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Area Colleges, Univerties Recognized in U.S. News & World Report Listings

WESTERN MASS. — Several area colleges and universities were recognized recently in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

• Elms College was named to the list of Best Regional Universities – North. The college moved to 85th out of 171 other northern regional colleges and universities, up from 93rd in 2021. On a new list of Undergraduate Nursing Programs, Elms College School of Nursing ranked 288th out of 694 schools. On the Top Performers on Social Mobility list, Elms ranked 11th among 86 northern regional colleges and universities. This category measures the extent to which schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually).

• For the seventh consecutive year, Springfield College is ranked in the top 30 in the Best Regional Universities – North category. The college is also ranked 16th in the Best Value category of the report, up 10 spots from last year. The consistent ranking in the top tier is spurred by improved graduation rates and improved retention of first-year students.

• Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts rose to seventh on the list of Top Public Colleges, and to 21st as a Top Performer on Social Mobility, first in Massachusetts. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges, and has appeared on the list of Top Public Colleges for nine of the past 11 years.

• Western New England University has been ranked fourth in Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Universities in Massachusetts. The university improved its overall ranking to 213th in the nation this year, moving up 14 places from last year. Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Undergraduate Engineering (no doctorate) program category.

• Finally, Bay Path University is ranked 26th in Social Mobility, increasing its standing by 42 spots from last year. Bay Path also ranks ninth, moving up three spots, on the list of Most Innovative Universities in the North Region. In 2020, 58.3% of Bay Path’s traditional undergraduate students were identified as Pell-eligible.

 

The Dowd Agencies Acquires Wilcox Insurance Agency

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has acquired the Wilcox Insurance Agency, founded in 1923. The two organizations have merged their operations and will now be known as Wilcox-Dowd Insurance. This acquisition adds two more branches in Westfield and Feeding Hills, expanding Dowd’s locations throughout the Pioneer Valley to eight offices. Wilcox Insurance Agency was founded as Westfield Mutual Insurance Agency in 1923 by Raymond Wilcox, who was eventually joined by son Malcolm, grandson Scott, and great-grandson Robert, who now leads the agency under the Dowd Agencies umbrella. The offices in Westfield and Feeding Hills are full-service insurance agencies providing personal, commercial, wealth-management, and employee-benefits products and services.

 

Hampden Papers Building Sold to Green Thumb Industries Inc.

HOLYOKE — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced the sale of the 326,664-square-foot industrial mill building at 100 Water St. in Holyoke from Hampden Glazed Paper + Card Co. to Green Thumb Industries Inc., a cannabis grower and retailer. Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is a national marijuana producer headquartered in Chicago with various brands and business units to its name. The company, which has 13 manufacturing locations and 97 retail sites across the U.S., is growing its footprint in Holyoke. The company was established in 2014 and boasts more than 2,300 employees. The acquisition of 100 Water St. reflects its continued plans for expansion and the positive environment the city of Holyoke has created for cannabis growers, manufacturers, and retailers. The 100 Water St. property was the headquarters of Hampden Papers, a 140-year-old family business that sold in 2020. The company specialized in specialty coated, laminated, printed, and embossed paper products. The mill complex is comprised of five interconnected industrial buildings, some multi-level and others single-story warehouses with high ceilings and several loading docks. The property features convenient access to major interstates, including the Mass Pike and I-91. Mitch Bolotin, vice president of Colebrook Realty Services, represented the seller, and Kevin Jennings of Jennings Real Estate represented the buyer.

 

Western New England University to Launch Women’s Wrestling Team

SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) recently announced the addition of women’s wrestling to its athletics program. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport and the first NCAA DIII women’s wrestling team in New England. The women’s wrestling program is planned to begin its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with Mike Sugermeyer, head coach for men’s wrestling, tasked with recruiting the first official class. The university will hire a women’s head coach prior to the start of the season. There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level. WNE will be the first in Massachusetts, compared to the 140 high-school programs in the state.

