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Agenda

Real-estate Sales Licensing Course

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

‘Living Contemplatively in a Busy World’

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

 

Outlook Luncheon

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

Difference Makers

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

Women’s Leadership Conference

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

Springfield Art Stop

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

Agenda

Nomination Deadline for 40 Under Forty

Through Feb. 15: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2019. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 15. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online by visiting www.businesswest.com, clicking on ‘Our Events,’ and then ‘40 Under Forty.’ Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 20 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. PeoplesBank will be presenting sponsor of this year’s 40 Under Forty program, and YPS of Greater Springfield is a partner. Additional sponsorships are available.

Application Deadline for Local Farmer Awards

Jan. 31: Farmers in Western Massachusetts are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards up to $2,500 toward equipment and infrastructure projects to help them complete in the marketplace. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF), in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, is entering the fifth year of the awards program, which has helped more than 125 farmers carry out a total of 188 projects. The deadline for applying is Jan. 31. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.farmerawards.org for more information. “Big Y has been partnering with and supporting local farmers since we began over 80 years ago,” said Big Y president and CEO Charles D’Amour. “Our partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation provides one more way we help the local growers to thrive in our community.” Some examples of how the awards have been used include a high-efficiency vegetable washer, a walk-in cooler aging room, an egg washer, high tunnel irrigation, electric fencing, and a milkplan bulk tank. “Farmers don’t typically ask for help,” said philanthropist and project founder Harold Grinspoon. “They are genuinely appreciative of these awards and use the money in creative ways for projects to help their businesses.” To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 or above and either be a member of Berkshire Grown or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) or reside in one the four counties of Western Mass. Berkshire Grown and CISA share their passion for local farms by providing ongoing guidance and help with promotion of the Local Farmer Awards.

Free Legal Help Hotline

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

‘DiSC for Sales’ Workshop

Feb. 28: Elms College will host a workshop to help salespeople and business leaders maximize their effectiveness with customers from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room in the Dooley College Center. The three-hour “DiSC for Sales” workshop, sponsored by the college’s MBA program and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), will be led by Nancy Davis, Business Development specialist at CEL. DiSC for Sales is a model that supports people in sales roles and helps them to recognize and understand their own unique strengths and style, while also helping them build relationships with clients by learning to read each client and adapt to connect with them better. The model offers a concrete method and practical tools to help businesspeople engage with all personality styles. During the interactive workshop, Davis, a certified DiSC facilitator, will offer educational content, examples, activities, and opportunities for sales-oriented people to recognize customer priorities, what to emphasize to customers, and strategies that work with different personality styles. Prior to the event, participants will take an online assessment and receive a full report. The cost to attend is $199 per person, which includes the workshop and dinner. Space is limited. Register by Friday, Feb. 15 by e-mailing [email protected] For more information, e-mail Davis at [email protected].

Springfield Leadership Institute

Feb. 28 to June 6: The 2019 Springfield Leadership Institute will focus on core management and leadership skills for increasing personal and organizational effectiveness. The practical and applied program will equip participants with the knowledge and skills to take their leadership to the next level. The Institute takes place on Thursdays from 1 to 4:30 p.m., and is directed by Robert Kleine III, dean of the Western New England University College of Business, and Associate Professor Stacie Chappell, who has a strong background in leadership development and consulting to a variety of organizations. The program is supported by the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. All sessions will be held at the TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main St., Springfield. Sessions will focus on managerial leadership, emotional intelligence and self-awareness, powerful communication, building high-performance teams, and leveraging conflict. Participants will actively explore best practices of leaders; analyze their own leadership, learning, and problem-solving styles; and experience the synergies that result from high-performing teams. The emphasis will be on experiential activities that provide opportunities to identify, develop, and refine skill sets for effective leadership. Participants will have the opportunity to apply and extend their learning through a practice-based team project. The program is designed for aspiring managers, new managers, and professionals interested in increasing their effectiveness and/or expanding their impact within or beyond their current role. Upon successful completion of Leadership 2019, participants will be eligible to enroll in a free graduate course offered through the College of Business at Western New England University (subject to certain requirements). Applications must be received by Thursday, Feb. 14. Tuition is $885 per participant and includes a day trip to Beacon Hill and a graduation dinner. For questions about the program or the application process, e-mail Grace Szydziak at [email protected]

Elms Instant Accept Day at GCC

March 6: The School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Elms College will host an Instant Accept Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the cafeteria at Berkshire Community College, 1350 West St., Pittsfield. Interested students should bring their official transcripts to be considered for admission to bachelor’s degree completion programs in social work or early care and education. Elms College representatives will be on hand to discuss program options, review students’ educational histories, and offer instant acceptance to qualified applicants. In this degree-completion program, classes are held Saturdays on the Berkshire Community College campus, taught by Elms faculty. By completing coursework in 10 eight-week sessions over a 20-month period, students can save thousands of dollars in completing a bachelor’s degree.

