Home Posts tagged February 2024
Picture This

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

 

Trees of Hope

On Feb. 1, Gary Rome Hyundai and Ronald McDonald House of Springfield announced that together they raised $180,333.05 for the Springfield nonprofit at the third annual Trees of Hope event in November. The organizations will partner again in 2024 to host Trees of Hope at the dealership.

Trees of Hope

Pictured, from left: Brittany Zabielski of Gary Rome Hyundai; Emily Brady and Rosemarie Zello of Ronald McDonald House; Gary Rome, president and CEO of Gary Rome Hyundai; Michelle D’Amore, executive director of Ronald McDonald House; and Dara Davignon, Lori Chatel, Cathy Riley, and Brianna Zemrock of Gary Rome Hyundai.

 

 

Helping Students Succeed

On Jan. 31, Holyoke Community College (HCC) opened its new Scholarship Resource Center, the first of its kind among community colleges in Massachusetts. Its purpose is to make it easier for students to apply for scholarships available through the HCC Foundation. Located on the first floor of the Donahue Building, the center is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each year, the HCC Foundation awards about $350,000 in scholarships.

Helping Students Succeed

Pictured: Laura Freeman, HCC manager of Stewardship and Donor Relations, and HCC President George Timmons join students in cutting the ribbon for the new center.

 

Fighting Food Insecurity

bankESB announced that its third annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive raised $35,000 for local food pantries, bringing the program’s three-year total to nearly $110,000. Fourteen participating food pantries received $2,500 each. The appeal is part of bankESB’s charitable giving program, the Giving Tree, which reflects the bank’s commitment to making a difference in the neighborhoods it serves.

Fighting Food Insecurity

Pictured: Tenaya Reade, assistant branch manager of bankESB’s Sargeant Street, Holyoke office, presents a $2,500 check to Brenda Lamagdeleine, manager of Margaret’s Pantry in Holyoke.

 

 

Agenda

Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame Induction

March 8: The Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame (WMRHoF) board of directors announced the inductees of the third class. Since its inception, the WMRHoF has celebrated outstanding contributors to the running community, with its first class inducted in 2020 and the second in 2022. The third class inductees are Ric Bourie, Mary Cobb, Howard Drew, Sue Haryasz, Rich Larsen, Nicole McGilpin, Bob Neil, Bill Romito, Ed Sandifer, and John Stifler. In addition to these distinguished individuals, the charity organization Griffin’s Friends, which has supported children with cancer and their families for decades in the Springfield area by running and raising funds, will be inducted. Also, Neal Lamberton, a runner who has volunteered his time to the running community for years, will receive the Brian Goddu Volunteer of the Year Award, founded in memory of Goddu, a founding board member of the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the Holyoke Elks Lodge. The guest speaker will be Bob Hodge, third-place finisher in the 1979 Boston Marathon, multiple Mount Washington Road Race champion, 40-year course record holder on the DH Jones/Amherst 10 Mile Course, and author of Tale of the Times. Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are priced at $20 and are available for purchase at www.runreg.com/w-mass-runners-hall-of-fame-induction-banquet. For those unable to attend but wishing to support the WMRHoF mission, donations are welcome via the RunReg website.

 

Second Chance Dinner Auction

March 23: Tickets for the 25th annual Second Chance Dinner Auction are now available for purchase. This significant fundraising event marks the kickoff of Second Chance Animal Services’ year-long 25th-anniversary celebration, promising an evening of philanthropy and joy to benefit homeless shelter pets in need of veterinary care. The event will take place at the La Salle Reception Center in Southbridge. The evening will commence with a cocktail hour at 4 p.m., giving attendees the opportunity to peruse and bid on myriad silent-auction items and try their luck with raffle prizes. The main event unfolds with dinner at 6 p.m., followed by the highlight of the night, the auction. Tickets are $55 per person with the option to reserve a table of nine for $495. The success of the event relies on the generosity of sponsors and item donors. Second Chance encourages businesses and individuals to consider lending their support by becoming a sponsor or contributing items. As noted, the event features both a silent and live auction featuring hundreds of items ranging from gift certificates for local businesses and restaurants to gift baskets and everything in between. To enhance the auction experience, a selection of gift cards and small, easy-to-ship items will be available for advance online bidding March 14-21. For those interested in sponsoring, donating items, or attending the event, complete information and tickets can be found at www.secondchanceanimals.org/dinner-auction.

