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Commercial Real Estate Sections
Tenants Must Beware of the Hidden Costs Often Found in Leases

Stephen Shatz

Stephen Shatz

In this day of concern about operating costs, tenants should be wary of hidden expenses in leases.
Basic rent is not the only cost. In fact, the items often labeled as “additional rent” may approach, if not exceed, basic lease payments.
Additional rent expenses such as real estate taxes, special district taxes, insurance, and other operating expenses are often charged and apportioned based on a tenant’s proportionate share of the square footage of a building. There are several items of concern with additional rent. Here are some that all business owners should be aware of, and they are often in the form of questions that must be answered:

• How is proportionate share calculated? If based on square footage, what system has been used (BOMA or other standard)? Has the space in fact been measured? Tenants should attempt to have the space measured or reserve the right to do so, and if there is a variance of say 3% of the lease square footage, the landlord should pay for the measurement, and, of course, the payments should be adjusted.
Also, are these costs to be calculated as an increase above an agreed base year and, if so, is it a calendar year or a tax fiscal year?
• Are “operating expenses” clearly defined in the lease? Are they for services provided by unrelated third parties? Not infrequently, these services are provided by a related company at costs that exceed market rates. Do operating expenses include depreciation or replacement of capital elements of the property? If they do, these costs might easily exceed basic rent.
What is of further concern is that the lease may say the landlord is responsible for capital repairs, but yet the additional rent provisions will attempt to pass on these costs to the tenant.  Furthermore, tenants should reserve the right to audit all operating expenses, and again, if there is a 3% or more variance, the cost of the audit should be paid by landlord, and, of course, the payments should be adjusted.
• Tenants need to be careful in negotiating maintenance, repair, and replacement obligations. The elements of the leased premises that the tenant is required to maintain need to be carefully detailed. Avoid provisions that say the “interior of the leased premises and all elements therein” as a standard for the tenant’s obligations. This standard could easily require maintenance and repair to major mechanicals and HVAC systems, the costs of which could far exceed basic rent.
Care should be taken not to agree to “replace” the interior elements, because the cost of doing so for plumbing, HVAC, and electrical equipment could be quite high. In addition, replacement provides a windfall for landlords, because the elements so replaced easily could have a useful life far exceeding the lease term.
• Lastly, but not finally, care should be taken when agreeing to have either basic rent or operating-expense rent increased by rises in the so‑called “cost of living.” The standard measures for these increases are published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and vary by region and by a description of the items in the shopping cart that are being measured.  Energy costs and medical expenses tend to artificially inflate these indices, and every attempt should be made to use an index that does not use these highly volatile categories.

Though it is difficult to anticipate all potential hidden costs in a lease, a careful reading of the document and a successful negotiation can limit a tenant’s exposure to them and avoid unpleasant surprises.

Attorney Stephen A. Shatz, a shareholder with the Springfield-based firm Shatz, Schwartz, & Fentin, concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate development, real estate finance, and commercial leasing. He is a New England Super Lawyer in the field of real estate, 2004-present; (413) 736-0375.

Commercial Real Estate Sections
Race Street Project Embodies Progress in Holyoke’s Innovation District

Martin Kane

Martin Kane says the Race Street building that has become the Holyoke Professional Arts Center has “great bones.”

It’s called the Holyoke Professional Arts Center, or PAC, a retrofitted old mill building on Race Street in Holyoke that was once home to a company that made slitter knives. Soon, the Providence Prenatal Center of Holyoke and Tapestry Health will be tenants and thus part of a revitalization that is helping to change the look and feel of the city’s downtown and a section known as the Innovation District.

The banner gracing the front of the building at 306 Race St. in Holyoke is 25 feet wide, and it needs every bit of that length to contain all the information crammed onto it.
If one has the time and inclination, he or she could stop, read, and learn that the more-than-century-old, two-story, 18,000-square-foot building is now called the Holyoke Professional Arts Center (PAC) at Mahoney Place, with the latter part of that name referring to family members of the property’s owner, Jeff Cunningham. One could also see the creative logo for this facility, with a flywheel, similar to the ones that can be seen in the ceiling on the second floor, inside the ‘C’ in PAC.
Reading on, one could learn that the Providence Prenatal Center of Holyoke, a component of the Sisters of Providence Health System, and Tapestry Health, an agency that provides a wide range of health services to women through several locations in Western Mass., will be the first new tenants in the center. And, when seeing the name of the brokerage firm (King & Newton) handling the building — as well as a phone number and Web site — one could surmise that there is still space to be leased — roughly 10,000 square feet of it, to be more specific. Reading still further, one would note that Southbridge Savings Bank financed this endeavor, and also see some commentary in the form of a line that announces this project as “a new era in the rebirth of Holyoke.”
But while this banner tells much of the story concerning this downtown landmark and what its reuse means in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t tell it all. Indeed, there is a lot of history to this building, and an intriguing series of developments that led to an elaborate construction kick-off ceremony on April 7, said Martin Kane, the broker with King & Newton who has handled the building for years and worked with Cunningham to give it a new start.
Meanwhile, this project is just one of several that are changing the look and feel of this section of downtown Holyoke — a few nearby buildings have been converted into artists lofts and a new convenience store recently opened — and there is the promise of much more to come.
That’s because 306 Race St. sits directly across the canal from the property that will be transformed into the Green High Performance Computing Center that is expected to fuel additional development in the downtown area, across Holyoke, and perhaps well beyond.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in properties in that section of the city,” said Kathy Anderson, director of the Holyoke Office of Planning and Development. “We’re meeting with people and talking, and in the meantime we’re looking at what we need to do to spark private development there.”
Anderson said there are more developments — from new stages of the city’s canal walk project to the possible reintroduction of commuter rail service after a more-than-40-year absence, that could spur more progress in the central business district of the Paper City and a section now known as the Innovation District. Taken together, the initiatives are a classic case of public-sector investments designed to inspire private-sector spending.
“There’s private development happening, and that’s what we were hoping for,” she said of the Race Street project and others like it. “The Innovation District Task Force is charged with creating ways to leverage the high-performance computing center, to take advantage of it and make something more happen in Holyoke and the region because of it.
“This is just one small project taking shape across the canal,” she said of the PAC. “They’ll be seeing what’s going on outside their windows; people are getting excited about this — there’s a lot of interest in downtown Holyoke.”
For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes an indepth look at the Race Street project and how it is just one small example of progress in Holyoke’s downtown, and evidence of that new era in the rebirth of Holyoke that the banner announces.

Building Momentum
“Great bones.”
That was the descriptive phrase Kane used at least a few times to describe the L-shaped Race Street building as he gave BusinessWest a tour of all three levels. “Rock solid” was also tossed out a few times for emphasis.
Such language was deployed to convey the sentiment that while this property has seen better days, it certainly has intriguing ones ahead of it, and has the foundation, in more ways than one, for new and intriguing uses.
Tracing the history of the property, Kane said it dates back to the late 19th century, and has housed a number of different manufacturing operations over the years. Most recently, it was home to Service Machine, an outfit that made slitter knives, which was purchased by Cunningham, a Worcester-based real estate developer, several years ago.
After that business and its equipment were moved to another facility owned by Cunningham, the property stood vacant for some time, said Kane, adding that Cunningham approached him in early 2008 to explore new options for filling the square footage.
“He asked me what I thought the highest, best use was,” Kane recalled, “ and I told him I thought it would be a good location for offices and service businesses.”
Plans to lease out the property for such purposes hit a brick wall in the form of the Great Recession, which created a huge glut of manufacturing, office, and warehouse space in Holyoke and across the region. But when Kane offered the site as a possible option for administrators at the Providence Prenatal Center of Holyoke, who were looking to trade up from space on High Street, there was strong interest.
“We explored it, and it got to the stage where there were lease negotiations, but nothing came from them,” said Kane, adding that by the spring of 2010, Cunningham was ready to put the property on the market, when the SPHS was approached one more time.
This time, a deal was struck, he said, adding that several months later, Tapestry Health, which has an office on Main Street in Holyoke, signed a letter of intent to relocate to the Race Street facility. Those two agencies will occupy the first floor of the building, said Kane, adding that the 6,000 square feet on the second floor and roughly 4,000 square feet in the lower level have a number of potential uses.
As he gave his tour, Kane gestured out an open window on the second floor to the buildings across the canal that will become the high-performance computing center, and expressed the hope — and expectation — that the much-anticipated project would attract a number of technology-related ventures to the downtown area.
“This would be an ideal site for a Web-development company,” he said of the longer leg of the ‘L,’ which has several of those aforementioned flywheels in the ceiling. “The computing center could generate a lot of interest in this space.”
The same could be said for the whole of Holyoke’s so-called Innovation District, said Anderson, adding that the HPCC is the largest of several developments that could bring new businesses — and greater vibrancy — to the downtown.
Another is the potential for the return of commuter rail, last seen in Holyoke in the late 1960s, she said, adding that the Paper City would be part of service that would run from New Haven into Southern Vermont.
City officials are currently looking at two options for a train station — the former station on Bowers Street, designed by HH Richardson, built in 1883, now owned by the Holyoke G&E, and vacant for some time, and a site for new construction at the corner of Dwight and Main Streets.
“We’re trying to get a train station up and running by the time the train goes by,” said Anderson, adding that the larger mission is to make infrastructure improvements that will connect the recently opened intermodal transporation center on Maple Street, as well as the canal walk, to that train station, wherever it is located.
Meanwhile, the canal walk project is bringing more vibrancy to the downtown area, said Anderson, adding that open studios conducted by groups of artists now located in buildings on nearby Dwight Street are creating more foot traffic in the area. One goal, long term, is to utilize a section of Race Street between Appleton and Dwight Streets for open-air festivals.
Overall, city planning officials are talking with developers now making inquiries about downtown Holyoke and its Innovation District, while also working to determine what additional steps can be taken to inspire and facilitate private-sector spending.
“We’re looking at it from the prospective of what we need to do to create more growth in that area,” she explained. “What type of public investments do we have to make in order to spur private development? We’re looking under the street, on top of the street — do we need to work on our water-supply system or fiber optic infrastructure? We’re preparing for the future growth of the city for the next 30 to 50 years.”

Positive Sign
The banner across the front of the Race Street building provides some good reading, and the expectation is that there will be more of these to appear on downtown properties in the months and years to come.
In many ways, it is a sign of the times, a sign of progress, and a sign of how public investment can spur private development — in both a figurative and very literal way.

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

Banking and Financial Services Sections
These Are Commercial Loans at Below-market Interest Rates

Gary Fentin

Gary Fentin


For business owners and nonprofit managers, there is a way to finance your next capital project from your own bank, on the same terms you would obtain conventionally — but at a reduced interest rate.
The vehicle is a tax-exempt bond issued by the Mass. Development Finance Agency (“MassDevelopment”), a product that comes in several forms, including industrial revenue bonds (IRBs), bonds for nonprofit organizations (501c3 bonds), and bonds for other eligible entities.
But what is a tax-exempt bond? What do they cost? How do you get one? Who is eligible? Are they more trouble than they’re worth?  These are all commonly asked questions.
This article is geared primarily to tax-exempt bonds that are purchased by a bank or single lending institution. Bonds that are publicly issued or credit-enhanced involve additional parties and additional cost. Here are the answers to those questions and several others.

What is a Tax-exempt Bond? It is a financing vehicle that works basically like a loan from a bank that satisfies certain federal tax and MassDevelopment requirements. From the borrower’s and the bank’s perspective, it looks and feels like a regular bank loan, typically with the same payment terms and collateral as the borrower would obtain generally, but with a lower interest rate.

What are the federal tax requirements? The primary federal tax requirement is that the project finance capital costs incurred for qualified initiatives. Although there are other federal tax requirements, if your project qualifies and you feel that a bond is cost effective, you should contact MassDevelopment or the author of this article to inquire regarding qualification.

What are the MassDevelopment requirements? MassDevelopment must approve the project and the applicant. This is a fairly straightforward process that includes speaking to the local MassDevelopment representative for Western Mass., Frank Canning, and completing and submitting an application. Canning will coordinate with one of the agency’s bond counsels to review the application and to prepare the forms of votes for the agency approval and notices of public hearing. Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. is the only approved MassDevelopment bond counsel firm with offices located west of Worcester.

What is a qualified project? Tax-exempt bonds are available to finance eligible capital costs incurred in Massachusetts by manufacturing companies, 501(c)(3) entities, and certain assisted-living and long-term-care facility developers, affordable rental housing developers, and solid waste and recycling facilities.

What do they cost? The cost of an IRB includes the following: (1) the cost the borrower would otherwise incur to close a conventional loan for the same project with a bank (2) plus MassDevelopment’s issuance fee and the cost of bond counsel, which is generally $12,000 to $13,000. For a bond amount of $2 million, MassDevelopment’s fee would be $20,000 (1%) for a manufacturing project, or $10,000 (.5%) for a 501(c)(3) project, plus $13,000 bond-counsel fee, for a total of about $33,000 for a manufacturing project and $23,000 for a 501(c)(3) project.

Are they worth the money? Typically the interest rate on a bond is up to 2% or more less than conventional financing.  For a $2 million bond, the interest savings could be $40,000 in the first year, which would pay all of the extra issuance costs in one year. The savings on a $1 million bond ($20,000) would pay the extra issuance costs in about one year for a 501(c)(3) project, and in about 1.5 years for a manufacturing project.

What does bond counsel do? Bond counsel is responsible for filing the necessary federal and state approval and filing documents, drafting the basic bond documents, and issuing an opinion that interest payments received on the bond are exempt from federal taxation. The exemption from federal taxation of interest on the bond is the reason that the bank can charge a lower interest rate and still earn a similar after-tax yield as it would have received on a conventional loan.
Bond counsel is also allowed to represent the borrower or the bank, in addition to acting as bond counsel.

Who should you contact to see if you are eligible? Frank Canning at MassDevelopment, 1350 Main St. 11th Floor, Springfield, MA 01103; (413) 731-8848; [email protected]

How long do they take to get?  A bond can usually close on the same closing schedule the bank and the borrower would use for a conventional loan. Generally it takes about 4-6 weeks to close a bond from the issuance of a bank’s commitment letter, which is the time that the borrower and the bank generally need to prepare and submit their respective due diligence items.

Attorney Gary S. Fentin is a shareholder of Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., and concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial and real estate finance and development, industrial revenue bonds, affordable housing, estate planning, business law, and business foreclosures and workouts. He is the only approved bond counsel for Massachusetts Development Finance Agency with offices located west of Worcester;  (413) 737-1131.

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Owner and President, NRG Real Estate Inc.

Nick Gelfand

Nick Gelfand

Nikita Robert Gelfand’s parents didn’t plan on giving him initials that sound out a word, but he’s definitely had the ‘NRG’ to succeed.
Having immigrated to the U.S. from Russia at age 11 with his family, Gelfand said that he always liked real estate, and he knew, even as a child, that he wanted to own and operate properties. But he has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, he said, and after working for a larger realty company, he knew the time had come to hang out his own shingle.
“Maybe it was the hot market I got into in 2003,” he joked. “Those boom years were awesome. I realized it was something I could make a living at — which is nice, when you can do what you love.”
He’s equally committed to bringing the sum total of his professional experience to others in need.
“I think it’s important for everyone in a community to give back to the community,” he explained. “You always look for somewhere you can contribute that’s close to your heart. There are many great charities and nonprofits to be a part of, but Habitat for Humanity seemed right for me. Because I help people buy houses in my everyday life, it just seemed like a natural fit to help these folks who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a mortgage in a traditional way.”
As a board member for the Greater Springfield chapter of Habitat, Gelfand also helps to coordinate the Fall Festival campaign, which last year raised more than $35,000.
Meanwhile, at work, Gelfand said that helping people get into their first homes is one of his proudest accomplishments — one he gets to enjoy on a weekly basis. “Some of my favorite clients to work with are first-time homebuyers, because I was in their shoes very recently.”
It’s the American Dream, he said, for a kid from Russia to own his own business. And with his energetic approach to real estate, he’s making that dream come true for others.
— Dan Chase

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of March 2011.

AGAWAM

Six Flags New England
1623 Main St.
$35,000 — Pour concrete sono-tubes and frame building

AMHERST

First Baptist Church
434 North Pleasant St.
$3,500 — Partial sprinkler system for shelter

Slobody Development Corporation
101 University Dr.
$207,000 — Build out for UMass Athletics football recruiting office

Summerlin Trust
9 East Pleasant St.
$2,200 — Construct three walls with doors in existing space

CHICOPEE

Ashok Patel
1508 Memorial Dr.
$6,500 — Replace windows

D & D Chicopee Realty, LLC
576 Chicopee St.
$5,000 — Remodel first floor

Life Point Church
603 New Ludlow Road
$30,000 — Fix roof

EAST LONGMEADOW

Medisize US Inc.
200 N. Main St.
$6,000 – Remodel break room

Shaffi Real Estate LLC
50 Industrial Dr.
$41,000 — Foundation only

GREENFIELD

Four Rivers Educational Foundation
248 Colrain Road
$13,918 — Insulate and air seal attic

Grace Consoli
98 Conway St.
$3,159 — Roof replacement

HADLEY

CBR Realty Corporation
195 Russell St.
$5,500 — Office build-out on the second floor

Kevin Michelson
8 Pine Hill Road
$14,250 — 16 x 16 waiting room for patients

HOLYOKE

South Street Plaza Associates, LLC
209-239 South St.
$9,300 — Facade renovations

SOUTHWICK

Edgewood
161 Sheep Pasture Road
$4,000 — Renovations for exterior

SPRINGFIELD

3640 Main Street, LLC
3640 Main St.
$167,000 — Office build-out

Baystate Medical Center
2 Medical Center Dr.
$40,000 — Renovation of existing space

Huang Corporation
135-137 Boston Road
$2,000 — Renovation

Klondike/Colebrook
354 Birnie Ave.
$4,500 — Renovation of suites 1 and 2

Veden LLC
370 Albany St.
$145,000 — Basic build-out and repairs

WESTFIELD

945 Southampton Road, LLC
945 Southampton Road
$40,000 — Framing out new walls in showroom

Devcon Shops, LLC
457 East Main St.
$120,000 — Remodel for new fitness center

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Kohl’s
935G Riverdale St.
$950,000 — Renovate 73,000 square feet of existing space

Appaloosa
411 Main St.
$2,000 — Re-occupancy of existing retail space

Departments Incorporations

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

AMHERST

Armstrong Educational Associates Inc., 7 Pomeroy Lane, Suite 5, Amherst, MA 01002. Stephen Armstrong, 113 Huntington Road, Hadley, MA 01036. Student tutorial services.

F40PH Preservation Society Inc., 130 Blackberry Lane, Amherst, MA 01002. Rowan Christopher De La Barre, same. Preservation, education.

CHESTER

Functional Art Inc., 7 Prospect St., Chester, MA 01011. Michele Klemaszewski, 33 Maple Ave., Chester, MA 01011. Manufacture and sales of window treatments.

CHICOPEE

733 Chicopee Street Inc., 733 Chicopee St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Timothy J Driscoll, 22 Scott Hollow Road, Hollow, MA 01040. Restaurant, bar, real estate.

Desmarais Plumbing & Heating Inc., 318 Springfield St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Robert E. Desmarais, same. Plumbing and heating.

Dynamic Network Solutions Inc., 31 Loveland Terrace, Chicopee, MA 01020. Michael Thomas Malley, same. Computer consultants.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Emporium Newsstand Inc., 444 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Rakeshkumar Patel, 2 Stadler St., Belchertown, MA 01007. Newsstand and smoke shop.

Chicopee Salty Dog Inc., 12 Chatham Circle, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Michael Buehrie, same. Bar.

FLORENCE

Franklin-Hampshire Counties VFW District 13, Department of Massachusetts Home Association Inc., 18 Meadows St., Florence, MA 01062. Joseph P. Grabon, 246 Chestnut St., Turner Falls, MA 01376. Fraternal, patriotic, historical, and educational comradeship for members.

Earth First Flooring Inc., 131 Main St., Florence, MA 01062. John K. Asselin, 56 West Pelham Road, Shutesbury, MA 01072. Flooring sales and installation.

GRANBY

Diamond Cut Straight Edge Inc., 547 Amherst Road, Granby, MA 01033. Tyler E. Scheinost, same. Retail Internet sales.

GREENFIELD

Five Fifty-Five LTD., 174 Conway St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Quillon Xylor Swane, same. Create and sell artwork.

HADLEY

Hadley Auto Express Inc., 210 Russell St. #212, Hadley, MA 01035. Amir Mikhchi, 18 Foxglove Lane, Amherst, MA 01002. Motor vehicle repair.

Flying Object Center for Independent Publishing, Art, & The Book, Inc., 42 West Str., Hadley, MA 01035. Emily Pettit, 104 South St., Apt. 2R, Northampton, MA 01060. Artistic and literary development and education to promote literacy, professional development in the arts, and to establish programs, workshops, forums, trainings, and public performances relevant to independent publishing, printing, art, and design.

HAMPDEN

Hampden Bagel Nook Inc., 34 Somers Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Samir Ahmad, 14 Rideway Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Sandwich and breakfast shop.

Graduate Pest Solutions Inc., 79 Martin Farms Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Brenda D. Olesuk, same. Pest control and extermination.

HOLYOKE

Alois Importing Co. Inc., 108 Cabot St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Aloyce C. Assenga, 71 Craig Dr., West Springfield, MA 01089. Importing of goods.

AW&T Auto Wholesale & Transport Inc., 395 Maple St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Oussama M. Awkal, 46 Ogden St., Springfield, MA 01151. Used auto sales and transport.

LENOX

Dunbar & Associates Inc., 188 East Dugway Road, Lenox, MA 01240. Stuart M. Dunbar, same. Create, sell, and promote computer development, system development, business analysis and software implementation.

LONGMEADOW

D&D Industries Corp., 95 Dunsany Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Brian John Danahey, same. Wholesale — adhesive products.

LUDLOW

East Street Deli Inc., 223 East St., Ludlow, MA 01056. Eric S. Boyer, 56 Cote Road, Monson, MA 01057. Deli restaurant with takeout and catering.

Dacruz Inc., 167 Center St., Ludlow, MA 01056. Rosa M. Dacruz, same. Real estate management.

NORTHAMPTON

Center for Biography and Social Art, Inc., 41 Hubbard Ave., Northampton, MA 01060. Signe Schaefer, 15 Hillside Ave., Great Barrington, MA 01230. Provide courses of instruction, public workshops, lectures and discussion groups on building community, human development, life phases, gender and to support research on life themes through conferences, publications, and Web sites.

NORTH ADAMS

Donna Thomas Realty Inc., 71 Quincy St., North Adams, MA 01247. Donna M. Thomas, same. Real estate broker.

PITTSFIELD

Alchemy Initiative Inc., 50 Melville St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Jessica Conzo, same. Charitable, educational and literary.

Daddyo’s Inc., 511 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Lydia R. Kuzia, same. Restaurant.

Dolce Dental, P.C., 100 Wendall Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Nieca J. Faggiloi DMD, same. The practice of dentistry.

Enlightning Strikes Inc., 34 Kathy Way, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Donna M. Yerkes, same. Own and operate a liquor store.

Gemi Management Company Inc., 130 Pittsfield-Lenox Road, P.O. Box 3029, Pittsfield, MA 01201. George L. Haddad, 150 Blythwodo Dr., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Automobile dealerships.

SOUTH HADLEY

Allen Media Inc., 21 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075. David Allen, same. Marketing, consulting, and advertising.

SPRINGFIELD

AK Wireless Inc., 455 Sumner Ave., Springfield, MA 01108. Ho J Han, 9 Kimbell CT. #811, Burlington, MA 01803. Retail wireless store.

