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Co-op Power along with a number of local organizations have organized a Sustainability Summit in Springfield, MA on Saturday, December 8, 2018.

Co-op Power’s Annual Sustainability Summit is a great opportunity to share ideas with like-minded people on topics from green business development and community finance to grassroots activism and social justice.

We expect vibrant discussions about our society and our environment centered around our theme, “Energy Democracy”, with two keynote speakers and workshops throughout the day. If you are passionate about the environment and social justice then you have a place at the Summit to add to the excitement and expertise!

Highlights are two keynote presentations: Denise Fairchild, President of Emerald Cities Collaborative, who works to green our cities, build resilient local economies and ensure equity inclusion in both the process and outcomes of a new green and healthy economy. Sandra Steingraber — Biologist, author, and cancer survivor — speaks about climate change, ecology, and the links between human health and the environment.

Features include a tour of Wellspring Harvest, a quarter acre hydroponic greenhouse in Indian Orchard growing greens and herbs and information about Wellspring Cooperative a non-profit that is building a network of worker-owned co-ops to provide jobs and wealth building opportunities in Springfield’s underserved communities. Workshops will take place on worker co-ops and how they are key to the solidarity economy, a hands-on workshop on how to talk about our changing climate effectively, and a workshop on how communities can use the concept of “community energy aggregation” to secure energy efficiency and renewable energy generation services for everyone within their town.

The Sustainability Summit is being presented in collaboration with Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, Climate Action Now, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Wellspring Cooperative, ARISE for Social Justice, and The Energy Democracy National Tour 2018.

Co-op Power is a decentralized network of Community Energy Co-ops (CEC) organized to to build a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future. It has raised $10M in tax equity to finance solar for non-profits and community solar projects across New York and New England. They have been awarded a competitive bid for 2MW of low-income community solar in NYC and and have an 8 MW pipeline of solar projects under development. In a time of climate crisis and economic disparity, this network of Community Energy Co-ops is making a difference.

Join us at TechSpring, 1350 Main Street, 5th Floor, Springfield, MA on Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 2:30-8:30 pm.

Registration is free. Donations are accepted to offset the cost of the meal.

For more information or to RSVP call 413-772-8898 or toll free 877-266-7543, or email [email protected]

Co-op Power along with a number of local organizations have organized a Sustainability Summit in Springfield, MA on Saturday, December 8, 2018.

Co-op Power’s Annual Sustainability Summit is a great opportunity to share ideas with like-minded people on topics from green business development and community finance to grassroots activism and social justice.

We expect vibrant discussions about our society and our environment centered around our theme, “Energy Democracy”, with two keynote speakers and workshops throughout the day. If you are passionate about the environment and social justice then you have a place at the Summit to add to the excitement and expertise!

Highlights are two keynote presentations: Denise Fairchild, President of Emerald Cities Collaborative, who works to green our cities, build resilient local economies and ensure equity inclusion in both the process and outcomes of a new green and healthy economy. Sandra Steingraber — Biologist, author, and cancer survivor — speaks about climate change, ecology, and the links between human health and the environment.

Features include a tour of Wellspring Harvest, a quarter acre hydroponic greenhouse in Indian Orchard growing greens and herbs and information about Wellspring Cooperative a non-profit that is building a network of worker-owned co-ops to provide jobs and wealth building opportunities in Springfield’s underserved communities. Workshops will take place on worker co-ops and how they are key to the solidarity economy, a hands-on workshop on how to talk about our changing climate effectively, and a workshop on how communities can use the concept of “community energy aggregation” to secure energy efficiency and renewable energy generation services for everyone within their town.

The Sustainability Summit is being presented in collaboration with Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, Climate Action Now, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Wellspring Cooperative, ARISE for Social Justice, and The Energy Democracy National Tour 2018.

Co-op Power is a decentralized network of Community Energy Co-ops (CEC) organized to to build a multi-class, multi-racial movement for a sustainable and just energy future. It has raised $10M in tax equity to finance solar for non-profits and community solar projects across New York and New England. They have been awarded a competitive bid for 2MW of low-income community solar in NYC and and have an 8 MW pipeline of solar projects under development. In a time of climate crisis and economic disparity, this network of Community Energy Co-ops is making a difference.

Join us at TechSpring, 1350 Main Street, 5th Floor, Springfield, MA on Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 2:30-8:30 pm.

Registration is free. Donations are accepted to offset the cost of the meal.

For more information or to RSVP call 413-772-8898 or toll free 877-266-7543, or email [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

CHI Insurance Opens Downtown Springfield Office

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

Griffin Staffing Network Announces Expansion, Rebrand to ManeHire

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

PeoplesBank Issues 2018 Corporate Green Report

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

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

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

Pioneer Valley Credit Union Awards Four Scholarships

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

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q1 Earnings

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

JA of Western Mass. Wins Grant from Wells Fargo

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

Fuss & O’Neill Opens Downtown Springfield Office

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

Smith Brothers Insurance Acquires Bailey Agencies

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

Berkshire Bank Honored for Social Responsibility

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

Florence Bank Presents Customers’ Choice Grants

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

Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2018 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of Earth Day 2018. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family, and puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations and volunteerism. PeoplesBank is also recognized for its support of green-energy projects and its construction of LEED-certified offices.