‘Building a Company People Crave to Work For’

March 12: The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is looking for business owners or key managers who would contribute to a presentation called “Building a Company People Crave to Work For.” Several years ago, Jack Stack, father of the Great Game of Business and open-book management, said, “build a great company — because a great company can’t help but make great products.” But what does it take to make a company great? The presentation will be made up of people from businesses with strong policies, attractive cultures, and impressive numbers of high potential employees rising through the ranks. Attendees will hear how they did it, and learn how to adopt anything that would work for their own companies. Get in touch at fambizpv.com.

Difference Makers

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

Springfield Art Stop

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

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.

Briefcase

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in December

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

HCC Secures Grant to Create Hotel Training Lab

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

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

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

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

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

Chamber Corners

1BERKSHIRE

www.1berkshire.com

(413) 499-1600

• Feb. 26: 1Berkshire Entrepreneurial Meetup. Looking to start up a business? Grow your network? Meet others with similar business interests? 1Berkshire is a countywide organization with an innovative approach to economic development. Get to know fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, rub elbows with local leaders, and share success stories at the monthly free Entrepreneurial Meetups. Free of charge. Register at www.meetup.com/1berkshire-alliance.

• Feb. 28: 1Berkshire February Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Barrington Stage Co. Wolfson Center, 122 North St., Pittsfield. Join us for the February Chamber Nite in partnership with Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Members of either organization get in for free. Stick around after the event for discounted tickets to the 10×10 play festival. Register at www.1berkshire.com.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.franklincc.org

(413) 773-5463

• Feb. 7: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Greenfield Savings Bank, 400 Main St., Greenfield. Come meet the chamber’s new executive director, Diana Szynal, at a wine and chocolate pre-Valentine’s Day networking event sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]

• Feb. 22: Monthly Breakfast Series, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Greenfield Community College Cohn Family Dining Commons, One College Drive, Greenfield. Full breakfast will be served during the program, which will feature a panel on the ways businesses and secondary schools can benefit from each other and help the community. Sponsored by Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• Feb. 7: Business After Hours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Polish National Credit Union. An evening of fun, networking, and an opportunity to meet potential employees. Free hors d’oeuvres and cash bar available. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events.

• Feb. 12: Educational Seminar on Employee Development, 7:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Elms College, College Center FDR Room, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Elms College MBA Department. An educational seminar on proper planning and maintenance of your employees’ development. Includes a continental breakfast. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

• Feb. 22: Lights On Arts & Culture, 5-8 p.m., hosted by select downtown Chicopee businesses. Explore local art, meet the people, visit the places, and learn about the events that help to shape our city’s culture. Sponsored by the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, the Chicopee Cultural Council, and TDI Partner. Cost is free, but donations are welcome. Check out more information online at chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• Feb. 19: In the Know, 5-7 p.m., hosted by New City Brewery, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. The first in a series of three panel discussions exploring the challenges and frustrations shared by business owners. Panelists will include Elizabeth Paquette from Rock Valley Tool, Mark Zatyrka from INSA, and Nate Costa from the Springfield Thunderbirds. There will be time for networking and noshing after the panel concludes. Cost: $15 for members, $30 for non-members. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holyokechamber.com

(413) 534-3376

• Feb. 20: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. Get connected and help your business grow. Meet the Gary Rome team, Jack and Gary, as welcome guests during one of their busiest seasons. Light bites, cash bar, door prizes, and 50/50 raffle. Cost: $10 for members, $25 for non-members.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618

• Feb. 4: February Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 551 North Road, Westfield. Join us for our monthly Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan. The event is free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register so we can give our host a head count.

• Feb. 11: February After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Pair A Dice Clean, LLC, 31 St. Jacques Ave., Agawam. Refreshments will be served, and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber scholarship fund. Bring your business cards and make connections. Cost: free for members, $15 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

SOUTH HADLEY & GRANBY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.shgchamber.com

(413) 532-6451

• Feb. 7: Business After 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Yarde Tavern, 3 Hadley St., South Hadley. Refreshments will be served, and connections will be made. Bring your business cards to share and to enter a raffle to win a prize. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Register by e-mailing Kim Prough at [email protected]

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

(413) 787-1555

• Feb. 6: Winning the War for Talent, 7:15 a.m.-9 a.m., hosted by the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. Presented by Mark Emrick of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. Sponsored by United Personnel and the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door), $35 for non-members ($40 at the door). To register, visit www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 755-1310.