All Waste Trash Management Inc., 181 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA 01103. Richard Barnes, 1187 Shaker Road, Westfield, MA 01085. Trash removal and asset management.

DB Wireless Inc., 1356 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01119. Ho J Han, 9 Kimbell CT #811, Burlington, MA 01803. Retail wireless store.

D.F.S. International LTD., 29 Cadwell Dr., Springfield, MA 01104. Francesco A. Daniele, 47 Jamestown Dr., Springfield, MA 01108. Import and distribution of food products.

Green Street Logistics Inc., 216 Mount Holly Dr., Springfield, MA 01118. Gary Samuel Linsky, same. Provide green building technologies and training programs designed for persons involved in the criminal justice system.

SOUTH HADLEY

Dairy Market Inc., 54 Bridge St., South Hadley, MA 01075. Fardooq G. Shaikh, 34 Bridge St., South Hadley, MA 01075. Convenience and grocery food store.

SOUTHWICK

Good Scents Garden Corp., 17 Matthews Road, Southwick, MA 01077. Claire M. Kenna, same. Landscape design and maintenance.

SPRINGFIELD

Baystate Dental Management Inc., 1795 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. Kevin Coughlin, same. Professional management services for persons or entities performing dental services.

BH Wireless Inc., 1380 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. Ho J Han, 9 Kimbell CT. #811, Burlington, MA 01803. Retail wireless store.

STURBRIDGE

Eclecticorp Inc., 14 Cedar Lake Dr., Sturbridge, MA 01566. William Jacob, same. Photography.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Andre’s West Side Sports Shop Inc., 645 Westfield St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Chad Andre, 40 Forest Ridge Road, West Springfield, MA 01089. Sporting goods store.

Association of Slavic Immigrants of Massachusetts Inc., 801 Main St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Fedor Songorov, 1085 North St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Appointment transportation, interpreting service: Russian, Turkish, English, citizenship classes, basic computer classes, driver license test, family counseling services.

Colton Express Inc., 19 Colton Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Semen Shapovalov, same. Trucking.

Drisdelle Inc., 115 Morton St., West Springfield, MA 01089. John R. Drisdelle, same. General carpentry and home improvement.

Sections Supplements
Landscape Architects Say More People Are Investing in Their Yards

Bringing It All Back HomeIt’s a concept that gained traction almost a decade ago, in the wake of 9/11: the ‘staycation,’ the desire of homeowners to cut down on travel and instead invest in their homes. Well, area landscape architects are hearing that word again, but for different reasons, namely a lingering recession and high gas prices. In such times, they say, people are more likely to use their vacation savings on something more permanent. That’s good news for a landscaping industry starting to bloom after a couple of years in the rough.

Gas prices have been on the rise for months, with airline fares following suit. That has plenty of people on edge, from would-be vacationers who might stay home this year to the many tourism-reliant businesses in Western Mass.
But there’s a silver lining for one group — landscape architects, who are increasingly hearing that magic word ‘staycation,’ along with rumblings that homeowners might use their vacation funds this year to create a bit of an oasis at home.
“It’s not just the middle- to lower-income people; I think that applies to everyone,” said Bill St. Clair, president of St. Clair Landscaping and Nursery in Hampden. “Let’s face it, people are watching the dollars they spend, and they’re looking to get the most bang for their buck. And I see more people staying home this year, especially since they’re saying gas could hit $5 by midsummer.”
Stephen Roberts, president of Stephen A. Roberts Landscape Architecture & Construction in Springfield, is hearing the same chatter.
“Staycation is the catchphrase — stay at home and enjoy your house; have people over and entertain without the hassles of traveling. It’s huge,” he said. “We’re really focusing on that — creating a nice environment for people at home.”
The stay-at-home trend rivals what the industry saw in the years immediately following 9/11, St. Clair said, but it’s re-emerging for a different reason, namely lingering anxiety over the economy mingled with pain at the pump. These factors, he and others told BusinessWest, are persuading families to reprioritize their extra dollars, putting them toward something more permanent than a week at a resort or on a cruise.
“In the past two years, our industry has been hit as hard as some other industries,” Roberts said, specifically citing the struggles of general contractors and those involved in moving real estate.
“People aren’t purchasing new homes; they’re staying where they are and investing whatever money they have into their homes, for their personal enjoyment,” he continued. “I see that continuing to happen as long as the housing market isn’t doing much. And I see our industry benefiting from people renovating their homes and fixing them up.”

Green Days
When it comes to outdoor spaces, some types of improvements have become especially desirable.
“Outdoor firepits and outdoor, built-in cooking areas are really big,” Roberts said. “Water features are still pretty popular, but people are going more toward urns and sculptural fountains as opposed to fish ponds, just as a way to add quality and the ambience of water without the higher maintenance of a fish pond. Outdoor lights and accent lighting are also gaining momentum with people.”
St. Clair has seen some of the same trends. “We did a good amount of firepits last year,” he said. “In talking to our clients and prospective clients, their outlook was, ‘we’re going to spend more time at home.’ That was helpful to us. People were staying home, and they wanted to fix up their palaces, so to speak. We were doing lots of firepits and water features. We rode that for a good part of the year.”
Brian Campedelli, president of Pioneer Landscapes in Easthampton (see story, page 30), also reports an uptick in homeowners asking for both water and fire features, mingled with hardscapes and different plant materials; he’s also found interest in audio installation outdoors to create additional atmosphere for staycationers.
One growing request, Roberts said, has a back-end economic — and ecological — benefit.
“Rainwater harvesting is another trend that’s hitting our industry. Instead of sending water down the street, you keep it on your property and use it for your irrigation system and general outdoor watering,” he said, noting that other ‘green’ trends are on the rise in landscaping as well.
For instance, some clients, mainly those with larger properties, are converting some portions of their yard to meadows instead of covering every inch with sod or seed. “By making them naturalized areas,” Roberts said, “you reduce the maintenance of the turf; you cut it a couple times a year and add groupings of native shrubs. That reduces rain runoff, and you’re not using as much ferilizer or chemicals.”
The Landscape Management Network blog (lmnblog.com) places such efforts in a general category called ‘ecoscaping,’ which involves making use of green solutions to improve the look of the landscape without sacrificing the health of the environment.
“Some examples of green solutions,” the blog explains, “include rainwater harvesting; a self-contained water feature that recycles the same water; decorative hardscapes, such as more patios, paths, and decks that reduce the need for water and pesticides; retaining walls, which work to reduce runoff; as well as erosion from household chemicals leaking into the yard.”
Roberts said he embraces these trends. “Landscaping makes a huge difference, and it’s up to us to promote these ways of being kinder to our environment.”

Work and Play
While the business of residential landscaping seems to be moving in the right direction, progress on the commercial side has been more sluggish, said Steve Corrigan, president of Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare in Chicopee, which performs about 90% of its work in the commercial sector.
“We were down last year; we had projects on the books for one to three years prior to that, and once they wrapped up, we didn’t have a lot of projects to fill the bucket,” he told BusinessWest. “If you talk to any of us in the commercial trades, we’re all in the same boat. It’s the same story; competition is so fierce and margins have gotten very low, and it takes more to fill that bucket the way you need to.
“Entering this year, though, I’m cautiously optimistic. We have a bigger backlog than we had in 2010, and I actually have a larger backlog for 2012 projects than 2011 projects,” he added, explaining that landscapers are among the last tradespeople in on a new-construction project, so it might be two years or more between the bid process and actually performing the work.
In the meantime, Corrigan said, “we do some minimal residential design-build work, and we’re seeing a little uptick in that from last year. I’m not worried; I’m optimistic that this year will be better than 2010. But I still think it’ll be even better in a year or two.”
Roberts is anticipating a growth year, too, and St. Clair said 2011 is off to a busy start just based on calls from customers whose landscapes were damaged by the harsh winter, or who have discovered drainage issues. “I think the spring forecast this year is a little bit different than last year due to the winter we had.”
Overall, he said, last year was slightly better than the year before, when the recession was at full force, and he’s encouraged by what he’s hearing this spring from residential customers, even though he knows the industry is not moving at full speed yet.
“People are being cautious with their money because of the economy,” he said. “But you can’t get bored when you’re constantly being challenged. We have work on the books, but it’s been too wet to start. Spring is here, but Mother Nature isn’t letting us out yet. If we can get the weather in our favor, we can get rolling.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments Incorporations

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

AGAWAM
 
Ludlow Tool Inc., 46 Moylan Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Jason Lucas, 370 Fuller St., Ludlow, MA 01056. Machine tool business.
 
BELCHERTOWN
 
Swift River Preservation Association Inc., 507 Cold Springs Road, Belchertown, MA 01007. Dennis Morin, same. Non-profit organization formed to educate and promote public awareness of the removal of the Bondsville Dam by the Belchertown Land Trust.
 
CHICOPEE
 
Rusin Inc., 76 Cote St., Chicopee, MA 01020. John Rusin, same. General cleaning and maintenance services.
 
FEEDING HILLS
 
Thibault Construction Inc., 536 Franklin St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Jean-Claude Thibault, same. Constuction services.
 
HOLYOKE

Holyoke for All Inc., (Holyoke Para Todos Inc.) 106 Northeast St., Apt. 1A, Holyoke, MA 01040. Nelson Rafael Roman, same. Corporation established to educate, support and advocate for Lesbian and Gay rights.

Holyoke Solar Cooperative, 99 Suffolk St., Holyoke, MA 01040. James Lavelle, 54 Pleasant St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Purchase, acquire, distribute, sell, resell, supply and provide any energy or energy related services.
 
New Horizons Family Community Center Inc., 189 Pine St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Felicita Lopez, same. Community services.
 
INDIAN ORCHARD
 
The Screen Print Express Inc., 36 Oak St., Indian Orchard, MA 01151. Scott Peterson, same. Screen printing services.
 
LONGMEADOW
Guideway Inc., 32 Homecrest St., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Richard Golbert, 3170 South Ocean Blvd., Unit 504, North Palm Beach, FL 33480. Marketing and branding advertising services.
 
Jirah Fasteners Inc., 740 Maple St., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Timothy Gould, same. Sale of automotive aftermarket parts.
 
Longmeadow Girls Lacrosse Association Inc., 215 Ellington Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106. James Fitzpatrick, same. Provides a girls lacrosse program that fosters an appreciation of the game of lacrosse among players with a positive athletic experience.
 
NORTH ADAMS
 
The Sushi House Corp., 45 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Meng Wu Wang, 41 Cobbleview Road, Williamstown, MA 01267. Restaurant
 
PALMER
 
Nu-WAY Mobile Home Supplies Inc., 1124 Thorndike St., Palmer, MA 01069. Robert Jones, same. Sales of good, supplies, parts, and merchandise necessary or incidental to the sale, lease, repair and service of mobile homes.
 
PITTSFIELD
 
MT Inc., 18 Charisma Dr., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Brian Arseneau, same. Restaurant.
Scalise Enterprises Inc., 2 Federico Dr., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Tonia Scalise, 40 Commonwealth Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Life coaching.
 
SPRINGFIELD
 
Human Resource Crisis Center Inc., 44 Prospect St., Springfield, MA 01107. Charlene Naylor, 57 Wisteria St., Springfield, MA 01119. Nonprofit corporation to promote the relief of the poor, the distresses or the underprivileged.

JV Properties Inc., 120 Talbot Road, Springfield, MA 01119. Jose Velasquez, same. Real Estate.
 
Image Maker II, Beauty Salon Corp., 614 Carew St., Springfield, MA 01104. Rosa Belliard, same. Beauty Salon.
 
Laprise Inc., 1365 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. Ronald Laprise, 6 Canterbury Lane, Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Chiropractic treatment and services.
 
McVan Home Care Service Inc., 603 Sumner Ave., Springfield, MA 01108. Huethen Livingston, 99 Windsor St., Enfield, CT 06082. Home Health Care Service.
 
WESTFIELD
 
Help of Angels Inc., 21 Prospect St., Westfield, MA 01085. Lisa Smith, same. Provides basic needs services and financial assistance to families when a family member has a serious illness and/or financial hardship.
 
Premier Web Management Systems Inc., 191 Western Circle, Westfield, MA 01085. Christopher Whalley, same. Web site design, sales, and maintenance.

Court Dockets Departments

The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.

CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Wilfred Tisdell v. AGE Institute of MA Inc.
Allegation: Negligent maintenance of parking lot, causing trip and fall: $25,000+
Filed: 1/24/11

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT
Phyllis R. Perry, as executrix of the estate of Richard E. Perry v. John G. Savage Realty Corp. and James Fitzgibbons
Allegation: Failure to provide reasonable safety and negligence, causing wrongful death: $10,774.27
Filed: 1/19/11

Siliconezone, LLC v. Lamson & Goodnow, LLC
Allegation: Non-payment of goods sold and delivered: $189,026.16
Filed: 2/8/11

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Raipher Pelligrino Associates, P.C. v. Roger A. Proulx Trust
Allegation: In an effort to avoid payment of legal services, the defendant fraudulently conveyed real estate into his trust: $55,761.50
Filed: 12/8/10

Scarfo Construction v. Shawn’s Lawns Inc., RIV Construction Group, and HD Westfield, MA Landlord, LLC
Allegation: Failure to pay under the terms of a construction agreement: $33,965.10
Filed: 12/8/10

Seaboard Drilling Inc. v. Environmental Associates Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment of labor and materials on resurfacing test and environmental engineering services: $45,836.88
Filed: 1/6/11
Woronoco Hydro, LLC v. Woronoco Realty, LLC
Allegation: Non-payment of electrical power supplied: $95,000
Filed: 12/15/10

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Bunker Hill Insurance Co., as subrogee of Amanda and Kathleen Wilson v. Richard’s Fuel & Heating Inc.
Allegation: Failure to make a timely delivery of heating oil, causing freeze-up of plumbing and heating systems: $51,823.23
Filed: 1/31/11

David Atwood, as administrator of the estate of Matthew Atwood v. Center for International Studies Inc.
Allegation: Negligence in supervision and care of study abroad student causing wrongful death: $2 million
Filed: 2/3/11

HOLYOKE DISTRICT COURT
Compound East, LLC v. Deerfield Woodworking
Allegation: Breach of agreement in which defendant agreed to leave premises in broom-clean condition and to remove all possessions: $4,832.71
Filed: 1/11/11

Wolfpac Technologies Inc. v. Neu Tradition Millwork Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment for goods sold and delivered: $18,331.12
Filed: 1/10/11

NORTHAMPTON DISTRICT COURT
Commonwealth of MA State Lottery Commission v. the Village General Store, Robert E. Jones, Stanley J. Ryes, and Judith M. Jones-Ryes
Allegation: Breach of written contract to forward commissions owed to the Commonwealth as lottery sales agents: $14,256.65
Filed: 1/13/11

SPRINGFIELD DISTRICT COURT
John Deere Landscapes Inc. v. New England Landscapes & Irrigation and Paul D. Santucci
Allegation: Non-payment for goods sold and delivered: $4,711.97
Filed: 12/21/10

L & B Truck Services Inc. v. Autotech Repossession Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment for truck repairs: $10,234.26
Filed: 12/21/10

United Rentals Inc. v. Do Val Remodeling Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment for materials, equipment, and services on a construction project: $5,207.84
Filed: 12/20/10

United Rentals Inc. v. New England Electrical Contracting Corp.
Allegation: Non-payment for materials, equipment, and services on a construction project: $4,942.14
Filed: 12/20/10

United Rentals Inc. v. North Eastern Operations Contracting Group, LLC
Allegation: Non-payment for materials, equipment, and services on a construction project: $5,299.48
Filed: 12/20/10

United Rentals Inc. v. Prism Developers Inc.
Allegation: Non-payment for materials, equipment, and services on a construction project: $5,462.29
Filed: 12/28/10

United Rentals Inc. v. RLB Contracting Company, LLC
Allegation: Non-payment for materials, equipment, and services on a construction project: $5,114.17
Filed: 12/20/10

WESTFIELD DISTRICT COURT
Everett J. Prescott Inc. v. Shawn’s Lawns Inc. and Patricia M. Wendell
Allegation: Non-payment for labor and materials supplied on a project: $9,603.72
Filed: 1/20/11

Departments Incorporations

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

CHESTER

Big Picture Agency Inc., 86 Chester Road, Chester, MA 01011. Kim Baker, same. Marketing and graphic design services.
 
EAST LONGMEADOW

Baystate Deaf Senior Citizens Inc., 328 Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Carol Murray, 61 Kennedy Dr., Enfield, CT 06082. Promote educational and social relations with the deaf community.
 
F & I Coach Inc., 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01027. Michael Wilkins, 160 Stone Hill Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Sales of automobile after-market service contracts.
 
GREENFIELD

Colrain Street Inc., 130 Colrain St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Brenda Ament, 520 South Shelburne Road, Greenfield, MA 01301. Real estate development.
 
HOLYOKE

Adminicus Inc., 903 Dwight St., Holyoke, MA, 01040. David Anthony Caputo, same. Charitable organization organized for educational purposes.
 
Evolution GS Inc., 20 Hadley Mills Road, Holyoke, MA 01040. Robert Beaulac, 246 Pine Orchard Road, Brandford, CT 06405. Commission merchant-wholesale and retail.
 
INDIAN ORCHARD

Enhjr Ventures Inc., 93 Grochmal Ave., Lot 117, Indian Orchard, MA 01151. Ernst Harris Jr., same. E-commerce of electronics.
 
LONGMEADOW

D & D Industries Corp., 95 Dunsany Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Brian John Dahahey, same. Wholesale of adhesive products.
 
Guideway Inc., 32 Homecrest St., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Richard Golber, 3170 South Ocean Blvd., Unit 504 North, Palm Beach, FL 33480. Marketing and product branding services.
 
PITTSFIELD

Coha Automotive Group Inc., 130 Pittsfield-Lenox Road, Pittsfield, MA 01201. George Haddad, 150 Blythwood Dr., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Automobile dealership.
 
SPRINGFIELD

295 Allen St. Inc., 295 Allen St., Springfield, MA, 01103. Yasir Osman, 197 Florida St., Springfield, MA 01103.
 
Above the Rim Inc., 34 Leatherleaf Circle, Springfield, MA 01109. Steve Anthony James, 9001 South Braeswood Blvd., Apt. 104, Houston, TX, 77074. Celebrates the history of the game of basketball through educational programs, player interviews, and documentary presentations.
 
American Institute of Historic Preservation Inc., 21 Clarendon St., Springfield, MA, 01109. Ward Hamilton, 5-56th St., Newburyport, MA 01950. Historic preservation forum.
 
Covenant Realty Inc., 1111 Main St., 2nd Floor, Springfield, MA 01103. Richard Hanks, 85 Cleveland St., Springfield, MA 01104. Real estate services.
 
Ed Detailing Inc., 122 Chestnut St., #410, Springfield, MA 01103.Ed Valle Jr., same. Car-detailing services.
 
WESTFIELD

Building Autistic Community Inc., 24 Sunbriar Dr., Westfield, MA 01085. Kate Wallace, 21 Searle Road, Huntington, MA 01050. Avocation and support services to persons on the autism spectrum, their families and allies.
 
Cloverleaf Realty Group Inc., 110-112 Elm St., Westfield, MA 01085. Thomas Dineen, 11 Woodland Dell Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Real estate services.
 
Environmental Forensics Inc., 4 School St., Westfield, MA 01085. Nancy Baenziger, same. Provides comprehensive and professional data gathering, scientific analysis, documentation, reasoned substantiation and factual assessment of corporeal sates or material events.

Features
In Business and Life, He’s Faced Peaks and Valleys

Michael Matty, president of  St. Germain Investment Management

Michael Matty, president of St. Germain Investment Management

Mike Matty says there are about 350 people who have reached the so-called ‘seven summits’ — the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. That’s about 50 or so fewer than have been rocketed into space.
“So you’re more likely to run into an astronaut than you are someone who’s done this,” said Matty, who will attempt to join a very exclusive club in May, when he takes on the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest.
He leaves for Nepal in late March, and is training hard for this latest assignment (much more on that later), which is the culmination of a quest that started rather informally and innocuously only about five years ago, when he ventured to central Africa to take on Mount Kilimanjaro, or ‘Kili,’ as those who have scaled it — or tried to — are given to calling it.
“I met a guy on that trip who started talking about these seven summits and how he was going to try and do it,” said Matty, president of Springfield-based St. Germain Investment Management. “But he never did — he climbed Kili, and that was it — his first and last. But I became interested with the prospect of doing it, and now I’m just one big step away.”
Indeed, over the course of the three and a half years or so after Kili, Matty climbed, in succession, Elbrus (Europe); Vinson (Antarctica); McKinley, or Denali, as it’s often called (North America); Kosciuszko/Carstensz (Australia); and Asconcagua (South America), the highest peak not in the Himalayas, which he scaled roughly a year ago.
Each of these mountains was challenging in some, and often several, ways, he said, listing everything from the extreme cold and remoteness of Antarctica to the long travel times to Australia, to the high and unpredictable winds in Alaska — and seemingly every other stop.
The six climbs, and the myriad others at far-less-celebrated peaks, including Mount Washington in New Hampshire, provide Matty with extremely stern tests of his strength, endurance, and patience, which he enjoys. But they also provide something else — much-needed breaks from his day job, or, to be more specific, from the intense attention to national and world events that is needed to do it properly.
“The funny thing about the investment world is that almost everything has a potential impact,” he explained. “So you say, ‘I’m tired of thinking about the news and what’s going on in Egypt and things like that — the heck with this, I’m going to turn on the Weather Channel.’ Well, the Weather Channel’s talking about a hurricane moving into the Gulf, so you start thinking about oil rigs and what’s going to happen there.
“Your mind never gets away from it if you’ve done this forever,” he continued. “That’s one of the nice things about mountain climbing — it gives you a break to get away from it; you don’t know what’s going on anymore. Everything you’re doing is physical as opposed to what I do on the job, which is all mental.”
For this, the latest installment of its Profiles in Business series, BusinessWest talks with Matty about his work, but mostly what he does away from it, and especially that seventh summit. He still has some rigorous training to do, but believes he’s ready, physically and mentally. And while he has plenty of inspiration, he’s bringing along a little more — a decades-old picture of his brother, Billy, who passed away unexpectedly last year at the age of 48, which he intends to leave at the roof of the world.
“It‘s a shot of him when he was a little kid; it was sitting on my father’s dresser for decades,” he continued. “I asked him if I could have it … I said, ‘if I need one little extra push on summit day, that might be it — I need to get his picture up there.’”

