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Creating Cyber Solutions

Tom Loper says the ‘supply chain’ project will benefit the region

Tom Loper says the ‘supply chain’ project will benefit the region and its manufacturing sector while also giving cybersecurity students a leg up on jobs.

A group of regional partners, led by Bay Path University, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Mass. Technology Collaborative for a pilot program that will address a host of identified issues — from a critical shortage of workers in the cybersecurity field to the need for smaller manufacturers to become more cyber secure if they are going to keep doing business with their customers in the defense, aerospace, and other sectors.

The project’s name is long and quite cumbersome.

‘Engaging Student Interns in Cybersecurity Audits with Smaller Supply Chain Companies to Develop Experience for Entry-level Positions While Improving the Cybersecurity Ecosystem in Massachusetts.’

Yes, that’s really what it’s called. And while that’s a mouthful — not that anyone actually recites the whole thing anyway — it really does capture the essence of an ambitious initiative spearheaded by Bay Path University and its emerging cybersecurity programs, and also involving Springfield Technical Community College, Paragus Strategic IT, the Economic Development Council of Western Mass. (EDC), and other area partners.

Breaking down that long title into its component parts certainly helps to tell the story behind the $250,000 grant awarded recently by the Mass. Technology Collaborative. The program, set to commence early next year, will indeed engage students in Bay Path’s cybersecurity programs in internships with smaller supply chain companies across the region. They will be working with employees at Paragus to undertake cybersecurity assessments of these small manufacturing firms, essentially identifying holes where intruders can penetrate and possible methods for closing them.

And the program will provide needed experience that is difficult for such students to attain, but very necessary for them to land jobs in the field. And it will put more workers in the cybersecurity pipeline at a time when there is a considerable gap between the number that are available and the number that are needed — a gap approaching 9,000 specialists in this state alone. And it will bring more women into a field that has historically been dominated by men and is struggling desperately to achieve diversity.

That’s a lot of ‘ands.’

Which helps explain why the Mass. Technology Collaborative, which was planning to divide $250,000 among several entities, gave that entire amount to Bay Path’s proposal and then found another $135,000 to award to two other projects, said Tom Loper, associate provost and dean of the School of Arts, Sciences and Management at Bay Path, who started with the small supply-chain companies, as he explained the project’s importance.

“These companies have a cyber vulnerability, in many cases, because they don’t have sophisticated systems and they don’t have sophisticated staff that can help create a cyber-safe environment,” he noted, adding that he took what he called a “Western Mass. approach” to the process of applying for the grant.

By that, he meant a focus on smaller businesses, as opposed to the larger defense contractors like Raytheon in the eastern part of the state, and also on schools like Bay Path (and its online component, The American Women’s College) and STCC that are graduating cybersecurity students but struggling to find them real-world experience to complement what they learn in the classroom.

Matthew Smith says that among the many potential benefits from the ‘supply chain’ project is much-needed gender diversity in the cybersecurity field.

Matthew Smith says that among the many potential benefits from the ‘supply chain’ project is much-needed gender diversity in the cybersecurity field.

Thus, the project is a potential win-win-win, with maybe a few more wins in there as well, said Rick Sullivan, president & CEO of the EDC, noting that winners include the individual students at Bay Path, the emerging cybersecurity industry, individual small manufacturing companies, and the region as a whole, which counts its precision manufacturing sector as a still-vital source of jobs and prestige.

“The large customers, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation … they’re really requiring, and rightfully so, very strict compliance with the highest cybersecurity techniques out there,” Sullivan said, referring to the requirements now being placed on smaller supply-chain companies. “When they go to the bigger companies, they have to certify their entire supply chains, and we have a lot of companies in this region that feed into that supply chain.”

Overall, the pilot program is a decidedly proactive initiative aimed at helping these smaller companies become aware of the requirements they will have to meet to keep doing business in such fields as defense and aerospace, and then help them meet those thresholds, starting with an assessment of their cybersecurity systems and immediate threats.

For this issue and its focus on technology, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the Bay Path-led project, its many goals, and how, if all goes as planned, it will close gaps in cybersecurity systems as well as gaps in that sector’s workforce, while also making the region’s manufacturing sector stronger and more resilient.

Day at the Breach

The project summary for the Bay Path initiative, as authored by Loper and others, does a very effective job of summing up both the many types of problems facing the state and its business community with regards to cybersecurity, and also how this pilot program will address several of the key concerns.

“Entry-level job postings for information security analysts and related cybersecurity positions typically require one to two years of experience in the field, making it challenging for recent college graduates with cybersecurity degrees to fill these positions,” the summary begins. “Bay Path University, a women’s university in Western Mass., will lead a project that will engage 30 undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity students, primarily women, in a full year of challenging experiences as paid interns on cybersecurity auditing teams.

Rick Sullivan

Rick Sullivan

“The large customers, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation … they’re really requiring, and rightfully so, very strict compliance with the highest cybersecurity techniques out there.”

“Teams will provide cybersecurity audits at a lower cost for small to mid-sized companies in the region,” the proposal continues. “Undergraduate cybersecurity interns from Bay Path University and Springfield Technical Community College will be assigned to auditing teams led by a graduate intern from Bay Path’s M.S. in Cybersecurity Management Program. Teams will be supervised throughout the audit process by seasoned cybersecurity specialists from Paragus Strategic IT. Through the internship, students will gain insight into the breadth and scope of challenges to the cyber ecosystem and hands-on experience working with employers to implement options for addressing these challenges. Project research and evaluation will be undertaken to confirm that the internship will meet the needs of employers who require prior experience.”

Like we said, that pretty much sums it all up — at least from the student intern side of the equation. In addition to classroom learning, experience in the field is necessary to break into the cybersecurity sector, said Loper, and such experience is difficult to attain. This pilot program will help several dozen students get it.

Meanwhile, the program will address the other side of the equation, the needs of small manufacturers in the supply chain — and this region has dozens, if not hundreds of them, who face many challenges in their quest to become safe (or at least much safer) from security breaches, a pre-requisite for being able to do business these days.

For an explanation, we return to the project summary:

“The majority of cybersecurity breaches occur in smaller supply chain companies, threatening the entire supply chain. Yet these companies often cannot afford the staff or resources to address ongoing needs for ensuring a cyber-safe ecosystem,” the solicitation notes. “Partnering with the MassHire Hampden Workforce Board, the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board, and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, the project will engage 45 small to mid-size supply chain companies in the advance manufacturing sector in western Massachusetts in cybersecurity audits. This strategy will be disseminated as a model for how other Massachusetts higher education institutions with cybersecurity programs can partner with employers and their regional planning teams to strengthen the cybersecurity ecosystem across the Commonwealth.”

Elaborating, Loper said the cost of a cybersecurity assessment (that term is preferred over ‘audit,’ is approximately $1,500, an amount that challenges many smaller companies and is the primary reason why relatively few are done.

The pilot program will pay roughly two-thirds the total cost of an assessment, thus bringing assessments within the reach of more companies, which need to ramp up their cybersecurity systems and methods if they are going to keep doing business with most of their clients.

“Things are starting to change,” said Sullivan. “Cybersecurity and the threats that are out there are real, and this pilot program is an attempt to get ahead of all that, to educate and assess the smaller businesses here, with the next step being to hopefully address those needs so they can stay compliant, because that’s an extremely important part of our economy here.”

Sullivan said the EDC and other agencies will work to build awareness of this program and sign on participants. There has already been interest expressed by many of these smaller manufacturers, and he expects it will only grow as awareness of the project — as well as the need to be cyber secure — grows.

What the Hack?

For the record, and as noted earlier, the Mass. Technology Collaborative came up with another $135,000 to award for other pilot projects to help prepare entry-level cybersecurity job seekers to both meet the needs of employers, and address the growing cybersecurity job crisis.

The first, a $61,178 grant, involves an entity called STEMatch, which proposed a creative collaboration between community colleges, Massachusetts-based cybersecurity service and technology providers, and end-user businesses to expand the pool of potential cybersecurity to under-represented groups and displaced workers. The other, a $74,690 award, was given to the MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board to advance a public-private partnership between the regional workforce boards of Southeastern Massachusetts, Bristol Community College, and the South Coast Chamber of Commerce, and employers in that region. The pilot is designed to help address the lack of skills and work experiences affecting Massachusetts employers and will utilize best practices developed in Israel to create training and work experiences for students in grades 10-12.

“The majority of cybersecurity breaches occur in smaller supply chain companies, threatening the entire supply chain. Yet these companies often cannot afford the staff or resources to address ongoing needs for ensuring a cyber-safe ecosystem.”

Those projects, as well as the Bay Path initiative, drive home the fact that there is not just a gap, but a real crisis when it comes to filling jobs in this emerging and now all-important sector.

“Companies are craving talent,” said Matthew Smith, director of Computer Science & Cyber Security Programs at Bay Path and assistant professor of Computer Science & Cyber Security in the School of Science and Management, as he attempted to qualify a problem that’s difficult to quantify.

That’s because while there are posted positions within this sector — many of them lacking candidates — many of the jobs are not posted, increasing the size of the gap.

Closing it requires not merely people with degrees in Cybersecurity, although that’s essentially a pre-requisite, said Smith, but individuals with what could be called real-world experience on their resumes, he said.

The pilot program will allow students at Bay Path and STCC to put five cybersecurity assessments on their portfolio, which should certainly help open some doors for them.

“Our students won’t just be getting a degree, but also the necessary talent to be contributing to the workforce on day one,” Smith told BusinessWest. “Once they have these assessments and use these tools that are industry standards, they’re going to be thrown right to the top of the application pool, because most of those are search-engine driven, so once they put these key words in there, they’re going to be very marketable.”

This marketability should only help further develop the graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity programs at Bay Path (both traditional and online) that are already seeing explosive growth, said Smith, adding that the industry needs not only workers, but gender diversity as well.

“Only 11% of the jobs in the field are held by women,” he said. “The gender imbalance is very real, and it’s our main mission to provide these women the skills and get them their degrees, so they jump into the cybersecurity workforce and start taking those unfilled positions and close that gender imbalance; many companies are craving diversity in their workforce.”

Securing a Better Future

As noted earlier, the name on this project is long and cumbersome. But it breaks the problem and one possible solution into one highly efficient and effective phrase.

The pilot program will set a high bar when it comes to potential outcomes and goals for achieving progress with the many significant challenges facing the cybersecurity sector and the cyber safety of individual companies.

But a high bar is necessary because the problems are real, they are growing, and solutions are needed.

This program was conceived to not only help this region clear that bar, but provide a roadmap for other regions to follow. If it can do all that, the state’s sizable investment will yield huge dividends.

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

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Members Only

Katherine Hutchinson says members expect a credit union to be attuned to their needs.

Katherine Hutchinson says members expect a credit union to be attuned to their needs.

Although myths persist about what credit unions are, their leaders are cheered by statistics showing that 43% of Massachusetts residents belong to one. But they know members aren’t satisfied with mere messaging; they want the high-tech tools available at larger banks, melded with a culture of personal service. It’s a challenge they say they work hard to meet.

Michael Ostrowski has made a career in credit-union leadership, and the numbers startled even him.

Specifically, it’s the statistic that 43% of the population of Massachusetts is a credit-union member, compared to about 33% nationally.

“That’s huge. I was surprised by that,” said Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union. But after considering it, he wondered why that 43% figure should be a shock at all. “I’m surprised more people don’t take advantage of credit unions, from the fees and everything right down the line. We are typically a better deal, and you don’t see any of these credit unions in the newspaper like a Wells Fargo.”

By that, he meant the financial turmoil that many national banks brought upon themselves at the start of the Great Recession — a crisis that actually led to marketing opportunities for credit unions, said Katherine Hutchinson, president and CEO of UMassFive College Federal Credit Union.

“We did see growth throughout the recession,” she told BusinessWest. “We wanted to make sure we were not letting our members down by not lending through that period, but we were also very conscientious about how we were spending our money — all the things good financial institutions do to protect the interests of their shareholders and, in our case, our members. That’s really important to us, and I think it was a time where people were taking a second look and saw credit unions as alternatives.”

The lobby walls at UMassFive’s Hadley headquarters are adorned with messaging touting the member-centric (don’t call them customers) philosophy of credit unions, and, “believe me, we try very hard to follow the philosophy,” Hutchinson went on. “I’ve been at the credit union for 42 years — I’ve kind of grown up in the industry. When I started, we were very focused on the member, and I’ve tried to convey that and live that philosophy as we grew bigger.”

Credit unions are financial institutions that look and feel like a bank in the products and service they offer, she explained, but the difference is their structure as cooperatives.

“Because of a credit union’s non-for-profit status, consumers do expect better rates and lower fees, and I think that’s what they experience,” she said. “But they also want us to be focused on what they need, on how we can help them personally — to listen to their story, hear about why they’re in a certain situation, and what would really help them.”

Glenn Welch says local leadership means credit unions can respond to members’ concerns quickly.

Glenn Welch says local leadership means credit unions can respond to members’ concerns quickly.

Glenn Welch, president and CEO of Freedom Credit Union, said member ownership of the institution is important to those who do business there. “Whether you have $5 in your account of $500,000, it’s one member, one vote,” he said, adding that members of his board of directors must hail from the four western counties. “The board is local, so members know we can make decisions and resolve situations quickly.”

Resolving situations, and writing more success stories, is a point of pride for UMassFive, Hutchinson noted. “I think it’s important that we hear those stories and share those stories to encourage our employees to listen to the members and find ways to help. The stories are important.”

