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Reaching the Summit

Tonia Butler Perez

The Community College National Legislative Summit on Feb. 5-8 offered Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook and STCC trustees Jynai McDonald and Tonia Butler Perez (pictured at top left) an opportunity to speak with lawmakers about federal priorities, including reducing barriers to receive Pell Grants that help low-income students access higher education. Massachusetts featured a delegation of close to 40 people, including other community-college presidents and trustees as well as staff from the Massachusetts Assoc. of Community Colleges. Pictured at top right, from left: Cook, Butler Perez, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and McDonald.



Brainstorming Visit

American International College (AIC) welcomed representatives from Holyoke Community College (HCC) to its Springfield campus on March 2 to celebrate a transfer agreement they signed last summer and brainstorm ideas for future partnerships. HCC President Christina Royal and AIC President Hubert Benitez (pictured at left) and a cadre of faculty and staff from both colleges toured the AIC campus and then sat down to talk over lunch. Last June, the two colleges signed an articulation agreement to make it easier and less expensive for HCC students to transfer to AIC through the latter’s Direct Connect program.








Closer to the Goal

Last week, Girls Inc. of the Valley hosted a milestone event to provide campaign fundraising updates for its new location at 480 Hampden St. in Holyoke. Mayor Joshua Garcia, state Rep. Patricia Duffy, and (pictured, from left) campaign co-chairs Bernadette Harrigan and Cynthia Medina-Carson made remarks, and the fundraising thermometer sign was updated as the campaign has now reached 90% of its $5 million goal. PeoplesBank will be financing the project through a loan to Girls Inc. of the Valley, in addition to a tax-exempt bond from MassDevelopment. This campaign launched in 2018 with a mission to expand the physical footprint of Girls Inc. of the Valley and establish a permanent headquarters in Holyoke, allowing it to serve a larger community. 





Meeting Basic Needs

In partnership with Holyoke Community College (HCC), United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) recently opened a pantry providing shelf-stable food for Holyoke residents in the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center (PAFEC) at 206 Maple St. The PAFEC Cupboard is open on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment. In a geographic area with significant need for food, this pantry opened just as extra COVID-19 SNAP benefits came to an end on March 2. UWPV also operates the Chicopee Cupboard at 226 Exchange St. in Chicopee, as well as the Springfield Cupboard at 1441 Main St. in Springfield.


Chamber Corners


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


March 22: Go Fund U Session #2: “Communicating Your Story,” 5-7 p.m., hybrid event, hosted online or at Berkshire Innovation Center, 45 Woodlawn Ave., Pittsfield. It isn’t just about the money; it’s about building a community, establishing a following, projecting an identity, creating a buzz, and sparking a movement. Learn how to communicate your story effectively to the general public. Start building a community of folks who will come together to bring your project to life and who will be there with you for future endeavors as well. Register at www.1berkshire.com.

March 29: Go Fund U Session #3: “The Bandwagon Effect and VIPs,” 5-7 p.m., hybrid event, hosted online or at Berkshire Innovation Center, 45 Woodlawn Ave., Pittsfield. Create a bandwagon that other folks want to jump onto. Understand how to identify and communicate with your VIPs before launch to increase your chances of reaching your funding goal. In this session, we’ll also discuss setting your funding target, determining reward levels, and strategies for during and after your campaign. This is your opportunity to learn the secret recipe for crowdfunding success. Register at www.1berkshire.com.



(413) 253-0700;


March 30: Margarita Madness, 5:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Interskate 91 at the Hampshire Mall, 367 Russell St., Hadley. TommyCar Auto Group returns as presenting sponsor. Mix, mingle, and network at our largest signature event of the year. Enjoy an evening of tasty margaritas and vote for your favorite. Local restaurants showcase their fare, and there are dozens of raffles prizes donated by Amherst Area Chamber members. Cost: $35 pre-registered at www.amherstarea.com, $45 at the door.