“Our green values date back to when we helped Holyoke Gas & Electric replace hydroelectric generators years ago,” said Thomas Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “That sustainable-energy source still provides electric power for four of our offices, including our headquarters in Holyoke.”

During the past year, the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Massachusetts named PeoplesBank a winner of the Sustainable Business of the Year award. For the fourth year in a row, voters throughout Hampshire County named PeoplesBank the Best Local Green Business in the 2017 Daily Hampshire Gazette Readers’ Choice poll.

The bank also continued a multi-year commitment of more than $65,000 in funding for green initiatives in Western Mass. Those initiatives include support for an existing mobile farmers market in Springfield and the launch of a new one in Holyoke, the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) Food for All campaign, the Center for EcoTechnology, Grow Food Northampton’s community garden, the Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River (support of this effort will also include hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank), the Mount Holyoke Wetlands Restoration project, and scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $166 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects, an increase of $40 million in just one year.

PeoplesBank also has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a GreenSeal from the city of Springfield. PeoplesBank has also installed electric-vehicle charging stations at three offices, in Northampton, West Springfield, and Holyoke. In addition, the bank is a past winner of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Sustainability Award, which recognizes excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being, and contributions to economic prosperity.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank issued its 2018 annual Corporate Green Report in recognition of Earth Day 2018. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family, and puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations and volunteerism. PeoplesBank is also recognized for its support of green-energy projects and its construction of LEED-certified offices.

“Our green values date back to when we helped Holyoke Gas & Electric replace hydroelectric generators years ago,” said Thomas Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “That sustainable-energy source still provides electric power for four of our offices, including our headquarters in Holyoke.”

During the past year, the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Massachusetts named PeoplesBank a winner of the Sustainable Business of the Year award. For the fourth year in a row, voters throughout Hampshire County named PeoplesBank the Best Local Green Business in the 2017 Daily Hampshire Gazette Readers’ Choice poll.

The bank also continued a multi-year commitment of more than $65,000 in funding for green initiatives in Western Mass. Those initiatives include support for an existing mobile farmers market in Springfield and the launch of a new one in Holyoke, the Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) Food for All campaign, the Center for EcoTechnology, Grow Food Northampton’s community garden, the Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River (support of this effort will also include hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank), the Mount Holyoke Wetlands Restoration project, and scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $166 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects, an increase of $40 million in just one year.

PeoplesBank also has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a GreenSeal from the city of Springfield. PeoplesBank has also installed electric-vehicle charging stations at three offices, in Northampton, West Springfield, and Holyoke. The bank is also a past winner of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Sustainability Award, which recognizes excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being, and contributions to economic prosperity.

In celebration of Earth Day, PeoplesBank will give away tomato plants and garden seeds to the public on Friday, April 20 from 9 to 11 a.m. at three locations: 300 King St. in Northampton, 1240 Sumner Ave. in Springfield, and 546 Memorial Ave. in West Springfield. PeoplesBank is also holding a free e-cycling event on Saturday, April 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. at its Hadley office, 5 South Maple St.

Sections Sports & Leisure

Challenge Cup

the PGA Junior League Golf program has helped swell the ranks

Chris Tallman, head pro at Cold Spring Country Club, says the PGA Junior League Golf program has helped swell the ranks on the local high-school golf team — and get more families involved in the game.

It was with discernable pride in his voice that Chris Tallman noted that there are 30 members on the Belchertown High School boys golf team.

He said that number slowly and with emphasis, as in 30! And with good reason. That is certainly a large number, especially for a comparatively small school, especially at a time when many larger institutions are struggling to field a team. But also because Tallman, head pro at Cold Spring Country Club in Belchertown, believes he probably had something to do with it.

More specifically, he believes his enthusiastic support of a youth program called the PGA Junior League Golf had something to do with it.

The national initiative, administered by the PGA of America, creates teams of young people at participating clubs that compete against one another. The goals are to have fun, learn the game, make some friends, and maybe get families involved in the sport, as well as young people.

And it seems to be working on all those levels.

“You have 70 to 80 juniors at each match, which is great to see,” Tallman explained. “But looking at the business side of things, if you get the juniors to the course, their parents are going to come, too, and they might get involved in the game.”

Such efforts to grow the sport are certainly necessary at this intriguing and somewhat precarious time for the game — and the business — of golf.

Indeed, those we talked with used a host of synonyms, but mostly ‘flat’ and ‘stagnant,’ to describe both business activity and interest in the game. In short, golf isn’t growing — in fact, it’s probably declining slightly — and many are outwardly skeptical about whether the younger generations will embrace the game with the same vigor as their predecessors.