 

Women’s Leadership Conference

April 4: Bay Path University announced that real-estate legend, investor, best-selling author, entrepreneur, producer, and Shark Tank shark Barbara Corcoran will be the keynote speaker at the 27th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), taking place at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. Corcoran has been an investor/shark on ABC’s four-time Emmy award-winning show Shark Tank for 10 seasons, investing in more than 80 businesses to date. She chronicled her rise from waiting tables in a New York diner to heading a $5 billion real-estate company in her bestselling book, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business! She’ll bring her personal brand of no-nonsense wisdom and supportive advice to the more than 1,600 attendees who are expected to attend this year’s WLC. The WLC will also feature lunchtime speaker Amy Purdy, a three-time Paralympic medalist in snowboarding for Team USA. Throughout her life, Purdy has taken on obstacles and broken through, making her way into the upper echelons of athletics, onto the dance floor of Dancing with the Stars, and onto the New York Times bestseller list as the author of On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life. She co-founded Adaptive Action Sports for athletes with disabilities and is the host of the critically acclaimed podcast Bouncing Forward! Her work has led her to be labeled a “hero” by Oprah Winfrey and has made her one of the most in-demand motivational and corporate speakers on the globe. This year’s conference will also feature breakout sessions led by business experts and authors, including Yvonne Camus, the former COO of SPINCO, Canada’s largest indoor cycling brand and the only female to outperform the Navy Seals in the multi-terrain adventure race known as Eco-Challenge. In addition, the WLC will welcome Sylvia Baffour, an author, podcast host, and emotional-intelligence coach recently ranked by HubSpot among the top 15 female motivational speakers. Additional keynote and breakout session speakers will be announced soon. For further information on the 2024 conference, sponsorship information, and ticket sales, visit baypath.edu/wlc.

 

Difference Makers 

April 10: The 16th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2024 Difference Makers — profiled in this issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com — are Matt Bannister, senior vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility, PeoplesBank; Delcie Bean, CEO, Paragus Strategic I.T.; Linda Dunlavy, executive director, Franklin Regional Council of Governments; Dr. Fred and Mary Kay Kadushin, co-founders, Feed the Kids; Scott Keiter, CEO, Keiter; the staff of Rock 102; Shannon Rudder, president and CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Springfield Chamber Players. Tickets cost $95 each, with reserved tables of 10-12 available and available now through March 29. Sponsors for the 2024 Difference Makers include Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C., Keiter, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health, the Royal Law Firm, and TommyCar Auto Group. For more event details and to reserve tickets, visit businesswest.com/difference-makers/difference-makers-tickets.

 

Hooplandia

June 21-23: Registration is now open for Hooplandia, the second annual 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, at www.hooplandia.com. The three-day event includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. Hooplandia launched in 2023. Taking place in the heart of Greater Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, the event is hosted by Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Most games will be played on the ESE grounds, with special games held at the Hall of Fame. Seventy-five basketball courts will be set up to accommodate more than 650 games played by approximately 2,100 participants of all ages. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. The diverse divisions include young girls, boys, women, men, high-school-level, college-level, OGs, veterans, and more. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at www.hooplandia.com. Team fees range according to age, and children in the under-8 category are free of charge. Hooplandia will once again partner with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every paid team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For inquiries, email [email protected].