Numbers Don’t Lie

The story for credit unions has been positive in recent years, Ostrowski said, pointing to statistics like a capital-to-assets ratio of 10.4%, on average, for credit unions in Massachusetts. “Over 7 is well-capitalized — we’re over 10. That shows strength in the credit-union industry.”

Meanwhile, the 167 credit unions in Massachusetts employ 6,158 people full-time and another 908 part-time, and boast more than 2.9 million members — again, about 43% of all residents.

Still, myths persist about credit unions, Welch said, sharing four common ones identified by the Credit Union National Assoc.

The first myth: “I can’t join.” CUNA points out that many Americans believe they are ineligible to join a credit union, but membership eligibility today is typically based on geography, he noted. Membership at Freedom Credit Union, for example, is available to anyone who lives, works, or attends college in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, or Berkshire counties.

The second myth: “accessing my money may be hard.” Not true, Welch said, noting that, along with boasting a mobile application for online banking, many credit unions, including Freedom, have joined the Allpoint Network, allowing members surcharge-free ATM access at more than 55,000 retail locations worldwide.

The third myth: “they’re too small.” Rather, he noted, credit unions provide the same security and protection of a larger financial institution, but is accountable to members, rather than shareholders. “This means every customer is treated as an individual, not a number, enjoying personalized service and customized products.”

The final myth: “they’re primarily for those in need.” Based on generational notions, Welch explained, some may believe credit unions mainly serve low-income consumers. In truth, he added, they serve every population, as well as every size and type of business.

Essentially, he told BusinessWest, the CUNA survey demonstrated that many people don’t understand what membership means and how to go about applying to be a member.

“Several things came up; one was that they didn’t feel that credit unions can offer them the level of technology and products of banking institutions. But we had a good year in 2017 and approached the board with quite a few investment upgrades,” he noted, expanding the tasks that can be done online, like electronically signing for loans.

“People don’t want to set foot in a bank or credit union lobby unless they have to,” he continued. “We have the same products available at bigger banks, but at a local level.”

Ostrowski agreed that credit-union members appreciate the institution’s purpose and philosophy, but also demand current technology. In fact, Arrha is in the process of upgrading all its systems to improve electronic communication and its mobile banking platforms.

“I think the credit unions are still filling that void of the banks that had their roots in the small towns, and that really hasn’t changed,” he said. “But I think it’s important that people realize that we have the same systems all the big banks have, and we have the same cybersecurity functionality they do. Clearly, from a systems standpoint, we can compete very well with them.”

Michael Ostrowski says credit-union members expect the same high-tech products they can find at large banks.

Michael Ostrowski says credit-union members expect the same high-tech products they can find at large banks.

Likewise, Hutchinson noted that the area colleges the credit union was built upon still form its core membership group, but it wouldn’t have grown beyond that without a recognition in the region of the credit-union philosophy — and without a commitment on the institution’s side to stay atop trends in products and services and continually invest in technology. “That is important to growth and our sustainability, so we’re proud of that.”

Loan Stars

Ostrowski said messages like this — and a vibrant economy — have helped Arrha grow steadily in recent years, with deposits up, loan delinquency down, and investments in technology helping to attract new members.

Meanwhile, Welch noted that the competitive interest rates Freedom pays on savings accounts and charges for loans have both attracted new business. All that led to growth in 2017 in return on assets and total loans, as well as hiring a second commercial lender and a credit manager, focusing on individuals and small businesses.

“Typically, we don’t lend more than $3.5 million or $4.5 million, although we could, based on capital,” he noted.

But the credit-union presidents BusinessWest spoke with all noted that the model’s philosophy doesn’t stop at dollars and cents, but extends to a robust community outreach, often in the form of educational seminars.

“That goes to the concept of people helping people,” Welch said. “We find, when we’re not able to help someone, it’s usually a credit issue, and often, they haven’t been educated on the value of credit. So we participate with other banking institutions in Credit for Life fairs, reaching out to students when they’re still in high school to talk about good and bad credit, and what that means when they try to buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a credit card.”

Hutchinson said her board believes community education is important to UMassFive’s mission. “So many people need that kind of assistance. It ties back into what is best for our members — educating them on how to make decisions.

“Financial literacy is key,” she went on. “We try to have a variety of topics, from understanding your credit score to budgeting to preparing for retirement and first-time homebuying. We also work with UMass, doing some seminars for students on student debt.”

Ostrowski noted that even recent college graduates don’t understand their credit score and the impact it can have, while others take advantage of a credit-card offer in the mail and quickly wind up thousands of dollars in debt without thinking about the consequences. “All our programs in financial literacy are drivers that we make no money on — they are absolutely out of love of our members and to protect them.”

The credit-union culture runs deep in Massachusetts, the state where such institutions were first chartered way back in 1909, Ostrowski explained. State partnerships are still critical, he added, noting that Gov. Charlie Baker has backed an effort by the state’s credit unions, called CU Senior Safeguard, to fight elder financial abuse and fraud. All frontline credit-union staffers are participating in the program, while a statewide effort is targeting consumers with information about how elders are defrauded — a problem that costs some $10 billion every year nationally.

“I’ve heard wild stories about members getting ripped off by contractors,” he said, or individuals who were ready to send money to an unknown e-mailer on the promise of more in return. “I’ve literally had to argue with individuals not to send their money away.”

Better, he said, to deposit it with a credit union — and join that 43% number that, in an age of constant mergers and acquisitions among area banks, only continues to grow.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced that it will launch two new majors this fall, in computer science (CS) and computer information technology and security (CITS).

The CITS major prepares students for careers as information technology (IT) professionals, providing a breadth of knowledge and the skills necessary to become IT technicians, system administrators, network administrators, and cybersecurity specialists. Required course topics for this major include databases, networks and security, system administration, digital forensics, hardware maintenance, cyber ethics, web design, and more.

The CS major focuses on the design and development of software and the algorithms that make code work efficiently. Students will become proficient in C#, Javascript, HTML/CSS, SQL, and other programming languages. Required courses for this major will focus on programming, data structures and algorithms, databases, system administration, cyber ethics, web design, and more.

“Our students are very excited about these new majors,” said Beryl Hoffman, associate professor of Computer Information Technology at Elms. “Computer-science graduates are in high demand, and computer security is one of the fastest-growing job markets within IT.”

Both majors will include a professional internship that will give students real-life experience in computer science or computer information technology and security. Electives for both the CS and CITS majors will include artificial intelligence, game design, mobile-app design, graphic design, and video.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Family Lawyer, Law Offices of Alison Silber; Age 34; Education: BA, University of Pennsylvania; JD, University of Maryland

Alison Silber

Alison Silber

Silber is a family lawyer and mediator who owns and runs her own family-law practice in Longmeadow. After clerking on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for a family-law judge, Silber opened her own practice in 2011. She mediates and litigates all types of divorce and custody matters, including but not limited to complex jurisdictional issues and complicated domestic-violence matters. In addition to her private practice, she also takes on mediations through the Mediation and Training Collaborative in Greenfield and the Family Resolutions Specialty Court in the Hampshire Probate and Family Court.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A Supreme Court Justice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed when I was in fifth grade, and I still remember feeling like she and Sandra Day O’Connor made space for my friends, me, and all other little girls to attain that height of success in the legal profession.

How do you define success? Success is balance between work, family, and community.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the pace of life, which provides the space to be introspective and purposeful about how we all spend our time.

What are you passionate about? As a divorce lawyer, I have the privilege of working closely with my clients to help make their finances work post-divorce, and I have observed that good employment opportunities for my clients seem to be disappearing. On a micro level, I am passionate about helping my clients restructure their lives post-divorce so that they have a living wage, financial security, and the ability to meet their needs. On a macro, nationwide level, I am passionate about ensuring that opportunity for good employment exists for all Americans, not just those who live in certain pockets of the country.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Jo March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, is my favorite. She has a great Massachusetts sensibility, devotion to her family, and a fiery, independent spirit.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Hopefully they will give me the best compliment a divorce lawyer can receive — that I have been substantively aggressive while being professional and personally kind.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, MassMutual; Age 39; Education: BSBA, Stonehill College; MBA, UMass Amherst

Chris Olson

Chris Olson

Olson is responsible for resilience, information governance, and IT infrastructure for MassMutual. He started his career as a certified business continuity planner. During that time, he served as a committee chairman for LOMA, a faculty guest speaker for Symantec, and a featured presenter at DRJ Fall World in San Diego, and was published in the Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning and Corporate Security magazine. He is currently a board member for the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A police officer.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The amazing breadth of culture and history jammed into a relatively small geographical area.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Brad Hoffman, risk officer at MassMutual. Brad took me under his wing when I was a new manager, and he helped me truly understand my strengths, opportunities to improve, and the value that I could bring in my role.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Brad Pitt.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Edward Bloom from Big Fish. He set out to do whatever was necessary to give his family a comfortable life. He valued relationships and gave of himself at every opportunity. As he grew up, he made an effort to help those around him benefit from his years of experience through storytelling, which is a very important tool for modern leaders.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My father. Throughout his entire life, he has served the community as an educator. Even today, in his 70s, he donates a significant amount of his time to help local youth learn about science and engineering and explore these options as potential career paths. He asks for nothing in return.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? He was always there when we needed him, and he went out of his way to make our work rewarding. He did not shy away from making decisions, even when they were difficult.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? John F. Kennedy. He charismatically led the country through some incredibly difficult times. He made it his mission in life to stand up to corruption and help those who couldn’t help themselves.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, Relationship Manager, Berkshire Bank; Age 36; Education: BS, University of Phoenix

Jason Niles

Jason Niles

Niles was born and raised in Central New York. After high school, he entered the U.S. Air Force and served six years on active duty and a couple on reserve duty after that. He and his wife, Amy, have three children: Ariana, 13, Ethan, 11, and Owen, 6 months, as well as a 3-year-old dog named Opie. After his discharge from the military, Niles bounced around a bit and finally decided to call Western Mass. his home, primarily due to the people and opportunities. He has worked at Berkshire Bank for the past nine years and says he loves the opportunities the institution provides.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I grew up wanting to be in law enforcement. This ambition was a large reason I joined the military, where I was a Security Forces member for six years.

How do you define success? John Wooden said it best. “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

What three words best describe you? Outgoing, easygoing, trustworthy.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? What I like most is everything going on in the market. The changes have caused a renaissance of sorts — new ideas, new businesses, and lots of opportunity. What’s not to love?

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To make a change in somebody’s life.

What are you passionate about? Helping people attain their goals and dreams.

What goals have you set for yourself? To give the best effort I can in whatever I choose to do at that moment.

 


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

Chamber Corners Departments

1BERKSHIRE

www.1berkshire.com

(413) 499-1600

• May 7 to 17: Dream Auction. Grab great deals on theater tickets, spa services, dining certificates, and one-of-a-kind experiences in our online auction. Proceeds support the Berkshire Marketing Fund, which promotes the region as a destination for all seasons. Visit www.biddingforgood.com/berkshires.

• May 16: Chamber Nite & BYP Networking Social, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Dalton Union, 395 Main St., Dalton. Join us for our joint May Chamber Nite and BYP Social at Union Block in downtown Dalton with participating businesses: Hot Harry’s, Berkshire Dream Home, Therapeutic Massage & Wellness, Academy Mortgage Corp., Horace Mann Insurance, McMahon & Vigeant, P.C., Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, Dalton Restaurant, New England Dynamark Security, and 2 Flights Up Dance & Game Studio. Cost: free. Register online at www.1berkshire.com.

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.amherstarea.com

(413) 253-0700

• May 3: Leaders as Readers, 12 noon, hosted by Pasta E Basta, 26 Main St., Amherst. This month in Leaders as Readers, we will be discussing Work It: Secrets of Success from the Boldest Women in Business by Carrie Kerpen. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/928353994013860 or e-mail [email protected]

• May 4: Lunch and Learn, “How to Protect Your Most Important Asset: Your Income,” 12 noon, hosted by Lord Jeffery Inn, 30 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. Sponsored by Hollister Insurance. Lunch will be provided. For details, e-mail [email protected]

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• May 10: Business After Hours, 4:30-6:30 p.m., hosted by Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, 295 Burnett Road, Chicopee. Kentucky Derby theme. Presented by Polish National Credit Union. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• May 16: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., at Munich Haus, 13 Center St., Chicopee. Chief greeter: Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos. Keynote Speaker: Kim Kenney-Rockwal, Elms MBA. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• May 18: Chicopee Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament, 10 a.m. shotgun start, hosted by Chicopee Country Club, 1290 Burnett Road, Chicopee. Presented by Polish National Credit Union. Cost: $125 per golfer, $500 per team of four, and/or $20 golfer package that includes 25 raffle tickets and one mulligan. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• May 31: Sunshine Soiree, a multi-chamber networking event, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Sunshine Village, 75 Litwin Lane, Chicopee. The event will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres, wine, and beer. Register in advance for this free event online at springfieldyps.com.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• May 24: Chamber on the Vine, 5:30-8:30 p.m., a wine-tasting event hosted by Glendale Ridge Vineyard, 155 Glendale Road, Southampton. Taste wine, enjoy local food, and listen to the music of Trailer Trash. Cost: $20 to enjoy the music, $30 to taste the wine. Pre-registration is a must. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holyokechamber.com

(413) 534-3376

• May 2: Women in Leadership: Leadership in Your Future, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. A monthly luncheon series where participants learn from area CEOs while networking with peers from the region. An elegant lunch prepared by the HCC Culinary Arts program provides the setting.

