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Company Notebook

Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim Announce Plan to Merge

MASSACHUSETTS — Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan recently inked an agreement to merge, a marriage that would bring together the Commonwealth’s second- and third-largest insurers, creating a powerhouse to rival Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan, will serve as CEO of the new organization. Michael Carson, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, will serve as president, overseeing the organization’s diverse business lines and subsidiaries, according to a release. “Our communities and consumers today face four major hurdles in health care: affordability, access, quality of health, and a fragmented healthcare experience across various stakeholders and health systems. Through our shared vision, we believe we can tackle these issues and bring more value to the communities we serve,” said Croswell in a statement. The plan was unanimously voted on by the boards of both organizations. The new combined entity does not yet have a name. The deal would bring together Tufts Health Plan’s 2,841 employees and approximately 1.16 million members with Harvard Pilgrim’s 1,182 employees and approximately 1.16 million members. Together, the insurers will have members in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Elms College Will No Longer Require SAT, ACT Scores for Most Admissions

CHICOPEE — Starting with the class entering in the fall of 2020, Elms College will no longer require scores from standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT for admission to most majors. The move to a test-optional policy is intended to make higher education accessible to students from all backgrounds, including from underrepresented populations. Elms admission counselors will review applicants’ essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. They also will talk with prospective students to get to know them as full people. The test-optional policy will give all students, including those from underrepresented populations such as racial and ethnic minorities or those with economic disadvantages — groups who traditionally earn lower scores on standardized tests because of systemic social inequities — a greater chance to access the educational and experiential opportunities Elms offers. The School of Nursing at Elms will still require test scores, however, because nursing majors are required, upon graduation, to take the NCLEX exam to become licensed as nurses, and the college needs to know that its nursing students can succeed on such exams. Students or families with questions about test-optional admission, academics at Elms, or the application process are encouraged to contact the Office of Admission at (413) 592-3189 or [email protected] More information is also available online at elms.edu/testoptional.

UMassFive to Bring Employees Student-loan Repayment Benefits

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it is bringing student-loan repayment benefits to its employees via a new partnership between Student Choice and FutureFuel.io. Student Choice teamed up with FutureFuel.io earlier this year to better help credit unions address the growing challenge of student-loan debt faced by the emerging workforce. Participating in this new perk allows credit unions to offer their employees and employees of select employee groups access to FutureFuel’s online portal of automated tools that can help reduce the impact of student debt.

Monson High School Golfers, Monson Savings Bank Support Shriners

MONSON — Monson High School graduate Cam Kratovil, sophomore Mason Dumas, and varsity golf coach Paul Nothe, in cooperation with Monson Savings Bank, teamed up to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. Kratovil and Dumas collected pledges for a marathon golf round they recently played at Quaboag Country Club. They were escorted in golf carts around the course by Nothe and his wife, Nicole, as they completed their goal of playing 100 holes between the hours of 6 a.m. and noon. All the money pledged to them will be given to Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield. In addition, Monson Savings Bank sponsored the 2019 Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Quaboag Country Club on Aug. 17 and 18 to benefit the hospital.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in ENR’s Ranking of Environmental Firms

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, a Northeast leader in engineering and environmental consulting, climbed six spots this year to number 142 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) “2019 Top 200 Environmental Firms” ranking. ENR ranks its list of top 200 envi environmental firms nationally based on the percentage of their 2018 gross revenue from environmental services. Earlier this year, Tighe & Bond also climbed 19 spots to number on ENR’s “2019 Top 500 Design Firms” ranking, moving up a total of 38 spots in the past two years. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year. Tighe & Bond provides comprehensive engineering and environmental services to hundreds of public and private clients across the Northeast, with emphasis on the education, energy, government, healthcare, industrial, real-estate, and water/wastewater markets. A staff of 385 work from nine offices in five states.

People’s United Community Foundation Grant Boosts JA Summer Program

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, which provides workforce-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial-literacy programs to K-12 youth, recently received a $5,000 grant from the People’s United Community Foundation to support its Summer BEE (Business and Entrepreneurial Exploration) program for middle- and high-school students. The funds will be used to provide out-of-school educational experiences for youth from grades 6 to 12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career exploration/work readiness, and STEM education. The program includes in-class learning, hands-on learning, and experiential out-of-school learning experiences, such as lessons about the water ecosystem with presentations, videos, and techniques to test the water in the nearby Connecticut River. To learn problem solving, decision making and teamwork, students form companies, create a product, and market and sell the product, with the goal of earning a profit. Students have several opportunities to sell their products and pitch the companies to business people, family, and friends.

ESB Foundation Donates $5,000 to Hilltown Community Health Center

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the Easthampton Savings Bank Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the capital campaign for the John P. Musante Health Center of Hilltown Community Health Center. Located at 70 Boltwood Walk in Amherst, the John P. Musante Health Center provides accessible and affordable healthcare for primary and preventive medical, dental, and behavioral healthcare services. The center’s service area includes Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Hatfield, Belchertown, Ware, South Hadley, Sunderland, South Deerfield, and Leverett.

WNEU Teams Up with Comcast to Offer Xfinity on Campus Service

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast announced it will bring its Xfinity on Campus service to Western New England University, allowing students to watch live TV and on-demand and recorded content on their IP-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The service is included with room and board for students living in on-campus housing. Xfinity on Campus offers more than 100 live channels and access to thousands of current TV shows and hit movies via Xfinity on Demand. While off campus, students can use the Xfinity Stream app to log in and access TV Everywhere programming that’s part of their subscription.

Eversource Upgrading Electric System in Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — Eversource is investing $4 million in upgrades to electric-distribution systems in the towns of Plainfield, Cummington, Chesterfield, Worthington, Windsor, Savoy, and Dalton. These enhancement projects include replacing more than 130 utility poles with stronger, thicker ones and installing more than 21,000 feet of more resilient power lines. ‘Smart switches’ are also being added to the system to help restore power outages more quickly in the event they happen. These devices can limit the number of customers affected by an outage and restore power with computer-assisted technology from the energy company’s operations center even before sending a crew to inspect the line and make repairs. A major component of this upgrade project is connecting two electrical circuits, creating a loop. Once the two electrical systems are tied together, it will make substations on either end accessible when needed, boosting the company’s ability to deliver reliable power. Customers may experience short power interruptions during the project, so crews can safely perform the work. Any customers affected will be notified by the company in advance. The project is expected to be complete by this fall.

Holyoke Medical Center Expands Services in Westfield

WESTFIELD — Holyoke Medical Center announced expanded healthcare services in Westfield, including family medicine, women’s services, gastroenterology, walk-in care, and more. Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has relocated to 140 Southampton Road in Westfield. The office offers care for the entire family, including pediatrics, adult primary care, women’s health, and geriatric care. Dr. Thomas Graziano and Deborah Pisciotta, MS, PA-C, are accepting new patients. The office is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. To make an appointment, call (413) 535-4800. In addition to Holyoke Medical Group Family Medicine, Holyoke Medical Center plans to offer walk-in care, lab draw, imaging services, and physical therapy at the 140 Southampton Road facility starting this fall. Holyoke Medical Group Women’s Services also has an office in Westfield, located at 94 North Elm St., Suite 102, in Westfield. Holyoke Medical Center Gastroenterology will also open a new office at 94 North Elm St., Suite 206, in Westfield on Oct. 21.

Massachusetts Unemployment Drops Slightly in July

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.9% in July, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 3,500 jobs in July. Over the month, the private sector lost 4,100 jobs as losses occurred in leisure and hospitality; education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; and financial activities. Manufacturing jobs remained unchanged over the month, while trade, transportation, and utilities; other services; and information added jobs. Government added jobs over the month. From July 2018 to July 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 37,300 jobs. The July unemployment rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point. The labor force decreased by 4,400 from 3,838,800 in June, as 2,100 fewer residents were employed and 2,400 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — dropped one-tenth of a percentage point over the month to 67.6%. Compared to July 2018, the labor-force participation rate is up one-tenth of a percentage point. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in other services; education and health services; information; and leisure and hospitality.

