their families. This acquisition will allow HealthDrive to expand its services as it seeks to create a leading multi-specialty healthcare platform for vulnerable populations. This is the first acquisition for HealthDrive as a portfolio company of Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact-investing business of Bain Capital. Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. NEG was founded on mission-driven principles in 1994 to provide mental-health services to underserved geriatric populations in Massachusetts. Today, the company serves more than 13,500 Massachusetts and Connecticut residents in over 129 long-term-care facilities, four managed inpatient geriatric psychiatric units, and one outpatient clinic through its dedicated network of mental-healthcare professionals. As consultants to the facilities and their primary-care physicians, NEG clinicians provide evaluation and diagnostic services, medication management, psychotherapy, behavior-management consultation, and evaluation of patients for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Steve Marcus, the current CEO of NEG, who will join HealthDrive as a senior adviser, added that “we selected HealthDrive as our partner because it is most aligned with our commitment to clinical excellence for the vulnerable population New England Geriatrics serves. We have worked side by side with HealthDrive providers in skilled-nursing facilities for many years, and it is apparent that the HealthDrive team truly understands the population that we at New England Geriatrics make our mission to serve. We are confident that, through our partnership with HealthDrive, New England Geriatrics will continue to offer the same great level of care that we have provided over these past 25 years.” The transaction is anticipated to close in the first half of 2019 and is subject to regulatory review and customary closing conditions.

UMassFive Among Recipients of Workforce Training Fund Grant

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced its selection as one of 68 Workforce Training Fund grant recipients in the state of Massachusetts chosen by the Baker-Polito administration. As a financial institution deeply invested in the communities it serves, UMassFive takes pride in supporting the local economy through providing quality service and products for its members, and by offering employment opportunities that encourage personal growth and career development. Accomplishing both of these goals means taking a real interest in the professional development of every employee and offering training opportunities so that any staff might become an expert in their chosen field. The $174,000 awarded to UMassFive will provide training for current and newly hired employees that focuses on technology-related mastery as well as leadership and management development in order to promote job growth, retention, and increased opportunity. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by Commonwealth Corp.

Work Opportunity Center Cuts Ribbon on New Springfield Facility

SPRINGFIELD — Work Opportunity Center Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 8 at its newly purchased and renovated community-based day-services (CBDS) facility located at 73 Marketplace in Springfield. Established in 1969, Work Opportunity Center Inc. (WOC) initially served its participants through a center-based work-service model. Community-based day services were added in the summer of 2014. In June 2016, center-based work services were discontinued for all participants, and those services were converted to CBDS. As of March 14, 2019, there are approximately 84 individuals participating in WOC CBDS services. Last month, 34 program participants and six staff members transferred from the WOC facility in Agawam to its newest facility in Springfield. The CBDS program of supports enables individuals with developmental disabilities to enrich their lives and enjoy a full range of community activities by providing opportunities for developing, enhancing, and maintaining competency in personal, social, and community activities. Service options for individuals participating in the CBDS program include career exploration, community-integration experiences, skills development and training, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, health and fitness classes, socialization experiences, and support to enhance interpersonal skills as well as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. The renovation of the 73 Marketplace facility is supported by a $10,000 grant made by the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation along with a $5,000 grant from Westfield Bank toward the purchase of a new vehicle for program participants.

Company Notebook

MBK Recognized as Regional Accounting Leader

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

Western New England Wins National Marketing Awards

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

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

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

Governor Celebrates Opening of New Physical Sciences Building at UMass Amherst

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

Franklin First Federal Credit Union Honored with Community Hero Award

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

PeoplesBank Named Second-Fastest-Growing Bank In Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

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

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. of Holyoke Is Now Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — Poised to boost its reach three-fold over the next five years, Girls Inc. of Holyoke has chosen a new name — Girls Inc. of the Valley — to embody its bigger, wider impact across Western Mass. The agency will keep its headquarters in Holyoke, said Executive Director Suzanne Parker at a press conference this morning at WGBY’s headquarters in downtown Springfield, and stay as committed as ever to the city of its origin. But with Girls Inc. members now hailing from Springfield, Chicopee, South Hadley, and other surrounding communities, a name change was certainly needed. Girls from area communities will continue to benefit from Girls Inc. of the Valley programs held at the Holyoke center headquarters on everything from literacy to leadership, said Parker, but the agency is also expanding into surrounding communities and has partnered to work inside 10 schools, including Springfield’s Chestnut Academy Middle School and Chicopee’s Bellamy Middle School and Dupont Middle School.

CommunicateHealth Celebrates 10th Anniversary

NORTHAMPTON — CommunicateHealth announced its 10th anniversary as a national consulting firm specializing in health information design. CommunicateHealth started as a consulting practice focusing on translating health information into plain language. Co-founders Xanthi Scrimgeour and Stacy Robison started the business in their Northampton attic. The couple quickly outgrew that space, eventually establishing an office on nearby Market Street. Over the past 10 years, the company has been successfully evolving into a full-service communications shop. The mission-based company works for some of the biggest names in healthcare and public health, including health-insurance companies, health systems, patient-advocacy groups, and government. They also take on projects for local hospitals and community organizations. CommunicateHealth is headquartered in Northampton with a second office in the Washington, D.C. area. It employs more than 65 employees across both offices. In 2018, the company recorded more than $12 million in sales.

Hazen Paper Co. Wins AIMCAL Product of the Year

HOLYOKE — Turning a simple box into an unusual ‘beauty and the beast’ packaging statement, Hazen Paper Co. was honored for the second year in a row with Product of the Year honors at the annual meeting of the Assoc. of International Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators (AIMCAL), held recently in Palm Beach, Calif. The winning entry was a folding carton titled “The Spirit of Innovation” for prestige luxury box maker Autajon Packaging USA, which featured a three-dimensional, jewel-toned snake and a female model whose face transformed from flawless to gorgeously reptilian when the box is tilted. The folding carton was made with precisely registered custom color-motion holography that reflects and refracts light to bring the snake’s sinuous curves to life and allows the woman’s face and eye to blaze with unexpected snake-like gleam. The box is embossed with a snakeskin pattern and finished with a soft-touch coating. Inside, a sea-green coating contrasts with the rich black exterior. Hazen also received a “Product Excellence” award for Benefit Cosmetics’ Hoola Quickie Contour Stick packaging, created with silver Ultracure acrylic-coated metallized polyester laminated to paperboard, offset-printed in transparent and opaque colors, and embossed. Judges rewarded the package for its extensive use of embossing, halftone reproduction, tight registration, and vivid green interior.

Complete Payroll Solutions Reports Record Growth

SPRINGFIELD — Complete Payroll Solutions announced it saw more than 100% year-over-year revenue growth compared to a year ago, setting a record pace of new customer acquisitions. The momentum reflects the company’s investment in its people and processes to better serve clients. This momentum is evidenced by several highlights from 2018, including four location openings in Wakefield, Mass., White Plains, N.Y., West Warwick, R.I., and Portsmouth, N.H.; 35 new employees across all offices and an expanded sales force with 10 additional salespeople, providing enhanced resources in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Connecticut; a new HR consulting division that delivers local, personalized HR solutions to clients; partnerships with industry leaders like BankRI, Brookline Bank, and First Ipswich Bank, along with the company’s continued relationship with Webster Bank; and the addition of iSolved, an HCM technology, to complement its existing platform, Kronos. Together, the solutions help clients with their workforce-management processes, including payroll, time and attendance, benefits, and HR to recruit, onboard, and manage employees. Founded in 2003 as a startup venture by owners with a long tradition in the industry, Complete Payroll Solutions now has 14 locations throughout the Northeast with 150 employees, and services over 6,000 clients across all 50 states.

Financial Times Ranks Isenberg’s Online MBA First among U.S. Programs

AMHERST — The online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst has been ranked first in the U.S. and third in the world by the Financial Times. With one of the largest and most established accredited online MBA programs in the country, the Isenberg School of Management has provided online education opportunities for nearly 16 years. More than 1,100 students are currently enrolled in the program. The Isenberg School stood out in the Financial Times’ 2019 rankings in a number of areas. The online MBA program ranked first for increase in salary after earning an MBA, with a 39% increase; first in the U.S. for total salary; and first for percentage of female faculty, with 45%. Furthermore, the program ranked fifth in online interaction, which measures how well alumni rate interactions between students, teamwork, and availability of faculty. Isenberg’s online MBA program offers an expansive course of study, from business analytics, finance, and healthcare administration to marketing and sports management. Isenberg students come from all 50 states and around the globe, and include physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, and scientists.

Bay Path University Receives Grant for Student Internship Experiences

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded $5,000 in grant funding support from the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., trustee, for its project, “Impacting the Community: Fostering Social Justice Through Student Internships.” The foundation’s support will benefit Bay Path undergraduate students who are performing internships at nonprofits in Hampden County, including Square One, the Jewish Community Center, and Girls Inc., all of whom service at-risk children and youth. Bay Path requires its traditional undergraduate students to complete a three- or six-credit internship, research project, or field-work experience, depending on their major, to ensure they have the opportunities to develop the skills and competencies that will help them launch their careers. This funding, which will cover four internships, will help relieve the financial worry that unpaid internships can bring for students. Many Bay Path students hold part-time jobs to make ends meet, and adding an unpaid internship to the mix can be stressful.

BFMC Receives Grants for Community Film Fund

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) received two grant awards for its newly established Community Film Fund, which is a matching fund to help local nonprofit organizations create videos for their branding, marketing, fundraising, and social media. The grants were received from the Berkshire Bank Foundation and the Feigenbaum Foundation, each in the amount of $2,500. In today’s world, video messaging is becoming increasingly important. Wordstream, an online advertising company, states that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text, and an initial e-mail with a video receives an click-through rate increase of 96%. BFMC is in the process of raising $50,000 for this new initiative, which it expects to launch later this spring. BFMC is partnering with the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires to provide information to local organizations about this opportunity.

Springfield College Students Volunteer in Trinidad and Tobago

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Kim Nowakowski led a group of graduate students in the health sciences at Springfield College on a global health service trip during spring break. For the third consecutive year, Nowakowski’s group, together with healthcare professionals from Trinidad and Tobago, provided a National Fall Prevention Program in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Fall Prevention program in Trinidad and Tobago was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with physiotherapists from Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited and the Physiotherapy Assoc. of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT). PATT is the sole professional body that represents all physiotherapists in Trinidad and Tobago. Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited was established in 2007 to provide quality healthcare in a friendly, compassionate environment that is geared towards facilitating healing and return to the function of living. Carla Rauseo, a 2005 alumna of the Springfield College physical therapy program who is a physical therapist and co-owner of Total Rehabilitation and a member of PATT, initiated the collaborative effort with Springfield College’s physical therapy program. Since the initiation of the program, the Stay Steady Foundation, a non-governmental organization, has been created to promote sustainability of the Stay Steady Fall Prevention Program, and the involvement of Springfield College has been instrumental to provide the screenings, Rauseo said.

Company Notebook

West of the River Chamber Foundation Funds Equipment at Agawam High School

AGAWAM — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce and its 501(c)(3) foundation presented Agawam High School with a check for $3,600 on Feb. 27 for the purchase of a Haas Simulator for its new manufacturing program. The West of the River Chamber Foundation (WRCF) has a mission to impact the local economy and area businesses by engaging in philanthropic work in the communities of Agawam and West Springfield. It recognizes that approximately 500 machinists’ jobs are vacant in the Commonwealth on any given day. This affects local business and industry because they cannot hire skilled machinists, and, therefore, machine shops cannot operate at maximum capacity. Lower productivity means lower incoming revenue. In an effort to alleviate this problem, the WRCF enacted a plan. It formed a focus group with the Agawam school system and the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative. The focus group’s efforts have resulted in programs, like the new Agawam High School program, implemented in its STEM program to introduce students to the vocation of a machinist. With the purchase of the new machines, the students will be able to learn trades that will provide them with lifelong skills and careers. Ace Precision, a manufacturing company in Agawam, has purchased two new simulators and donated a CNC machine towards this new program as well. Agawam High School has received more than $100,000 in community donations towards this new opportunity for its students.

Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts Earns 5-Star Award

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM), now celebrating its centennial anniversary, has earned a 5-Star Award from Junior Achievement USA for the third consecutive year. Junior Achievement organizations are judged on five categories: Student Growth/Year-over-Year % Change in Contact Hours; Surplus; Cash on Hand; Debt Ratio, and Current Ratio, defined as current assets divided by current liabilities. All chapters must meet the criteria for Surplus and at least one of the two student ratios, with the level of the star determined by how many of the other three standards are met. JAWM’s volunteer-delivered, K-12 programs foster work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy skills, and use experiential learning to inspire students to reach their potential. It provides turnkey solutions for businesses to engage students; rigorous and proven curriculum to educators for Massachusetts frameworks in English-language arts, mathematics, and social studies; and business-startup experience for teens. In addition, Junior Achievement provides educational programming for K-12 students that supports the newly signed law by Gov. Charlie Baker aimed at giving Massachusetts students the tools they need to navigate their financial futures, including milestones like buying a home and planning for retirement. The law allows state education officials to establish standards around financial literacy, which schools could incorporate into their existing curricula in subjects like math, business, and social sciences.

 

Allied Flooring and Paint Donates $5,000 to MHA

SPRINGFIELD — Allied Flooring and Paint made a $5,000 donation to support the work of MHA, which provides residential and support services to people impacted by mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and homelessness. “Allied has supplied and installed carpet, floors, and paint for MHA residences throughout the area for many years,” said Allied President Mario Tedeschi. “These are family homes for the individuals MHA serves, and I’m proud to help ensure they are comfortable, clean, and bright.” Kimberley Lee, vice president, Resource Development & Branding for MHA, noted that the donation will support MHA’s new outpatient clinic for emotional wellness, known as BestLife. “I’ve had opportunity to see first-hand the compassion and caring that MHA has for the clients they serve,” Tedeschi said. “I’m proud of my long-time affiliation with MHA and consider myself a champion of their work and a cheerleader as well.”

Company Notebook

Westfield’s New Baseball Team Unveils ‘Starfires’ Name, Logo

WESTFIELD — The latest entry in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League unveiled its name and logo on Wednesday night at an event held at the Shortstop Bar and Grill in Westfield. The Westfield Starfires will begin play in the summer of 2019 at Bullens Field in Westfield. The team name pays homage to the city of Westfield’s deep connection with the Air National Guard stationed at Barnes Airport. The name is derived from the Lockheed F-94 Starfire, a first-generation jet aircraft of the U.S. Air Force. The F-94 was the first operational USAF fighter equipped with an afterburner and was the first jet-powered all-weather fighter to enter combat during the Korean War in January 1953. The Westfield Starfires were founded by local entrepreneurs Christopher Thompson and Donald Moorhouse, and are now part of the FCBL’s seven-team circuit. Since 2011, the Futures League has experienced a meteoric rise to become one of the top summer collegiate leagues in the country. Season-ticket packages and merchandise for the new franchise are available now through westfieldstarfires.com.

GreatHorse Named Northeast’s Golf Course of the Year

HAMPDEN — The National Golf Course Owners Assoc. (NGCOA) recently recognized GreatHorse, the golf and lifestyle club in Hampden, as Regional Golf Course of the Year for the Northeast Region. The award recognizes those courses that epitomize exceptional course quality and management excellence, make important contributions to their communities and the game, and serve as models of operations to their peers. “We’re honored to receive such a prestigious award from the NGCOA,” said Guy Antonacci, owner of GreatHorse. “This national recognition is a testament to how far we have come in the four short years since we opened our doors, and we are excited to continue our growth in the years ahead.”

Michael’s Party Rentals Receives National Recognition

PALMER — Michael’s Party Rentals recently received a national accolade at the 2019 American Rental Assoc. (ARA) annual convention and trade show in Anaheim, Calif. The ARA is the international trade association for equipment-rental businesses and manufacturers and suppliers of rental equipment, with members in every U.S. state, every Canadian province, and more than 30 countries worldwide. Michael’s Party Rentals was acknowledged with a Presidents Image Award from ARA. It was a co-recipient along with True Value Rental of Rollinsford, N.H., representing Region One, which covers all of New England and New York. The honor is given to a business facility or store celebrating its commitment to improving the rental-industry image through a remodeling, rebuilding, or renovation project. The award was in response to Michael’s Party Rentals’ new showroom, which opened in July 2016.

United Bank Earns Accolades

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Bank announced that Greenwich Associates, the leading global provider of data, analytics, and insights to the financial-services industry, honored United with its 2018 Greenwich Excellence Awards for Middle Market Banking and Small Business Banking. Specifically, United Bank earned the 2018 Greenwich Excellence Awards for Overall Satisfaction in Middle Market Banking and Overall Satisfaction and Branch Satisfaction in Small Business Banking. Greenwich Associates, after evaluating more than 600 banks, determined that United Bank was among a select number of banks performing at a differentiated level relative to its peers. To qualify for consideration for these national awards, each winning bank had to have a minimum of 50 clients that responded to the survey. In addition, the Small Business Banking accolade was based on more than 14,400 interviews with businesses with sales of $1 million to $10 million across the country. For Middle Market Banking, the ranking was derived from more than 14,400 interviews with businesses with sales of $10 million to $500 million across the country.

 

Pathlight Moves to

Bigger Quarters in Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — Pathlight, a local organization that supports people with developmental disabilities and those with autism throughout Western Mass., is moving from its longtime space on North Street in Pittsfield to bigger quarters at 75 South Church St. The move, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21, allows Pathlight to better support its programs in the Berkshires. Pathlight’s Autism Connections as well as its Shared Living and Adult Family Care programs are growing in response to community demand. Autism Connections offers workshops, social-skills groups, and support groups, as well as recreation opportunities, to people with autism and their caregivers. The program’s autism specialists also work individually with families in their homes. In Pathlight’s Shared Living and Adult Family Care programs, a community member shares their home and provides support for a person with an intellectual disability or autism. The new office space features a large activity room, several meeting rooms, and a kitchen. The space will host community activities, including education workshops on a host of issues, social-skills groups for people with autism, and support groups for families caring for a person with autism. In the future, Pathlight plans to offer recreational and performing-arts classes for children and teens of all abilities.

Country Bank Donates $1M

to Local Charities in 2018

WARE — Country Bank reported that donations for 2018 exceeded $1 million. Through the bank’s established charitable-giving program, support is provided to local nonprofits throughout the region; in 2018, more than 400 organizations received generous contributions from the program. Among the organizations that received donations, the Salvation Army, the YMCA of Greater Springfield, the Springfield Rescue Mission, Friends of the Homeless, and the USO of Pioneer Valley each received $5,000, while the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Christina’s House each received $10,000. The bank also teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to build a home in Springfield last September. Country Bank also has an employee charitable-giving program that raised more than $30,000 in 2018, through events such as jeans days, bake sales, and raffles.

Governors America Corp. Partners

with CTEC to Develop Workforce

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Governors America Corp. has, over the last few years, hired seven past and/or current students from the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative’s Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC), a half-day high-school vocational and technical training facility located in West Springfield. CTEC services students from nine communities in and around Hampden and Hampshire counties with 11 program offerings. Governors America Corp. is a leading provider of engine-governing and system controls to manufacturers and power providers worldwide. The new hires mainly come from CTEC’S Machine Technology program and have worked directly on the manufacturing floor, operating computer numerical control machines. CTEC has also provided Governors Corp. with support in its Information Technology department. This mutually beneficial partnership has enabled students to apply the skills that they have learned in one of the area’s premier manufacturing environments and provided Governors Corp. with a reliable source of pre-screened talent that has enriched its staff and production.

Company Notebook

Johnson & Hill Staffing Cops ‘Best of Staffing’ Honors

WEST SPRINGFIELD —  Johnson & Hill Staffing, specializing in administrative, professional, legal, and accounting and finance staffing in the Western Mass. and Northern Conn. region, announced recently that it has won ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Client and Talent Awards. Johnson & Hill achieved World Class status, a distinction reserved for firms who receive a 70% or higher net promoter score (on a scale running from –100 to +100). It received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of its clients and 75% of its talent — significantly higher than the industry’s average in both categories. “At Johnson & Hill Staffing, we always strive to differentiate ourselves on service,” said Johnson & Hill President Andrea Hill-Cataldo. “We’re focused on relationships and the long term with our clients, and we push ourselves to offer the best possible experience to each candidate we meet. It’s very exciting to see our efforts recognized in this way.” All data is gathered through ClearlyRated and includes feedback both from clients and candidates Johnson & Hill has helped find jobs.

Mountain View Acquires Amherst Landscape & Design

CHICOPEE — Stephen Corrigan, of Mountain View Landscapes & Lawncare Inc., announced the recent acquisition of Amherst Landscape & Design Associates. Since 1976, Corrigan has spent the last 43 years offering landscape-maintenance and construction services throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and surrounding states. In 1979, Steve Prothers established Amherst Landscape & Design, providing the Pioneer Valley and beyond with creative design-build landscape installations. Focused on project development, Prothers will be dedicated to expanding the residential and commercial projects division of Mountain View Landscapes. Mountain View Landscapes and Amherst Landscape & Design have always held a strong belief that their team members are the cornerstone of the work that is accomplished and the success they achieve, Corrigan said.

SkinCatering Earns Women’s Business Enterprise Certficate

SPRINGFIELD — SkinCatering, LLC, an all-natural skincare brand with two spa locations in Springfield and Holyoke, announced it has been awarded the national WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certificate. WBENC’s certification validates that the business is 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. “We are making purposeful strides to create the foundation to allow women to own a franchise location of SkinCatering concept spas,” said Leanne Sedlak, owner, chief visionary officer, and lead massage therapist. “I believe this certification is important for any woman considering going into business with us and opening their own SkinCatering branch.” The application process was rigorous, including on-site visits, as the WBENC certification standard is the most relied-upon certification of women-owned businesses, Sedlak said.

Chicopee Savings Foundation Awards $17,000 Grant to MHA

SPRINGFIELD — The Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation has awarded a $17,000 grant over two years to MHA Inc. to help upgrade and repair two of the nonprofit organization’s community-based residences for people with developmental disabilities. The scope of work provided through the grant targets two of MHA’s residential programs located in Chicopee and will provide a new wheelchair-accessible ramp and roof repairs. MHA’s developmental-disability homes based in Chicopee serve adults facing challenges such as severe developmental delays, cerebral palsy, autistic disorder, epilepsy/seizure disorder, and blindness.

Springfield College, YMCA Unveil Online Degree-completion Program

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper and YMCA President and CEO Kevin Washington recently signed a five-year agreement for an online degree-completion program, which provides staff, who have earned leadership certification through YMCA of the USA, an opportunity to turn that learning into college credits that can count towards their degree completion at Springfield College. The program’s participants represent the first class of students participating in full online courses at Springfield College. The inaugural class of 30 YMCA professionals representing the new degree-completion program recently visited the campus for their new-student orientation. The cohort will begin working toward earning their degrees through the Springfield College online courses starting immediately. These 30 students each received scholarship funding through a grant made possible by the Harold C. Smith Foundation.