• May 9: Coffee Buzz, 7:30-8:30 a.m., hosted by Loomis House, 298 Jarvis Ave., Holyoke (Sheldon entrance). A free morning networking event sponsored by Loomis House where guests enjoy a light breakfast while networking with the business community. Register online at holyokechamber.com or call the chamber at (413) 534-3376. There is no charge for this event.

• May 14: Holyoke Chamber Cup Golf Tournament, 50th Anniversary, 10 a.m., hosted by the Orchards, 18 Silverwood Terrace, South Hadley. Registration begins at 10 a.m., followed by lunch at 11 a.m., tee off at noon (scramble format), and dinner afterward. Cost: $150 per player, which includes lunch, 18 holes of golf, cart, and dinner. Cost of dinner only is $30. Awards, raffles, and cash prizes follow dinner. For reservations or sponsorships, call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 or register online at holyokechamber.com.

• May 16: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Holyoke Hummus, 285 High St., Holyoke. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Feel free to bring a door prize. Sign up online at holyokechamber.com.

• May 23: Leadership Holyoke Information Session, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Holyoke Community College, Frost Building, Room 309, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke. Join the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and Holyoke Community College for a free information session for Leadership Holyoke 2018-19..

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.explorenorthampton.com

(413) 584-1900

• May 4: Annual Spring Swizzle, 6:30-10:30 p.m., hosted by Eastside Grill, 19 Strong Ave., Northampton. A networking event. Cost: $75; $100 for two. Purchase tickets at www.chamberspringswizzle.com.

• May 9: May Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., host to be announced. Sponsored by Northeast Solar and the Lusteg Wealth Management Group – Merrill Lynch. A networking event. Cost: $10 for members.

• May 17: Workshop: “Microsoft Excel Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts,” 9-11 a.m., hosted by Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. Presented by Pioneer Training. Cost: $35 for members, $45 for non-members. Pre-registration required at goo.gl/forms/pX8YUuC25YdMsLjD2.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.westfieldbiz.org

(413) 568-1618

• May 7: May Coffee Hour with Mayor Brian Sullivan, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Westfield Center – Genesis Healthcare, 60 East Silver St., Westfield. This event is free and open to the public. Online registration is available at www.westfieldbiz.org, so we may give our host a proper count. For more information, call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

• May 7: May After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by East Mountain Country Club, 1458 East Mountain Road, Westfield. Refreshments will be served. A 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber scholarship fund. Cost: free for chamber members, $10 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Online registration is available at www.westfieldbiz.org. For more information, call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

• May 14: Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce 57th annual Golf Tournament, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club, 866 Shaker Road, Westfield. Online registration is available at www.westfieldbiz.org. For more information, call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

SOUTH HADLEY & GRANBY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.shgchamber.com

(413) 532-6451

• May 9: Educational Breakfast: Insider Travel Tips, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Loomis Village, 20 Bayon Dr., South Hadley. Chuck Elias, travel advisor for Pioneer Valley Cruise Planners, will share tips on how to make travel safe and fun. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. To register, call (413) 532-6451 or e-mail [email protected]

• May 14: The South Hadley & Granby Chamber will join the Greater Holyoke Chamber for a day of golf at the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley. Registration and lunch will begin at 10:30 a.m., with tee-off beginning at noon. Cost: $150, which includes lunch, a round of golf and cart, a tourney T-shirt, refreshments on the course, and a dinner back at the clubhouse. E-mail [email protected] to register.

• May 21: After 5 at the Ledges Golf Course, 5-6:30 p.m., hosted by the Ledges, 18 Mulligan Dr., South Hadley. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Pre-register by May 15 by contacting Sara Lawrence at (413) 532-6451 or [email protected]

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

(413) 787-1555

• May 2: [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. Cost: $25 for members in advance ($30 at the door), $35 general admission ($40 at the door).

• May 10: Lunch ‘N’ Learn, Equal Pay, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Lattitude restaurant, 1338 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Cost: $30 for members in advance ($35 at the door), $40 general admission ($45 at the door).

• May 15: C-Suite Conversations & Cocktails, 5-7 p.m., hosted by CityStage, One Columbus Center, Springfield. Exclusive members-only event. Cost: $25 for members ($30 at the door).

• May 31: Sunshine Soirée with the Springfield Regional Chamber, the Greater Chicopee Chamber, and YPS, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Sunshine Village, 75 Litwin Lane, Chicopee.

Reservations for all Springfield Regional Chamber events may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, [email protected], or (413) 755-1310.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• May 2: Wicked Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Irish Cultural Center, 429 Morgan Road, West Springfield. For more information, call the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or register at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• May 8: Coffee with West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, 8-9:30 a.m., hosted by West Springfield Public Library, 200 Park St. For more information, call the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or register at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• May 17: Networking Lunch, noon, hosted by Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. Must be a member or guest of a member to attend. The only cost to attend is the cost of your lunch if you are a member. Non-member fee: $10. Register at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

• May 22: Job Fair 2018, 3-6 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern/Carriage House, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. West Springfield and Agawam businesses, along with other employment opportunities, will be showcased. This event is free and open to the public. To be a participating vendor, register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD

springfieldyps.com

• May 18: Adult Field Day, 2-5 p.m., Irish Cultural Center, West Springfield, hosted by the Irish Cultural Center, 429 Morgan Road, West Springfield. For more information, visit springfieldyps.com.

Agenda Departments

TWO Financial-industry Forum

May 3: Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a partnership between Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), will host an employer-engagement forum focused on the financial-services industry from 8 to 10 a.m. at STCC’s Scibelli Hall, Rooms 701 and 702. The forum will provide financial professionals with information on workforce-development training opportunities and related services offered by experienced trainers from HCC and STCC. TWO representatives also will discuss how regional businesses can secure Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Grants to enhance training efforts for their workers. The forum is geared toward financial professionals and their businesses, with the goal of gathering input about workforce-development needs. The event is free, and refreshments will be provided. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com and search ‘STCC.’

Community Shredding Day

May 11: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. is partnering with Pro-Shred Security and Century Investment Co. to hold a community shredding day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Century Shopping Center, 219 Memorial Ave., West Springfield (to the right of Bob’s Discount Furniture). Shredding protects private information, and recycling helps the environment. This event is free and open to the public (four-box limit), with a donation of a non-perishable food item for a local food pantry.

Excel Skill Training

May 14-18: Tech Foundry will offer a four-day Excel skill training the week of May 14-18 (every day but May 16) from 9 a.m. to noon at 1391 Main St., ninth floor, Springfield. Because its first Excel class offered to area companies and their employees was such a success, Tech Foundry is eager to meet the Excel needs of more area employers and their employees. The class will cover advanced formulas; tables and formatting; conditional formatting; advanced charting; pivot tables and pivot reporting; VBA and macros; using Excel productively; data tables, simulations, and Solver; Excel integration; and optimizing Excel. The cost per student is $750. To register, e-mail [email protected]. Employers with fewer than 100 employees are eligible for a 50% tuition reimbursement from Commonwealth Corp.

Bereavement Support Event

May 19: Bereaved children and their caregivers are welcome to attend a free art-based support event from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Baystate Health Education Center at 361 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke. Titled “Healing Wounded Hearts with Art: A Retreat for Grieving Families,” the event is open to bereaved children ages 5 to 18. It is sponsored by Batstate Hospice and the Pediatric Palliative Care team. As part of the program, children and teens who are grieving the death of a close family member will have an opportunity to meet others and connect through the power of art making. “Healing Wounded Hearts with Art” aims to help grieving children and their families to commemorate those in their lives who have died. Space is limited, and those wishing to attend must register by Friday, May 11 by contacting Betsy Flores, bereavement coordinator, Baystate Hospice, at (413) 794-6559 or [email protected].

NAMI Walkathon

May 20: The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts will be holding its 18th annual walkathon, “A Journey of Hope and Recovery,” at Stanley Park’s Beveridge Pavilion Annex in Westfield from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The walk is suitable for all ages and will directly benefit the continuing efforts of NAMI – Western Mass. to help improve the lives of individuals living with mental illness and their families. Among the festivities will be guest speakers, entertainment, refreshments, and raffles. For further information, call (413) 786-9139 or visit www.namiwm.org/events for entry and sponsorship forms. Volunteers are needed.

‘Women Lead Change’

June 4: The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) will host its annual “Women Lead Change: A Celebration of the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI) Class of 2018” event at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event will feature a keynote address by Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper. The Women’s Fund will present Kasper with the She Changes the World Award, honoring her contributions for not only leading her local department, but also leading on a national level with regard to transparent data, hiring practices, and other local initiatives that have shaped community policing for the better. The annual celebration recognizes the accomplishments of the 31 graduates of the LIPPI class of 2018, who have participated in 11 educational sessions over nine months designed to address the shortage of women stepping into public leadership. LIPPI gives women tools and confidence to become more involved civic leaders and to impact policy on the local, state, and national levels. Proceeds for this annual event empower the Women’s Fund’s mission.

‘Thrive After 55’ Wellness Fair

June 15: State Sen. Eric Lesser and Health New England announced that they will host the second annual “Thrive After 55” Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Springfield College’s Blake Athletic Complex, located at 263 Alden St., Springfield. The fair is free and open to the public. With more than 40 local organizations ranging from health and fitness to nutrition to elder law, the event will connect residents of the First Hampden & Hampshire District with information and resources to help them thrive. The free program includes a boxed lunch, educational seminars, hundreds of raffle prizes, and access to information and experts to talk to. To RSVP for the event, call Lesser’s office at (413) 526-6501 or visit www.senatorlesser.com/thrive.

40 Under Forty Gala

June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2018, profiled in this issue of BusinessWest. Also, the fourth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. The 40 Under Forty sponsors include PeoplesBank (presenting sponsor), Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), Isenberg School of Management, the MP Group, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Health New England, Renew.Calm, Development Associates, and YPS of Greater Springfield (partner). Tickets cost $75 per person (tables of 10 available). For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Daily News

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker announced Patrick Carnevale as director of the Governor’s Western Mass. Office in Springfield. Carnevale brings almost 20 years of experience in public service and will be the administration’s primary liaison between Western Mass. constituents and communities.

“Our Springfield office serves as an important connector to support our constituents, local leaders, and municipalities in Western Massachusetts,” Baker said. “With almost two decades of public service and his role in overseeing emergency management for Western Massachusetts, Patrick is uniquely qualified to lead the office, and we are proud to welcome him to our team.”

Added Carnevale, “the communities and people of Western Massachusetts have much to offer the Commonwealth, and I am pleased to contribute to furthering the administration’s important work in the region.”

With 18 years of public service in the Commonwealth, Carnevale has spent much of his career in emergency-preparedness response and recovery. He most recently served as regional manager for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), where he was responsible for emergency management in Central and Western Mass. Since 2002, he has held multiple roles in the State Emergency Operations Center, responding to natural disasters, developing and implementing municipal preparedness plans, allocating state and federal funding and grants, and improving emergency management in 161 communities.

Carnevale graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams and received his MBA from Western New England University. He also attended the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the National Preparedness Leadership in Homeland Security at Harvard University. He holds 14 certificates relating to emergency-preparedness disaster management from the Emergency Management Institute, the National Hurricane Center, and MEMA.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. is partnering with Pro-Shred Security and Century Investment Co. to hold a community shredding day on Friday, May 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Century Shopping Center, 219 Memorial Ave., West Springfield (to the right of Bob’s Discount Furniture).

Shredding protects private information, and recycling helps the environment. This event is free and open to the public (four-box limit), with a donation of a non-perishable food item for a local food pantry.

Franklin County

Living the Dream

Bob Pura

Seen here with two of many works of art created by GCC students and faculty, Bob Pura says he knew early on that he wanted to make the community-college mission his career.

Bob Pura couldn’t help but laugh and shake his head as he talked about it. And that’s because the whole idea of it was so, well, foreign to him — in every way.

He and his wife will be flying into Edinburgh, Scotland in July to visit their daughter, who’s studying there. “And we bought one-way tickets,” he said, uttering those last three words slowly for emphasis and in a voice that conveyed as much as three exclamation points.

“We might stay a week, we might stay two … we don’t know,” said Pura, president of Greenfield Community College (GCC) since 2000, adding that this is one of the many perks of a retirement that will start in two months — and a radical departure from a 40-year career marked by crammed calendars, countless appointments, and rigid schedules.

And something else as well — extreme devotion to the community-college mission.

In fact, you might say Pura bought the equivalent of a one-way ticket to a career in the community-college realm back in 1980 when he came to the Bay State and took a job on the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges.

By the time he was working toward his doctorate in educational administration at the University of Texas in Austin a dozen years later (a setting chosen specifically because of its commitment to work in the community-college domain) he was, as they say at that school, hooked.

“I knew by then that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my career — the community-college mission,” he told BusinessWest. “That mission about opening your doors to everyone and holding our high standards is a noble mission, and people who are part of the community-college movement feel a special passion for social and economic mobility.

“It’s a bit of a cliché, but it still brings great meaning to many of us —that American dream where someone can start without much of a background and still have an opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families,” he went on. “It’s part of what motivates us every day.”

Pura said his passion for the community-college mission stems in large part from the fact that he is a product of that system. In fact, he calls himself the “classic community-college poster child of the Baby Boom age.”

“My father was an immigrant; he never graduated from high school — worked in a deli his whole life,” Pura told BusinessWest, adding that he was the first in his family to attend college — Miami Dade Community College in Miami, to be more specific.

It was, in large part, the only door open to him at the time, he went on, and once through it, he created a host of career options and paths to follow.

It started by going through that door, he said, adding that, for millions of people across the country, it’s the same today. But aside from opening doors for students, community colleges play a huge role in their respective communities, he said, listing everything from workforce-development initiatives to simply being one of the area’s largest employers. And in Franklin County, it goes well beyond that, to a realm that couldn’t be appreciated anywhere else in the state.