Dave DiRico

Dave DiRico says young professionals comprise the fastest-growing segment of his business.

Tom Hantke, executive director of the Connecticut PGA, which covers most of Western Mass., used some different numbers to get some important points across.

He said there are roughly 24 million golfers out there, meaning people who are active and play the game regularly. And that number has remained at about the same level for some time now. Meanwhile, there are another 86 million who could — that’s could — perhaps join the core group, with some encouragement and attention.

A problem for the industry, said Hantke, is that many within it continue to focus their efforts on those 24 million in the core group, and not the other 86 million. He puts many club owners and managers in that category, as well as the equipment manufacturers, who continue to focus their energies on those who might buy a $500 driver, a $1,000 set of irons, and a $200 pair of golf shoes, rather than those who might be interested in a starter set or some used clubs.

“The industry gets it backward,” he said. “They’re targeting the 24 million core golfers, or whatever the number is in their respective market. And what they should be doing is marketing toward the 86 million, the ones who want to try the game or be part of the game or be entertained by the game.”

But amid the skepticism and heavy use of ‘flat’ and ‘stagnant’ to describe conditions within the industry, there are some positive signs.

Dave DiRico, owner, with his wife, Joann, of Dave DiRico’s Golf & Racquet in West Springfield, said ‘young people’ — a term he used to describe those in college and their first decade or two out of it — constitute the fastest-growing segment of his customer base. He said many of these individuals played sports in high school and maybe in college, they’re athletic, and they’re looking for a place to park that athleticism and spirit to compete.

And many are choosing golf.

“We’re seeing those people coming in more and more,” said DiRico, now in his sixth year with this venture. “The college kids, they’re buying used equipment to get into the game. And later, when they want to stay in the game, it’s those same people circling back to buy newer sets; the game has got them, and they’re going to continue to play.”

Meanwhile, a host of other initiatives — everything from a campaign to convince players to step up to the tees that suit their age and abilities, not the ones that suit their ego, to a set of proposed new rules changes — are aimed at making the game more fun, less confusing, less penal, and thus more popular.

The question lingering over the industry is whether all these efforts will make a difference at an age when many don’t seem to have the time or inclination for the game.

Since we’ve focused on numbers quite a bit, we might as well keep going and call that the $64,000 question. And for this issue and its focus on sports and leisure, BusinessWest  goes about getting some answers.

Round Numbers

Dave Fleury knew he was going to get some heavy flak from his male members. And he was right about that.

But he went ahead with his plan to award a popular, coveted night — Thursday — to a women’s league at Crestview Country Club in Agawam, which he owns, along with Elmcrest Country Club in East Longmeadow. And he’s never regretted that decision; in fact, he did the same at Elmcrest.

He told BusinessWest that, along with young people, women constitute the largest, most potential-laden, but also perhaps the most challenging component of that block of 86 million people who could embrace golf.

Like all the other constituencies, including men, they are challenged by the amount of time and money it takes to play golf, but also its complexity and thick, confusing rule book. What many women who take up the game seem to like about it are the social aspects, he went on, meaning the camaraderie and friendships that result.

Which brings us back to Thursday night.

I really applaud these efforts to change the rules. These are the kinds of things that need to happen to make the game more approachable for women, and for everyone, really.”

For many, that’s a social night, a night out, said Fleury, which is why he awarded it to this women’s league.

“Women really focus on the social side of the game,” he explained. “And for a long time, women’s leagues used to be on Monday afternoon, when the men aren’t playing anyway. We turned that on its ear, giving them Thursday night.

“We took flak for it, but you have to take a stance and make it clear that there’s no reason why women shouldn’t have the same accessibility, the same opportunity to go out and have a good time on a night that makes sense, like Thursday,” he went on. “So now, they come in for cocktails and food after the round and socialize like the men would. And as a result, they can see the game the way men see the game, and golf doesn’t become this drudgery.”

Fluery’s decision on what to do with Thursday night at his clubs is a good example of movement toward giving some thought and attention to those aforementioned 86 million potential golfers out there.

It’s a not a huge step, but an important one, he noted, adding quickly that it’s not going to generate tremendous or immediate improvement when it comes to the big picture. But it’s a step in the right direction, something the game and the industry need many of at this moment.

PGA Junior League Golf is another one, only those involved with it say it has the potential to become huge.

“It’s really cool — the kids have jerseys with numbers on them, so it’s similar to other team sports like soccer and basketball,” he explained. “We’ll play against other teams from other clubs; it’s a fun, laid-back format. There’s not a ton of pressure, the kids are competing against one another, and they’re having fun.”

And, as he noted earlier, the juniors’ parents, grandparents, and friends come out to watch them play, possibly inspiring more interest in the game.