Abington Bank to Merge with Pilgrim Bank, Expanding Hometown Financial Group

ABINGTON — Andrew Raczka, CEO of Abington Bank, announced that Abington Bank will merge with Pilgrim Bank, a member of Hometown Financial Group, MHC, the holding company that includes Easthampton-based bankESB. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year. Raczka will lead the merged bank as its CEO. Hometown Financial Group recently closed on its acquisition of Pilgrim Bank. “Pilgrim Bank was our entry point into the Eastern Massachusetts market,” said Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of Hometown Financial Group Inc. “From the start, we knew that finding the right mutual partner would be the key to our success with our acquisition of Pilgrim Bancshares Inc.” Following the transaction, Hometown Financial Group will have consolidated assets of $2.7 billion and 30 branches across Massachusetts and Northeastern Conn.

Bay Path Awarded Grant to Connect Adult Women with Jobs

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University was named a winner of a philanthropic funding contest by national nonprofit Strada Education Network. Bay Path was awarded $1,582,600 for a three-year project titled “Closing the Gaps: Building Pathways for Adult Women in a Technology-driven Workforce.” Implemented through the American Women’s College of Bay Path University, the project will address a critical national need for developing a digitally fluent workforce — applicable not only in cybersecurity and the tech sector, but in other fields as well — that is well-prepared with foundational 21st-century skills in digital technologies, coding, data science, and systems thinking, and the ability to apply these skills across different problems, settings, and industries. Bay Path will use its grant to undertake extensive employer research and engagement and to build capacity of the American Women’s College to scale enrollment of adult women and prepare them with core cybersecurity and information-technology competencies that meet the needs of employers, support them as they persist to degree completion, and assist them to successfully transition to careers in cybersecurity and IT-related employment.

ACC Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program Offers Opportunities for Free Tuition, Wage Reimbursement

ENFIELD, Conn. — Starting in March, Asnuntuck Community College is offering a new, free apprenticeship program that will provide employers an opportunity to both enhance their employees’ skills and receive wage reimbursements of up to $13,000 per participant. This two-year program has a $3,750 value per participant but will be entirely free for Connecticut businesses. The time commitment will be three hours per week (Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m.), with breaks for holidays and summer, and classes will occur evenings at Asnuntuck Community College. The Asnuntuck Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship will cover Applied Shop Math, Blueprint Reading (I and II), Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, Overview of Mechanical Maintenance, Overview of Industrial Maintenance, OSHA 30 – General Industry, and Quality Control. Businesses seeking more information on this opportunity at Asnuntuck may contact Gary Carra at (860) 253-3128 or [email protected]

GCC Increases Job-related Technical Training in Region

GREENFIELD — Thanks to a recent Skills Capital Grant award from the Commonwealth, Greenfield Community College (GCC) will soon increase its capacity and upgrading its medical assistant certificate (MAC) program by offering additional training at its existing satellite location on the campus of Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School in Northampton. The Baker-Polito administration has awarded more than $52 million over the past three years through Skills Capital Grants across the Commonwealth. This round of grants focus on helping residents with barriers to employment, including those who are unemployed or underemployed, lack English proficiency, or do not have degrees or certificates and need new skills to obtain good-paying jobs. The grants cover a broad array of fields from construction and engineering to healthcare and hospitality. Greenfield Community College received $83,764 to purchase portable examination tables, patient simulation anatomical trainers, and medical instrument sterilization equipment. The expansion of GCC’s MAC program will provide greater access to technical education and training in Franklin and Hampshire counties to attract recent high-school graduates, incumbent workers looking to gain new skills, and displaced workers training for new careers in healthcare.

Company Notebook

Community Bank N.A. Reopens Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Bank N.A. Springfield branch recently celebrated its grand reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Local dignitaries, customers, community members, and Community Bank N.A. team members gathered to celebrate the completion of the branch’s renovations. Located within Tower Square, the renovated branch will offer Springfield customers enhanced and expanded services, including a 24-hour ATM and a night drop. At the celebration, Community Bank N.A. leaders also announced the results of a community vote between three nonprofits to receive a portion of the bank’s $12,500 commitment to give back to the Springfield area. Springfield Boys & Girls Club received the majority of the community vote and was presented with a $7,500 donation. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County and YMCA of Greater Springfield each received a $2,500 donation. The Community Bank N.A. Springfield branch began renovations in early October 2018 to add convenient features for customers. The branch will house nine team members and offer customers a wide range of services, including checking and savings accounts, commercial business, and mortgages.

Travel Kuz Provides Services at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta

GILL — Travel Kuz, a motorcoach charter company based in Gill, sent six of its luxurious motorcoach buses to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. The Travel Kuz buses and drivers were used in Atlanta for VIP and dignitary transportation, which included the special guests of each team and the athletes’ families. In addition to last year’s Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Travel Kuz has also provided transportation services at Super Bowl XLI in Miami in 2007, and at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., doing business as Travel Kuz, is a fifth-generation family business that has been providing school-bus and luxury motorcoach transportation for more than 90 years. The company operates more than 150 vehicles employing 136 local residents in Franklin County and Southern Vermont.

MassDevelopment Boosts Patriot Armored Systems

LEE — MassDevelopment has issued a $2,646,000 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Patriot Armored Systems Holding LLC, a real-estate entity affiliated with glass manufacturer Patriot Armored Systems. Patriot Armored Systems currently leases 45,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space at 100 Valley St. in Lee. The company’s real-estate entity will use bond proceeds to buy the building and construct a 7,500-square-foot addition, allowing Patriot Armored Systems to expand its manufacturing operations and hire 13 additional employees. Berkshire Bank purchased the bond. Founded in 1992, Patriot Armored Systems manufactures laminated, customized protective glass systems by purchasing glass as a raw material and melding it with bonding compounds. The company specializes in bullet-resistant glass and security glazing and offers an array of glass types, including architectural, ballistic, and bullet-resistant glass. Patriot Armored Systems serves a broad customer base, manufacturing customized products for various military operations, law enforcement, government buildings, banks, hospitals, retail businesses, vehicles, and homes.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Record Earnings

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018. The company reported net income of $12.2 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $16.3 million, or $0.32 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $9.5 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017. Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018 was $59.9 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, compared to net income of $54.6 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017. “In the fourth quarter of 2018, United Financial Bancorp Inc. delivered annualized linked quarter loan growth of 9% and deposit growth of 12%, while maintaining pristine asset quality and a strong balance sheet,” said William Crawford, IV, CEO and president of the company and the bank.

Pride Cuts Ribbon on New Hadley Location

HADLEY — Pride Stores held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 23 at its newest store, located at 25 Russell St. in Hadley. The new store offers a wide range of services, including an expanded dining area, a café and bakery, fresh deli and grill, Subway, a convenient drive-thru lane, as well as a separate room for beer and wine sales. It’s the first Pride to offer Chester’s Chicken for fresh fried chicken and family meals. The site also includes 12 charging stations for Tesla vehicles. Pride also donated five cents from every gallon of gasoline purchased that week to the Hadley Library Fund, a local nonprofit that is raising funds to support the building of the new Goodwin Library slated to break ground this summer.

Eversource Recognized for Energy-efficiency Programs

BOSTON — Homeowners, renters, and business owners across Massachusetts are always looking for ways to reduce expenses, and that includes energy costs. In recognition of its efforts to help these customers better manage their energy, Eversource was recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with Exemplary Energy Efficiency Program awards for both its Home Energy Services (HES) program and Franchise Customer Initiative in Massachusetts. The national award recognizes the best utility programs across the country. ACEEE’s national review evaluates and recognizes exemplary programs in areas such as direct customer energy savings, cost-effectiveness, customer service, innovation, and expansion potential. Eversource’s HES program takes a fuel-blind approach and provides in-home energy assessments, turnkey facilitation of weatherization measures, and 0% financing to help homeowners or renters retrofit their homes with cost-effective, energy-efficient measures. Since 2016, the energy saved through Eversource’s HES program in Massachusetts is enough to power approximately 6,000 homes for a year, and the greenhouse-gas emission reductions are equivalent to taking 1,062 cars off the road for a year.

Berkshire Theatre Group Receives Universal Participation Designation

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG) announced it was the recipient of the Mass Cultural Council’s (MCC) Universal Participation (UP) Designation. The UP initiative seeks to break down barriers that prevent civic participation in the cultural sector of Massachusetts. The UP designation provides peer networking, leadership platforms, access to grants, promotional opportunities, and professional development for organizations demonstrating inclusive practices. Through the MCC Innovation and Learning Network and the UP designation, the goals of the UP initiative are to support the growth and development of organizations that embrace inclusivity as core to their mission and recognize the power of design to anticipate and accommodate patrons, staff, volunteers, and students. BTG received this designation through providing training to the staff, board, and volunteers about inclusion; engaging users and experts to steward institutional needs to facilitate program and policy development; and implementing innovative accessible practices.

Hazen Paper Co. Launches 2019 ‘Space’ Calendar

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. is sharing a futuristic view of holography with its 2019 calendar, titled “Space – the Infinite Frontier.” Hazen Holography creates the illusion of motion and dimension on two-dimensional printed items by reflecting and refracting light at different angles. Revolving around the design concept of concentric circles, the calendar depicts a view of space from within a space capsule and a rocket launch. The poster/calendar incorporates several new holographic effects, including circular pillars, which resemble a sun-like orb pulsating with prismatic color that appears concave or convex, depending upon the viewer’s perspective. It also features holographic radial burst, a ray of light beams that alternates from monochrome to a rainbow of colors. The 18-by-24-inch poster/calendar was created to showcase Hazen’s wide-format tableau. This capability enables production of materials up to 52 inches wide without recombine lines, providing designers greater creative freedom. The custom Hazen hologram on 10-point board, coated on both sides, was finished with four-color printing plus opaque white. Hazen is known for the holographic stadium edition NFL Super Bowl program and the holographic enshrinement yearbook for the Basketball Hall of Fame. It is the most vertically integrated producer of holographic paper and film in the U.S., with a holographic lab and design studio on its Holyoke manufacturing campus. To receive a calendar, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 538-8040.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp Reports Q4 Results

BOSTON — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported GAAP net income of $14 million, or $0.31 per common share, in the fourth quarter of 2018. The non-GAAP measure of core earnings totaled $29 million, or $0.63 per share, during this period. Both GAAP and core EPS totaled $0.70 in the prior quarter. The benefit of higher net interest income in the fourth quarter was offset by lower fee income and higher expense. Core EPS is net of non-core charges, which totaled $0.32 per share after tax in the fourth quarter and included merger-related expenses and other items, including costs related to the restructuring of the company’s banking systems provider relationships. Fourth-quarter financial highlights included 2% loan and deposit growth, 3.41% net interest margin, 60.3% efficiency ratio, 0.17% net loan charge-offs/average loans, and 0.28% non-performing assets/assets. “Core earnings for the year were in line with our original plan, and fourth quarter core earnings also met our expectations before the impact of the government shutdown on SBA-related fee revenue,” CEO Richard Marotta said. “During 2018, our teams made great strides integrating our Eastern Massachusetts acquisition and developing organic business across our footprint. Loan growth was consistent throughout the year, and deposit balances increased with the benefit of higher activity in the fourth quarter. Our internal capital generation supported our balance-sheet growth, and our credit performance and asset quality remain strong.” The board of directors voted to increase the quarterly cash dividend by $0.01, or 5%, to $0.23 per common share to shareholders of record at the close of business on Feb. 14, 2019, payable on Feb. 28, 2019. Effective on the same dates, the board also increased the quarterly cash dividend on preferred stock by 5% to $0.46 per share.

Teach Western Mass Receives $250,000 Grant from Barr Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Teach Western Mass has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Barr Foundation that will allow the education nonprofit to make investments in strategic planning and capacity-building efforts. Launched in 2015, Teach Western Mass is a nonprofit organization focused on improving the volume, quality, and diversity of teacher candidates in Western Mass. Teach Western Mass (TWM) leads regional teacher-recruitment campaigns in collaboration with school and district partners. As a result, it is the primary source of job opportunities for prospective teachers in Western Mass., while also offering a high-quality, diverse talent pool for partner schools. In the last two years, TWM partner schools have accelerated hiring timelines and increased the percentage of incoming teachers who self-identify as people of color to 40%. Teach Western Mass also offers four innovative and regionally based teacher-training programs that seek to address persistent talent and hiring challenges faced by partner schools, which include both district and charter schools.

Way Finders Awarded $140,000 Grant from Tufts Health Plan Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Way Finders Inc. was awarded a two-year grant for $140,000 from Tufts Health Plan Foundation to advocate for equitable infrastructure and improved public safety in Springfield. This is one of 11 new community investments totaling more than $1.2 million that reflect the foundation’s commitment to advancing policies and practices that support healthy aging, including addressing gaps in oral health, nutrition, housing, transportation, and community safety. Through this grant, Way Finders will increase the capacity of low-income, older people who are advocating for policy and system changes in Springfield. These older people will lead efforts to address the built environment and community safety. The project leverages Way Finders’ existing Resident Health Advocate programming and its relationships with LiveWell Springfield and the Massachusetts Senior Action Coalition to enable the development of a robust advocacy infrastructure for the city.

Company Notebook

Smith Brothers Insurance Merges With the Partners Insurance Agency

EASTHAMPTON — Effective Jan. 1, Smith Brothers Insurance, with offices in Easthampton and West Springfield, and the Partners Insurance Agency, an independent insurance agency located in Vestal, Owego, and Waverly, N.Y., have merged together. This merger expands the Smith Brothers Insurance footprint into upstate New York, where the Partners will maintain local presence while leveraging the resources of Smith Brothers Insurance, one of the nation’s top 100 independent brokers. Owners of the New York offices — Don Patterson, Bill Soprano, Phil Wiles, John Carlin, Michael Constantine, and Chris Hutchings — will stay fully engaged in client service and business development. Constantine will run the New York region, continuing to serve clients with the same team of insurance professionals who have also become employees of Smith Brothers Insurance.

Florence Bank Opens Second Branch in Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD — Florence Bank opened its second Hampden County branch at 1444 Allen St. in Springfield on Dec. 19. “We’re very pleased to be expanding our presence in Springfield,” said John Heaps Jr., Florence Bank’s president and CEO. “Our focus is on providing great customer service and helping to reinvigorate the community.” The Allen Street branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing and a comfortable waiting area inside with a coffee bar and free wi-fi. Nikki Gleason serves as branch manager for the new location. Other employees include Candice Somar, assistant branch manager; Bianca Hyde, customer service representative (CSR) and teller operations manager; Mario Nascimento, CSR and senior teller; Magdalis “Maggie” Sierra, CSR and senior teller; and Carolyn Ware, community relations director. In August 2017, Florence Bank opened its first branch in Hampden County at 1010 Union St. in West Springfield. The Springfield branch marks the second of several anticipated branches in the region, Heaps said.

WNEU Announces $35 Million ‘Campaign for Our Second Century’

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced plans for a comprehensive fundraising campaign designed to enrich the student experience inside and outside the classroom. Named the Campaign for Our Second Century, the philanthropic endeavor launched publicly on 1/9/19 — a nod to the university’s founding year of 1919. Western New England University aims to raise at least $35 million in private support for a range of priorities that will build on the institution’s historic first century and shape its future progress. Those priorities fit into five overall fundraising objectives: growing scholarship aid, building and enhancing campus facilities, creating impactful opportunities for student life, boosting academic initiatives and experiences, and strengthening the President’s Fund for Excellence. Current and future Western New England students will be the direct beneficiaries of the most ambitious fundraising effort in the university’s history. The number-one priority of the campaign is to increase student aid through donor-funded scholarships. In recent years, full-time undergraduate enrollment has grown to record levels, with more than 98% of students receiving financial aid through scholarships, grants, and loans. The university has already secured more than $29 million in new gifts and commitments to advance Western New England during the campaign’s pre-launch phase, which began in 2016. Lead gifts were made by two of the university’s most ardent supporters — Kevin Delbridge ’77 and Janet Johnson Bullard ’69, both university trustees who are serving as the campaign’s honorary chairpersons. To date, more than 4,000 individual alumni, friends, and foundations have made commitments. Each gift made to WNEU during the campaign counts toward its goal. This is Western New England’s second comprehensive campaign. Private philanthropic support is not intended to replace university sources of revenue, but rather provide the margin that enables greater access to scholarship support, state-of-the-art technologies, outside-the-classroom experiences, faculty development, and other critical learning services. For details about the Campaign for Our Second Century, visit wne.edu/campaign.

Community Chooses Recipients of Monson Savings Bank Philanthropy

MONSON — For the ninth year in a row, Monson Savings Bank asked the community to help plan the bank’s community giving activities by inviting people to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during 2019. The top vote getters include Wilbraham United Players, Scantic Valley YMCA, the Women’s Empowerment Scholarship Fund, Rick’s Place, River East School-to-Career, Greene Room Productions, Boy Scouts of Western Massachusetts, Link to Libraries, Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, and Old Post Orchestra.

HealthSouth Rehab Hospital Unveils New Name, Brand

LUDLOW — HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts has unveiled its new name and brand as part of its management company’s name change and rebranding initiative. As of Jan. 1, the inpatient rehabilitation hospital is known as Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts. It will continue to provide the same post-acute care for patients overcoming a variety of major illnesses and injuries. Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth Corp. launched its new name and brand on Jan. 1, 2018 and will be transitioning its 130 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and 273 home-health and hospice locations serving 36 states and Puerto Rico through 2019. All of the company’s post-acute-care service locations in Massachusetts migrated to the Encompass Health name and branding last week.

Advocacy Network Donates $17,000 to Whole Children

HADLEY — The Advocacy Network, a local organization with a mission to promote and protect the health, human rights, and safety of people with developmental disabilities, recently donated $17,000 to Whole Children. The donation was one of the last acts of the group, which announced it is dissolving after more than 60 years of work. The late Benjamin Ricci, an Advocacy Network member, was the father of Belchertown State School patient Robert Ricci. He filed a class-action lawsuit against the school in 1972, claiming that its residents were living in horrific conditions. The judge assigned to the Belchertown case, Joseph Tauro, who died in November, spearheaded a major overhaul of Massachusetts’ state facilities as a result of the lawsuit, which ultimately ended in the closing of the institution. Amherst resident Bob Ricci, the man named in the lawsuit against Belchertown, came to Whole Children with members of the Advocacy Network to deliver the check to director Maggie Rice. Whole Children was started in 2004 by a group of parents looking for after-school programs for their children with intellectual disabilities or autism. It joined with Springfield-based Pathlight in 2010 and has expanded to serve some 600 adults, teens, and children each year in a variety of recreation, performing-arts, and enrichment programs.

SmartDollar Names OMG Inc. Company of the Year

AGAWAM — The statistics are alarming: 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. At work, stress over finances can take a toll on employee performance and impact productivity. Almost 10 years ago, OMG Inc. saw this as a factor limiting employee success and took action. OMG used SmartDollar, the financial-wellness program created by money expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey, to teach employees how to take better care of themselves financially. More than 300 employees have taken advantage of the program to create a financial plan for themselves and their families. Using SmartDollar, the average OMG participant has paid off more than $8,000 in debt and saves more than $5,000. Collectively, participants have achieved a positive swing of almost $1 million through debt reduction and savings contributions. As a result, SmartDollar recognized OMG as its 2018 Company of the Year.

Company Notebook

White Lion Brewery Moving into Tower Square

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

TommyCar Auto Group Adds Volvo Franchise

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

Dress for Success Receives $10K for Mentoring Program

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

Webster Bank Rated Best Overall Bank in Northeast

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

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

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

Holyoke Community College Celebrates Success of Arrivals from Puerto Rico

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

Comcast Selected for Broadband Project in Town of Worthington

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

Smith Brothers Insurance Helps Local Children

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

Company Notebook

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

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

Berkshire Hills to Acquire SI Financial Group

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

MachineMetrics Announces $11.3 Million Funding Round

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

NAI Plotkin Sells Historic Hampden Bank Building

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

Bay Path University Named Safest College in Massachusetts

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

AIC Awarded Matching Grant from George I. Alden Trust

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

The Channel Company Names NetLogix to Next-Gen 250 List

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

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

Worcester State University, WNEU School of Law Forge Partnership

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

Company Notebook

Hazen Paper Recognized at Manufacturing Award Ceremony

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

Big Y Foods, COCC Receive Employer of Choice Recognition

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

Kuhn Riddle Architects Certified as Woman Business Enterprise

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

Comcast Unveils New Xfinity Store at Holyoke Mall

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

American Women’s College at Bay Path University Recognized

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

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

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

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

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

TommyCar Auto Group Supports Unify Against Bullying

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

Company Notebook

Big Y Works to Sack Hunger

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

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

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

Bay Path Recognized Among Top MS in Accounting Programs

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

Veterans at Corps Logistics Build, Maintain ValleyBike Share System

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

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

SPRINGFIELD — Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, has included Bulkley Richardson in its 2019 “Best Law Firms” list, ranking the firm in the top tier for 10 practice areas, the most of any Springfield law firm. They include bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense: general practice, criminal defense: white-collar, litigation: labor and employment, medical-malpractice law: defendants, personal-injury litigation: defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers. Bulkley Richardson has 13 of its lawyers included on the 2019 Best Lawyers list, the most from any Springfield law firm. Two of the firm’s partners, John Pucci and Liz Sillin, were also named 2019 Springfield Lawyer of the Year. The rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field.

CBS Xerox Supports MHA’s Good to Go Program

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

DiGrigoli School Honored by Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center

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

Company Notebook

Six Flags Delivers Thousands of Diapers to Square One
SPRINGFIELD — Six Flags New England recently held a diaper drive to support the children and families served by Square One. Thousands of diapers were donated by Six Flags patrons, and, in exchange, donors were given free admission to the theme park. More than 500 cases of diapers were picked up at the Six Flags offices by Square One staff on Oct. 11 and delivered to the Square One Family Center at 1095 Main St. in Springfield.

Johnson & Hill Staffing Earns Top National Honor
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Johnson & Hill Staffing received the top honor in the 2018 American Staffing Assoc. (ASA) Genius Grand Award program, which recognizes the best and most innovative communications and marketing campaigns among ASA staffing agency members across the U.S. Johnson & Hill Staffing was honored for its innovative new website, marketing video, and social-media endeavors. A panel of communications and marketing experts selected the honorees based on the overall quality of their campaigns’ messaging, design and visual appeal, originality of approach, and outcomes.

UMass Amherst Launches Biomedical Engineering Department
AMHERST — The College of Engineering at UMass Amherst has established a new department of Biomedical Engineering, which will offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. It is the fifth department within the college. Biomedical engineering (BME) integrates engineering science, biology, and medicine into a cross-disciplinary field focused on improving human health and solving problems in the delivery of healthcare. Its key principle is that, by looking at the human body through the lens of engineering, one can apply the concepts of design, optimization, and programming to complex biological systems in order to detect, repair, and treat disease and to create diagnostic and therapeutic tools. The new program will be the core of biomedical-engineering research and teaching at UMass Amherst working within the College of Engineering and with the Institute of Applied Life Sciences. The institute was established in 2014 with $150 million from the Massachusetts Life Science Center and the university.