Indeed, as he talked with BusinessWest during spring break, Pura, asked about a parking lot half-full of cars, replied that students and other members of the community were on campus simply because they can’t get Internet access at home.

“So much of our West County still doesn’t have service,” he said matter-of-factly, referring to communities such as Heath, Rowe, and Conway. “You can’t get connectivity up there, so people come here more. It’s a serious challenge to the economic and social development of the area; it’s hard to get young families to move here if they can’t have high-speed Internet access.”

“Community colleges have a most significant impact on the communities they serve,” he explained while putting that aforementioned mission, and his career, into some proper perspective. “A long time ago, a college friend of mine said that if Amherst or Williams College were to close, those students would find somewhere else to go. If a community college were to close…”

He didn’t give a full answer to that question because he didn’t have to. And in retrospect, he’s spent his whole career reminding people of the answer.

For this edition and its focus on Franklin County, BusinessWest talked at length with Pura as he winds down that career. There were many talking points, including GCC and its ever-widening role, the community-college mission, and, yes, that one-way ticket he bought. Actually, both of them.

Class Act

The unknown student might have been born almost 30 years after they broke up, but he or she obviously knows the Beatles and their song lyrics.

“Help! I need somebody,” it said on one side of the card positioned on a stand sitting on a table in GCC’s Math Studio, with “Help! Not just anybody” on the other side.

That message was eventually seen by one of the math professors at GCC — not just anybody — and help was administered, said Pura, adding that this was just the scenario that was envisioned when this studio (actually the second such facility at the college) was created several years ago.

“This is a unique learning environment,” said Pura as he stopped at the studio during an extensive tour of GCC’s facilities, noting that the studio model, envisioned by the math faculty, creates a learning area surrounded by faculty offices.

the learning studios at GCC

Bob Pura says the learning studios at GCC are symbolic of broader efforts at the institution to build community and come together to solve problems.

“Those faculty members said, ‘we want to have our math students with us, with our offices right around that room, so we can check in on them,’” he explained. “They embraced their commitment to having students close to them; the students didn’t have to make appointments or wait two weeks — the faculty were right there. And then the Business Department said, ‘hey, we want one of those,’ and then the sciences, and on it went.”

The college now has studios all throughout the campus, said Pura, adding that these facilities have become symbols of the community-building work that has more or less defined his administration at GCC (more on that later).

First, Pura likes to tell the story about how a group of students were enjoying their time at the Math Studio so much, they didn’t want to leave — and didn’t — prompting security to call the president’s office and request instructions on what to do.

“I got the call at 5 o’clock on a Friday night — and no president wants to get a call from security at 5 o’clock on Friday night,” he recalled. “They said students in the studio don’t want to leave; they have a math test on Monday, and they just ordered a pizza. I said, ‘that’s exactly the kind of problem we want.’”

Pura has a large collection of stories amassed from more than four decades of work in higher education, all of it in Massachusetts.

But our story, as noted earlier, begins in Florida. After graduating from Miami Dade Community College, he transferred to the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1973. Four years later, he would add a master’s in human resources administration at St. Thomas University in Miami.

As he contemplated where to pursue a career in higher education, he applied some logic to the process.

“If you’re in theater, you go to Broadway; if you’re in movies, you go to Hollywood,” he explained. “If you want to be in higher ed, you go to Massachusetts.”

He did, starting in 1978 at the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges as program coordinator of something called Title XX. Based in Boston, he worked with all 15 community colleges. Later, he joined one of them, Massasoit Community College in Brockton, as chair of the Division of Career Studies, and over the next 14 years, he worked his way up to chair of the Health and Human Services Division and then assistant dean of Academic Affairs.

In the summer of 1995, he became dean of Academic Affairs at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield and served in that capacity for five years, until he was urged to apply for the position of interim president at GCC. He did, and he prevailed in that search and later earned the job on a permanent basis.

Over the past 18 years, he’s presided over a number of impressive changes to the campus infrastructure, while broadening its already considerable role within the community.

A major expansion of the core building roughly a decade ago, which includes a new dining commons, a new library, considerably more glass (and, therefore, natural light), and works of art created by students and faculty on every wall (the school is renowned for its art programs), is a very visible transformation, he said.

But he put things in perspective, while also bringing the discussion back to where he likes it — the community-college mission — by saying, “we finally have a building that matches the excellence of our faculty and staff.

“The values of the institution are found in the design of the building,” he went on. “We had great architects to work with, and they listened, but it was all about the values of the institution.”

School of Thought

And this brings Pura back to those studios he mentioned and the community mindset they symbolize.

“There’s a clarity of focus on relationships and community here,” he explained, referring to the studios but also the college as a whole. “And when relationships are powerful and community is powerful and people know they belong somewhere, then learning is powerful.

“The transformative nature of higher education is at its best in that environment,” he went on. “And we’ve been able to crystalize that here; it’s always been part of the core, but we were able to really make it an explicit part of our commitment.”

Continuing with that theme of the studio as a microcosm of what goes on at GCC, he said students in them work together in teams, helping each other work through problems.

“They realize they’re not alone in their learning,” he explained. “And so, when you think about that, it reinforces what will happen when they leave the higher-ed environment; they’re going to go into a work environment where they’re going to work with others in teams and solve problems.”

The progress GCC has made in this regard — in building community and forging relationships within the campus and across the region it serves — bodes well for the school and the president who will succeed him, said Pura. But there are some considerable challenges ahead — for that school, all the community colleges, and public higher education itself, he went on.

Most of these challenges involve resources, he continued, adding that all public schools suffer as the state’s commitment to public higher education wanes, but especially the smaller ones like GCC.

“The struggle is to maintain the kinds of services that are needed for each student,” he explained. “Right now, the strength of the college is that we still have the capacity — and the passion — to form-fit education around each individual; we don’t believe that one size fits all.

“Somewhere along the line I heard that getting an education at GCC is like getting a suit from a tailor and not one off the rack, and I think that’s a special privilege that comes from a small school,” he went on, adding that maintaining this type of custom-tailored education will become ever more challenging in the future, especially as the state continues to shift the cost of public education to students and their families.

As for community colleges as a whole and that mission he embraced 40 years ago, Pura said these institutions have certainly found their place in higher education today. The assignment moving forward is to build on the momentum that has built and make community colleges an attractive option not only to first-generation college students, but second- and third-generation students as well, especially as the cost of higher education continues to soar.

To get his point across, he went back 45 years to when he was a community-college student, a situation that gave him an opportunity to “explore,” as he put it, while trying to chart a path.

“When you’re paying $70,000 a year for a bachelor’s degree, it’s hard to explore,” he said. “At $5,000 or $6,000 a year, you have a lot more breathing space.”

Overall, he’s more than content with how community colleges have registered gains when it comes to overall acceptance and their role within society and the economy. And he’s proud to be a part of it.

“We’ve been accepted in the higher-ed landscape,” he told BusinessWest. “We have a seat at table; great gains have been made over the years, and the future of work is going to be honed and shaped by good conversations at community colleges in consult with the employers in their communities.

“We’ve come a long way,” he said in conclusion. “But there’s more work to be done, because, in many ways, the associate’s degree has become the new entry level into society and work; 12 years and a high school is not enough to develop the kinds of skills needed to succeed given the way society has changed and technology has changed.”

Plane Speaking

As he was wrapping up his tour, Pura noted that, while he has only a few months left at the helm at GCC, his talk with BusinessWest amounted to his first real exercise in reflection upon his career.

“I haven’t given myself the opportunity to look back much — there’s still too much to look forward to,” he said. “But it’s been a privilege to be part of that mission — a real privilege.”

With that, he noted that, despite their differences in education and career paths, he shares something very important with his father — love for their respective chosen fields.

“I have a picture of my dad — one picture of him on our wall,” he said. “It’s a picture of him at work with five salamis in his arms behind the counter, and the most natural, wonderful smile on his face. The man was happy. So I tell students at orientation that I’m going to look for that smile — that authentic, real, ‘I’m happy, I’ve found what I want to do’ smile.”

Pura’s been wearing one of those for about 40 years now, ever since he bought his first one-way ticket — the one to a career fulfilling the community-college mission.

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

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Underscoring the importance it places on comprehensive, robust information security and risk-management capabilities, MassMutual named long-time information-technology executive Jesus “Laz” Montano its new head of Enterprise Information Risk Management (EIRM) and chief information security officer. Montano reports to Mark Roellig, MassMutual’s chief technology and administration officer.

In his new role, Montano will work closely with the company’s executive leadership team, directing a holistic risk-management approach across the company, including managing operational and cybersecurity risks, ensuring all regulatory and compliance requirements are met, and overseeing the safeguarding of MassMutual’s information assets.

“Laz brings to MassMutual both demonstrated expertise and a deep business insight, built on nearly 30 years of technology and cybersecurity experience, and we look forward to his contributions as part of our unwavering commitment to best-in-class EIRM practices,” said Roellig. “Importantly, Laz is also a tremendous advocate of fostering diversity and inclusion, a basic tenet of our organization.”

Montano joins MassMutual from Voya Financial, where he served as chief information security officer for the past four years, responsible for providing leadership, management, and strategy for all aspects of the company’s technology risk and information security. He has also held technology security leadership roles at OpenSky, MetLife, the Travelers Companies, and Lucent Technologies.

A graduate of Charter Oak College, Montano earned his MBA in business and technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is also a certified information security manager, certified in the governance of enterprise IT, and serves as a National Technology Security Council board member.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) announced the hiring of attorney Ariel Rothstein Clemmer as pro bono director.

In this newly created role, funded by a grant from MassMutual, Clemmer will help elevate the HCBA Legal Clinic’s operations to better serve the increasing unrepresented population in Hampden County. Clemmer will manage existing pro bono programs, develop new pro bono opportunities, increase volunteer activity, partner with local businesses and organizations on new initiatives, and ensure that pro bono activity under the auspices of the Legal Clinic meets the highest standards of excellence and professionalism.

A 2010 graduate of Harvard Law School, Clemmer recently relocated from New York City to the Pioneer Valley. She started her career as a public defender at Bronx Defenders, where she represented indigent clients charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes. She then worked for the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, defending clients against security class actions and other complex financial matters, while continuing to develop her pro bono practice litigating matrimonial, civil, and criminal cases.

In 2014, Clemmer was selected by the partners at Weil to participate in a pro bono externship at Legal Services of New York City (LSNYC). She excelled there, which led to her being named one of the “Top 30 Pro Bono Attorneys of 2014” by LSNYC. Immediately prior to accepting her role as pro bono director at HCBA, she worked as a matrimonial and family-law associate with a boutique Manhattan firm, Donohoe Talbert, LLP. She also served as an active member of LSNYC’s Pro Bono Associate Advisory Board.

“Ariel had a distinguished career that demonstrates her commitment to public-interest initiatives,” said HCBA President Wm. Travaun Bailey. “In a nutshell, she is just the perfect person for the job, and we are excited to have her.”

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Happy Returns

Since taking over as president of Monson Savings Bank seven years ago, Steven Lowell has overseen an impressive growth pattern, including striking success in commercial lending and ever-rising assets. He credits that success to a number of factors, from a willingness to embrace technology to a customer-focused culture to an emphasis on financial literacy aimed at making sure the customers of tomorrow are well-positioned to share in the bank’s success.

Five years ago, Monson Savings Bank opened its fourth branch in Ware, to go along with offices in Monson, Wilbraham, and Hampden.

And that’s where the branch total stands today: Four. Which would be a meager haul in one of the big-bank acquisitions that have become so commonplace.

So why is MSB growing at such a healthy rate? President Steven Lowell has a few ideas.

“A lot of people are saying that small banks can’t survive, that they need to be bigger, they need to merge. And we’ve seen some of that. But Monson Savings Bank isn’t just surviving; it’s thriving,” Lowell said, noting that the institution has grown by 7% to 8% every year since he took the reins seven years ago.

“That’s a strong number,” he added, noting that the bank’s assets have risen from $230 million seven years ago to $365 million today.

“People think a bank needs a certain asset size to afford the expenses that every bank has at this point in time,” Lowell said, specifically citing increased regulatory and compliance demands in an industry that’s increasingly heavily regulated. “But we haven’t merged with anyone or had anyone merge into us; we’ve been successful in attracting new customers and developing new relationships.”

We’re performing better than many billion-dollar banks are. We’re living proof that small banks can do it, and do it well.”

He noted that MSB’s return on assets, or ROA — which measures a bank’s profits in relation to its overall resources — was 0.6 last year, while Massachusetts-based banks in MSB’s asset class — $250 million to $500 million — recorded an average ROA of 0.27. Meanwhile, banks in the $500 to $1 billion range averaged an ROA of 0.53 last year, and banks with more than $1 billion in assets averaged 0.72.

“We’re performing better than many billion-dollar banks are,” at least by the ROA metric, Lowell noted. “We’re living proof that small banks can do it, and do it well.”

A few different factors account for that success, he told BusinessWest. First was the determination made several years ago that the strongest market for the bank is commercial lending, and since then, commercial loans have risen from 40% of the total portfolio to around 65%.

“That’s been a significant driver for us,” he said. “We focus on what we do well; we don’t try to be everything for everyone. At our size, we can’t do that. But we know we’re good at commercial lending — and residential lending — and good at providing high-touch customer service. Everything we do goes back to, ‘is this good for the customer?’ We want to make sure we don’t lose that closeness with the customer.”