“As a golf professional, my main job is to create more golfers, not just for my facility, but for the game of golf as a whole,” he went on. “And this program is helping clubs do just that.”

E.J. Altobello, head pro at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield, a public course, which hosts several teams, agreed, noting that participation has grown from just over a dozen young people in 2013 to more than 50 last year.
“I value it as one of the best programs they’ve probably ever rolled out,” he said. “It’s definitely piqued more interest in junior golf. The kids get involved, the parents get involved; it’s a good way to get families together on the golf course, just as you would in a Little League game.

“I think the program has gotten more kids in the game, and it’s gotten more families into the game,” he went on, adding that he can see results at his course and on area high-school golf teams. “We have parents now who probably wouldn’t have played ever if their kids hadn’t become involved.”

Green Business

But while the youth program is encouraging, Altobello has real concerns about whether the young people can stay with the game after they’ve graduated from college and the many pressures of life — work, family, and more — take hold.

“I don’t have any trouble getting college kids out here — we have a lot of them come down and play,” said Altobelli, noting that Westfield State University is only about two long par-5s away from Tekoa, and many students walk or even skateboard to the course. “But it’s after college — that’s when we lose them for a bit.

“There are tremendous time and money issues at that point that make it difficult for them to stay in it,” he went on. “But if we give them a good base when they’re juniors, and then increase their play when they’re in their early to mid-20s from two rounds a year to six rounds a year, that’s huge.”

There are many keys to getting young professionals — those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s — involved in golf, said those we spoke with. And they come at different levels, from the individual course to national and even international initiatives.

In that first category, said Fleury, courses have to tailor programs for that specific market. Private or semi-private models (the latter of which is used at both Crestview and Elmcrest) typically enable members to pay only for what they’re going to use, and nothing more.

“If they just want to play golf, they can just join the golf course,” he explained. “They don’t have to pay for the pool or the tennis courts, and we don’t have any food minimums; they just play for golf.”

Meanwhile, all courses can encourage nine-hole play, rather than 18 — a major consideration when everyone seems to be strapped for time and when a round plus lunch at the end absorbs five hours or more, said Fleury, and they can take steps, as he did, to accommodate women and enable them to enjoy the social aspects of the game.

On the national and international front, a broad campaign to convince players to choose the right tees — you might have seen Jack Nicklaus in those TV commercials encouraging people to “play it forward” — is designed to make golf more enjoyable, said DiRico.

“The game was meant to be fun,” he explained. “It’s not fun if you can’t reach many of the par-4s or struggle on the longer par-3s. By playing the right tees, people can relate better to the game they see on TV; they’re on in regulation more often, and they’re putting for more birdies. That makes the game enjoyable.”

And then, there are the rule changes. The U.S. Golf Assoc., working in a joint initiative with the R&A (the ruling body on the other side of the Atlantic), have proposed many of them, all with the twin goals of ‘modernizing’ the rules but also making them easier to understand and apply. The hope is that they also make the game less imposing and more fun.

Players will still have to play the ball as it lies, but there are changes regarding everything from play on the greens (one can leave the flagstick in the hole if they choose and repair spike marks) to taking relief (one could drop the ball from any height, not just from the shoulder, as currently prescribed).

“I really applaud these efforts to change the rules,” said Fleury, also a golf-course designer, who said these changes won’t impact the integrity of the game. “These are the kinds of things that need to happen to make the game more approachable for women, and for everyone, really.

“The game can be quite confusing and seem extremely penal, and sometimes unfairly so,” he went on. “A softening of some of these stringent rules and making them more understandable will help make the game less intimidating.”

Rough Guesses

While it may be some time before those owning and managing golf courses can use words other than ‘flat’ or ‘stagnant’ to describe things within their industry, there are some positive signs and many intriguing steps being taken to grow the game.

All one has to do is look at the Belchertown High boys golf team, for example.

But such efforts won’t change the picture overnight, as Fluery noted, and everyone in this business has to remain focused on both those core 24 million golfers and especially the many more who might take up the game with the right encouragement.

Like the game itself, this is a very stern challenge, but one with some significant rewards.

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

Restaurants Sections

Star Power

Andrew Mankin

Andrew Mankin, owner and brewer, says a ‘green’ operating philosophy has helped Barrington Brewery & Restaurant create a strong brand.

Andrew Mankin recalls that when he and business partner Gary Happ were crunching the numbers regarding their planned use of solar-heated water for their brew-pub establishment in Great Barrington, what they saw gave them reason to pause.

But not for very long.

“We decided that at some point you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is and do something,” he recalled, as he talked about the system they were contemplating — one that would coincide with, and be a key element in, the construction of a banquet facility that would complement their already well-established brewery and restaurant on busy Route 7. “When you’re putting up a new building, you’re spending a lot of money on all kinds of things, so we thought, ‘why not something that’s environmentally friendly?’”