Bay Path Students Create PSAs for Girls Inc. of Holyoke Event
LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University students joined Girls Inc. of Holyoke at the university’s Empsall Hall last week to launch public service announcements (PSAs) in honor of International Day of the Girl Child, a celebration designated by the United Nations on Oct. 11. The PSAs, created by students in the Communications program, reflected different perspectives on how to encourage and empower girls of all ages and backgrounds. The event featured a ‘COMMversation,’ where university students and local panelists, including Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker, Women’s Fund of Western Mass CEO Donna Haghighat, Springfield School Committee member LaTonia Monroe Naylor, Open Pixel Studios co-founder and animator Kathryn Taccone, and author and Bay Path Professor Maria Luisa Arroyo, engaged in conversations about how to create a world where girls can feel safe as they explore their individual paths to success. Bay Path students of all disciplines used their storytelling skills to focus on what they feel are currently the biggest challenges, as well as opportunities for girls and women. A walk-through gallery of their PSAs was displayed, prompting discussion among guests, faculty, staff, and other students. Naomi Naylor, daughter of LaTonia Monroe Naylor, attended the event as a local student ambassador. She showcased and described a work of art she painted called “Colors of Acceptance.” Following the event, she donated this piece to Bay Path University through Fondon. Arroyo, who was Springfield’s inaugural poet laureate, signed her book at the event. The ongoing partnership between Girls Inc. and Bay Path University for International Day of the Girl Child was further highlighted in the afternoon as Fondon offered a presentation of her research for “The Intersection: Women of Color On the Move.”

Paragus IT Celebrates Two Years of Employee Ownership
HADLEY — In 2016, Paragus IT CEO Delcie Bean implemented an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which distributed ownership of 40% of the company to its (at the time) 40-plus employees. On Oct. 19, Paragus and its employees, now numbering more than 50, toasted Employee Ownership Month and celebrated self-ownership with a party at the firm’s headquarters in Hadley. An ESOP is an employee-owner program that gives staff an owner interest in the company, making them shareholders in addition to being employees. High-profile ESOPs in the U.S. include Harpoon Brewery, Publix Markets, Chobani Yogurt, King Arthur Flour, and Lifetouch. “After two years, it’s clear that the ESOP decision was a smart one,” Bean said. “It has fueled growth and inspired deeper commitment by giving everyone a direct stake and a personal investment in the future of the company.”

Elms Nursing Graduates Achieve 100% Pass Rate on Licensure Exam
CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that class of 2018 graduates from its School of Nursing achieved a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). This means every one of the college’s 2018 bachelor’s-degree graduates passed the licensure exam. In 2017, the Massachusetts pass rate for the NCLEX-RN was 86%, and the national rate was 87%; Elms College 2017 graduates achieved a pass rate of 96%. To date, the national 2018 NCLEX-RN pass rate for U.S. undergraduate nurses is 92%, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc.

Pathlight Awarded $23,000 to Support Innovative Curriculum
SPRINGFIELD — Pathlight, a Valley leader in residential and community services for people with intellectual disabilities or autism, has been awarded $23,000 in funding from the Westfield Bank Future Fund and the Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation to support a sex-education and relationships program that gives people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism the skills to build and maintain healthy relationships throughout their lives. The program, called Whole Selves, is the result of 10 years of teaching the social skills of relationships to adolescents, teens, and adults with a variety of disabilities at Pathlight’s Whole Children program. Whole Selves is flexible and individualized, uses explicit instruction, and has proven to be successful in local high schools where it is taught. Pathlight is developing the program to be available online to middle and high schools nationally. One goal of the Whole Selves project is to prevent the staggering rate of sexual abuse among people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD). According to a recent report by NPR, people with ID/DD are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities. A robust and accessible education is one solution to preventing abuse and isolation, and Whole Selves is developed specifically for this population. Pathlight is piloting the program in several schools this fall, with an eye toward releasing it nationally in 2019.

Phillips Insurance Agency Supports Joseph Freedman Bowl-a-Thon
CHICOPEE — Joe Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., recently delivered a $5,000 check to John Freedman, president of Joseph Freedman Co., for the seventh annual Joseph Freedman Bowl-a-Thon being held Wednesday, Nov. 7 at AMF Lanes in Chicopee. The proceeds go to Camphill Village, a community for adults with developmental disabilities who live together and work together, caring for each other. Phillips Insurance Agency was established in 1953 and is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 27 professionals. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses in New England.

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Third-best Airport in U.S.
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its 31st annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the third-best airport in the U.S. Travelers gave the airport high marks for “convenient on-site parking, plentiful charging stations and free wi-fi, decent restaurant options, and an overall relaxed atmosphere.” The CAA has initiated major terminal enhancements at Bradley over the last couple of years aimed at elevating the travel experience. Recent upgrades include the addition of Two Roads Tap Room, Escape Lounge, a Phillips Seafood restaurant, a duty-free shop, and a mother’s nursing room — and more improvements are underway. Additionally, the expansion of the airport’s route network continues to be a priority, with the airport most recently celebrating the launch of its latest non-stop service to St. Louis.

Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation Boosts HCC Culinary Arts Program
HOLYOKE — The Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 to Holyoke Community College (HCC) for the benefit of students preparing for careers in the culinary-arts and hospitality industry. Bill Wagner, president of the foundation, presented a check for that amount to HCC President Christina Royal and officials from the nonprofit HCC Foundation during a brief ceremony on Oct. 2 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. The $50,000 donation will go toward programs, equipment, maintenance, instruction, and student services at the institute, which opened in January in downtown Holyoke. During the ceremony, a plaque recognizing the donation was unveiled outside the institute’s general purpose lab, which is the teaching kitchen used for HCC’s non-credit culinary and workforce-training programs.

Company Notebook

Epstein Financial Services Moves to East Longmeadow

EAST LONGMEADOW — Epstein Financial Services has relocated from Holyoke to a new, expanded office space on 12 Somers Road in East Longmeadow. Its new phone number is (413) 224-3606. Epstein Financial Services was renting its previous location in Holyoke and now owns its new office in East Longmeadow. Its square footage has increased by 50%. In addition to a new video studio used to film promotional and educational 401K Coach Program videos and promote clients’ businesses, the new location features plentiful and accessible parking, as well as larger conference and meeting spaces.

NAI Plotkin Sells 1492 Boston Road Property

SPRINGFIELD — NAI Plotkin, an office of NAI Global, a leading commercial real-estate brokerage firm, announced it has sold 1492 Boston Road, which consists of a 9,697-square-foot commercial building, formerly the Smokey Bones Restaurant, and an adjacent 20,585-square-foot commercial building, currently occupied by Namco. The asset was sold to Restoration Worship Center/Centro de Restauracion Adoracion for $2.2 million and includes a total of 6.1 acres of land next to the Lowe’s shopping plaza. Bill Low and Stephen Picard teamed up to sell the property, which was on the market for years with several real-estate companies.

Harry Grodsky & Co. Marks 100th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — One of America’s largest mechanical contractors achieves a new milestone this month as Harry Grodsky & Co. Inc. officially celebrates its 100th anniversary. The family-owned firm will pay tribute to both the old and the new with its centennial event on Friday, Oct. 19 at MGM Springfield. The Grodsky story began in 1918, and for four generations the company has remained focused on solving complex problems. Grodsky’s 100th-anniversary event will highlight various stories that comprise the company’s history and culture, including noteworthy projects, past and current employees and business partners, and its ongoing commitment to the Pan-Mass Challenge.

Rays of Hope Grants $17,000 to Cancer House of Hope

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Rays of Hope, part of the Baystate Health Foundation, has made a grant to the Cancer House of Hope to support services for women affected by breast cancer. The grant, totaling over $17,000, will support integrative therapies at the Cancer House of Hope, including Reiki, massage therapy, a relaxation group, and support groups. Rays of Hope has been a strong supporter of the Cancer House of Hope, both financially and as a community partner, for a number of years. This grant is the most recent affirmation of this long-standing relationship. Last week, Cancer House of Hope dedicated a room in honor of Rays of Hope. In addition to Reiki, massage therapy, and support groups, the Cancer House of Hope also provides wigs and related services, access to mastectomy bras and forms, and yoga classes. All services provided at the Cancer House of Hope are free of charge to anyone affected by cancer.

Elms Offers Grants for Urban, Catholic Education

CHICOPEE — Elms College now offers two new educational grants to help incoming first-year students offset tuition costs. The Urban Education Grant and the Catholic Education Grant each award new students $2,000. Students attending Springfield, Chicopee, or Holyoke public schools in Massachusetts are eligible for the Urban Education Grant, which is open to students attending a Catholic high school anywhere in the country. To qualify for either grant, students must be currently enrolled at their respective public or Catholic schools at the time of their application to Elms College. All qualifying students will be automatically considered for these grants when applying to Elms. These new awards can be paired with other merit-based scholarships and financial aid offered by the college, but not with each other.

Company Notebook

Gaming at MGM Springfield Generates $9.45M in August
SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported that MGM Springfield generated $9,456,976.90 in gross gaming revenue between Aug. 23 and Aug. 31, its first week of operation. Slot machines generated $7,347,491.15 in revenues, while table games generated $2,109,485.75. Of that, or $2,364,244.23, will go to the state in taxes. MGM Springfield is taxed by the state on 25% of its gross gaming revenue. Under its host-community agreement, MGM pays the city of Springfield $17.6 million annually in lieu of taxes.

USI Insurance Services Acquires Gaudreau Group
WILBRAHAM — USI Insurance Services (USI), a world leader in insurance brokerage and risk management, announced the acquisition of the Gaudreau Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founded in 1921, the Gaudreau Group is a commercial-insurance, employee-benefits, personal-risk, and financial-services firm insuring more than 6,000 businesses and families across 14 states. Jules Gaudreau, company president, represents the third generation of the Gaudreau family to lead the company. He will join USI’s New England regional management team as president of the company’s Springfield office.

Baystate Wing Opens New Emergency Department
PALMER — On Sept. 18, Baystate Wing Hospital opened its new, $17.2 million Emergency Department to patients. The new facility includes separate ambulance and public entryways and features 20 patient rooms, including critical care, behavioral health, and other dedicated specialty-care areas. Private rooms have replaced curtained bays to enhance patient privacy, along with dedicated space for behavioral-health patients. The new 17,800-square-foot facility will include sophisticated medical technology, including CT scan and radiology (X-ray) services. The Baystate Wing Emergency Department campaign has raised over $2.9 million to date. The overall cost of building and equipping the new emergency department at Baystate Wing Hospital is $17.2 million, with Baystate Health committing funding through capital investment and bonds. 

Polish National Credit Union Wins CFS/SPF Impact Award
CHICOPEE — Polish National Credit Union (PCNU) was recently awarded the Bronze CFS/SPF 2017 Impact Award at annual conference of CUSO Financial Services, LP and Sorrento Pacific Financial, LLC in San Diego. The conference is an opportunity for businesses to come together to share and discuss best practices as well as hear from industry experts. This award is given to a financial institution that demonstrates an excellent job of building awareness through branch marketing efforts. “As the investment industry becomes more competitive, financial institutions must be increasingly creative and resourceful when it comes to the promotion of their investment-services program,” said James Kelly, president and CEO of Polish National Credit Union. “Not only is our team receptive to our ideas, they are eager to participate and shed light on all the fantastic options there are for our members to reach their financial goals through PNCU Financial Services.”

Elms College Wins Grant for Project to Spark Girls’ Interest in STEM Fields
CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that its Computer Science department has been awarded more than $188,000 through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund a project designed to spark interest in computer science and related fields among middle-school girls in Holyoke. The project — which will include participants from UMass Amherst, Holyoke Codes, Girls Inc. of Holyoke, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke — will combine robotics, coding, and a simulated natural-disaster situation. The project, titled Girls Involved in Robotics Learning Simulations (GIRLS), was born after Beryl Hoffman, associate professor of Computer Science at Elms College, met Florence Sullivan, professor at UMass Amherst College of Education, at Holyoke Codes, an organization that provides opportunities for kids to get involved in coding, robotics, and technology. Hoffman and Sullivan aim to learn more about the role of immersive simulation scenarios in encouraging girls to take interest in and learn about computer science and robotics. In year one of the project, the team will finalize all materials and curricula, and test them in single-day workshops. In year two, the educational program will be implemented in partnership with Girls Inc. of Holyoke and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, with 40 to 60 female students expected to participate. In year three, the team will open the program to middle-school-aged boys, too, and analyze the outcomes of coed learning. As part of the grant project, Elms will offer three paid internships, one per year, to junior or senior computer science or CITS (computer information technology and security) majors.

Baystate Health, VertitechIT Partner to Launch baytechIT
HOLYOKE — Baystate Health and VertitechIT announced the formation of a new company to meet the increasingly complex IT needs of medical practices, clinics, and healthcare social-service organizations in the Western Mass. and Northern Conn. regions. BaytechIT is a first-of-its-kind independent joint venture, providing monitoring and management of information-technology networks, telephony, clinical engineering support, and other IT-related consulting and engineering expertise previously unaffordable to the local healthcare community. Already serving Baystate Health, its operating medical practices, and several large and mid-sized offices and clinics, baytechIT currently has 150 clients and manages/monitors more than 16,000 endpoint devices. BaytechIT will be headquartered in Holyoke with additional offices throughout Western Mass.

TWO Helps Enhance Skills of Medical Assistants
SPRINGFIELD — When Holyoke Medical Center and Western Mass Physician Associates (WMPA) needed help enhancing the skills of their medical assistants, they partnered with Training & Workforce Options (TWO), which developed a curriculum and taught a 10-week class to 15 medical assistants from WMPA. The training was designed to prepare the workers for a national credentialing exam. The TWO course at Holyoke Community College (HCC) was a hybrid of classroom work and online learning taught by a medical assistant. An additional 25 medical assistants from Holyoke Medical Center Specialty Practices enrolled in a second round of training. TWO, a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College, is designed to deliver high-quality, custom training solutions to the business community to boost bottom-line performance and productivity. In addition to classroom learning, Holyoke Medical Center and Western Mass Physician Associates developed and staffed a full-scale skills day for all trainees. The session included 10 hands-on stations covering clinical and administrative tasks such as checking vital signs, administering injections and medication, taking EKG measurements, and other competency tests.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in National Ranking of Environmental Firms
WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond climbed six spots this year to 148th on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) 2018 Top 200 Environmental Firms ranking. ENR ranks its list of top 200 environmental firms nationally based on the percentage of their 2017 gross revenue from environmental services. Earlier this year, Tighe & Bond moved up 19 spots to 241st on ENR’s 2018 Top 500 Design Firms ranking, up 34 spots in the past two years. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year.

Country Bank Sponsors Habitat for Humanity Build
WARE — Country Bank staff recently volunteered their time to assist the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity build a home for a local Springfield family. “Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity is blessed to have wonderful community partners like Country Bank who contribute the time, talent, and treasure needed to help families build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter,” said Jennifer Schimmel, executive director for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. Added Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations at Country Bank, “when asked to support such a meaningful cause, the staff at Country Bank was eager to help with this project. The staff was truly grateful to be a part of making the dream of home ownership a reality for Joseph and Lakery and their family.”

HMC Physician Affiliate Changes Name
HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Medical Center provider affiliate, Western Mass Physician Associates, announced it is changing the name to Holyoke Medical Group as of Oct. 1. Four years after launching a new organization-wide logo and rebranding campaign, the Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems leadership recognize the disconnect still perceived by patients between Holyoke Medical Center and Western Mass Physician Associates. “The name change will allow for the organization to have stronger brand awareness in the community,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “The new name also releases the belief that all clinicians are doctors. The future success of healthcare relies not only on our excellent physicians, but on the growing number of mid-level providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, expertly qualified to care for our community.” Holyoke Medical Group consists of two primary-care provider offices, a family medicine office, a pediatric office, and three women’s services offices with ob/gyn and certified nurse midwife care. Each office location is accepting new patients.

Company Notebook

Elms College Launches Student Leadership Institute

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

Colony Hills Capital Sells Mobile Five Portfolio for $134.3M

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

Bay Path’s Online Liberal Studies Program Earns National Accolades

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

PV Financial Group Makes $5,000 Donation to MHA

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

First Connecticut Bancorp Issues Quarterly Dividend

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

Bay Path Recognizes Springfield JCC with Award

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

Bulkley Richardson Launches Cannabis Practice

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

Company Notebook

American Women’s College Offers Food Industry Management Degree

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

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

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

Holyoke Community College Readies New Biotech Center

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

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

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

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Chicopee

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

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

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

Company Notebook

Blue Sox Sweep Waves to Repeat as NECBL Champions

HOLYOKE — The Valley Blue Sox are hoisting the NECBL championship trophy for a second straight season after pounding the Ocean State Waves 19-6 to sweep the two-game series. The Blue Sox pounded out 20 hits in the victory, failing to score in just two out of the nine innings. They jumped off to a 5-0 lead before the Waves even batted in the first inning, and never looked back. The Blue Sox were paced by Simon Whiteman of Yale University, who went six for seven, scored five runs, and added four RBIs. Connor Pauly of Morehead State University went four for six on the night with one run and four RBIs. The Blue Sox have now won back-to-back championships under head coach John Raiola. First-year owner Fred Ciaglo hoisted the Fay Vincent Sr. cup for the first time as owner of the Valley Blue Sox.

MGM Guest Experience to Include White Lion Brewing

SPRINGFIELD — True to its promise, MGM Springfield has established strong relationships with Springfield-based businesses in preparation for the casino’s Aug. 24 launch. Specially brewed lager from White Lion Brewing Co. will be served on MGM’s casino floor. The bottled lager is appropriately named King of Hearts. According to White Lion brew master Mike Yates, “this lager is brewed exclusively for MGM Springfield. It’s a classic German style lager, light amber in color with an ABV of 4.7%. It’s crisp and drinkable with subtle flavors, thanks to both German and American hops with a touch of sweetness from German malts.” Several months ago, White Lion owner Berry and Yates were invited to talk specifics with MGM’s food and beverage team. The decision was made to develop a distinctive lager, and Yates went to work. MGM notes that, in addition to King of Hearts, White Lion’s signature brews will be available at TAP Sports Bar.

MS in Forensic Accounting at Bay Path Earns High Marks

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s master of science (MS) program in forensic accounting has been named third in a list of the top five best in the nation, as ranked by BestColleges.com. According to the site, graduate-degree programs in forensic accounting were ranked on a 100-point scale based on academic quality, affordability, and online programming. The editor’s review of Bay Path University highlights the flexibility of the program, offered 100% online with dedicated on-ground support from staff and faculty. In addition to forensic accounting, Bay Path University also offers concentrations including public and private accounting under the umbrella of its MS in accounting. The MS in forensic accounting, open to men and women, offers a unique schedule with no classes during the accounting ‘busy season’ (January to mid-April). The flexible, 30-credit program includes individualized advisement and career coaching from full-time, academically and professionally (CPA) certified faculty. Classes start every April, May, July, September, and November, and some students are able to complete the program in just eight or nine months.

HMC Opens Center to Address Opioid Dependence

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center recently opened the Comprehensive Care Center to address opioid dependence. This program provides comprehensive, confidential treatment options for people looking to quit prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids. Board-certified physician and Medical Director Dr. Amy Jaworek manages the use of prescription medication to treat opioid dependency, while licensed mental-health counselors with River Valley Counseling Center provide psychological treatment and substance-abuse counseling. Patients are prescribed buprenorphine-naloxone (trade name Suboxone) to help break their addiction so they can focus on healing. Eligible patients must be diagnosed with substance-use disorder, complete an initial medical evaluation, and be screened for associated illnesses. The program treats patients who are age 18 and older, are self-referred or referred by a healthcare provider, and have a desire to stop opioid use. The Comprehensive Care Center is located 575 Beech St., Suite 404, Holyoke, and can be reached at (413) 535-4889.

Berkshire Bank Recognized for Corporate Philanthropy

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank has been selected as one of three national finalists for the Corporate Philanthropy Award in the Financial Institutions category as part of the 12th annual Invest in Others Awards, a program that recognizes the charitable work of financial advisors and financial-services firms in communities around the globe. Invest in Others launched the Corporate Philanthropy Award in 2015 to recognize the importance of encouraging philanthropy at a corporate level. The awards will be presented on Thursday, Sept. 27 in Boston. Berkshire Bank was selected as a finalist for its commitment to philanthropy, volunteerism, and broader social corporate-responsibility activities. Annually, Berkshire Bank and Berkshire Bank Foundation provide more than $2 million in financial contributions, as well as scholarships to high-school seniors. The company also provides every employee with $500 in matching gift funds to amplify their own individual giving. In addition to financial support, the XTEAM, the company’s employee volunteer program, provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours.

Springfield College, NEBA Introduce Project SEARCH

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College, along with New England Business Associates (NEBA), recently introduced the first cohort of interns participating in the Project SEARCH program. Springfield College is the first college or university in Western Mass. to lead the Project SEARCH program on the campus. Project SEARCH’s mission is to help young adults with disabilities transition from school to work through a community-agency partnership while gaining employability skills. The program is dedicated to workforce development that benefits the individual, community, and workplace. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovation adaptations, and long-term job coaching, and continues feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. New England Business Associates’ mission is to enable individuals, who may face barriers, to be fully included in community life through employment, and to become economically empowered in a way that incorporates and creates best practices, creates valued typical societal roles, and offers individualized opportunities.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Again Named Among Top Corporate Charitable Contributors

HOLYOKE — The Boston Business Journal has announced the region’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors, and, for the 11th year in a row, PeoplesBank is among the companies included. The region’s top charitable companies, which include, in many instances, the companies’ corporate foundations, will be honored at the Boston Business Journal’s 13th annual Corporate Citizenship Awards on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 6 at Fenway Park in Boston. “We have a unique ability to help the communities we serve through the considerable volunteer efforts of our associates and the millions of dollars in donations to charitable and civic causes we have made over recent years,” said Matthew Bannister, first vice president, Marketing & Innovation at PeoplesBank. The Boston Business Journal’s Top Corporate Charitable Contributors list is composed of companies that gave at least $100,000 to Massachusetts-based charities in 2017. 

PV Squared Recognized as a Top Solar Contractor

GREENFIELD — Solar Power World, a publication covering solar technology, development, and installation, published its annual Top Solar Contractors list in July. Local solar-installation company and worker-owned cooperative PV Squared was listed prominently among other top solar contractors and developers across the country.

“It’s always an honor to be recognized for what we do on a national scale, putting Western Massachusetts solar companies on the map,” said PV Squared General Manager Stacy Metzger. “While our focus remains local, the national ranking offers more insight into how we’re performing on a broader scale. It’s deeply rewarding to know that our business and installation practices are leading by example.”