 

Hazen Holography Brings to Life Basketball Hall of Fame Dome

HOLYOKE — The cover of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony yearbook appears electrified, the projection-LED-illuminated nine-story dome lit three-dimensionally on the page. To distinguish its ninth time producing the yearbook cover, Hazen Paper Co. used custom holography to illuminate the iconic symbol of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Hazen’s edgeless Hazen-Lens technology was used to create the pulsating play of light in front of a brilliant radial burst of two-channel holography, which refracts ambient light to generate the impression of movement as the book is opened. In front of the dome, the Basketball Hall of Fame logo is rendered three-dimensional with holography that emphasizes the basketball’s pebbled texture, juxtaposed with the sleek, reflective sphere of the dome. The back cover also features a custom hologram to telegraph the excitement of the Mohegan Sun Arena, mimicking the strobe-like effect of lighting washing over the audience in color from the concert stage. Detailed custom holography requires precise registration to deliver a crisp final product through the printing process. The unique Hazen Holography for both sides was registered to a tolerance of 1/16” for near-perfect alignment during printing. Hazen originated the holography completely within its vertically integrated facility. The custom holograms were created in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, then micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto smooth, 12-point WestRock Crescendo C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. The yearbook cover was designed by agency GO of Hartford, Conn., and printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston.

 

PeoplesBank Recognize in Reader’s Choice Survey

HOLYOKE — Thousands of voters chimed in recently for the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Readers’ Choice consumer polls, and PeoplesBank was named a winner in several categories, including Best Local Bank, Best Local Online Banking, Best Mortgage/Home Loan Provider, Best Green Business, and Best Place to Work. PeoplesBank has made significant investments in customer service in recent years, adding new digital and contactless banking opportunities such as VideoBankerITMs as well as expanding its banking-center network in Northern and Central Connecticut. In each market it serves, the bank is well-known for its charitable and civic support. Meanwhile, at the other end of Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal named PeoplesBank a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor again in 2021.

 

Rachel’s Table, Food Bank Join Forces to Fight Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are joining forces to fight hunger. Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport food directly from designated grocery stores to Food Bank agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere. Rachel’s Table’s partnership with the Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, Rachel’s Table and the Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 volunteer drivers from Rachel’s Table rescuing nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 pounds of healthy meat, produce, and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come. People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery, or grocery store that is going to waste, can contact the organization at www.rachelstablepv.org.

 

American Eagle Donates $5,000 to Hampden County Organizations

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) announced $5,000 in total donations for two organizations based in Hampden County. The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action have each been selected to receive $2,500 grants from American Eagle’s donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. “The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action provide tremendous assistance, care, and resources to Hampden County families,” said Dean Marchessault, president and CEO of AEFCU. “It’s our hope these grants will bolster their efforts and serve as a reminder of our team’s admiration for the organizations.”

 

Company Notebook

Mill Town Buys Bousquet Mountain

PITTSFIELD — Mill Town, a community-impact investment firm, announced it has acquired Bousquet Mountain, one of the oldest ski areas in the country and a training ground for many top U.S. ski racers, from the Tamarack Ski Nominee Trust and owners Sherry and P.J. Roberts. The sale includes 155 acres across four parcels, including the summit of Yokun Ridge, 22 trails, multiple buildings, and operational equipment. “We are excited to keep Bousquet as a vital recreational resource for the region,” said Tim Burke, Mill Town’s CEO and managing director. “A significant focus of our work is to invest in and improve businesses, real estate, and outdoor recreational assets in Pittsfield to make it a stronger city and an appealing place for families and employers. Bousquet met all of these criteria. We plan to invest in the ski-operation infrastructure and the lodge, and we are excited to work with strong partners to enhance the on-mountain experience.” On that front, Mill Town and Berkshire East Mountain Resort of Charlemont announced a collaboration agreement. As part of this agreement, Berkshire East and Catamount management, including owners Jon and Jim Schaefer, will advise Bousquet on capital and operational decisions and investments. Bousquet will also be a component of the Berkshire Pass, joining Berkshire East and Catamount as the third mountain to be featured as part of this season-pass program. “We are thrilled to partner with Mill Town to ensure Bousquet will be a respected skiing and outdoor-recreation asset for years to come,” Jim and Jon Schaefer said. “Positioned between Berkshire East and Catamount, we feel that Bousquet will provide significant value to Berkshire Pass holders as another great skiing and riding option in Western Massachusetts. We think there is a great future here.”