That ‘something’ has turned out to be an investment that has paid off in a number of ways — from dramatically reducing natural-gas bills to giving Barrington Brewery & Restaurant a branding identity — ‘solar-brewed beer’ — that is not only earth-friendly, but helps generate business as well.

“People will come in, point to those words, and say, ‘what does this mean?’ said Mankin, who, as the company’s owner/brewer, is not only willing but well-equipped to explain it all. (Usually, the dissertation includes handing the individual one of the informative placemats the company uses that not only detail the solar hot-water use but explains the brewing process in five easy-to-follow steps.)

Co-owner Gary Happ with his daughter, Chelsea

Co-owner Gary Happ with his daughter, Chelsea, who is managing the operation’s banquet facility.

Overall, the sun-heated water gives many environmentally conscious individuals and families a reason to turn off Route 7 and into the large converted barns that comprise this operation. Or another reason, to be more precise.

And there must be several, said Happ, now a nearly 40-year veteran of the ultra-challenging hospitality industry, noting that, while the beers brewed at that location — labels that include Black Bear Stout, Hopland Pale Ale, Berkshire Blond, and Ice Glen IPA, along with a host of seasonal offerings — are a huge draw, there are hundreds of microbrews available in this region. In short, the food has to be good, too.

Barrington Brewery & Restaurant has that part of the equation covered with a menu, classified generally as ‘pub fare,’ that includes everything from barbecued ribs to shepherd’s pie to spinach and eggplant casserole.

To say this establishment effectively blends beer and food is not just idle talk, Happ noted. Indeed, those aforementioned brews are included in the recipes for menu items ranging from the chili to the blue cheese dressing to the famous (it’s been profiled in Bon Appetit a few times) chocolate stout cake.

“We try to keep everything simple, and we make everything here,” he explained. “It’s not a fancy, expensive menu, but it’s good, fresh food.”

The interior’s décor

The interior’s décor can be described with one word: beer.

As for that aforementioned banquet facility, named Crissey Farm, it has become a solid addition to the venture, said Mankin, noting that, in a region studded with venues at both the high and low end, this 200-seat room has become an attractive middle-of-the road option.

“We throw a very good wedding for a very fair price,” he explained, adding that the facility is drawing its share of other types of events as well, including corporate outings and meetings. “It’s an attractive alternative for people looking for something in the middle.”

For this issue and its annual Restaurant Guide, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the Barrington Brewery and Restaurant, where the bright ideas include, but are certainly not limited to, the water-heating process.

Lager than Life

The sign

The sign that greets patrons says it all.

It doesn’t take much time, or many words, for that matter, to describe the décor and the mood at this establishment. ‘Beer’ will do just fine.

It’s brewed on the site, served on tap at the tavern portion of the eatery, sold in pint bottles (the partners distribute to a few other locations as well), explained on the placemats, and reflected on the walls — all of them.

There are pictures of old breweries, tavern signs from a long time ago — one declares that something called ‘white rose special’ costs 20 cents a bottle — and glasses, coasters, and trays bearing the names of brewers from the present, past, and distant past.

While referencing the huge display of coasters — Mankin has no idea how many there are on display or in storage because there’s no room left to display them — he pointed to a couple of his favorites: Dog & Parrott and Ridley’s Old Bob.

Those were brewed in England, which is where Mankin cut his teeth in this art and science. He was a self-described home brewer some 30 years ago, when he had a chance to learn from the masters at the Vaux Brewery in Sunderland in Northeast England, near the border with Scotland.

Upon returning home, his thoughts turned increasingly toward making beer a career, not a hobby. And when he met Happ, things started to come together.

Happ, then a partner in the hugely successful 20 Railroad Street restaurant in Great Barrington’s downtown, was selling his interest in that entity and eyeing a new entrepreneurial adventure. Mankin was looking for his first.

They decided to blend their resources and talents and opened Barrington Brewery & Restaurant on Route 7 in what’s known as the Jennifer House Complex, which featured antique shops and other forms of retail.

Over the past two decades, this venture has become a key component in a broad revitalization effort that has seen Great Barrington evolve from a sleepy Berkshires town “where the sidewalks were rolled up at 8 o’clock,” said Happ, to a true year-round destination.

The town’s rebirth has included everything from new shops and restaurants to the stunning $9 million renovation of the 111-year-old Mahaiwe (pronounced Muh-hay-we) Theatre. Now known as the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, it presents music, dance, theater, opera, talks, and movie classics (The Graduate is playing on May 21).

With this new vibrancy has come both opportunity and challenge in the form of greater competition, said Happ, adding that Barrington Brewery & Restaurant has thrived by drawing both local residents and the tourists that now come all 12 months of the year, and through creation of a niche with many elements.

Food (moderately priced) and beer are obvious ingredients, both figuratively and literally, he explained, but the ‘green’ factor is also a key part of the equation.