• Feb. 28: Leadership Institute, hosted by TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main St., Springfield. Presented in partnership with Western New England University College of Business with support from the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. The deadline to apply is Feb. 14. E-mail [email protected] for an application.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• Feb. 6: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by MacMillan Group, 265 Main St., Agawam. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events hosted by various businesses and restaurants. These events bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information about this event, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880, or register at www.ourwrc.com.

• Feb. 28: Mayoral Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Crestview Country Club, Agawam. Join us as we listen to an informative discussion with our mayors, who will update the guests on all that is going on in our towns individually and collaboratively. For sponsorships or to register online, visit www.ourwrc.com.

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD

springfieldyps.com

• Feb. 21: February Third Thursday & Trivia, 5 p.m., hosted by Nathan Bills Bar & Restaurant. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members. Visit springfieldyps.com to register.

Meetings & Conventions

Horse Sense

President and CEO Gene Cassidy

President and CEO Gene Cassidy.

When people think of the Eastern States Exposition, they often think immediately of the Big E, the 17-day fair that dominates the tourism landscape at the start of each fall. But Eastern States is much more than that, as reflected by its diverse array of events, both large and small, and the resulting economic impact on the region — not to mention its important mission of keeping its agricultural heritage alive for future generations.

Fifty-two years ago, notes Greg Chiecko, a local camping group set up shop at the Eastern States Exposition — and have come back every year since.

“That was our first non-fair event. They took the building for the whole month — it took that long to set up, do their show, and move out.”

How things have changed, said Chiecko, director of Sales. The Big E, the 17-day fair that has taken place each fall for more than a century, remains the ESE’s most famous calling card. But outside the fair, the grounds hosts more than 100 events annually, some small-scale, some much larger, like the camping and outdoor show that now crams hundreds of vehicles into three large buildings each February.

One of the many horse shows at the ESE.

One of the many horse shows at the ESE.

“The dynamics have changed substantially over the past 50 years,” Chiecko said. “They’ve been doing it so long, it’s amazing. They still take a little while to move in, but they do it with such accuracy, and they literally move out of all the buildings in a day.”

A quick look at the coming month’s schedule demonstrates the range of groups that present events here. February alone offers the Amherst Railway Society’s Railroad Hobby Show, the aforementioned Springfield RV Camping and Outdoor Show, the Springfield Sportsmen’s Show, and two dog shows. March brings the Old Deerfield Spring Sampler Craft Fair, Mark’s Northeast Motorsports Expo, the Antique & Modern Firearms Show, the Maple Harvest Day & Pancake Breakfast, the AMMO Fight League, a Massachusetts 4-H Blue Ribbon Calf Sale, and the large Western Mass. Home and Garden Show — not to mention two more dog shows.

“We call ourselves the flexible facility in the heart of New England, and we truly are,” said Chiecko, who will leave the ESE next month to become president and CEO of the Outdoor Amusement Business Assoc. “And every show is different. The Big E and the Fiber Festival are the only events we produce. We’re a landlord the rest of the year. Some of these are volunteer groups, some are professional promoters, some are associations … it runs the gamut. They produce the shows, and we offer services, like ticket takers, ticket sellers, security, and more. They can use our services or use their own.”

Greg Chiecko calls the ESE “the flexible facility in the heart of New England.”

Greg Chiecko calls the ESE “the flexible facility in the heart of New England.”

Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, noted that the facility also offers services like advertising, sign manufacturing, banking, and other amenities that many venues don’t have in their portfolio. The result of this flexibility and roster of services results in a high retention rate, with groups that return year after year. In addition, he noted, “some staff people have been here for 40 years. So there’s a lot of institutional memory.”

The ESE’s consumer shows — home shows, gun shows, camp shows, sport shows, and the like — tend to be among its most popular offerings, Chiecko said. “We’re also the dog-show capital of the Northeast. In 2017, we had 36,000 AKC-registered dogs on our property, just from the AKC shows, not counting other groups. Dog shows are a big deal. And we love dog shows because they come on holidays: Easter, Thanksgiving weekend, Fourth of July weekend, times of the year when it would be difficult to fill our spaces.”

“In 2017, we had 36,000 AKC-registered dogs on our property, just from the AKC shows, not counting other groups. Dog shows are a big deal.”

EASTEC, the largest manufacturing event east of the Mississippi, returns to the fairgrounds this May for its biannual visit. “Exhibitors love it, and the area restaurants and hotels do great,” Chiecko said, adding that local trade shows, from the likes of J. Polep Distribution Services and Performance Food Group, also regularly host events. Meanwhile, clients book parties and weddings at Storrowton Tavern and the Carriage House, which managed by a private firm but owned by the ESE.