SPARK EforAll Holyoke Seeks Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — SPARK EforAll Holyoke is actively seeking volunteers to participate as mentors in this winter’s business-accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have 90-minute in-person meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

Court Upholds Dismissal of Class-action Special-ed Suit

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced that the Federal Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a class-action suit that had been brought by special-education advocates against the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court entered judgment on Aug. 8 affirming the decision of Judge Mark Mastroianni to dismiss the class action. The underlying suit alleged that the city of Springfield and Springfield Public Schools (SPS) violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily segregating students with mental-health disabilities in a separate and inferior school, the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS). A student brought the suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all students with a mental-health disability who are or have been enrolled at SPDS. Two associations, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), joined as plaintiffs seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, including an order that defendants provide the class plaintiffs with “school-based behavior services in neighborhood schools to afford them an equal educational opportunity and enable them to be educated in neighborhood schools.” The U.S. District Court, in an opinion by Mastroianni, denied class certification. The court later ruled that the associations had standing but granted the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings as to the associations. The plaintiffs’ appeal challenges the district court’s denial of class certification. The city appeal argued that the district court erred in concluding that PPAL and DLC had standing. The Court of Appeals agreed that these organizations lack standing to pursue the claims in the complaint, and affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings as to PPAL and DLC on that ground. The case was argued by Deputy City Solicitor Lisa deSousa and attorney Stephen Holstrom, with whom City Solicitor Edward Pikula and attorney Melinda Phelps of Bulkley Richardson were on the brief.

Agenda

Northampton Survival Center 40th Anniversary

August and September: The Northampton Survival Center invites the public to join in its 40th-anniversary celebration with events in August and September that highlight local businesses and their support for the center’s role in Northampton and nearby communities. A series called “40 Ways to Cook a Carrot” will kick off the festivities the week of Aug. 19-25, with participating restaurants featuring a carrot-inspired appetizer, entree, dessert, or drink in recognition of the center’s bright-orange carrot logo. After-hours parties will take place at various downtown businesses on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. A single price of $25 will allow ticket holders entry into all participating parties, with each party staging its own select activity, such as live music, merchandise discounts, and more. The Window Stroll Challenge, expected to run several days in early September beginning Friday, Sept. 6, will showcase creative downtown window displays starring the center’s carrot logo. A map, published in a special pull-out section of the Daily Hampshire Gazette and available in participating stores, will orient visitors to the downtown area. An online version of the map, directing strollers to participating window displays, will do double duty as customers use it to vote for their favorite windows and also join in a hidden-carrot contest, with eventual winners eligible for prizes. Finally, businesses outside the downtown area plan a toiletry drive and challenge to see which participating business can collect the most donations of toiletries, such as toothpaste, soap, diapers, and other personal-care items.

ACC Super Saturday

Aug. 10: On Super Saturday at Asnuntuck Community College (ACC), admissions, advising, financial aid, registration, and the cashier’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and all services will be available on a walk-in basis. Advising for manufacturing programs and all continuing-education licensure and allied-health programs will also be available that day. ACC’s advanced manufacturing technology program will also hold an open house. Visitors can see the 27,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and learn what the program has to offer. Those who can’t make it that day may call (860) 253-3189 for more information or to arrange a tour. Placement testing for math and English will be available that morning. SAT and ACT test scores may also be used for placement purposes. Those interested in participating in the Accuplacer placement testing need to pre-register. Testing will begin at 10 a.m. Call (860) 253-1200 to secure a spot. For additional placement-test information, visit www.asnuntuck.edu/admissions/placement. Students who have not already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are encouraged to do so. The FAFSA can be submitted online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The school code for ACC is 011150. Follett’s ACC Bookstore will also be open that day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those who can’t make it on Aug. 10, open registration is available every Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The college will be open for extended hours every Wednesday in August and on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 26-27, until 6:30 p.m. Classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

DeVries Fine Art Reception for 40th Career Anniversary

Aug. 10: DeVries Fine Art International announced it will celebrate sculptor Andrew DeVries’ 40th career anniversary with a reception from 2 to 5 p.m. at the DeVries Fine Art International Gallery, 62 Church St., Lenox, with picnic fare and art both inside the gallery and outside on the grounds. Rosie Porter and Tommy LeBeau will provide music. The gallery features original bronze sculptures, pastel paintings, and watercolors by the artist. New for this year is an educational room that gives a detailed description of the lost-wax process Devries uses, with a video and examples of different works in progress. DeVries began his career in Colorado by drawing dancers at the Ballet Denver Academy in 1978. Encouraged to try his hand at sculpture by the artistic director of the ballet company, he began to model figures in clay and wax. In 1979, he cast and finished his first works in bronze. In 1985, he settled in the small Berkshire hilltown of Middlefield, where he maintains his atelier and casting studio. His sculptures are in public and private collections worldwide. He and his wife, gallery Director Patricia Purdy, established DeVries Fine Art International in 2002.

‘Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour’

Sept. 7: The Melha Shriners, in conjunction with the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton, will present a day-long country music festival at the fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The “Roots & Boots ’90s Electric Throwdown Tour” will bring a full day of music with six country acts, featuring nationally renowned artists Sammy Kershaw, Collin Raye, and Aaron Tippin. Popular local bands King Kountry, Southern Rain, and Cottonwood will also perform. Ticket prices are $30 (general admission, advance sale), $35 (general admission, day of the show) and $40 (reserved seating). General admission is free for children under 5. Tickets are available online at 3countyfair.com/events. The gates will open at 10 a.m., with on-site parking available for $5 per vehicle. Food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase. No outside food or beverages will be permitted. General admission patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets; however, beach umbrellas and pop-up tents are not allowed. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact event chair Shonn Monday at (413) 800-2312.

HCC Foundation Golf Classic

Sept. 9: Registration is now open for the Holyoke Community College Foundation’s 32nd annual fundraising golf tournament at Springfield County Club in West Springfield. Proceeds from the annual tournament will support student scholarships and academic-equipment purchases through the HCC Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College. The golf outing begins with an 11:30 a.m. buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The $185 fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. After golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch with scenic views of the Pioneer Valley, followed by dinner and the opportunity to enter raffles and bid on dozens of items, including restaurant gift certificates, Red Sox memorabilia, wine baskets, golf outings, and more. Over the past 31 years, the annual HCC Foundation Golf Classic has raised more than $500,000 for HCC scholarships and educational technology for HCC classrooms. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. To register, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.

RVCC Golf Tournament

Sept. 13: River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC), a multi-faceted mental-health agency, will hold its fourth annual golf tournament fundraiser at 10:30 a.m. at East Mountain Country Club in Westfield. The event is presented by Action Ambulance Services. The funds raised will help RVCC to continue providing mental health and other essential supportive services to more than 7,000 individuals yearly throughout the Pioneer Valley. The cost per golfer is $100 and includes greens fees, a golf cart, gift bag, lunch, and dinner. Golfers will also be able to participate in a raffle and silent auction. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. There will also be contests on the course, with prizes donated by Marcotte Ford and Teddy Bear Pools. Other tournament sponsors include BusinessWest, Unidine, PeoplesBank, CINTAS, Goss & McLain Insurance, Marsh & McLennan Agency, BMC HealthNet Plan, and Jefferson Radiology. For more information on sponsorships, in-kind donations, and registration, contact Angela Callahan, RVCC’s Marketing and Development specialist, at (413) 841-3546 or [email protected] Information is also available at www.rvcc-inc.org or by visiting River Valley Counseling Center’s Facebook page.

Golf Tournament to Fight Childhood Hunger

Sept. 30: Feed the Kids will hold its second annual charity golf tournament to benefit No Kid Hungry and the HPS Weekend Backpack Program at Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. No Kid Hungry is a national organization that raises funds to support school breakfast programs, summer meals, afterschool meals, and more for children throughout the country. The HPS Weekend Backpack Program distributes bags of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals to children at the end of each week that they can enjoy over the weekend. Feed the Kids is currently seeking donations for the tournament’s silent auction, individual and corporate sponsors, and, of course, golfers. Check-in for the scramble-format tournament will begin at 10 a.m., with a shotgun start at noon. The fee is $160 per golfer, which includes greens fees, driving range, cart use, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, and a gift bag. There will also be prizes, a raffle, and an auction. Visit feedthekidsgolf.com.