On a Grand Scale
As he talked with BusinessWest on a Friday in mid-February, a somewhat casually dressed Matty was prepping for a weekend trip to Mount Washington. This peak in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains is, at 6,288 feet, just over one-fifth the height of Mount Everest.
But scaling it, something Matty’s done more than 50 times by his estimation, is effective training for May’s climb, especially in the nasty weather that was predicted for that weekend.
There is no shortage of weather on Mount Washington, Matty continued, adding that temperatures in mid-winter are just above or, quite often, well below freezing. And that’s without wind, which is almost always howling. In fact, until very recently, Mount Washington proudly held the record for highest wind gust directly measured at the earth’s surface (231 mph), and it regularly hits three digits at the summit.
Matty says it’s all but impossible to climb when the winds get above 60 mph, and that it gets dicey when the gusts get to even half that level, considering that one is on a mountain — and sometimes on a ledge only a few feet wide — with up to 100 pounds on his or her back.
“It’s much more difficult than most can fathom even with a 20- or 40-mph wind,” he said. “I say to people, ‘imagine trying to stand on the roof of a car going down the highway at 65 miles an hour — that’s what a 65 mile-per-hour breeze is. Except on the highway, it’s a steady breeze going in one direction; up there, what you’re getting is wild gusts that are changing direction potentially every second or two as it’s bouncing off of something or shifting. You’re bracing in one direction, and all of the sudden the wind is pushing from that direction. That’s one of the reasons why Mount Washington is such a great training ground.
“We had some really windy days on Asconcagua,” he recalled. “You’d be lying in the tent, and you’d suddenly hear this sound like a freight train rolling down the mountain, and you knew that in another five or 10 seconds you’d be pummeled by a high, high wind. So you’d try to stretch yourself out to the corners of the tent so the wind can’t get underneath the tent. Meanwhile, the side of the tent is getting bent over, and you’re waiting for the poles to snap and hope you don’t get impaled on one of the poles. It’s a worrisome event when you get in those high winds.
There are many things about mountain climbing — especially summits like the seven — that people who have never done anything like this couldn’t easily comprehend, he continued, citing, as another example, the cold encountered in Antarctica.
When he was climbing there, Matty told BusinessWest, the sun was out 24 hours a day, “and it’s just sort of circling around the horizon. And when the sun drops behind one of the mountains … the temperature gets down to about minus-40, and in a hurry. One minute you’re standing there feeling pretty comfortable in just one layer, and then, you’re eating dinner and the sun creeps behind that mountain, and 10 minutes later, the temperature has dropped 30 or 40 degrees; it’s like being in the desert — there’s nothing to hold the heat in. That’s when it’s time to get in the sleeping bag and try to stay warm until the sun pops out on the other side.”
There’s also the remoteness factor to deal with on that continent, he went on.
“Vinson is really in the middle of nowhere,” he explained. “There’s a Russian cargo plane that drops you off on a natural ice runway; it’s a miles-long patch of rock-hard ice that runs parallel to the mountain range. It’s a big, big, big plane, and when it hits the runway, you can’t brake, so you roll for miles after you hit the ground.
“And when that plane takes off, they can’t land again until the winds off the mountains die down,” he continued. “You might call and say, ‘we’re ready to be picked up on your next flight in — but their next flight in … the winds may not shift for two, three, or four weeks. It’s not so bad if you’re prepared for it, but if you have someone with a medical condition, knowing you may be stuck for several weeks can be a real problem. When you watch that plane take off, you know it’s your last link with anything, anywhere — and the anywhere is a four- or five-hour flight to a remote town in South America.”
Matty has compiled all these memories, and many more, in a fairly short career in mountain climbing. He told BusinessWest that, since his youth, he’s always been a hiker — he thought about trekking across the Appalachian Trail and was told that he should do so when he was young, but didn’t — and kept active with that activity into his 40s.
It was at the invitation of Paul Valickus, CEO at St. Germain, that Matty took on what would become the first of the seven ascents — Kilimanjaro — in 2006. In the end, Valickus didn’t go on that trip, but Matty did, and he recalls those conversations with the fellow climber who introduced him to the concept of the seven summits.
“He never went on to do any of the others, but I was getting intrigued talking to him,” Matty recalled. “I said, tongue-in-cheek, ‘geez, there’s only six more after this.’ But then I started thinking about it, and said, ‘Kili’s doable, Asconcagua, the one in South America, is doable, the one in Australia’s doable — long flight, but it’s doable, the one in Russia’s doable, and McKinley, well, that’s doable, but it’s a tough mountain.”

Taking Stock of the Challenge
While staring down mountains over the past several years, Matty, like all those in the financial-services realm, has coped with peaks and valleys of a different kind.
Indeed, while Matty has stories of enduring wind, cold, frostbite, sunburn in strange places (like the tongue and the roof of the mouth), and snow-bridge-hidden crevasses, he has similarly harrowing tales of trying to calm panicked investors in the fall of 2008, when the Dow plunged below 7,000 and the phrase Great Recession was working its way into the lexicon.
It might be an oversimplification, but Matty seems to take the same approach to investment-consultation work that he does to mountain climbing — intense preparation, knowing his subject matter, and looking at what’s directly ahead as well as the bigger picture.
His career in the financial-services sector began in the mid-’80s with Phoenix Mutual in Hartford. There, he took part in a training program that provided exposure to all aspects of the business, from real estate to fixed-income; from high-yield products to stocks, the facet he liked best.
He became an analyst in the stock department and wound up running one of the mutual funds there. When Phoenix started moving some of the fund managers out of Hartford to other locations (something he wasn’t interested in), Matty left to start a company that wrote investment research for hedge-fund managers, mutual-fund managers, and others handling investments.
And while doing that for five years, he said he kept getting phone calls from broker friends about a firm in Springfield (St. Germain) that he should look into.
“I got four or five calls saying I should go talk to those people, and I eventually did, just so when I got calls seven, eight, nine, and 10, I could say, ‘I already talked to them,’” he recalled, adding that his visit led to the kind of opportunity — and lifestyle, away from the congestion and commutes of New York and Boston — that he was looking for.
Matty said St. Germain has a unique (for this industry, anyway) compensation formula, in which people are not paid by commission, a system he supports wholeheartedly.
“People will respond to whatever incentive you pay them, and I’ve seen that in some of the other places I’ve worked,” he explained. “So if you’re going to pay people commissions, you’re going to get people who are going to try to sell product, not people who are going to say, ‘I want to sit down and take care of people the best way I can.’
“That’s a broad overstatement, but there’s a good deal of truth to that,” he continued. “Instead, what I want to compensate people for is taking care of clients, so I say to everyone here who’s talking with clients, ‘every potential client who’s coming in is your potential parent or grandparent — do the right thing for them.”
This approach has succeeded, he said, in helping the company keep clients for the long haul, and properly serve them through the many ups and downs that mark a lifetime of investing and managing money.
“When someone comes in who shouldn’t be in stocks, for example, and the focus should be on ways to pare down debt as this person approaches retirement, we want to send them out with a laundry list of things that they should be doing on the financial-planning side that don’t include a single thing that puts money in our pocket.
“And that’s OK,” he continued. “We’ve been around a long time. We’re not worried about paying the light bills. We don’t need to get every dollar out of every client that comes in the door; what we need to do is treat people well and keep clients for a long time.”

Face Time
Matty knows that people have died trying to climb each of the seven summits — and a good number have lost their lives attempting the challenge now awaiting him.
“Historically, for every 10 people who summit Everest, you’ve had one mortality,” he said, “but it’s much better than that now — you’ve got better gear, people are in better shape … there’s lot of reasons why that number has gone down.”
Still, he has filled out the body-disposal form that is part and parcel to getting a climbing permit for the summit at Everest. It asks him to pick from one of several options with regard to what to do with his body if — and this is a rather large if — it can be recovered should tragedy strike. (He chose cremation in nearby Katmandu.)
“When you climb Everest, you see the bodies,” he said, adding that retrieval is logistically difficult, and people would often have to put their own lives at risk for such recovery exercises, so usually they don’t attempt them.
But Matty — and apparently his colleagues at St. Germain — can maintain a sense of humor about this subject. “They were getting a pool going in the office, so if I came back, they’d be really happy, and if not, there would be a consolation prize,” he joked. “They were going to try to get a few million dollars in insurance on me, but no one would write it.”
Meanwhile, training for the Everest climb is a far more serious matter.
“Right now, I’m working super hard because it’s coming up fast,” he said, adding that he works out with personal trainers four mornings a week at Attain Performance in East Longmeadow, and also uses a so-called versa-climber, what he described as “an endless ladder,” at home.
“The trainers are high-tech in terms of their knowledge of things,” he continued, adding that they’ve worked out with minor-league baseball players and other professional athletes. “When you’re trying to work on a specific muscle group or exercise to mimic something you would do on the mountain, they really know which buttons to push to activate those muscles and build up a lot of strength and endurance, which is what this is all about.”
Many of his workout routines at the gym, from squats to sessions on the treadmill or elliptical machines, are taken on while carrying a pack containing a 50-pound bag of sand, he continued.
When asked if he was worried about a letdown if and when Everest is conquered — feelings of ‘what do I do now?’ — Matty said there will still be plenty of challenges left, both personally and professionally.
“There’s still a lot of interesting stuff out there, like Mount Rainier in Washington State and the Matterhorn in Switzerland,” he said, “And, heck, I’ll be getting too old for this stuff soon anyway.”
Matty told BusinessWest that there isn’t much official recognition that comes with joining those who have scaled the seven summits.
“You get your name on the Web site … and that’s about it,” he said, referring to a list of the members of this exclusive club. “That, and some bragging rights, I guess.”
For scaling Everest, though, he gets to write his name on the wall in the famous Rum Doodle bar and restaurant in Katmandu — and he gets to eat there free for the rest of his life.
All that — and the chance to give his brother’s picture a new home, one with the best view on the planet — is more than enough reward for him.

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

Sections Supplements
Know the Requirements in Order to Remain in Compliance

Bruce Fogel

Bruce Fogel

Many of us, at one time or another, have seen an IRS form titled 1099. Most of us are familiar with the more common versions of that form, including:
• Form 1099-INT, which is used to report interest paid to someone in excess of $10 per year;
• Form 1099-DIV, which is used to record dividends and/or capital-gains distributions paid to someone in excess of $10 per year;
• Form 1099-B, which is used to report the proceeds from the sale of capital assets other than real estate; and
• Form 1099-S, which is used to report the proceeds from the sale of real estate, typically other than one’s principal residence (provided the appropriate information was provided to your lawyer or other representative at the time of sale).
In each of these instances, the purpose of a Form 1099 — whatever its specific designation — is to provide information to the Internal Revenue Service so it can cross-check the same to make sure that the recipient is properly reporting the payment and/or income.
Another type of Form 1099 is the Form 1099-MISC. As you might have already guessed, this designation is intended to cover most other miscellaneous payments for which a specifically identified Form 1099 does not exist. The threshold for being required to file such a form is when payments have been made to a qualifying recipient during any calendar year (or tax year, in the case of an entity reporting information on a fiscal-year basis), in an amount totaling at least $600.
So, who is required to submit such forms to the IRS and to the payee? Anyone or any entity engaged in a trade or business, who made such payments in the course of that enterprise, is required to use 1099-MISC. But, you may wonder, what constitutes a trade or business? The instructions for this form state that you are generally considered to be engaged in a trade or business “if you operate for gain or profit.”
However, as with most IRS guidelines, the answer has exceptions. For example, those parties responsible for filing this version of Form 1099 include nonprofit organizations as well as federal, state, and local governments. Interestingly enough, through Dec. 31, 2010, the definition did not include landlords or rental-property owners. However, effective with payments beginning Jan. 1, 2011, landlords are required to join in the fun and issue Form 1099-MISC for all payments for services and/or materials reaching the $600 filing threshold.
The next logical question is, to whom or to which organizations are these forms issued? Historically, and through Dec. 31, 2010, these forms were to be issued to any individual and/or non-corporation receiving $600 or more during the year. Most corporations were excluded. However, payments were still required to be reported on the form if paid to pass-through entities, including LLCs that were not being taxed at the entity level, as well as payments made for professional fees (including doctors, lawyers, etc.), whether the professional entity was incorporated or not. However, these rules were changed for payments made after Dec. 31, 2010, such that corporations are no longer exempted from receiving these forms.
As you might expect, there are penalties for non-compliance, and not having the information necessary to complete the form is not always considered to be a valid excuse. There are also filing deadlines, other forms necessary to accompany copies of the Form 1099 to be filed with the IRS, and additional form-specific details relating to the filing requirements.
Suffice it to say, if you are subject to the filing requirements for these forms or think you might be, it is certainly better to err on the side of caution and make arrangements for their filing, or at least to check with your tax or accounting professional. Under such circumstances, it would be wise for you to take steps during the year to make sure to collect the necessary information you’ll need to file these forms from the various payees you work with. Such information would include their full and correct name, their correct tax-identification number, and their correct and current mailing address.
If necessary, there are forms available for collecting such information and receiving the payee’s certification as to the accuracy of the information.

Bruce M. Fogel is a partner with Bacon Wilson, P.C./Morse & Sacks in Northampton. He is a member of the firm’s estate-planning, elder, real-estate, and business departments. He has extensive experience in matters relating to income, gift, and estate taxes, and he focuses on the tax implications of all legal transactions. He can also be heard on the radio show Taxes and Assets; (413) 584-1287; [email protected]

Sections Supplements
How to Avoid Turning Private Estate Matters into Public Conflicts

Carol Cioe Klyman

Carol Cioe Klyman

Litigators love conflict.
In the world of trust and estates litigation, an innocent transaction, such as adding a child’s name to a bank account, could set the stage for a legal battle royal after the parent’s death.
Consider the questions mom will not be around to answer. Did she put Johnny’s name on her account because she wanted him to be able to withdraw funds while she was living, or rather to inherit the account when she died? Or did she intend to give Johnny access to the money just in case something happened to her, but she really wanted all her children to split the account when she died?
The siblings never got along that well, but think about what could happen in this family when mom is no longer around to referee.
Walk into most courthouses these days, and you will soon realize that ambiguity and conflict mean money. Trust and estates litigation is booming in no small part because the innocent transactions of life conflict with family dynamics and the complex realities of the legal system. Litigators sue, but estate-planning attorneys try their best to keep clients out of court. So here, from my observations, files, and trials, and those of my colleagues, are some of the mistakes that can drive what should be private matters into public conflict.
1. DIY estate planning. Filling out forms from the Internet for wills, trusts, and powers of attorney is the easy part. Thinking through the ramifications of those documents takes knowledge and skill. Most people plan one or two generations ahead, but life is not that simple.
Divorce, biology, human frailty, and the simple passage of time all affect our planning. It also takes knowledge to separate the useful from the flawed in these Internet documents. Litigators will exploit ambiguities and unintended consequences.
2. Not having a will, power of attorney, and health care proxy. If you don’t have these basic documents, the government controls where your property goes and monitors who makes decisions about your health care and your funds. If you become incapacitated, a judge will appoint a guardian and conservator to take care of your financial and medical affairs. Families often disagree over who will serve in these roles, and these conflicts often end up in court. These cases can be brutal, costly, and time-consuming.
The judge, usually the person in the room who knows the least about your case, is confronted with choosing between children, as often as not appointing a professional who is a stranger to the family.
3. The law of unintended consequences. Even people who have estate plans can fail to consider the consequences. In one glaring example that came across my desk some years ago, a man terminally ill with cancer thought he had provided for his adult children in his will, signed six months before his death. The will left everything to his second wife, whom he had married two years previously, and then to his five children if she were dead. When he died, his wife inherited his entire estate, and his children got nothing.
His children sued. The case settled with the widow agreeing to give them their father’s property at her death. Many such cases end only after protracted and expensive litigation that leaves the children empty-handed.
4. “My child will do the right thing.” I can’t tell you how many times a client has told me, “I’m leaving everything to my daughter. She knows what I want.” The law favors certainty over sentiment. The certainty is, the daughter owns everything at the parent’s death. Fortunately, in most cases, the child will do the right thing when a parent dies. However, at times the ‘right thing’ is unclear.
The person in charge may believe she knows exactly what the deceased person wanted. Others may disagree, and even resent the authority given to the favored person.
5. Promising more than you deliver. Many lawsuits are won and lost over the issue of a promised inheritance that failed to materialize. In many of these cases, the neglected survivor performed an uncompensated service expecting to be rewarded later. In one recent case, a son was promised he would inherit the family business and real estate if he ‘employed’ his mother at a substantial salary and paid her living expenses.
He faithfully performed his obligations until her death. Unfortunately for the son, the mother changed her estate plan in the intervening years and split the business among her children when she died. The dutiful son sued his siblings and won. The sympathetic judge found that the son acted based on his mother’s promise and should be compensated for his trouble.
6. Picking the wrong person to be in charge. A corollary to this is, “Sheila is the oldest, so I’ll name her.” Much sadness, loss, and many expensive lawsuits arise from this mistake. An executor of a will, trustee of a trust, and agent with power of attorney or health care authority — each of these jobs requires a person of intelligence, honor, loyalty, and diligence. Putting the wrong person in charge can completely derail a perfectly crafted estate plan.
Individuals abuse the trust placed in them when they use funds for their own purposes, contradict their principal’s instructions, or fail to follow the directions expressed in the decedent’s will. These cases run the gamut: a grandmother serving as executor of her daughter’s will spent her grandchildren’s inheritance on herself; an agent transferred property owned by her incapacitated mother to herself without permission; an executor used estate funds to repair and improve his own home. Often the people who are wronged — an incapacitated person, trust beneficiaries, a decedent’s heirs — have the law on their side but cannot recover what was lost or taken. The wrongs can occur many years before discovery, and perpetrators often are poor and ‘judgment-proof,’ and not required by the court to have insurance to cover losses.
7. Dueling powers of attorneys. When a parent cannot choose which child to put in charge, they sometimes put too many children in charge. They will sign a power of attorney naming one child, a second power of attorney (sometimes drafted by a different lawyer) naming another child, and so forth. The question then becomes, who is really in charge?
If the parent is incapacitated, unable to pick the first among equals, and the children can’t agree, the decision will end up in court. My advice is to say what you mean in one document only, and don’t let your children bully you into creating another. If you can’t pick one and then another as backup, you can name two serving together, but it is best for an odd number to serve in case a tiebreaker is needed. You might also spread the jobs of executor, attorney-in-fact, and health care agent among your trusted family members so no one feels slighted.
8. Failing to name successor executors, agents, and trustees. If an office is vacant, the court may need to appoint an individual or corporation to serve. Refer to points 2, 3, 5, and 6 for the ramifications.
9. Not specifying how taxes are paid when you die. If you leave assets of more than $1 million, Massachusetts will tax your estate (more than $5 million, and the federal government is also interested). Unless you decide differently, taxes are paid from general probate assets, which do not include specific assets bequeathed in a will, insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, and other assets with beneficiaries. The result could be that the people you want to benefit the most will pay all the taxes and receive the least.
10. Specifying that taxes be paid from tax-exempt assets. Some assets transferred at death, such as gifts to charity or to a trust for a surviving spouse, are exempt from estate tax and can actually result in reduced taxes for an estate. However, an improperly drafted estate plan can cause a portion of these exempt assets to be spent on estate taxes, reducing the amount of the exempt gift, and in turn increasing the taxable estate and the tax bill — a mathematical spiral that often ends in court. Charities, marital trust beneficiaries, and litigators can do the math.
11. The ostrich estate plan. Pretending problems don’t exist, and not meeting them head-on, is a gift that keeps on giving to a litigator. A parent may disinherit a child or children for any reason, sometimes out of sheer dislike. Most parents can’t live with the thought of treating one child differently, even a child with substance-abuse, financial, or marriage problems, or perhaps physical or mental challenges. Failing to address these issues by sweeping them under the rug or pretending they don’t exist can be destructive to the family. With proper planning, children can be protected from themselves in many positive ways.
However, if ever your loved ones would have reason to race to their lawyer, an estate plan that singles out a child with problems, disinherits children, or leaves the entire estate to the poodle would be it. Care must be taken to evidence that the parent acted willfully and with full understanding. Plans that seem irrational or flippant leave much room for doubt and speculation — and make a litigator’s day.

Attorney Carol Cioe Klyman is a shareholder with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., Springfield, Northampton, and Albany, N.Y. Her practice concentrates in the areas of elder law, estate and special-needs planning, estate administration, and trusts and estates litigation. She is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estates Counsel and immediate past president of the Hampden County Estate Planning Council; (413) 737-1131.

Sections Supplements
Builders Hone Strategic Initiatives for Weathering the Downturn

Kevin Perrier

Kevin Perrier says builders are being forced to bid at distressingly low figures if they want to keep working.

The local construction sector realistically plans for a sluggish 2011 on the heels of one of the worst years in decades. While strategies have been in place to get their businesses through this economy, many wonder how many more knocks this already-troubled industry can take. Careful oversight and rigorous planning may be a new set of tools for builders in Western Mass. and across the nation, but the recession that has brought this industry to historic lows is a redefining moment for local contractors.

When asked to describe the current state of the construction sector, Five Star Construction owner Kevin Perrier said simply, “it stinks.”
Although he went on to assess the industry in more specific terms, Perrier’s two-word assessment of this state of affairs is something everyone agrees upon. The recession has taken its toll on many industries, but with so much of the construction sector dependent on better economic footings, 2010 wasn’t a year for a solid rebound. And while Wall Street and Main Street both are feeling some measure of progressive economic activity, that doesn’t yet translate to a rosy outlook for builders in 2011.
The latest reports from industry analysts at Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) don’t offer much in the way of better news than what contractors can see for themselves — that private construction slipped even further in the last months of 2010. The ABC’s chief economist, Anirban Basu, put a finer point on the bad news by compiling a list of no less than 10 “headwinds” he predicts will further impact the sector’s economy for the current year, including industry unemployment, increased commodities pricing, and the end of stimulus funds conspiring to bring about what he ominously called “phase two of the economic downturn.”
But while the outlook isn’t good, the builders who spoke to BusinessWest offered some hope that the techniques that have kept hammers ringing, even if the phones aren’t, will continue to be sound strategies to keep their businesses above water in 2011.
MaryBeth Bergeron, owner of Charista Construction in East Longmeadow, said that, having weathered other recessions, she has a good grip on imminent changes in the industry. “When this recession started, you intuitively knew business was slowing down and softening,” she said. “I’ve been in business 25 years, and after that much time, you recognize it.”
For some, 2010 meant a continuation of the operating strategy that they had begun using in 2009 — tightening the labor rolls to get lean and mean, and trimming as much as they could from the margins to be competitive while still keeping their trucks on site.

David Dietz

David Dietz says the current struggles of builders, and how they respond to them, are potentially career-defining experiences.

But many spoke of the necessity to move even further beyond those tactics. David Dietz, a principal with Dietz Construction in Easthampton, said that what his 50-year-old business is doing now not only keeps the business on solid footing through the recession, but has the potential to put the company in better shape on the other side of this economy.
“I remember my dad talking about recessions, and those experiences that defined him both as a businessperson and how he would work,” he said. “I think this is going to define our generation for quite a long time.”
The construction sector faces challenges that for many are unrivaled in their history. But, while their industry’s drums beat a tune of gloom, area builders say that, with some hard work, and no small amount of hope for better times ahead, construction can make it to the other side of the recession with a new set of tools.