People on the Move
Claudia Pazmany

Claudia Pazmany

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced the resignation of Executive Director Claudia Pazmany, effective Feb. 28. Pazmany has led the chamber for the past five and a half years, growing it to over 400 members while leading it through the pandemic. The chamber will launch a search for its next executive director immediately. With Pazmany’s help, the Amherst Area Chamber has built a strong foundation with deeply rooted partnerships year after year and a dedicated staff focused on meeting the needs of its members and the business community. The chamber has hosted valuable events for members and the broader community to network, enjoy locations in the Greater Amherst area, and meet new people. Events such as Margarita Madness, the annual golf tournament, and the A+ Awards have all grown in recent years. Under her leadership, the chamber also established a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force and has advocated with local town governments on items of interest to its members. The chamber has continued its outreach to members in an effort to promote their businesses through workshops and monthly Arrive at 5 networking events. In 2023, Pazmany and Gabriele Gould from the Amherst Business Improvement District were recognized by BusinessWest as Difference Makers for their joint work on pandemic relief for small businesses.

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Liz Larson, currently director of Operations at the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID), has been named interim executive director, effective Feb. 26. Larson has been with the BID for six years and has worked closely with departing Executive Director Gabrielle Gould, creating events for the community, revitalizing downtown, and ensuring the health of the BID’s finances. She is the creative force behind the Makers’ Market at the annual Sip and Shop Stroll and the recently launched “Take a Dino to Dinner” campaign. With a background in arts administration and nonprofit management, Larson moved to Amherst with her family in 2007 and has been active in the community, serving on several boards and committees, including professional growth objectives for the public schools and the city’s Participatory Budgeting Commission. She is currently a trustee and board treasurer for the Amherst Historical Society. Prior to moving to Amherst, she spent 20 years in New York and Tokyo.

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Mary McGovern

The board of trustees of Country Bank announced the appointment of Mary McGovern as president and chief operating officer, effective April 1. She will oversee the bank’s operations and drive its strategic growth initiatives. Paul Scully, who has been the president and chief executive officer, will remain the CEO. McGovern brings more than 30 years of experience in the banking industry, making her a valuable asset to Country Bank. She holds degrees from Emmanuel College and Babson College, and her extensive knowledge and expertise have been instrumental in the bank’s success. Mary joined Country Bank in 2011 as its chief financial officer and has since been an esteemed member of the bank’s Leadership Group. McGovern recently attended the American Bankers Assoc. (ABA) Wharton Leadership Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, earning an ABA Wharton Leadership Certificate. This accomplishment further solidifies her commitment to excellence and continuous professional development.

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Emily Maher

MCLA Physics Professor Emily Maher, one of 65 scientists in the MINERvA collaboration at Fermi National Accelerator Lab (Fermilab), has published work that has been chosen as one of the “Top 10 Physics Breakthroughs of 2023” in Physics World. Over a 10-year span, the MINERvA detector recorded the interactions of neutrinos and antineutrinos, the antimatter partners of the neutrino. The physicists working on the MINERvA experiment used the data to make a groundbreaking new measurement, which was published last February in Nature. The study, led by Tejin Cai at the University of Rochester in the U.S. and Canada’s York University, shows how information about the internal structure of a proton can be gleaned from neutrinos scattering from a plastic target. The team focused on isolating the signal from neutrinos scattered off lone protons within the background of those scattered off protons bound in carbon nuclei. Their innovative approach involved simulating and subtracting the carbon-scattered signal from experimental data. This provides insights into proton structure and enhances the understanding of how neutrinos interact with matter.

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Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently welcomed Elizabeth Ollson as its manager of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. Ollson is a 2018 graduate of HCC and also holds a bachelor’s degree in women, gender, and sexuality studies from UMass Amherst. She joined HCC’s division of Institutional Advancement in November. She came to HCC from Boston College, where she was the senior associate director of Annual Giving Programs. Prior to that, she worked at Amherst College as the Amherst Fund coordinator.