Healthcare Heroes

Oct. 17: The third annual class of Healthcare Heroes will be honored at the Sheraton Springfield from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Healthcare Heroes, a recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector, was launched in 2017 by HCN and BusinessWest. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and people providing that care. The class of 2019 will be profiled in the Sept. 2 issue of BusinessWest, and will be feted at the Oct. 25 gala. Tickets will go on sale in August. Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health/Health New England (presenting sponsor), Development Associates (partner sponsor), Comcast (partner sponsor), Elms College (supporting sponsor), Bulkley Richardson (supporting sponsor), and Design to Finish (supporting sponsor). Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Briefcase

Bradley Begins Construction on New Ground Transportation Center

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont, state leaders, Connecticut Airport Authority officials, and project stakeholders held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of Bradley International Airport’s new Ground Transportation Center on July 18. The new facility, spanning 1.4 million square feet across 13.4 acres, will be located west of the existing short-term and long-term parking garage, with a direct connection to Terminal A. Its major features will include convenient rental-car services across from Terminal A, additional public parking, and improved access to public transportation, including a dedicated area that will be used to receive high-frequency buses connecting the airport to the CTrail line, as well as regional bus services. The construction phase will be completed over the next three years and will cost approximately $210 million, which is being entirely financed by customer facility-charge revenues. In anticipation of the construction of the new Ground Transportation Center, several enabling projects were initiated in 2018 to prepare the site for construction. These projects focused on the realignment of roadways and the addition of a new intersection. Additional enabling projects will commence in the late summer and will be publicized in the coming weeks.

Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 3.0% in June

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate in June remained unchanged at 3.0%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts added 9,800 jobs in June. Over the month, the private sector added 8,400 jobs as gains occurred in education and health services, leisure and hospitality, financial activities, manufacturing, information, and trade, transportation, and utilities. Government added jobs over the month. From June 2018 to June 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 35,500 jobs. The June unemployment rate was seven-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.7% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force decreased by 2,100 from 3,840,900 in May, as 1,700 fewer residents were employed and 500 fewer residents were unemployed over the month. The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents age 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — dropped one-tenth of a percentage point at 67.7% over the month. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in education and health services, information, leisure and hospitality, and other services.

Adam Quenneville Seeks Nominations for No Roof Left Behind Program

SOUTH HADLEY — When hard times fall on a local family, caring people in the community want to help. No Roof Left Behind is a nationwide program that gives good neighbors a chance to nominate a deserving homeowner to receive a free new roof. It also provides a local contractor the framework to provide a new roof at no cost. Adam Quenneville Roofing & Siding Inc. has participated in the No Roof Left Behind program since 2014, and will do so again this year. Online nominations will be accepted from local people who know someone in dire need of a new roof in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties from Aug. 2 through Aug. 23, and then the public will vote online for the 2019 winner. To submit a nomination, visit noroofleftbehind.com. Each participant must upload a photo and brief story about someone who needs a new roof. Volunteers will review the nominees and select four finalists. From Aug. 26 through Sept. 13, the public will vote for the winner online. Finalists will be revealed, and the public will vote online for the 2019 winner, who will be revealed on Oct. 11.

MassDevelopment Provides $310,000 for Real-estate Projects Across State

BOSTON — MassDevelopment announced up to $310,000 in funding for 10 projects through its Real Estate Technical Assistance program. Under this program, through a combination of in-house expertise and contracts with consultants, MassDevelopment works with municipal officials, planners, local stakeholders, and others to address site-specific and district-wide economic-development challenges. The technical-assistance funds will support a range of projects, from feasibility studies to master-planning efforts. Locally, the town of Greenfield will use one of the awards to prepare a market assessment and operational analysis of proposed uses in the First National Bank and Trust building. This follows a feasibility study that consultant Taylor Burns completed in June. The other local award will be given to the city of Holyoke to develop architectural and financial analyses to determine the cost of rehabilitation of the former National Guard Armory at 163 Sargeant St. Findings from the analyses will help the city secure additional funding needed to move the project forward.

Briefcase

Nominations Sought for 30th Annual Super 60 Awards

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber is seeking nominations for its annual Super 60 awards program, presented by Health New England.

Marking its 30th year, the awards program recognizes the success of the fastest-growing privately owned businesses in the region that continue to make significant contributions to the strength of the regional economy. Each year, the program identifies the top-performing companies in revenue growth and total revenue. Last year, total-revenue winners combined for more than $750 million in revenues, with 25% of these winners exceeding revenues of $40 million. All winners in the revenue-growth category had growth in excess of 13%, while one-quarter of the top 30 companies experienced growth in excess of 75%. To be considered, companies must be independently and privately owned, be based in Hampden or Hampshire county or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber, produce revenues of at least $1 million in the past fiscal year, and be in business for at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year. Companies may be nominated by financial institutions, attorneys, accountants, or be self-nominated, and must submit a nomination form and provide net-operating-revenue figures for the last three full fiscal years, signed and verified by an independent auditor. All financial information must be reported under generally accepted accounting principles and will be held and considered confidential and not released without prior approval. Nomination forms are available by contacting Grace Szydziak at [email protected] or (413) 755-1310. Nominations must be submitted no later than Aug. 2. The Super 60 awards will be presented at the annual luncheon and recognition program on Oct. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Chez Josef in Agawam.

Municipal Utilities Support Integrating Emerging Technologies

BOSTON — Massachusetts municipal utilities are leading the way in integrating carbon-free technologies into their power portfolios, contributing significantly to achievement of the Commonwealth’s energy goals, according to speakers at a State House event sponsored by the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), the joint action agency for Massachusetts municipal utilities. Approximately 14% of electric consumers in the state are served by municipal light plants (MLPs), a valuable part of the electric-utility industry that deliver low-cost, reliable electric service to consumers. MLPs are nonprofit and owned by the people they serve. Locally appointed or elected boards of commissioners maintain decision-making authority for each light department. MMWEC CEO Ronald DeCurzio outlined the clean-energy projects included in the MLP portfolios, dating back to the 1984 construction of a 40-kilowatt wind project built by the Princeton municipal utility. “Municipal utilities have been at the forefront of the carbon-free energy movement for some time,” he said. “MLPs have recognized trends and implemented emerging technologies in an efficient, economic manner in the best interest of their customers.” In just a few weeks, a new municipal-utility wind project will commence commercial operation. Phase two of the Berkshire Wind Power Project in Hancock will add 4.6 megawatts (MW) to the existing 15-MW wind farm. The project, the second-largest wind farm in Massachusetts, is owned by a cooperative consisting of 16 municipal utilities and MMWEC. By the end of 2019, MMWEC member utilities will have 67.8 MW of wind generation, 48 MW of solar, and 26.2 MW of energy storage — nearly 15% of the 2020 target of 200 MW of storage in place in Massachusetts. Three of MMWEC’s members utilized a total of $1.64 million in grants through the Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage initiative, a coordinated effort between the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the state Department of Energy Resources, to fund their energy-storage projects. A fourth municipal utility took advantage of declining energy storage costs to install an energy-storage system without the help of state grants or federal tax incentives, a first among municipal utilities in Massachusetts.

Donations of $100,000 to Help Hispanic Students at HCC, WSU

HOLYOKE – College students of Hispanic heritage from Holyoke will benefit from new scholarships established at both Westfield State University (WSU) and Holyoke Community College (HCC), thanks to $100,000 gifts to each institution from Victor and Mariellen Quillard. Victor Quillard, a retired president of Hampden Bank, and his wife, Mariellen, are both Holyoke natives, and their gifts aim to support Hispanic residents from Holyoke who are pursuing their college degrees. The $100,000 donations were given to the Westfield State Foundation and the Holyoke Community College Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising corporations of each institution. The gifts will establish two new endowed scholarships in the Quillards’ name. The Victor E. and Mariellen Quillard Scholarship at HCC gives preference to Holyoke residents of Hispanic heritage who have completed a minimum of 12 credits and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75. The Victor and Mariellen Quillard Scholarship at WSU gives preference to Holyoke residents of Hispanic heritage who transfer from HCC to Westfield State and have a minimum GPA of 2.75. Westfield State University President Ramon Torrecilha noted that “these significant monies will support the university’s goals to offer an accessible and affordable education while supporting its commitment to a diverse and welcoming community.”