With all the mergers that have taken place in recent years, he suggested, business owners are looking for a banking partner they know is going to be around, and don’t like it when their loan officer keeps switching.

“We’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of these mergers,” he went on. “And we’ve developed a reputation as a bank that’s easy to do business with. We’re up front with customers and try to be as fast and efficient as we can, and that reputation starts to get around. Now we’re getting phone calls: ‘I was talking to so-and-so, and he raved about you guys, that you’re easy to do business with.’ That reputation is very important to us and has helped us spread our reach much farther.”

He also praised his team, which hasn’t necessarily grown larger — technology has created efficiencies for all banks, and, as noted earlier, MSB’s branch count is only four — but the team is peppered with long-timers who understand the customer-focused culture, a culture Lowell expects to continue to build more organic growth.

Early Adopters

Speaking of technology, MSB has consistently been an early adopter of innovations that make customers’ lives easier, from mobile banking to remote check capture. “We’re not large enough to be an innovator — we can’t be creating new software — but we’ve been right there, so as soon as a product is proven, we’ve adopted it successfully,” Lowell explained.

Some recent products speak to that success. Mobile check deposit allows far-flung cutomers to make deposits from home or anywhere else, on weekdays or weekends.

“Not only our retail customers, but our commercial customers are very comfortable not having a branch within five miles,” he noted, adding that these capabilities have allowed customers — such as a landscaping company on Cape Cod — to access services without needing a physical branch.

“We’re not marketing ourselves on Cape Cod or in the Boston area,” he noted, “but if someone has ties to Western Mass. and wants to do business in one of these areas, we can accommodate them, and they love that.”

Steve Lowell, Monson Savings

Steve Lowell says customers appreciate MSB’s stability at a time when many other small banks have merged or been acquired.

Another recent product, the CardValet mobile app, gives users complete control of their debit card, so they can essentially shut it off between uses, or if it goes missing. “There’s so much fraud in the world, and cybersecurity is a big concern,” Lowell said. “This is a great product, and we don’t charge for it; I think it’s going to be big.”

A new loan product marries the bank’s well-known financial-responsibility messaging by marrying a deposit account and a secured loan, the latter of which is deposited into an account accessible only when the loan is paid off. “From the bank’s standpoint, there’s no credit risk, and the customer is building credit, whether it’s for a down payment on a car or a first month’s security deposit. It’s a good product for people who are just starting out or running into issues trying to re-establish good credit.”

It slots well into MSB’s continued focus on financial literacy, which ranges from its Dollars & Sense program in elementary schools to workshops for college students and community members. A survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling shows that 40% of the public would grade themselves a C or worse when it comes to their financial literacy, and that lack of knowledge can lead to poor financial planning and hurdles when it comes time to seek a loan.

“Financial literacy is really important to us,” Lowell said. “Day in and day out, our staff see people they have to turn down for mortgage loans, and they don’t like doing that; it’s not a fun part of the job.”

With that in mind, he went on “we’ve come up with ways to talk to people and help them improve their financial lives, whether it’s how important it is to build credit or how not to get in trouble with credit-card debt, or the importance of saving for retirement and contributing the most you possibly can to your 401(k), and paying yourself before paying others.”

Lowell feels like today’s parents, for whatever reason, don’t like talking about these matters with their kids, and when the kids grow up, they haven’t developed a comfort level, and may be at the mercy of predatory credit companies that aren’t looking out for their best interest. “It’s important for us to be talking about that so they know how to manage money and get into a good place.”

That Monson Savings Bank puts resources into these educational programs says a lot about its desire to be a complete community resource in the towns it serves, and to continue adding products and services that customers want.

“I believe one of our strengths, because of our size, is that we can be really nimble,” he said. “We’re able to come up with new initiatives and new products a lot quicker than some of the bigger banks. We don’t have quite the amount of red tape most banks have to deal with.”

One example, he noted, is MSB’s newest initiative, a foray into municipal banking. Since appointing an officer to lead that effort six months ago, the bank has posted $10 million in municipal deposits. “That decision was made because somebody very good became available, and we saw it as a growth opportunity that presented itself, and we didn’t want to lose that opportunity.”

Giving Back

Monson Savings Bank has invested in the community in other ways as well, most notably through annual donations to various nonprofits, which totaled more than $130,000 last year.

The year Lowell arrived, MSB launched an initiative to ask the public for help in selecting some of the nonprofits that would receive funding. The bank solicits nominations on Facebook and through other outlets, and the top 10 vote getters receive donations. More than 300 organizations received votes last year, and the top 10 were given grants between $750 and $2,000.

“People get really excited about it,” he said. “And I think community philanthropy is really good for business, and that has helped us be successful. We sponsor sports teams, we’re involved in most of the school systems, giving them money for various programs, we give some scholarships … people appreciate that.”

They also appreciate efforts by bank leadership to be accessible, he went on.

“We send a newsletter to all our customers, and my e-mail is on that newsletter. I give out my direct phone number to customers all the time. I’ve even given out my mobile number on the weekend. I think the accessible reputation of the bank is very important to our commercial customers in particular.”

Lowell said an emphasis on accessibility extends to the employees as well.

“Sometimes the people with the best ideas are the people on the front lines, so I’m talking to them, but I’m also asking what the customers are saying,” he told BusinessWest. “When a customer takes the time to send me an e-mail or give me a call because he’s not happy with us, that’s important for me to hear. Some of the best ideas come from a customer saying, ‘you guys did this, and I didn’t like it,’ and we’ve ended up changing it.

“I’ve had really good input from customers who were unhappy or felt we fell a little short,” he went on. “I’m convinced that’s how you get better. We’re in a competitive environment, so if you’re not getting better all the time, you’re losing ground — and we can’t afford to lose ground.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Sections Tourism & Hospitality

Pushing the Envelope

Additions at the food court

Additions at the food court comprise just one prong in a broad strategic initiative at Bradley International Airport to improve the customer experience.

Kevin Dillon recalled that, when he first started working at airports in mid-’70s, they were run almost like government facilities.

Translation: there were few, if any, frills, customer service was hardly a priority, and the notion of generating repeat customers didn’t really exist because, for the most part, customers didn’t have any choice but to return.

All that has changed over the ensuing decades, of course. Fliers do have choices, especially in this part of he country, where there are several airports within a two-hour drive. And they make their choices based on a variety of factors, but especially convenience and the quality of their experience (after all, they’re spending at least a few hours there, on average).

So today, every airport wants to be the airport of choice, including Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, said Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA), which took over management of the facility in 2013.

And there are many factors that go into that equation, from the number of flights and, more specifically, the number of non-stop flights to the number and quality of restaurants at the facility; from ease of movement through the flying process to the overall customer experience.

And Bradley has been addressing all of them, said Dillon, referencing recent developments ranging from new non-stop service to St. Louis to a new $200 million transportation transit facility set to move off the drawing board (more on that later), to the addition of therapy dogs to help those anxious about flying.

“What we’re about at Bradley is convenience,” he told BusinessWest. “We know that’s what we’re selling as an airport, whether that’s convenient access to the airport or convenience once you get to the facility. So we have focused on improving overall customer service and the customer experience.”

Initiatives on these fronts are generating results that can be quantified in a number of ways, said Dillon, who started with the five consecutive years of year-over-year passenger growth Bradley has enjoyed since the CAA took over in 2013. That includes a 6.2% spike in 2017. He also noted that Condé Nast Traveler ranked Bradley the fifth-best airport in the U.S. it its latest Readers’ Choice Awards.

But while the passenger-growth numbers and votes from Condé Nast readers are compelling, Dillon said the airport has to keep pushing the envelope (that’s an aviation term, sort of) and find new and better ways to improve the customer experience.

“The airport business has become extremely competitive,” he noted. “So we’re constantly looking to differentiate ourselves from other options that travelers in our region have; we want to be that airport of choice, but we do know that travelers have options, so we have to keep looking for ways to improve the experience.”

For this issue and its focus on tourism and hospitality, BusinessWest talked at length with Dillon about Bradley’s focus on convenience and the many forms this mission takes.

Soaring Expectations

Perhaps the most obvious, and most important, aspect of customer service, Dillon said, is the number of flights being offered, or route development, as he called it.

And over the past several years, the airport has been working to add new flights for the convenience of all travelers, but especially business travelers.

“We know business travelers are looking for a greater menu of non-stop services at Bradley, so we’ve put a lot of attention and focus on development in general,” Dillon explained. “When we first took over the airport, we focused on bringing in West Coast connectivity as well as trans-Atlantic connectivity, and we’ve been able to accomplish both goals.”

With the former, the airport has added a popular flight to Los Angeles, he noted, and last year, seasonal, non-stop service to San Francisco was added to the portfolio, and efforts are ongoing to offer that service year-round.

Kevin Dillon

Kevin Dillon

Also, through the addition of carrier of Spirit Airlines, there are now a number of direct flights into a number of Florida cities, including Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Myers.

As for the latter, the daily Aer Lingus flight to Dublin introduced in September 2016 has becoming increasingly popular with area business and leisure flyers looking for a more convenient way to get to Europe than driving to and then flying out of Boston, New York, or New Jersey.

“That’s because it’s not only connectivity to Dublin, it’s connectivity to all of Europe,” said Dillon. “And there are 26 major cities that you can connect to very conveniently in Dublin with this flight.”

The overseas flight has thus far met or exceeded expectations, and the response from the business community has had a lot to do with that, he said, adding that, as might be expected, leisure travel to Europe drops off considerably in the fall and winter, and the business side of the equation has helped keep the planes reasonably full year-round.

As for the experience at the airport itself, those at Bradley have been attentive to this piece of the puzzle as well, said Dillon, focusing on such matters as security lead times, check-in times at the airline counters, the menu of restaurants, and, yes, programs such as therapy dogs.

When it comes to eateries, Phillips Seafood and Two Roads Brewery have been added to the mix in recent months, and they’ve been very well received, said Dillon, adding that travelers will likely have a decent amount of time to spend at such facilities because of efforts to help the process of getting bags checked and travelers through security.

Overall, there are some things an airport cannot control — travelers will still be asked to arrive 90 minutes before a flight, especially if it’s an international flight — but there are many things it can control, and those are the factors Bradley is focused on, said Dillon.

This extends, as he noted earlier, to access to the airport, and also what happens after one leaves.

And this mindset explains the facility’s new transportation center, now in the final design stages, which is being built to improve the overall customer experience.

“You’ll be able to fly into Bradley and connect via a walkway to this new facility right across from the terminal to get your rental car,” he explained. “No longer will you have to take a bus to that rental-car facility.”

The transportation facility will also serve as a transit hub for the various bus services into and out of Bradley, as a connecting point to the rail line that now connects Southern Connecticut with Springfield.

“We’re working to have every one of those trains stop at Windsor Locks, which is considered the airport train station, and then we’ll connect the new transportation center to the Windsor Locks train station via high-frequency bus service,” Dillon explained, adding that the ultimate goal is to directly connect the airport to that station with light rail.

Such rail connections will ultimately make life more convenient to business and leisure travelers alike, he went on, adding that they can fly into Bradley and connect, via rail, to a host of other cities, similar to how it’s done in Europe.

Plane Speaking

When the CAA took over operations at Bradley, it was handling roughly 5.5 million passengers a year. Fewer than five years later, the total is 6.5 million.

That’s a significant increase that came about through a broad, multi-faceted approach to improving convenience and the overall customer experience.

But as they say in this business, Bradley is merely gaining altitude. It can soar much higher still, and Dillon and his team are committed to doing just that.

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

Health Care Sections

Secure Connections

The Baby Boom generation isn’t just marching into retirement — they’re positively surging into their senior years, with some 10,000 Americans reaching age 65 each day.

Yet, despite the fact that senior-living communities have become increasingly modernized, specialized, and resident-focused, nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, according to the American Assoc. of Retired Persons.

And technology is helping them do just that — everything from home-monitoring devices to GPS trackers (for loved ones with dementia); from medication reminders to automatic stove turn-offs, and more . All of it is intended to lend both security to seniors living alone and peace of mind to their loved ones.

Older Americans welcome the trend — according to the AARP survey, even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing healthcare during retirement, 82% would still prefer to stay in their own homes. Yet, the stereotype often lingers of seniors being technophobes averse to change.

“Many Boomers disagree with that statement, finding it insulting or pessimistic or both,” writes Laurie Orlov, principal analyst for Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market-research organization that provides analysis and guidance about technologies and services that enable seniors to remain longer in their home of choice. “They will repeat plaintively that Baby Boomers are very different than their parents’ generation. They are comfortable with technology. See how many have smartphones — they text, use Facebook and YouTube. Many book travel online, read Trip-Advisor reviews, and even call for car pickups with an app.”

So why not embrace technology meant to improve quality of life and — just as important — independence? Especially, Orlov noted, when there are so many options, from a simple door sensor or a sophisticated whole-home automation and security system.

In the case of the former, simple technology can have profound results. “If an older adult is alone at home, enters a room, and does not return past the sensor, an alert is sent to a family member or other predefined organization, thus enabling an attempt to contact the older adult, and, if no answer, to dispatch help.”

Rachel Walker, an assistant professor in the UMass Amherst College of Nursing, has focused much of her research on addressing health disparities and the care of older adults with cancer and other serious illnesses. She’s also on the faculty for the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM), one of three centers that make up the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst, one that aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of low-cost, wearable, wireless sensor systems for personalized healthcare and biometric monitoring — but always with a focus on the human side of care.

“Oftentimes in the national news, there’s a lot of focus on the technologies — things like wearable sensors and home health monitors,” she explained. “A lot of clinicians and practitioners like myself work with individuals out in the community who experience these health challenges as they age, and there aren’t too many places that merge those two ends of the spectrum.”