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Lisa Zarcone

Lisa Zarcone

Lisa Zarcone, an author, speaker, and child mental-health advocate honored in December as one of BusinessWest’s Women of Impact for 2023, has released her second book, titled The Book of Joann: A Novel Based on Her Life Story, and the Lifetime Battle She Endured with Mental Illness and published by Joshua Tree Publishing of Chicago. “The Book of Joann is a powerful story of darkness and light, defeat and victory, hope and faith,” said Zarcone, whose first book, The Unspoken Truth, is a memoir of her experiences with — and overcoming — years of abuse. Zarcone is currently the Massachusetts National Ambassador for the National Assoc. of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. She is dedicated to spreading awareness of child safety/abuse, as well as mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. She is committed to educating people and promoting change in a flawed system as too many children continue to fall through the cracks. She is also a public speaker, radio personality, social-media influencer, and blogger on her own website, lisazarcone.net. The Book of Joann can be found at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Co. announced that its CEO, Beth Spong, has been appointed to serve on the board of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), a global organization dedicated to empowering women in the coffee industry, fostering gender equality, and promoting the inclusion of women at all levels of the coffee supply chain. Now in its 20th year, IWCA is committed to creating an equitable coffee industry by empowering women in chapters serving 33 countries around the world through leadership development, strategic partnership, and amplified market visibility. Spong brings a wealth of experience with nonprofit boards and a passion for promoting equity to her new role. Under her guidance, Dean’s Beans continues to be at the forefront of advocating for fair-trade practices, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility within the specialty coffee industry. As a board member, she will contribute her expertise to further IWCA’s mission and initiatives supporting women coffee farmers, exporters, importers, roasters, and entrepreneurs.

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Amara Barbiero

Amara Barbiero

The law firm of Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley (PSRB) announced the appointment of Amara Barbiero as an associate attorney. Barbiero graduated from Quinnipiac University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting prior to obtaining her juris doctorate from Western New England University (WNE) School of Law. As a law student, she was awarded the prestigious CALI Award in Workers’ Compensation, given to the highest-scoring student in each law-school class. She also worked as a clinician for the WNE Small Business Clinic in Springfield. Barbiero spent four years working as a legal assistant in Connecticut before joining PSRB as a law clerk in 2021. That immersion into the practice of law has helped her develop an experience-based sensitivity to issues of equity and justice across diverse communities. She is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and awaits her admission to the bars of Connecticut and New Jersey.

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New England Public Media (NEPM) promoted Elizabeth Román into the role of managing editor – daily and digital news. Although her title did not dramatically change, her responsibilities have evolved, and she will now take the lead on delivering daily news programming on the radio, NEPM’s website, and social-media channels. Román is continuing to focus on expanding the diversity of sources in news coverage and opportunities to create more Spanish-language news content. As the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who migrated to Massachusetts more than 40 years ago, she has intended throughout her career as a journalist to provide accurate representation of communities of color in Western Mass. She has felt empowered to do this at NEPM, and in this new role, with the addition of supervisory responsibilities, she looks forward to sharing her expertise with other journalists. Román is a graduate of Holyoke Community College and UMass Amherst. Prior to working at NEPM, she was a reporter at the Republican for almost two decades, edited El Pueblo Latino, co-founded Colectivo de Medios Latinos, and appeared as a panelist on NEPM’s “The Short List” and “Connecting Point.” She joined NEPM in 2022.

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Friends of Children Inc. (FOC) announced it has appointed new leadership at the organization. Debi Belkin, MSW, LICSW and Sarah Segura, MSW, LCSW are the new co-executive directors of the nonprofit organization that works to support children and young adults whose lives have been affected by the child-welfare system. Belkin and Segura are both current employees of the organization. Belkin has more than 40 years of experience advocating for court-involved children and adolescents in Massachusetts, including more than 30 years as a supervisor at the Department of Children and Families. She has most recently been the director of Programs at FOC. Segura has been with FOC since 2021, sharing her experience in advocacy, case management, and program development, as well as a passion for working with individuals and families of diverse cultural backgrounds. She has most recently been the CASA program manager at FOC. This new co-directorship comes after the organization’s founder, Jane Lyons, retired in July 2023.