(413) 575-7230; www.erc5.com

April 4: Coffee Hour Connections with ERC5, 8:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Hillary Lynn Photography, 200 Center St., Suite 5, Ludlow. Join us as we gather to build relationships and Hillary shares more about the work she is doing with brand imagery that tells a story and connects with your dream clients. Register online at www.erc5.com.



(413) 773-5463; www.franklincc.org


March 24: Chamber Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Terrazza restaurant, 244 Country Club Road, Greenfield. Join us for breakfast at Terrazza as we hear from Ronald Bryant, president of Baystate Regional Hospitals, and learn how Baystate Franklin Medical Center, the sponsor of this event, is transforming the health of our community from the inside out. Cost: $20 for members, $22 for general admission. Visit www.franklincc.org to register.



(413) 594-2101;


March 23: Annual Meeting, 8-9:30 a.m., hosted by RiverMills Senior Center, 5 West Main St., Chicopee. This kickoff to our Salute Breakfast Series is presented by Florence Bank, which is celebrating 150 years. Meet our incoming board of directors and hear from Mayor John Vieau and chamber representatives about what’s new for the city and chamber this year. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. To register, visit www.chicopeechamber.org.



(413) 534-3376;


March 29: After Hours and Ribbon Cutting at Fame, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Fame, 386 Dwight St., Holyoke. Join as we celebrate the grand opening of Fame with small, homemade bites; craft beer and cocktails; and connections. To register, visit www.business.holyokechamber.com/events.



(413) 584-1900;


April 4: Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Danco Modern, 10 West St., Hatfield. Our monthly networking get-together is the perfect place to expand your circle of connections in the business community. New to (or nervous about) networking? Join us at 4 p.m. for a Warm Welcome pre-party and get tips from our experts. Sponsored by Reider Media, Delap Real Estate, and Applied Mortgage. First Impressions sponsored by Finck & Perras. This is a free event. Register online at www.explorenorthampton.com.



(413) 568-1618; www.westfieldbiz.org

March 23: Morning Brew, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club, 866 Shaker Road, Westfield. Join us for a great networking opportunity. Introduce yourself and your business to the attendees. Everyone has a chance to discuss what their business does and what they are looking for to expand and improve.

April 5: Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 551 North Road, Westfield. Mayor Michael McCabe will update the attendees on City Hall activities, and there will be an opportunity to ask the mayor questions. This event is free to attend. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org.



(413) 426-3880; www.ourwrc.com


April 4: April Lunch & Learn with ERC5, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Villa Rose, 1428 Center St., Ludlow. Learn from our panelists how to maintain and grow in 2023 and beyond. Hear valuable tips for making every penny count in your business and how to effectively use your dollars to your advantage. Cost: $25 for members, $35 for non-members. To register, visit www.ourwrc.com.


First-time Homebuyer Webinar Series

March 15, 16, 23: Greenfield Cooperative Bank is participating with Valley Community Development on a webinar series for first-time homebuyers. In this Zoom webinar, attendees will get the facts from real-estate professionals, including attorneys, loan officers, Realtors, home inspectors, and housing counselors; learn tips about how to improve their credit; and be able to ask questions to help them proceed and protect their own interests as they approach this life decision. Missy Tetreault, AVP and senior mortgage originator, and Kim Gates, mortgage originator, will be panelists at this event. The cost is $50 for two adults in the same household. Registration is non-refundable, and attendance is required at all three sessions. Each session will be hosted via a unique Zoom webinar link from 6 to 9 p.m. Participants will receive the Zoom links on the day of each session. Learn more at www.greenfieldcoopbank.com/events. Register online at www.valleycdc.org.