Springfield College Students Assist with COVID-19 Data Project

SPRINGFIELD — Students from the Springfield College health science major have been working on a national project to track the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Students Yue Li, Ashley Tanner, Alexandra Christine Jones, Brenna Keefe, Dhruvi Patel, and Callie Dowd have been taking part in an internship to assist with this project. Participating students are responsible for tracking historical data and collecting daily data, as well as participating in special-interest team projects that include computer-based automation, data visualization, infectious disease, policy, social media, and fundraising. This internship is part of BroadStreet’s COVID-19 Data Project, a collaboration of more than 200 students, statisticians, epidemiologists, healthcare experts, and data scientists throughout the country, Springfield College Assistant Professor of Public Health Sofija Zagarins explained. The project is a collaboration of more than 40 colleges and universities throughout the U.S., bringing together people who are committed to having the most accurate, community-level data about COVID-19 positive tests and fatality rates. Along with Springfield College, colleges and universities also taking part include Harvard University, Yale University, Boston University, Temple University, and Duke University. Through BroadStreet’s COVID-19 Data Project Internship, healthcare professionals have access to data that can help them to improve how they spend their time and resources on improving community health. “We have been humbled by the outpouring of support, especially from the collegiate community,” BroadStreet co-founder Tracy Flood said. “We know that, right now, students have a unique set of challenges trying to navigate these difficult times. Despite this, we wanted to recognize students who have graciously donated their time and talent to our project.” For more information about the project, visit covid19dataproject.org to follow along with information and updates from the participants.

Eversource Completes Westfield Reliability Project

WESTFIELD — Eversource has completed construction of the Westfield Reliability Project, installing a three-mile-long electric circuit on an existing 115-kilovolt overhead transmission line in Westfield to help ensure the continued and safe delivery of reliable power. Part of the energy company’s work to ensure reliability for customers, the Westfield Reliability Project is one of many transmission upgrades to help meet the electric system’s evolving needs to support a clean-energy future. “With many people continuing to work and learn from home, the safe and reliable delivery of power has never been more essential than it is during these uncertain times,” said Eversource President of Transmission Bill Quinlan. “The completion of the Westfield Reliability Project is an exciting development in our efforts to serve our customers and to support economic growth in the future. As restoration and landscaping continue through the spring and summer, we will maintain close communication and collaboration with our host communities, property owners, and businesses while adhering to social distancing and other best practices to safeguard health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.” The power lines have been installed on existing structures along the right of way from the Pochassic substation, near Oakdale Avenue, to the Buck Pond substation near Medeiros Way. The Westfield Reliability Project also includes constructing new equipment adjacent to Eversource’s existing Pochassic substation and related upgrades to the Buck Pond substation. Eversource representatives have been working closely with city officials. As the energy company’s crews and contractors work to complete final construction activities, including environmental monitoring and reporting, they continue to follow strict safety precautions, including practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and using enhanced sanitation practices. “We are grateful to our host communities for their input and partnership throughout the planning process, as well as their understanding and patience, as we work together to serve the public during the pandemic,” Quinlan said. “We remain committed to being a good neighbor and environmental steward as this project will deliver benefits to the region for years to come.” This project is one of several designed to strengthen the electric system serving Pittsfield, Greenfield, and surrounding areas.