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q2 Earnings

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended June 30, 2018. The company reported net income of $15.6 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2018, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $15.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $16.2 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. “In the second quarter of 2018, United Financial Bancorp, Inc.’s earnings results reflected solid linked quarter net interest margin expansion and net interest income growth. Our company continues to grow loans, deposits, particularly checking accounts, and tangible book value while maintaining strong asset quality, capital, and liquidity,” said William Crawford IV, CEO and president of the company and the bank. “I want to thank our United Bank employees for their steadfast support of our customers and communities.” Assets totaled $7.21 billion at June 30, 2018 and increased $139.9 million, or 2.0%, from $7.07 billion at March 31, 2018. At June 30, 2018, total loans were $5.48 billion, representing an increase of $93.2 million, or 1.7%, from the linked quarter. Deposits totaled $5.39 billion at June 30, 2018 and increased by $110.9 million, or 2.1%, from $5.28 billion at March 31, 2018.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp Reports Increase in Earnings

BOSTON — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported 2018 second-quarter net income of $34 million, which was a 73% increase over 2017 second-quarter net income of $20 million. This primarily reflected the benefit of Berkshire’s Greater Boston expansion through acquisition and business development, resulting in higher market share, increased efficiency, and record profitability. “We achieved record quarterly return on assets, with income increasing by 35% over the prior quarter,” said CEO Michael Daly. “Commercial loans grew strongly, and our new Boston corporate headquarters teams are receiving good response to our expanded presence in Greater Boston. Our revenue growth and disciplined expense management produced record quarterly earnings per share, positive operating leverage, and improved returns on equity.” Meanwhile, Daly added, “the integration of acquired operations was completed within plan in the second quarter, and several company-wide initiatives have been accelerated to support the expansion of our deposit product set and delivery channels. Our annual Xtraordinary Day of Service in June tackled 74 community projects across our markets, totaling nearly 7,000 volunteer hours and 92% of our workforce. Our foundation announced the appointment of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) officer to expand our multiple community-engagement activities and implement an all-encompassing CSR strategy.”

First Connecticut Bancorp Reports Net-income Increase

FARMINGTON, Conn. — First Connecticut Bancorp Inc. (FCB), the holding company for Farmington Bank, reported a 35% increase in net income of $6.7 million, or $0.42 diluted earnings per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2018, compared to net income of $5.0 million, or $0.32 diluted earnings per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. Net income on a core earnings basis was $7.4 million, or $0.46 diluted core earnings per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2018, compared to $5.0 million, or $0.31 diluted core earnings per share, for the quarter ended June 30, 2017. Core earnings exclude non-recurring items. On June 19, 2018, First Connecticut Bancorp Inc. announced its entry into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with People’s United Financial Inc., pursuant to which FCB will merge with and into People’s United. “I am pleased to report solid core second-quarter earnings for the company,” said John Patrick Jr., chairman, president, and CEO of First Connecticut Bancorp. “As indicated, earnings were impacted by certain one-time charges related to our acquisition by Peoples United Financial Inc. The board of directors and senior management have always focused on shareholder value, and we believe this acquisition maximized shareholder value at a time when, we believe, the operating paradigm is changing for smaller community banks. I would also like to thank our dedicated employees who executed our strategy, which maximized our results for shareholders.”

Work Opportunity Center Receives Grant from Westfield Bank Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Work Opportunity Center Inc. announced it is a recipient of a $5,000 grant donation from the Westfield Bank Foundation. The money will be put toward the purchase of a vehicle for the Community Based Day Services (CBDS) program. The CBDS program of supports enables individuals with developmental disabilities to enrich their life and enjoy a full range of community activities by providing opportunities for developing, enhancing, and maintaining competency in personal, social, and community activities. The program has been set up with five core fundamentals: education, social and recreational, health and wellness, life skills, and employment and volunteerism. Options that are given to individuals who participate in CBDS include career exploration, community-integration experiences to support fuller participation in community life, skills development and training, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, health and fitness classes, socialization experiences, and support to enhance interpersonal skills, as well as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. The program currently serves 84 individuals.

Thornes Refurbishes Window Assemblage

NORTHAMPTON — In late July, Thornes Marketplace refurbished and expanded an historic window assemblage, installing six new stained-glass window panels designed by a local artist on the Chestnut Staircase behind Share coffee shop. Heather McLean, owner of Dragonfly Stained Glass Studio in Easthampton, was commissioned to design the panels, which are part of an elaborate, two-and-a-half-story window grouping. Each new arts-and-crafts-style panel created by McLean is identical, measuring four feet high by two feet wide. They combine bold orange squares with deep blue edging and long, vertical, pale-yellow highlights, and all six windows together will fill a space that is roughly eight feet high by six feet wide. Above McLean’s stained-glass windows, three tiers of windows original to the building — one overarching transom window and two tiers of oblong windows — were cleaned, painted, and reinstalled to further refresh the entire collection. McLean’s panels replace three original stained-glass windows that could not be restored; they will be cleaned, refurbished, and hung in the building at a later date as an art sculpture, said Jon McGee, Thornes facilities manager. Over the past 10 years, Thornes has taken on a series of major renovations to improve and enhance the eclectic shopping center.

Mediware Acquires Fazzi Associates

LENEXA, Kan. — Mediware Information Systems Inc., a portfolio company of TPG Capital and a leading supplier of software solutions for healthcare and human-service providers and payers, recently acquired Northampton-based Fazzi Associates, one of the largest companies serving home health and hospice. The acquisition creates a unique alignment between two healthcare industry leaders — one in innovative software, the other in outsourced services, consultation, and education. The combined company will have a greater capacity to help post-acute and community-based providers increase efficiency and improve clinical, financial, and operational performance to advance patient care. The addition of Fazzi Associates enables Mediware to offer new, comprehensive, and best-in-class services and solutions — including medical coding, revenue-cycle management, education, CAHPS, consulting, and ancillary solutions that address key challenges and evolving complexities affecting the post-acute care sectors. Mediware plans to maintain Fazzi Associates’ brand and Western Mass. headquarters; the firm’s leadership team will continue to lead Fazzi Associates’ lines of business. Dr. Bob Fazzi will serve in a strategic advisory role with Mediware, consulting on industry relations, home-health advocacy, growth opportunities, and innovation.

Company Notebook

Bulkley Richardson Opens Office in Hadley

SPRINGFIELD — Due to expanding needs, Bulkley Richardson has moved from its Amherst location into a more spacious office at 380 Russell St. in Hadley. “This move supports the growing needs of our clients and offers a more centralized location in Hampshire County,” said Peter Barry, managing partner of the 35-attorney firm. Seunghee Cha, partner, will be located primarily in Hadley, where she has a comprehensive estate-planning and administration practice, including special-needs planning for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Scott Foster, chair of the firm’s business and finance group, noted that “our client base continues to grow, especially as we expand our services to meet the evolving changes to legal needs. Among other areas, a Hampshire County office is relevant to the unique needs of startups, reality of cybersecurity threats, and emergence of cannabis facilities. Our clients range from large hospitals and medical practices to small brewery startups, and nationwide manufactures to local farmers and artists — and a whole lot in between. By having a local office, it just brings us closer to these clients.”

Thunderbirds Honored with Two Awards from AHL

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds were honored by the American Hockey League with four Team Business Service awards at a gala reception during the board of governors’ annual meeting at Hilton Head Island, S.C. As part of its Team Business Services program, the AHL honored one club from each conference for top revenue growth in four areas during this past season: overall ticket sales, season-ticket sales, group-ticket sales, and corporate sponsorship sales. For the 2017-18 season, the Thunderbirds took home two Awards of Excellence in the areas of season-ticket sales growth and corporate sponsorship sales growth. This marked the second consecutive season that Springfield captured these awards. These awards came just weeks after the Thunderbirds received numerous honors at the 2018 AHL Marketing Meeting presented by ExteNet Systems in Des Moines, Iowa. At that meeting,the Thunderbirds received the AHL award for Most Unique Community Relations Promotion. This past March, Thunderbirds player Eddie Wittchow approached team management with the idea of presenting loyal season ticket holder Katrina King with specialty glasses that would allow Katrina, a legally blind fan, to have the ability to see the action — through her own eyes — for the first time in her life. Springfield was also recognized for achieving a greater-than-15% increase in per-game full-season equivalents, a statistic that tracks the combined sales of all ticket packages. The Thunderbirds’ corporate sales team also was recognized for having a greater-than-15% growth in corporate cash sponsorships generated in the market. The organization also was honored for reaching the benchmark of a greater-than-15% growth in per-game group-ticket-sales revenue for a second straight season. On an individual level, Thunderbirds Senior Account Executive Matthew McRobbie beame the first Thunderbirds sales representative to be recognized as the Eastern Conference’s Top New Season Ticket Sales Executive.

PeoplesBank Announces Acquisition of First National Bank of Suffield

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBancorp, MHC, the parent company of PeoplesBank, both of Holyoke, and First Suffield Financial Inc., the parent company of the First National Bank of Suffield, both of Suffield, Conn., jointly announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for PeoplesBancorp to acquire First Suffield Financial and PeoplesBank to acquire the First National Bank of Suffield. The parties anticipate the transaction will close in the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of First Suffield Financial Inc. will receive $12,001.85 in cash per share, representing a total transaction value of approximately $60 million. The merger consideration represents approximately 202% of the First National Bank of Suffield’s tangible book value at March 31, 2018. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of state and federal regulatory approvals and approval by the shareholders of First Suffield Financial Inc. In 2017, PeoplesBank donated almost $1 million to area nonprofits. Its employees devoted more than 15,000 hours to volunteer work over the past two years, and 48 of the bank’s officers serve on the boards of directors and committees of 115 nonprofit organizations in the area. Upon completion of the transaction, PeoplesBank will expand its community-development efforts in Suffield and the surrounding Connecticut communities. The combined organization will have approximately $2.8 billion in assets and $1.9 billion in deposits. Upon completion of the transaction, one current member of the board of directors of First Suffield Financial will be appointed to serve as a member of the board of trustees of PeoplesBancorp and the board of directors of PeoplesBank. Following completion of the merger, the current branches of the First National Bank of Suffield will remain open and will conduct business under the trade name First Suffield Bank, a Division of PeoplesBank.

Berkshire Community College to Receive $5.5M for Student Success Center

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College (BCC) has been awarded $5.5 million for a major project that will transform the first floor of the Field Administration building into a One Stop Student Success Center, transforming the student experience by making the entire admissions and enrollment process easier. The project will renovate the first floor of the Field Administration building, which currently houses Enrollment Management, Advising, Career and Transfer services, Financial Aid and Student Accounts, and Admission and the college registrar. BCC is currently completing $34 million in campus projects for the renovation of Hawthorne and Melville halls, including a connector with upper and lower courtyards, paving of the parking lots and access roads, and installing a community turf field for football, soccer and lacrosse.

Valley Steel Stamp Expands with $1.9M MassDevelopment Bond

GREENFIELD — MassDevelopment has issued a $1.9 million bond for CJBW Stamp, LLC, the real-estate arm of Valley Steel Stamp, which will use bond proceeds to construct a 17,500-square-foot building in the Greenfield Industrial Park that the company will then lease. The new building will be next to an existing 27,500-square-foot building that Valley Steel Stamp also leases and has reached full capacity. When completed, the new building will accommodate additional equipment needed to fulfill customer orders. The project is expected to create nine jobs and support 13 construction jobs. GSB Securities Corp., an affiliate of Greenfield Savings Bank, purchased the bond. Valley Steel Stamp was founded in 1971 by William Capshaw as a two-man operation that produced custom-made steel-marking stamps. Over the years, William’s son, Steven, has expanded and diversified the company’s product line to now include general machining and tooling for customers in the aerospace, defense, and firearm industries. Valley Steel Stamp’s facility in Greenfield is a world headquarters for more than 50 highly skilled precision machinists serving over 300 companies in 10 countries. MassDevelopment previously issued bonds to support the purchase and expansion of this facility in 2008 and 2012.

Normandeau Technologies Attends NASRO Show

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Normandeau Technologies Inc. (NTI) attended the National Assoc. of School Resource Officers in Reno, Nevada in June. The annual, one-week NASRO conference brings together SROs from throughout the U.S. and international locations to meet, discuss the current state of school safety, and receive updates and training on the latest issues surrounding school-safety policy and procedures for school-based law-enforcement officers. NTI has undertaken a program to introduce the StaffAlerter Emergency Notification System (ENS) to school districts throughout the New England area. In association with this endeavor, Brett Normandeau, president and owner of NTI, is positioning the StaffAlerter with organizations associated with K-12 education, including NASRO. StaffAlerter is an ENS and cloud-based systems control. Any teacher or staff can press a button on a wi-fi personal access device and send a notification to thousands of people, lock doors, sound alarms, and page over loudspeakers. NASRO national leadership spent time with NTI to see and hear about StaffAlerter and were impressed and positive with their feedback, he added. NTI is looking to attend future SRO regional and national meetings as both exhibitor and presenter.

Bradley International Airport Receives A+ Revenue Bond Rating

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that the credit-rating agency S & P Global Ratings has raised Bradley International Airport’s rating on its general airport revenue refunding bonds from ‘A’ to ‘A+’ with a stable outlook. S & P Global Ratings assigns a credit rating for Bradley International Airport’s public debt obligations. Some of the factors taken into account during the rating process include the airport’s strong financial and risk-management practices, steadily improving liquidity, low and declining debt burden, strong origin and destination base, diverse service-area economy, airline diversity, and increasing number of enplanements and positive trends.

Company Notebook

Florence Bank Breaks Ground on New Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — Florence Bank broke ground recently on its second Hampden County branch, at 1444 Allen St. in Springfield, and leaders said the full-service location will open later this year. “We’re coming to Springfield,” John Heaps Jr., Florence Bank’s president and CEO, told a crowd of roughly 50 people who gathered for the celebratory event. “Our focus is on our customers and on helping to reinvigorate the community.” Last September, Florence Bank opened its first branch in Hampden County at 1010 Union St. in West Springfield. The Springfield branch marks the second of an anticipated four branches in the region. Like the West Springfield banking center, Heaps said, the Allen Street branch will have an open floor plan with a full-service teller pod and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing and a comfortable waiting area inside with a coffee bar and free internet. Florence Bank has nearly 3,800 customers living in Hampden County, including 700 business customers.

People’s United Financial to Acquire First Connecticut Bancorp

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — People’s United Financial, Inc., the holding company for People’s United Bank N.A., announced an agreement to acquire First Connecticut Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Farmington Bank, in a 100% stock transaction valued at approximately $544 million. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of First Connecticut Bancorp shareholders. Established in 1851, Farmington Bank is a community bank with 28 branches throughout Central Conn. and Western Mass. With $3.1 billion in assets, the bank has built a strong balance sheet by focusing on commercial and retail banking. “People’s United Bank is a premier brand with a rich, 176-year history in the state of Connecticut,” said John Patrick, chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “Our customers will benefit from their broader array of products, enhanced access to technology and digital capabilities, as well as the bank’s seven-day-a-week Stop & Shop branch locations.” The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2018. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by both companies’ boards of directors, First Connecticut Bancorp shareholders will receive 1.725 shares of People’s United Financial stock for each First Connecticut Bancorp share. The transaction is valued at $32.33 per First Connecticut Bancorp share.

State’s First Solar Cooperative to Be Built in Wendell

WENDELL — Northeast Solar, in cooperation with the Wendell Energy Committee, is offering residents of Wendell and surrounding communities the opportunity to become owners of the state’s first solar cooperative. The co-op will be owned by community members who become member-owners of the site by purchasing part of the community solar array. Owners will receive all of the solar benefits generated at the site, located at 97 Wendell Depot Road. Solar panels are typically mounted on rooftops, but close to 60% of residential buildings are not suitable sites for solar due to shading or roof condition. The solar cooperative will allow any resident to purchase solar power for their homes by buying into the centralized array.  Owners in this system will receive a lower purchase price than standard residential installations. The Wendell Solar Cooperative will return more than $1.3 million back into the local economy over the life of the array. The site is expected to take between six and eight weeks to build. The co-op will accept 50 members, but Northeast Solar is planning more solar cooperatives in other communities to allow more residents the chance to go solar.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Announces 2018 Performance

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC, announced the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as reported at the 113th annual meeting of the bank on June 19. Tucker reported that FY 2018, which ended March 31, was successful, with and the assets of the bank growing by $24.9 million (up 4.3%) over the prior year. In addition, GCB originated more than $124 million in loans of all types, and saw an increase of $28.4 million in deposits over the past year. Total equity grew to $67.4 million. The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was up to $5,078,000 for the year ended March 31, 2018, and the net income after taxes was $2,773,000. The bank also paid its fair share of federal and Massachusetts income taxes ($1.5 million) and local property taxes (more than $129,000) in the cities and towns where it has offices. As a result of these earnings and the fact that Greenfield Cooperative Bank targets its charitable and civic giving at 5% of the prior year’s pre-tax operating income, the bank and its employees were able to contribute more than $200,000 to more than 200 charities, community groups, school events, youth teams, and cultural events throughout Hampshire and Franklin counties during the past fiscal year.

HCC, Holyoke Schools Receive Grant for Early College Program

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Holyoke public schools have been awarded a $131,600 state grant to establish a new program to help high-school students get an early start on their college educations. The program was one of only five such partnerships — and the only one outside the Greater Boston area — to receive an official  “Early College” designation from the state. The Early College Program will enable participating Holyoke students to earn a minimum of 12 college credits before they graduate from high school. Beginning in their sophomore years, students enrolled in the program will complete college courses in fields of study that align with academic majors at HCC and transfer pathways to four-year colleges and universities in Massachusetts. There is no cost to participating students. Like other dual-enrollment classes, the Early College courses will be taught by HCC faculty at Holyoke High School or on the HCC campus. The program is designed for 100 students each academic year, beginning in the sophomore year. At full capacity, in fall 2020, up to 300 students in grades 10-12 will be part of the program. Sophomore students will take their first college courses at Holyoke High School. In their junior and senior years, they will take courses on the main HCC campus on Homestead Avenue. According to studies, dual-enrollment courses and early-college programs boost college-completion rates for low-income students, minorities, and first-generation college students.

Colony Care at Home Donates $500 to Rotary Club’s Cambodia Project

SPRINGFIELD — Alan Popp, president of Colony Care at Home, a home-care agency in Springfield serving Western Mass. and North Central Conn., recently presented Dr. MaryAnne Herron of the Rotary Club of Springfield a check for $500. The donation was to kick off a fundraiser for the Springfield Rotary Club’s participation in an international water project for the Lvea Em District in Cambodia. “The villagers presently use the very polluted river water that surrounds their six small communities,” Herron said. “The Springfield Rotary Club has a goal to raise $600,000 to build a generator for 10,000 families who have no clean water to drink. We are applying for grants to Rotary International but need to raise some of the funds ourselves. This check is very much appreciated and a great start to our cause.” Added Popp, also a Springfield Rotarian, “I have always been especially drawn to the international service aspect of Rotary and have a particularly high regard for MaryAnne’s passion, energy, and personal sacrifice on behalf of villagers in Cambodia. As a Vietnam veteran, I also appreciate having this opportunity to give something back to Southeast Asia.”

Community Bank N.A. Donates $2,500 to MSBDCN

SPRINGFIELD — Community Bank N.A. recently presented the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (MSBDCN) with a $2,500 donation to support the organization’s various programs for 2019. MSBDCN’s Western Regional Office provides free and confidential one-to-one business advice to prospective and existing small businesses in Western Mass. The office provides a variety of services to startups and existing businesses in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Areas of assistance include business-plan development, preventure feasibility, conventional and non-conventional financing, cash-flow analysis, organizational and personnel issues, and marketing. In its last fiscal year, MSBDCN conducted 36 events and workshops, which were attended by more than 300 participants. Throughout the first six months of this year, MSBDCN has met with 261 small-business clients seeking to start and grow their businesses and helped secure close to $2 million in funds for those clients.

Berkshire Bank Named 2018 Halo Award Winner

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced it was awarded the 2018 Gold Halo Award for its XTEAM corporate volunteer program. The award recognizes the top corporate social-responsibility efforts in North America across multiple categories, including education, cause marketing, and employee engagement. Berkshire received the award in the Employee Engagement (Group Volunteering) category, which recognizes initiatives that meaningfully and measurably engage its employees in a cause-focused initiative to achieve both a social and a business impact. Berkshire’s Xtraordinary Day of Service, held in June 2017, mobilized 92% of its workforce across the country and impacted more than 400,000 individuals. In 2017, the XTEAM logged 306 projects benefiting 203 organizations and contributed 40,000 hours of service. This corporate employee-volunteer program boasts a 100% employee-participation rate, earning it the highest recognition in the Employee Engagement category.

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst Surges in Ranking of Sustainable Universities
AMHERST — A national program that measures accomplishments in sustainability in higher education has placed UMass Amherst ninth in the nation, a leap of 20 places from the previous rating in 2015. The ‘gold’ rating from the Assoc. for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program recognizes sustainability accomplishments in areas such as academics, research, engagement, operations, and administration. The rating is good for three years. The university scored a 75.77 to earn its gold rating, a significant increase from its score of 68.18 in 2015, which was also a gold. UMass Amherst is now rated ninth in the STARS Campus Sustainability Index among U.S. doctorate-granting institutions, up from 29th in 2015. To prepare the rating application, sustainability staff and others involved in ‘green’ campus efforts used an online sustainability evaluation tool to report data in the categories of academics, campus engagement, operations, and planning/administration. In a letter that was part of the reporting process, Subbaswamy cited a number of recent actions, including creation of the School of Earth and Sustainability; installation of the largest solar-power project of any college in New England; the design and construction of the John W. Olver Design Building, which is the largest and most technologically advanced academic contemporary wood structure in the U.S.; and the decision to be the first major public university to divest its endowment from direct holdings in fossil fuels.

Thunderbirds Donate $20,000 to Rays of Hope Foundation
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds recently presented a check in the amount of $20,000 to the Rays of Hope Foundation, the culmination of a second-year partnership with Baystate Health. The $20,000 was raised through ticket sales and jersey auctions from the Thunderbirds’ second annual Pink in the Rink game on March 10. A sellout crowd of 6,793, many of whom were dressed in pink, witnessed a moving pregame ceremony honoring breast-cancer survivors and battlers. In their two seasons partnering with Rays of Hope on Pink in the Rink night, the Springfield Thunderbirds have raised more than $30,000 for breast-cancer awareness and research. The Thunderbirds’ full 2018-19 schedule, including the date for the third annual Pink in the Rink, will be unveiled later this summer.

AIC Names New Health Sciences Facility for Frank Colaccino
SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced that the new health sciences educational facility located at 1020 State St. in Springfield will be named the Colaccino Center for Health Sciences in recognition of Frank Colaccino, a 1973 alumnus of the college. Colaccino is the founder, president, and CEO of the Colvest Group in Springfield, a firm that specializes in land planning and development; commercial real-estate site selection; shopping center research, development, leasing, and management; and office-space rental and leasing services. While serving as chair of the board of trustees finance committee in 2005, Colaccino was instrumental in helping restore the college’s solvency after facing extreme financial jeopardy. In 2007, and again in 2015, he assumed the role of chairman of the board of trustees. Colaccino is the first alumnus in the college’s history to hold this position. Set to open this fall, the two-story, 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will house AIC’s new exercise science programs in addition to expanded occupational therapy and physical therapy offerings. Athletic training programs will be introduced beginning in 2021. Located in the geographic center of Springfield, the Colaccino Center for Health Sciences complements the ongoing redevelopment of downtown by extending revitalization efforts up the State Street corridor to the Mason Square/Upper Hill neighborhood.