Free Line-cook Training

March 20 to April 21: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will run a new round of free line-cook training classes at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. The five-week program runs Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program is designed for those already in the restaurant industry who want to upgrade their skills as well as unemployed or underemployed individuals interested in starting new careers. The program, which is free to qualifiying applicants, is taught both online and in person at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at 164 Race St., Holyoke. Participants will learn all the essential competencies they need to become successful line cooks: knife skills; how to prepare stocks, soups, sauces, desserts, poultry, fish, and meat; culinary math and measurements; moist- and dry-heat cooking methods; as well as workplace soft skills, such as building a résumé and searching for jobs. For more information, contact Laura Smith, HCC job-placement assistant and career-development counselor, at [email protected] or (413) 552-2833, or fill out the inquiry form at hcc.edu/job-ready.


World Affairs Council Talk on American Journalists in China

March 21: The World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts will present former CNN Beijing Bureau Chief and Northampton native Mike Chinoy on his new book, Assignment China: An Oral History of American Journalists in the People’s Republic, at a luncheon at noon at the Student Prince in downtown Springfield. The event is open to the public, and the cost is $45, including a buffet lunch. To reserve a space, call (413) 733-0110. The book tells the story of how American journalists have covered China — from the civil war of the 1940s through the COVID-19 pandemic — in their own words. They share behind-the-scenes stories of reporting on historic moments such as Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit in 1972, China’s opening up to the outside world and its emergence as a global superpower, and the crackdowns in Tiananmen Square and Xinjiang. Chinoy is a non-resident senior fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. He spent 24 years as a foreign correspondent for CNN, serving as the network’s first Beijing bureau chief and senior Asia correspondent. Before joining CNN, he worked for CBS News and NBC News. He won Emmy, Dupont, and Peabody awards for his coverage of China.


EANE Leadership Summit

March 29: The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) will host its annual Leadership Summit on Wednesday, March 29 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. With a focus on navigating the new workforce, the summit will showcase tangible ways leaders can adapt to workplace dynamics that have significantly shifted in the three years since the onset of COVID-19. Faced with myriad workforce challenges — hybrid work, shifting market dynamics, and new attitudes toward work in general, to name a few — leaders in the Northeast may be struggling to keep up with change. In fact, a 2023 Deloitte survey found that only 24% of C-suite executives and board members feel their organizations are ready to make the changes needed to navigate the new workforce. The program will feature an opening keynote from U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Famer Chris Waddell. A Western Mass. native, Waddell’s keynote will share his insights and experience as the first nearly unassisted paraplegic to summit Mr. Kilimanjaro. Waddell’s inspiring presentation will challenge attendees to bring integrity to their leadership responsibilities, even when times get tough. The closing keynote will be presented by Mohammad Anwar and Frank Danna, Wall Street Journal bestselling co-authors of Love as a Business Strategy. Through compelling storytelling, Anwar and Danna will provide attendees with a new, people-first framework for achieving any business outcome. They help leaders achieve better results by transforming behaviors and providing tactics to build high-performing, reliable teams that inspire a feeling of belonging that is led with love. Attendees will also have access to 10 breakout sessions with topics including coaching and development, unlocking one’s potential, mastering time management, engaging multiple generations, avoiding legal landmines, mitigating conflict, leading with empathy, and more. Organizations that register six or more participants get 10% off each registration, reserved seating, a personalized post-summit debrief with a member of EANE staff, and more. Grant funding is available to Massachusetts attendees through the Express Program and Rhode Island attendees through the Incumbent Worker Grant. The program will offer credits for HR Certification Institute and SHRM. Register and learn more at www.eane.org/event/2023-leadership-summit.


Difference Makers Gala

April 27: The 15th 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 2023 Difference Makers was announced, and their stories told, in the Feb. 20 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $85 each, and tables of 10-12 are available. To purchase tickets, visit businesswest.com/difference-makers. Partner sponsors for this year’s program include Burkhart Pizzanelli P.C., the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and Westfield Bank.