Hammer Time
At Triple S Construction in Wilbra-ham, Tom Silva — one of those three S’s with his brother and father — said that his company opened shop in the midst of a recession in 1987. “We were just coming of age then,” he said. “It didn’t hit us as hard as this one.”
A residential remodeling and construction firm, Silva said that this facet of the industry has not recovered from the burst bubble of the recent past.
“Last year started out better than it ended,” he said. “I think homeowners were feeling a little bit better about the economy. But then things didn’t get better, in many people’s eyes. In November and December the phone stopped ringing. Right about now people are usually calling to get ready for springtime, to get estimates. But we’re not seeing that. I was at a homebuilders’ meeting last night, and I heard the same things.”
For third-generation Springfield builder John Vadnais, owner of the construction company that bears his name, the residential construction sector has basically turned away altogether from new building toward remodeling, making that already-competitive sector even tighter. He pronounced this era “a distressed state of affairs in an inflationary environment.”
Kitchen and bath rebuilds are the new norm, he added, as customers look for the most impact on the shortest price tag. People are still spending money, he said, “But there is a micromanagement to see the project thoroughly.
“This is one of the deepest recessions I’ve seen, or that I can remember as a kid,” he continued. “Today, it is so deep that people are having a hard time getting out of the negativity.”
Perrier echoed that sentiment, and added that, in order for him to stay competitive last year, margins became increasingly tighter.
“In 2010 it became apparent quickly that, if you wanted to be a player in getting projects, and to get a decent workload, you were going to be bidding at a much lower percentage,” he said.
The danger there, he continued, isn’t just in that one job, for that one builder. He called it the “snowball effect.”
“Because if you’re not low on the first job, the next time, you’re going to go a little lower, and then the person behind you goes a little lower,” he explained. “That trend continues, and by the end of last year you were seeing that in order to pick up jobs, your bid was incredibly competitive.
“It’s going to take a while to get away from that, also,” he added. “You’re not going to see people putting healthy margins on their bids for a while now. It slowly has to creep back up.”
Perrier said that his firm kept enough projects on the books to make sure that his employees were busy, and that trend will continue into this year. “Yes, it is good news that we have a good book of work,” he said, “but unfortunately we’re having to meet our budget by volume. And that’s tough on everyone. The staff is working twice as hard.”
Steve Killian, executive vice president for the Springfield branch office of construction management firm Barr & Barr, said 2010 was “not a pretty year.”
The firm handles multi-million-dollar construction for higher education, health care, and other industries with the pockets to finance $30 million projects. But budget shortfalls and low returns on stock portfolios caused many of those clients to back off or postpone significant capital improvements.
However, he tempered those dim reflections with a more positive outlook. “I believe that some of these capital projects are going to have to be built — either for life-cycle concerns of buildings, or for institutions to stay competitive,” he said. “They just have to pull the trigger.”
With pre-construction times in his echelon of the industry taking anywhere from three months to upwards of a year, he hopes that an uptick in business in the third quarter of 2010 bodes well for large projects in the months to come.
But even with the forecast of high-value and overdue projects, the construction sector faces some challenges from increased materials costs (see related story, page 30). And when construction management projects need to be estimated over a period of several months of volatile pricing, that can get tricky.
“Copper costs are rising,” said Killian, “and that will affect prices in the near future. Anything starting in the next three to six months will reflect the rise in that price.” With copper for electrical and plumbing needs — two services typically responsible for 30% to 40% of a project’s cost — that will significantly impact the price of building.
Labor rates have been flat for the construction sector, he said, adding, “normally, labor is the greater portion of costs, so it is a bit of an equalizer, but in this industry, people need to be able to hold their pricing for more than one year because of your bid. When you’ve tied into a project 18 to 24 months down the road, you pray that your suppliers hold to their numbers for that duration.”
In order to get this industry moving again, he said, a holistic approach to the economy is necessary and vital to plan on better times for construction. “The housing crisis still hurts us, significantly,” he said.
“There has to be more confidence there,” he continued. “And we need to see increased commercial lending for developers. Investors are looking far more critically at all projects to see if there will be a profit. And that’s something that has held them back. They’ve said they are hanging back, waiting for the promise of a good return. Private investment, people with that volume of money to lend, they just aren’t pulling the trigger.”

Planning Department
Killian said that there are no secret techniques, really, in how a firm like Barr & Barr gets through an economy like this. “A lot of it is keeping your overhead costs low,” he explained, “and watching the bottom line. The margins are tighter, so there’s no excess anywhere — from the office to the field.”
For some, though, the recession has led to internal reassessment of their core strengths. Bergeron said that, when she saw the economy taking a turn for the worst, she asked herself, “where do I want my company to be during those times?
“With some work,” she continued, “I knew we could position ourselves to be where business is best. And so, over the last couple of years, what we have been doing is government-funded work, meaning housing-allowance programs — like Springfield neighborhood housing services, West Springfield community development, and a number of other nonprofit developers of real estate.
“Sure, just as before, we hustle, and we really go after the work,” she continued. “We try to be where the business is. If you don’t have your eyes open as a business owner, you’re not prepared.”
There is a strong market for a builder to take advantage of the changing demographics of building projects, she added, saying, “I do think there is a lot of opportunity right now with Baby Boomers retiring. ADA compliance, ramps, grab bars, all of those things are important.”
Dietz sees this recession redefining his operation through a series of techniques to trim excess off his costs, but also as a means to streamline his operation for the future. He said that Dietz Construction owns its own gravel pit, a number of specialized pieces of machinery, and various other core investments, all to keep his bid low in a highly competitive marketplace.
“For companies that don’t have as big a foundation as we do,” he said, “I don’t see how they can be competitive.”
But rather than continued investment in the latest big-ticket construction equipment, Dietz said, “We have learned to subcontract things more cost-effectively than it might be to do it ourselves. For instance, maybe getting someone who specializes in setting curbs, getting them for the handful of days that we would need them, and not worry about a workforce trained for it. There are times when it is more beneficial to outsource.”
Such tactics not only help him get through the current economy, but are a way to increase profitability in the future.
For Perrier, that future he sees is now. He said he’s confident in his crew to have projects for the year ahead, but he isn’t one to sit back idly. “We made some changes in being more aggressive in finding work.
“Where a lot people are laying off, we hired a director of project management,” he said. “His sole job is to go out and network, market our company, and meet with architects to get our name out there. So far, that’s been working out very well.
“We took a gamble and tried to take advantage of the downturn,” he continued. “It’s a roll of the dice, but while everyone is quieting down, we said ‘let’s get out there, tell people who we are and what we can do.’”
In an unforgiving economy, and for an industry, he said, where one is always just a job away from being out of work, it’s more important than ever for builders to have the right tools for the job.

Departments Incorporations

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

AGAWAM

Bronner Monitor Inc., 7 Old Mill Road, Agawam, MA 01001. Raymond Bronner, same. Gas leak detection and prevention shut-off devices.
 
EAST LONGMEADOW

Bach Trucking & Transportation Inc., 174 Shaker Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Leonard Eremento, III, same. Towing company.
 
FRANKLIN

Ben Finn Consulting Inc., One Elizabeth Ave., Franklin, MA 02038. Benjamin Finn, same. Software consulting.
 
Concierge Clinical Solutions Inc., 7 Ledge St., Franklin, MA 02038. Jennifer Conley, same. Management consulting.
 
HADLEY

Jhype Marketing Inc., 35 Hockanum Road, Hadley, MA 01035. Fjodor Agranat, same. Internet advertising and marketing.
 
HAMPDEN

The Hampden Theater Guild Inc., 3 Hillside Lane, Hampden, MA 01036. Mark Giza, same. Community theater.

HOLYOKE

Casa DeFe Yhwh Jireh Inc., 508 South St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Ramon Antonio Crespo, 10 center St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Nonprofit established to preach the word of God.
 
Gringo Motorsports Inc., 452 Main St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Cory Taylor, 313 Silver Lane, Sunderland, MA 01375. Sales and service of automobiles and motor vehicles.
 
LPCR Sound Inc., 10 Hospital Dr., Holyoke, MA 01040. James Swierzewski, same. Rental equipment.
 
LEE

Grapes & Grains Inc., 205 Mandalay Road, Lee, MA 01238. Steven Hamilton Dixon, same. Liquor store.
 
LUDLOW
 
Defenders of the Defenseless Inc., 889 East St., Ludlow, MA 01056. Anna Maria Ribas-Dias, same.
 
NORTHAMPTON

Bamyan Media Inc., 184 Main St., Apt. 3BR, Northampton, MA 01060. Anna Elliot, same. Educational non-profit organization.
 
G.A.R. Trucking Inc., 30 Riverview, West Apt. 11, Pittsfield, MA 01202. Trucking company.
 
Holyoke Commercial Real Estate Inc., 5 Cedar St., Unit B, Northampton, MA 01060. Timothy Bay Thompson, same. Commercial real estate for sale or lease.
 
SOUTH HADLEY
 
Bedside Books Inc., 18 Susan Ave., South Hadley, MA 01075. Sarah Dybizbanski, 26 Susan Ave. 01075. Nonprofit organization established to provide books to neonatal care hospitals for parents to read to their children.
 
Furry Friends Pet Sitting Inc., 7 Lamb St., South Hadley, MA 01075. Mark Chapin, same. Pet sitting service.
 
SPRINGFIELD

Drapeau’s Inc., 40 Peekskill Ave., Springfield, MA 0119. Norman Drapeau, same. Transportation and delivery of freight goods and packages by common carrier.
 
E-Z Grocery & Fruit Market Corp., 68 Appleton St., Springfield, MA 011008. Guillermo Negron, same. Retail and wholesale of groceries and fruit.
 
Harris Contractor Inc., 86 Massreco St., Springfield, MA 01109. Diolinda Harris, same. Reconstruction, alteration and renovation.
 
I and U Corporation, 20 East St., Springfield, MA 01104. Umar Chaudhry, 228 Ramblewood Dr., Springfield., MA 01118. Gas station and convenience store.
 
M.A. Smith Investments Inc., 64 Tyler St., Springfield, MA 01109. Michael Smith, same. Properties for rent or lease.
 
WEST SPRINGFIELD
 
KS Cash Flow Consulting Inc., 41 Chester St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Kelley Schuhlen, same. Locating investors to purchase promissory notes and like documents held by individuals, and corporations.
 
WESTFIELD
 
Morray Inc., 9 Glenwood Dr., Westfield, MA 01028. Homer Foucher, same. Real estate investment.

Company Notebook Departments

International EC Acquires MacDuffie School
SPRINGFIELD — Representatives of the MacDuffie School recently announced the planned sale of all school operations, not including the school’s city real estate, to International EC LLC, the group that acquired the former St. Hyacinth seminary campus in Granby in June. International EC is establishing an independent school in Granby and will absorb MacDuffie’s curriculum, corporate identity, intellectual property, furnishings, computers and business equipment, and faculty as it establishes a school serving grades 6 through 12 beginning next fall. The school, currently in its 120th year of operation, will continue as a day and boarding school. Massachusetts attorney-general approval is needed since the sale involves a nonprofit entity, the MacDuffie School, being acquired by a privately held company. Michael A. Serafino, chairman of MacDuffie’s Board of Trustees, noted in a statement that the acquisition “represents an exciting new chapter in MacDuffie’s history, offering the student body a larger campus with enhanced classroom space, outstanding boarding facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and athletic fields in a college-preparatory environment with high academic standards.” Serafino added that, in the highly competitive academic marketplace for private middle and secondary schools, “this move represents a chance to expand and promote the MacDuffie mission in a way that our current location, with space and infrastructure limitations, would not allow.” The sale of assets does not include the campus on Ames Hill Drive, and a workgroup has been established to ensure that the campus is maintained and secured after the school’s operations move to Granby. Efforts to prepare the campus for sale have started, according to Serafino. International EC, LLC has three managing partners — Craig Brewer, who currently oversees a large private high-school program for international students in the U.S.; Wayne Brewer, who is currently the CEO of International Student Exchange, and Dal Swain, the owner and president of FLS, which has a network of ESL schools for foreign students.

More Than 3,700 Sack Hunger at Big Y
SPRINGFIELD — In a chain-wide effort to help the hungry within their local communities, all Big Ys have initiated this year’s Sack Hunger program. The program consists of a large, green, reusable grocery bag filled with staple non-perishable food items selected by the food banks. Customers purchase a pre-assembled bag for $10, and Big Y then distributes the bags to that region’s local food bank. In turn, the food banks distribute the filled sacks to area soup kitchens, food pantries, senior food programs, day-care centers, as well as many of their other member agencies. All of the donated sacks will be distributed within the supermarket’s marketing area, so every donation stays within the local community. The Sack Hunger Campaign began Nov. 8 and will run through the rest of this year. So far, almost 4,000 bags have been sold. All five food banks within Big Y’s marketing area will be participating in Sack Hunger. These food banks represent more than 2,100 member agencies throughout the region. They are the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare of Greater Hartford, and the Connecticut Food Bank. The sacks include the following non-perishable Big Y items: corn flakes, long-grain rice, elbow macaroni, kidney beans, peanut butter, cut green beans, sweet peas, whole kernel corn, chunk light tuna, and quick oats. Sacks are available at all Big Y Supermarkets and Fresh Acres. Big Y hopes to provide at least 5,000 bags to area food programs by the end of the program.

WMECo Starts Construction on Reliability Project
SPRINGFIELD — Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) recently broke ground for the Greater Springfield Reliability Project, a $795 million transmission upgrade designed to strengthen the region’s power grid, meet mandatory reliability standards, and allow power to move more freely around the Greater Springfield and North-Central Conn. area. Construction on the project has started at the new Cadwell Switching Station in Springfield and at the existing Agawam Substation. Construction of the overhead transmission line in Massachusetts is expected to begin on existing rights of way in early 2011. The creation of approximately 1,000 jobs is anticipated at the peak of construction, while adding about $11 million in much-needed tax revenues to towns along the project route. The project includes work along 39 miles of an existing transmission right of way between Ludlow and Bloomfield, Conn. The 27-mile portion in Massachusetts includes new 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines, new and reconstructed 115-kV lines, two new switching stations, and several substation upgrades. In Connecticut, construction is expected to begin with a substation upgrade in Bloomfield in mid-2011, and construction of the overhead line is expected to begin in late 2011. The project is expected to be in service in 2013. For more information about the initiative, visit www.neewsprojects.com

LENOX Earns OSHA ‘Star’
EAST LONGMEADOW — LENOX has been recertified for an additional five years in the prestigious ‘Star’ Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) of the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). LENOX has maintained this elite health-and-safety certification for more than 10 years. OSHA’s verification for the Star certification includes an application review and a rigorous on-site evaluation by a team of OSHA safety and health experts. In 1997, LENOX became the first cutting-tool company in the country to receive this honor. Since then, LENOX has earned recertification in 2000, 2005, and now in 2010. Sites that make the grade must submit annual self-evaluations and undergo periodic onsite re-evaluations to remain in the programs. The plant, which employs 720 workers, manufactures power-tool accessories and blades including band-saw blades, hack saws, hole saws, utility knives, and reciprocating saw blades. The VPP promotes effective worksite-based safety and health, according to Mike Avery, director of safety and security for LENOX.

Langone’s Florist Opens at Tower Square
SPRINGFIELD — Brent Bertelli, owner of Langone’s Florist, recently signed a lease to take the former Longmeadow Flowers space located on the street level of Tower Square. This new endeavor is the second Langone’s Florist operation. The original store, located at 838 Main St., has been family-owned and operated since 1967. Bertelli said he hopes to expand the business and offer more products and services to the downtown clientele through the new location. Langone’s Florist offers custom florals, tropical plants, silk arrangements, seasonal décor, and a diverse collection of gifts.

Fallon Supports
Hunger-relief Programs
WORCESTER — Fallon Community Health Plan recently distributed more than $170,000 to dozens of designated food pantries and hunger-relief programs throughout Massachusetts. The donations represent the total net proceeds from its annual fund-raising event in September. This year’s record-breaking result is due to the participation of 96 organizations that generously contributed to the effort. Organizations specifically recognized for their donations include Booz & Co., CVS Caremark, the Revere Group, Epstein Becker & Green, Fallon Clinic, Acton Medical Associates, Beacon Health Strategies, Income Research & Management, and Protector Group. Fallon will support the following regional hunger-relief programs: Alliance to Develop Power, Springfield; Amherst Survival Center; Berkshire Community Action Council, Pittsfield; Christian Pentecostal Church, Holyoke; Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc., Pittsfield; Gandara Mental Health Center, West Springfield; Jubilee Cupboard, Ware; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry, Chicopee; Open Pantry Community Services Inc., Springfield; Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc., Holyoke; Western MA Labor Action, Pittsfield; and the Westfield Food Pantry. Founded in 1977, Fallon is a national, not-for-profit health-care-services organization.

Baystate Rug and Flooring Receives Honor
CHICOPEE — Baystate Rug and Flooring was recently awarded the honor of being Mohawk Industries’ North American Flooring Store of the Year. Mohawk Industries awarded the firm the prestigious award based on criteria including sales, growth, marketing techniques, product knowledge, community service, and best practices. Baystate Rug competed regionally, winning the title of Northeast Flooring Store of the Year, before winning the national championship for all of Canada and the U.S. Joseph Montemagni, president of Baystate Rug, noted that, in order to qualify, “Mohawk evaluated our store’s business practices, our employees’ training, their product knowledge, and reviewed our commitment and involvement in our community.” Baystate Rug is a family-owned flooring company that specializes in retail and commercial flooring, installation, and decorating services. A diversified product selection includes carpet, ceramics, hardwoods, resilient, laminate, green flooring products, area rugs, and window treatments.

Bradley’s Paradies Shops Receive Awards
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Bradley International Airport’s prime retailer, the Paradies Shops, was recently honored with several awards recognizing its top-performing managers and first-class associates at the company’s annual management seminar and vendor show in Georgia. The seminar celebrates the accomplishments of managers and both customer-facing and support-level associates who exemplify the company’s mission statement “to exceed the expectations of the customers and business partners we serve.” The Paradies Shops has operated at Bradley for almost 25 years, serves 78,000 customers per month, and runs six retail stores at the airport. Its team at Bradley, led by General Manager Deb Donahue, received numerous awards, including Best Customer Service, Best 401(k) Participation, and the coveted Public Relations Award. These honors are considered qualifying awards and are the basis for the revered awards that recognize the best of the best within the company. Taking home the top honors as one of four Executives of the Year was Judy Heit, a regional merchandise planner based at Bradley. Additionally, Patty Tucker, also of Bradley International, was selected as one of three Assistant Managers of the Year. The Paradies Shops, a family business established in 1960, operates more than 500 stores in more than 70 markets across the U.S. and Canada.

Sections Supplements
For Many Locally, There Is Room for Cautious Optimism

Westover Road in Chicopee

Lym Tech Scientific will soon be moving into this building on Westover Road in Chicopee, an acquisition that is one of many positive signs for the local economy.

Kent Pecoy says he can always tell when a recession is coming to an end, not from a technical, economics-textbook definition, but from real-life experience. And he should know; he’s been through enough of them over a 30-year career.
He told BusinessWest that the evidence comes in the form of remarks and unspoken thoughts that come with conversations he has with prospective clients, specifically couples looking at major home-renovation projects or new-home-building initiatives.
“You sit with a couple, and whether it’s a remodeling job — a kitchen, family room, bedroom, whatever — or a new house, she’s saying, ‘we need to get this done,’ and he’s saying, ‘I’m not sure this is the right time to do it,’” said Pecoy, owner of Kent Pecoy & Sons Construction. “And she starts kicking him under the table, saying, ‘we can’t put this off any longer — the kids will be out of the house by the time we get this done.’”
While acknowledging that there is some stereotyping going on with this anecdote, Pecoy said it serves to make his point — that, during recessions, and especially this past one, couples will put off things as long as they can. The fact that the under-the-table kicking is prompting more husbands to say ‘yes’ to such projects means that many people really can’t wait any longer, but they also have the confidence to move ahead.
This is especially true with remodeling, he continued, adding that this segment of his business now accounts for far more than 50% of revenues, not the breakdown he’d like — he’d much prefer to build new, high-end homes — but he’s happy that at least one aspect of his operation is seeing an uptick, and that he’s getting more of his time-honored evidence that times are getting better.
Others involved in business and economic development say they don’t have such a tell-tale sign that a recession is winding down. For them, things are somewhat murkier. Indeed, there is still considerable uncertainty about if, when, and to what extent things will improve. There is, however, general agreement that 2010 was a real struggle, and the year ahead should yield some improvement, but this will be, by and large, a mostly jobless recovery.
“We predicted 2010 to be this kind of year; we were hoping it wouldn’t be, but we predicted it would be, in terms of land sales in our development corporations and general absorption of real estate,” said Allan Blair, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass. “We thought there would be a slowdown in layoffs in 2010 and there was, but we also thought the job growth would be slow, and it was. So as disappointing as all this was, it wasn’t a surprise to us.
“It looks as though the layoff situation has bottomed out, so that jobs appear to be stable, but there are a lot of unemployed people out there who are going to be struggling to find employment equal to what they left,” he continued. “They’re going to have a hard time — it’s going to be a real struggle for a lot of people, which is going to create a lot of problems for our communities and our citizens. The government is spending what it can to retrain and reposition people, but the business environment isn’t responding fast enough to absorb them.”
Russell Denver, president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, said some sectors have performed better than others in 2010, and that uneven performance will likely continue in the year ahead as players in different industries respond — or don’t — to the conditions.
“It’s been a mixed bag … there is not general economic growth spread evenly among the business community. It entirely depends on what sector you’re in,” said Denver. “I’ve heard that temporary employment agencies are having a good year, and some advertising agencies are having a good year, and some architectural firms are enjoying better times.”
“Companies are becoming much more efficient, much more productive, and, interestingly, the companies that are hiring are having a difficult time finding the right person,” he continued. “People attribute this to the fact that, even a few years ago, people were willing to leave one company to go to another; now, many of the people are hunkering down, afraid to leave for another position, because the grass is not always greener on the other side, and if there’s a layoff, they may not get employed again very quickly.”

Hire Ground
Looking back on 2010, Blair said that, while it came off as predicted — rather unremarkable in terms of real growth — there were some positive developments.
At the top of that list would be the groundbreaking for the high-performance computing center, a project that has many question marks in terms of overall impact, especially with jobs, but enormous potential to spark other economic development.
“The Holyoke high-performance computing center is something that we’re looking forward to understanding, as far as the economic impact is concerned,” said Blair. “But the fact that this is happening, and with those particular players, is encouraging to say the least, and we’re optimistic that we have something to rally around in terms of that digital technology cluster, and can see what we have here.”
Movement with regard to identifying clusters and facilitating their growth was another of the bright spots in 2010, Blair continued, noting the hiring of the EDC’s first ‘manager of cluster development,’ Michael Wright (see related story, page 6).
Still another was some signs of movement on absorption of some of the vast amounts of commercial and industrial inventory now on the market, a situation that is no doubt contributing to the lack of new building in the EDC industrial parks and similar facilities across the region.
Bill Wright, president of Lym Tech Scientific, a manufacturer of cleanroom wipes, is responsible for some of that absorption. His company, which has been based in several smaller buildings at the Cabotville Industrial Park complex in Chicopee, recently acquired the 78,000-square-foot building at 2245 Westover Road that was most recently home to Engineered Polymers, and is slated to move in next month.
Wright said the move was necessitated by the need for more space and also better space — the multiple floors at Cabotville are not conducive to efficient operations — but also by confidence that the company would continue its recent growth pattern.
“I hope the economy stays on track,” said Wright. “It appears to be a jobless recovery, but we seem to have found some pockets of business that work OK for us. It’s tough to make predictions about the local economy and employment, though.”
Indeed, it is, said Jim Barrett, manager partner for the Holyoke-based accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, who hears from clients every day about the economy and how it is impacting business.
‘Cautious optimism’ was a phrase Barrett used repeatedly as he talked about 2011 and his clients’ prospects for stability, growth, and additional hiring.
“Some people are up this year, but most all business owners are thinking hard about whether they should bring back people,” he told BusinessWest. “They’re paying people overtime, things are looking up, but credit is still tight, and there are outside factors impacting specific industries, like health care reform and medical practices; there are a lot of question marks.
“With certain sectors, like manufacturers and retailers, things are looking better, but they’re not yet ready to commit a lot of capital to expansion, because they’re just not sure,” he continued, hitting on one of the variables that will certainly define progress in the year ahead: business confidence. “Some of them are, but most people are still very cautious about spending, and that includes hiring.”
Elaborating, he said many of the staffing agencies the firm represents are reporting growth in 2010, which is a good sign for the overall economy. This uptick means that, while companies might be reluctant to bring people on full-time, they are adding temporary help or paying overtime, which are big steps in the right direction (see related story, page 22).
“Some employers have people working overtime, which is always a good sign,” he said. “They’re paying OT and using temps, which is one step before actually hiring someone. Instead of hiring the staff in anticipation of the work coming, people are waiting for the work to come in, and then they’re hiring staff and they’re augmenting with temporary help or overtime.”