Watch, Clock Collectors Make Time in Western Mass.

SPRINGFIELD — The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) staged its national convention in Western Mass. — 39 years after its last such event in New England. The convention, which took place at the Eastern States Exposition on June 27-30, featured products for purchase along with raffles, lectures, and contests. The group was brought to Western Mass. by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB). The economic impact is estimated at $2,543,423, which includes hotel rooms, meals, and other costs associated with the convention. “The convention is unique to New England because the first clocks and watches were produced in New England in the 1700s,” said Alicia Szenda, director of Sales at the GSCVB. “This convention is all about clocks, watches, the tools used in making and repairing them, sundials, barometers, and ephemera. Members of the group share a common interest in collecting, buying, selling, trading, repairing, restoring, and studying the science of time.”

State Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly in May

BOSTON —  The state’s May total unemployment rate is up one-tenth of a percentage point at 3.0%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts lost 3,600 jobs in May. Over the month, the private sector lost 4,000 jobs, although gains occurred in professional, scientific, and business services; information; and manufacturing sectors. The jobs level in ‘other services’ remained unchanged over the month. Government added jobs over the month. From May 2018 to May 2019, BLS estimates Massachusetts added 26,700 jobs. The May unemployment rate was six-tenths of a percentage point lower than the national rate of 3.6 percent reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Massachusetts continues to experience a strong economy with a low unemployment rate of 3.0% percent and over 60,000 more employed residents and 17,500 fewer unemployed residents in the last year. Also, the Commonwealth’s labor force participation rate remains at a near 15-year high and is 5 points above the U.S. rate,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said. The labor force increased by 600 from 3,840,400 in April, as 1,100 fewer residents were employed and 1,700 more residents were unemployed over the month.

Unify Against Bullying to Award Record $20,000 in Grants

SPRINGFIELD — Unify Against Bullying’s 2019 online grant applications are now open. All applications are due to be submitted by Aug. 14. Unify also announced it has increased the amount it is awarding this year to $20,000 — a record amount for the organization. Grant applications are available at unifyagainstbullying.org. “One of our key goals is to inspire youth of all ages to participate,” Executive Director Christine Maiwald said. “It’s our job to give life to their ideas. They know best how we can bring an end to bullying. Additionally, we are in search of parents, teachers, and community leaders who would like to help us end this epidemic. All are encouraged to apply.” To date, Unify has awarded 27 grants to students and others who have helped lead anti-bullying efforts in their schools and communities. All programs have been dedicated to anti-bullying education and furthering the Unify mission: to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. “To encourage youth participation, the grant application process has been made very easy,” Maiwald said. “It’s a single-page form which can be filled out in a matter of minutes.” The organization has a committee of volunteers who select the initiatives which best reflect and advance their mission. “This is the fourth year that Unify will be awarding grants,” Maiwald said. “We’ve come a long way from our first year, when we were only able to provide $3,500 in grants. Although it was a modest start, it was the beginning of something very special.” Unify Against Bullying is a tax-exempt organization dedicated to bringing an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. To achieve this mission, Unify provides grants to students, teachers, parents, and community leaders dedicated to bringing an end to bullying. One of Unify’s core missions is to inspire youth of all ages and ignite their ideas on how to prevent or reduce bullying. Unify’s high-school students attend events and help educate their communities on the different resources available. The organization also coordinates programs where high-school students educate their younger peers on the value of celebrating each other’s differences.

Company Notebook

MGM Springfield Receives LEED Platinum Certification

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Resorts International announced that MGM Springfield has received the world’s first U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) New Construction Platinum level certification for a gaming resort. MGM Springfield, which opened in August 2018, is the company’s most recent development. Working closely with state and city officials, as well as the local community, MGM Resorts committed to designing and building a property that exemplifies the company’s values in support of environmental sustainability and positive social impact while honoring local history and architecture. A significant enabler of the LEED Platinum rating is the property’s new solar array, which will supply renewable electricity to the facility. In partnership with GE Solar, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Massachusetts, MGM Springfield will install a 1.13-megawatt solar canopy on the eighth floor, on top of the MGM Springfield garage. This array is expected to generate more than 1,600 megawatt hours of electricity, helping reduce the property’s annual carbon footprint by approximately 410 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Among its sustainable design and development elements, MGM Springfield redeveloped and revitalized a tornado-impacted site in the South End; integrated smart energy infrastructure and submeters through the facility to help monitor and control the property’s electrical and mechanical systems to support year-round energy efficiency; designed for significant on-site electricity generation; installed 50 electric vehicle-charging stations and 140 low-emitting fuel-efficient vehicle parking spaces in some of the most preferable locations of the guest and employee garages, to encourage the use of more environmentally preferable modes of transportation; diverted more than 95% of construction and demolition waste by weight from landfills during construction; selected products from manufacturers that disclose information about the ingredients in their products; used interior finishes such as paints, sealants, coatings, adhesives, carpeting, and composite wood products with low or no volatile organic chemicals and free of urea-formaldehyde, helping to create healthier spaces for guests and employees; and created a rainwater-harvesting system and underground cistern to capture, store, and treat rainwater onsite, allowing 100% of water for landscaping to come from this source. Working with community partners, the MGM Springfield development project includes multiple buildings within the city of Springfield, including a daycare facility, entertainment venues, and more. All aspects of this project have already achieved or are seeking a minimum of LEED Gold certification.

Bulkley Richardson Launches Craft Brew and Distillery Practice

SPRINGFIELD — With a growing number of clients in the space, Bulkley Richardson announced the launch of its Craft Brew and Distillery practice. The firm advises local craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries in all stages of development, from startups to established businesses. The firm’s attorneys possess a depth of expertise in the relevant areas of law to assist with startup and entity formation; state, federal, and local licensing; financing; distribution agreements; intellectual-property matters; real-estate matters and commercial leases; construction and expansion; mergers and acquisitions; business succession planning; and litigation. The Craft Brew and Distillery practice is led by attorneys Ryan Barry, Scott Foster, Michael Roundy, and Sarah Willey. To help launch this new practice, Bulkley Richardson has signed on as lead sponsor, alongside Berkshire Bank, of What’s on Tap Wednesday, the new, weekly outdoor beer garden featuring local breweries. The events are held on Wednesdays after work beginning June 5 through September 18, and will rotate locations among 1350 Main St., Duryea Way, MGM Springfield, Tower Square Park, and the Shops at Marketplace. Each week will feature live music, local food, and guest brewers. The firm will also sponsor the second annual Whip City Brewfest on Saturday, June 1 in Westfield to support the Amelia Park Children’s Museum. Roundy has been on the festival’s planning committee from the inception and is heavily involved in the planning of the event.

Tighe & Bond Climbs in National Design Rankings

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond, one of the leading full-service engineering and environmental consulting firms in the Northeast, climbed 19 spots this year to number 222 on Engineering News Record’s (ENR) 2019 Top 500 Design Firms ranking. In the past two years, Tighe & Bond climbed 38 spots as the firm continues to grow its regional market. ENR ranks its list of top 500 design firms nationally based on design-specific revenue from the previous year. “We are very excited to climb 19 spots in this national ranking, which we believe is the result of continuing to execute on our strategies of expanding in our regional markets along with attracting and retaining outstanding staff across the organization,” said Bob Belitz, president and CEO of Tighe & Bond. “Of course, we could not achieve these accomplishments without the trust our clients have in us to work on their behalf and deliver superb project outcomes.”