Pioneer Valley Conference for Women

May 4: The Pioneer Valley Conference for Women will host its first in-person event at the Marriott in downtown Springfield. The theme of the conference is “Let Go.” Leading the speaker lineup are Paulette Piñero, social entrepreneur, writer, and leadership coach, and Yvonne Williams, author of Tested Faith and It’s All About the Shoes. Each will provide a keynote address to an expected audience of more than 300 attendees. The conference highlights topics that were chosen by the women of Western Mass., based on current trends and interests. Alison Maloni, owner of Alison May Public Relations, news anchor for a national network, and bestselling author of Breaking in the News: Build Buzz for Your Brand, will emcee the conference. Local comedian Jess Miller will entertain attendees during a VIP Comedy Kick-off the evening before the conference; tickets cost $35. The cost to attend the Pioneer Valley Conference is $52, which includes breakfast, lunch, a swag bag, and an afternoon celebration with a female DJ and complementary wine and hors d’oeuvres following the full-day conference. The lunch sponsor is M&T Bank. The panel sponsor is Westfield Bank. The network sponsors are Smith Executive Education and USI Insurance. The small-business sponsors are Lovelace Design and Rooted Flowers. Keeping with the goal of accessibility, the conference will also be available virtually for those who are more comfortable watching through a screen. Sessions will be taped for future viewing. For more information on keynote speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and panelists, visit sheslocal.org/pioneer-valley-conference-for-women.



June 23-25: Registration for Hooplandia, a 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, is now open at www.hooplandia.com and includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. The tournament, presented by the Eastern States Exposition (ESE) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, will take place on the grounds of ESE in West Springfield June 23-25, with special games at the Hall of Fame in Springfield. The event is expected to attract thousands of fans and players as hundreds of games take place across more than 70 courts. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. With brackets that include veterans, first responders, youth, wheelchair athletes, college elites, and many more, there’s a spot on the court for everyone. 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 from $75 to $190, with children under 8 and participants in the Special Olympics category being free of charge. Hooplandia has teamed up with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Partnership opportunities for Hooplandia are available at a variety of levels to help underwrite all areas of play, including Boys & Girls Club youth, active military, veterans divisions, and more. Anyone interested should email [email protected] Hooplandia welcomes participation from youth team referees, scorekeepers, Fan Village contest facilitators, and volunteers for myriad duties to help make this inaugural year a success. Those interested in participating in this groundbreaking event can fill out the volunteer form at www.hooplandia.com.

People on the Move
Melvin Olivo

Melvin Olivo

Theo Streeter

Theo Streeter

UMassFive College Federal Credit Union recently announced two management-team promotions: Assistant Vice President of Information Technology Melvin Olivo and Information Technology Manager Theo Streeter. Olivo’s career at UMassFive began in 2020 as the Information Technology manager. In his new position, he will be responsible for the strategic, day-to-day oversight of Information Technology, ensuring efficient, secure, and service-oriented performance of the department. Streeter’s career at UMassFive began in 2014 as a Member Service specialist in the King Street, Northampton branch before moving on to various levels of Enterprise Support technician. He was most recently promoted to senior Enterprise Support technician in 2018 before accepting the role of IT manager. In his new position, he will be overseeing the Enterprise Support technical team, administering network infrastructure and software platforms, as well as hardware procurement.


Brandon Roper

Brandon Roper

Camfour Inc. — a growing national wholesaler of firearms, ammunition, and accessories for the shooting-sports industry, with distribution centers in Westfield and Pflugerville, Texas. — announced the promotion of Brandon Roper to the position of president. In this new capacity, Roper will report to CEO Malcolm Getz and the ownership group. He will be responsible for leading the continued growth of the Camfour brand and team. Roper has been effecting change since first joining Camfour as vice president of Sales and Marketing. During that time, he is credited with a variety of accomplishments, including the complete rebrand of Camfour, sales execution during the market slowdown of 2022, the growth of the company’s sales team, and preparation of a three-year strategic plan.