That’s far from an exhaustive list, but it does lend credence to Chiecko’s “flexible facility” motto.

“I’ve been here 24 years, and I’ve never heard a “can we do it?” inquiry that I’ve had to say ‘no’ to,” he said. “The facility is so flexible, and our crew is so flexible, we can do anything.”

Animal Attraction

Despite the myriad events the ESE presents each year, its heritage remains firmly rooted in animals and agriculture.

“We do 13 horse shows outside the three we do for the fair,” Chiecko said. “We do a sheep show, youth cattle shows, and we have a big poultry show coming up next month. And this past year, we had the National Rabbit Association. We had 18,000 rabbits here.”

“The joke,” Cassidy quickly added, “was that 18,000 rabbits came, and 36,000 left.”

The attendance level varies among these events, Chiecko noted. “A lot of the horse shows tend to watch themselves rather than anything else. But the rabbit show attracted a huge population from the general public.”

The annual Western Mass. Home and Garden show

The annual Western Mass. Home and Garden show brings attendees face to face with hundreds of local businesses.

However, when it comes to most animal events, Cassidy said, “I wish there were more people engaged. It’s our job to promote the breed or species, put it out there for the public to consume, and they’re free events. The fact is, if the Big E had more days or we had more acreage, more of those shows would take place during the course of the fair so we could get as many people from the public exposed to that. But we do our best to try to promote interest in it; we believe it’s important for agriculture. It’s mission-driven; we’re not making any money on that. That’s all stuff we promote and invest heavily in.”

Still, “the more shows we can put in during the fair, the more it helps us fund our agriculture program, most of which happens outside of the fair, in the other 49 weeks of the year,” he went on. “We make it available to the public so they can have the exposure. It’s tough in this day and age, when the youth in the general population are so disassociated from agriculture, and we deal with the hardcore animal activists, the people who have serious agendas against consumption of animals, and they influence public policy to the detriment of the greater good of society.”

That has affected the national 4-H program, which gets federal funding and is being influenced by people outside of agriculture, which results in regulation making it harder for children to be involved. Meanwhile, Future Farmers of America, a private nonprofit not under federal control, is going strong, Cassidy explained, noting that, no matter the vehicle, it’s important to keep engaging young people in agriculture and animal rearing. “Those are the kids that going to feed the world in the next generation.”

It’s one of the reasons why the Big E, which continues to set attendance records, is so critical, in that it helps fund the other 49 weeks of events while driving interest in animal shows; people are more likely to check out such shows once they’ve bought a ticket and are at the fairgrounds.

“At one time, we had four or five antique shows here. The Internet has almost eliminated antique shows because people can shop from the comfort of their own living room.”

“The fair is just a fundraiser. It’s like your church bazaar, except we just happen to run 17 days and are one of the biggest in the world,” Cassidy said. “It’s a fundraiser for us to drive stewardship into our mission. I wish more people were as excited about that mission as we are. I look down the road a generation, and we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

On the other hand, Chiecko said, the consumer shows are still strong because people enjoy events that reflect their hobbies and interests. But even there, the Internet has impacted certain shows.

“At one time, we had four or five antique shows here. The Internet has almost eliminated antique shows because people can shop from the comfort of their own living room, which is really too bad, because the quality of what people get isn’t nearly the same. It’s the same with craft shows. That’s the nature of the business cycle — we’re no different than a brick-and-mortar store dealing with Amazon.”

Living the Mission

Cassidy emphasized more than once during BusinessWest’s visit that the Eastern States Exposition makes a priority of its agricultural mission. “Not everyone relates to that mission. But if we can’t support agriculture, we can’t support everything else we support – and we support a lot.”

He’s not just talking about planned events. The fairgrounds has been a staging center for emergency situations as well. Northeast Utilities set up camp and fed its crews there during the famous October 2011 snowstorm. A few months before that, the ESE’s dorms housed hundreds of people suddenly made homeless by the tornado that struck the region. “We’ve hosted large RV rallies here,” Chiecko said. “If a cattle guy breaks down on 91, they might come here.”

So there’s a community impact in addition to the economic impact to the region — more than a half-billion dollars a year, he noted, with only part of that generated by the 17-day Big E. “Year-round operations play a big role.”

He believes its impact will only grow now that MGM Springfield has opened across the river.

“I think we have a good partnership,” he said, one that extends beyond parking cars for MGM during its first week of operation last summer. “They bring large conventions to town, which utilize rooms and banquet spaces downtown — well, we have 355,000 square feet of exhibit space. We’re hoping to see more city-wide conventions. It’s a tight-knit community here.”