Area Nonprofits Receive $230,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Foundation

WORCESTER — A total of 25 Central and Western Mass. nonprofits have received nearly $230,000 from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation for COVID-19 relief efforts. Most organizations in the region received a $10,000 grant for supporting community needs during the pandemic, such as food access and meal delivery, services for older adults and immigrant families, social and community services, and emergency response. “Now more than ever, it is so critical to support our communities and organizations who are providing services to those residents of Central and Western Mass. impacted by COVID-19,” said Patrick Cahill, vice president and Massachusetts market lead for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the foundation’s parent company. “The impact of this pandemic is enormous, and right from the start, we responded to the immediate needs facing nonprofit partners and communities. We are very grateful to all who are helping to feed and care for our community members, and we are committed to supporting them in the weeks and months ahead.” Among the 25 recipients, the following 10 Western Mass. organizations received funding as part of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation’s COVID-19 Assistance Fund: Berkshire County Arc (Pittsfield), Gardening the Community (Springfield), Greater Springfield Senior Services (Springfield), Grow Food Northampton (Northampton), Just Roots Inc. (Greenfield), Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry (Chicopee), Nuestras Raices Inc. (Holyoke), Rooting Rises (Pittsfield), Stone Soup Café Inc. (Greenfield), and UMass Amherst. The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation committed more than $3.5 million in initial grants for COVID-19 relief efforts in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.

Company Notebook

Colony Hills Capital Buys Windfield Senior Estates, Windfield Family Estates

WILBRAHAM — Colony Hills Capital (CHC), based in Wilbraham, announced it recently purchased Windfield Senior Estates and Windfield Family Estates, a combined 160-unit multi-family apartment community located in nearby Hadley. It was purchased for $14,035,000 on Oct. 23. Built in 2002, the property consists of 80 independent senior apartments and 80 family apartments. The property was originally developed and financed using the LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) program and currently has income and rent restrictions on 80% of the units. The community is located just off Route 9 in close proximity to UMass Amherst. It is also within a mile of top retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, LL Bean, and numerous restaurants and entertainment venues. Windfields also offers direct access to the Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail, part of the 104-mile Mass Central Rail Trail system. Colony Hills Capital is rolling out a capital-improvement plan that includes upgrades and remodeling to interior resident common areas, hallways, and office areas, as well as adding exterior amenities including a dog park; additional sitting, picnic, and garden areas; and grilling stations. There will also be a complete repaving of parking areas and interior roadways. Additionally, the company plans to make the community more energy-efficient, bike friendly, and environmentally conscious. Colony Hills Capital is a multi-family real-estate investment company that targets workforce, value-add investment opportunities located primarily in secondary markets in the Southeastern U.S. Since its inception in 2008, Colony and its affiliates have acquired more than 8,800 apartment in seven states.

Smith & Wesson Separates Firearms Business from American Outdoor Brands

SPRINGFIELD — Smith & Wesson plans to separate from the outdoor products and accessories businesses of American Outdoor Brands Corp. (AOBC). Smith & Wesson changed its name to American Outdoor Brands in 2016. Instead, the organization will include two separate companies: Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., which will encompass the firearms business, and American Outdoor Brands Inc., which will include the outdoor products and accessories businesses. “There have been significant changes in the political climate as well as the economic, investing, and insurance markets since we embarked upon what we believe have been our very successful diversification efforts,” said Barry Monheit, chairman of the board, in a press release. “We believe that separating into two independent public companies will allow each company to better align its strategic objectives with its capital allocation priorities. James Debney, currently president and CEO of American Outdoor Brands Corp., will lead American Outdoor Brands Inc., while Mark Smith, currently head of firearms manufacturing operations, will be CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands Inc.