Shreyas Ovalekar

Shreyas Ovalekar

Terri Lindsey

Terri Lindsey

Krista Benoit

Krista Benoit

D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc. (DAS), a general-contracting and construction-management firm serving the public and private sectors since 1897, is proud to announce three recent hires to the organization: Shreyas Ovalekar as estimator, Terri Lindsey as office administrator/HR, and Krista Benoit as project manager/engineer. Ovalekar joins DAS from Vantage Builders, where he was also an estimator. With more than seven years of experience, he brings vast knowledge and unique perspective to the DAS team. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Western New England University. Before joining DAS, Lindsey was an office manager at Burke Chevrolet. She comes to DAS with experience and enthusiasm to contribute to an efficient, inclusive, and developing workforce. Benoit comes to DAS from Dietz & Company Architects Inc. Her diverse experience includes a wide range of projects on the architectural side of project design and delivery, and her expertise will be an asset to the DAS team.


Unemployment Tax Control Associates Inc. (UTCA), a national unemployment-insurance service provider based in West Springfield with an office in Boston, announced that Principal Evan Murphy has been appointed to Connecticut’s Employment Security Advisory Board. The eight-member board advises state administrators on matters pertaining to the policy and administration of the Employment Security Division. A UTCA employee for more than 10 years, Murphy oversees analysis, implementation, and client-success efforts to reduce the cost and complexity of employer unemployment-insurance programs. He facilitates educational seminars for customers, industry associations, and various employer groups across the country. He has been instrumental in helping businesses of all sizes and scopes effectively understand and control their unemployment cost and compliance. Murphy was appointed by Connecticut state Rep. Jason Rojas, the majority leader of the House of Representatives.


Scott Little

Scott Little

Berkshire Money Management (BMM) announced that Scott Little, financial advisor and vice president at the firm, has earned the behavioral financial advisor (BFA) designation. Behavioral financial advisors combine financial knowledge with psychology and neuroscience to increase their ability to coach clients in making rational, values-based decisions. Behavioral finance acknowledges that, while numbers are rational, people are not, which can make carrying out financial plans challenging for client and advisor alike. The BFA program was developed by Think 2 Perform to teach advisors to recognize their clients’ emotions and help them stick with their plans, even when those emotions run high. To earn the certification, advisors must complete two multi-part courses on behavioral finance, pass an online proctored exam, and complete 20 hours of continuing education to renew their status every two years. Little has been helping BMM clients build secure retirements for more than 20 years. He is a licensed financial advisor, a certified elder planning specialist, and now a behavioral financial advisor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics from MCLA.


Everette Anderson

Everette Anderson

At its annual S.T.A.R. Awards & Safety Banquet on Feb. 28 Peter Pan Bus Lines honored 11 of its 1 million-, 2 million-, 3 million-, and 4 million-mile motor-coach operators. The brightest star was Everette Anderson, who has been a Peter Pan motor-coach driver for 53 years, since May 1970. Anderson is the second motor-coach operator in the history of this country to be inducted into the National Safety Hall of Fame for driving 4 million miles without any accidents. The first inductee was Peter Pan motor-coach operator Ed Hope in 2017. Four million miles is the equivalent of 40 trips around the earth. Other Peter Pan motor-coach operators honored at the S.T.A.R. Awards included Thomas Reckner and Paul Boie for for 3 million miles; Phillandor Knight, Dave Kollisch, Wayne Soloman, and Anthony Wilson for 2 million miles; and Syed Bukhari, Edward Caouette, Frederick Perry, and Horace Wright for 1 million miles.