Wellfleet Relocating to Tower Square in August

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet, a Berkshire Hathaway company providing accident and health-insurance products, will relocate its national corporate headquarters to Springfield’s Tower Square in August. A press conference will be held on Friday, June 7 at 11 a.m. at the Tower Square ground-floor atrium. Wellfleet has outgrown its current office space on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. The new offices at Tower Square will give Wellfleet employees up to 80,000 square feet of class A office space and provide ample room for Wellfleet’s new and growing Workplace Benefits division. Formerly known as Consolidated Health Plans, the company rebranded as Wellfleet in January, uniting its insurance carriers and claims-administration organizations under one marketing name. Wellfleet has approximately 175 employees, 150 of whom work in Springfield; others work remotely or from satellite offices in Florence, S.C. and San Rafael, Calif.

GCC Awarded Grant to Improve Post-incarceration Workforce Outcomes

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College (GCC) has been awarded $17,000 from the Commonwealth Corp. as part of an Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development initiative to improve workforce outcomes among individuals returning to their communities after incarceration. The Program Design Capacity Building Grant is part of the Commonwealth Corp. Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program. The goal of the grant is to design a manufacturing workforce pipeline in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties that helps meet unmet manufacturing labor needs. The project aims to prepare returning citizens for careers in manufacturing by addressing systemic barriers to gainful employment for individuals post-incarceration. In order to achieve this goal, GCC will partner with manufacturing businesses, state and community agencies, and Holyoke Community College. Grant partners include four manufacturing businesses; Peerless Precision Inc., Sisson Engineering Corp., Deerfield Packaging Service Inc., and Sanderson McLeod Inc. Partner agencies include the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office and House of Corrections, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board, MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, Community Action Pioneer Valley, and Holyoke Community College.

GCC Foundation Awards $190,000 in Scholarships

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Community College (GCC) Foundation awarded 127 scholarships to GCC students at its 57th annual GCC Foundation scholarship awards ceremony. The awards totaled over $190,000, with an additional $100,000 to be distributed in the fall, all made possible by donor support of endowed and direct-funded named scholarships. The occasion is a time for members of the entire GCC community to come together to celebrate students’ academic achievements. Scholarship donors include private individuals, local businesses, corporations, faculty and staff, and alumni, and many were on hand to present their awards to the recipients. For a complete listing of the scholarships awarded, visit www.gcc.mass.edu/2019scholarships. Scholarships range in size and eligibility requirements, and include awards to students enrolled in credit-bearing certificate and degree programs, as well as participants in the college’s non-credit workforce-development programs. The Charlotte Waynelovich Scholarship is one example. Funded by Baystate Health and Baystate Franklin Medical Center in honor of her retirement, it was presented by Wanelovich to a GCC student in the associate degree in nursing program who lives in Franklin County. The GCC Foundation was founded in 1968. Since then, it has worked with those who wish to invest in the dreams of students who work, students who cannot afford tuition, and students who cannot travel to other educational institutions.

Florence Bank Pitches in on Community Center Upgrade

SPRINGFIELD — Florence Bank and the city of Springfield are working together to upgrade the basketball court at Greenleaf Community Center in time for summer, school vacation, and neighborhood pickup games. Work to repave and paint the court began earlier in May and is expected to be complete before school ends in June. Two new hoops and backboards will also be installed. Nearly two years ago, Florence Bank opened its first branch in Hampden County at 1010 Union St. in West Springfield, and last fall, a second branch opened at 1444 Allen St. Florence Bank and the city each contributed $15,000 to the project. A celebratory event will be held on Tuesday, June 18 from 6 to 8 p.m., with a rain date of June 19.

Briefcase

Employer Confidence Strengthens in April

BOSTON — The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index rose 2.4 points to 60.3 last month. Confidence remains well within optimistic territory, though still 3.9 points below its strong reading of April 2018. The April 2019 increase reflected growing employer optimism about economic prospects for the next six months and about the future of their own companies. All of the constituent indicators that make up the Index rose during April with one notable exception. The Employment Index fell 1.5 points to 54.4, suggesting that employer sentiment continues to be tempered by a persistent shortage of qualified workers. “The Business Confidence Index continues to show a conflict between short-term economic optimism and long-term concern about the prospect of finding enough appropriately skilled workers to run Massachusetts businesses,” said Raymond Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design. “The immediate news for employers is positive as economic growth in Massachusetts surged to an annual rate of 4.6% during the first quarter of 2019, and U.S. growth came in at 3.2%.” The constituent indicators showed a broad-based strengthening of confidence during April. The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the Commonwealth rose 1.5 points to 63.2, while the U.S. Index gained 2.8 points to 58.3. The Massachusetts reading has declined 0.9 points during the past 12 months, and the U.S. reading has dropped 5.6 points during the same period. The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, surged 3.1 points to 60.5. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, rose 1.7 points to 60.0, still 5.1 points lower than a year ago. The decline in the Employment Index left that measure 5.4 points lower than in April 2018. One good sign for job seekers is that the Sales Index, a key predictor of future business activity, rose 3.9 points during the month.

Leadership Pioneer Valley Partners with Tech Foundry on Program for Students

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) and Tech Foundry partnered together for a leadership-development curriculum for the students participating in the 14-week IT-training program. At no cost to the students, Tech Foundry prepares a cross-section of the population to step into a sustainable career in the information-technology sector. The program provides a comprehensive computer-science curriculum that gives students the fundamental knowledge needed to work with a variety of programming languages, computer hardware, networking solutions, and more. Partnering with Leadership Pioneer Valley, Tech Foundry was able to offer leadership development and skills to the students. “I can definitely say that, as a result of working with LPV, our students’ skill sets and confidence increased by leaps and bounds. Lora was thoughtful and responsive from our first planning meetings designing the curriculum to establishing the schedule, to securing trainers and delivering the workshops to meet our unique program needs,” said Dara Nussbaum-Vazquez, executive director of Tech Foundry. “Interactive and engaging LPV sessions with Tech Foundry ranged from students creating an elevator pitch on video to team exercises building towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows, to a creativity and problem-solving session rooted in improv-comedy techniques. We would highly recommend LPV to other nonprofits and companies, and look forward to a longstanding partnership.” LPV is also currently seeking applications for its LEAP Class of 2020. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is Monday, July 1. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

Scholarships Available for STEM Studies at HCC

HOLYOKE — Students enrolled full-time in chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics, or other STEM fields at Holyoke Community College (HCC) may qualify for a National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship of up to $10,000 a year toward tuition and fees. Recipients of the scholarship become members of HCC’s STEM Scholars program and participate in field trips and benefit from other exclusive STEM-related events and activities each semester. The NSF STEM scholarship continues each semester students maintain good academic standing. Incoming and current HCC students are encouraged to apply. The application deadline for the 2019-20 academic year is Monday, July 15. Eligibility guidelines for the National Science Foundation STEM scholarship can be viewed at www.hcc.edu/scholarships, where there is also a link to the online application under ‘National Science Foundation Scholarships in STEM.’ Applicants must be enrolled full time in a STEM program, demonstrate academic ability or potential, and demonstrate financial need, according to the guidelines. STEM disciplines include biological sciences, physical sciences, math, computer and information services, geosciences, and engineering.

Company Notebook

Homewood Suites by Hilton Hadley Now Open

HADLEY — Homewood Suits by Hilton, part of Hilton’s All Suites portfolio, announced the opening of its newest property, Homewood Suits by Hilton Hadley. With 96 new suites, the hotel is the first extended-stay property in Hampshire County. Developed and owned by the Parmar Family and managed by Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, Homewood Suites by Hilton Hadley offers a combination of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom accommodations featuring fully equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas. Guests are also provided amenities like complimentary hot breakfast, evening socials, wi-fi, and a grocery-shopping service. Located at 340 Russell St., Homewood Suites by Hilton Hadley also features an outdoor kitchen and grill area, fitness center, and indoor pool, as well as 695 square feet of flexible space for meetings and social events.