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Jack Antkowiak

Jack Antkowiak

Paige Auger

Market Mentors, LLC, a fully integrated marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, recently added two new specialists to its multi-disciplinary team. Jack Antkowiak joined the agency as a digital marketing specialist, and Paige Auger started her role as a financial administrator. As a digital marketing specialist, Antkowiak manages, reports on, and optimizes paid digital ads and SEO campaigns. This involves taking deep dives into ad performance and website analytics data to uncover actionable insights and trends that can be used to improve both campaign performance and the overall user/customer journey. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Antkowiak combines tried-and-true best practices with a deep understanding of the target audience to build engaging and impactful campaigns. With a degree in business administration as well as management experience in accounting, Auger joined the Market Mentors finance team to handle accounts payable, accounts receivable, billing, reconciliation, and 1099 reporting. She collaborates across departments to ensure accuracy in data input and is skilled at summarizing large amounts of data and presenting meaningful information for review. A graduate of Western New England University, she received the 2017 Lawrence H. Nath Management Award.

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Following an extensive and thorough search process, Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts announced the appointment of Theresa Lynn as its new CEO. Lynn brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit leadership, having most recently served as senior vice president of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, where she focused on fundraising, communications, and some large grant-making opportunities. Her dedication to community engagement is evident through her roles as executive director for Back on My Feet, addressing homelessness and job insecurity in Boston, and executive director for ReadBoston for 14 years. She currently serves as a board member for the Worcester Education Collaborative and BioBuilder Education Foundation. Lynn holds a master of public administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, an MBA from Boston University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Holy Cross. Her contributions in the community have been recognized by the Boston Celtics, who presented her with a Heroes Among Us award, and by the Boston Business Journal, which acknowledged her as a Top 40 Under 40 leader in Boston.

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Bill Mertz has been appointed Tighe & Bond’s next Transportation Business Line leader. Mertz joined the firm in 2023 with the acquisition of WorldTech Engineering. He has nearly 30 years of experience on a wide variety of roadway, bridge, transportation, and utility infrastructure projects. Throughout his career, he has overseen the financial performance, project management, and technical delivery of transportation and infrastructure projects. Additionally, he has worked on notable projects for state agencies, including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and MassDOT, as well as local communities throughout New England. Mertz is based out of Tighe & Bond’s Woburn office. Outside of work, he serves as a member of the American Public Works Assoc. and the American Society of Civil Engineers, as well as local boards.

Company Notebook

The Markens Group Certified by Great Place to Work

SPRINGFIELD — The Markens Group Inc. (TMG) has been certfied by Great Place to Work for the ninth consecutive year. The award is based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at TMG. This year, 95% of employees said it’s a great place to work — 50% higher than the average U.S. company. Great Place to Work is a global authority on workplace culture, employee experience, and leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue, employee retention, and increased innovation. According to Great Place to Work research, job seekers are four and a half times more likely to find a great boss at a certified great workplace. Additionally, employees at certified workplaces are 93% more likely to look forward to coming to work and are twice as likely to be paid fairly, earn a fair share of the company’s profits, and have a fair chance at promotion. According to the Trust Index survey taken by the staff, many noted the company ‘fundamentals’ — a set of valued behaviors within TMG — are one of the biggest reasons employees enjoy working at the Markens Group.

 

Bay Path Recognized Among Top Online Women’s Colleges

LONGMEADOW — The American Women’s College (TAWC), Bay Path University’s online college for adult women, has been recognized by the business-media outlet Forbes as one of the top three online women’s colleges in the nation. The ranking cited TAWC’s strong retention rate and called out Bay Path’s WELL (We Empower Learners and Leaders) program, a three-course leadership curriculum unique to the college, designed to equip women with the leadership skills and experience to excel in any career path. Forbes uses 16 data points to evaluate colleges in the categories of credibility, affordability, student outcomes, student experience, and application process. Bay Path, along with Simmons College and Brenau University, made the top three.