Gándara’s ArtSong Reception Celebrates Young Artists, Performers
SPRINGFIELD — The fifth annual Gándara Youth Art Exhibit, ArtSong, hosted a gallery reception and silent auction on June 7 at the former federal building, 1550 Main St., Springfield. The family-friendly event featured youth paintings and live music performances. Youth artists in the ArtSong Arts Enrichment Program spent months working on their pieces as a part of their art therapy. Of the 65 pieces on display, created by youth ages 3 to 17, more than 10 Gándara Center residential DCF programs were represented at the show. Attendees were able to bid on all artwork on display. Event proceeds from the auction and T-shirts designed by one of the artists will directly support young artists by providing supplies to help sustain this unfunded art-therapy program. “It’s so inspiring to see what the youth created — not only for me, but also for the artists,” said Amy Porchelli, founder and director of ArtSong. “They really enjoyed the process of making art, and they got a true sense of accomplishment because they saw what they could do for the community as artists.” Porchelli said some of the artists were new to the program, and some have been in it for quite a while and came to the reception to perform music they had developed and recorded at the Gándara Center’s Holyoke Youth Development Center media lab studio.

Northeast Solar Installs Solar Array for Gardening the Community
HATFIELD — Northeast Solar announced that the new farm stand for Springfield-based nonprofit Gardening the Community, at 200 Walnut St. in Mason Square, is now being powered by a free solar-power array made possible in part by a collaboration with two area donors. The farm stand is the 11th free solar installation completed by Northeast Solar, and the list continues to grow as the company identifies more nonprofit organizations operating in the Pioneer Valley to work with. The nonprofit solar installations are part of the company’s larger mission under its commitment to the community program. Greg Garrison, president of Northeast Solar and a graduate of the Greenfield Community College (GCC) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency program, started the company in 2010 after serving as a business consultant for the previous owner in 2009. Over the past year, Northeast Solar has been working with Garrison’s former GCC professor, Brian Adams, and Morey Phippen, a long-time social-service worker in Northampton, to bring free solar power to local community organizations. To date, Northeast Solar has installed free solar for DIAL/Self, ServiceNet, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, the Peace Development Fund, Dakin Animal Shelter, Nasami Farm, the Amherst Survival Center, Historic Northampton, and now Gardening the Community.

Easthampton Students Complete My Financial Future Program
EASTHAMPTON — Mary Rawls, vice president and co-CRA officer at Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its Northampton Cooperative division, announced that 59 students at Easthampton High School have received certificates of recognition for the My Financial Future program being sponsored by the bank. Rawls noted that GCB partnered with EVERFI, a nationally recognized educational technology firm to provide the program at no cost to area high schools. My Financial Future is an interactive, online training program that prepares teachers to use online modules and teaches real-life skills to students so they are better prepared to handle their personal finances in the future. Module topics include how to prepare a budget, how to complete forms such as FAFSA for college aid, the differences between (and risks of) debit and credit cards, how to handle a checking account, and more. Greenfield Cooperative Bank started with just one school last September, and in its first school year the program has been expanded to four area high schools, with four more actively working with the bank and EVERFI to kick off their own classes. Greenfield Co-op has placed particular focus on connecting with the communities it serves by sponsoring schools in Franklin and Hampshire counties. If any other Franklin or Hampshire county school is interested in the program, they may contact Rawls at (413) 772-0293.

Steve Lewis Subaru Donates $52,225 to Dakin Humane Society
HADLEY — As part of its ongoing support of local communities, Steve Lewis Subaru recently presented a check for $52,225 to Dakin Humane Society in Springfield. From Nov. 16, 2017 to Jan. 2, 2018, during its Share the Love event, Subaru of America Inc. donated $250 to a charity of the customer’s choice for every new vehicle purchased or leased. The list of charities included ASPCA, Meals on Wheels America, Make-A-Wish, and the National Park Foundation. Dakin Humane Society was selected by Steve Lewis Subaru as its hometown charity choice. For the customers who chose Dakin, Steve Lewis Subaru added $25 per vehicle, putting each donation made to Dakin at $275. Subaru of America and its retailers hope to exceed a grand total of $115 million donated since the creation of Share the Love.

Company Notebook Departments

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Ross Insurance

NORTHAMPTON — Ross Insurance agency of Holyoke has been acquired by Webber and Grinnell Insurance Agency of Northampton. Maureen Ross O’Connell will continue to manage the Holyoke operation at 150 Lower Westfield Road in Holyoke under the name of Ross, Webber and Grinnell Insurance. Kevin Ross plans on retiring sometime over the next 18 months. “Ross Insurance is synonymous with community and trust,” said Bill Grinnell, president of Webber and Grinnell. “We are thrilled to have their staff joining our team and enabling us to serve clients across the entire Pioneer Valley. Kevin and Maureen are incredible insurance professionals, and I look forward to Maureen joining our ownership group.” Added Ross O’Connell, “we feel that we found the perfect partner to continue the Ross family legacy. Webber and Grinnell has a long history of generous community support and exceptional customer service.”

Westfield Bank to Open Liberty Street Office

SPRINGFIELD — Westfield Bank announced it will open a full-service branch office at 1342 Liberty St. in Springfield in July. When it opens, the Liberty Street office, which currently has a 24-hour ATM, will be operated as a full-service branch featuring lobby and drive-up banking, a drive-up ATM, and banking specialists trained to assist customers with business banking, residential mortgages, and investment and insurance services (via Westfield Financial Management Services). Construction is already underway, with renovations expected to be completed in late June or early July. Roberta Lussier, who currently oversees the bank’s Tower Square office, will also manage the Liberty Street office. Westfield Bank plans to celebrate the opening of the Liberty Street office with special events and promotions, which will be announced at a later date.

Spacelabs Invests $720,000 in UMass Center Nursing Program

SPRINGFIELD — Spacelabs Healthcare, a Snoqualmie, Wash.-based medical-equipment manufacturer, recently unveiled a $720,000 investment in the UMass Center at Springfield’s nursing laboratory. The state-of-the-art Spacelabs equipment includes two Sonicaid fetal/maternal monitors, ambulatory blood-pressure monitors, multiple nursing monitors, and invasive cardiac outputs that will benefit the UMass Amherst College of Nursing’s accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program, which serves as a pipeline for rained nurses into the region’s healthcare sector. The equipment will be primarily used by UMass Amherst nursing students in the accelerated program, which is based in Springfield.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in National Ranking

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a full-service engineering and environmental consulting firm, climbed 19 spots this year to No. 241 on Engineering News Record’s “2018 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking. In the past two years, Tighe & Bond climbed 34 spots as the firm continues to grow its regional market. The publication ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year.

Valley Blue Sox Announce New Ownership

SPRINGFIELD — The Valley Blue Sox announced that Hadley native Fred Ciaglo has taken over the reins as team owner and president from the departing Clark Eckhoff. Ciaglo has been a long-time part of the Valley Blue Sox, hosting players for the past seven years and as a bench coach for the last four years. He has been involved with baseball in the Valley since he was able to throw a ball, playing at Hopkins Academy in Hadley and then at Springfield College, helping pitch the Pride to the 1986 Northeast-10 championship when the school competed in Division II athletics. Ciaglo was a staple of the Tri-County Baseball League for more than 20 years, twice winning the league’s Wes Carr Trophy for best pitcher. He has taught and coached at Hopkins Academy since graduating from Springfield, coaching boys and girls basketball as well as baseball over that time; in addition, he spent a decade as Hadley Youth Baseball’s coaching coordinator and on the board of directors for the Cal Ripken level. Vice President and General Manager Hunter Golden will stay on with the team and remain in his role. Also returning this season will be Manager John Raiola, who will return for his fourth season as head coach, as well as pitching coach Jim Woods. Joining the coaching staff, former Blue Sox player Hezekiah Randolph will serve as hitting coach for the team.

Country Bank Donates $15,000 to Domestic Violence Task Force

WARE — Country Bank announced that it recently donated $15,000 to the Ware River Valley Domestic Violence Task Force to support its continued commitment to helping those in need in the Quaboag Hills Region. “Country Bank’s donation has been the foundation of all local domestic-violence services at Valley Human Services of BHN Inc. in the Quaboag Hills,” said Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services. “Their funds have been the seed money and remain the match for programs now supported by municipal, state, and federal dollars. We literally would not have our team preventing and responding to domestic violence in our region without Country Bank.”

Berkshire Hills Bancorp Reports 63% Increase in Q1 Earnings

BOSTON — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported first-quarter 2018 net income of $25 million, a 63% increase over the 2017 first-quarter results of $15 million. This reflected the ongoing benefit of the company’s growth and expansion, together with the benefit of a lower federal tax rate resulting from federal tax reform. “We had a solid start to the year, delivering ongoing growth while integrating our new commerce operations,” CEO Michael Daly said. “With the benefit of greater efficiency, GAAP return on assets improved to 0.88%, and core return on assets improved to 1.04%. We expect continued momentum in the second quarter, where GAAP return on assets will improve to over 1.00% and core return on assets will improve to over 1.10%.” The board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.22 per common share to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 10, payable on May 24. The dividend equates to a 2.3% annualized yield based on the $37.88 average closing price of Berkshire Hills Bancorp common stock during the first quarter. The board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.44 per share for the preferred stock issued in conjunction with the Commerce acquisition, with the same record and payment dates as above. The quarterly common and preferred dividends were increased in the prior quarter by 5%.

Girls on the Run Nominated for Award

NORTHAMPTON — The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) announced that Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts has been selected a finalist for the 2018 Nonprofit Excellence Award in the Small Nonprofit category. The Excellence Awards will be presented at the Massachusetts State House on Monday, June 4. The Small Nonprofit Excellence Award recognizes an organization making an outsized impact in its community despite limited resources. Girls on the Run inspires girls to be healthy, joyful, and confident, using an experiential, social-emotional curriculum that integrates running. In its third year of operation, Girls on the Run has 180 volunteer coaches, including teachers, parents, and community members operating at 54 school sites serving over 740 girls. To date, Girls on the Run has served more than 1,200 girls around Western Mass.

Chili Chocolate Chip Wins UMass Ice Cream Competition

AMHERST — The winning flavor in this year’s UMass Amherst student ice-cream competition is chili chocolate chip, as selected by judges in the fourth annual food-science event held on campus April 30. It will become the latest UMass student-created ice cream produced by Maple Valley Creamery of Hadley over the coming weeks, said owner Bruce Jenks. For the event, creamery staff, local chefs, and guest judges sampled original ice creams created by four teams of senior food-science majors vying for the honor of developing a new flavor for the UMass label. The three other entries in this spring’s competition were a butternut squash flavor with lemon zest, ginger, turmeric, and semi-sweet chocolate bits; a chocolate banana graham-cracker flavor; and a strawberry-basil flavor with dark chocolate pieces. The strawberry-basil, dubbed ‘summer blush’ by its creators, won the audience’s vote for best flavor, and Jenks said he may make a seasonal batch of it in the summer. Members of the winning chili chocolate chip team are Marina Gela, Gina Grimaldi, Rachael Montigny, Joshua Liao, Erica Snyder, and Jozxelle Tongson.

ESE Donates $240,000 to Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Eugene Cassidy presented a donation of $240,198 to the Big E/West Springfield Trust Fund in a ceremony held at Town Hall on April 18. The amount, the largest to date since the fund’s inception in 1994, represents 1% of the Exposition’s gross revenues for 2017. Including this year’s gift, exposition contributions now total $3,999,669. During the presentation of this year’s check, Cassidy pledged a personal donation of $331 to bring the total to an even $4 million. Trustees of the fund are West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt, Cassidy, and Attorney Mary Paier Powers. Grants in 2017 totaled more than $63,209 for 15 town organizations, schools, sports teams, and more.

Arrha Credit Union Awards Five Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Arrha Credit Union recently awarded five $1,000 scholarships to area students based on scholastic merit and civic achievement. To be eligible for the Anthony J. Serafino Scholarship, recipients must demonstrate scholastic achievement, be a high-school senior, be a member of Arrha or a student whose parent is a member, be active in extracurricular activities and community endeavors, and intend to attend a two-year or four-year degree-granting college or university. The 2018 recipients are A’Shaela Chaires from Williston Northampton School, Kimberly McLeod from Longmeadow High School, Patricia Moriarty from Phillips Exeter Academy, Owen Serafino from West Springfield High School, and Tamra Zippin from Minnechaug Regional High School. In addition to the scholarships, each student was given $100 to open an account with a debit card to jump-start their financial future on a positive note. “We wish each of our recipients the best of luck with their educational endeavors,” said Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union.

Company Notebook Departments

CHI Insurance Opens Downtown Springfield Office

SPRINGFIELD — CHI Insurance Agency Inc. announced the opening of an additional office location in downtown Springfield. The office, located at 1684 Main St., is the former Joseph Chernaik Insurance Agency. The Springfield location is the fourth CHI office, with other locations in Holyoke, Westfield, and South Hadley. Auto insurance will continue to be offered, and additional insurance products have been added and are available out of 1684 Main St. In addition to new staff and updated systems, customers now have the opportunity to purchase coverages for home, business, life, and specialty lines. All locations are bilingual and offer complete insurance products. CHI services clients throughout the Pioneer Valley with all of their insurance needs, and represents most major insurance carriers.

Griffin Staffing Network Announces Expansion, Rebrand to ManeHire

EAST LONGMEADOW — Griffin Staffing Network, a certified woman- and minority-owned business, has undergone a company rebrand to ManeHire and unveiled its new logo, tagline — “connecting great companies with great talent” — and website, manehire.com, to support its expansion from a local boutique staffing agency to a full-service regional staffing agency serving the Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C. markets. Since 2013, Griffin Staffing Network has served a wide-range of local and regional clients operating in industries such as healthcare, financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and nonprofit, filling roles from entry-level to C-suite and everything in between.

PeoplesBank Issues 2018 Corporate Green Report

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2018 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of Earth Day 2018. During the past year, the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Massachusetts named PeoplesBank a winner of the Sustainable Business of the Year award. For the fourth year in a row, voters throughout Hampshire County named PeoplesBank the Best Local Green Business in the 2017 Daily Hampshire Gazette Readers’ Choice poll. The bank also continued a multi-year commitment of more than $65,000 in funding for green initiatives in Western Mass, and is a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing. The bank boasts three LEED-certified branches in Northampton, West Springfield, and Springfield; and it has installed electric-vehicle charging stations at its Northampton, West Springfield, and Holyoke offices.

L&A Fine Men’s Shop Cuts Ribbon in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — L&A Fine Men’s Shop, located at 159 State St., Springfield, hosted a ribbon cutting and open house April 19. Audrin Desardouin and Lillian Ortiz, husband-and-wife co-owners, opened the store in December and have been investing in inventory and undergoing training to become an official minority-owned business. Desardouin came to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 21 years old. A U.S. citizen, he has lived in New England for the past 30-plus years. Ortiz, who was born in Connecticut, is Puerto Rican. She works at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester as vice president of Enrollment and Student Engagement and Community Connections. Desardouin owned a men’s clothing store in Norwich, Conn. for 15 years. The new shop is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Pioneer Valley Credit Union Awards Four Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Pioneer Valley Credit Union announced the recipients of its 2018 college scholarship program. Each year, PVCU selects four students to receive a $1,000 scholarship to help with college expenses; over the years, it has awarded $70,000 in all. The scholarships are named in honor of board of directors members who have dedicated their time and service to Pioneer Valley Credit Union and to the credit-union movement. Miya Walto of Smith Academy received the Maurice O’Shea Scholarship, John Fiester of Monson High School received the Richard Borden Memorial Scholarship, Janiya Dixon of Longmeadow High School received the Ignatius Collura Scholarship, and Fiona Cioch of Westfield High School received the Ted Klekotka Memorial Scholarship.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q1 Earnings

HARTFORD — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. The company reported net income of $15.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2018, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $9.5 million, or $0.19 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $13.7 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2017. Assets totaled $7.07 billion at March 31, 2018 and decreased $45.5 million, or 0.6%, from $7.11 billion at December 31, 2017. At March 31, 2018, total loans were $5.38 billion, representing an increase of $42.3 million, or 0.8%, from the linked quarter.

JA of Western Mass. Wins Grant from Wells Fargo

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts announced it was awarded a $7,500 grant from Wells Fargo. Funding from Wells Fargo will support the Pathways to 21st Century Skills Project to provide students with the tools to develop the 21st-century skills needed to become autonomous employees. The project’s goals are to improve students’ knowledge of financial literacy in order for them to make sound financial judgments in the future, increase students’ entrepreneurial skills, increase students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and increase awareness of career and post-secondary education and career opportunities in Western Mass.

Fuss & O’Neill Opens Downtown Springfield Office

SPRINGFIELD — Engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill, which has locations throughout New England, recently held an open house at its new downtown Springfield office, 1550 Main St. The company’s move from its West Springfield office to downtown Springfield officially happened in January. “We are thrilled to be here in Springfield,” said Eric Bernardin, vice president at Fuss & O’Neill. “As an engineering firm, our job is to help create an environment that promotes and provides the groundwork for economic opportunity, civic involvement, and arts and entertainment. We are excited to be part of helping Springfield grow, and we look forward to the future.” The office space is owned by MassDevelopment, the public finance and economic-development authority of Massachussetts.

Smith Brothers Insurance Acquires Bailey Agencies

EASTHAMPTON — Smith Brothers Insurance, LLC has purchased the assets of Bailey Agencies Insurance of Groton, Conn. Owned and operated by the Scott family since 1980, Bailey has been a long-term fixture on the Connecticut shoreline. Bailey Agencies Insurance has moved to the Smith Brothers office in Niantic, Conn., at 377 Main St. With headquarters in Glastonbury, Conn., Smith Brothers has offices throughout Connecticut as well as Massachusetts — including a branch in Easthampton — and New Jersey. John Scott IV, former Bailey Agencies Insurance principal, will continue his role as commercial-lines producer and, along with two other insurance professionals, will work from Smith Brothers’ Niantic office.

Berkshire Bank Honored for Social Responsibility

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that it received the 2017 Communitas Award for Leadership in Community Service & Corporate Social Responsibility. The Communitas Awards, administered by the Assoc. of Marketing and Communication Professionals, recognize businesses that give of themselves and their resources to their communities. The award recognized Berkshire Bank’s comprehensive corporate social-responsibility activities, including volunteer, philanthropy, and sustainability efforts, as well as responsiveness to community needs through products, services, and engagement activities. Annually, Berkshire Bank and the Berkshire Bank Foundation provide more than $2 million in financial contributions as well as scholarships to high-school seniors. In addition to financial support, the XTEAM, the bank’s employee volunteer program, provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours.

Florence Bank Presents Customers’ Choice Grants

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently presented $100,000 in awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 to 57 area nonprofits through its 16th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program during an event at the Garden House at Look Memorial Park. The funds will support libraries, schools, police, fire departments, hospitals, hospices, and other organizations that benefit people of all ages, as well as animals and the environment. The bank reached the $1.05 million mark in terms of grants made over nearly two decades to 144 community nonprofits. The Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program is an annual offering founded in 2002, through which Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding.

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Blue Sox to Host 2018 NECBL All-Star Game

HOLYOKE — The Valley Blue Sox announced they will play host to the 2018 New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) All-Star Game this summer on Sunday, July 29 at Mackenzie Stadium in Holyoke. The league’s showcase event will be the third major NECBL event hosted by the Blue Sox in the past five years. The team last hosted the NECBL All-Star Game in 2014 and hosted the NECBL Championship Series this past August, winning their its NECBL championship in franchise history. The Blue Sox finished first in the NECBL in attendance for the second consecutive season and ranked ninth among all summer collegiate teams, outdrawing 204 affiliated minor-league and independent teams. The event will be sponsored by Trinity Health Of New England and Mercy Medical Center.

MGM Springfield Adds More Than 1,000 Jobs to Employment Website

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield recently announced it added 75 new postings representing more than 1,000 jobs to the resort’s website. There are about 2,400 open positions for hire today at MGM Springfield. This is the largest employment posting by the new resort, and one of the single largest hiring efforts in Springfield history. MGM Springfield will employ 3,000 employees when the $960 million luxury resort opens later this year in downtown Springfield. The expanded list includes job descriptions for new career opportunities not previously posted by the resort. Most of the new opportunities are in the food and beverage area, including cooks and servers. The entire list now includes a diverse array of jobs, including locksmiths, electronics technicians, carpenters, and painters. Many postings represent positions not traditionally associated with the casino industry, ranging from human resources and retail management to conference services. A full list of jobs and detailed descriptions is available at www.mgmspringfield.com/careers. The majority of jobs will be full-time positions with benefits. MGM Springfield established a goal to hire 35% of its workforce from the city of Springfield and 90% from a combination of Springfield and the region. For additional information about the available career opportunities at MGM Springfield, go online or visit MGM Springfield’s Career Center located at 1259 East Columbus Ave., third floor. The Career Center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 1 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During those hours, an MGM representative may be reached at (413) 273-5052.

PV Squared Joins Effort to Create Affordable Net-zero-energy Homes

GREENFIELD — PV Squared employees and students from Franklin County Technical School recently worked together to install a solar system on a Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity home in Greenfield. This hands-on experience is essential for Franklin County Technical School students enrolled in the electrician program. With installers and licensed electricians from PV Squared acting as mentors, this project was both a learning experience for the students and an opportunity to create high-quality housing for a low-income family. PV Squared has been partnering with Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity since 2010 to help make solar energy more accessible to lower-income households in the community. To date, it has worked with Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity on eight projects in Franklin and Hampshire counties, specifically in the towns of Easthampton, Turners Falls, Amherst, Northampton, and Greenfield. All these solar PV projects have been completed through grant funding or through the donation of products and services by PV Squared at no cost to the homeowner. Each system was designed with net-zero-energy potential, which means that, depending on the energy use of the household, each homeowner could be meeting all of their energy needs with the solar array.

Pioneer Valley Credit Union Donates $25,000 to Elder-care Unit

SPRINGFIELD — Pioneer Valley Credit Union (PVCU), a not-for-profit financial institution, recently donated $25,000 to the new Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Seniors are the fastest-growing group in the U.S. population, and their health is declining. The elderly are three times likely to be hospitalized from chronic diseases. Many hospitals across the country haven’t prepared to treat the number of growing elderly patients nearing end of life. With that in mind, Baystate Medical Center created an acute-care unit specifically for treating the growing number of elderly patients. Since 2014, the program has cared for more than 500 senior patients.