And there’s more to it the solar hot-water system, which, when installed, was the largest such facility in the region. Indeed, the venture buys its power from Pine Island Farm in Sheffield, a partnership dairy operation that boasts what’s known as an anaerobic digester facility, in which the methane from animal waste is converted into electricity and sold to National Grid.

“When we write a check for our energy at the end of the month, we don’t make it out to National Grid, we make it out to Pine Island Farm,” said Happ, with a strong dose of satisfaction and pride in his voice. “From the beginning, we’ve always tried to run a green business as best we could, and we’re continuing down that path.”

The next step, already on the drawing board and well into the development stage, is to create a photovoltaic system on a two-acre parcel the partners recently acquired and generate enough power to operate both the restaurant and Crissey Farm.

Unfortunately, the state has thrown a roadblock of sorts in front of what Happ called the “crown jewel of our greenness.” Apparently, there is a cap on photovoltaic systems of this type, and it has been reached, he went on, making it clear that this was a source of great frustration.

“Here are two guys trying to do the right thing, run a good, green business, and leave a small footprint, and who’s holding us up? The state,” he said with noticeable exasperation. “We’re ready to go.”

Crissey Farm

Crissey Farm, the banquet facility at Barrington Brewery & Restaurant, is making a name for itself.

Whether the state eases restrictions on solar-power systems and allows the partners to proceed remains to be seen, although both men believe this matter involves the question ‘when?’ and not ‘if?’

In the meantime, they will continue making beer with solar-heated water and press on with their efforts to grow the banquet side of the business.

Off to a solid start, 200-seat Crissey Farm, opened just as the Great Recession was starting in the summer of 2008, is creating a niche in its own right, said Mankin.

“We have a wedding booked every weekend right into October,” he explained. “Over the past few years, business has really picked up.

Icing on the Cake

Mankin told BusinessWest that Barrington Brewery isn’t shy about sharing the recipe for its famous chocolate stout cake. It’s already been published in Bon Appetit, he noted, and staff at the restaurant will hand patrons a copy if they ask for one.

This willingness to share trade secrets is somewhat rare in the restaurant business, he acknowledged, but the company isn’t worried about losing business from the practice.

“It’s not easy to make it — there’s a lot that goes into this,” he said, referring to the stout cake.

But those exact words could be used to describe the restaurant industry itself. The Barrington Brewery has succeeded by creating an effective niche — one that involves price, beer, food — and a green philosophy.

All that gives this establishment star power — in all kinds of ways.

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

Company Notebook Departments

MassMutual Reports Record $1.7 Billion Dividend Payout

SPRINGFIELD — MassMutual’s board of directors approved an estimated dividend payout of $1.7 billion for 2016 to its eligible participating policyowners — a nearly $100 million increase over 2015, and the fourth consecutive year it has reached a new record. The 2016 payout also reflects a competitive dividend interest rate of 7.1% for eligible participating life and annuity blocks of business, maintaining the same rate as both 2014 and 2015.  “Today is a special day where the commitment we’ve made our policyowners is brought to life through our annual dividend payout,” said Roger Crandall, MassMutual’s chairman, president, and CEO. “Through nearly our entire history, our policyowners have received an annual dividend regardless of what is happening in our world — whether it’s through world wars, pandemics, market crashes, and most recently, a historically low interest-rate environment where even three-month Treasury bills are yielding zero percent.” While dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has consistently paid them to eligible participating policyowners since the 1860s. The 2016 dividend marks nearly two decades that the company has consecutively announced an estimated dividend payout exceeding $1 billion. “As a mutual company, operating for the benefit of our policyowners and members, we are thrilled to share our collective and cooperative success,” Crandall said. “Our consistent payment of dividends is proof of the enduring financial strength and stability we provide, as well as the resiliency of our long-term strategy.” Among the key contributors to MassMutual’s dividend payout are its retirement-services and international insurance businesses, as well as its asset-management subsidiaries, such as Babson Capital Management LLC, Baring Asset Management Limited, Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC, and OppenheimerFunds Inc. The estimated payout also occurs at a time when the company’s financial-strength ratings are among the highest in the industry and its total adjusted capital as of June 30, 2015 — a key indicator of overall financial stability — surpassed $17 billion for the first time in the company’s history. Of the estimated $1.7 billion dividend payout, an estimated $1.65 billion has been approved for eligible participating policyowners who have purchased whole life insurance. MassMutual had its ninth consecutive record year of growth in whole-life policy sales in 2014 with $418 million, and sales of whole life continue to be strong through the first three quarters of 2015. In addition to receiving the dividend payouts in cash, other ways whole-life insurance policyowners may use the dividends include paying premiums, buying additional insurance coverage, accumulating at interest, or repaying policy loans and policy-loan interest. “Whole life insurance enables people to plan for both the expected and unexpected events in their lives, whether it’s leaving a legacy for loved ones or using cash value to help fund a college education or fill an income gap in retirement,” said Michael Fanning, executive vice president and head of MassMutual’s U.S. Insurance Group. “We have provided millions of people with financial resources they can use to chart a course through these turbulent times, further proof that, whether bulls or bears are driving the market, policyowners have received their dividend payout from MassMutual.”