Through the Wires

One reason technology isn’t an end-all, Walker said, is because, while 90% of older adults prefer to stay in place, it’s a bigger challenge in the more rural areas of Western Mass., where people may not have access to broadband and high-speed wireless service.

“That’s a sticky wicket. We’re embracing technology more and more, in this digital arena where people also expect to access their health record [electronically]; all these things are on the horizon, but we have whole communities in this region that have yet to get high-speed access.

“The team I work with, we would like to develop solutions that put control back in the hands of actual individuals and their caregivers,” she went on, adding that they’re using grant funds to develop a home-assessment tool that’s compatible with people’s smartphones. “Most users, even in places without high-speed wireless, have access to smartphones.”

Susan Keel, an aging-in-place specialist, recently told HGTV that a robust whole-home security system can be installed for the same cost as one month in an assisted-living facility. “With a system like this, you can remotely log in on a smartphone or the Internet, and, via the devices connected to the system, monitor your loved one’s activities.”

On a smaller scale, Orlov said personal emergency-response systems — wearable devices that can be used to alert outsiders of a health emergency or fall — is currently a $3 billion market that has evolved only slightly from its origins. But one important advance has been their use outside the home.

“The ‘I’ve fallen’ message is still inspiring families and seniors to acquire one. But 30% of the market’s sales are for mobile devices. This makes sense in this time of substantial life expectancy at age 65, when 46% of women aged 75+ live alone,” she notes. “Mobility demands mobile devices, which in turn boost confidence to be out and about. Consider walking the dog — since one-third of the 65+ population has one.”

The Center for Personalized Health Monitoring consolidates expertise from polymer science and engineering, computer science, kinesiology, and neuroscience as well as from other departments and collaborators, such as the UMass Medical School and industry, to develop solutions that consider the whole person, not just technology, Walker told BusinessWest.

For example, “we’re trying to better understand what specific exercises older adults can do to improve their lower-extremity balance and strength, so they don’t have as much risk for falls,” she explained.

At the same time, however, “we’re working on home sensor networks to determine how people are using the space, so we can optimize their environment. We’ve also focused on some of the data-security problems, to make sure information is kept secure from hackers.”

In short, Walker said, there’s plenty of room for technology to help people understand their environment and manage chronic conditions and symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep impairments that, if not addressed over time, can wear the body down and lead to other types of disability. “We try to avoid that so people can stay in their homes as long as possible as they continue to age.”

Human Touch

As amazing as it is, technology doesn’t have all the answers, writes elder-care specialist Michelle Seitzer at Care.com.

“It should never be used to supplement actual caregiving — only enhance it. Certain situations may require a caregiver’s assistance or physical presence (be it a family member, neighbor, or a senior-care aide) for a few hours a week, overnight, or most of the day.

“There may also come a time when it’s just not safe for your loved one to stay home — no matter how many webcams you install,” she continues. “If a senior doesn’t answer the phone, seems withdrawn, falls frequently, misses medications, or wanders off regularly, you may need to look beyond technology. Think about options like hiring a home-care aide or finding senior housing. Figure out what works best for your loved one and the situation, and be open to changes along the way.”

Walker said her team at UMass focuses on concepts of dignity, capability, and healthcare equity in the senior years, and not on technology for its own sake.

“Any time we start a new project, we ask if there is really a need for this technology or new device. Are we building something people really need? Secondly, how will it fit into the life of the person it’s designed for? Also, who’s been left out? A lot of technology is built for the upper middle class, and that’s certainly a need, but we need to make sure what we’re building doesn’t systematically exclude certain individuals like rural residents, with no high-speed wireless access.”

Then there are unintended consequences. “Are we making someone reliant on a device, so if something breaks on the device, they’re left without a safety net to get their needs met?”

It’s an important question to keep in mind as the worlds of elder care and technology continue to cross-fertilize in new, intriguing ways.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

SPRINGFIELDThe MassMutual Foundation Inc. — a dedicated corporate foundation established by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) — today announced it is providing Springfield Public Schools $1 million to expand the City Connects program into eight additional elementary schools throughout the city.

This grant further demonstrates the MassMutual Foundation’s ongoing commitment to Springfield and aligns with its focus on supporting programs that broaden economic opportunity for students and their families by transforming the system of learning. It is also consistent with the company’s recent decision to expand and reinvest in Massachusetts, including continuing to be a leading community partner in the Springfield area.  

“Education is a key lever in achieving financial security later in life and the MassMutual Foundation is committed to ensuring that students have access to the support system and resources needed to learn and thrive in school,” said Dennis Duquette, head of MassMutual community responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation. “The City Connects program has already garnered great results in our schools; this investment will expand the program’s reach, bringing positive change for even more students and their families.”

City Connects, a national program executed by the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, launched in five Springfield Public Schools in September 2011 and has tripled its reach and impact, serving 15 schools in 2017. The MassMutual Foundation grant will enable City Connects to reach a total of 23 schools. The program provides support for students based on their individual needs by addressing out-of-school challenges that affect student success, and leverages existing community resources and support services to optimize students’ readiness to learn. 

During the 2016-17 school year, City Connects served more than 5,000 Springfield students, and nearly 100 community partners provided support and services to meet these students’ unique strengths, needs and interests. Research has shown that the City Connects program significantly improves students’ academic performance; some positive long-term effects include lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and less chronic absenteeism.

In addition to strengthening education in Springfield, the MassMutual Foundation invests in projects, programs and organizations focused on strengthening the city of Springfield through revitalization, development, and social capital. In recent years, signature investments in the region include $15 million of support over 10 years to UMass Amherst to drive education and economic opportunity in Western Massachusetts, $1 million to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Capital Campaign to revitalize the museum, $1 million of support over three years to Valley Venture Mentors,  and seasonally supporting the Springfield Museums.

Class of 2018 Difference Makers

Evan Plotkin Works to Fill in the Canvas Known as Springfield

006_plotkinevan-diff2017The small bronze plaque is starting to show its age.

Fastened to a rectangular stone near the former Court Square Hotel and the old Hampden County Courthouse, it proudly celebrates work done to clean up a walkway that connects Court Square with State Street. It reads:

COURT HOUSE WALK, one of the city’s most charming and historic landmarks, was restored by the Junior League of Springfield Massachusetts Incorporated in cooperation with the City of Springfield, 1979.

Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin, can’t really see this plaque from the south-facing window in his office on the 14th floor of 1350 Main St. (although he can see quite a bit, as will be noted later). But he references it when he can because, in many ways, it, like similar milestones around the city, presents a perfect segue into a discussion about what drives his efforts to revitalize Springfield, especially through the arts and restoration and celebration of existing treasures ranging from parks and fountains to the Connecticut River.

“You can almost imagine the ceremony there, with media standing by and the public officials, and everyone making a proclamation and galvanizing it on a plaque on the ground,” he told BusinessWest as he looked out his window and gestured toward the walkway. “There are a lot of plaques like that around the city, and they all say, in essence, ‘this is a commitment that we made, and we put in bronze, presumably so it would last longer than we are going to last so that future generations will know that at one time we had this vision of doing something.’

“When I first saw that plaque, and saw there were dead rats along that sidewalk and all the lights were out, I said, ‘this is not the vision that they had,’” Plotkin went on. “They had a vision of connecting this beautiful park to another very important commercial district with something special.”

There are, as he noted, a great many stories like that walkway scattered across downtown Springfield and beyond. Stearns Square is one of them. Pynchon Park, the elaborate, much-heralded space built in the late ’70s to connect the Quadrangle with the central business district and abandoned soon after it opened, is another. There’s also Riverfront Park, the Apremont Triangle area, and many more.

There are plaques at some of those sites, but there were gatherings of people and celebrations at all of them, said Plotkin, who has committed his adult life to restoring … well, something approximating what it was that people were celebrating when they gathered, made speeches, and maybe cut a ribbon.

In the case of that walkway, for example, Plotkin made sure that it was part of City Mosaic, what amounts to a giant mural on the Court Square property that he helped bring to fruition, one that features the likenesses of dozens of celebrities, from the Beatles to Louis Armstrong. Judy Garland, Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon are among those who can be seen on the walkway portion of the mural.

plotkinplaguecourthousewalk

There are many other examples of Plotkin’s work to re-energize and enliven Springfield — from his hard work to revitalize the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival to his efforts to lead the Art & Soles public art project that placed colorful sneakers around downtown, to his success in turning 1350 Main into a kind of art gallery.

And there are many things, beyond those aforementioned plaques, inspiring Plotkin as he goes about this wide-ranging work. Part of it is what he fondly remembers from his youth, a half-century ago, when he, like countless others who grew up near the City of Homes, would get on a bus on a Saturday morning, travel to downtown Springfield, and spend literally all day there — at Johnson’s Bookstore, Herman’s World of Sporting Goods, Forbes & Wallace, the movie theaters, Friendly’s, and countless other destinations.

Another part of it is what he’s seen during his many trips to Europe, where squares and plazas in Rome, Madrid, Venice, Amsterdam, and other cultural centers are filled, not just with tourists, but locals.

Another part of it is recognition not of what Springfield was — 50 years ago or 150 years ago, for that matter — but what it could be. Especially at a time when we are told urban living is making a comeback, that Millennials want to live in places where they may not have to drive, that downtowns are hot again.

But what probably drives him most is the fact that not all downtowns are hot, and not all cities are attracting Millennials and retiring Baby Boomers alike.

No, only those cities that can create an attractive mix of things to do, places to live, cultural amenities, and a sense of safety and comfort are making their way into that category.

Plotkin has made what amounts to a second career out of efforts to make Springfield one of those cities. And for his tireless — and we mean tireless — efforts, he is certainly worthy of the designation Difference Maker.

Art of the Matter

Getting back to what Plotkin can see out his windows … there’s plenty, as we noted. There’s the river, the South End and the casino rising there, and, yes, Court Square, in which there is a slightly larger plaque he can actually see and took the opportunity to point out.

It commemorates the Parsons Tavern, which stood on that site. It was there that George Washington was “entertained” — it doesn’t say anything about him sleeping there — on June 30, 1775 while traveling on horseback from Philadelphia to Cambridge to take command of the American forces. And he stopped there again 14 years later, this time as president of the young country, while traveling by coach through the New England states.

Evan Plotkin with some examples of his ‘food art.’

Evan Plotkin with some examples of his ‘food art.’

“There are neat plaques and monuments like that all over the city, and most people don’t know they’re there,” said Plotkin, who pointed out another — the lion’s-head fountain on the east side of the square that was restored several years ago.

But Plotkin certainly doesn’t restrict his interests and his activity to what he can see out the window. Indeed, he walks the city pretty much on a daily basis, usually with his dog, George, at his side. While he’s walking, he’s always taking mental notes, he said, and thinking about what was, in some cases, and about what can be in all cases.

A real-estate broker and manager by trade, Plotkin is also an artist. The area once occupied by Santander Bank’s lobby at 1350 Main St., which Plotkin co-owns, has many of his works on display. They include some sculptures and a large collection of photos of images (mostly faces) he created on his plate by arranging various foods just so. Really.

“I call it food art, or face food — it’s a little goofy,” he told BusinessWest. “It’s not really a genre, it’s just something I do.”

So, in many respects, Plotkin the artist sees Springfield as his canvas, one that he is filling in through his various endeavors. Looked at another way, though — and this is probably the more accurate description — Springfield itself is a work of art in need of restoration work, and Plotkin, the artist but also the community activist, Springfield champion, and sometimes (often?) pain in the neck to those in City Hall, is heavily involved in that restoration work.

Overall, while his artistic portfolio is mostly about positioning meats and vegetables, his work with and on behalf of the city amounts to what he calls “activating space,” with ‘activating’ taking many forms.

They include everything from revitalizing spaces or facilities — such as the fountain at Stearns Square, which has been dismantled for repairs — to bringing vibrancy to a given location, such as efforts he’s led to bring the Springfield Jazz & Roots festival to Court Square (more on that later).

Plotkin’s not sure when he started doing all this, but as he looks back, he believes he’s pretty much always been involved in such efforts.

Speaking of looking back, Plotkin did a lot of it as he talked with BusinessWest, recalling, for example, those bus trips downtown, visits to the family business’s offices on Dwight Street, and walks with his father and grandfather through a much different downtown Springfield.

“All the shop owners, whether they were a furrier or a hatter or a print shop … all these different store owners would be out talking with people, and my grandfather knew every one of them,” he remembered. “It seemed like a really great community of small businesses, family businesses, and I think this is something that’s been lost in the downtown.”

The rise of the automobile and the construction of roads like I-91, I-291, and I-391 played a big part in this transformation, he went on, adding that, as people and businesses left for the suburbs and malls, downtown lost its vibrancy as well as its appeal.

But in some cities, he said, a reversal of that transformation is taking place, with people moving back downtown and cities putting more emphasis on infrastructure for pedestrians and bicycles and dedicating less space to surface parking lots, for example.

Can the same happen in Springfield? Plotkin offered what amounts to a ‘yes, but…’ And by that, he meant that there is still considerable work to do.

Past Is Prologue

Plotkin knows better than anyone that there is no turning back the clock to 1969, to those bus trips to downtown and on to Johnson’s bookstore, stops at the typewriter repair shop or record store while walking around.

But there can be a return to the type of vibrancy that existed then, he went on, adding that Springfield can be one of those cities to capitalize on the apparent surge in urban living and the return of the downtown.

When helping to bringing City Mosaic to reality, Evan Plotkin made sure Court House Walk was included in the project.