Dog shows have become a surprisingly robust source of bookings for the ESE.

Dog shows have become a surprisingly robust source of bookings for the ESE.

For convention goers and people who attend events at Eastern States, MGM is another activity to take in while visiting Springfield, he added, while people who come to Springfield mainly for the casino might also take in an event at the fairgrounds — and everyone benefits.

“Because of the advertising campaign MGM launched, it put Springfield on the map in a bigger way, and I think our fair benefited from that,” Cassidy said of last year’s record attendance at the Big E, which took place a few weeks after MGM opened. “My hope is that, with the synergies we’ve developed in partnership with MGM, we can help bring more commerce to the city of Springfield in the form of non-fair events: trade shows, professional shows, manufacturing shows.”

With that in mind, he keeps plugging away at that year-round mission — because, simply put, the Eastern States Exposition is more than a center for events of all kinds. It’s a critical piece of the region’s tourism and economic picture.

“If this place ever went away, the impact on our economy would be devastating,” he said.

Which is why he doesn’t intend to let the ESE go to the dogs — well, except on those weekends when it does.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Picture This

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



Asnuntuck Community College

Going Digital

In an effort to provide students with relevant skills for the workplace, Asnuntuck Community College has adopted eLABJournal, a software solution from Bio-ITech, a division of Eppendorf. eLABJournal is an intuitive and user-friendly application that is designed for laboratories in academic teaching and research labs as well as in commercial settings. Students using this platform in the classroom will gain valuable experience in electronic notebook and inventory/data management, which will better prepare them for their careers. Here, Asnuntuck student Samantha Fox is photographed in one of the college’s labs working with eLabJournal. Asnuntuck Community College’s Foundation provided the funding, through a mini-grant, for this software.





The West of the River Chamber of Commerce

Open for Business

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Box Paper Scissors to the Agawam community. The store, which opened in late December and is owned by Bryant Whitsett, offers a wide variety of products and services, including key cutting, notary, DVD transfer, office supplies, conference-room rental, space to sell and promote local products and services, shipping, mailbox services, faxing, and more. A grand-opening celebration was staged Jan. 17. Here, Whitsett is seen with employee Delaney Tanzer.





North Brookfield Savings Bank

Meeting a Need

North Brookfield Savings Bank (NBSB) recently thanked the community for the overwhelming success of its annual toy drive, during which the bank accepted thousands of donations of new and unwrapped toys and collected monetary donations in jars at its branch locations. Pictured are the Cindy Fountain (left) and Patty Ostrout of NBSB with officers from the North Brookfield Police Department, whose Toys for Joy program was one of many partnering organizations in the drive.





Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University

Nursing Degree Partnership

Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University signed a dual-admission agreement that streamlines the process for students who want to continue their nursing educations at Westfield after earning an associate degree in nursing at HCC. The RN-to-BSN completion program partnership was announced during a ceremony at HCC’s Center for Health Education on Jarvis Avenue, home to the college’s RN (registered nurse) and LPN (licensed practical nursing) programs and medical simulation center. From left: Diane Prusank, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Westfield State University; Ramon Torrecilha, president of Westfield State University; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Monica Perez, vice president of Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 15: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2019. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 15. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online by visiting www.businesswest.com, clicking on ‘Our Events,’ and then ‘40 Under Forty.’ Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 20 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

Stress Management and Resiliency Training Course

Jan. 28 to March 18: Baystate Franklin Medical Center announced it will offer the eight-week Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) course in the hospital’s conference rooms on Monday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. Developed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, the SMART program helps participants achieve greater quality of life and an enhanced sense of well-being. The program teaches self-care practices that help buffer daily stress, making participants less emotionally and physically vulnerable to it. Stress affects more than just mental health; an estimated 75% to 90% of all doctor visits are for stress-related issues. Stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease, and accidents. Topics include techniques to improve eating, sleeping, and physical activity, as well as how to recognize an individual’s responses to stress and how to change though patterns. The cost is $150, which includes a workbook. Pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, call Pascucci at (413) 773-2741.