HG&E Earns Recognition as Smart Energy Provider

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) has earned a Smart Energy Provider (SEP) designation from the American Public Power Assoc. for demonstrating commitment to and proficiency in energy efficiency, distributed generation, and environmental initiatives that support a goal of providing low-cost, quality, safe, and reliable electric service. Chris Van Dokkumburg, planning analyst at ‎Holland Board of Public Works and chair of the Energy Services Committee in Michigan presented the designations on Oct. 29 during the association’s annual Customer Connections Conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana. The SEP designation, which lasts for two years, recognizes public power utilities for demonstrating leading practices in four key disciplines: smart energy-program structure, energy-efficiency and distributed-energy programs, environmental and sustainability initiatives, and the customer experience. This is the first year the association has offered the SEP designation. HG&E joins a pioneering group of 60 public power utilities nationwide that received the inaugural SEP designation.

Marcus Printing Acquires ILS Business Services

HOLYOKE — Marcus Printing announced it has acquired ILS Business Services of West Springfield, strengthening the capabilities of both companies. Both Marcus Printing and ILS Business Services are local Western Mass. companies built on the shared values of providing exceptional customer service at excellent prices, said Marcus Printing President Susan Goldsmith. Marcus Printing was established in 1930 by Goldsmith’s grandparents, Phil and Sarah Marcus. ILS Business Services was founded by Bob and Irene Scalise in 1980, and their daughter, Amy Scalise, grew up around the business and officially joined the family business in 2014. Amy joins Marcus as the mailing manager, Bob will remain on board as a consultant, and the other ILS employees have joined the Marcus staff. The operations of ILS will move in the near future to the 33,000-square-foot Marcus Printing plant at 750 Main St. in Holyoke.

Pullman & Comley Opens First Massachusetts Office

SPRINGFIELD — Law firm Pullman & Comley, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary of practicing law, recently expanded into Springfield with an office in Tower Square at 1500 Main St. Pullman & Comley’s new Springfield office is its first in the Bay State, adding to offices in Bridgeport (where the firm was founded 100 years ago), Hartford, Westport, Stamford, and Waterbury, Conn., as well as an office in White Plains, N.Y. With nearly 100 attorneys, Pullman & Comley is one of the area’s largest law firms. The law firm’s expansion into Massachusetts gives its local clients — whom it has served for years — easy access to their lawyers. The lawyers in the Springfield office currently focus on legal matters relating to property tax and valuation, labor and employment law, and litigation. In addition, the firm’s Springfield location allows Pullman’s real-estate and public-finance attorneys, who often collaborate with the firm’s environmental, land-use, and energy practices, to serve the commercial real-estate industry in Western Mass. and bring their experience to local public and private development projects.

C&H Architects Celebrates 30 Years in Business

AMHERST — C&H Architects is celebrating 30 years of designing sustainable architecture. The firm’s work serves as an example of how, in a time of critical climate challenges, developers can add to the built environment in a way that improves the sustainability of future generations, rather than threatening it, partner Jesse Selman said. At their most basic level, buildings protect individuals from the elements. Beyond that, they shape the environment and provide texture to people’s lives. Buildings, however, are also one of the largest contributors to global warming, accounting for nearly 40% of all greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide — a statistic expected to double by 2050. In an effort to mitigate these impacts, there has been a steady increase in sustainable architecture — the design of buildings that work in harmony with the environment. C&H Architects has been at the forefront of this effort for the past 30 years. It designed the fifth-ever certified Living Building Challenge project in the world (and the first in New England) for Smith College’s MacLeish Field Station, the most rigorous performance standard for buildings available. The firm has designed more than 10 net-zero homes, the most recent of which won the top honor at AIA (American Institute of Architecture) Rhode Island in 2018, and includes a solar array that powers both the house and the car of its occupants. Founded in 1989 by Bruce Coldham to create architecture that responds to our rapidly changing climate and resources, the Amherst-based firm has served hundreds of clients with projects at every scale, from small residential renovations to large institutional construction. Today, the firm’s four partners — Tom Hartman, Garth Schwellenbach, Jesse Selman, and Elizabeth Morgan — carry on the tradition Coldham started, while constantly incorporating advances in building technology, materials, and practices.