The Massachusetts State Lottery and the Boston Celtics recently honored Kashawn Sanders of Springfield as a Hero Among Us. Sanders uses the power of mentoring to help shape the future of today’s youth. Along with co-founder Tyrone Williams, Sanders established the Follow My Steps Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that provides mentoring programs, financial resources, and career and skill development to youth living in under-resourced communities throughout the Commonwealth. Through community service and a growing number of local events, Sanders is helping empower his students to give back to their own communities. In less than three years, his organization has devoted countless mentorship hours to more than 1,000 students, inspiring each of them to see and reach their full potential. For his commitment to uplifting youth vulnerable communities through mentorship, and in honor of Bill Russell’s legacy in the mentoring movement, Sanders was honored as a Hero Among Us on Feb. 12, when the Boston Celtics played the Memphis Grizzlies.


Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas

Henry Thomas, who presided over the Urban League of Springfield for almost a half-century, announced his retirement last week. “I have had the privilege to spend my entire career supporting the Springfield community and creating countless spaces where our community can thrive, grow, and achieve excellence,” he wrote in a letter announcing his decision. “My dream has always been to serve, and I am so honored to have spent my life’s work with a civil-rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality, and social justice.” Thomas was named one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2023, and will be honored at a gala on April 27. He joined the Urban League in 1971 as youth coordinator. In 1974, at age 25, he became the nation’s youngest leader of a national Urban League affiliate. One of his key areas of focus throughout his career has been education, and not just through Urban League programs; he also served for 13 years on the UMass Amherst board of trustees — including two and a half years as board chair — and was a co-founder of New Leadership Charter School. Under his watch, Urban League initiatives have included include education and youth-development initiatives, as well as programs for economic and workforce development, health and wellness, and seniors. Also in the vein of education and workforce development, Thomas established Step Up Springfield, a teacher-development program in Springfield; is funding (along with his wife, Dee, a former teacher and principal herself) a $50,000 scholarship for Black youth from Springfield; and tackled a two-year assignment with the National Urban League as its vice president for Youth Development, with a primary focus of youth development within inner-city communities. Another one of Thomas’ successes was bringing Camp Atwater in North Brookfield — the oldest overnight camp for Black youth in the U.S. — back to life in 1980 after a period of dormancy. The camp celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021.

Company Notebook

STCC Receives State Grants for Nursing, Tech Career Pathways

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was recently awarded state grants to enhance a nursing partnership with Westfield State University and to start a STEM Tech Career Academy for high-school students at West Springfield High School and Veritas Prep Charter School. The Workforce Skills Cabinet — an alignment of state executive offices — awarded STCC a two-year, $600,000 Nursing Pathways Grant. The state funding will help STCC and Westfield State further develop synergies and clarify student pathways for their respective programs. Nursing students can obtain their associate degree in nursing from STCC and continue virtually, or on the STCC campus, as they pursue their bachelor’s degree from Westfield State. As a result of the grant, STCC students will see a reduction in time and cost to achieve their BSN from Westfield State. The Workforce Skills Cabinet also awarded a three-year, $1 million grant to start a STEM Tech Career Academy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The $5 million announced in December for five new STEM Tech Career Academies across the state included one that partners STCC with West Springfield High School and Veritas Prep Charter School. The STEM Tech Career Academy focuses on healthcare, environmental and life sciences, and business and finance. The partnership will leverage existing innovation pathways and includes Baystate Eye Care Group, Each Moment We’re Alive, Walgreens, and Springfield Thunderbirds Hockey Club as industry partners. The STEM Tech Career Academy grant will help expand early college programs specifically for STEM courses and will help students explore STEM career pathways. STCC offers an innovation-pathway program for West Springfield High School students in their junior year. STCC’s work with Veritas includes students as early as ninth grade with the possibility of earning 60 college credits. The STEM Tech Career Academy will provide work-based learning opportunities with paid internships and capstone projects to students, said Pamela Westmoreland, director of Early College Initiatives at STCC. The goal is to increase the number of students who earn associate degrees or certificates.