Watch Words
Denver said he’s also observed some improvement in various sectors. Like Barrett, he’s buoyed by the improved health of staffing agencies, but also sees rays of optimism in the growth of some marketing agencies and even architectural firms.
The former indicates that companies that have cut back on their marketing — one of the first areas to be trimmed when times are tough — are putting some dollars back in that area. As for the latter, it provides some glimmers of hope for the construction sector, one of the hardest-hit industries in the region.
Overall, Denver said 2010 was not a year of big, positive headlines in the business community, but of many important success stories. He listed the high-performance computing center, construction of Baystate Medical Center’s $251 million Hospital of the Future, more progress on the State Street corridor in Springfield and also in the South End and downtown, and the start of construction of the new data center in the old Technical High School on Elliot Street.
Many of the positive developments in 2010 were funded, or assisted, with federal stimulus money, said Denver, adding that as this pipeline dries up, which it is expected to do in the months ahead, there may be a negative impact on recovery and the rate of same.
“Government propping up the economy was the story of 2010,” he said. “And now those funds are running out. What happens without federal stimulus, or far less stimulus money, may well be the most significant story of 2011.”
Evan Plotkin knows what he would like the biggest story of the year ahead to be — more visible evidence of progress in Springfield’s central business district, a goal that has become somewhat of a passion for the president of NAI Plotkin.
While noting that the commercial real-estate market remains sluggish amid some signs of improvement, Plotkin said 2010 was a year in which downtown revitalization efforts took steps forward, through everything from the retenanting of the old federal building to the popular Art & Soles program that brought dozens of colorful, five-foot-high sneakers — and some additional vibrancy — to the downtown.
And 2011 may yield more positive developments with projects ranging from revitalization of long-dormant Union Station to ongoing efforts to bring more market-rate housing in locations such as Court Square, the Bowles Building, and others.
“I’m excited that developments like Union Station are getting to a point where people are developing those properties,” said Plotkin. “There’s been a lot of talk, and it’s been very frustrating for many years, but we’re at the end of the discussion phase, and I think we’re at the point where we’re ready to pull the trigger and get started on some of these projects.
“If we convert some of the buildings downtown into market-rate housing, and if we start to do some of these other cultural things that people have been talking about for some time,” he continued, “we’re going to start to see a whole new Springfield emerge.”

The Finish Line
If Pecoy is right, and the recession is not just technically over but really behind us, then more wives will be kicking their husbands under the table in the months ahead, urging them to move ahead with major renovation plans.
Area business owners and economic-development leaders will be looking for these and other signs — real and metaphorical — over the course of a year that seems destined to be defined by more uncertainty.
But it will be one that should, by most accounts, anyway, bring some much- anticipated improvement for a region that is still, in many ways, digging out from the Great Recession.

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

Cover Story
Searching for Answers to an Uncertain Future

Cover Decemebr 20, 2010

Cover Decemebr 20, 2010

While uncertainty is the one word most experts are using to frame their opinions about 2011, something approaching consensus is taking shape. It appears the region and nation are due for more slow, unremarkable growth, and probably insignificant gains in terms of employment. In other words, it looks like more of the same that we saw in 2010.

Andre Mayer had an intriguing way of summing up what happened with the economy in 2010, one that captured the sentiment of most observers.
“It’s been a year in which conditions have certainly improved … but in a rather disappointing way,” said Mayer, vice president of Communications and Research for the Associated Industries of Mass. (AIM). Indeed, after recording fairly significant growth in the first six months of the year, the economy stumbled, and then seemed to take at least one step backward for every step forward.
“In 2010, we had a pretty good first half in terms of working our way out of a recession,” Mayer continued. “The state economy improved, and business confidence increased, right up until June, and fairly steadily. But then, things began to deteriorate, and some of that has to do with the diminishing impact of stimulus actions on the part of the federal government. We had quite a disappointing third quarter, and while the fourth quarter has been a little better than the third, we’re well behind where we thought we’d be in terms of recovery.”
Karl Petrick, an assistant professor of Economics at Western New England College, agreed.

Karl Petrick

Karl Petrick says a “Mexican standoff” between consumers and business owners is one of the many issues limiting recovery from the Great Recession.

“The recovery’s been shaped like a U, a very long U,” he explained, referring specifically to the horizontal line. “There’s only been a little bit of an upward tick. It’s been really frustrating … we’ve just been bouncing along the bottom on this recovery, and that’s been nationwide, not just Western Mass. And every month there’s good news, the next month, there’s bad news. And the nationwide jobs report has done it again.”
That report — which showed that just 38,000 jobs were added for the month of November, after robust growth in October, and an unemployment rate of 9.8% — has many economists scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders when they talk about 2011 and what can be expected regionally and nationally.
But while there is certainly a large amount of uncertainty, there is something approaching consensus when it comes to the outlook on the months and quarters ahead — growth that will be slow and generally unremarkable, with probably only slight improvement in the jobs situation.
This goes double for Western Mass., said Bob Nakosteen, professor of Economics at UMass Amherst, because this region lacks what he calls a “jobs-creating fuel source” like the technology and biosciences clusters in Central and, especially, Eastern Mass., which greatly outperformed the western counties in 2010.
“The problem, of course, is that we really haven’t replaced our declining manufacturing base with anything that has dynamism into the future,” he said, with ‘we’ referring to the Pioneer Valley as a whole, but especially its largest city. “Springfield has not reinvented itself; it has a lot of potential, but isn’t that the worst curse in life, to have a lot of potential?”
“We’re just in for a period of relative stagnation, if that’s the right word,” he continued. “There will be slow growth; I think this may start to improve, but it probably won’t happen before midyear. And it’s only when the national economy starts to improve that we’re going to feel some of the benefits in this part of the state. And there just isn’t enough of an economic engine here to have traction once the national economy starts to grow.”
But Mayer was much more positive in his outlook. “I think 2011 should be a year in which it becomes clear that the recovery is taking hold. We should see improvement from a very low rate of growth as the year goes on, and we’ll enter 2012 in much better posture than we’ll enter 2011.
“Unless we fall off completely,” he continued with a laugh, noting that there is just too much uncertainty — in this area code and countries like Ireland, Portugal, Greece, and others — to say with any degree of confidence what will happen.
For its Economic Outlook 2011, BusinessWest talks with several economists about the immediate future and what will shape it from a recovery standpoint. Overall, they said there are far more questions than hard answers.

Realistic State of Mind
Amid the prevailing disappointment over how 2010 played itself out, there were some bright spots that could prompt optimism if one were so inclined.
Mayer said the state’s performance, which exceeded the nation’s, was one such positive, in part because it showed some depth and diversity in the Commonwealth’s economy, although the good showing likely had more to do with the fact that the Bay State isn’t dominated by the industries hardest hit by the Great Recession, such as home building and automobile manufacturing.
“The fact that we’ve not only been able to keep pace, but actually outperform the nation so far in this slow and halting recovery is a good thing for us,” he explained, adding that, historically, the state has lagged behind the rest of the country when it comes to bouncing back.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth’s performance helped it retain some talented young people who might otherwise have left for presumably greener pastures.
“We have not seen the kind of outflow of human capital, mostly young people with marketable skills, that we’ve seen after past recessions,” Mayer explained, “because they would leave to seek better job opportunities elsewhere in the country. Right now, there aren’t those kinds of opportunities.
“In fact, the kinds of places where they used to go, the areas with high population growth, like Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, are suffering very badly in this cycle,” he continued, “because those are places where real estate and home construction are very important parts of the economy, and those sectors have just been hammered.”
Overall, the Massachusetts economy — and individual businesses large and small — have “adjusted,” said Mayer, which, roughly translated, means they’ve become more efficient and able to do the same with fewer people, which is another positive from a competitiveness standpoint, but not from a job-growth perspective.
“On balance, companies have been able to adjust to more-difficult circumstances, to a slow-growth economy,” he told BusinessWest. “They’ve been able to keep afloat and in some cases do pretty well, but they’re doing this, in large part, at the expense of job creation; they’ve slimmed down their staffing, and they’re very reluctant to add on new people, so we haven’t seen a whole lot of job creation.”
And, surprisingly, one of the areas where there’s been recorded growth is manufacturing, noted Mayer, adding that this is probably the last sector most observers thought would expand. “Manufacturers can usually squeeze more productivity out of their existing staff, and they’ll usually do that before they add people, so this has been an odd pattern, but something else that bodes well for the state.”
Despite these positive developments, 2010 has been rather forgettable, said Mayer and other observers, and the sluggishness of the past few months, not to mention the November jobs report, makes it that much more difficult to gauge what the year ahead will be like.
“One month you get 172,000 jobs, and the next, 39,000 new jobs, one-fifth the number that was forecast,” said Petrick. “That just really shows how uncertain the recovery remains in terms of when it’s going to gain steam.
“Most forecasters were almost writing 2010 off, saying, ‘we’re going to see some improvement, but not a lot,’ and those people were right,” he continued. “But then, most people were forecasting that things would pick up in 2011; now, some of the more pessimistic forecasts are for 9.5% unemployment nationwide, and the optimistic ones are for 8%, which is significantly higher than it had been, and that doesn’t bode well for Western Mass.”
Petrick noted that perhaps the biggest stumbling block to economic progress, both regionally and nationally, is confidence, or lack thereof. This fear of what is still very much the unknown has both consumers and business owners frozen in their tracks and either unwilling or unable (or both) to step forward with any conviction.
“Consumers are uncertain — they’re holding back as much as they can,” he explained. “Businesses are uncertain, not because they’re worried about taxes, but because they’re worried about what’s happening with consumption. It’s a Mexican standoff between consumers and businesses, each one saying ‘you first.’ Consumers are saying ‘hire us and we’ll spend,’ and businesses are saying ‘spend and we’ll hire you.’”

Stimulating Conversation
Whether there is any relaxing of this standoff in 2011 depends largely on when and to what degree the national economy improves, said Petrick, adding that there are several factors that will play into this.
These include everything from the fate of the announced compromise tax plan to the impact of whatever stimulus funding is still to be spent, to the Federal Reserve’s attempts to actually spur inflation, or at least ward off the more dangerous deflation.
“They are trying to get a higher rate of inflation than we have now, because there are some things that might spring from this that are healthy,” said Nakosteen. “If businesses can get a bit more of a margin in the prices they charge, if low interest rates in the face of a little more inflation prompt investors to get more into the stock market, these are good things, and two outcomes the Fed is trying to get by doing this.
“The risk is that they’re in a little bit of uncharted territory,” he continued, “and it’s not real clear that those actions are actually going to prompt the economy to begin to recover. There are only so many things they can try, and they seem to have tried one of everything; no one really knows.”
Those four words apply to many of the questions concerning the regional and national economy, including the matter of federal stimulus efforts.
Indeed, while many believe the impact of stimulus programs is now mostly in the past tense, Petrick said there remains a substantial amount of stimulus funding that has been allocated for this region but not spent.
“This is construction money, by and large, and it will be helpful, because that’s the sector that’s been the hardest-hit,” he explained. “There still could be a positive effect in the next year from that money that’s been allocated for different projects but hasn’t been spent.”
Locally, progress for the short and long term may well depend on if and to what degree the region can advance the process of reinventing itself.
Petrick sees some signs of progress in the Valley’s ongoing efforts to build its ‘green’ sector.
“This is a region that could, with a lot of work, start to make a name for itself in terms of green technology,” he said. “We have some green shoots — individually, they’re not much, but collectively, this could be a positive thing that could prompt hiring across a number of skill levels.”
But Nakosteen says the region still has a lot of work to do with regard to the process of reinvention.
“We’ve had this long-term decline in our base,” he explained. “There’s nothing really stopping that, and there’s nothing arising to take its place. There’s nothing taking hold to get these gateway cities going, and Springfield is one of those gateway cities.”
The biggest concerns for the year ahead involve jobs and the likelihood that this state and region won’t be creating many.
“We’ve done all right in Massachusetts relative to the rest of the nation,” said Mayer. “October was a pretty good month, maybe the first we’ve had, and then the November report came out, and we went backwards. So it’s very hard to predict what will happen next year.”

U Guessed It
While the past few months have shown that seemingly anything can happen in 2011, economists are in general agreement that the nation and region will likely continue moving along what is the bottom of the U that several referenced when taking about the shape of the recovery.
There may be more movement back up, Petrick told BusinessWest, predicting what amounts to more of the same for at least the next few quarters.
In other words, when 2011 nears its end, you may be seeing and hearing economists say there was improvement, but in a rather disappointing way.

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

Departments Incorporations

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

AMHERST

Uppermark Inc., 20 Gatehouse Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Paddieh Jalali, same. Educational materials and services.

BELCHERTOWN

LKB Realty Inc., 93 Canal Dr., Belchertown, MA 01007. Lloyd Butler Jr., same. Invest, acquire, and maintain real estate.

Quadcom Carting Inc., 260 Turkey Hill Road, Belchertown, MA 01007. Eric Duseau, same. Residential and commercial waste removal and recycling.

CHICOPEE

Samlep Inc., 74 Roosevelt Ave., Chicopee, MA 01013. John Pelmas, same. Package delivery.

SMEB Corp., 386 Irene St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Suzanne Marotta, 69 Sherwood Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Provides physical, emotional and spiritual health through varied types of yoga instruction.

Ten-90 Inc., 44 Dwight Street, Apt. #2R, Chicopee, MA 01013. Aristides Nunes, same. Bar and restaurant.

EAST LONGMEADOW

The Jos Salvon Memorial Scholarship Inc., 75 Canterbury Circle, East Longmeadow, MA 01028.

Tickets for Groups Inc., 337 Pinehurst Dr., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Deborah Axtell, same. Group ticket sales.

EASTHAMPTON

Up From the ground Inc., 6 Laura Ave., Unit 1, Easthampton, MA 01027. Brian Farr, same. Delivery business.

HOLYOKE

Larochelle Construction Inc., 7 Westernview Road, Holyoke, MA 01040. Daniel Larochelle, same. Construction services.

Mrs. Mitchell’s Kitchen Inc., 514 Westfield Road, Holyoke, MA 01040. John Mitchell, 18 Cass Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Restaurant.
 
LEE

Lynchristopher Homes Inc., 170 Orchard St., Lee, MA 01238. Cindy Giovine, same. General building construction.

NORTHAMPTON

National Alliance of Concerned American’s for the Wellbeing of All People and Earth Inc., 101 Washington St., Northampton, MA 01060. Doug Wight, same. Non-profit organization designed to educate and inform Americans on capitalism, consumption, waste, and pollution and their effects on our environment.

PITTSFIELD

Taconic Conservation Foundation Inc., 59 Oak Road, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Francis Tremblay, Route 44 Orchard Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Non-profit organization designed to provide educational programs to the public.

SOUTH HADLEY

Wicked Willows Inc., 37 Prospect Street, Apt. A, South Hadley, MA 01075. Nancy Cote, same. Sales of Halloween costumes.

SPRINGFIELD

Minority Business Workforce & Technology Council Inc., 1655 Main St., Suite 403, Springfield, MA 01103. Carlos Gonzalez, 44 Dover St., Suite 403 Springfield, MA 01107. Non-profit organization aimed at training and workforce development.

Murphy’s Law Sports Bar & Pub Inc., 1019 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103. Yasser Hussain, 10 Button Road, Easthampton, MA 01027. Sport bar.

New Leadership Charter School, 37 Alderman St., Springfield, MA 01108. Peter Daboul, 1242 Stony Hill Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Charter school.

Premier Accounting Inc., 1127 Main St., 4th Floor, Springfield, MA 01103. Felix Morales, 10 Magnolia Ave., Holyoke, MA 01040. Accounting, payroll, tax, and consulting services.

Ridgewood Neighborhood Improvement Initiative Corporation, 101 Mulberry St., PH 605, Springfield, MA 01105. Michael Thomes, same. Organization dedicated to improving the amenities and historical significance of the greater Ridgewood neighborhood.

State Street Laundromat Inc., 555 State St., Springfield, MA 01109. Mario Tedeschi, same. Laundromat.
 
WEST SPRINGFIELD

Synergy It Inc., 635 Piper Road, West Springfield, MA 01089. Mark Lilly, 6 Old Rochester Road, Suite 302, Silver, NH 03830. Computer networking, software and hardware.

WESTFIELD

Magic Printing USA Inc., 14 Lisa Lane, Westfield, MA 01085. Emily Wechter, same. Graphic design sales and service.

New England Lawn Care Inc., 491 West Road, Westfield, MA 01085. James Yarasavych, same. Landscaping.

Westfield Historic Industries Preservation Project Inc., 360 Elm St., Westfield, MA 01085. Peter Martin, 110 Western Circle, Westfield, MA 01085. Non-profit organization designed to develop and maintain a museum to display and preserve artifacts relating to Westfield’s industrial revolution.

Sections Supplements
Changes Are Coming to Lease-accounting Rules

The recently issued exposure draft on lease-accounting rules proves to be one of the more significant and far-reaching proposals presented this year. Even though proposed lease-accounting changes are in draft form as we write this, they have been years in the making. As a result, the core elements are unlikely to change and will impact every organization that enters into a lease agreement.

Kyle Richard

Kyle Richard

Therefore, lessors, lessees, and other concerned parties must engage in conversations about the effect the proposed changes will have on their financial statements and their business, and be prepared to adjust operations accordingly.
Generally speaking, the proposed lease-accounting rules will require that all assets and liabilities arising from leased assets are recorded on the balance sheet. This will effectively eliminate off-balance-sheet accounting for operating leases. The proposed requirements would affect most any organization that enters into a lease. These changes are intended to more closely align the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) standards with those of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), acknowledging the global nature of today’s market.

Apply Right Model
The FASB’s exposure draft states that, with a few exceptions, lessees and lessors should apply a ‘right-of-use’ model in accounting for all leases. On its balance sheet, a lessee would recognize an asset representing its right to use the leased asset for the lease term and a liability to make lease payments. Meanwhile, the lessor would recognize an asset representing its right to receive lease payments depending on its exposure to risks or benefits associated with the underlying asset. Your accountant should be prepared to share additional details about this part of the proposed lease changes.
Calculating these assets and liabilities can be a challenge because the exposure draft assumes the longest possible lease term that is more likely than not to occur. To make these calculations, management, with its accounting professionals, must make certain assumptions, including expected future payments, probability of lease renewal, current and future market conditions, and other considerable changes that may affect the assets and liabilities.
A larger liability could exist in the event that lease-extension options stated in the original lease contract are exercised. For example, if the exercised lease agreement states a five-year contract, with options to extend an additional five years, and management determines it will use the space for the entire 10 years, then all 10 years of lease payments must be recorded as a liability at the present value based on all 10 years.

Joe Milardo

Joe Milardo

The FASB also notes that the life-of-lease estimate may need to be reassessed at each point of financial reporting if significant changes to the facts and circumstances surrounding the lease would impact the original estimate and present value. The ‘right-of-use’ asset (which at initial recording is equivalent to the lease payment liability) would then be amortized over the life of that tenant’s estimated occupancy. Certain initial direct costs incurred to originate the lease and/or place the right-of-use asset into service (commissions, legal fees, negotiation of lease terms) can be capitalized, placing the right-of-use asset at a higher cost basis than the lease liability.

Key Accounting Changes
If confirmed, the proposals included in the exposure draft will result in considerable changes to the accounting requirements for both lessees and lessors.
Impacts to profit-and-loss statements as a result of the proposals in the exposure draft will be significant, as will balance-sheet alterations. Compared to current U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) standards, if accepted, the proposals could result in much larger reductions on the profit-and-loss statements. For example, currently, U.S. GAAP requires the recognition of only a lease expense in an entity’s financial statements. The new proposal will require that same entity to recognize an interest expense on the lease liability, as well as an amortization expense on the right-of-use asset.
Here, the right-of-use asset is also subject to impairment. So an entity could record this right-of-use asset at the present value of its future minimum lease payments and immediately have to impair the asset as a result of fluctuations in the market. This could result in an extraordinary loss that would require close accounting and valuation attention as it comes into effect.

Response by Banks and Regulators
As a result of the new lease-accounting standards, balance sheets reflecting these new rules will be subject to immediate change. Will regulators and bankers consider the impact of the new lease-accounting rules when calculating financial-statement ratios and debt covenants? That’s uncertain.
We’ll have to wait and see how regulators and bankers interpret financial statements after the accounting change. To strengthen relationships with regulators and bankers, take a proactive approach by engaging in conversations about how the new lease-accounting rules will affect your business and financial statements.

Looking Forward
Tenants may prefer shorter-term leasing options to avoid recognizing larger lease liabilities. The downside is that shorter leases may increase lease rates to recover leasehold improvement build-outs and/or commissions paid to originate the lease. Some tenants may even be enticed to purchase real estate because there will no longer be a benefit to excluding these assets and liabilities from their financial statements.
The proposed lease-accounting changes will have a profound impact on all those entities that enter into leases — especially in the real-estate industry. Attending to your business yet ignoring the impending changes would be a mistake. Instead, in anticipation of the adoption of the new lease-accounting rules, talk with your accountant and build a plan to ensure the financial position of your company.

Kyle Richard, CPA, and Joe Milardo, CPA, are members of the Real Estate Services Group at Kostin, Ruffkess & Co., LLC, a certified public-accounting and business-advisory firm with offices in Springfield, as well as Farmington and New London, Conn. Beyond traditional accounting, auditing, and tax consulting, the firm also specializes in employee-benefit-plan audits, litigation support, business valuation, succession planning, business consulting, forensic accounting, wealth management, estate planning, fraud prevention, and information-technology assurance; (413) 233-2300; www.kostin.com

Departments Incorporations

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

AGAWAM

DW Holdings Inc., 835 Suffield St., Agawam, MA 01001.Wladimyr Duarte, 3 Hale Road, Enfield, CT 06082. Restaurant ownership and operation.

Family Ford of Northampton Inc., 245 Springfield St., Agawam, MA 01001. John Sarat Jr., 3 Pineridge Road, Westfield, MA 01085. Auto dealership

AMHERST

Foundation for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies Inc., 758 Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002. Joseph Bohan, 123 Blackberry Lane, Amherst, MA 01002. Charitable corporation, organized to aid, support and raise funds.

CHICOPEE

Chicopee Electronics Company, 277 Grattan St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Sandy Averill, same. Sales and installation of electrical equipment.

FDAS Corp., 536 East St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Anthony Scibelli, same. Automotive transportation and used car sales.

EASTHAMPTON

J. Newsome and Sons Construction Inc., 12 Ballard St., Easthampton, MA 01027. Jeffrey Newsome, same. General Contractor

FEEDING HILLS

Anderson Family Enterprise Inc., 154 Cambridge Street, Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Edwin Anderson, Jr. same. Convenience and liquor store.

HAMPDEN

It’s All About Me Inc., 2 Somers Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Diane Merrick, 2 Somers Road, Hampden, MA 01036. Retail sales.

HOLYOKE

G & J Management Inc., 5 Whittier Circle, Holyoke, MA 01040. Ronald Munroe, same. Mail, package, and parcel delivery.

Kennedy Foods Inc., 333 High St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Yasser Hussian, same. Fast-food restaurant.

LUDLOW

K Benefit Group Inc., 60 Clearwater Circle, Ludlow, MA 01056. Jeannie Kwatowski, same. Insurance broker.

MONSON

EMC Trucking Inc., 7 Woodridge Road, Monson, MA 01057. Edward Bernat, same. Trucking and package delivery services.

Kelley Building Group Inc., 129 Palmer Road, Monson, MA 01057. Kimberly Kelley, same. Construction.