EANE Names CIS Abroad 2019 Employer of Choice

AGAWAM — CIS Abroad of Northampton was selected as the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) Employer of Choice award recipient for 2019. The award was presented at EANE’s Employment Law and HR Practices Conference luncheon at the Sheraton Monarch Place in Springfield on Nov. 7. The Employer of Choice award recognizes companies and organizations for developing workplaces that value employees, foster engagement, invest in employee development, and reward performance. Past winners view the award as a cornerstone of their company credentials and often highlight the award in recruiting and retention, grants and funding applications, and business development. Many past winners have gone on to sit on the application review board to help select future winners of this award. CIS Abroad provides innovative education programs that broaden academic perspectives, promote global awareness, and encourage personal development while laying the foundation for student participants to become engaged world citizens.

Dillon Bodley & Associates Relocates in Amherst

AMHERST — Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C., owned and operated by certified public accountants Brian Dillon and Catherine Bodley, recently moved its Amherst location to 196 North Pleasant St. to offer its clients more convenient parking and better access. The firm closed at its former location at 37 South Pleasant St. on Oct. 27 and reopened at the new address on Nov. 1. Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C. provides a broad range of accounting and tax services, including tax preparation and planning engagements for individuals, small businesses, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. It also offers bookkeeping services to its business tax clients and provides consulting to small businesses and startups. The firm was located on South Pleasant Street for four years, with Bodley working on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Dillon working on Wednesdays during tax season. Services are provided on other days of the week and throughout the rest of the year by appointment. Dillon Bodley & Associates, P.C. also has a West Springfield office at 63 Myron St., which will move to 71 Park Ave., Suite C, on Dec. 4 to accommodate an increased number of staff members.

Teach Western Mass Awarded Grant to Develop Diverse Group of Teachers

SPRINGFIELD — Teach Western Mass was recently selected as a member of the Diverse Teachers cohort at ​NewSchools Venture Fund​, supported by the Walton Family Foundation. Teach Western Mass is one of 14 organizations in the cohort. Each cohort member is committed to enhancing the recruitment, development, and retention of underrepresented teachers (including Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American/Alaskan Native teachers). In addition to financial support, NewSchools will provide management assistance and create a community of practice for the cohort members. The TWM Residency is a customized credentialing program training new teachers to be effective in the classroom while building strong relationships in their school communities and developing standards-based and culturally relevant curriculum for students in the region’s highest-need schools.

Health New England Recogized for Worksite Health Promotion

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England, a regional health plan based in Springfield, was named a 2019 WorkWell Massachusetts Award Program Silver Level winner for exemplary worksite health promotion. The award recognizes Health New England’s achievements developing, implementing, and participating in corporate health-improvement and wellness programs. The Health New England Healthy Directions wellness program encourages overall well-being, helping employees focus on prevention, nutrition, and physical activity. With leadership support, Healthy Directions is able to offer engaging and evidence-based health tools and incentives. An easy-to-access online portal, onsite nutritional counseling, tread desks, healthy dining options, group fitness challenges, and intensive lifestyle-change programs are examples of Health New England’s dedication to creating an enjoyable and healthy work culture for all its employees. WorkWell Massachusetts Award is a corporate award program created by the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA), a not-for-profit member organization dedicated to the advancement of worksite wellness programs. The award program’s criteria are based on the employers’ strategic planning and organizational support, program design and implementation, participant engagement, and measurements and evaluation.

Company Notebook

Bay Path Partners with Google for Applied Computing Series

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

NSF Selects UMass Amherst as Innovation Corps Site

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

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

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

Springfield College to Deliver Fully Online Programs in 2019

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

$1.6M Grant to Benefit HCC, Community Health Centers

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

Elms Students Mentor Ninth-graders at JA Event

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

Chicopee Businesses Step Up for School Trip

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

Berkshire Bank Wins Award for Employee Volunteerism

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

PV Squared Named Cooperative of the Year for Principle 7 Leadership

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

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.

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