Greenfield Company Rebrands, Expands as NE-XT Technologies

GREENFIELD — Valley Steel Stamp (VSS) was founded in 1971 by William Capshaw with two employees who made steel marking tools for local industries, particularly hand-tool companies. This week, the company, led by his son, Steve Capshaw, announced the launch of its new name, NE-XT Technologies, and a new website designed to define the contemporary capabilities of its team of more than 200 skilled engineers and machinists. Although the company has rebranded, it continues to focus on the precision machining of complex, close-tolerance components and assemblies for aerospace, defense, and other industrial applications. The rebrand goes much deeper than a new name, logo, and website. NE-XT was acquired by Jefferson River Capital in 2022, which allowed it to expand in terms of capabilities and its leadership team. That year, Richard Havighorst joined the team as chief financial officer and Katie Szelewicki as vice president of Human Resources.



Bay Path Nets $1 Million for Student Success Center

LONGMEADOW — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal joined Bay Path University President Sandra Doran to announce a $1 million earmark to launch a Student Success Center at the university. The allocation was made possible through Congressionally Direct Spending (CDS) from the Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022. Funding will be used to complete the work to launch a new Student Success Center that will deliver holistic, coordinated, wraparound academic, financial, and career-development support services that are easily accessible 24/7, both online and on campus. The center will accommodate the needs of Bay Path’s diverse student populations, integrating its services into a student’s academic program through systematic communications and touchpoints throughout the undergraduate experience.


Big Y Donates Almost $44,000 to Local Breast-cancer Groups

SPRINGFIELD — (March 2, 2023) In order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, all Big Y supermarkets donated proceeds from their October initiative, “Partners of Hope,” to 32 breast-cancer support groups throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. This program reflects the partnership, commitment, and support of breast-cancer awareness and research that are so vital for many. Recipients in Western Mass. include Protect Our Breasts (Amherst), Holyoke Medical Center Women’s Center (Holyoke), the Pink Way (Ludlow), Survivor Journeys (Longmeadow), Cancer Connection (Northampton), Cooley Dickinson Hospital Women’s Health Care (Northampton), Berkshire Medical Center Women’s Imaging Center (Pittsfield), Baystate Health Foundation, Rays of Hope (Springfield), and Mercy Medical Center, Center for Breast Health (Springfield). Since 2007, Big Y has raised more than $2 million to support local breast-cancer initiatives.


Streetlight Financial Foundation Partners with Friends of Children

FLORENCE — Streetlight Financial Foundation announced that Friends of Children Inc. has been chosen as the recipient of its fundraising efforts for 2023. The foundation was created in 2022 from financial-services company Streetlight Financial. Founding partners Aaron Smith and Mark Vaclavicek recognized a need for a philanthropic effort that provides a positive financial impact to one cause or organization each year. Friends of Children, a Northampton-based 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults impacted by foster care or juvenile-justice involvement, is the first recipient of the foundation’s annual fundraising initiative.


MDRT Foundation Awards $2,000 Grant to Girl Scouts

HOLYOKE — The MDRT Foundation has awarded a $2,000 grant to Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) in support of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and further its mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.The Million Dollar Round Table Foundation gives to charitable organizations worldwide, demonstrating the generosity, service, and impact of MDRT members. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award more than $1.6 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 300 charitable organizations worldwide. Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts was nominated for the MDRT grant by Amy Jamrog, CEO of the Jamrog Group and GSCWM board member. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a collection of engaging, challenging, and fun activities for girls to develop a strong sense of self, display positive values, seek challenges, learn from setbacks, form and maintain healthy relationships, and learn to identify and solve problems in their community.