PALMER

Clyvanor Corp., 16 2nd St., Palmer, MA 01069. Stephane Blanchette, 2125 951EME Rue St., Georges QC, FF G5Y8J1. Manufacturer of roof and floor trusses.

Easrshot Technologies Inc., 493 Newton St., South Hadley, MA 01075. Edward Wall, 80 Searle Road, South Hadley, MA 01075.

SPRINGFIELD

AutoService Inc., 867 Boston Road, Springfield, MA 01119. Moshe Ronen, 24 Churchill Dr., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Auto repair.

Business Solutions Inc., 32 Dickinson St., 1L, Springfield, MA, 01108. Darnel Ali, same. Voice-over-Internet protocol and connectivity.

Capital One Building Services Inc., 47 Grand St., Springfield, MA 01108. Gideon Innis, same.

Care for our Troops Inc., 733 Memorial Ave., Springfield, MA 01089. Michele Cabral, 314 Edgewood Road, West Springfield, MA 01089. To raise funds and advocate for United State service members. Non-profit organization designed to raise funds and advocate for United States service members.

Community & Employee Benefits Group Inc., One Monarch Place, Suite 2510, Springfield, MA 01144. Lance Letourneau, same.

Entrepreneurship Institute Inc., 1500 Main St., Springfield, MA 01115. Scott Foster, 1587 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Organization designed to work cooperatively and collaboratively with UMass Amherst to develop and implement a cutting-edge academic based experience.

Global Partners PC Inc., 125 Frank B. Murray St., Springfield, MA 01103. Ronald Eckman, 4 Squire Dr., Wilbraham, MA 01095.

Hampden County Employable Garments Inc., 41 Pomona St., Springfield, MA 01108. Gymmetta Brantley, 154 Orange St., Springfield, MA 01108. Charitable organization.

Jay’s Communications Inc., 56 West Alvord St., Springfield, MA 01108. Educate consumers and business on computer design and wireless technologies on how to save money and promote growth in the Commonwealth.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Beech Hill Construction Inc., 88 Cedar Woods Glen, West Springfield, MA 01089. Construction services.

Common Ground Holding Inc., 25 Park Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Michael Sullivan, 174 Edgewater Road, Agawam, MA 01001. Real estate holdings.

Fuel First Elm Op Inc., 592 Birnie Ave., West Springfield, MA 01089. Ami Patel, same. Gasoline service station and convenience store.

KD Orthodontics, P.C., 232 Park St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Robert Matthews, 35 Bolles Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Orthodontic dentistry.

WESTFIELD

Jai Ganesh Corporation, 49 Sabrinabrook Lane, Westfield, MA 01085. Umangkumar Patel, same. Retail liquor store.

WILBRAHAM

Access to Angels Inc., 27 Brookmont Dr., Wilbraham, MA 01095. Carol Hunt, same. Consulting and communications services.

FloDesign Sonics Inc., 380 Main St., Wilbraham, MA 01095. Arthur Martin, same. Design and manufacture services and equipment sales for water purification.

WORTHINGTON

Cash is King Inc., 129 Old North Road, Worthington, MA 01098. Peter Ricci, same. Entertainment management.

Features
As Key Votes Loom, Palmer Casino Backers Put Their Chips on the Table

Casino Rendering

Casino Rendering

For years now, casino backers, including those pushing for a resort operation in Palmer, have said it’s a question of when, not if, such gaming operations are approved. They’re saying it again this year, and with a House vote to support casinos already secured, and confidence that the Senate will follow suit, attention is now focused more than ever on where casinos will be located. Mohegan Sun, which would develop the $1 billion Palmer facility, believes it has a winning hand, because it maintains that the state needs what it calls a “Western Mass. outpost.”

The storefront has been open for just over a year now. In fact, an open house was recently staged to mark the anniversary.
It’s right in the middle of Main Street in Palmer, clearly visible to those approaching downtown from Route 32. The Mohegan Sun sign is large and prominent in the window.Visitors to the former retail space — now decorated in the motif of the casino in Uncasville, Conn. operated by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, complete with a few seats from the arena where the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun play — have a few primary objectives, said Paul Brody, vice president of development for that organization.
Some want to pose questions about the potential impact on their homes or businesses from a proposed $1 billion casino complex on land just off the exit 8 interchange of the Turnpike. “They want to know about traffic and how that will be and how it will be mitigated,” he said. But most are inquiring about jobs and, more specifically, what kinds of opportunities will be created. Mohegan Sun isn’t taking job applications, but it is signing people up, with the intent of calling them back if the complex becomes reality.
“And some others … they just want to know what’s going on with this thing,” said Brody, one of four Mohegan employees who staff the storefront. “They want to know if this is going to happen, and when — whether it will be one year, two years, or more.”
And Brody says he tells them basically what he also told BusinessWest when it stopped by the office: that these are certainly critical times for those who support — and oppose — organized gaming in Massachusetts, and especially for those who have invested considerable time (several years), energy, and emotion in Mohegan Sun’s proposed complex, which would be built on a hill high above the pike and Route 32 and include a 164,000-square-foot casino, a 600-room hotel, 12 restaurants, and 100,000 square feet of retail space.
The state House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for two casinos and several slot operations at racetracks (called racinos by some), and the Senate is due to vote on its own version later this month. There is strong sentiment that the Senate will also vote to support some kind of gaming package, but the devil is in the details, and Brody acknowledged that, while he is not conceding anything regarding the broad vote to green-light casinos, he said the conversation is, in many ways, shifting to where they’ll be located, not if.
And thus, Brody also tells visitors, as he told BusinessWest, that, in response to a request for data that might help legislators determine where, Mohegan Sun commissioned a study that shows that a casino in Palmer, or “Greater Palmer,” as she called it, would benefit the state more than one built in another proposed location (Milford), assuming that the second casino is built at the Wonderland complex in Boston.
The study, conducted by Morowicz Gaming Advisors, LLC, concludes that a casino in Palmer, instead of Milford in Central Mass., would result in $43.8 million in additional gaming revenue annually to the state, and nearly $100 million more in out-of-state dollars coming to the Commonwealth, primarily because it would lure more New York State residents than one farther east.
The study — which, to no one’s surprise, is being questioned by the backers of a Milford casino, who have a different take — is one of many ways backers of the Palmer resort are trying to build momentum at a time that many consider critical to the town’s future.
They’re presenting the proposal as more than a casino, but also as a way for an economically beleaguered community to replace manufacturing jobs that have left over the past two decades and provide long-term stability, while also bringing other types of development to nearby vacant or underutilized real estate. Meanwhile, they’re presenting it as the state’s best bet for a secondary resort outside Boston.
“This is not just a singular project on the hill, but potentially other kinds of development that will blend with the flow of traffic,” said Leon Dragone, president of the Northeast Resort Group, which owns the proposed casino property and leases it to Mohegan Sun, and now also occupies the space two doors down from Mohegan on Main Street. “There are several other properties we’re looking at.”

The Hand That’s Been Dealt Them
There’s a cluster of signs greeting motorists getting off the exit 8 interchange, most of them directing them to businesses and attractions in Palmer, to the right down Route 32, or in Ware, a few miles to the left.
But there are three relatively new additions that, along with a smattering of lawn signs along Route 32 supporting the casino effort, tell of the sense of urgency in Palmer these days and the importance of the casino to the town’s fortunes.
There’s the ‘Mohegan Sun — A World at Play’ sign in bright yellow, flanked by two signs of support, one for each of two recently formed groups: Palmer Businesses for a Palmer Casino and Citizens for Jobs & Growth in Palmer.
Robert Young is a member of both groups. He owns a landscaping company and has lived in Palmer most of his life, or at least long enough to see most manufacturing jobs leave and nothing of any substance to fill the employment void. Indeed, as he listed the manufacturers that have departed, including Tambrands, Zero Corp., Pearson Industries, and others, he said efforts to attract different kinds of employers, including those in high tech and the biosciences, have not met with success.
He acknowledged that the former Tambrands complex, seeking new tenants for more than a decade now, has attracted some new businesses, but few if any that are large employers.
“Palmer is a town that’s dying, and it’s been dying for a long time,” he said, noting that the ease with which Mohegan Sun and Northeast found vacant storefronts in the middle of downtown says something about the deterioration of the central business district. “We’ve lost tons of manufacturing jobs and support jobs, and nothing has materialized to replace them.
“We have no more jobs for a lifetime,” he continued, noting that, in his view and in the opinion of those who undertook a study on the subject at UMass, casino jobs are the new factory jobs that can support families for decades.
But jobs are not the only component of the argument being proferred by the support groups and other Palmer-site backers, who say a casino could lead to other kinds of economic development in the community and, in the process, fill a number of vacant parcels in and around Palmer with everything from additional hotels and restaurants to golf courses.
“There are a number of sites that could potentially be developed,” said Dragone, citing a 30-acre parcel once proposed for a Lowe’s and a 95-acre parcel in Ware as just two examples.
He said a North Carolina-based firm is being considered to create a master plan for nearby undeveloped parcels. Speaking broadly, he said a casino in Palmer could do for the town and surrounding region what the resort in Uncasville has done for Mystic, Conn., about a half-hour down the road, known for attractions such as its aquarium and Mystic Seaport.
“It’s quite legendary what’s occurred there, which has been a direct result of the blossoming of the gaming industry in the southeastern part of Connecticut,” he said. “It’s become much more of a year-round tourist attraction, where before, it was mostly seasonal.”

Doubling Down
While the Palmer casino support groups present their arguments about the benefits of resort casinos in general and a Palmer facility in particular, Mohegan Sun is devoting most of its efforts now toward pressing the case for a Western Mass. casino, said Brody, who is now splitting his time between Palmer and Boston, where he and lobbyists hired by the firm are trying to gain the ear of lawmakers.
The Morowicz Gaming Advisors’ numbers already have the attention of many legislators. They show that if there was one casino in Boston and a second in Palmer, the total gross slot and table revenues for the state in 2014 would be $1.168 billion, as opposed to $1.124 million for a Boston/Milford mix. Meanwhile, total out-of-state money coming into the Commonwealth would be $216.4 million with a Boston/Palmer scenario, compared to $119.1 million with a Boston/Milford combination.
The former numbers result from a Central Mass. facility essentially “cannibalizing” (the report’s authors’ word) the Eastern Mass. casino and racinos, while the latter is due largely to Palmer’s proximity to New York, resulting in reduced drive time for New York residents traveling to Palmer, as opposed to Central Mass.
Those in the industry say individuals will generally drive no more than two hours to frequent a casino, said Brody, which puts a Palmer resort in reach for people in Albany, Schenectedy, and Troy, and a Milford facility less so.
While Milford-resort backers have questioned the study’s results, Brody said that, objectively speaking, they are hard to argue with.
“There’s no outpost in the western portion of the state to attract the gaming revenue from this area and the New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire area,” he explained, adding that, in addition to that geographical logic, it’s clear, to him at least, that a Central Mass. casino would be far more vulnerable to cannibalism from existing facilities and ones that could come on the drawing board.
“What happens if New Hampshire launches gaming in the next few years at Rockingham and Seabrook?” he asked rhetorically. “That will have a profound impact on that whole Central Mass./ Eastern Mass. area. There’s a huge concentration of either existing or proposed facilities, all in or near Eastern Mass., and that’s why the math from this study is so compelling.”
Time will tell if the numbers and words coming out of the Mohegan camp will sway the decision makers in Boston, but Brody remains cautiously confident, and conveys this to visitors to the company’s storefront.
He said the volume of traffic increases when “something happens” like the House vote or when a key player endorses casinos. And that means the facility is quite busy these days.
“People sense that this is closer to reality than ever before,” he said. “We see it in the community, and we see it right here. There is still a ways to go, but people are excited; they sense that this is real.”

Roll of the Dice
Brody told BusinessWest that Mohegan Sun opened its storefront on Main Street to provide a resource for those with questions, opinions, and desires to land one of the projected 3,000 jobs to be created at the proposed resort. Meanwhile, the company wanted to provide a highly visible way of showing that, in some ways, it was already part of the Palmer community.
Whether Mohegan eventually assumes an exponentially greater presence and occupies a hilltop rather than a 1,000-square-foot storefront remains to be seen. The Legislature still has to decide if it will give the go-ahead for casinos, and then, if it does take that step, where to put them.
The Palmer site’s backers think they have a good hand, but they’re working hard to improve their odds in any way they can.
And in only a few weeks, they should find out if that hand is a winner.

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

Departments Incorporations

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

AGAWAM

M & J Goncalves Inc., 1192 Suffield St., Agawam, MA 01001. Jose Goncalves, same. Construction services.

Simon’s On Walnut Inc., 46 Suffield St., Agawam, MA 01001. David Ladizki, same. Restaurant.

Vincent Transportation Co. Inc., 100 Royal Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Frank Petrangelo, 350 North West St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Transportation services.

AMHERST

Moti 1 Inc., 25 North Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002. Mohtaram Bakhtiari, 221 Mass Ave., Boston, MA 02115. Bar and restaurant.

Northeast Conference on British Studies Inc., Office of Margaret Hunt, Dept of History, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000.

Chris Waters, 66 Hall St., Williamstown, MA 01267. Non-profit corporation for educational, charitable and scientific purposes.

CHICOPEE

Platinum Choice Staffing Inc., 565 Lafleur Dr., Chicopee, MA 01013. Ronald Desroches, same. Staffing Agency.

The Art of Fine Lines Inc., 96 Chateugay St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Joyce Catherine Crabtree, same.

Trinity Home Care Inc., 41 Sheridan St., Chicopee, MA 01020-2723. Mary Jean Flahive Dickson, 145 Stonehill Road, East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
Home nursing care services.

DALTON

Neurology Care in the Berkshires, P.C., 27 Pinecrest Dr., Dalton, MA 01226. Marina Zaratskay-Fuchs M.D., same. Neurology medical care

LONGMEADOW

Longmeadow Education Association Inc., 410 Williams St., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Marcia Harr, 22 Ferrin Dr., Southwick, MA 01077. Organization established to improve the quality of education for all.

HADLEY

New Links, U.S. Inc., 100 Venture Way, Suite 15, Hadley, MA 01035. Neils Victor Christiansen, 38 Trillium Way, Amherst, MA 01002. Wholesale jewelry distributor.

Summit Peak Electric Inc., 39 Ridge Road, South Hadley, MA 01075. Bryon Grise, 120 Damon Road, Northampton, MA 01060. Electrical contractor.

HOLYOKE

Sabrosura Supermarket Inc., 439 High Street, Holyoke, MA 01040. Fernando Ramirez, same. Grocery retailer.

NORTHAMPTON

La Esperanza/The Hope of the Pioneer Valley Inc., 237 South St., Northampton, MA 01060. Aida Ruiz-Batiste, 63 Peer St., Springfield, MA 01109.

PITTSFIELD

Pittsfield Kiwanis Club Inc., 383 North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Cathy Finkle, 674 Giberson Road South, Sheffield, MA 01257. Non-profit.

Red Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Inc., 18 Ensign Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01104. Paul Christopher, same. Civic and educational organization designed to provide music education, to advance the underprivileged and to combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.

Silverbac Group Inc., 816 North St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Jie Whiteside, same. Organization established to promote child safety awareness and abduction-prevention.

Yokun Seat Inc., 575 Swamp Road Pittsfield, MA 01201. Richard Bartlett, 8 Yokun Road, Richmond, MA 01254. Apple orchard farm.

RUSSELL

Universal Welding & Mechanical Contractors Inc., 20 Blandford Stage Road, Russell, MA 01071. Matthew Montague, 42 Garfield St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Welding and mechanical contractor.

SOUTH HADLEY

Newton Street Dental, PC., 488 Newton St., Unit 11/12, South Hadley, MA 01075. Douglas Leigh, same. Dental practice.

Pacheco Pizzeria Inc., 2080 Memorial Ave., South Hadley MA 01075. Walter Pacheco, 54 Pondview circle, Belchertown, MA 01007. Pizza restaurant.

Valuemetrics Business Advisors Inc., 9 Spring Meadows, South Hadley, MA 01075. Karl Schuhlen, same. Business consultation services.

SOUTHAMPTON

Western Mass. Public Health Association Inc., 146 Valley Road, Southampton, MA 01073. Barry Searles, 73 Russellville Road, Southampton, MA 01073. Organization designed to provide service to boards of health and related agencies.

SOUTHWICK

Paxis Home Renovations Inc., 151 Granville Road, Southwick, MA 02210. Jose Rivera, same. Hone improvement contractor.

SPRINGFIELD

P.J. R. Enterprises Inc., 10 Chestnut St., Apt. #602, Springfield, MA 01103. Pablo Rios, same.

Real Estate Options Inc., 824 Liberty St., Springfield, MA 01104. Anthony Primo Facchini, 519 Prospect St., Springfield, MA 01104. To engage, establish, construct, purchase, and lease real estate property.

Santana Xpress Inc., 81 Ranney St., Springfield, MA 01108. Wilking Mateo, same. Door-to-door Passenger transportation from Massachusetts to New York.

Sterling Architectural Millwork Inc., 55 Avocado St., Springfield, MA 01104. Fotis Gazis, 120 Pond Circle, Somers CT, 06071. Woodwork.

Straight Line Painting Inc., 128 Saffron Circle, Springfield, MA 01129. Mark Howie, same. Commercial and residential painting services.

T.R.Z. Management Inc., 181 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA 01103. Anthony Zalowski, 14 Madison St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Business-management services.

United Auto Sales Inc, 874 Berkshire Ave, Springfield, MA 01151. Joseph Nigro, 21 Grove St., Southwick, MA 01077. Retail auto sales

WESTFIELD

Smart Restaurant Inc., 487 East Main St., Westfield, MA 01085. Michelle Moon, 148 Anvil St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Full-service restaurant

Time Savers Laundry Service Inc., 65 Franklin St., Westfield, MA 01085. Eric Meyers, 33 Hawks circle, Westfield, MA 01085. Coin-operated laundromat.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

NSF Laundromat Inc., 49 Appaloosa Lane, West Springfield, MA 01089. Farrah Hena Ahsan, same. Laundromat services.

Sections Supplements
Commercial Market Remains Sluggish, but the Skies Are Brightening

Kevin Jennings

Kevin Jennings, seen in Chicopee at what will be the home of a distribution center, says the market is picking up after two years of relative stagnancy.

Area commercial real-estate brokers say the local market remains in a slump, with vast amounts of inventory and many business owners still reluctant to make investments. Many of the moves being made are upgrades to better space in this region, what one observer called “a game of musical chairs,” but there are some indications that conditions are improving and a healthier 2011 is in the offing.

Kevin Jennings was talking about speed bumps.
He used that term while discussing commercial real-estate deals and, more specifically, how much more difficult they are to consummate than they were before this sector entered its prolonged slump roughly two years ago.
“There are a lot more speed bumps now — everything’s slower and more methodical,” he explained. “Deals that used to take maybe 30 to 45 days to complete are now taking 60 to 90 days.”
And many are taking much longer than that, he continued, adding that there is much more scrutiny of the fine print these days, especially on the part of the tenant-to-be, who is still in the driver’s seat in most respects, and is pushing for every break, or concession, possible.
“Even after the fact, after the deal has been negotiated,” said Jennings, president of Springfield-based Jennings Real Estate, which handles a wide range of properties, but especially industrial and retail, “they still think they can chisel and grind.”
John Williamson, president of Williamson Commercial Properties in Springfield, agreed. “No one’s leaving anything on the table,” he explained, referring to rate or any other aspect of a lease. “And that’s why it’s taking much longer to get deals done. It used to get down to dollars per square foot; now it’s down to nickels and dimes per square foot.”
But the good news is that deals are, in fact, getting done, said brokers who spoke with BusinessWest, while noting early and often that things are still quite slow in this market and will be until more business owners gain the confidence to move ahead with expansion or relocation plans.
Indeed, Jennings used the phrase ‘optimistically cautious’ to describe the current picture, which is a considerable improvement over ‘stalled,’ which is how he would have classified this market a year or even six months ago. “There’s a fair amount of activity happening across the board,” he said. “We’re seeing some improvement.”
Bill Low, a broker with Springfield-based NAI Plotkin, concurred.
He said current market conditions are far from anything approaching what would be considered normal, but there is movement in some sectors and communities. He noted success with efforts to fill several vacant floors at One Financial Plaza in downtown Springfield (see related story, page 58) as one example, and said that there are some retail deals being inked, especially in what he called ‘B’ locations, where there are more opportunities, and transactions, than on the major retail strips such as Riverdale Road in West Springfield, Memorial Drive in Chicopee, and Boston Road in Springfield.
“It’s been a funny market,” he said. “It’s been extremely slow the past 18 to 24 months — the market’s been as bad as I’ve ever seen it. However, over the past year we’ve done a lot of office deals.”
Said Williamson, “it’s not gangbusters, but we’re seeing a steady stream of deals. It’s not the Mississippi River, but it’s at least one of its tributaries; there’s life out there.”
For this issue, BusinessWest takes a long look at the state of the current market and what should be expected next.

The Lease They Can Do
When asked to characterize what’s happening in his sector, Williamson cited a recent deal — actually two transactions — he completed in Hatfield that sums things up very effectively.
This was the sale of the Danish Inspirations complex just off I-91 to some local investors, and the subsequent lease of 10,000 square feet to Lumber Liquidators. Both deals were a long time in the making, and would best be described as ‘complex.’
The lease deal that brought the national retailer to the 413 area code was negotiated over more than 18 months, said Williamson, noting that the Virginia-based corporation wanted a presence in this market and wanted to be in that location. The trick was getting the space to work, which both parties were finally able to do.
The sale, meanwhile, took nearly four years to finalize. The original asking price was $2.8 million and was somewhat inflated, said Williamson, noting that the property finally went for $1.8 million.
Looking at those deals and how they were done, Williamson said they provide evidence of many things. For starters, they show that transactions are being made, and that there are opportunities for both investors and tenants looking to capitalize on a market where prices have come down and sellers are willing to negotiate.
“There are companies out there that are obviously thinking ahead to better times and taking advantage of pretty attractive lease rates and locking them in for seven years,” he said, referencing the term for the Lumber Liquidators lease. “For investors, this is a time to be opportunistic.”
But they also show how much more difficult it is to get signatures on the bottom line, said Williamson, who echoed Jennings when he said, “we’re doing some pretty substantial deals; it’s just taking twice as long to bring them to a conclusion. The kiss of death is when someone says, ‘this could be a quick deal.’ There are no quick deals these days.”
There are no easy deals, either, he continued, adding that both sides in transactions, and especially tenants and potential tenants, are being cautious in negotiations and, on the tenant side, understandably demanding.
“The deals are there; it’s just more difficult, and it takes longer to put them to a conclusion — if there is a conclusion,” he said. “One of the things I always loved about this business is that there’s an enormous amount of creativity involved, figuring out how to get over and around obstacles. These days, it takes even more creativity.”
In most all ways, this remains a tenant’s market, said those we spoke with, noting that this bodes well for business owners looking for more favorable terms to stay where they are — landlords are willing to be flexible to avoid creating more vacant space to fill — or to upgrade.
Indeed, Low told BusinessWest that much of the activity in the Western Mass. office and retail market involves what he calls “musical chairs,” companies already in this market moving to different, usually better, spaces. “I’m not sure the overall occupancy rate is any higher — it might have gone up a little bit,” he explained. “There’s still a lot of people just trading within the market.”
Most of these moves are upgrades, he said, meaning people exchanging Class C space for Class B, or B for A, and often getting rates comparable to what they were paying before, plus much more.
“Tenants are getting a lot more concessions,” said Low. “Tenant-improvement allowances are up, people are getting moving allowances, they’re getting cancellation rights in the agreement, all kinds of things.
“These days, companies want flexibility,” he continued. “They’re willing to pay halfway-decent rates, but they want flexibility, they want build-out, and they want all the amenities.”
On the industrial side of the ledger, Jennings noted that, while large-scale deals are still few and far between — an obvious sign of caution on the part of many business owners and managers — many smaller transactions have been completed “when the price was right.”
They include a 10,000-square-foot building on Doty Circle in West Springfield and a 4-acre parcel of land in one of the Westover industrial parks for a 33,000-square-foot distribution facility.
“There is some activity out there,” he said, noting, as other brokers did, that the region has suffered from a lack of movement from outside the market.
On the retail side, there have been some new arrivals to the region, Jennings continued, adding that this bodes well for a segment of the market has been hit hard by the recession.
“You’re starting to see some small signs of some of the retailers coming back,” he said. “Many of the discounters are expanding right now — the Family Dollars of this world — and that could give the region a boost.”
Looking ahead, the brokers we spoke with were in general agreement that the worst is probably over for this sector, and that, eventually, the pendulum will swing back in favor of landlords and rates will start to climb again.
“I think we’re at the bottom now,” said Low. “Most of the leases we’re signing now are beginning at a rental number that’s discounted to get them in here, but a lot of them go up over time. It’s hard to predict, but within six to 12 months we might be back to a halfway-decent, healthy market.
“Things are starting to turn,” he continued, “but they’re turning very slowly. I think we’ve reached the bottom, though.”