When helping to bringing City Mosaic to reality, Evan Plotkin made sure Court House Walk was included in the project.

Much will have to go right, he admits, and the city will have to somehow answer that perplexing urban version of the chicken-or-egg question, which goes something like: ‘which comes first — the people or the restaurants, coffee shops, retail, and jobs?’ The theory goes that you can’t have one without the other.

Plotkin believes the city needs to be focused on both sides of the equation at the same time, and especially the part about getting people here. All those other things will follow, he said.

But to get people here, the city must be more livable, he said, meaning it must be safe and vibrant, have places for people to live, offer culture, and provide an infrastructure that, as noted, is far more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

And he’s focused on all of the above through his work to activate spaces.

With that, he recalled his most recent trip to Europe and, more specifically, to Amsterdam and a plaza called Dam Square.

“It’s mobbed with people, it’s the epicenter of the city historically, it’s beautiful visually, and it’s the heart of the city; that’s where people to go to mingle and mix and shop and entertain themselves,” he said. “To draw a comparison to Court Square, I’ve looked on that as being one of those great public spaces, and the frustrating thing for me throughout my time in Springfield is that I see these public spaces and their potential — which is underutilized.

“And it frustrates me to no end,” he went on. “We have such incredibly important public spaces that have been dormant for some time. When you go to a place like Dam Square or Plaza Mayor in Madrid or other places like that, and see the activity that’s happening in those places, which isn’t contrived, it happens every day, you imagine the possibilities, but you also get frustrated.”

Perhaps the most glaring example of facilities being underutilized is Pynchon Park, he noted, adding that it had a very short life as a park before it was essentially locked down and abandoned amid safety concerns and other considerations.

“There was no plan for Pynchon Park,” said Plotkin with noticeable exacerbation in his voice. “I know from being in real estate that if you build something, that’s not the end of the game; you have to maintain that property. You have to think about security, infrastructure, maintenance, and keeping it clean so it is serviceable for the purpose for which it was intended.”

But, in a twist, Pynchon Park, which has long been a poster child for neglect and underutilization of resources, may soon be one of the more stunning examples of what Plotkin called a “sea change” taking place in Springfield.

Indeed, the park is slated for a $3.5 million facelift (funded by the MassWorks Infrastructure Program) that will include, ironically, a decidedly European form of conveyance, a funicular, to transport people from Dwight Street to Chestnut Street and the Quadrangle.

Other examples include Stearns Square and its fountain, Duryea Way, and Riverfront Park, also scheduled for a major renovation.

Accomplishments of Note

The jazz festival is part of this sea change, he went on, adding that his work to bring that event downtown and continue the tradition after it was discontinued for a few years is exemplary of his broader efforts to make downtown a gathering place and not just a Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 place.

Plotkin said his involvement with the festival began in 2005 when he served as a volunteer for what was known then as the Hoop City Jazz Festival, staged in the quad on the STCC campus and later at Riverfront Park. At first, he worked with founder John Osborne and other members of a committee to create a slate of performers, and later got involved with the fund-raising side of the venture.

017_plotkinevan-diff2017

“I really loved the idea, but I was troubled with the event not being in the downtown, and I said to John, ‘I don’t really want to do this anymore unless we move it to the heart of downtown in Court Square,’” Plotkin recalled, adding that, when he convinced Osborne and the mayor to make that move, the event, and the city, were energized by it.

When Osborne fell ill at the start of this decade and the event fell into limbo, Plotkin was instrumental in bringing it into a new era with a new name, the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival.

Now entering its sixth year, the festival is doing what Plotkin envisioned it would — it is using music to bring a diverse audience of people to celebrate music and energize the city and its downtown.

“When I look out the audience and see the faces and the different demographic groups that attend, and the overwhelming joy that people have congregating in that park and listening to music … it’s kind of like a Woodstock,” he explained. “It’s like a love fest.

“Music breaks boundaries, it breaks barriers, and it brings people together,” he went on. “I know that’s cliché of me to say, but it just … seems to work.”

Many other initiatives that Plotkin has led have worked as well. That list includes Art & Soles, which placed dozens of five-foot sneakers around the downtown area and beyond; City Mosaic; the conversion of the ninth floor of 1350 Main St. into what’s known as Studio 9, a community gathering space; use of the front lobby — and now other spaces — at 1350 Main for use as gallery space; work in partnership with artist James Kitchen to bring many of his metal sculptures to the downtown area; and much more.

As he reflected more on Springfield, its downtown, and what it will take to make the city a destination, Plotkin talked about building blocks and how his work and that of others represents putting such blocks on top of one another to build something substantial — and lasting.

“I think one of the next big things that needs to happen is to focus on how we can redevelop some of the class B and C office space into market-rate or affordable housing so we can attract people down there,” he said of just one the ‘blocks,’ the all-important housing component. “But that’s only going to happen when we restore our parks, reconnect the river to the city, and do something about the lack of attention given to those aspects of building a vibrant downtown.

“If you start making moves in these directions, and if you start restoring your public spaces, these efforts will all lead to that general sense of well-being that people have,” he went on, “and the positive feelings that people have about being here and living here.”

Walking the Walk

It’s safe to say few people have ever traveled down Court House Walk. And even fewer have noticed the small plaque commemorating its restoration four decades ago or taken the time to read it.

Evan Plotkin has, and while reading, he allowed his mind to drift back to the day people gathered at that spot, gave speeches, and cut a ribbon.

Although he recognizes that the walkway is a comparatively modest example of a space that needs to be activated, of something once celebrated that has since been forgotten, it is nonetheless symbolic of everything he has worked for and continues to work for.

It’s not about the past and bringing back good old days, but about the future, and creating a Springfield that people will want to live in and work in and visit to take in a jazz festival.

Like art, and, yes, even food art, this work has become a passion for Plotkin, and it has made him a true Difference Maker.

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

Law Sections

Positive Prognosis

healthlaw-184399153The field of law that focuses specifically on healthcare is diverse, challenging, and constantly changing, and that presents growth opportunities at a time when some fields of law are seeing job stagnation. But many law students aren’t aware of these possibilities, which run the gamut from malpractice litigation to end-of-life planning; from medical-records compliance to helping people navigate the complexities of the mental-health system. And those opportunities are only expected to keep expanding.

Barbara Noah says she took a winding path to her career as a law professor, one who specializes in the rapidly changing world of health law.

“When I graduated from law school, I was thinking more of the style of practice and the sort of things I’d like to do,” said Noah, professor of Health Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, during a recent panel discussion about health-law careers.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1990, she wasn’t interested in litigation, and instead went to work for a Washington, D.C.-based law firm with a strong focus on regulatory compliance.

“Our role was to counsel clients, which were mostly pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, on how to keep in compliance with the regulations issued by the Food and Drug Administration,” she explained. “It wasn’t about getting new drugs approved; these were already-approved products, and we were making sure clients were following appropriate safety rules.”

She found the field so interesting that she eventually transitioned into a long career, first at the University of Florida and since 2005 at WNEU, teaching the many facets of health law.

To name just a few of those, healthcare lawyers interpret the complex healthcare regulations and statutes that govern the administration of health services, advising hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and other providers on issues ranging from licensing, reimbursement, and risk management to malpractice litigation and general corporate management.

One panelist at the WNEU event, Judith Feinberg Albright, who works for Devine, Millimet & Branch in Manchester, N.H., started her career as a paramedic before enrolling in law school and taking a particular interest in health law. She developed a secondary interest in litigation through moot-court experiences during those years, and now defends healthcare providers against malpractice claims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“I see many people in health law with non-traditional pathways, people with some previous career in healthcare — like you see engineers and architects in intellectual-property law,” she noted. “It’s a pretty diverse group of folks.”

Some jobs are more unique than others. Deb Grossman, another panelist, serves as general counsel with Physician Health Services, an arm of the Massachusetts Medical Society that helps physicians deal with personal and behavioral-health issues and navigate their way back to work.

“Doctors don’t really like lawyers much; they see them as a threat of some kind,” Grossman said. “But I want to be supportive. I’ve been in different roles that were not always supportive, but now I’m in a very conciliatory position.”

After working for a large law firm earlier in her career, she explaned, she went looking for a lifestyle change, and took a job with the state handling the licensure of medical professionals, before taking on her current role.

“I became a much better lawyer,” she said, telling students gathered at the panel discussion that, yes, she made less money working for the state, “but what I gained in experience and autonomy as an attorney, I think was really invaluable.”

It’s just one example, Noah told BusinessWest afterward, of how a shifting healthcare field is cultivating many opportunities for lawyers that students might not hear about on a regular basis during their law-school years — which is why the panel was assembled.

“What’s included in the sweep of healthcare law is broader than people initially think; they think of medical malpractice or something to do with health insurance, but it’s a much broader field than people typically understand,” she said. “And a number of these aspects of health law are in flux right now, and they might be areas of growing demand for the purposes of careers.”

A Different World

One of those changing areas of the law is healthcare compliance — for example, how hospitals are complying with the privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

“Although HIPAA has been around for quite a while, every hospital of any size has a compliance office that makes sure medical privacy requirements are being met,” Noah said. “And now with the switch to electronic medical records, it’s created a whole new set of questions for HIPAA in information sharing, and I’m hearing that data security is a big issue which impacts compliance.”

The second growth area concerns the overlap between elder law and health law, driven mostly by the aging of the Baby Boomer population. Not only are older Americans making plans for their estates, Noah said, but they’re becoming more keenly aware of their own mortality, and considering issues like advance care directives, healthcare proxies, and end-of-life preferences, such as do-not-resuscitate orders and decisions on nutrition and breathing assistance.

recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law

From left, Barbara Noah, Judith Fineberg Albright, Deb Grossman, and Dylan Mawdsley talk about their very different health-law careers at a recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law.

“There are all sorts of questions, and more attention is being focused on them,” Noah said. “But there’s still a real reluctance to do much advance care planning until faced with a bad diagnosis. That’s an issue that’s going to need more well-trained attorneys in the future to reach this large and aging Baby Boomer population.”

The third big shift that could affect health law is, of course, the ever-changing Affordable Care Act, which has been threatened by the recent federal tax law that repeals its individual mandate.

“We’re keeping on top of how the Affordable Care Act is being changed, amended, and manipulated, and how that impacts the system of healthcare delivery. It’s a moving target,” Noah explained. “Without the individual mandate, if healthy people aren’t buying in anymore, the pool is sicker, and that drives up prices.”

According to Nick Sumski, an LSAT teacher for Kaplan Test Prep, health law is a compelling area of law because everyone has to touch the healthcare system at some point in their lives.

“Health law is such a big growth field with an incredible amount of opportunity, especially in the coming years,” he noted last month on the Kaplan website. “No one knows how it’s all going to work moving forward, and there is going to be a big demand for lawyers to help figure it out.”

Dylan Mawdsley, another panelist at the WNEU event, is assistant general counsel for the state Department of Mental Health, advising DMH staff in their decision making and compliance with laws, and representing the agency before probate and family courts.

He originally went to college as a political science major, but pivoted to law school afterward, starting his career in estate planning — right when the Great Recession hit, which was a bad time for that area of law. The work he does now, often serving as a liaison between doctors, patients, and the court system, is gratifying and presents a great deal of autonomy.

“I really feel like the work we do is good work,” he said, “helping people get treatment and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

Meaningful Work

When Grossman was in law school, she recalled, she learned a lot about corporate law and litigation, but not much else, and certainly not what she’s doing today.

“This niche of work is very, very satisfying, it’s important work, and the schedule allows me to raise my kids,” she said. “Law students should know there’s a whole world of jobs out there, that aren’t typical law-firm, corporate types of jobs.”

Sumski said students shouldn’t feel like they have to pick any kind of specialization right away.

“Keep an open mind in those first-year classes; you might be surprised by the area of law that ultimately interests you,” he noted. “If you are interested in health law, however, you should take some introductory classes in the subject matter and see if a particular aspect of the field interests you. Health law is an incredibly broad field that touches on many different aspects of law. There’s a lot of opportunity in the area. The job market for lawyers is getting better, but it’s not great, so it makes sense to go into an area that is in demand.”

That demand, Noah said, is driven partly by the fact that health law is so interconnected, with so many moving parts.

“Any student who goes into health law is going to need a deep knowledge of the particular area they’re focusing on,” she noted, “but also a broad, contextual understanding of how the whole healthcare finance and delivery system works in this country — and it’s a very messy, complex, and inefficient system.”

And one that’s constantly changing, presenting plentiful opportunities for law students and career changers willing to think outside the jury box.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of January 2018.