LiftTruck Parts & Service Announces 35th Anniversary

WEST SPRINGFIELD — LiftTruck Parts & Service Inc., a local, family-owned business with locations in West Springfield and Brockton, announced its 35th business anniversary. For 35 years, LiftTruck has been a family-owned business providing cost-effective forklift sales, rentals, parts, and service to the Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Rhode Island areas. The company offers a wide range of brands for sale, including BYD, Clark, Doosan, Heli Americas, and Komatsu, and is now also selling the new BYD lithium ion phosphate battery-powered forklift. The BYD lithium iron phosphate battery LiFePO4 has proven to be extremely safe, never losing structural integrity nor exploding. LiftTruck Parts & Service also offers both short- and long-term electric, LP, and gas forklift rentals with planned maintenance to keep customers’ business running smoothly. Its various service plans help clients monitor maintenance costs, hours of usage, equipment condition, and other factors that can affect forklift trucks’ on-the-job performance. LifeTruck provides service on all makes of forklifts, golf cars, pallet jacks, reach trucks, and stackers. LiftTruck is outfitted to manage all its clients’ material-handling equipment needs and meet clients’ service needs in a cost-effective manner.


BetMGM Supports Problem Gambling Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD — BetMGM announced a new pledge to prominently feature responsible-gaming messages in its marketing and advertising campaigns beginning March 1, in alignment with the start of Problem Gambling Awareness Month. As part of the pledge, responsible-gaming messaging will be featured within BetMGM’s mobile app and within BetMGM advertisements ranging from billboard marketing to television, print, and radio ads across the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, responsible-gaming messages and banners will be incorporated into BetMGM’s digital and social platforms, as well as on property signage within physical BetMGM sportsbooks. Along that line, MGM Resorts, MGM Northfield Park, and BetMGM were well represented as sponsors at the 20th Ohio Problem Gambling Conference, held in Columbus last week. The event brought together leading gaming operators, researchers, and treatment professionals in an effort to generate problem-gambling awareness and education while discussing the impact of legalized sports betting in the state.



By Meredith Wise

DEI Initiatives are very much in our conversations. However, the HR Trends 2023 survey by McLean & Co. show that actions on these initiatives have stalled for the second year in a row.

This study highlights human-resources priorities and challenges, comparing current-year results to prior years. In 2021, DEI efforts jumped from eighth place in 2020 to fourth place largely due to national and global conversations and actions around equity and social justice. In 2022, these efforts fell to fifth place, and this year they have dropped to sixth on the HR priority list.

In our work helping companies develop roadmaps for DEI, a handful of key areas are lacking: dedicated time to focus on DEI, leadership support, training, and resources.

According to the study, governance, leadership buy-in, strategic discussions, and data collection are the common roadblocks to moving DEI efforts forward. Actions and planning can refocus your organization’s initiatives.

Leadership: Senior leaders should model DEI behaviors in all their interactions and communications. Training alone will not move your goals along. Moving beyond awareness training to competency learning opportunities will help elevate the support from leadership. The data in the study demonstrated that the 40% of organizations that leverage competency-based training are more likely to be high-performing in DEI compared to those leveraging awareness-based training.

Communications: DEI-related topics and performance should be woven into regular communication cadences from leaders and HR functions. Active communication and discussions about initiatives, actions, and challenges need to happen.

Formal DEI Strategy: Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated they did not have a formal or documented DEI strategy.This percentage has remained stable over the past three years. Policies and practices document how DEI programs will operate in the organization. These policies should address how DEI considerations are integrated, including the employee experience, performance management, recruiting, retention, advancement, compensation, and more.

Data: Understanding that time is at a premium for HR teams and professionals, initiatives in 2023 may best be focused on data collection and analysis. This data will shape strategy, demonstrate gaps and urgency to the organization, and allow for informed decisions on a formal strategy and governance.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; however, with a combination of leadership support, resources, and a dedicated team, organizations will more likely become high performing versus those without this focus.

According to the study, recruiting is once again the number-one priority on HR professionals’ minds for the third year in a row. Although DEI has fallen further down the list, this work does not exist in a silo — maintaining momentum on DEI efforts will support other priorities, including talent attraction and retention.

It’s also good news that embedding DEI into organizational culture and processes does not require a degree in advanced physics. All that’s needed to operationalize DEI is the right commitment, planning, and structure.


Meredith Wise is president of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. This article first appeared on the EANE blog; eane.org

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