Space Race
In the meantime, though, expect more use of the phrases that have come to define this sector over the past few years: ‘tenant’s market,’ ‘musical chairs,’ and, yes, ‘speed bumps.’
As Jennings and others said, there have been more of them to navigate in the pursuit of deals larger and small. But if their projections for the road ahead are accurate, and the bounce back from the bottom has begun, then the ride ahead will certainly get much smoother.

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

Features
Developers Conference Is Designed to Create a Buzz About Springfield

John Judge

John Judge

John Judge says the so-called Developers Conference initiated by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has evolved considerably in its short, 18-month existence.
The first few events staged in 2009 amounted to what Judge, Springfield’s chief development officer, called “dog-and-pony shows” designed to introduce or reintroduce the development community to sites ranging from the York Street Jail property to the Memorial II industrial park near Smith & Wesson, to the former Indian Motocycle complex in Mason Square.
There will still be a chance to see some of those sites and others at the Oct. 27 conference, said Judge, but this event will go well beyond maps, aerial photos of property primed for redevelopment, and guided tours.
“This conference is more about ideas than it is about real estate,” said Judge, adding that the primary goals are to create a buzz about Springfield and help make the kinds of connections needed to bring business owners to the City of Homes or one of its suburbs. “We want to showcase the city and the region, especially to people who haven’t seen it in a few years; we want people to take a new look at us as a place to invest in, start a new business, or come together with an existing business and help it grow.
“I want this to help reaffirm that we want to be the capital of Western New England,” he continued, “and innovation is certainly the key to that — it’s where the job growth is. We want to say to people inside our city and outside it that we want to take the lead on innovation.”
More than 200 people are expected for the conference, which will be staged at the Basketball Hall of Fame and run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A networking breakfast will kick off the event, followed by some remarks from Sarno and Allan Blair, president and CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council. The latter will provide an orientation of Springfield and the larger Knowledge Corridor, the stretch between Northampton and Hartford.
There will then be a series of presentations and panel discussions, with subjects ranging from “Comprehensive Project Planning: Designing to Achieve Sustainability” to “Transportation Infrastructure in the Pioneer Valley,” to “Financial and Project Support Resources for Clean Energy and Resource Business in Western Massachusetts.”
The likely highlight of the conference, however, will be a keynote address from Stanley Kowalski III, founder of FloDesign Wind Turbine, a Wilbraham-based company trying to bring a radical new turbine design to the market. His talk, like many that day, will be focused on innovation, said Judge, and how the Valley can be home to more of it.
Judge said that while the guest lists for prior conferences were dominated by real-estate brokers and developers, this year there will be more of a mix, with business owners, government officials, property owners, financial-services professionals, and others. The broad goal is have attendees make the connections that will spur economic development.
“There will be some of the usual suspects — the contractors, developers, architects, anyone interested in design and innovation,” he said, “but there will also be some entrepreneurs, owners of small businesses or established businesses that might not have anything to do with commercial real-estate development; they’re just trying to grow their business.”
When asked how he will gauge the success of this year’s conference, Judge said it will likely be some time before one can assess whether the goals were accomplished. He told BusinessWest that his primary objective is to get people taking about Springfield and the region in a way that will generate progress and new economic development.
“The buzz is key — that water-cooler PR, if you will,” he said, “when people go back to their business in Boston or Hartford or New York City and say, ‘hey, I was in Springfield, Massachusetts last week … they’re really re-inventing themselves; there’s some great opportunities up there, and we should consider it.”
Beyond that buzz, he wants to drive traffic to some of the specific sites available in Springfield and the region, and, as he said, acquaint or reacquaint people with the City of Homes.
“We really want people to start thinking of Springfield first,” he concluded, “and bring people together around ideas. We want to seed the field and see what grows.”
And that’s why the 2010 Developers Conference is much more than a dog-and-pony show.
For more information on the conference or to register, call (413) 787-6020.

— George O’Brien

Sections Supplements
Why Alternative Dispute Resolution Is Growing in Popularity

Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution

Parties in legal matters ranging from divorce and child custody to business contracts are increasingly opting for alternative dispute resolution to settle their differences. Proponents of this model note that conflicts can be settled more quickly and amicably — especially important when children are involved — but also in a way that gives both parties more control over the outcome, and at far less cost.

A judgment of the court — whether on a divorce settlement, child custody, breach of contract, or ownership of a business — is final. And that can be a frightening thought for parties on both sides of a dispute.
“You’re handing these issues over to a third party who, in the best of circumstances, is going to have a day or two in trial to understand all the aspects of a business that may have been going on for 100 years or a marriage that has gone on for 30 years,” said Carla Newton, an attorney with Robinson Donovan, P.C. in Springfield.
“No matter how studious or attentive or learned the judge may be,” she added, “he doesn’t understand as much as the parties themselves about all the details and nuances of the needs of a child or the management of a business. When you use alternative dispute resolution, you’re making your own determination how the issues are going to be resolved.”
Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, is a growing niche in the legal world that bypasses litigation before a judge and instead encourages parties to work out issues themselves, typically with the help of one or more neutral parties.
“In the past few years, it’s grown tremendously,” said Michael Grilli, an attorney with Springfield-based Bacon Wilson, P.C. “It first gained acceptance because of the potential cost savings, as opposed to having to litigate things in a traditional sense. And it’s a cleaner way to do things, especially with issues involving children. People acknowledge that, although their relationship is broken, they still need to maintain some sort of civility to parent their children together to some extent.”
But Grilli also echoed Newton’s point about the desire for control on both sides of the table.
“When you take things in front of a judge, the judge is going to make a lifetime, life-altering decision for you and your children,” he said. “In alternative dispute resolution, you own the outcome because it’s something you arrive at.”
In this issue, BusinessWest examines the various types of ADR and the benefits they provide to opposing parties who, in many cases, just want to stop fighting and work it out.

Common Goals
Alternative dispute resolution can take several forms. In mediation, a neutral professional guides the discussion, with or without counsel present, and helps the parties reach consensus on all issues. However, they cannot force any resolution; the opposite is true if the parties choose arbitration, in which a mutually agreed-upon third party is authorized to make binding decisions.
Meanwhile, collaborative law involves both parties, their attorneys, and one or more experts in various fields, from finance to behavioral health, in a group effort to reach consensus.
“The attorneys are still advocating for their clients, but also working as a team to resolve the issue in a way that involves the expertise of everyone at the table,” Newton said, adding that this is a particularly beneficial model for dealing with issues of business law. “You have more time to explore all the issues, and there’s a transparency of information that’s crucial. All the information is on the table and shared in a way that people can make thoughtful and meaningful decisions about resources, income, and property distribution.”
Neutral experts weighing in on, say, the value of a business or piece of real estate “reduces the cost of having my expert go up against your expert,” she added. “It doesn’t mean that everyone always agrees on the valuation, but it does provide a more open forum to explore these questions and come to a resolution in terms of how that asset is going to be valued.”
A fourth model of ADR, conciliation, is similar to mediation but focuses on compromise and concessions to reach resolutions with a minimum of rancor. Grilli has been on both sides of ADR cases, as an attorney representing one of the parties, and as a conciliator working for both.
“We can’t force the outcome on anyone,” he said of his role as a conciliator. “They don’t have to trust us with their stories, and they don’t have to litigate their case with us. It’s more of a dialogue than a litigation.
“I encourage people to use it,” he continued. “Very often, in cases I have of a contentious nature, I’ll ask judges to make referrals to use alternative dispute resolution. I think the people appreciate it and get the sense that I’m pursuing all avenues to solve their case. And the other attorneys like it; at least in the family-law field, they’re getting very experienced mediators and conciliators who know what they’re doing. I’ve had a lot of good experiences with it.”
A good conciliator, he explained, can examine a case and tell both parties how a judge would likely rule on certain matters. “It opens their eyes. They think, ‘well, doesn’t it make more sense to see if we can reach some sort of settlement that mirrors that, with less money, time, and pain?’”

Cut to the Chase
An aversion to spending years in legal proceedings, with steadily escalating bills, is, in fact, one of the driving factors in the increasing popularity of ADR, Grilli noted. Take, for example, a damage claim in a personal-injury case — say, an automobile rear-ending accident — in which liability is not an issue.
“Instead of a long, drawn-out process for damages, you can submit the medical bills to an arbitrator or mediator, and the case expenses are significantly less, and cases are resolved more quickly,” he said.
“It’s all about cost and time. You could be looking at a couple of years after filing a case to get before a judge, as opposed to a couple of months, not to mention that much more money spent litigating. Claimants think, ‘I don’t want to wait two years to have my case resolved.’”
Overloaded dockets have lent a new appeal to ADR, Newton said.
“Our courts are very crowded, and there are limitations on the amount of personnel and resources available to move cases through the court process,” she told BusinessWest. But other factors take into account the long-term emotional health of the parties, especially in divorce and custody disputes.
“People are becoming more sensitive to the fact that there is a benefit to being able to resolve family matters in a way that preserves what can be preserved of these family relationships, especially in families with children, where the parties are going to be connected for the rest of their lives through the children,” Newton said.
“They want to maintain a respectful communication with the other party,” she added. “They want to sustain that after the proceeding is over, and many people feel they have a better chance of doing that through an alternative dispute process as opposed to a situation where they’re resolving arguments by testifying against the other person.”
Grilli agreed. “I’ve heard a lot of judges say they consider it a more child-centered way to handle things, as long as you can get everybody on the same page,” he said. “If we want the end result that is best for the child, then people should be able to put their own selfish solutions aside and work for the best interest of the child.”

Not for Everyone?
Brad Spangler, a former research assistant at the University of Colorado Conflict Research Consortium, notes, in an online article for the university’s Beyond Intractability Project, that ADR has some potential drawbacks if used inappropriately.
“Some critics have concerns about the legitimacy of ADR outcomes, charging that ADR provides ‘second-class justice,’” he writes. “It is argued that people who cannot afford to go to court are those most likely to use ADR procedures. As a result, these people are less likely to truly ‘win’ a case because of the cooperative nature of ADR.
In addition, Spangler notes, “compromise can be a good way to settle some disputes, but it is not appropriate for others. In serious justice conflicts and cases of intolerable moral difference, compromise is simply not an option because the issues mean too much to the disputants.”
Another concern is the private nature of ADR settlements, which are off the public record and not exposed to public scrutiny. “This could be cause for concern in some cases. For example, using ADR to settle out of court could allow a company to resolve many instances of a defective product harming consumers, without the issue getting any public exposure. On the other hand, a court ruling could force the company to fix all problems associated with the bad product or even to remove it from the market.”
On the other hand, that privacy aspect is an attractive quality of ADR when dealing with a family matter or a business issue that affects only the individuals in dispute, Newton said.
“It’s starting to gain more acceptance in the areas of business disputes, home repairs, and contract litigation,” Grilli added. “I think what makes it attractive to people are the time savings, the cost savings, and the sense that you’re a little more actively involved in the process than you would be with traditional litigation.”
As for those family-law matters often marked by bitterness and resentment, Newton stressed that no alternative to litigation can totally suppress the bad feelings that led the parties to court. But maintaining a sense of control over the proceedings, she noted, can significantly reduce their level of anxiety.
“The process itself is innately difficult,” she said. “But in the case of a custody dispute, it’s a given that both parents love the child dearly, and you’re asking someone who doesn’t know them at all to make a decision that is going to impact them for the rest of their lives. That’s an overwhelming responsibility for any judge.”
Individuals who opt instead for alternative dispute resolution, on the other hand, maintain more control over the situation even as they trust the other party with an equal measure of control, she noted. “They’re acknowledging that they, who love this child dearly, can make this decision. And the vast majority of people do have the ability to reach these agreements and, with the right guidance, understand that not every divorce resolution has to be one where someone wins and someone loses.”
At what is often the most difficult point in two people’s lives, that’s a goal worth fighting for.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at
[email protected]

Departments

UMass Amherst Sees Largest First-year Class
AMHERST — An academically outstanding group of first-year students and the largest-ever class to enter the UMass Amherst has been welcomed to the campus, according to Chancellor Robert C. Holub. The Class of 2014, numbering approximately 4,500 students, was selected from a record 31,000 applicants. Maintaining its commitment to state residents, the university expects total enrollment of in-state students to increase slightly, totaling more than 16,000. Meanwhile, a larger number of out-of-state students, which has gone from 800 to 1,150, constitutes about one-fourth of the entering class. The academic profile of the incoming class is strong, about the same as last year with SAT scores of 1167 and a high school GPA of 3.61, added Holub. The demographic characteristics of the entering class are similar to last year. The percentage of African, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American students is 21%, and women make up slightly more than half of the class.

AIC Sees Growth Spurt
SPRINGFIELD — The first decade of the new millennium was a period of growth at American International College, and with the arrival of the Class of 2014, it looks like the growth spurt is continuing into the new decade, according to AIC President Vince M. Maniaci. He noted that, for the fifth consecutive year, overall undergraduate enrollment is at an all-time high for the institution. Since 2001, undergraduate enrollment has nearly doubled, and under Maniaci, the graduate enrollment figures have increased from fewer than 300 students to more than 1,600. Peter J. Miller, vice president of admission services, added that the Class of 2014 will come from 24 states and 10 countries including Canada, China, Afghanistan, England, Nigeria, Ghana, St. Lucia, Bermuda, Sweden, Japan, and Vietnam. Miller noted that nursing is the most popular major among the incoming freshmen.

Laboratory Receives Accreditation
WARE — Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, a member of Baystate Health, has been awarded reaccreditation by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), based on the results of a recent on-site inspection. The CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program is recognized by the federal government as being equal to or more stringent than the government’s own inspection program. The CAP is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective medical care. The stringent inspection program is designed to ensure the highest standard of care for the laboratory’s patients, according to John Olinski, laboratory supervisor. Mary Lane’s lab currently processes more than 240,000 tests per year.

Balise Supports Glendi Festival Raffle
SPRINGFIELD — Balise Motor Sales contimued its strong support of the Glendi festival this year, sponsoring the grand prize of the event’s raffle, a vintage 1968 red Chevy Impala convertible. Proceeds from the raffle benefit scholarships and church programs of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Western Massachusetts. The Glendi Festival was staged September 10-12 on the church grounds on Main Street in Springfield.

Realtor Receives Green Designation
LONGMEADOW — Brenda Flower, a sales associate in the local Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office, has been awarded the National Assoc. of Realtors (NAR) Green Designation, the only green professional real-estate designation recognized by NAR. The designation provides Realtors with comprehensive knowledge about green homes and buildings and issues of sustainability in relation to real estate. As part of the course, Flower was trained in understanding what makes a property green, how to help clients evaluate the costs and benefits of green-building features and practices, and how to distinguish between industry rating and classification systems. Additionally, Flower received training on financial grants and incentives that are available to homeowners seeking an eco-friendly living environment.

Games2U Entertainment Franchise Enters Area
SPRINGFIELD — Games2U Entertainment, a state-of-the-art game theater and entertainment franchise, is bringing futuristic parties to homes, companies, and schools, according to Paul Jenney, who has launched a franchise in New England. Games2U features video games, laser tag, hamster balls, and more, delivered to the door of the party location. Jenney noted the franchise offers everyone the chance to have a “rock-star” party at an affordable price. Trained game coaches oversee the entire experience and manage each Games2U party throughout the event, allowing parents and event coordinators the chance to relax and enjoy the party, added Jenney. For more information, visit www.g2u.com.

$1M Grant to Enhance History Education
WESTFIELD — A $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help area school districts improve history teaching in grades 7 through 12 with innovative programs and new technology. The Center for Teacher Education and Research at Westfield State University collaborated with the Gateway Regional School District, the lead school district, to acquire the grant. The other participating public school districts are Chicopee, Hampshire Regional, Pittsfield, Westfield, and West Springfield. Also included in the grant program are the Amherst-based Veteran’s Education Project, the Westfield Athenaeum, and the History Department at Westfield State, along with the Historical Journal of Massachusetts, which is published by the university. The grant, titled “Memorializing Promise and Conflict: A Monumental History of American Democracy,” is part of the federal Teaching American History (TAH) program. The TAH grants program seeks to increase teacher content knowledge in American history, develop historical thinking skills, and develop strategies and skills in implementing content into the classroom. Funded projects for the teachers will include travel, book discussions, and work with the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.

MassMutual Earns Top Rating from Research Group
SPRINGFIELD — In Boston Research Group’s recently released 2010 DCP Retirement Advisor Satisfaction and Loyalty Study, MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division ranked first overall among all providers in eight key categories important to adviser satisfaction. Advisers rated MassMutual number one in “offers competitive advantages,” scoring 21 points higher than the industry average and seven points higher than the nearest competitor. Notably, compared to the norm, advisers who work with MassMutual have 42% more plans in force, have 54% more defined-contribution-plan assets under management, and have sold more than twice as many plans in the past two years, indicating that advisers who are heavily focused on the institutional retirement-plan market have identified MassMutual as a provider of choice. The nationwide survey of 649 retirement advisers was conducted from February to April 2010 and represents 20 defined-contribution retirement-plan providers. MassMutual was also ranked first by advisers among all providers surveyed for: wholesaler partners for success, participant education program, Internet capabilities for plan sponsors, Internet capabilities for participants, participant statement, seminar assistance, and product education for the adviser. Boston Research Group is a strategic market-research and consulting firm that specializes in the financial-services industry.

Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of September 2010.

AGAWAM

Shoemaker Self-Storage
444 Shoemaker Lane
$150,000 — Construction of a new storage facility building

CHICOPEE

Leclerc Properties
603 Grattan St.
$12,000 — New siding

GREENFIELD

Fenwick, LLP
111 Hope St.
$3,500 — Installation of six replacement windows

Girl’s Club of Greenfield, MA
35 Pierce St.
$4,000 — Installation of a kitchen hood

Greenfield Corporate Center, LL
101 Munson St.
$12,000 — Installation of interior partitions

Greenfield Farmer’s Cooperative Exchange
275 High St.
$7,000 — Installation of a metal roof

Northeast Biodiesel Company, LLC
Silvio O Conte Dr.
$75,000 — Foundation for a new industrial building

HADLEY

Pyramid Mall of Hadley, LLC
367 Russell St.
$2,200 — Replace ceiling

Vertical Assets, LLC
165 Russell St.
$902,000 — Pre-engineered metal building and finishes

HOLYOKE

Cabot Mill Realty, LLC
102 Cabot St.
$99,000 — Construction of new offices

Open Square Properties, LLC
110 Lyman St.
$54,000 — Enclose walls at salon and spa

Valley Opportunity Council
300 High St.
$401,000 — Facade renovations

Yvon Laduc
52 Main St.
$33,000 — Install new roof

LUDLOW

Verizon
131 Winsor St.
$133,000 — Alterations

NORTHAMPTON

Blue Sky Real Estate, LLC
269 Main St.
$1,400 — Ceiling repair

Clarke School for the Deaf
45 Round Hill Road
$3,800 — Install electronic security door in egress hallway

Joseph Edward Welch
264 Elm St.
$3,800 — Renovate two rooms in a dentist’s office

Paul E. Brown
1 Market St.
$5,000 — Non-structural interior renovations

PALMER

Robert J. Larose
543-545 Wilbraham St.
$25,000 — Construct addition for new office space

SOUTH HADLEY

Second Baptist Church
589 Granby Road
$2,000 — Renovation

SOUTHWICK

College Associates Inc.
800 College Highway
$300,000 — Construction of a new wing with sleep room

SPRINGFIELD

1350 Main St., LLC
1350 Main St.
$26,500 — Reconfigure office layout on the 11th floor
City of Springfield
1395 Allen St.
$206,000 — Exterior renovations

Springfield College
263 Alden St.
$193,000 — New roof

Titeflex Corporation
603 Hendee St.
$1,489,000 — Construct new offices and restrooms

WESTFIELD

Governor’s Nursing Home
66 Broad St.
$60,000 — Re-roof

Little River Crossing
93 S. Maple St.
$3,400 — Minor renovations

WEST SPRINGFIELD

ATC Audio
89 Myron St.
$22,000 — Re-roof

H&P Realty
246 Main St.
$20,000 — Re-roof

United Bank
95 Elm St.
$15,000 — Renovate 720 square feet of space

Wingate Healthcare
42 Prospect Ave.
$925,000 — Renovate 8,254 square feet of existing nursing home

Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of September 2010.

AGAWAM

Shoemaker Self-Storage
444 Shoemaker Lane
$150,000 — Construction of a new storage facility building

CHICOPEE

Leclerc Properties
603 Grattan St.
$12,000 — New siding

GREENFIELD

Fenwick, LLP
111 Hope St.
$3,500 — Installation of six replacement windows

Girl’s Club of Greenfield, MA
35 Pierce St.
$4,000 — Installation of a kitchen hood

Greenfield Corporate Center, LL
101 Munson St.
$12,000 — Installation of interior partitions

Greenfield Farmer’s Cooperative Exchange
275 High St.
$7,000 — Installation of a metal roof

Northeast Biodiesel Company, LLC
Silvio O Conte Dr.
$75,000 — Foundation for a new industrial building

HADLEY

Pyramid Mall of Hadley, LLC
367 Russell St.
$2,200 — Replace ceiling

Vertical Assets, LLC
165 Russell St.
$902,000 — Pre-engineered metal building and finishes

HOLYOKE

Cabot Mill Realty, LLC
102 Cabot St.
$99,000 — Construction of new offices

Open Square Properties, LLC
110 Lyman St.
$54,000 — Enclose walls at salon and spa

Valley Opportunity Council
300 High St.
$401,000 — Facade renovations

Yvon Laduc
52 Main St.
$33,000 — Install new roof

LUDLOW

Verizon
131 Winsor St.
$133,000 — Alterations

NORTHAMPTON

Blue Sky Real Estate, LLC
269 Main St.
$1,400 — Ceiling repair

 

Clarke School for the Deaf
45 Round Hill Road
$3,800 — Install electronic security door in egress hallway

Joseph Edward Welch
264 Elm St.
$3,800 — Renovate two rooms in a dentist’s office

Paul E. Brown
1 Market St.
$5,000 — Non-structural interior renovations

PALMER

Robert J. Larose
543-545 Wilbraham St.
$25,000 — Construct addition for new office space

SOUTH HADLEY

Second Baptist Church
589 Granby Road
$2,000 — Renovation

SOUTHWICK

College Associates Inc.
800 College Highway
$300,000 — Construction of a new wing with sleep room

SPRINGFIELD

1350 Main St., LLC
1350 Main St.
$26,500 — Reconfigure office layout on the 11th floor
City of Springfield
1395 Allen St.
$206,000 — Exterior renovations

Springfield College
263 Alden St.
$193,000 — New roof

Titeflex Corporation
603 Hendee St.
$1,489,000 — Construct new offices and restrooms

WESTFIELD

Governor’s Nursing Home
66 Broad St.
$60,000 — Re-roof

Little River Crossing
93 S. Maple St.
$3,400 — Minor renovations

WEST SPRINGFIELD

ATC Audio
89 Myron St.
$22,000 — Re-roof

H&P Realty
246 Main St.
$20,000 — Re-roof

United Bank
95 Elm St.
$15,000 — Renovate 720 square feet of space

Wingate Healthcare
42 Prospect Ave.
$925,000 — Renovate 8,254 square feet of existing nursing home

Departments

UMass Amherst Sees Largest First-year Class

AMHERST — An academically outstanding group of first-year students and the largest-ever class to enter the UMass Amherst has been welcomed to the campus, according to Chancellor Robert C. Holub. The Class of 2014, numbering approximately 4,500 students, was selected from a record 31,000 applicants. Maintaining its commitment to state residents, the university expects total enrollment of in-state students to increase slightly, totaling more than 16,000. Meanwhile, a larger number of out-of-state students, which has gone from 800 to 1,150, constitutes about one-fourth of the entering class. The academic profile of the incoming class is strong, about the same as last year with SAT scores of 1167 and a high school GPA of 3.61, added Holub. The demographic characteristics of the entering class are similar to last year. The percentage of African, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American students is 21%, and women make up slightly more than half of the class.