Be Vital Wellness Opens Second Clinic in Wilbraham

WILBRAHAM — Stephanie Nascimento and Jeanette Wilburn, owners of Be Vital Wellness, LLC, recently expanded their weight-loss practice opening a second clinic in Wilbraham. Located at 2121 Boston Road, Unit N, in Wilbraham, the team specializes in medically derived weight-loss programs, weight-loss coaching, detox and cleansing, as well as various wellness services. In October 2011, Nascimento, a registered nurse, and Wilburn, a doctor of chiropractic, partnered in search of a business that promoted overall wellness and weight loss. After much research, they selected the Ideal Protein Protocol, a medically derived weight-loss method developed and refined for more than 20 years. They tested the program themselves and successfully lost a combined 30 pounds. Their weight loss inspired them to open their first clinic in Amherst; that clinic is now located in Hadley.

Company Notebook Departments

HUB International Acquires Assets of Leitao Insurance

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, announced it has acquired the assets of Leitao Insurance Inc. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Located in Ludlow, Leitao is a multi-line insurance brokerage firm providing products in personal and commercial lines. The Leitao agency will join HUB New England with other local HUB offices in Ludlow (formerly Your Choice), South Hadley, Monson, and East Longmeadow.

CRRC MA Facility Wins Engineering Award

SPRINGFIELD — The CRRC MA rail-car manufacturing facility at the former Westinghouse site was honored as the state’s outstanding engineering achievement of the year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts. Plaza Construction, which served as the design-build contractor for the property, accepted the award at a ceremony Wednesday. The $95 million project, spanning more than 204,000 square feet — not including the 2,240-foot test track — is the largest industrial investment in Greater Springfield in generations. The Chinese-owned company will start building new cars for the MBTA Orange Line in April, and for the Red Line later this year. In 2014, CRRC received a $566 million contract from the MBTA to build 152 Orange Line cars and 252 Red Line cars at the Page Boulevard site. Two years later, the state ordered an additional 120 Red Line cars at a cost of $277 million, with production set to begin in 2022.

Hofbrauhaus Closing Doors After 83 Years in Business

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Hofbrauhaus owners Joe and Liz Stevens will close its doors for good on April 1, the couple announced on Facebook on Wednesday. “It is official — as of Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 (and no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke), the Hofbrauhaus will be closing its doors for good,” they wrote. “We thank everyone for their patronage and support over the years, but we are ready to move on and make some big, wonderful, exciting, and maybe a little scary changes in our lives.’” Hofbrauhaus, the German restaurant that became one of the region’s most iconic eateries, first opened its doors in 1935.

United Bank Joins Connecticut Trolley Museum as Corporate Sponsor

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. — The Connecticut Trolley Museum announced that United Bank has joined the museum as a corporate sponsor. The museum started its corporate sponsor program in 2016, and since then a number of area businesses have joined the museum to support its mission “to provide a historically accurate educational experience of the trolley era through the interpretation, preservation, restoration, and operation of an electric railway.” As its newest corporate sponsor, United Bank joins Sophia’s Restaurant, USA Hauling, Windsor Federal Savings, Collins Pipe and Supply, Simsbury Bank, Connecticut Lighting Centers, Get Listed Realty, and Allstate in support of the museum. The Connecticut Trolley Museum is located off of Route 140 in East Windsor, off exit 45 of Interstate 91. Businesses with an interest in becoming corporate sponsors may contact the museum at (860) 627-6540 or [email protected]

Ohana School of Performing Arts Supports Square One

SPRINGFIELD — The Square One family continues to expand, thanks to its latest partnership with Ohana School of Performing Arts. Ohana owner Ashley Kohl and her team are volunteering monthly to visit preschoolers at the Square One Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center in Springfield. All 150 children will receive lessons in creative movement and dance. “Studies have long pointed to the physical benefits of dance when it comes to keeping children fit and working to combat childhood obesity,” said Kristine Allard, chief development and communications officer for Square One. “More recent research also points to the benefits of dance from the standpoint of emotional, social, and cognitive development, which is a critical component of our work at Square One.” The volunteer support comes in conjunction with Ohana’s recent gift of $1,000 to support Square One’s work with children and families.

Thornes Marketplace to Renovate Front Entrance

NORTHAMPTON — Thornes Marketplace will begin a major renovation of its front entrance on Main Street the first week in April to make practical improvements as well as aesthetic ones that are historically accurate. Richard Madowitz, Thornes owner and property manager, stressed that work on the entryway — one of the last phases of a multi-year capital-improvement project — will be conducted from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The front entrance will remain open daily during regular business hours. After the project gets underway, Madowitz noted, visitors with questions or concerns can send feedback to [email protected] Photographs will be available on Thornes’ Facebook page, and news and updates will appear at thornesmarketplace.com. Over the past 10 years, Thornes Marketplace has undertaken a series of major renovations to improve and enhance the eclectic shopping center. Thornes has partnered with Keiter Builders Inc. and Emily Estes of Estes Architecture and Design for the renovations to the entranceway. McGee said the practical goal of the project is to improve accessibility and make the entrance more user-friendly by replacing the 30-year-old wooden doors with wider doors equipped with modern power operators compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Aesthetic improvements will include a raised, coffered ceiling; new, custom-stained oak doors; dramatic chandelier lighting; and new floor tiling. The Florence Bank ATM enclosure will also be renovated to fit the period.

Indian Motorcycle to Open Apparel Store at MGM

SPRINGFIELD — Indian Motorcycle, the Springfield-based pioneer of the American motorcycle industry, will debut the brand’s first-ever apparel store as an anchor tenant of MGM Springfield’s retail collection. The flagship location will open its doors at the MGM property later this year. The Indian Motorcycle store will offer items from the brand’s casual apparel line, the Indian Motorcycle 1901 Fashion Collection. This road-ready collection features graphic tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets inspired by Indian Motorcycle’s rich heritage. Indian Motorcycle jewelry and accessories also will be available for purchase. Mirroring the aesthetic of the store’s product lines, the space will feature an industrial-yet-modern vibe with exposed, vaulted ceilings and concrete and wood elements. Paying homage to its long-standing roots in the heart of Springfield, the location will open onto to the resort’s plaza.

AIC Joins Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges and Universities

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) joined the Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as an associate member. HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen institutions. It now represents more than 470 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher-education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. While member institutions in the U.S. represent only 13% of all higher-education institutions nationwide, together these colleges and universities are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU’s commitment to Hispanic achievement in education ranges from kindergarten through graduate school and into the work force of tomorrow. Key among the organization’s goals is to improve access to and quality of post-secondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

Viridi International Resorts Acquires El Silencio Lodge and Spa in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Viridi International Resorts SRL, a new upstart in the ultra-luxury boutique hotel and spa space, announced the acquisition of El Silencio Lodge and Spa from Grupo Isilita, San Jose, Costa Rica. El Silencio Lodge is a luxury eco-tourist resort located in the high-altitude cloud forest just one hour from San Jose in Bajos del Toro. El Silencio was recently voted the No. 2 Top Resort in Central America by Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards. El Silencio Lodge offers one of the best lodging and dining experiences in Costa Rica. The property’s 16 intimate casitas and six two-bedroom villas offers visitors a one-of-a-kind refuge from a busy world. The resort’s detached suites offer a private viewing deck of the surrounding cloud forest with traditional rocking chairs, and a private heated outdoor Jacuzzi. Viridi plans to add additional rooms and suites in the months and years ahead. The hotel’s Las Ventanas Restaurant offers traditional Costa Rican dishes in addition to an eclectic assortment of entrees and appetizers with organic farm-to-table produce and fresh fish from two on-site fish farms. Guests can actively participate in the culinary experience by fishing for rainbow trout (Costa Rican salmon), picking vegetables, collecting free-range chicken eggs, or venturing out to a community market before enjoying a fun-filled interactive cooking session with the resort’s head chef. A second on-site restaurant, Hierbabuena, is open weekends during high season and offers a more casual menu for family gatherings. Onsite activities at El Silencio include horseback riding, ziplining, waterfall repelling, fishing, yoga, and more than two miles of hiking trails, all located on 500 acres of a pristine Costa Rican cloud forest with three breathtaking waterfalls, including one nearly 200 feet tall, all flanked by two national parks to ensure a quiet and serene experience. The resort’s open space Esencia Spa offers a full array of rejuvenating treatments using indigenous Costa Rican rainforest oils and minerals. Viridi International Resorts SRL was founded by Boston-area media entrepreneur John Gormally with the goal of building a small to medium-sized luxury boutique hotel/spa group with properties throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, and other highly sought-after destination spots across the globe. Akoya Hospitality LLC, New York, N.Y. acted as advisor to buyer. Resort Capital Partners of Charlotte, N.C. acted as advisor to the seller. The sale price was not disclosed.

Company Notebook Departments

Baystate Academy Charter Public School Wins Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Academy Charter Public School received a grant to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs from Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. More than 10,500 schools across the country offer PLTW programs to millions of students. According to Tim Sneed, executive director of Baystate Academy, “these funds will allow us to expand our biomedical sciences programs as we prepare students to enter the field of healthcare.” Baystate Academy is just one of 73 schools across the Commonwealth to receive the grant, which is supported by the Baker-Polito administration, the One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub. “It is essential that we engage our students throughout their K-12 school years with hands-on lessons in science, engineering, computer science, technology, and math,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Baystate Academy will use grant funds to strengthen its PLTW program with biomedical science. Funds from the grant will also support teacher professional development and the purchase of materials and equipment that will be used in the hands-on, activity-, project-, and problem-based courses. “We are proud to partner with Baystate Academy to empower students to develop the in-demand knowledge and transportable skills to thrive in our evolving world,” said Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO.

Molding Business Services Announces Acquisition of Gros Executive Recruiters

FLORENCE — Molding Business Services of Florence has acquired Gros Executive Recruiters of Franklin, Tenn. Both firms provide recruiting and executive search services to the plastics industry. Molding Business Services (MBS) was founded in 1998, and during those 20 years, its recruiting division has focused almost exclusively on the injection-molding segment of the plastics industry. Gros Executive Recruiters was founded in 1989 and serves the packaging, plastics-processing, and plastics-machinery markets. MBS brings a deeper injection-molding network to Gros, while Gros provides MBS with penetration into the packaging and plastics machinery markets. Additionally, merging the two already-extensive industry databases produces a network of talent that will benefit the combined firms’ clients. Together, MBS and Gros have recruiting staff located across the U.S., in Massachusetts, Illinois, Tennessee, Vermont, and California. “The synergies between the two firms are numerous, and our visions and goals couldn’t be better aligned,” said MBS President Jonathan Soucy. “We are excited about enhancing our reach and capabilities for our clients, especially at a time when the demand for talented individuals in our industry has reached critical levels.” Former Gros Executive Recruiters owner and industry veteran Dennis Gros has been appointed president of the combined recruiting business. “The combination of MBS’s recruiting division and Gros Executive Recruiters is great news for hiring managers and for professionals who seek a career change,” he said. “In combining our resources, we will offer new programs designed to energize hiring in the plastics industry.” Gros Executive Recruiters will become the sole recruiting brand of the combined entity and will operate as a molding business services company.

Radiothon Raises $245,367 for Children’s Hospital

SPRINGFIELD — Generous donors pledging their support of Baystate Children’s Hospital resulted in a grand total of $245,367 raised during this year’s 17th annual 94.7 WMAS Radiothon, which ran March 6-7. “The tremendous response from listeners to the 94.7 WMAS Radiothon is a testimonial to our talented staff of caregivers who are dedicated to improving the lives of children throughout the region,” said Dr. Charlotte Boney, chair, Pediatrics, Baystate Children’s Hospital. “It takes a team effort to hold a successful Radiothon even before the first telephone rings. We couldn’t do it without the many listeners who called in to pledge their support to our Children’s Hospital, or without the assistance of the volunteers, corporate sponsors, Baystate staff, and the Kellog Krew at 94.7 WMAS who all gave so generously of their time.” There is still time to make a donation to Baystate Children’s Hospital by visiting the Radiothon webpage at www.helpmakemiracles.org/event/wmas or texting WMASkids to 51555.

AIC Named to Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has been named to the list of “Better for Veterans” organizations across the country, earning the 2018 Military Friendly School designation by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs. Now in its 16th year, the Military Friendly Schools list provides a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. For the first time, student survey data was taken into consideration for the designation. More than 1,300 schools participated in the 2017-18 survey, with 849 earning the designation. “American International College is proud to assist those men and women who serve our country,” said AIC President Vince Maniaci. “The college recognizes the value of the many educational and leadership experiences that occur in the Armed Forces, and the excellent foundation that military experience provides. In turn, we give veteran students transfer credits for service in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, helping service members and veterans get a head start on earning their degrees.”

New Prosthetic Center Serves Amputees with Innovative Technology

SPRINGFIELD — O & P Labs recently opened the doors to the Prosthetic Center at 3500 Main St. in Springfield. The local prosthetic company has been serving Western and Central Mass., Northern Conn., and Southern Vermont for more than 30 years. Co-owners Jim Haas and Blaine Drysdale hosted Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and state Rep. Carlos González, along with team members, patients, medical care providers, friends, and family for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 15. González presented a citation to recognize O & P Labs’ “30 years of healthcare service to the people of Springfield, Mass. and your innovative assistance for patients to enjoy productive lives.” The grand-opening event honored the 700 patients with limb loss who have been served over the last ten years since Haas and Drysdale have owned the company. The decision to create this full-service practice space was in direct response to the needs of these patients. “I used to ride a bike [before my amputation], and I still do,” said Drysdale, a certified prosthetist. “We are dedicated to helping every patient through their individual process. That includes before, during, and after an amputation.” The state-of-the-art Prosthetic Center features real-life experiences including a bike trainer, ramp, solo step track system, parallel bars, private rooms, and more. “Our facility does not feel like a white-coat clinic,” Haas added. “We’re here to help people get on with their lives. We strive to empower our patients to reach their similar activity level as prior to limb loss and feel part of a community while doing it.”

Report: HCC Benefits Economy Significantly

HOLYOKE — Students who graduate from Holyoke Community College (HCC) with an associate degree will see an average increase in annual earnings of about $10,000 a year compared to those with only a high-school diploma, according to a new report that calculates the total economic impact of HCC on the Pioneer Valley at nearly $215 million annually. “By comparison,” the report says, “this contribution that the college provides on its own is almost as large as the entire arts, entertainment, and recreation industry in this area.” The analysis of HCC’s economic value was conducted by Emsi, an economic modeling firm whose clients include colleges and universities as well as some of the largest for-profit corporations in the U.S., such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. For this, Emsi based its conclusions on academic and financial reports from HCC, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, and other surveys related to education and social behavior. The study, commissioned by the college, looked at data from 2015-16. For fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30, 2016, the study found that the total economic impact of the college on the economy in the three counties of the Pioneer Valley (Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin) was $214.6 million, or about 0.7% of the region’s gross regional product. That number includes direct spending by the college’s 991 full-time and part-time employees as well as operational spending by the college itself, and accounts for a multiplier effect, which measures how that money works its way through the regional economy. The total also includes short-term construction projects and spending by students who relocate to the Pioneer Valley as well as spending by students who choose to remain in the area for college rather than go elsewhere. In FY 2015-16, HCC served 8,243 credit students and 3,024 non-credit students. The largest impact, though, comes from alumni — former students who continue to live and work in the region: $155.1 million, or enough to support 2,642 jobs, the report notes. The study also examined the economic benefits of HCC from a student’s perspective, noting that those who complete their associate degree could expect to earn an average of $9,600 more per year than those with only a high-school diploma. Put another way, for every $1 students invest in their education (out-of-pocket expenses, interest on loans, foregone income while in school), they will earn $3.2, an average return of 12.7%. The study also concludes that HCC represents a “a solid investment” for taxpayers, generating more in tax revenue than it takes in through state and local funding — $54.6 million compared to $31.6 million, or a benefit-cost ratio of 1.8, an average rate of return of 4.5%. Massachusetts also benefits as a whole from the presence of HCC in two major ways: increased prosperity from an expanding economic base and savings generated by the improved lifestyles of students, most notably in a reduction in medical costs through improved health, reduced crime, and lower employer contributions toward unemployment.

Country Bank Donates $656,000 to Area Organizations in 2017

WARE — Country Bank reported that it donated $656,000 to more than 400 organizations in 2017 through its Charitable Giving Program. Some of the recipients include the Ronald McDonald House, which received $30,000 to support its ‘home away from home’ for children and their families being treated at the Springfield area medical facilities, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which received $10,000 to help continue its mission of providing food to those in need. “Our mission is to grow mutually beneficial relationships with our customers, community, and staff. This is evidenced not only by our commitment to support these organizations with charitable contributions, but also with staff volunteer hours,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO. “In 2017, nearly 800 hours of personal time was given back by members of the Country Bank staff to their local communities. In addition to their volunteer hours, employees also raised more than $33,000 through their own charitable-giving events such as jean days, bake sales, and raffles.

The United Arc Hosts Annual Coffee & Conversation Event

TURNERS FALLS — On Feb. 23, the United Arc held its annual Coffee & Conversation event, an opportunity for legislators in Western Mass. to hear the stories of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. This year, the Coffee & Conversation event brought together experiences in seeking full community inclusion, from the joys of work to struggles against bullying and for full access to education, to the process of gaining acceptance at school and extracurricular activities. One of the speakers was Tonya Lanpher, parent of a child with autism and a family support specialist at the United Arc. “I think the hardest thing is that people just don’t understand,” she said. “If we can help people understand, then we can create full community inclusion. People don’t understand each other if they don’t spend time together. That’s why full community inclusion is so important.” Event attendees included U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern; state Sen. Stan Rosenberg; state Reps. Steve Kulik and Solomon Goldstein-Rose; Jon Gould, aide to state Sen. Adam Hinds, and Chris Cappucci, research director for state Rep. Paul Mark. They shared their thoughts on full community inclusion and the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The event was co-sponsored by the Greater Athol Area Advocates for Families with Special Needs, and First Light Power Resources was a supporting sponsor. Other sponsors included 2nd Street Baking Co., Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, and Greenfield Savings Bank. John Howland, CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank, and Linda Ackerman, assistant vice president and branch manager of the Greenfield Savings Bank Turners Falls branch, were also in attendance. Founded in 1951, the United Arc provides services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, helping them achieve the universal goals of inclusion, choice, and independence.

Finck & Perras Reports Community Investments

EASTHAMPTON — Genevieve Brough, president of Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc., recently announced that the firm invested roughly $40,000 in the wider community through sponsorships and donations to nonprofits in 2017. Organizations the company supported range from youth sports and recreation programs in Hampshire County to Riverside Industries in Easthampton, Link to Libraries, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County. Brough passes on her philanthropic values to employees, encouraging them to take part in community activism and fund-raising. Finck & Perras has supported the United Way of Hampshire County for 19 years, for instance, encouraging employees take part in making regular donations by offering various incentive programs. Other organizations Finck & Perras supported in 2017 include the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton; the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Springfield; Pathlight, Springfield; TedXEasthamptonWomen; Safe Passage, Northampton; the Northampton Family Fourth Celebration; Nonotuck Community School Inc., Northampton; Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Northampton; and Look Memorial Park, Florence.

Berkshire Bank Foundation Grants Nearly $2M in 2017

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that its foundation awarded a total of $1,995,462 in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the bank’s footprint in 2017. The grants supported a variety of education and community-development initiatives as well as health, human-service, and cultural programs. In all, 556 organizations benefited from the funding. “Our grants impacted more than 5.8 million individuals in 2017 helping to enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for members of our community,” said Lori Gazzillo, senior vice president and foundation director. The foundation offers multiple grant programs, each with their own guidelines, programmatic criteria, and desired outcomes. In 2018, the foundation will again accept proposals for education programs that help individuals become college-, career-, and job-ready. They also plan to accept proposals for economic-development programs that create thriving places to live, work, and raise a family. Applications for these grant programs are due by April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1. In addition to these two programs, the foundation will offer two requests for proposals focusing on nonprofit capacity and basic needs. Additional details about the foundation’s guidelines and application process can be found online at www.berkshirebank.com/giving.

Phillips Insurance Funds Scholarships to American Legion Boys State

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced it is funding three scholarships to the 2018 American Legion Boys State at Stonehill College in June. The one-week, overnight program focuses on understanding one’s responsibilities and rights in the democratic process. Participants establish a mock government, complete courses in economics, and participate in elections. Founded in 1935, past participants include some of the most prominent names in the country, including former President Bill Clinton, movie critic Roger Ebert, and basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Joseph Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance, noted that “my son Connor attended Boys State in 2016 and had a positive experience, so we decided to reach out … and provide the same opportunity to other students so they could benefit from this unique program and help prepare them for college and beyond.”

Company Notebook Departments

Big Y’s Growth Expands Distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — It was in 1995 that Big Y expanded its three smaller distribution facilities into the former Rexnord Roller Chain Manufacturing Co. on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. At the time, a staff of 27 people distributed produce and other products to 31 supermarkets throughout the region. Three years later, Big Y’s corporate headquarters and store support center moved to the same site. Fast-forward to 2018, when Big Y’s distribution now supports 70 supermarkets out of the same space, and it is easy to see the need for an expanded facility. The current 189,000-square-foot distribution center has 19 receiving bays and operates round the clock seven days a week with a staff of 92 moving product through this system. In 1995, 3.5 million cases of product were shipped each year from this facility. Even eight years ago, Big Y’s distribution-center team shipped out nearly 15 million cases to stores. By the end of last year, that number had increased to more than 20 million cases. Therefore, Big Y plans an expansion in order to provide capacity for the next 20 years, with includes plans for 20 new supermarkets. The company anticipates a total of 53 dock doors are needed to manage this growth, along with an additional 232,000 square feet of space for a total of close to 425,000 square feet. This expansion will improve the efficiency of the flow of goods to all of stores and will require an additional 32 full-time employees at this site. Big Y has worked with Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, along with Mayor Domenic Sarno to develop a plan for this $35 million to $40 million project. In addition, Big Y is working with Springfield based Dennis Group, a local full service planning, architecture, engineering and construction management firm on this project. It is expected to be completed over the next 18 months.

UMass Dining App Wins Two Awards

AMHERST — The UMass Dining mobile app has been recognized in the Web Marketing Association’s sixth annual MobileWebAwards competition as both the Best University Mobile Application and the Best of Show Mobile Application of 2017. The UMass Dining mobile app’s key features include up-to-date menus, operating hours, and contact information for all dining common locations, the ability to view real-time traffic updates for each location, having access to UMass Dining’s on-campus events information, and the ability to personalize one’s menu for dietary preferences and allergens. Each website and mobile application in this year’s MobileWebAwards competition were assessed based on creativity, impact, design, content, interactivity, ease of use, and the use of the medium. Each entry was evaluated in comparison to the websites and mobile apps within the same format in its industry and then judged for an overall standard of excellence.