‘Speaking Out: For Women and Girls’

Jan. 30: #MeToo has galvanized a national reckoning about sexual harassment — but girls have been downplayed in the dialogue. “Speaking Out: For Women and Girls,” an event presented by Girls Inc. of Holyoke from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Delaney House, is doing its part to change the exchange. The need is dramatic. Sexual harassment doesn’t begin in the workplace, but starts much earlier: studies show that seven of 10 girls are harassed before they leave high school, and one in four girls experiences sexual abuse and assault in childhood. This is why “#GirlsToo: Respect Starts Young” inspired the night’s theme. #GirlsToo is a new viral media campaign launched by the national Girls Inc. organization that adds girls’ voices to this essential conversation. The moderator of “Speaking Out: For Women and Girls” is Victoria Ann Rodriguez, a litigation assistant at MassMutual and committee member of Springfield’s Puerto Rican Parade. The three featured local authors are Latoya Bosworth, Magdalena Gómez, and Crystal Senter-Brown. They have long advocated for women and girls and promise to present a lively, thought-provoking evening. Event tickets are $100 each and include an open bar and hearty appetizers. To purchase tickets, visit bit.ly/SpeakingOut2019. The authors’ books will be on sale at the event. All proceeds will benefit Girls Inc. of Holyoke.

Talk on Prosthetic Technology

Jan. 31: Kevin Carroll, a certified prosthetist and developer of the first prosthetic tail for a dolphin — portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the Dolphin Tale feature films — will speak with local amputees and show them what’s available with prosthetic technology and what’s on the horizon. The event will be hosted by the Hanger Clinic, 1985 Main St., Springfield from 5 to 7 p.m. Carroll is acclaimed for his work in creating the first prosthetic tail fluke for Winter, a young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who got caught in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral when she was just three months old. Her tail fluke eventually came off, as it was severely damaged by the trap’s rope entanglement. Winter received round-the-clock medical attention at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to save her life. Having survived, she adapted to a less efficient, damaging side-to-side swimming style, as there was no tail fluke to give her thrust. Thanks to the ingenuity of Carroll and his colleague, Dan Strzempka, Winter became the first dolphin to have her entire tail fluke replaced with a prosthetic device. Additionally, the unique levels of research and development necessary to fit a prosthetic tail on a dolphin resulted in the development of WintersGel, a new gel material that is benefiting human amputee patients worldwide. Winter’s story of survival has become an inspiration to people all over the world. Springfield residents interested in meeting with Carroll should call (413) 313-5608.

Western Mass. Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet

Jan. 31: Seven individuals and one team will be inducted into the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2019. They include Justine Siegal, Dana LeVangie, Karl Oliveira, Mike Laga, Jim Jachym, Mark Belanger, Candy Cummings, and the 2018 Pittsfield Little League team. The class will be inducted at the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, presented by Westfield Bank at 6:30 p.m. at Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St., Hadley. The keynote speaker for the evening’s ceremonies will be Siegal, president and founder of Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization that empowers women to play, coach, and lead in baseball. Siegal became the first female coach of a Major League Baseball team in 2015, when the Oakland Athletics invited her to be a guest instructor for two weeks in the instructional league in Arizona. This year’s class is the sixth since the inaugural banquet in 2014. Since its inception, 35 individuals and four teams who have represented and served the baseball community of Western Mass. have been honored. Tickets for the banquet are $50, or $450 for a table of 10. Dinner and dessert are included. To purchase tickets, call (413) 533-1100 or visit valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/2019-hof.

‘DiSC for Sales’ Workshop

Feb. 28: Elms College will host a workshop to help salespeople and business leaders maximize their effectiveness with customers from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room in the Dooley College Center. The three-hour “DiSC for Sales” workshop, sponsored by the college’s MBA program and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL), will be led by Nancy Davis, Business Development specialist at CEL. DiSC for Sales is a model that supports people in sales roles and helps them to recognize and understand their own unique strengths and style, while also helping them build relationships with clients by learning to read each client and adapt to connect with them better. The model offers a concrete method and practical tools to help businesspeople engage with all personality styles. During the interactive workshop, Davis, a certified DiSC facilitator, will offer educational content, examples, activities, and opportunities for sales-oriented people to recognize customer priorities, what to emphasize to customers, and strategies that work with different personality styles. Prior to the event, participants will take an online assessment and receive a full report. The cost to attend is $199 per person, which includes the workshop and dinner. Space is limited. Register by Friday, Feb. 15 by e-mailing [email protected] For more information, e-mail Davis at [email protected].