AIC Sees Growth Spurt

SPRINGFIELD — The first decade of the new millennium was a period of growth at American International College, and with the arrival of the Class of 2014, it looks like the growth spurt is continuing into the new decade, according to AIC President Vince M. Maniaci. He noted that, for the fifth consecutive year, overall undergraduate enrollment is at an all-time high for the institution. Since 2001, undergraduate enrollment has nearly doubled, and under Maniaci, the graduate enrollment figures have increased from fewer than 300 students to more than 1,600. Peter J. Miller, vice president of admission services, added that the Class of 2014 will come from 24 states and 10 countries including Canada, China, Afghanistan, England, Nigeria, Ghana, St. Lucia, Bermuda, Sweden, Japan, and Vietnam. Miller noted that nursing is the most popular major among the incoming freshmen.

Laboratory Receives Accreditation

WARE — Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, a member of Baystate Health, has been awarded reaccreditation by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP), based on the results of a recent on-site inspection. The CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program is recognized by the federal government as being equal to or more stringent than the government’s own inspection program. The CAP is an advocate for high-quality and cost-effective medical care. The stringent inspection program is designed to ensure the highest standard of care for the laboratory’s patients, according to John Olinski, laboratory supervisor. Mary Lane’s lab currently processes more than 240,000 tests per year.

Balise Supports Glendi Festival Raffle

SPRINGFIELD — Balise Motor Sales contimued its strong support of the Glendi festival this year, sponsoring the grand prize of the event’s raffle, a vintage 1968 red Chevy Impala convertible. Proceeds from the raffle benefit scholarships and church programs of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Western Massachusetts. The Glendi Festival was staged September 10-12 on the church grounds on Main Street in Springfield.

Realtor Receives Green Designation

LONGMEADOW — Brenda Flower, a sales associate in the local Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office, has been awarded the National Assoc. of Realtors (NAR) Green Designation, the only green professional real-estate designation recognized by NAR. The designation provides Realtors with comprehensive knowledge about green homes and buildings and issues of sustainability in relation to real estate. As part of the course, Flower was trained in understanding what makes a property green, how to help clients evaluate the costs and benefits of green-building features and practices, and how to distinguish between industry rating and classification systems. Additionally, Flower received training on financial grants and incentives that are available to homeowners seeking an eco-friendly living environment.

Games2U Entertainment Franchise Enters Area

SPRINGFIELD — Games2U Entertainment, a state-of-the-art game theater and entertainment franchise, is bringing futuristic parties to homes, companies, and schools, according to Paul Jenney, who has launched a franchise in New England. Games2U features video games, laser tag, hamster balls, and more, delivered to the door of the party location. Jenney noted the franchise offers everyone the chance to have a “rock-star” party at an affordable price. Trained game coaches oversee the entire experience and manage each Games2U party throughout the event, allowing parents and event coordinators the chance to relax and enjoy the party, added Jenney. For more information, visit www.g2u.com.

$1M Grant to Enhance History Education

WESTFIELD — A $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help area school districts improve history teaching in grades 7 through 12 with innovative programs and new technology. The Center for Teacher Education and Research at Westfield State University collaborated with the Gateway Regional School District, the lead school district, to acquire the grant. The other participating public school districts are Chicopee, Hampshire Regional, Pittsfield, Westfield, and West Springfield. Also included in the grant program are the Amherst-based Veteran’s Education Project, the Westfield Athenaeum, and the History Department at Westfield State, along with the Historical Journal of Massachusetts, which is published by the university. The grant, titled “Memorializing Promise and Conflict: A Monumental History of American Democracy,” is part of the federal Teaching American History (TAH) program. The TAH grants program seeks to increase teacher content knowledge in American history, develop historical thinking skills, and develop strategies and skills in implementing content into the classroom. Funded projects for the teachers will include travel, book discussions, and work with the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.

MassMutual Earns Top Rating from Research Group

SPRINGFIELD — In Boston Research Group’s recently released 2010 DCP Retirement Advisor Satisfaction and Loyalty Study, MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division ranked first overall among all providers in eight key categories important to adviser satisfaction. Advisers rated MassMutual number one in “offers competitive advantages,” scoring 21 points higher than the industry average and seven points higher than the nearest competitor. Notably, compared to the norm, advisers who work with MassMutual have 42% more plans in force, have 54% more defined-contribution-plan assets under management, and have sold more than twice as many plans in the past two years, indicating that advisers who are heavily focused on the institutional retirement-plan market have identified MassMutual as a provider of choice. The nationwide survey of 649 retirement advisers was conducted from February to April 2010 and represents 20 defined-contribution retirement-plan providers. MassMutual was also ranked first by advisers among all providers surveyed for: wholesaler partners for success, participant education program, Internet capabilities for plan sponsors, Internet capabilities for participants, participant statement, seminar assistance, and product education for the adviser. Boston Research Group is a strategic market-research and consulting firm that specializes in the financial-services industry.

Cover Story
A New Potential Developer, Renewed Optimism for State School Site

Cover August 30, 2010

Cover August 30, 2010

To date, efforts to redevelop the former Belchertown State School property have been met with only frustration and some embarrassing moments — the last lead development team bounced a check on the town as it proceeded with initial steps in the process. But there is renewed, if cautious optimism as another outfit, Pennsylvania-based Weston Solutions, goes through the due diligence process on the challenged but opportunity-laden property. Said a Weston executive: “Let’s look at the canvas, see what we’ve got. Then we can figure out what brushes and paint we want to use, and then we move forward.”

Bill Terry made a show of knocking on his wooden conference table when introducing the latest unfolding chapter in the redevelopment of the former Belchertown State School property.
Perhaps he did so because, after more than a decade of stalled or failed plans, the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (BEDIC), current owner of the site, may have finally found the right people for the right job.
And that’s on both sides of the negotiating table.
Terry is the chair of the BEDIC, and he said Weston Solutions, a Pennsylvania-based remediation and redevelopment firm signed a letter of interest this past July, giving it full rein over all past documents, research, and findings from the BEDIC.
That letter of interest begins a relationship between town officials and the employee-owned Weston, and while the process of due diligence is carefully underway, both sides expressed reserved, and not-so-reserved, enthusiasm.
One of the Weston officials on the site these days is Valarie Ferro, senior technical director for the Northeast Division. She told BusinessWest that “there are many fine assets to the property.
“Yes, there’s contamination there,” she continued. “But hospitals are not a new thing to us. We’ve looked at many, and were involved in a couple in various roles. When we walked onto the Belchertown property for the first time, we had a pretty good idea of what the project might entail, and when we got here, it was, ‘yup. That’s what we thought.’”
And that’s the attitude that has local officials betraying their reservations on the potential for redevelopment of the property. A 50-year-old firm with a long and successful history, Weston is no stranger to projects of this magnitude and degree of difficulty.
Weston now has 90 days to assess the property and the scope of the job. The BEDIC, meanwhile, also has 90 days of due diligence on Weston to see if its capabilities and track record are in line with the town’s master plan.
Terry acknowledged that, thus far, he is “reservedly excited.”
“They didn’t just come in and say, ‘we’re interested; we heard about this property from a developer,’” he said. “Their approach is, let’s crawl before we walk, and let’s walk before we run, and make sure that there is a good fit here for all parties involved.”
While others have come before and failed, Weston Solutions is not, as Terry said, “just some guy out of the wooly West who says he’s a developer. This company, they know what they’re doing.”
The halfway point for both parties’ pro forma on this job hasn’t yet been reached. But in separate conversations with BusinessWest, the hope for all involved is to no longer knock on wood when talking about the future of the Belchertown State School.

Strength in Numbers
The last time a developer took on the prospect of repurposing the Belchertown property, a grand resort and spa was envisioned for the remaining buildings and land at the state school, comprising just under 100 acres. Famously, the developer bounced the deposit check for the job, and the BEDIC found itself bounced back to square one — no development, a blighted property, and scant opportunity for a project to move forward.
But that’s history, and what is unfolding has those involved far more excited about prospects in tune with the community.
The details at this stage of Weston Solutions’ examination of the property is purely within the realm of speculation, but Terry allowed himself optimism when expounding on the current players involved on both sides of the property’s negotiations.
For starters, Belchertown has a crack team in its court, and Terry said that, going forward, it’s not now just him and his colleagues, all of whom have full-time jobs in addition to their role with the BEDIC. “We on the board have talents,” he explained, not diminishing whatsoever the solid work he and his colleagues have accomplished over the years, “but it is good to have these professionals in our camp.”
Among those professionals is MassDevelopment, with whom the BEDIC has been in collaboration since this past May. That signed memorandum of agreement, Terry said, puts all the resources of the state agency into play for the Belchertown property.
“These are dedicated professional real-estate people and engineers — big players,” he continued. “We need only write out a request for service, provide some sort of budget, and they get right to work.”
In addition, the town’s state legislators are all on board with any and all help that can be garnered from Beacon Hill, and Terry singled out Sens. Stan Rosenberg and Gale Candaras, and State Reps. Tom Petrolati and Stephen Kulik.
“It’s finally the time where we have the right team assembled to make this happen,” he said.

Finding a Solution
Of course, those players are an important step in maneuvering the Belchertown project toward a positive outcome. But an ace team alone doesn’t get a project of this size and scope closer to a finished product.
Weston’s history of engineering, procurement, property remediation, and development spans several countries and countless properties that were in far worse shape than the Belchertown site. From complex wetland locations to defunct chemical plants, Weston has a stated goal of “zero tolerance for unethical behavior” while working within communities.
Ferro quoted her company’s logo at the beginning of her conversation with BusinessWest: “The trusted integrator for sustainable solutions.”
“We do integrate, we pull it all together,” she explained, “but before that, we sort it all out. It’s an art, and it’s a science, and it’s an art and science at the same time. That’s where developers stumble with blighted or underutilized assets. There are just so many components to these projects.”
Like the team assembled by the BEDIC, Weston has mobilized its own bevy of seasoned professionals. At the Belchertown property that day, Ferro, who has a background in redevelopment planning and community planning, said that in addition to herself, there are three others with specialized interests.
A green deconstruction expert, “not just a landfill expert, but someone who knows how to safely and successfully repurpose any material,” she explained, was on hand along with Weston’s LEED-licensed site professional, to evaluate the environmental aspect. Rounding out the team was the LEED green-development expert, who also happens to be leading Weston’s Northeast efforts in a green-roof technology company it owns.
“That’s just three of maybe four or five other components that we have to sort together,” she emphasized.
When asked about the complexities of the Belchertown site, Ferro said, “by and large we are attracted to challenges. The projects we take on, and are successful at, are where others have failed before us. Or they were just not interested because of the inherent difficulties.”
In addition to all those difficulties, however, is a site that she said comes with just as many, if not more, attributes. She described the brick buildings as “stately,” but it’s the landscape that holds more promise than other projects Weston has overseen.
“The rolling topography, the views, the fact that it’s also a very valuable critical mass of land … you don’t know how much we struggle when working in urban environments, and we have to cobble together eight or 10 property owners just to sew together three acres. Here, we have a great big glob of land, and the surrounding land use is compatible.”
That was a word often repeated in her conversation, and in which lies a core value for Weston Solutions. She said that’s a major difference between her firm and a more traditional property developer, which customarily has a book of clients and end users for projects of this size.
“For us, we might want it, whatever it is,” she said of potential use at the site, “but if it’s not compatible with the town, or consistent with our core values, then we don’t pursue it. We just don’t go there.
“And that’s why, frankly, there’s not a lot of talk up front for us right now,” she continued, “because we’re just trying to understand what the context is — both the town and the property. What’s our canvas? Let’s look at the canvas, see what we’ve got. Then we can figure out what brushes and paint we want to use, and then we move forward.”
That canvas, however, has some underpainting already.
When asked if Weston has been given an understanding on issues of core importance for the BEDIC, town hall, and the voting population of Belchertown, Terry stated unequivocally, “absolutely.”
“They have our master development plan, and they have the 43D plan,” Terry said, referring to the site work made possible through MassDevelopment. “Not only that, we’ve verbally told them what is important to us. We told them we’re not building a new town center here. We’re not being disrespectful, but there are clear things that the community wants and doesn’t want.
“Our development plan says no big-box stores,” he added. “Nothing against ‘Wally World,’ we all go there, but we’re not a community that wants them. Weston knows that too, and knows that we won’t entertain that idea. That could have happened years ago, but we didn’t want it.”

Sense Break
Looking ahead, Terry said the BEDIC has some clear hopes for what might unfold at the state school property. As a town resident with roots that trace back to the earliest settlers, he said that it is important for him, and many others, to keep that intergenerational component in Belchertown.
To accomplish that, he sees health and wellness, specifically assisted living, as a good use for some of the property. He cited a similar project in Ludlow that had designs on full occupancy five years after construction, but successfully met capacity in two.
Belchertown, he maintains, is a middle-class community with good schools and a strong commitment to public services. In keeping with that tradition, he said, is the need to “take care of mom and dad.”
An assisted-living developer has expressed interest in parts of the property for several years, he continued, but has lacked the resources to tackle anything beyond his own slice of real estate.
To further substantiate the possibility of a successful market for that style of development, he noted that several other assisted-living builders have looked at the site and weighed in with their own vote of confidence and an interest in buildable property.
In a separate conversation, Ferro brought up a similar train of thought, giving evidence to her prior comments on collaboration. Weston has looked at the conceptuals for wellness and assisted-living development on the property, and while one of the things it is doing during this period is “going with their gut feelings and considerable contacts,” she agreed with that facet to Terry’s vision.
“I really am attracted to their idea of inter-generational living,” she said. “Right next door there’s the police station, the teen center, and maybe some of this can be expanded so that it represents Belchertown as a whole. I think there’s real potential there.”
But again, she tempered her enthusiasm with restraint. “I think we all wish there was a CliffsNotes on what to do about the Belchertown property. We’re sorting through an enormous amount of information and just literally sopping it up like sponges.”
Just like everyone working on both sides of the project, however, restraint gave way to hope. “My gut feeling is that, seeing what’s there, there is potential to pull this off,” she said.
From his office in Springfield, Terry echoed that sentiment.
“We’re conservatively excited,” he said again. “It’s going to take a lot of care, but it seems like we’re working with the right folks, and this is the best shot we have had since I’ve been on the board.”
Noticeably, he didn’t knock on wood this time. n

Departments Incorporations

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

BELCHERTOWN

Auction Shipper Inc., 442 State St., Belchertown, MA 01007. Aytac Camdeviren, same.
Shipping and receiving services.

FEEDING HILLS

AW Real Estate Corp., 74 Bessbrook St., Feeding Hills, MA 01030. Alfredo Improta, same. Real estate.

FLORENCE

Bidwell ID, 30 North Maple St., Florence MA, 01062. John Bidwell, same. Full-service advertising and marketing agency.

Click Workspace Inc., 109 High St., Florence, MA 01062. Ali Usman, 109 High St., Florence, MA 01062. Non-profit economic development organization through collaboration of entrepreneurs.

GREAT BARRINGTON

Ecaerus Inc., 80 Brush Hill Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230. Brian Sutton, same.
Consulting services.

GREENFIELD

Cold River Inc., 55 Main St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Peter White, 55 Main St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Retail store, sales of beer, wine, and liquor.

LENOX

Guenhwyvar Inc., 55 Pittsfield Lenow Road, Lenox, MA 01240. Michelle Vanallen, 24 Rotermel Lane, Kinderhook, N.Y. 12106. Restaurant and bar.

LONGMEADOW

Change in Action Inc., 184 Edgewood Ave., Longmeadow, MA 01106. Susan Choquette, same. Organization established to promote the ideals of respect, compassion, and mutual responsibility through the cooperative efforts of parents children and schools.

PITTSFIELD

1 Berkshire Strategic Alliance Inc., 75 North St., Suite 350, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Michael P. Daly, 14 Lynne Court, Lanesborough, MA 01237. Economic development agency serving the business community of Berkshire County.

Bella Terra Festival Inc., 1270 North Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Jeffrey Schneider, same. Entertaining event planning.

Chestnut Tree Trauma and Attachment Center Inc., 150 North St., Suite 220, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Wendy Aunitch, 121 Edward Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Center providing therapeutic services to children, young adults, and non-offending family members who have experienced trauma or neglect.

SOUTHBRIDGE

Advanced Concepts in Tiles Inc., 43 Quail Run, Southbridge, MA 01550. Michael Paul Durocher, same.

 

Complete Technology Resources Inc., 317 Pleasant St., Southbridge, MA 01550. Jamie Stafslien, same. Computer services.

SPRINGFIELD

16 Acres Computers Inc., 115 Corey Road, Springfield, MA 01128. Mary Radogiewicz., same. Computer sales and service.

Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts, 67 Johnson St., Apt #1 Left, Springfield, MA 01108. Hari Khanal, same. Provides support for any Bhutanese family when someone dies, and for the treatment of any medical conditions as a result of an accident or major disease.

Charles Kearse Co., Andrew M. Scibelli Enterprise Center, One Federal St., Bldg. 101, Springfield, MA 01105. Charles Kearse, 30 Bowdoin St., Springfield, MA 01109. Non-profit and business development consulting.

WASHINGTON

Harmony Building Consultants Inc., 204 Johnson Hill Road, Washington, MA 01223. Georgette Keator, same. Building and construction consultation.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

AAA Pioneer Valley Driver Training School Inc., 150 Capital Dr., West Springfield, MA 01089. Chris Mensing, 12 Echo Hill Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095. Automobile driver instruction services.

Bart Truck Equipment Company Inc., 358 River St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Martin Tourtelotte, 47 Wild Grove Lane, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Sales and service of truck equipment.

DSVT Inc., 81 Humphrey Lane, West Springfield, MA 01089. Valerity Kolodzinskiy, same. Transportation services for food, commercial goods and vehicles via flatbed, container and heavy-duty hauling vehicles.

Hannahneena Inc., 217 Elm St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Sarabjit Chawla, 3050 Mountain Road, West Suffield, CT 06093. Restaurant and bar.

WESTFIELD

358 Southwick Inc., 358 Southwick Road, Westfield, MA 01805. Rachid Messoudi, 14 Willard St., Apt. 1, Quincy, MA 01085. Convenience store.

Direct Auto Realty Inc., 300 East Main St., Westfield, MA 01085. David Dicienzo, 90 Southwood Dr., Ludlow, MA 01056. Purchase, develop, manage, and maintain real estate properties.

WORTHINGTON

Arts Alive in the Hilltowns Inc., 4 Sam Hill Road, Worthington, MA 01098. Mary Pulley, 128 Old Post Road, Worthington, MA 01098. Association of artists to network, promote, showcase and support artistic and cultural endeavors.

Sections Supplements
Knowledge of the Law Can Be Your Best Asset When Coping with These Issues

Gina Barry

Gina Barry

Certain ideas with respect to estate planning are widely accepted, yet unfortunately, inaccurate. This article will reveal and explain the most commonly stated estate planning myths.

Myth No. 1: ‘If I have a valid will, my estate does not have to go through probate.’
Many people believe that having a will means that their estate will not have to be probated when they pass away. A will is a document that, in part, gives instructions as to the distribution of the assets in the decedent’s probate estate. The assets in the probate estate are those assets that are held in the decedent’s name alone that do not have a designated beneficiary. Thus, whether or not probate is needed is not based upon whether or not the decedent had a will; rather, it is based upon how the assets are owned by the decedent.
If the decedent left probate assets, then in order for their will to ‘speak,’ a probate estate must be opened. If all the assets held in the decedent’s name are jointly owned with a right of survivorship or have named beneficiaries, then there is no need for probate.

Myth No. 2: ‘I can give away $10,000 to as many people as I want each year, but if I give more, then I have to pay gift tax.’
This myth emanates from the gift-tax system. In 2010, the rule with respect to gift tax is that you may give up to $13,000 to as many people as you want without having to file a gift-tax return. Note that the amount that can be gifted is stated incorrectly in the myth because most people remain unaware of the ongoing increases to the allowable gift amount.
Also under the current rules, even if a gift-tax return must be filed because more than $13,000 is given to one person, the giver of the gift will not pay any gift tax until he or she has gifted more than $1 million during their lifetime. Thus, if a person has $100,000 and gives all of it away in one year to one person, they will need to file a gift tax return, but they will not owe any gift tax because the gift does not exceed the lifetime threshold.

Myth No. 3: ‘I can give away assets when I enter a nursing home and still obtain Medicaid benefits.’
When faced with a nursing home bill of approximately $8,000 per month, many people wish to obtain Medicaid benefits to pay for this care. In order to obtain Medicaid benefits, an asset limit must be met; therefore, assets valued above this amount must be reduced to the asset limit before benefits will be granted. In their efforts to reduce the excess assets, many people believe that they can gift the excess assets due to the gift-tax exclusion explained in Myth No. 2. While a person can make a gift of up to $13,000 per person in 2010 without filing a gift tax return, the Medicaid program is not governed by the gift tax rules.
The Medicaid program imposes a penalty when any assets are given away within five years of the application for benefits, except in very specific circumstances. This penalty results in being unable to obtain Medicaid benefits for at least five years after such a gift is made. Thus, a gift of any amount will typically result in a penalty being imposed even if the gift does not have to be reported on a gift-tax return.

Myth No. 4 – ‘If I need nursing home care, Medicare will pay for my care.’
In part, this myth is perpetuated due to the fact that “Medicare” sounds very much like “Medicaid,” which does pay benefits for nursing home care for approved applicants. Medicare Part A will pay for medically necessary inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility, but only following a three-day hospital stay. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services. The actual length of benefits could be much shorter than 100 days if those services are no longer required.
When Medicare benefits are paid, Medicare pays 100% of the cost for the first 20 days, but only 80% of the cost of the next 80 days. Most Medicare recipients also have Medigap insurance, which will pay the balance not paid by Medicare. When Medicare benefits are exhausted, an alternative payment source is needed to pay for ongoing nursing home care.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Association. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

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