Hogan Technology Receives Top Industry Award

EASTHAMPTON — Hogan Technology recently received Technology Assurance Group’s (TAG) top award at the 19th annual TAG Convention held in Orlando, Fla. TAG, an international organization of independently owned managed-technology service providers in the U.S. and Canada, selected Hogan Technology as the winner of the TAG Champion Award. The award is based on the company’s ability to drive fellow TAG members’ growth and advancement. Hogan Technology offers an array of IT networking, voice, and video solutions all designed to increase customers’ profitability and productivity. The TAG Champion Award was accepted by Sean Hogan, president of Hogan Technology. “Our company’s goal is to always strive to be on the leading edge of technology,” Hogan said. “Through TAG, we learn best business practices for the betterment of the customers we serve. We believe in giving back to the members that have helped us along the way. We’re proud to have won this award among such a sophisticated group of managed-technology services providers.”

Registration Open for HCC Summer-session Classes

HOLYOKE — Registration is underway for summer-session courses at Holyoke Community College (HCC). Three- and four-credit summer classes at HCC are offered in two four-week sessions and one full-term, seven-week session — on campus, online, and blended. Summer session one begins June 3 (ending June 27 to July 3), while session two begins July 8 (ending Aug. 1-8). The full-term summer session begins June 3-4 (ending July 17-23). HCC’s comprehensive summer academic program comprises nearly 200 course sections in 38 academic areas, including accounting, American Sign Language, anthropology, art, biology, business administration, chemistry, communications, community health, criminal justice, culinary arts, earth science, economics, engineering, English, academic English as a second language, environmental science, forensic science, general studies, gerontology, health, health information management, history, human services, law, management, marketing, math, medical assisting, music, nutrition, philosophy, political science, SEM (science, engineering, and math), psychology, sociology, Spanish, and sustainability. A complete listing of course descriptions and summer-class schedules is available at hcc.edu/registration. To enroll, visit hcc.edu/apply. For more information, visit hcc.edu/admission or call (413) 552-2321.

STCC to Offer Summer Classes

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer five-week and 10-week on-campus and online summer sessions. Session one begins on June 3, and session two starts July 8. Academic subject areas include accounting, anthropology, biology, business, chemistry, criminal justice, economics, electronic systems, English, graphic communication and photography, history, information technologies, math, medical terminology, music, philosophy, physics, psychology, sign language, sociology, Spanish, and speech. Class schedules are available at www.stcc.edu/summer. Students can register online, by phone at (413) 755-4321, or in the Registrar’s Office, Student Learning Commons (Building 19), Room 169. Summer also presents an opportunity for high-school students to take free college classes and earn credit. Area high-school students are encouraged to enroll in STCC’s College Now dual-enrollment program to take summer courses. Students who begin during their junior year can enroll in up to eight free courses, which may be taken to fulfill high-school graduation requirements or to pursue an academic interest. Credits earned can also be used toward any STCC degree program. Interested students should speak with their parent or guardian and guidance counselor before the May 1 application deadline for session-one courses.

Springfield College AmeriCorps Program Receives National Funding

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College AmeriCorps Program will receive $1,133,274 in AmeriCorps funding spread out over the next three years from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and other national service programs. Springfield College is one 26 Massachusetts-based organizations that received federal funding, supporting 6,611 AmeriCorps members in their efforts to tackle ongoing challenges in early-childhood education, job readiness, and environmental conservation. For 22 years, the Springfield College AmeriCorps program has provided the city of Springfield and its public schools with student-support and academic-support specialists. Its staff and student volunteers provide mentoring, counseling, social-emotional reinforcement, direct interventions, and identification of risk factors that lead to dropping out of school. The Springfield College AmeriCorps program is the largest in Western Mass., with 56 total members. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have provided an average of more than 44,000 hours of service to more than 16 of Springfield’s public schools leading to student academic success in English and math, and improved results in early literacy skills, attendance, and behavior.

Paragus Technology Drive Raises $2,445 for Dakin

HADLEY — On April 22, Paragus IT teamed with Dave’s Soda and Pet Food City and the Lexington Group for a technology-recycling drive to promote sustainability on Earth Day and to benefit Dakin Humane Society. Paragus took old, unwanted computers, laptops, printers, and other equipment to prepare them for reuse or proper disposal. In exchange, it collected $5 per piece of equipment — all of which went to benefit Dakin Humane Society. Between drop-offs at Paragus IT in Hadley and Dave’s Soda And Pet Food City and pick-ups by the Lexington Group, the technology drive raised a total of $2,445 for Dakin Humane Society.

Briefcase

Leadership Pioneer Valley Accepting Applications for LEAP Class of 2020

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) is now accepting applications for enrollment in the LEAP class of 2020, a nine-month, regional leadership-development program that engages the Pioneer Valley’s most promising emerging leaders through learning and exploration. Participants are trained in leadership skills by experts in a classroom setting. They also attend in-depth field experiences across the region where they meet with local leaders and explore the region’s economy and culture. The LEAP program runs September through May. In its seven years, nearly 300 individuals representing more than 90 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated. The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region. Fifty-three percent of alumni have a new leadership role at work, 64% have joined a new board of directors, and 99% made new meaningful connections. LPV is seeking applicants all over the Pioneer Valley, including Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties in different sectors. The program is made for those in nonprofits, businesses, and government who are eager to increase their leadership skills and take action to better the region. Applicants are considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying. Those who apply by June 1 will be eligible for $100 off of their personal tuition, and companies with three or more applicants by June 1 will receive 50% off one participant. The deadline for LPV class of 2020 applications is July 1. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

First-quarter Profits Up Across MGM Resorts

LAS VEGAS — MGM Resorts International reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2019. Consolidated net revenues increased 13% compared to the prior year quarter to $3.2 billion. MGM Springfield earned $9.38 million on $77.9 million in net revenue. That figure represents adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA. “The first quarter came in slightly better than our expectations with consolidated net revenues up by 13% and adjusted EBITDA up 5%,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “Our Las Vegas resorts experienced broad and diversified customer demand. Our non-gaming revenues grew by 4%.” Net revenues increased 21% to $804 million, including $78 million in contributions from the opening of MGM Springfield in August and $37 million in contributions from the acquisition of Empire City Casino in New York in January. “We remain focused on achieving our 2020 targets of $3.6 billion to $3.9 billion in consolidated adjusted EBITDA and significant growth in free cash flow,” Murren said. “Our strategy to achieve these goals includes the continued ramping up of MGM Cotai [in Macau], Park MGM [in Las Vegas], and MGM Springfield, and the implementation of the MGM 2020 Plan. MGM 2020 is a company-wide initiative aimed at leveraging a more centralized organization to maximize profitability and lay the groundwork for the company’s digital transformation to drive revenue growth.”

PVPC Releases Economic-development Strategy

SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) recently released its 2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress Five-year Update, a blueprint for economic development in the region. The CEDS features a description of regional economic-development conditions and sets forth goals and objectives for the future, as well as a list of projects seeking the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration Public Works funding in the next year. The report highlights the region’s continued decrease in unemployment, an improved workforce-talent pipeline, and increased early-education enrollment and high-school and community-college graduation rates, among others, as metrics illustrating the overall progress being made. The CEDS also lists many major committed projects of regional significance, such as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame renovations in Springfield, North Square at the Mill District in Amherst, and the One Ferry Street mixed-use development in Easthampton. A full digital copy is available at www.pvpc.org/plans/comprehensive-economic-development-strategy-ceds. Hard copies are also available upon request.