Bacon Wilson Selected Among U.S. News Ranking of Best Law Firms

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced the firm’s inclusion in the 2016 “Best Law Firms” rankings published by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. The full-service firm has been recognized with a Tier 1 Metropolitan designation for Springfield. Firms are selected for professional excellence, with tier rankings based on a meticulous assessment process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations as well as peer reviews from leading attorneys in their fields. Achieving a Tier 1 ranking indicates both quality law practice and expansive legal knowledge. This marks the sixth consecutive such honor for Bacon Wilson. Additionally, in August, four partners were named to the Best Lawyers in America 2016 list: Paul Rothschild, Stephen Krevalin, Michael Katz, and Jeff Fialky. Bacon Wilson’s managing partner, Stephen Krevalin, noted that the latest award is “among the most significant in our field. We are pleased and gratified to be counted among the 2016 Best Law Firms. For me, Bacon Wilson’s inclusion in this publication highlights the outstanding skills of our attorneys.” Bacon Wilson, P.C. is one of the largest firms in Western Massachusetts, with a total of 42 lawyers and approximately 60 paralegals, administrative assistants, and support staff. The firm’s main office is located in Springfield, with regional offices in Northampton, Amherst, and Westfield.

Holyoke Medical Center Breaks Ground on New ED, Office Building

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) broke ground recently on construction for a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Department that, when completed, will expand the current space from 8,500 square feet to approximately 22,000 square feet, as wel as a new, 16,000-square-foot medical office building. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2017. The Emergency Department will feature a new Crisis Center for Psychiatric Services, 40 treatment areas, multi-patient trauma rooms, advanced life-saving equipment, and a patient-navigation service. This will allow HMC to treat patients in a more efficient and dignified way. The medical office building will house a host of new services, including a comprehensive weight-loss center, sleep-apnea clinic, and other multi-specialty physician practices. These expanded services will address the current and emerging community health needs of Hampden County, including the sharp rise in obesity and diabetes rates, while also creating new jobs in Holyoke. “Today’s groundbreaking represents our strong commitment to providing tens of thousands of patients in the Pioneer Valley with access to convenient and compassionate life-saving care,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems Inc. “HMC’s new Emergency Department and medical office building will offer the latest in medical technology, a broader range of emergency services, and highly skilled clinicians dedicated to serving our community.” Funding for the project is provided partially by the Commonwealth’s Health Policy Commission (HPC), through Phase 2 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation Investment Program, also known as CHART, which aims to promote care coordination, integration, and delivery transformation to enhance Massachusetts community hospitals’ delivery of efficient and effective care. The $3.9 million grant supports the integration of new behavioral-health services in the Emergency Department. “Our partnership with community hospitals is a critical part of HPC’s efforts to achieve the Commonwealth’s cost-containment and quality-improvement goals,” said David Seltz, executive director of HPC. “CHART hospitals were issued a challenge: propose initiatives that will put you on a path of transformation, while meeting the critical health care needs of your community. Today, I’m pleased to report that HMC exceeded that challenge. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Holyoke community to build a more coordinated and affordable healthcare system.” HMC’s award was the highest award for a single hospital in CHART Phase 2. HMC will leverage an innovative, multi-disciplinary high-risk-care team, known as the Behavioral Health Emergency Care Service, to support all patients with behavioral-health conditions in the Emergency Department. At the same time, this coordinated initiative will introduce robust care navigation in partnership with community-based organizations to ensure that patients receive targeted interventions, including those necessary to address the high incidence of complex, challenging social issues, and are referred to the right services for successful follow-through on individualized care plans. A portion of this investment will also support HMC’s efforts to redesign its Emergency Department, and will create a separate healing and therapeutic behavioral-health space in the emergency room designed to reduce patient anxiety, streamline patient flow, and improve overall quality of care in a safe and secure environment. Additional financing partners for the total project budget of $22.8 million include Valley Health Systems, MassDevelopment, People’s United Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and A.I. Wainwright. Last year, more than 42,500 patients visited Holyoke Medical Center’s Emergency Department, and the department will continue to serve the Greater Holyoke community throughout the construction phase of the project.

Country Bank Supports Local Senior Centers

WARE — Country Bank has been assisting local senior centers since 2011 with an annual donation of $2,000 each. This gift assists them with some of the expenses that may not be covered within their regular budget. A total of $166,000 has been donated over the last five years to local senior centers. “We have heard stories of our gifts helping to fund events such as veterans breakfasts, helping to put in a new floor, or, most recently, to assist with transportation costs to out-of-town medical appointments,” said Shelley Regin, senior vice president. “One director explained that many seniors may forgo important medical appointments due to the difficulties involved with public transportation or their fear of driving in unfamiliar areas such as Springfield. We are so pleased that we can help in this way.” Country Bank serves Central and Western Mass. with 15 offices.