Springfield Leadership Institute

Feb. 28 to June 6: The 2019 Springfield Leadership Institute will focus on core management and leadership skills for increasing personal and organizational effectiveness. The practical and applied program will equip participants with the knowledge and skills to take their leadership to the next level. The Institute takes place on Thursdays from 1 to 4:30 p.m., and is directed by Robert Kleine III, dean of the Western New England University College of Business, and Associate Professor Stacie Chappell, who has a strong background in leadership development and consulting to a variety of organizations. The program is supported by the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. All sessions will be held at the TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main St., Springfield. Sessions will focus on managerial leadership, emotional intelligence and self-awareness, powerful communication, building high-performance teams, and leveraging conflict. Participants will actively explore best practices of leaders; analyze their own leadership, learning, and problem-solving styles; and experience the synergies that result from high-performing teams. The emphasis will be on experiential activities that provide opportunities to identify, develop, and refine skill sets for effective leadership. Participants will have the opportunity to apply and extend their learning through a practice-based team project. The program is designed for aspiring managers, new managers, and professionals interested in increasing their effectiveness and/or expanding their impact within or beyond their current role. Upon successful completion of Leadership 2019, participants will be eligible to enroll in a free graduate course offered through the College of Business at Western New England University (subject to certain requirements). Applications must be received by Thursday, Feb. 14. Tuition is $885 per participant and includes a day trip to Beacon Hill and a graduation dinner. For questions about the program or the application process, e-mail Grace Szydziak at [email protected].

Difference Makers

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

Chamber Corners

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

• Feb. 26: 1Berkshire Entrepreneurial Meetup. Looking to start up a business? Grow your network? Meet others with similar business interests? 1Berkshire is a countywide organization with an innovative approach to economic development. Get to know fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, rub elbows with local leaders, and share success stories at the monthly free Entrepreneurial Meetups. Free of charge. Register at www.meetup.com/1berkshire-alliance.

• Feb. 28: 1Berkshire February Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Barrington Stage Co. Wolfson Center, 122 North St., Pittsfield. Join us for the February Chamber Nite in partnership with Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Members of either organization get in for free. Stick around after the event for discounted tickets to the 10×10 play festival. Register at www.1berkshire.com.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.franklincc.org
(413) 773-5463

• Feb. 7: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Greenfield Savings Bank, 400 Main St., Greenfield. Come meet the chamber’s new executive director, Diana Szynal, at a wine and chocolate pre-Valentine’s Day networking event sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]

• Feb. 22: Monthly Breakfast Series, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Greenfield Community College Cohn Family Dining Commons, One College Drive, Greenfield. Full breakfast will be served during the program, which will feature a panel on the ways businesses and secondary schools can benefit from each other and help the community. Sponsored by Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]

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

• Jan. 30: Annual HR Update, 8:30-10:30 a.m., hosted by Hampton Inn, Memorial Drive, Chicopee. Join this presentation with attorney John Gannon of Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., one of the leading labor and employment law firms serving employers in New England, for a discussion aimed to prepare you to enter the New Year with a better understanding of state and federal laws employers need to be aware of in 2019. Series sponsored by Westfield Bank. For more information, visit chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

• Feb. 7: Business After Hours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Polish National Credit Union. An evening of fun, networking, and an opportunity to meet potential employees. Free hors d’oeuvres and cash bar available. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events.

• Feb. 12: Educational Seminar on Employee Development, 7:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Elms College, College Center FDR Room, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Sponsored by Elms College MBA Department. An educational seminar on proper planning and maintenance of your employees’ development. Includes a continental breakfast. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

• Feb. 22: Lights On Arts & Culture, 5-8 p.m., hosted by select downtown Chicopee businesses. Explore local art, meet the people, visit the places, and learn about the events that help to shape our city’s culture. Sponsored by the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, the Chicopee Cultural Council, and TDI Partner. Cost is free, but donations are welcome. Check out more information online at chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.

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

• Jan. 31: Celebrate Success, 5-8 p.m., hosted by Northampton Country Club, 135 Main St., Leeds. Sponsored by Polish National Credit Union, Finck & Perras, and Taylor Real Estate. The event honors milestone achievers, salutes annual award recipients, and gives a preview of where the chamber will head in 2019. Cost: $40 per person, which includes dinner. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

• Feb. 19: In the Know, 5-7 p.m., hosted by New City Brewery, 180 Pleasant St., Easthampton. The first in a series of three panel discussions exploring the challenges and frustrations shared by business owners. Panelists will include Elizabeth Paquette from Rock Valley Tool, Mark Zatyrka from INSA, and Nate Costa from the Springfield Thunderbirds. There will be time for networking and noshing after the panel concludes. Cost: $15 for members, $30 for non-members. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

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

• Jan. 24: Legislative Leaders Reception, 5 p.m., hosted by Marcotte Ford, 1025 Main St., Holyoke. Sponsored by Marcotte Ford, bankESB, the Dowd Agencies, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke Medical Center, and the Republican. Build connections and network among the Greater Holyoke business community as well as local and state legislators. Featuring keynote speakers Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Denis Luzuriaga, managing partner at the Cubit. Hearty hors d’oeuvres and open bar. Cost: $40.