Company Notebook

New England Public Radio, WGBY Join Together to Create New England Public Media

SPRINGFIELD — New England Public Radio and WGBY Public Television announced they will join to create a robust new multi-media organization, New England Public Media (NEPM), with one of the largest newsrooms in Western Mass. With a goal of expanding public media offerings for the people of Western New England, NEPM will build on the strength of each organization to deliver the educational content, cultural and news programs, and community engagement that characterizes public media. Martin Miller, CEO and general manager of New England Public Radio, will become president of NEPM. Anthony Hayes, general manager of WGBY Public Television, will become chief operating officer and general manager of the new organization. NEPM will be an independently run organization with its own governing board. Combined, New England Public Radio and WGBY Public Television have 78 employees, and all current employees will be part of the new organization. NEPM’s enhanced newsroom will total about 21 and is expected to grow over the coming years. The WGBH Educational Foundation, which holds the broadcast license for WGBY, will invest $6 million over six years in the new venture. When combined with critical community support for NEPM, this investment will allow for new programming while ensuring in-depth local journalism remains the centerpiece of the combined organization. WGBH will have a seat on the NEPM board. UMass Amherst will continue to hold the broadcast license for WFCR 88.5FM, and along with the NEPR Foundation board, it has been actively involved in the negotiations that led to the creation of NEPM. The university remains deeply committed to supporting the growth of public media in Western Mass. and will have a seat on the NEPM Board. The support of the Five College Consortium has been a vital part of the history and long-standing excellence of WFCR (Five College Radio) and New England Public Radio since its inception. The executive director of the consortium, which includes Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges as well as UMass Amherst, will also serve on the NEPM board. Along with an expanded news service, NEPM will focus on new content creation including digital music streams, multi-platform and digital programming, and community engagement and education, in addition to the programs audiences now enjoy. A new daily radio program with a local focus will be among the first initiatives the new organization will undertake. Details will be finalized over the coming months with plans and final approval to be completed this summer.

 

Gov. Charlie Baker to Speak at UMass Amherst Commencement

AMHERST — Gov. Charlie Baker will be the featured speaker at the undergraduate commencement at UMass Amherst on Friday, May 10 at 4:30 p.m. at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The governor will address an anticipated crowd of about 20,000 family members, friends, and other guests as approximately 5,500 undergraduates receive their bachelor’s degrees at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus. “We are honored that Governor Baker will deliver this year’s commencement address,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “As a results-driven leader, he combines a concentration on thoughtful data analysis with an emphasis on building relationships that strengthen our Commonwealth. His support for UMass Amherst has provided our students the opportunity to flourish as they play an invaluable role in the state’s innovation economy. “It’s no coincidence that, under the governor’s leadership, Massachusetts has achieved record employment, the highest percentage of citizens with healthcare, and an outstanding education system,” he went on. “At the flagship campus, we are proud of playing a role in providing high-quality, affordable education for our citizens.”

Big Y Express Eliminates Plastic Bags

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the recent announcement of Big Y Foods Inc. to phase out single-use plastic bags at its checkouts, its Big Y Express Gas and Convenience locations became the first division in the 80-store company to eliminate these bags completely. Previously, Big Y Express in Lee was the only gas and convenience location without these bags as part of that town’s ordinance. Now, the other eight locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut have joined in this pursuit. Single-use plastic bags create an inordinate amount of waste. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year. If not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm fish, marine animals, birds, and other wildlife. Big Y has been complying with single-use plastic-bag bans in five of its local communities in Massachusetts (Amherst, Great Barrington, Lee, Northampton, and South Hadley) since 2014. The company also issued a pledge in January to eliminate all single-use plastic bags at its checkouts in 2020. The elimination of these bags at its Express locations is the first phase of the implementation for this pledge. Currently, there are several more towns with bans pending, such as Longmeadow and West Springfield. In addition, the legislatures of both Massachusetts and Connecticut are discussing statewide bans on single-use plastic bags.

Country Bank Reports Record Earnings, New Board Leadership

WARE — Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully announced the appointment of Maura McCaffrey, former CEO of Health New England, and Keith Blanchette, partner at Stolberg, Ebbeling and Blanchette, LLP, to its board of trustees at its recent annual meeting held at the AC Marriott in Worcester. The bank also appointed five new corporators, including Nancy Crimmin, president of Becker College; Cherylann Gengel, co-founder of Be Like Brit; Michael Myers, president of the Worcester Railers; Peter Dawson, partner at Mirick O’Connell; and Mark Donahue, partner at Fletcher Tilton. At the meeting, Country Bank reported its 2018 earnings resulted in record-breaking profits. Net income was reported at $12,853,000, with total assets increasing to $1,624,000,000. Deposit balances increased to $1,083,182,000, and total loans increased from the prior year to $1,240,421,000. Capital was reported at 14.06%, maintaining the bank’s position as one of the higher-capitalized banks in the Commonwealth. As part of its ongoing Worcester expansion, the bank partnered with the Worcester Red Sox as one of the team’s 21 founding partners in anticipation of its move to Worcester in 2021.

United Financial Bancorp Announces Q1 Earnings, Dividend

HARTFORD, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended March 31. The company reported net income of $12.7 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2019, compared to net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2018 of $12.2 million, or $0.24 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $15.8 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. “Despite the challenging operating environment, the United Financial Bancorp Inc. team is focused on expanding and winning new client relationships, maintaining strong asset quality and ample capital, and providing superior customer service,” said William Crawford, IV, president and CEO of the company and the bank. Assets totaled $7.34 billion at March 31, 2019, decreasing $16.9 million from $7.36 billion at Dec. 31, 2018. At March 31, 2019, total loans were $5.73 billion, representing an increase of $75.1 million, or 1.3%, from the linked quarter. Deposits totaled $5.66 billion at March 31, 2019 and decreased by $6.3 million, or 0.1%, from $5.67 billion at December 31, 2018.

HealthDrive to Acquire New England Geriatrics

WEST SPRINGFIELD — HealthDrive, a leader in delivering integrated specialty healthcare services to residents of long-term care, skilled nursing, and assisted-living facilities, announced it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire New England Geriatrics (NEG), a provider of comprehensive and quality psychiatric care for patients and their families. This acquisition will allow HealthDrive to expand its services as it seeks to create a leading multi-specialty healthcare platform for vulnerable populations. This is the first acquisition for HealthDrive as a portfolio company of Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact-investing business of Bain Capital. Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. NEG was founded on mission-driven principles in 1994 to provide mental-health services to underserved geriatric populations in Massachusetts. Today, the company serves more than 13,500 Massachusetts and Connecticut residents in over 129 long-term-care facilities, four managed inpatient geriatric psychiatric units, and one outpatient clinic through its dedicated network of mental-healthcare professionals. As consultants to the facilities and their primary-care physicians, NEG clinicians provide evaluation and diagnostic services, medication management, psychotherapy, behavior-management consultation, and evaluation of patients for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Steve Marcus, the current CEO of NEG, who will join HealthDrive as a senior adviser, added that “we selected HealthDrive as our partner because it is most aligned with our commitment to clinical excellence for the vulnerable population New England Geriatrics serves. We have worked side by side with HealthDrive providers in skilled-nursing facilities for many years, and it is apparent that the HealthDrive team truly understands the population that we at New England Geriatrics make our mission to serve. We are confident that, through our partnership with HealthDrive, New England Geriatrics will continue to offer the same great level of care that we have provided over these past 25 years.” The transaction is anticipated to close in the first half of 2019 and is subject to regulatory review and customary closing conditions.

UMassFive Among Recipients of Workforce Training Fund Grant

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced its selection as one of 68 Workforce Training Fund grant recipients in the state of Massachusetts chosen by the Baker-Polito administration. As a financial institution deeply invested in the communities it serves, UMassFive takes pride in supporting the local economy through providing quality service and products for its members, and by offering employment opportunities that encourage personal growth and career development. Accomplishing both of these goals means taking a real interest in the professional development of every employee and offering training opportunities so that any staff might become an expert in their chosen field. The $174,000 awarded to UMassFive will provide training for current and newly hired employees that focuses on technology-related mastery as well as leadership and management development in order to promote job growth, retention, and increased opportunity. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by Commonwealth Corp.