 

Rotary Club Supports Revitalize CDC Project

SPRINGFIELD — Revitalize Community Development Corp. (CDC) announced it has received a $2,000 grant from the Springfield Rotary Club to support development of a new warehouse and distribution center at its 240 Cadwell Dr., Springfield location, where it moved in early 2023. Springfield Rotary Club funding will be allocated toward construction supplies for the warehouse and distribution center. The center is essential to supporting Revitalize CDC’s program expansion so it may meet the growing demand for healthier, safer homes and neighborhoods for low-income residents throughout the Greater Springfield area. The 3,200-square-foot center will have two bays for vehicles and provide sufficient space to store program materials and supplies and refrigerated units to store food for Revitalize CDC’s Nutrition Rx program that provides nutrition and diabetes education and helps to address food insecurity. LaPlante Construction of East Longmeadow is the contractor for the project, expected to be completed by Dec. 31. Since 1992, Revitalize CDC has repaired and rehabilitated more than 1,500 homes in Greater Springfield with the help of 10,000 volunteers, investing $54 million into Western Mass. In 2022-23, Revitalize CDC served 826 households (more than 2,300 individuals) consisting of low-income families with children, older adults, military veterans, and individuals living with disabilities.

 

Rotary Club Awards Grant to the Zoo in Forest Park

SPRINGFIELD — The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center has received a $3,000 community grant from the Springfield Rotary Club to upgrade its website. While the new website will include advanced booking capabilities, more intuitive registration forms, and the addition of an online store, the upgrade is also designed to enhance the guest experience at the zoo. With the money awarded through the community grant, the zoo plans to expand the educational material available on its website through the addition of interactive webpages for each animal. QR codes will be available at each exhibit, linking guests to a corresponding page for the animal they are viewing. Visitors will have access to photos and videos as well as more in-depth information about the species, including its conservation status, threats in the wild, and coexistence efforts.

The Zoo in Forest Park has been a part of the Springfield community for 130 years. With 225 animals in its care, it is dedicated to inspiring the community to respect and value the natural world through education, conservation, and rehabilitation.

 

Eversource Submits Roadmap to Achieve Clean-energy Goals

SPRINGFIELD — With a focus on energy equity, environmental-justice communities, and transparency, Eversource submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) its final Electric Sector Modernization Plan (ESMP) to modernize the electric distribution system and help meet the Commonwealth’s decarbonization goals after incorporating feedback from the Grid Mod Advisory Council (GMAC) and dozens of stakeholders. The energy company’s ESMP is a comprehensive roadmap to transform the region’s power grid, enhance its resiliency, and strengthen reliability for customers by increasing renewable-energy production and electrifying the heating and transportation sectors. Focused on achieving both equity and clean-energy objectives, the ESMP also establishes a Community Engagement Stakeholder Advisory Group (CESAG) and expands efforts for proposed clean-energy infrastructure projects to engage all potentially impacted stakeholders. Eversource’s 10-year plan helps meet the Commonwealth’s decarbonization milestones through 2040 by achieving a 180% increase in electrification hosting capacity, which will provide additional capacity to enable 2.5 million electric vehicles statewide, 1 million residential heat pumps within the company’s territory, and an incremental 2.2 GW of additional solar hosting capacity, bringing the total distributed energy resource hosting capacity systemwide to 5.8 GW.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Reports on 2023 Philanthropy

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced that nearly $2.5 million in philanthropic investments were provided from its foundation in 2023 to support more than 500 nonprofit organizations. During the fourth quarter, more than $642,000 in grants and scholarships were awarded to foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. During 2023, more than 500 local nonprofits received grants to assist with a range of critical projects in the areas of health and wellness, housing, food insecurity, and economic enrichment. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunities for economic prosperity. In addition, it supports programs that align with Berkshire Bank’s Center for Women, Wellness, and Wealth.

 

MassDevelopment Issues Bond for MHA Headquarters Project

CHICOPEE — MassDevelopment has issued a $6,543,000 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Mental Health Assoc. Inc. (MHA), which will use the proceeds to buy and renovate a 78,378-square-foot building at 350 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee, where it will relocate its headquarters from Springfield and house its mental-health programs and residential and support services. The building originally housed the Charles River West Psychiatric Hospital and most recently served as the MassMutual Learning and Conference Center. The move will allow MHA to keep pace with growth and locate its staff in one office. Renovations to the building will include interior wall reconfiguration, office construction, HVAC and sprinkler-system updates, added reception-area security, and painting, flooring, and information systems improvements. Construction began in November and is expected to be complete by February 2024. MHA expects to create 45 full-time jobs and 20 part-time jobs over the next three years. Florence Bank purchased the tax-exempt bond, which helped MHA achieve a lower cost of capital. Founded in 1960, MHA provides access to therapies for emotional health and wellness; services for substance use recovery, developmental disabilities, and acquired brain injury; services for housing and residential programming; and more. MHA serves more than 3,000 people, from ages 5 to 90, each year.