• Feb. 20: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. Get connected and help your business grow. Meet the Gary Rome team, Jack and Gary, as welcome guests during one of their busiest seasons. Light bites, cash bar, door prizes, and 50/50 raffle. Cost: $10 for members, $25 for non-members.

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

• Feb. 4: February Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 551 North Road, Westfield. Join us for our monthly Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan. The event is free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register so we can give our host a head count.

• Feb. 11: February After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Pair A Dice Clean, LLC, 31 St. Jacques Ave., Agawam. Refreshments will be served, and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber scholarship fund. Bring your business cards and make connections. Cost: free for members, $15 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

SOUTH HADLEY & GRANBY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.shgchamber.com
(413) 532-6451

• Feb. 7: Business After 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Yarde Tavern, 3 Hadley St., South Hadley. Refreshments will be served, and connections will be made. Bring your business cards to share and to enter a raffle to win a prize. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Register by e-mailing Kim Prough at [email protected]

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER
www.springfieldregionalchamber.com
(413) 787-1555

• Feb. 6: Winning the War for Talent, 7:15 a.m.-9 a.m., hosted by the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. Presented by Mark Emrick of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. Sponsored by United Personnel and the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door), $35 for non-members ($40 at the door). To register, visit www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mail [email protected], or call (413) 755-1310.

• Feb. 28: Leadership Institute, hosted by TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main St., Springfield. Presented in partnership with Western New England University College of Business with support from the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. The deadline to apply is Feb. 14. E-mail [email protected] for an application.

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

• Feb. 6: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by MacMillan Group, 265 Main St., Agawam. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events hosted by various businesses and restaurants. These events bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information about this event, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880, or register at www.ourwrc.com.

• Feb. 28: Mayoral Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Crestview Country Club, Agawam. Join us as we listen to an informative discussion with our mayors, who will update the guests on all that is going on in our towns individually and collaboratively. For sponsorships or to register online, visit www.ourwrc.com.

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD
springfieldyps.com

• Feb. 21: February Third Thursday & Trivia, 5 p.m., hosted by Nathan Bills Bar & Restaurant. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members. Visit springfieldyps.com to register.

Agenda

NAMI Night with the Springfield Thunderbirds

Jan. 5: Saturday, Jan. 5 will be NAMI Night with the Springfield Thunderbirds hosting the Providence Bruins at the MassMutual Center. The action begins at 7:05 p.m., and tickets cost $15. Between periods, there will be a chuck-a-puck contest with the winner (if there is one) receiving a cash prize and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of chances to win going to NAMI Western Massachusetts. For game tickets, visit springfieldthunderbirds.formstack.com/forms/nami_night or namiwm.org/events.html. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Western Massachusetts is dedicated to helping improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by mental illness through support, education, and advocacy. According to statistics, one in four Americans will face a mental-health problem every year.

Western Mass. Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet

Jan. 31: Justine Siegal, the first female coach in the history of Major League Baseball, will be the keynote speaker for the sixth annual Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame induction banquet. The ceremony, hosted by the Valley Blue Sox, will take place at 7 p.m. at La Quinta Inn and Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Siegal is the president and founder of Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization that empowers women to play, coach, and lead in baseball. She earned her doctorate in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College, where she served as an assistant coach for the baseball team from 2008 to 2010. She also coached youth baseball. In 2009, Siegal became the first female coach of a professional men’s team when she worked as the first-base coach of the Brockton Rox in the independent Canadian American Assoc. of Professional Baseball. In 2011, she became the first woman to throw batting practice to a big league team, the Cleveland Indians. She also has served as a batting-practice pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, and New York Mets. In October 2015, Oakland invited her to serve a two-week stint as guest instructor in the instructional league in Arizona, making her the first female to coach in the major leagues. Siegal will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2019. This year’s class is the sixth since the inaugural banquet in 2014. Since its inception, 35 individuals and four teams who have represented and served the baseball community of Western Mass. have been honored. Tickets for the banquet are $50, or $450 for a table of 10. Dinner is included, and every guest will receive a pair of tickets to a 2019 Blue Sox home game. To purchase tickets, call (413) 533-1100 or visit valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/2019-hof.

‘Building a Company People Crave to Work For’

March 12: The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is looking for business owners or key managers who would contribute to a presentation called “Building a Company People Crave to Work For.” Several years ago, Jack Stack, father of the Great Game of Business and open-book management, said, “build a great company — because a great company can’t help but make great products.” But what does it take to make a company great? The presentation will be made up of people from businesses with strong policies, attractive cultures, and impressive numbers of high potential employees rising through the ranks. Attendees will hear how they did it, and learn how to adopt anything that would work for their own companies. Get in touch at fambizpv.com.