United Personnel Wins 2018 Best of Staffing Awards

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced it has won Inavero’s Best of Staffing Client and Talent Awards for providing superior service to clients and job seekers. Presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, Inavero’s Best of Staffing winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings by their clients and the employees they have helped find jobs. On average, clients of winning agencies are 2.3 times more likely to be completely satisfied. Job seekers who work with winning agencies are 1.7 times more satisfied with the services provided compared to those working with non-winning agencies. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from a significant amount of both clients and candidates placed in jobs, resulting in the recognition. These two awards are distinctions that fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada have earned.

Professional Drywall Construction Inc. Transfers Ownership

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Professional Drywall Construction Inc. (PDC) recently transferred ownership of the company to two of its employees. Ron Perry and Nick Shaink are now carrying on founder John Kendzierski’s legacy as a leading commercial drywall contractor in Southwestern New England. Former owner John Kendzierski will remain on the board of directors as a consultant. PDC will continue to operate from its West Springfield office, but in order to better serve the construction industry in Connecticut, it recently opened a second office in South Norwalk, Conn. The new location allows PDC to react more quickly to requests from Connecticut customers and provide additional on-site consultation in the Southern Conn. area. Affiliated with the carpenters and laborers union since 1997, PDC has grown to become a regional firm with more than employees, working in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. PDC is pre-qualified to work in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has a bonding capacity of up to $35 million, enabling it to accommodate virtually any size project.

PV Squared Welcomes Five New Worker-owners

GREENFIELD — PV Squared, a worker-owned cooperative and certified B Corp solar-installation company located in Greenfield, recently welcomed five new worker-owners to the ownership team. Each of the new worker-owners — Daniel Berry, Daniel Gomez, Doug Dedischew, Elliot Henry, and Ian Tapscott — has worked at PV Squared for at least two years before being promoted to worker-owner. PV Squared started with four co-owners in 2002 and has since grown to 44 employees, 24 of whom are worker-owners. There are thousands of worker-owned cooperatives around the world, and that number is growing. The cooperative model reflects a growing movement to create an economic and social alternative to ‘business as usual.’ In a worker-owned cooperative, the people who do the work make the decisions together, instead of having them handed down from an executive. It’s a think-on-your-feet model that allows workers to offer their perspective, suggest alternative methods, and affect real change in practices. PV Squared provides renewable-energy solutions to a wide range of clients, including business owners, commercial property owners, academic institutions, and homeowners in Western Mass. and surrounding regions.

MassMutual Foundation Gives $1 Million in Grants to Springfield Schools

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Foundation Inc. — a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual — announced it is providing $1 million to expand the City Connects program into eight additional elementary schools throughout Springfield. This grant aligns with the foundation’s focus on supporting programs that broaden economic opportunity for students and their families by transforming the system of learning. It is also consistent with the company’s recent decision to expand and reinvest in Massachusetts. City Connects, a national program executed by the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, launched in five Springfield public schools in September 2011 and has tripled its reach and impact, serving 15 schools in 2017. The MassMutual Foundation grant will enable City Connects to reach a total of 23 schools. The program provides support for students based on their individual needs by addressing out-of-school challenges that affect student success, and leverages existing community resources and support services to optimize students’ readiness to learn. During the 2016-17 school year, City Connects served more than 5,000 Springfield students, and nearly 100 community partners provided support and services to meet these students’ unique strengths, needs, and interests. Research has shown that the City Connects program significantly improves students’ academic performance; some positive long-term effects include lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and less chronic absenteeism.

HNE Gives Food Bank $30,000 to Support Puerto Rican Evacuees

HATFIELD — The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts announced it has received a $30,000 grant award from Health New England to support Puerto Rican evacuees settling in Western Mass. following Hurricane Maria. The Food Bank has been collaborating with community organizations throughout the region to provide evacuees with their most basic need: food. The grant award will fund the food needs of the two designated welcome centers with the greatest influx of new people: Springfield Family Resource Center and Enlace de Familias Resource Center of Holyoke. Since evacuees began arriving in Western Mass. last October, the Food Bank has been working with these local organizations to ensure everyone has access to healthy food. It has been making weekly deliveries to Enlace de Familias to provide food for approximately 125 families per week. The provisions of canned fruit and vegetables, soup, rice, beans, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, and other staples afford families nourishment as they get themselves settled. The Food Bank has also been delivering food weekly to the Springfield Family Resource Center. Additionally, its agency-relations team has been connecting families with other local partner feeding programs so they can continue to access healthy food, and SNAP coordinators have been on site in Holyoke, enrolling evacuees to receive federal SNAP food benefits.

Community Music School Wins Grant from MDRT Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to Community Music School of Springfield (CMSS) through its Quality of Life Grant Program in honor of Jeanmarie Deliso, CFP. Through its global grants programs, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award more than $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 200 charitable organizations worldwide. Representing the MDRT Foundation, Deliso will present this grant to Community Music School of Springfield on March 23 at its board meeting. Trained in both music and special education, CMSS faculty work with Springfield classrooms to teach general music concepts in a way that is accessible to special-education students. The AMP Institute expands the reach of this work by training educators to use these methods in their classrooms.

Community Bank, N.A. Ranked Sixth in U.S. in Financial Performance

DEWITT, N.Y. — Forbes magazine recently ranked Community Bank, N.A. sixth in the nation for financial performance in a study analyzing 10 key metrics related to growth, asset quality, capital adequacy, and profitability for the nation’s 100 largest banks and thrifts. This is the seventh year running that Community Bank, N.A. has ranked among the top 15 banks on the list. Forbes began ranking America’s 100 largest publicly traded banks and thrifts after the financial crisis of the late 2000s. Community Bank, N.A. scored above all regional banks serving within the bank’s footprint.

Bumpy’s Natural and Organic Foods Moves to Agawam

AGAWAM — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Bumpy’s Natural and Organic Foods to the Agawam community. Business owner Derryl “Bumpy” Gibbs and his sister Dishanda Robinson moved the retail store from Granby to the Agawam location last month. As the community becomes more health conscious, Gibbs felt the move was a good opportunity for Agawam and the surrounding region to “eat well, feel great, and save money” — the company’s slogan. It is a family-owned business looking to support healthy families. From an elaborate selection of herbal teas to shampoos to baby needs, Bumpy’s aims to meet the everyday needs of people looking to eat and live healthy, Gibbs said.

WFWM Receives Grant to Support Women’s Leadership Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced it has received a $25,000 grant from Irving and Sulamith Blackberg Charitable Foundation, Stanley Waxler, Joan Waxlerm and Bank of America, N.A., co-trustees. The unrestricted funds will directly support women and girls in Western Mass. who are participating in the Women’s Fund’s signature leadership-development programs, the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI) and the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI). Both programs are dedicated to serving local women and girls in their personal and professional leadership development. LIPPI is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become community leaders and elected officials. The program trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective, and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in downtown Springfield over 10 months. YWI, a national, multi-sector project aimed at creating sustainable prosperity for young women, is a cooperative effort of eight women’s foundations across the U.S. The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is leading the Springfield Partnership, a pilot program that aims to produce systems change in the region’s largest city.

Company Notebook Departments

Bay Path MS Program in Nonprofit Management Named to Top-10 List

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s master of science (MS) program in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy has been named to the top 10 in the nation, as ranked by thebestschools.org. The university’s program has been recognized among the top online graduate nonprofit-management programs annually since 2014. This year, Bay Path ranked 10th on the list as one of just two New England colleges to make the cut. According to thebestschools.org, graduate-degree programs in nonprofit management were selected for the ranking based on academic excellence, types of courses offered, faculty strength, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the college’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs. The MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy at Bay Path University, open to men and women, is offered completely online or on campus, either full-time or part-time.

VVM Appoints Six Executives in Residence

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) announced the addition of six new executives in residence (EIRs) who will serve as guest educators and leaders to the 36 startup companies in the 2018 VVM Startup Accelerator program. The program provides intensive training, a network of skilled mentors, and funding that enables startup founders to establish and grow their businesses at a fast pace. EIRs represent experienced industry leaders, creatives, and strategists, as well as social-impact entrepreneurs from around the country. This first-ever group of EIRs will join the VVM staff team in providing day-to-day instruction over the course of four intensive, boot-camp-style weekends from February through May. The program culminates in the 2018 VVM Accelerator Awards at the MassMutual Center on Thursday, May 24. The EIRs include Bethany Martin, principal of B Martin Studio, mentor at Pilotworks, and faculty member at the Pratt Institute; Gustavo Bottan, co-founder and CEO of Opt4America senior mentor at MIT – Sandbox and the MIT CCLP Leadership Program; Joe Bush, executive director for the Worcester CleanTech Incubator; Steven Bellofatto, co-founder of ION Design and former adjunct faculty member at New York University in Manhattan, Department of Design & Digital Arts; Tanya Menendez, co-founder of Maker’s Row, and named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, People en Espanol’s “Most Powerful Latinas,” Business Insider’s “Coolest People in Tech,” and PopMechanic’s “25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream”; and Zaza Kabayadondo, director at Smith College for the Design Thinking Initiative and former program advisor at Stanford University’s Learning, Design, and Technology masters’ program.

STCC Biotech Program Wins Gold Level Endorsement

SPRINGFIELD — Graduates of the biotechnology programs at Springfield Technical Community College are well-prepared for careers in the life sciences, according to a leading science-education organization. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) endorsed STCC’s biotechnology associate degree and certificate programs at the Gold Level. MassBioEd concluded that graduates of the degree and certificate programs “are ready for the life-sciences workforce.” The STCC program met the core competencies defined by biotechnology industry and academic leaders who worked with MassBioEd, a nonprofit organization with a mission to build a life-sciences workforce in the region through educational programs that inspire students and engage teachers. Core competencies required for endorsement include following good laboratory practices, lab techniques, and exhibiting appropriate workplace behaviors, among other requirements.

Berkshire Hills Reports Q4 Operating Results

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported that fourth-quarter pre-tax income grew by 82% to $19.5 million in 2017 compared to $10.7 million in the prior year. This improvement was due to business development and the benefit of mergers, including Worcester-based Commerce Bancshares Corp. which was acquired on Oct. 13, 2017. Net income after tax was impacted by an $18 million non-core charge to income-tax expense resulting from federal tax reform enacted near year end. This reform is expected to benefit future earnings due to a lower statutory federal tax rate beginning in 2018. Net income after tax totaled $55 million in 2017 compared to $59 million in 2016. The tax charge noted above reduced fourth-quarter earnings per share by $0.40 and resulted in a fourth-quarter net loss of $0.06 per share in 2017, compared to a profit of $0.32 per share in 2016. Fourth-quarter core earnings per share improved by 4% to $0.58 in 2017, from $0.56 in 2016. The measure of core earnings excludes the above tax charge and also excludes other net non-core charges primarily related to merger costs. These costs in the fourth quarter of 2017 were mostly related to the Commerce acquisition, which increased assets by $1.8 billion, or 19%, to $11.6 billion at year end.

O & P Labs Opens New Prosthetic Center

SPRINGFIELD — O & P Labs announced the grand opening of its Prosthetic Center at 3500 Main St. in Springfield. The local prosthetic company has been serving Western and Central Mass., Northern Conn., and Southern Vermont for more than 30 years. O & P Labs is best known for its local, state-or-the-art fabrication lab, which allows patients to receive fittings, repairs, and adjustments quickly. The 3D printer decreases production time, and digital scanning technology creates highly customized prosthetic sockets.

Main Street Hospitality Sells Elm Street Market

STOCKBRIDGE — Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality, announced the sale of Elm Street Market to Verson Inc., headed by brothers Rajesh and Rajeev Verma from New Jersey. New management took over operation of the market immediately when the sale was completed last month. The Elm Street Market, previously owned and operated by Main Street Hospitality, has been a local favorite and community staple for more than 20 years. “We stopped at Elm Street Market on our way to visit my son at college and immediately fell in love with the restaurant and Stockbridge,” said Rajesh Verma. “The market is a strong community anchor, and we intend to keep it that way, building on its existing strength and evolving its local food offerings over time.” Verson Inc. is a family-owned business that owns and operates a group of deli and catering shops in New York City. Verma plans to keep the current staff while adding more prepared foods to the menu.

Community Foundation Joins Partnership to Boost Arts, Creativity

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) and the Barr Foundation, a private foundation based in Boston, announced the launch of Creative Commonwealth, a partnership between Barr, CFWM, and four other Massachusetts community foundations. This new initiative is rooted in the belief that investments in arts and creativity build thriving communities, and it aims to promote the vital leadership role community foundations can play to advance the arts. Creative Commonwealth will pave the way for community foundations to deepen and grow support for artists and cultural organizations. Along with CFWM, the community foundations partnering with Barr on this effort are the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Essex County Community Foundation, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has been awarded $500,000 over 24 months to pilot ideas that emerged from a planning process the foundation undertook in 2017, with funding from Barr to identify opportunities, needs, and priorities. CFWM efforts will focus on testing innovative ideas to connect arts to other sectors, providing training to build the capacity of small organizations and assessing the need for a regional arts hub to advance collaborative opportunities.

River Valley Counseling Opens Easthampton Office

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Counseling Center opened a new office location in Liberty Commons at 2 Mechanic St, Easthampton. The new office offers behavioral-health services for individuals and families. This new location follows five months after River Valley Counseling Center began offering school-based services within all of the Easthampton Schools. School-based therapy is outpatient therapy; however, these services are coordinated with the school to provide easy access to appointments for students and families and to assist with school-related problems as needed. Services available at the Easthampton location include individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy for adults, adolescents, and children. Clinicians help the client, couple, or family identify the concerns or issues that will become the focus of treatment. Both the client and clinician work together to determine the most effective treatment needed. The frequency and duration of counseling sessions is determined based on individualized treatment plans. For additional information or to schedule an appointment with River Valley Counseling Center, call (413) 540-1234.

Monson Savings Announces Public’s Choices for Giving

MONSON — For the eighth year in a row, Monson Savings Bank asked the community to help plan the bank’s community giving activities by inviting people to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during 2018. The top vote getter was Boy Scouts of Western Massachusetts, followed, in order of votes, by Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Scantic Valley YMCA, River East School-to-Career, Link to Libraries, Rick’s Place, Academy Hill School, Behavioral Health Network at Valley Human Resources, and Monson Free Library.

Company Notebook Departments

MGM Springfield Moves to On-site Corporate Offices

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield has moved into new corporate offices at 95 State St., soon to be called One MGM Way. Located across from the Hampden County Superior Court, and adjacent to what will be MGM Springfield’s South End Market, the building will be home to members of the MGM Springfield executive and administrative teams. “Moving on site is a great way to kick off the year of our opening,” said Michael Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield. “We have a growing workforce, and this office space better suits our ever-expanding needs as this momentous year unfolds. It’s an exciting transition for all of us.” Like other elements of the property’s integrated downtown design, the 11-story building celebrates Springfield’s heritage while preserving its iconic past. Built in 1929, the building was designed in the classical revival style by Burton Geckler as an annex to 1200 Main St. It was formerly known as the MassMutual building at 95 State St., and has since undergone a complete renovation, including new mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and finishes. MGM carefully conserved the exterior façade and maintained many of the lobby’s original features. “I am proud of the effort and care that our first-in-class construction team has put into preserving Springfield’s history throughout the property,” Mathis said. “This building is just one example of the many that will be unveiled this year.” Springfield firms Specs Design Group and Dietz & Co. Architects collaborated on the outfitting and design of the employee space with Las Vegas-based Friedmutter Group. Springfield-based Fontaine Bros. Inc. served as general contractor and stewarded the project through the construction phase. “As a company that has called Springfield home for over 85 years, we were excited to oversee construction of this critical portion of the MGM resort, and we are proud to have played a role in helping bring this unprecedented economic-development project to our city,” said David Fontaine Jr., vice president of Fontaine Bros. MGM Springfield’s new corporate offices boast collaboration and work areas, conference and meeting spaces, open cubicle areas, and private executive offices. The design scheme includes warm colors, reclaimed wood, and brick veneers throughout the space. The corporate offices will be located on floors two through eight. Approximately 50 employees have moved into the space. At full staffing, the area is expected to accommodate more than 300 employees. Activities at the approximately 85,000-square-foot employee offices will cover all aspects of the day-to-day operations for MGM Springfield. Anyone interested in learning about career opportunities should visit MGM Springfield’s Career Center, which will be open 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. During those hours, an MGM representative may be reached at (413) 273-5052.

ICNE Announces Addition of Eastman & Davis Insurance

AGAWAM — The Insurance Center of New England (ICNE) announced the addition of Eastman & Davis Insurance Agency Inc. in West Springfield to its growing company. “We are thrilled to not only have the Eastman & Davis Insurance clients join our agency, but also to have longtime employee Marilyn Loudon join the ICNE team as a personal lines account manager,” said William Trudeau, president and CEO of ICNE. Many ICNE clients have been with the agency for generations, Trudeau noted, so he understands what an important role Bill Eastman has played in the lives of his clients through the years. “I feel so honored that Bill trusts the ICNE team to take over the responsibility of caring for his clients.” Over the past several years, Eastman had been seeking out a business partner to ensure that his business would continue to thrive and that his clientele would be well-taken care of for decades to come. While Eastman & Davis clients may experience a few minor changes in process and procedures, the ultimate goal is to make the transition seamless. “When Eastman & Davis clients join ICNE, they will quickly learn that we are much more than an insurance agency,” Trudeau said. “We are a local team of insurance professionals who will get to know them personally and will always be there to answer their questions, review their policy, and help them make informed decisions to safeguard their family, home, car, and everything that is important to them.” As part of the transition, Eastman & Davis’ West Springfield office will be closing. However, for the convenience of clients, Marilyn Loudon will move to ICNE’s main office in Agawam, just five miles down the road from the current West Springfield location.

Speaker Sisterhood Announces Partnership with Baystate Health

SPRINGFIELD — Twenty-eight female medical providers from Baystate Health are set to begin a six-month pilot of a public-speaking training program uniquely crafted for women in academic medicine. The program is a collaboration between Women Advancing and Achieving in Medicine, a Baystate Health organizational resource group, and Speaker Sisterhood, a public-speaking training company for women founded by CEO Angela Lussier and headquartered in Holyoke. The program is focused on learning and practicing proven techniques to enhance participants’ communication so they are more effective and confident. The goal is for each participant to hone her own authentic voice so that she has greater impact both within her department and from behind the podium at major conferences. The program kicked off Jan. 10 and runs until June 6. “For years, I have noticed a lack of female speakers at many high-profile medical conferences, and I figured that there had to be a systemic way to change this, and our pilot project is a first step,” said Dr. Jeannette Wolfe, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at UMass Medical School’s Baystate campus. “We have partnered with Speaker Sisterhood to develop a very unique curriculum that addresses some of the specific challenges many women in academic medicine face in becoming recognized as source experts within their fields. I’m very excited about the potential of the program because creating a group of polished public speakers not only benefits those speakers, but also increases the regional and national recognition of Baystate Health.” Participants, who were nominated by their chairs and program directors, will meet monthly in a three-hour evening session. Each meeting will begin with a brief lecture covering topics ranging from effective storytelling to slide development to tips on how to break into conference speaking circles. Next, participants will move into their breakout groups of eight or nine women for hands-on experiential learning and practice giving speeches and feedback to each other. Each group has deliberately been created to include women from a mix of medical specialties and experience levels with the intention that this will help naturally facilitate beneficial networking and coaching within the groups. The pilot program is built upon the Speaker Sisterhood’s signature speaker development program, “The Secret Life of Speaking Up,” which was crafted to help professional women enhance their speech-writing skills, build on presentation effectiveness, and grow confidence while speaking. “We’ve been running this program for the last 18 months in various communities, and over 100 women have benefited from the Speaker Sisterhood curriculum. We’re excited to see the impact it will make in a hospital setting and in the medical community at large,” Lussier said. The aim of the pilot is to demonstrate its success though participants’ reports so that it can be expanded throughout Baystate Health and used as a template to benefit women in other academic centers.

The Drama Studio Secures Permanent Home

SPRINGFIELD — The Drama Studio was founded in 1987 by Steve Hays and a group of educators and parents who envisioned an institution where youth could study acting as seriously as they could study music. Located at 41 Oakland St. in Springfield, in close proximity to Forest Park, the Drama Studio had been a 30-year renter of space from St. Barnabas & All Saints Episcopal Church when the call came from the diocese that the building was no longer to be utilized as a place of worship. “When that call came, our board sprang into action,” Hays said. “Funds were quickly raised from a small group of generous donors, and thanks to the hard work of our board and the generosity of the diocese, we were able to negotiate a fair price. On December 22, 2017, we purchased the church and are thrilled to begin steps toward major renovation.” The mission of the Drama Studio is to enrich and validate the adolescent experience in this diverse community via excellence in a conservatory-style acting training program. It serves more than 250 students annually from the region. One alum, Gregory Boilard, of New York City, was involved with the Drama Studio from grade 6 until he graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham in 2010. He credits Hays with “shaping his childhood” and enabling him to land his dream job working in publicity for the Disney Theatrical Group on Broadway. While many alums have gone on to have careers in theater, film, and television, others attribute their success as lawyers, surgeons, administrators, teachers, and other professionals to the confidence they gained as students at the Drama Studio. The Drama Studio is one of a handful of after-school acting conservatories in the U.S. where young actors ages 6 to 18 can study intensively and advance through a theater curriculum before graduating from high school. It offers a coordinated program including both classroom and performance training with more than 25 after-school classes and six vacation camps. Two community outreach programs, DramaTours and TheaterReaders, currently serve more than 3,000 Springfield public elementary-school children each year.