Incorporations

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

BELCHERTOWN

Belchertown Eye Care and Sunglass Shop Inc., 142 North Main St., Belchertown, MA 01007. Eye care and glasses.
Charissa C. Brown, 140 Oakridge Dr., Belchertown, MA 01007. Sales of eye and sun glasses.

CHICOPEE

Pole Position Petroleum Inc., 1869 Memorial Dr., Chicopee, MA 01020. Mohammed Mehdi, 125 Cambridge Park Dr., Suite 301, Cambridge, MA 02140. Marketing and distribution of petroleum products.

EAST OTIS

Knox Trail Bar & Grill Corp., 1898 East Otis Road, East Otis, MA 01029. Brook Tame, 24 Brookman Dr., Blandford, MA 01008. Restaurant.

FLORENCE

Aikido of Northampton Inc., 30 North Maple St., Florence, MA 01062. Ellen Wallin, same. To teach, spread, and perpetuate the fundamental philosophy, principles, and techniques of aikido as established by its founder, Master Morihei Ueshiba.

HAMPDEN

Loomis and Loomis, P.C., 235 Ames Road, Hampden, MA 01036. John Drost, Jr., 46 Center Square, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Engineering services.

LONGMEADOW

Blackwood Vascular Inc., 103 Woodside Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Stuart Blackwood, same. Staffing agency offering healthcare solutions for hospitals in need of vascular surgeons and other vascular-surgery personnel.

NORTH BROOKFIELD

Mile 61 Tavern Inc., 30 Gilbert St., North Brookfield, MA 01535. Jason Pietrzak, same. Bar and restaurant.

PALMER

Finesse Garage and Fabrication Inc., 1652 North Main St., Palmer, MA 01069. Jason Methe, same. Auto-body shop.

PITTSFIELD

Home Care Advantage Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Michael Gehosky, 929 Two Gates Circle, Chesapeake, VA 23322. Temporary staffing services.

Plainid Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Oren Harel, same. Information-security solutions.

Verbal Fabrik Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Cornelius Poole, same. A nonprofit organization seeking to empower, educate, and preserve the heritage of the hip-hop culture and its forefathers, and dedicated to fostering positive change by providing innovative programs and resources that cultivate artistic excellence, cultural understanding, and community engagement.

SPRINGFIELD

Apkin, Inc., 115 Stevens St., Springfield, MA 01104. Joseph Apkin, 611 North State Road, Cheshire, MA 01225. Scrap-metal recycling.

Learning Friends Inc., 366 White St., Springfield, MA 01108. Jennifer Godin, same. Nonprofit organization formed to provide financial distributions to organizations that qualify as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations and provide a supportive and enriching educational environment for homeschooling families through collaborative teaching, shared resources, and engaging activities.

Omnipoint Technology Digital Equity Inc., 1666 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. Rev. Timothy Paul-Baymon, same. To pursue broadband and digital economic-development initiatives that will help close the digital divide; increase access to digital education for those who have been traditionally shut out or limited in their access to quality education; create job opportunities for those who have traditionally been unemployable or underemployed; establish ventures that will generate wealth that will be used for the pursuit of the foregoing objectives; support such efforts of others, especially as pursued by nonprofits and faith-based organizations; and engage in other charitable or educational activities.