HAPHousing Recognized as NeighborWorks Green Organization

SPRINGFIELD — HAPHousing has been recognized as a NeighborWorks Green Organization for its comprehensive commitment to sustainable operations. To achieve this designation, HAP was required to demonstrate adherence to a set of green business practices across its operations and all of its program areas.
This is the fourth consecutive year that NeighborWorks America has recognized member organizations for their efforts to create healthier, energy-efficient environments for homeowners, renters, community residents and employees. To date, 81 of the 240 organizations in the NeighborWorks network have achieved this designation. HAPHousing’s green initiatives and programs include ensuring that its housing developments and offices are energy efficient, and distribution of information on energy conservation to clients, residents, employees, and the public. According to Peter Gagliardi, President and CEO of HAPHousing, “An increasingly vital part of our work in developing affordable housing in the region is the building and maintaining of sustainable projects and practices that are environmentally friendly. We take this designation seriously and with pride in our mission to build healthy communities where people thrive.”

STCC to Offer Certified Fiber Optics Technician Courses starting Dec. 7

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Workforce Development office will offer three Certified Fiber Optics Technician Courses starting Dec. 7.
The courses will cover a variety of topics for both those new to the field and experienced technicians. The Fiber Optic Training class combines theory and hands-on activities to prepare students to take the Certified Fiber Optic Technician exam sanctioned by the Fiber Optics Association. The exam is administered and graded during the final class.
Students will learn how to identify fiber types; recognize various connectors used in fiber installation; and install, terminate, splice, and properly test installed fiber cable to existing standards. The program explores the history and future of fiber optics and fiber optics capabilities, and basic testing and troubleshooting.
Anyone interested in becoming a Certified Fiber Optics Technician is highly encouraged to sign up. The course fee includes study materials and text book, a CD, exam fees, plus a one year membership to Fiber Optics Association. In addition, STCC will offer Certified Fiber Optic Specialist Outside Plant (CFOS/O), Certified Fiber Optics Splicing Specialist Course (CFOS/S) and Certified Fiber Optics Specialist in Testing & Maintenance (CFOS/T).

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — HAPHousing has been recognized as a NeighborWorks Green Organization for its comprehensive commitment to sustainable operations. To achieve this designation, HAP was required to demonstrate adherence to a set of green business practices across its operations and all of its program areas.

This is the fourth consecutive year that NeighborWorks America has recognized member organizations for their efforts to create healthier, energy-efficient environments for homeowners, renters, community residents and employees. To date, 81 of the 240 organizations in the NeighborWorks network have achieved this designation.

HAPHousing’s green initiatives and programs include ensuring that its housing developments and offices are energy efficient, and distribution of information on energy conservation to clients, residents, employees, and the public.

According to Peter Gagliardi, President and CEO of HAPHousing, “An increasingly vital part of our work in developing affordable housing in the region is the building and maintaining of sustainable projects and practices that are environmentally friendly. We take this designation seriously and with pride in our mission to build healthy communities where people thrive.”

“HAPHousing is helping to improve people’s health and well-being,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Paul Weech. “The organization is showing how green business practices make economic sense.”

NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. For more information on the green designation, and to see the complete list of designees, go to NeighborWorks.org/Green.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — A Plus HVAC of Westfield is one of nine New England-based contractors to receive a 2015 COOL SMART award. The firm, led by owner and President Nathan LeMay, has received this honor for three consecutive years.

The honors were presented recently at the annual golf tournament of the Air Conditioning Assoc. of New England. Sponsored by the Massachusetts/Rhode Island COOL SMART program, the awards are given out during the sporting event held in Stow. The winning contractors specialize in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and are recognized for quality installation of energy-saving equipment and their overall contributions to the program.

COOL SMART is a high-efficiency heating and cooling rebate program for residential customers of National Grid, Eversource, Unitil, and the Cape Light Compact. These program administrators sponsor the awards and the tournament to recognize contractors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for outstanding service and an ongoing commitment to energy efficiency. Launched in 2004, COOL SMART promotes the purchase and installation of Energy Star-qualified and high-efficiency air conditioners, heat pumps, and water heaters. Awards are distributed annually to recognize outstanding contractors for leadership, quality work, and active program participation.

“For the past decade, we have witnessed more and more contractors participating in COOL SMART,” said Kevin Parse, Unitil program coordinator. “This program is important to public health because greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution are reduced by up to 30% as a result of their outstanding work. On behalf of Eversource, we are proud to be affiliated with the program and its committed contractors throughout the region. We applaud A Plus HVAC for its third consecutive win and hope to see even more participants next year.”

To learn more about becoming a COOL SMART contractor, or for general program information, visit www.masssave.com or call (800) 473-1105.