River Valley Co-op Explores Potential Second Store Site

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Co-op has secured an option agreement for the potential purchase of the Easthampton property at 228 Northampton St. (formerly the Fedor Automobile Dealership) as a second store location. River Valley Co-op is a cooperatively owned grocery store with one location in Northampton. Since 2014, the cooperative business has been discussing a second store location with co-op owners, customers, and employees in order to accommodate its growth as well as furthering the mission of building a strong local food system. “We’ve been looking for a suitable location for a second store for several years to serve our community better,” said Andrea Stanley, board president. “Our goal is to expand our community-owned grocery business to further our local economic impact and build the resiliency of our local food system through year-round purchases to even more local farmers. We believe that Easthampton is an ideal match for River Valley Co-op. In fact, we have many co-op owners and vendors from Easthampton already, so we feel a strong connection to the community and look forward to expanding our working relationships even further with this project.” The option agreement gives the co-op a year to conduct its due diligence, planning, and fund-raising before exercising its exclusive right to purchase the property. River Valley Co-op’s leadership team met recently with Easthampton Mayor Nicolle LaChapelle to discuss the dynamics of the plan. “River Valley Co-op is a natural fit for Easthampton residents as consumers and job-seekers. High-quality food and jobs is a combination that is hard to beat,” LaChapelle said. “I had the opportunity to sit down with the River Valley team last week. They conveyed deep understanding of Easthampton and shared their plans with thoughtfulness and enthusiasm. As the co-op is ready to grow, Easthampton is ready to support that growth to ensure success for everyone.” Property owner Eddie Fedor said his family is enthusiastic about the potential of River Valley Co-op expanding in Easthampton. “This is a great location and will be very convenient for a lot of people. River Valley Co-op’s support of local farmers and other local vendors would make them a great addition to our community.” The co-op expects to employ 100 people in its Easthampton store. More than 95% of Northampton store employees are full-time with benefits and are represented by UFCW Local 1459.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q4 Results

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017. The company reported net income of $9.5 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $15.2 million, or $0.30 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $14.6 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. Net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017 was $54.6 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, compared to net income of $49.7 million, or $0.99 per diluted share, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016. On Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which, among other things, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Companies must recognize the effect of tax-law changes in the period of enactment under the generally accepted accounting principles. This tax reform resulted in a $2.8 million negative net-income impact in the fourth quarter of 2017. Of the $2.8 million impact, $1.6 million flowed directly through the provision for income taxes, and was primarily related to a re-measurement of the company’s deferred tax asset. Additionally, there was a $1.2 million pre-tax adjustment related to the write-down of legacy United limited partnerships due to the aforementioned tax reform. Other significant events during the quarter included the  company surrendering $32.8 million of under-performing bank-owned life insurance policy value, resulting in a $2.4 million negative impact to the provision for income taxes. The company subsequently reinvested $30 million into higher-yielding product in early January 2018. “The United Bank team delivered strong loan and non-interest bearing deposit growth in the fourth quarter of 2017. Asset quality, capital, and liquidity remained strong and stable,” said William Crawford IV, CEO and President of the company and the bank. Assets totaled $7.11 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased $137.7 million, or 2%, from $6.98 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. At Dec. 31, 2017, total loans were $5.34 billion, representing an increase of $134.2 million, or 2.6%, from the linked quarter. Changes to loan balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $76.7 million, or 4.3%, increase in investor non-owner occupied commercial real-estate loans; a $24.9 million, or 9.3%, increase in other consumer loans; a $21.4 million, or 3.8%, increase in home-equity loans; and a $18.9 million, or 2.3%, increase in commercial business loans. Loans held for sale increased $24.7 million, or 27.6%, from the linked quarter, as the company increased the held-for-sale portfolio for delivery to third-party investors at the end of the quarter. Total cash and cash equivalents decreased $9.8 million, or 10%, from the linked quarter. Deposits totaled $5.2 billion at Dec. 31, 2017 and increased by $45.2 million, or 0.9%, from $5.15 billion at Sept. 30, 2017. Increases in deposit balances during the fourth quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $53.4 million, or 7.4%, increase in non-interest-bearing checking deposits, as well as a $77.3 million, or 4.5%, increase in certificates of deposit. Offsetting these increases was a $75.5 million, or 3.4%, decline in NOW checking and money-market deposits, largely due to seasonal withdrawals in municipal funds.

Company Notebook Departments

Hazen Paper Co. Honored with Holography Award

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. was recognized with an Excellence in Holography Award from the International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) at its annual conference in Barcelona, Spain. The annual awards recognize outstanding achievement in pioneering innovative holographic products or techniques, as well as the best use of holography in commercial applications. Singled out from a record number of entries, Hazen was awarded Best Applied Decorative Packaging Product for its own promotional 2017 calendar and supporting brochure. The six-panel brochure and related poster/calendar each highlight different capabilities and product characteristics, though they both feature a dramatic image of a woman dressed in a gown of gold satin, who appears radiant and three-dimensional, thanks to custom Hazen Holography. According to the IHMA, the two are “a beautiful display of holographic art with many technical features.” The brochure, which showcases more than 50 holograms to inspire design and packaging innovators, was constructed of holographic film laminated to both sides of a paperboard cover stock. The film acts as a hinge at the folds and seals the stock, resulting in enhanced lay-flat properties and durability. Holography on the front is registered to print as well as to the holography on the back, without re-combine lines. The poster/calendar demonstrates Hazen’s large-format holographic capability and compatibility with green objectives, digitally printed on transfer-metallized Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product that uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, none of the film, and is recyclable as paper. Film-free Envirofoil’s ultra-thin metallized layer also delivers exceptional lay-flat results on this oversized piece. The IHMA, a nonprofit organization registered in the United Kingdom, promotes the cooperation of over 100 of the world’s foremost holographic companies to maintain the highest professional, security, and quality standards in support of its customers. In 2016, the IHMA presented Hazen President John Hazen with the Brian Monaghan Award for Business Innovation. Hazen Paper has been a member of the IHMA since 2005.

Northampton Branch of Family Legacy Partners Announces Name Change

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton branch of Family Legacy Partners, led by Karen Curran and Molly Keegan, announced a company name change to Curran and Keegan Financial. The company’s office remains in Northampton. This name change allows the company to better reflect a personal promise to help guide clients’ financial futures. Karen Curran and Molly Keegan offer a combined 22 years of service as independent financial advisors, sponsor numerous community events, and serve on several local boards. Keegan is chair of the Hadley Select Board, and Curran sits on the boards of Safe Passage and Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Additionally, the company is beginning its fourth year by adding a new client-services associate, Kori Ferris. Ferris has 12 years of experience in higher education, and she most recently led the Office of Financial Aid at Weill Cornell Medicine. A resident of Greenfield, she joins the company with a focus on helping clients and advisors during the financial-planning and investment process.

Berkshire Hills Touts Employee, Community Investments

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc., the parent of Berkshire Bank, announced additional investments in its employees and communities following the recent passage of federal tax reform legislation. These investments include:

• Raising Berkshire’s minimum wage to $15 per hour;

• Providing a one-time bonus of $1,000 to more than 1,000 employees. This grant benefits all full-time employees below a certain compensation threshold, covering more than 70% of the bank’s workforce, and augments the $500 holiday bonus these colleagues received in the fourth quarter;

• Enhancing Berkshire’s investment in employee development and training programs to benefit employees and bolster the bank’s current offering at AMEBU – American’s Most Exciting Bank University; and

• Contributing $2 million to the Berkshire Bank Foundation, which supports charitable organizations, scholarships, and volunteerism across Berkshire’s local communities. This will bolster the foundation’s endowment and allow for increased local giving. Last year, it provided over $2 million to our local communities, complementing the employee volunteer program, which helps employees contribute more than 40,000 hours of volunteer service each year.

Country Bank Donates to Local Food Pantries

WARE — Community outreach has been a part of Country Bank’s mission since its inception in 1850. During this season of giving, the bank is supporting organizations whose missions are similar, helping friends and neighbors in area communities. In addition to the bank’s annual donation of $28,000 to its local food pantries, Country Bank recently made an additional $10,000 donation to both the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and the Worcester County Food Bank to help those in need. “With the spirit of the holiday season in mind, the greater need for food and shelter this time of year is critical. These donations were made on behalf of the banks’ employees, corporators, and trustees” said Paul Scully, Country Bank president and CEO.

TommyCar Auto Group Gives Back to Local Veterans

NORTHAMPTON — Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, recently presented Jack Collins, director of the Northampton Veteran Affairs Medical Center, with a check for $1,480. All three of the TommyCar Auto stores, Northampton Volkswagen, Country Nissan, and Country Hyundai, held the same promotion throughout the entire month of November. For every car sold, each dealership would donate $10 to the Northampton Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The stores were able to raise a total of $1,480. “Our veterans have dedicated and sacrificed their lives to protect and keep our country safe. As a business owner, it’s my obligation to give back to our veterans when our veterans give so much,” Cosenzi said. The Northampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center provides primary, specialty, and mental-health care to 120,000 men and women. The money donated will assist in several services and healthcare programs available for veterans.

Beetle Press Celebrates 20th Anniversary This Year

EASTHAMPTON — Janice Beetle, principal of Beetle Press, a public-relations and communications firm, recently announced she will celebrate 20 years in business in 2018. Beetle established the business in 1998 after working as a journalist for 15 years, first as a beat reporter for the Springfield Republican and then as a writer and editor at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. That training has helped her assist clients in connecting with the media via press releases. Beetle works with a diverse range of clients from the nonprofit and private sectors. She writes for and edits print pieces such as magazines and annual reports; creates editorial calendars that include print and online media channels; and supports digital-marketing efforts for clients, writing blogs, e-newsletters, and website content. In 2013, she introduced book development to her roster of services, and has since helped launch many authors’ publications. To mark the 20th anniversary for the business, Alison Winkler, a graphic designer native to Northampton who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., adapted the original Beetle Press logo design by Lisa Stowe of Florence, creating an anniversary version. For a number of years, Beetle promoted her business as a one-stop shop, offering writing, editing and graphic-design services. Today, she has returned to her roots, focusing on writing, editing and PR services. When clients need more comprehensive services, she partners with colleagues Ruth Griggs, a marketing strategist, and Maureen Scanlon, a graphic designer, in a collaborative called the Creative. Beetle holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Westfield State College. Since 2003, she has mentored dozens of interns from Westfield State and UMass Amherst. She now employs four former interns on a freelance basis: Shelby Ashline, a graduate of UMass; Shannon Grossman and Ashley Pond, graduates of Westfield State; and David Kennedy, a current Westfield State student. Clients of Beetle Press include Westfield State University, Glenmeadow, Florence Bank, Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, Sports Travel and Tours, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Brattleboro Retreat’s Psychology Internship Program Accredited

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The Brattleboro Retreat announced that its psychology internship program has been awarded a full seven-year accreditation from the American Psychological Assoc. (APA) Commission on Accreditation (CoA). APA-CoA is recognized by both the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the national accrediting authority for professional education and training in psychology. The Retreat launched its psychology internship program in 2011. Since then, 14 individuals have completed the year-long commitment, working 40 hours per week in various programs, including the Retreat’s uniformed service program, Birches Treatment Center, and pain management program as part of their doctoral training in professional psychology. The rigorous process of achieving APA accreditation required the Retreat to submit a detailed self-study designed to assess the internship program’s ability to meet APA accreditation requirements and also to gauge the Retreat’s overall ability to support a quality training environment. Following approval of the self-study, APA-selected site visitors conducted a two-day survey in late 2017 that included meetings with hospital administrators, faculty, and students. An accreditation determination was then made following an extensive APA committee review of all documents and findings.

Company Notebook Departments

AIC Offers Puerto Rico Relief Scholarship
SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced the opportunity for college students in Puerto Rico to continue their education at AIC at a greatly reduced cost. Through the Puerto Rico Relief Scholarship, the college anticipates that this temporary program will allow students to continue their studies while Puerto Rico rebuilds its infrastructure following the impact of Hurricane Maria. Students who have been displaced from Puerto Rico are invited to apply to AIC to continue their education for the spring 2018 or fall 2018 semester. Students will be offered a flat tuition rate of $10,000 per year. Individuals in this program will be able to apply for additional federal financial aid, which can assist in covering their remaining balance. The college will guide prospective students through the application and financial-aid process. “American International College was founded in 1885 to educate newcomers to the United States and prepare their children for citizenship and success,” said President Vince Maniaci. “Today, AIC boasts an extremely diverse and vibrant student body with a vision of access and opportunity for all. We are proud to take an active role in the Springfield community, including close ties to our Puerto Rican neighbors. With these things in mind, all of us — faculty, staff, and students alike — are aware of the devastation in Puerto Rico and want to provide assistance.” While some educational and residency restrictions may apply, students interested in learning more are invited to call the AIC admissions office at (413) 205-3700 or e-mail [email protected]

Family Business Center Welcomes PeoplesBank as Strategic Partner
AMHERST — The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is a learning organization of more than 60 member companies, providing opportunities for improvement since 1994. An important resource it provides is the wisdom and experience of expert advisors, who are the center’s strategic partners. Beginning in January, the center welcomes PeoplesBank onto its team of experts, joining Meyers Brothers Kalicka, Bacon Wilson, Giombetti Associates, Epstein Financial Services, Charter Oak Financial, the Axia Group, Johnson & Hill Staffing, and BusinessWest magazine. “PeoplesBank is very happy to be a supporter of the great work of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley,” said Matthew Bannister, PeoplesBank’s first vice president of Marketing & Innovation. “Family businesses are the lifeblood of our community and our regional economy, and we recognize how valuable the services provided by the center are.”

Baystate Wing Hospital Awards Grants to Local Agencies
PALMER — Baystate Wing Hospital announced an investment of $43,226 in grants to benefit local social service, health, and educational programs to area community-based nonprofit organizations. “These grant investments represent Baystate Wing Hospital’s commitment to support and work with our community partners to focus on public-health-related programs and initiatives that reduce health disparities, promote community wellness, and improve access to care in our region,” said Michael Moran, president and chief administrative officer for Baystate Health’s Eastern Region, which includes Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital. Programs supported by the hospital’s grant investments include:
• Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., $30,000 to support the Quaboag Connector, addressing the serious lack of transportation to employment, education, healthcare, workforce training, shopping, and benefit services within and outside the region;
• The Ware High School Fire Science Program led by Ware Fire Department Deputy Chief Edward Wloch, $7,034 toward the goal of improving Emergency Medical Service (EMS) care in the region; and
• Ware River Valley Domestic Violence Task Force, $6,192 to continue improved screening and response to those facing domestic and sexual violence in the Baystate Health Eastern Region.
“Our physicians, nurses, and staff all strive to improve the health of the people we serve through exceptional care and innovative health initiatives,” said Moran. “The Baystate Wing Corporation is proud to partner with area agencies to help us do this important work together to improve the health and well-being of our community.”

PeoplesBank Receives Green-business Award
HOLYOKE — The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Massachusetts named PeoplesBank the 2017 Massachusetts Sustainable Business of the Year for mid-sized business in Western Mass. The bank has been a long-time leader in environmental sustainability, having built three LEED-certified offices and financed more than $145 million in wind, hydroelectric, and solar-energy projects. “As the largest mutual bank in the Pioneer Valley, we deliberately invest in environmental sustainability in our communities,” noted Thomas Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “That includes large-scale hydroelectric and solar projects, but also grassroots work with mobile farmers markets and local agriculture.” SBN was founded in 1988 as the nation’s first business trade association, with a mission of making business a vehicle for social, environmental, and economic change.

Bay Path Launches MS in Healthcare Management
LONGMEADOW — Healthcare today requires multi-dimensional leaders whose knowledge spans professional leadership, healthcare, science, and information technology. Coupled with the dynamic complexities of the healthcare system, increasing compliance regulations, technical advances, and higher costs, the demand for professionals who have expertise in both healthcare management and organizational leadership is rapidly rising. Medical and health service managers have strong career prospects, with projected employment growth of 17% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. To respond to this growing need, Bay Path University has launched a master of science (MS) degree program in Healthcare Management, now enrolling for February 2018. “As with all of our programs, the curriculum for the MS in Healthcare Management supports the candidate in developing his or her skills in decision making, communication and presentations skills, interpersonal relations, and being an agent of change — all of which are needed for key level management positions,” said Liz Fleming, associate provost and dean, School of Education, Human and Health Sciences. “We are proud to add it to our increasing catalog of undergraduate and graduate certificates and degree programs in health-related fields that have been shown to result in immediate job placements upon completion.” Healthcare administrators come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some may have direct patient-care experience, while others may have specialized in business, administration, public health, or a specific area of healthcare, including human resources. This program is designed for individuals with or without a related undergraduate degree who hope to shape the future of healthcare. Bay Path University’s MS in Healthcare Management, led by Terry DeVito, aims to prepare graduates for leadership roles in both traditional and non-traditional settings and industries including healthcare organizations and facilities, consulting, law, insurance and government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and healthcare informatics and analytics. The program is designed to address the multi-dimensional complexities facing the 21st-century healthcare industry as it transforms into a business model while maintaining the humanistic needs of patients’ individual needs. The curriculum is structured in a manner that embeds foundational information that prepares candidates for additional credentialing opportunities for professional career advancement. DeVito’s practice as a registered nurse, hospital administrator, and educator bring firsthand knowledge regarding quality in healthcare service delivery and the qualities required in leadership roles. To learn more about this program, visit www.baypath.edu/healthcaremanagement.

O&P Labs Steps Up Again to Fulfill Christmas Wishes
SPRINGFIELD — For many years, Orthotics & Prosthetics Labs Inc. of Springfield has been a Secret Santa to the children and youth of CHD. This year, Maria Burke of O&P Labs visited CHD’s main office in Springfield and left with a handful of ‘wish tags,’ each noting a specific holiday wish, that she took from the giving tree on display in CHD’s reception lobby. Following the company’s tradition, O&P gave their staff time to shop for the gifts together during work hours, then paid for the gifts and returned them to CHD. “We are delighted to again be the Secret Santa for the kids of CHD,” said Maria Burke of O&P Labs. “Every single staff member agrees that this ‘work activity’ is their favorite. We are grateful to CHD for reaching so many in need during this season and throughout the year.” Added Kimberley Lee, vice president of Development for CHD, “all the tags were hung by reception with care, in hopes that O&P Labs soon would be there … and they were there! It’s heartwarming to have O&P Labs return year after year to help make Christmas a happy occasion for children and youth by providing a holiday gift — everything from a teddy bear to a toddler bed. It’s fitting that a company whose business is helping people year-round makes a special effort during the holidays to help those most in need.” O&P Labs provides high-quality, physician-directed orthotic- and prosthetic-related services, including custom-made braces and prosthetic limbs fabricated on site, as well as off-the-shelf braces.

Robinson Donovan, Gray House Partner on Adopt-a-Family Program
SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. ‘adopted’ three families as part of the Gray House Adopt-a-Family Christmas program. During the event, the Gray House pairs local businesses with underprivileged families to fulfill Christmas wish lists for their children. “Robinson Donovan takes pride in giving back to our community,” said Nancy Frankel Pelletier, a partner with the firm. “We’ve made a commitment to donate to a charity in the surrounding area every month, and we couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up this amazing year.” Robinson Donovan stepped up this holiday season to join forces with the Gray House to help make Christmas wish lists come true for three families, who would otherwise struggle to put gifts under the Christmas tree. In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, the Gray House hosts a general toy drive for children in the community, and with the help of local schools and shelters, it collected toys for an additional 500 children. Throughout the past year, Robinson Donovan provided donations to the following nonprofit organizations benefiting the Pioneer Valley, many of which members of the firm regularly volunteer for, including Providence Ministries Service Network, Friends of the Homeless Inc., the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Bay Path University, Cutchins Center for Children, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Hampden County, Community Legal Aid, Dakin Humane Society, the Gray House, Homework House, the Hampden County Bar Assoc., and Springfield Museums. “Robinson Donovan participates in many philanthropic events throughout the year, and staff consistently donate their time to those in need,” said attorney James Martin. “This is another opportunity where we can give back to those less fortunate. Christmas can be a stressful time for families, and our team strives to help ease the burden.”

Berkshire Bank Awards $14,000 to Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank, in partnership with New England Sports Network (NESN), has awarded a $14,000 grant to the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Berkshire Bank Exciting Assists Grant Program. Dr. Pasi Janne, program director, Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, accepted the contribution from Gary Levante, Berkshire Bank’s assistant vice president of Community Engagement, during NESN’s broadcast of the Boston Bruins hockey game on Dec. 16. The Exciting Assists Grant program runs through March 31, 2018 and raises funds to support three charitable causes. Berkshire Bank’s Foundation provides $100 per hockey assist to the program. An assist is defined as a Boston Bruins player who shoots, passes, or deflects the puck toward a scoring teammate, or touches it in any other way which enables the goal. During the first portion of the season, the Bruins had 140 assists, resulting in a $14,000 grant from the Berkshire Bank Foundation. The Jimmy Fund, the first nonprofit beneficiary of the Exciting Assists Grant program, supports Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, raising funds for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world. In addition to the Jimmy Fund, two other nonprofit organizations will receive funding during the remainder of the season, including Bridge Over Trouble Waters, which provides life-changing services for homeless and high-risk youth (promotion period: Dec. 16 to Feb. 9); and Boston Cares, which mobilizes and trains individual and corporate volunteers to fill more than 20,000 volunteer spots annually in support of more than 165 Greater Boston schools and nonprofit agencies (promotion period: Feb. 10 to March 31).

AIC Launches Rex’s Pantry to Assist People in Need
SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently launched Rex’s Pantry, a food and necessities pantry housed on the AIC campus to assist community members in need. On Dec. 22, the inaugural deliveries took place, with 100 Rex to the Rescue kits going to Friends of the Homeless on Worthington Street. The kits contained an assortment of hats, socks, gloves, and foot and hand warmers. Later, AIC personnel delivered 100 Rex to the Rescue kits to the Springfield Rescue Mission, containing boxed lunches, bottled water, snacks, and non-perishable food items. “This time of year is celebratory for many, but we cannot forget those who are homeless or who struggle with food insecurity on a daily basis. While American International College reaches out to the community in many ways throughout the year, Rex’s Pantry is an opportunity for us to do more to help those in need of assistance,” said Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Jeffrey Bednarz. Later that day, AIC staff members stopped by Springfield Fire Department Station 8 and the Springfield Police Department with trays of lasagna in gratitude for first responders’ dedicated service to the college. The donations are a collaborative effort at AIC. Food was prepared by Chartwells Dining Services for Higher Education, a division of Compass – USA Foodservice. C&W Services and G4S, in charge of facilities and campus security, respectively, at the college, donated hats, socks, gloves, and warmers. The AIC Campus Bookstore provided backpacks to hold the contents of the Rex to the Rescue kits. Community members interested in donating non-perishable food items, toiletries, or other necessities to Rex’s Pantry are invited to call (413) 205-3231.

CHD Receives Planning Grant for Opioid Treatment, Recovery
SPRINGFIELD — RIZE Massachusetts, a statewide philanthropic initiative, chose the Center for Human Development (CHD) as one of six organizations throughout the state to receive $50,000 in design grants for its inaugural “Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care” program. CHD was the only organization based in Western Mass. to receive funding. The goal of the grant program is to establish or expand systems of low-threshold, on-demand treatment to prevent death, support long-term recovery, and improve health and quality of life. An estimated 4% of people in Massachusetts have an opioid-use disorder, and 2,107 people died of an overdose last year. The six grant recipients will collaborate with dozens of different agencies and organizations within their communities to provide a more comprehensive system of care that will serve the most vulnerable populations throughout the Commonwealth. “It’s quite clear there is enormous potential and energy in Massachusetts to address the opioid epidemic in a thoughtful, innovative, and evidence-generating manner. This first round of design grant recipients all have proven track records of taking on tough healthcare challenges with creativity, compassion, and rigor,” said RIZE board chair Dr. David Torchiana, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare. The other five grant recipients are the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Community Healthlink in Worcester, and Lynn Community Health Center. The grantees proposed promising approaches to delivering care for people at greatest risk of opioid overdose and addiction, including the use of medication-assisted treatment. “We need a treatment model specifically focused on our rural geography and more resources to fight this crisis in Western Mass. This RIZE grant will provide a critical infusion of funds to the area,” said CHD President and CEO Jim Goodwin. RIZE Executive Director Julie Burns said the organization will evaluate the effectiveness of the design grants using shared measures and data protocols and will fund two-year implementation grants for the programs that demonstrate the greatest potential. Implementation grants will be awarded in June 2018.