WESTFIELD

Priority Billing Partners Inc., 64 Pineridge Dr., Westfield, MA 01085. Michelle Dugre, same. Billing services.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Nazar Corp., 884 Westfield St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Okan Bozbas, same. Gas station and convenience store.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 16: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2023. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 16. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be as detailed and thorough as possible, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-nomination-form. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges, and the selected individuals will be announced and profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala in June. Event sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

Employment-law Breakfast

Feb. 15: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. will host a breakfast briefing from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel in Springfield. Attorneys from the firm will discuss strategies for defending and avoiding costly wage-and-hour lawsuits. The briefing, titled “Wage and Hour Law Update: Navigating 2024 and Beyond,” will highlight recent significant state and federal cases involving wage-and-hour issues; the proposed salary increase to the ‘white-collar’ overtime exemption minimum salary threshold and the impact of the proposed changes; common mistakes by employers; and suggested action steps for businesses, including the use of arbitration agreements. The cost for the briefing is $35 per person, which includes a continental breakfast and parking. For more information or to register, email [email protected] with the attendee’s name and company.

 

Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame Induction

March 8: The Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame (WMRHoF) board of directors announced the inductees of the third class. Since its inception, the WMRHoF has celebrated outstanding contributors to the running community, with its first class inducted in 2020 and the second in 2022. The third class inductees are Ric Bourie, Mary Cobb, Howard Drew, Sue Haryasz, Rich Larsen, Nicole McGilpin, Bob Neil, Bill Romito, Ed Sandifer, and John Stifler. In addition to these distinguished individuals, the charity organization Griffin’s Friends, which has supported children with cancer and their families for decades in the Springfield area by running and raising funds, will be inducted. Also, Neal Lamberton, a runner who has volunteered his time to the running community for years, will receive the Brian Goddu Volunteer of the Year Award, founded in memory of Goddu, a founding board member of the Western Mass Runners Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at the Holyoke Elks Lodge. The guest speaker will be Bob Hodge, third-place finisher in the 1979 Boston Marathon, multiple Mount Washington Road Race champion, 40-year course record holder on the DH Jones/Amherst 10 Mile Course, and author of Tale of the Times. Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are priced at $20 and are available for purchase at www.runreg.com/w-mass-runners-hall-of-fame-induction-banquet. For those unable to attend but wishing to support the WMRHoF mission, donations are welcome via the RunReg website.

 

Women’s Leadership Conference

April 4: Bay Path University announced that real-estate legend, investor, best-selling author, entrepreneur, producer, and Shark Tank shark Barbara Corcoran will be the keynote speaker at the 27th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC), taking place at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. Corcoran has been an investor/shark on ABC’s four-time Emmy award-winning show Shark Tank for 10 seasons, investing in more than 80 businesses to date. She chronicled her rise from waiting tables in a New York diner to heading a $5 billion real-estate company in her bestselling book, Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business! She’ll bring her personal brand of no-nonsense wisdom and supportive advice to the more than 1,600 attendees who are expected to attend this year’s WLC. The WLC will also feature lunchtime speaker Amy Purdy, a three-time Paralympic medalist in snowboarding for Team USA. Throughout her life, Purdy has taken on obstacles and broken through, making her way into the upper echelons of athletics, onto the dance floor of Dancing with the Stars, and onto the New York Times bestseller list as the author of On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life. She co-founded Adaptive Action Sports for athletes with disabilities and is the host of the critically acclaimed podcast Bouncing Forward! Her work has led her to be labeled a “hero” by Oprah Winfrey and has made her one of the most in-demand motivational and corporate speakers on the globe. This year’s conference will also feature breakout sessions led by business experts and authors, including Yvonne Camus, the former COO of SPINCO, Canada’s largest indoor cycling brand and the only female to outperform the Navy Seals in the multi-terrain adventure race known as Eco-Challenge. In addition, the WLC will welcome Sylvia Baffour, an author, podcast host, and emotional-intelligence coach recently ranked by HubSpot among the top 15 female motivational speakers. Additional keynote and breakout session speakers will be announced soon. For further information on the 2024 conference, sponsorship information, and ticket sales, visit baypath.edu/wlc.

 

Difference Makers 

April 10: The 16th annual Difference Makers Gala will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through this recognition program. The 2024 Difference Makers will be profiled in the Feb. 19 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets go on sale Feb. 15. Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C., the Royal Law Firm, and TommyCar Auto Group are partner sponsors of Difference Makers this year.