Work Opportunity Center Cuts Ribbon on New Springfield Facility

SPRINGFIELD — Work Opportunity Center Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 8 at its newly purchased and renovated community-based day-services (CBDS) facility located at 73 Marketplace in Springfield. Established in 1969, Work Opportunity Center Inc. (WOC) initially served its participants through a center-based work-service model. Community-based day services were added in the summer of 2014. In June 2016, center-based work services were discontinued for all participants, and those services were converted to CBDS. As of March 14, 2019, there are approximately 84 individuals participating in WOC CBDS services. Last month, 34 program participants and six staff members transferred from the WOC facility in Agawam to its newest facility in Springfield. The CBDS program of supports enables individuals with developmental disabilities to enrich their lives and enjoy a full range of community activities by providing opportunities for developing, enhancing, and maintaining competency in personal, social, and community activities. Service options for individuals participating in the CBDS program include career exploration, community-integration experiences, skills development and training, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits, health and fitness classes, socialization experiences, and support to enhance interpersonal skills as well as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies. The renovation of the 73 Marketplace facility is supported by a $10,000 grant made by the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation along with a $5,000 grant from Westfield Bank toward the purchase of a new vehicle for program participants.

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. of Holyoke Is Now Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — Poised to boost its reach three-fold over the next five years, Girls Inc. of Holyoke has chosen a new name — Girls Inc. of the Valley — to embody its bigger, wider impact across Western Mass. The agency will keep its headquarters in Holyoke, said Executive Director Suzanne Parker at a press conference this morning at WGBY’s headquarters in downtown Springfield, and stay as committed as ever to the city of its origin. But with Girls Inc. members now hailing from Springfield, Chicopee, South Hadley, and other surrounding communities, a name change was certainly needed. Girls from area communities will continue to benefit from Girls Inc. of the Valley programs held at the Holyoke center headquarters on everything from literacy to leadership, said Parker, but the agency is also expanding into surrounding communities and has partnered to work inside 10 schools, including Springfield’s Chestnut Academy Middle School and Chicopee’s Bellamy Middle School and Dupont Middle School.

CommunicateHealth Celebrates 10th Anniversary

NORTHAMPTON — CommunicateHealth announced its 10th anniversary as a national consulting firm specializing in health information design. CommunicateHealth started as a consulting practice focusing on translating health information into plain language. Co-founders Xanthi Scrimgeour and Stacy Robison started the business in their Northampton attic. The couple quickly outgrew that space, eventually establishing an office on nearby Market Street. Over the past 10 years, the company has been successfully evolving into a full-service communications shop. The mission-based company works for some of the biggest names in healthcare and public health, including health-insurance companies, health systems, patient-advocacy groups, and government. They also take on projects for local hospitals and community organizations. CommunicateHealth is headquartered in Northampton with a second office in the Washington, D.C. area. It employs more than 65 employees across both offices. In 2018, the company recorded more than $12 million in sales.

Hazen Paper Co. Wins AIMCAL Product of the Year

HOLYOKE — Turning a simple box into an unusual ‘beauty and the beast’ packaging statement, Hazen Paper Co. was honored for the second year in a row with Product of the Year honors at the annual meeting of the Assoc. of International Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators (AIMCAL), held recently in Palm Beach, Calif. The winning entry was a folding carton titled “The Spirit of Innovation” for prestige luxury box maker Autajon Packaging USA, which featured a three-dimensional, jewel-toned snake and a female model whose face transformed from flawless to gorgeously reptilian when the box is tilted. The folding carton was made with precisely registered custom color-motion holography that reflects and refracts light to bring the snake’s sinuous curves to life and allows the woman’s face and eye to blaze with unexpected snake-like gleam. The box is embossed with a snakeskin pattern and finished with a soft-touch coating. Inside, a sea-green coating contrasts with the rich black exterior. Hazen also received a “Product Excellence” award for Benefit Cosmetics’ Hoola Quickie Contour Stick packaging, created with silver Ultracure acrylic-coated metallized polyester laminated to paperboard, offset-printed in transparent and opaque colors, and embossed. Judges rewarded the package for its extensive use of embossing, halftone reproduction, tight registration, and vivid green interior.

Complete Payroll Solutions Reports Record Growth

SPRINGFIELD — Complete Payroll Solutions announced it saw more than 100% year-over-year revenue growth compared to a year ago, setting a record pace of new customer acquisitions. The momentum reflects the company’s investment in its people and processes to better serve clients. This momentum is evidenced by several highlights from 2018, including four location openings in Wakefield, Mass., White Plains, N.Y., West Warwick, R.I., and Portsmouth, N.H.; 35 new employees across all offices and an expanded sales force with 10 additional salespeople, providing enhanced resources in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Connecticut; a new HR consulting division that delivers local, personalized HR solutions to clients; partnerships with industry leaders like BankRI, Brookline Bank, and First Ipswich Bank, along with the company’s continued relationship with Webster Bank; and the addition of iSolved, an HCM technology, to complement its existing platform, Kronos. Together, the solutions help clients with their workforce-management processes, including payroll, time and attendance, benefits, and HR to recruit, onboard, and manage employees. Founded in 2003 as a startup venture by owners with a long tradition in the industry, Complete Payroll Solutions now has 14 locations throughout the Northeast with 150 employees, and services over 6,000 clients across all 50 states.

Financial Times Ranks Isenberg’s Online MBA First among U.S. Programs

AMHERST — The online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst has been ranked first in the U.S. and third in the world by the Financial Times. With one of the largest and most established accredited online MBA programs in the country, the Isenberg School of Management has provided online education opportunities for nearly 16 years. More than 1,100 students are currently enrolled in the program. The Isenberg School stood out in the Financial Times’ 2019 rankings in a number of areas. The online MBA program ranked first for increase in salary after earning an MBA, with a 39% increase; first in the U.S. for total salary; and first for percentage of female faculty, with 45%. Furthermore, the program ranked fifth in online interaction, which measures how well alumni rate interactions between students, teamwork, and availability of faculty. Isenberg’s online MBA program offers an expansive course of study, from business analytics, finance, and healthcare administration to marketing and sports management. Isenberg students come from all 50 states and around the globe, and include physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, and scientists.

Bay Path University Receives Grant for Student Internship Experiences

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded $5,000 in grant funding support from the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., trustee, for its project, “Impacting the Community: Fostering Social Justice Through Student Internships.” The foundation’s support will benefit Bay Path undergraduate students who are performing internships at nonprofits in Hampden County, including Square One, the Jewish Community Center, and Girls Inc., all of whom service at-risk children and youth. Bay Path requires its traditional undergraduate students to complete a three- or six-credit internship, research project, or field-work experience, depending on their major, to ensure they have the opportunities to develop the skills and competencies that will help them launch their careers. This funding, which will cover four internships, will help relieve the financial worry that unpaid internships can bring for students. Many Bay Path students hold part-time jobs to make ends meet, and adding an unpaid internship to the mix can be stressful.

BFMC Receives Grants for Community Film Fund

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) received two grant awards for its newly established Community Film Fund, which is a matching fund to help local nonprofit organizations create videos for their branding, marketing, fundraising, and social media. The grants were received from the Berkshire Bank Foundation and the Feigenbaum Foundation, each in the amount of $2,500. In today’s world, video messaging is becoming increasingly important. Wordstream, an online advertising company, states that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text, and an initial e-mail with a video receives an click-through rate increase of 96%. BFMC is in the process of raising $50,000 for this new initiative, which it expects to launch later this spring. BFMC is partnering with the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires to provide information to local organizations about this opportunity.

Springfield College Students Volunteer in Trinidad and Tobago

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Kim Nowakowski led a group of graduate students in the health sciences at Springfield College on a global health service trip during spring break. For the third consecutive year, Nowakowski’s group, together with healthcare professionals from Trinidad and Tobago, provided a National Fall Prevention Program in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Fall Prevention program in Trinidad and Tobago was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with physiotherapists from Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited and the Physiotherapy Assoc. of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT). PATT is the sole professional body that represents all physiotherapists in Trinidad and Tobago. Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited was established in 2007 to provide quality healthcare in a friendly, compassionate environment that is geared towards facilitating healing and return to the function of living. Carla Rauseo, a 2005 alumna of the Springfield College physical therapy program who is a physical therapist and co-owner of Total Rehabilitation and a member of PATT, initiated the collaborative effort with Springfield College’s physical therapy program. Since the initiation of the program, the Stay Steady Foundation, a non-governmental organization, has been created to promote sustainability of the Stay Steady Fall Prevention Program, and the involvement of Springfield College has been instrumental to provide the screenings, Rauseo said.

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