AGAWAM

City of Agawam
1000 Suffield St.
$387,000 — Masonry stabilization project for Agawam Department of Public Works

CHICOPEE

Amjad Salm Butt
810 Meadow St.
$1,500 — Build partition wall

Estes Trucking
84 New Lombard Road
$8,986 — Modify existing sprinkler system

R.L. Newlife, LLC
43 Perkins St.
$115,000 — Remodel second-floor offices, insulate ceiling, and install drop ceiling in break room on first floor

Roy Sabourin
450 New Ludlow Road
$6,000 — Tear down existing office space; frame new entrance space, office space, and storage

DEERFIELD

Cumberland Farms
31 Elm St.
$2,025,228 — Construct convenience store

Lloyd Green, Mildred Green
6 North St.
$676,905 — Demolition and reconstruction of existing space

Gideon Porth
218 Greenfield Road
$196,650 — Ground-mounted solar array

Red Roof Inn
9 Greenfield Road
$15,000 — Replace sign

EASTHAMPTON

Easthampton Savings Bank
7 Campus Lane
$26,500 — Interior renovations

Valley Programs Inc.
79 East St.
$3,947.61 — Install low-voltage smoke and CO detectors

EAST LONGMEADOW

Bedrock Financial, LLC
65 Avery St.
$124,000 — Demolition and rebuild

Irina’s
100 Shaker Road
$7,000 — Interior alterations

GREENFIELD

D & G Holding Co., LLC
39 Beacon St.
$15,095 — Roofing

LONGMEADOW

Longmeadow Country Club
400 Shaker Road
$30,000 — Demolition and removal of tap room addition

Town of Longmeadow
31 Pondside Road
$8,900 — Demolition of salt shed at Longmeadow Department of Public Works

LUDLOW

ATI Physical Therapy
483 Holyoke St.
$6,000 — Illuminated and non-illuminated signs

NORTHAMPTON

Community Legal Aid
20 Hampton Ave.
$3,200 — Partition off workspace to create separate office

Florence Bank
491 Pleasant St.
$1,500 — Non-illuminated wall sign

J. Barc Inc.
21 Pleasant St.
$28,800 — Frame walls, install fire-rated suspended ceiling

Lathrop Community Inc.
55 Firethorn Lane
$20,000 — Remodel kitchen and insulate and finish three-season room
Lathrop Community Inc.
69 Hawthorn Lane
$20,000 — Remodel kitchen and insulate and finish three-season room

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
99 King St.
$76,500 — Replace existing stairs and canopies

Smith Child Care Center Inc.
557 Easthampton Road
$53,590 — Install roof-mounted solar panels

Smith College
102 Lower College Lane
$19,000 — Renovate volleyball coach’s office

Smith College
28 Lyman Road
Install roof-mounted solar panels

Valley Community Development Corp.
256 Pleasant St.
$11,641,723 — Construct new mixed-use building

SOUTHWICK

Empire Telecom USA, LLC
686 College Highway
$15,000 — Install three remote radios

Southwick Department of Public Works
661 College Highway
$1,600 — Chimney

SPRINGFIELD

Aldi Inc.
513 Pasco Road
$865,000 — Alter interior spacd and add additional grocery space

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
101 State St.
$27,000 — Install four Verizon Wireless roof-mounted replacement antennas and three replacement radio heads on MGM Springfield building

BT Springfield, LLC
119 Cadwell Dr.
$152,000 — Alter interior space for office and service area for Boston Trailer

CMC Development Associates, LP
222 Carew St.
$98,000 — Alter medical office suite on first floor

Morgan/Kayley Corp.
2547 Main St.
$3,700 — Erect walls for Cricket Wireless

NAI Plotkin
125 Liberty St.
$1,800 — Add horns and horn/strobes to medical office space

WARE

Charbonneau Funeral Home
30 Pleasant St.
$2,500 — Roof covering over existing entry

Town of Ware
22 North St.
$4,000 — Construct interior separation wall and shelving at Ware Police Department

WESTFIELD

Best4U Realty Trust
94 Meadow St.
$76,800 — Repair fire-damaged storefront and house

Governor’s Center
66 Broad St.
Remove interior partitions, floor finishes, and acoustical tiles

Jonathan D. Powers
311 North Elm St.
$17,550 — Roofing

Security Manor DHC, LLC
47 Broad St.
$22,000 — Roofing

WEST SPRINGFIELD

134 Capital Dr.
134A Capital Dr.
$2,100 — Illuminated sign

DDRM Riverdale Shops, LLC
935 Riverdale St.
$4,000 — Sign at Carter’s/OshKosh

DDRM Riverdale Shops, LLC
935 Riverdale St.
$1,200 — Sign at Carter’s/OshKosh

WILBRAHAM

2701 Boston Road, LLC
2701 Boston Road
$33,287 — Roofing

Minnechaug Regional High School
621 Main St.
$154,000 — Foundation for new accessory building

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis announced that his full executive team is now in place. The team, a diverse group of industry professionals, will lead operations for MGM Springfield, set to open later this year.

“This is an all-star team,” Mathis said. “Together, they bring years of experience and a broad expanse of skills that strengthens the deep bench of talent we already have in place. Each of them is committed, not only to the day-to-day objectives of their positions, but also to the greater role this property will play in the community. This team is the backbone of MGM Springfield, and we will proudly reflect and represent the diversity of the region in which we work.”

For the 12th consecutive year, MGM Resorts International has been recognized as a Top Company for Diversity by DiversityInc, one of the nation’s leading sources on workplace-diversity management. Almost 69% of the company’s employees are minorities. About 44% of employees in MGM Resorts’ management ranks are women, while minorities comprise 43% of MGM Resorts’ management ranks. “The beating heart of MGM Springfield is our commitment to diversity,” Mathis said.

Besides Mathis, the MGM Springfield management team also includes Anthony Caratozzolo, vice president, Food & Beverage; Alex Dixon, general manager; Anika Gaskins, vice president, National Marketing; Brian Jordan, director, Surveillance; Monique Messier, executive director, Sales; Sarah Moore, Vice President, Marketing, Advertising & Brand; Marikate Murren, vice president, Human Resources; Jason Rosewell, vice president, Facilities; Jason Rucker, executive director, Security; Lynn Segars, vice president, Slot Operations; Gregg Skowronski, executive director, Hotel Operations; Talia Spera, executive director, Arena Operations; Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel; Courtney Wenleder, vice president and chief financial officer; and Robert Westerfield, vice president, Table Games.

In 2000, MGM Resorts became the first company in the gaming and hospitality industry to voluntarily adopt a formal diversity and inclusion policy. This is a critical pillar of the company’s enterprise-wide social-responsibility platform, which also includes community giving and environmental sustainability as key elements.

Sections Technology

Call Forward

Brett Normandeau

Brett Normandeau says hot communication technologies like business texting are providing new opportunities for his nearly 30-year-old company.

Brett Normandeau recalls the early days of the company his father started 28 years ago, when installing telephone systems was simpler, and even voice mail seemed revolutionary. Those days are long gone, and companies, like NTI, that succeed in the world of business communication are navigating some fast-moving waters. But they’re also making work easier and less expensive for their clients, and those are goals that never go out of style.

After eight years in its headquarters on Riverdale Street in West Springfield, Brett Normandeau said he’s looking to move into a smaller space.

Simply put, while his company, Normandeau Technologies Inc. (NTI), is growing — to seven employees at present, after three recent hires — his space needs are shrinking, since technicians are performing more work remotely than ever before.

It’s one example of how NTI reflects the very business trends that impact the services it provides to customers.

The company has been been selling, installing, and servicing telephone systems for 28 years, with voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology — which uses the Internet to exchange various forms of communication that have traditionally been carried over land lines — serving as its main service focus over the past decade-plus.

It’s a technology that allows businesses to stay connected even when employees are far-flung — whether they’re working from home or in an office across the country.

Smartphones, however, are changing the game when it comes to phone systems, and newer developments like business texting and mass notification services — two niches Normandeau is particularly excited about — again evolving the way employers and employees communicate.

Kevin Hart is excited too — enough to return last year to the company he worked for many years ago, this time as director of business development.

“We’re looking to grow as a company. There’s a big market right now, and we’re ready for it,” he told BusinessWest, before noting that, as technology has evolved, so have client expectations. “We’re excited that we can do this more efficiently now than ever before. Customers appreciate that. They want their stuff fixed. The industry standard used to be two to three days response time, and now sometimes it’s within the hour.”

When my father started 28 years ago, all we did was run cable and service some telephone systems. That was even before voice mail. I remember that change, and thinking, ‘are we going to take this voice mail on?’ We started doing that, and it just progressed from there.”

So, while the company continues to make a name for itself in the fields of IP telephony, IP surveillance, data cabling, and cloud services, newer technologies continually shake up the game and provide plenty of opportunity for growth.

“What attracted Kevin to come back were the products and technologies we’re offering, and the opportunities he’s got to develop our business,” Normandeau said. “Business texting is huge, and so are emergency notification systems, as well as our traditional cloud and telephone systems, which have been the bread and butter of our business.”

While traditional phone systems are slowly changing over to cloud-based systems, plenty of companies are still behind the curve, he added, noting that such systems offer more integration, functionality, and control — and lower costs — than ever before. In short, it’s a good time to be in this business.

Beyond the Simple Phone

At its heart, Normandeau communications has been trading in phone systems since Ray Normandeau launched the enterprise in Florence in 1990, using money from an early-retirement package offered by a streamlining AT&T.

As Ray built his business on word of mouth and a few loyal customers, his son Brett started working alongside his father, having been licensed as an electrical journeyman shortly before Ray launched the company. He took over as president when his father retired about 16 years ago.

At the start, clients were mainly residential, but gradually, the emphasis turned to business customers, which today comprise the vast majority of the client base.

“When my father started 28 years ago, all we did was run cable and service some telephone systems. That was even before voice mail,” Normandeau said. “I remember that change, and thinking, ‘are we going to take this voice mail on?’ We started doing that, and it just progressed from there.”

NTI’s featured partners include LG-Ericsson, whose iPECS-LIK product further streamlines communication within any size business, from small offices to large corporations with thousands of users, managing all kinds of communication — phone calls, e-mails, texts, etc. — across multiple sites, under a single user interface. It’s a useful product for multi-site organizations, such as banks and their multiple branches.

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart, standing in front of a phone from a different era, says customer expectations have evolved along with the technology.

Hart said businesses are starting to turn away from internal server networks that need occasional upgrading or replacing.

“Cloud-based systems today are effective, and they work, where 10 years ago they were heavily contingent on bandwidth,” he told BusinessWest. “The second-generation cloud-based systems at this point are not only reliable, but they’re usually cheaper than your current telephone bill.”

Added Normandeau, “it’s an operating expense as opposed to a capital expense, and that’s very attractive to businesses.”

On the business-texting front, Normandeau uses a platform called Captivated. On one side, a company’s contacts text it on a landline or published text number the business promotes. On the other side, a text comes into Captivated and the company handles it or easily transfers it to the right department or individual.

The benefit, Normandeau said, is that people don’t answer phone calls as often as they used to, particularly from numbers they don’t recognize, scared off by the proliferation of robocalls — but they will look at texts, especially if the sender’s number is familiar.

In addition, service providers in all kinds of industries can use the system to reach customers if they’re running late for an appointment, while an auto mechanic working on a vehicle who sees additional problems can quickly get in touch with the customer and start working on the second problem — all of this, again, predicated on people being more likely to respond to texts than calls. “It’s a huge scheduling convenience,” Normandeau said.

In addition, all texts are centralized and saved in the cloud, providing a permanent record that isn’t available when technicians use their personal cell phones to contact customers.

In the realm of mass notification — a related but different technology than regular business texting — Normandeau uses the StaffAlerter platform, which was originally developed originally for the K-12 market, for campus security and other reasons. It uses templates by which messages can be sent out quickly to an entire subscriber list with the touch of a button.

“In an emergency, a schook teacher can automatically send an alert, a mass notification to all staff, that can also tie into their paging system throughout the school, so teachers can lock down the classrooms,” he explained.

But the applications are endless, Hart added, from sending alerts to snowplow drivers during the early-morning hours as a storm looms, to contacting large groups of off-duty nurses or police officers if a shift suddenly opens up. “Before, you’d have to call 30 people to get someone to come over and cover.”

Growth Pattern

Staff growth at NTI includes its new operations manager, Lindsey McGrath, who has 20 years of experience on the carrier side of the business, and Russell Diederich, a technician who spent 30 years at Verizon.

Those are the moves a company that knows it has opportunities to grow, Hart said.

“The lion’s share of companies still use legacy systems,” he noted. “Especially after the economic downturn in ’08 and ’09, they held on to what they had and were reluctant to make changes, but it’s no longer cost-effective to do it that way.”

He said he recently sold a new system to a client he had services 21 years ago, noting that “he got his money’s worth.”

“Truth be told,” Normandeau was quick to note, “a lot of those old phone systems still work. There’s a New England mentality of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

That said, he added, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to streamline their communications and save money if they’re willing to look into them.

Especially companies like NTI itself, which is scaling up its staff while downsizing its space because working remotely is the wave of the future.

“It makes far more sense when technicians and sales staff don’t have to come to a central point,” Hart said. “It saves a lot of ‘windshield time’ for sales and service techs when we have this platform. It’s better for customers and better for employees’ quality of life.”

That said, NTI isn’t resting on its laurels, Normandeau said, noting that he takes part in IT networks and conferences with an eye on the next big thing in communications. “I’m going to the IT Expo in Florida next month to check out the latest and greatest,” he said — and bring that knowledge back to a company that has evolved significantly since the days when voice mail was all the rage.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Columns Sections

Finance: A Primer on the TCJA

By David Kalicka

David Kalicka

David Kalicka

It is important to note that, although many business changes are permanent, the individual changes are temporary. The changes in tax rates, standard deductions, and personal exemptions will expire in 2025, unless extended at some future date.

Individual Tax Changes

Tax rates: Lower individual income-tax rates of 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and a top rate of 37%. (The current rates would be restored in 2026, i.e. 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6%).

Standard deduction: Single $12,000, increased from $6,350 (2017). Married filing joint $24,000, increased from $12,700 (2017).

Personal exemptions: Eliminated. Under prior law, exemptions would have been $4,150 each for 2018.

Child tax credit: Temporarily increased to $2,000 per child under 17 (was $1,000) and new $500 credit for dependents other than child.  These credits phase out for higher-income taxpayers.

Itemized Deductions: Deduction for taxes (income taxes and real-estate taxes) limited to $10,000 per year.

Mortgage interest: For mortgage debt incurred after Dec. 15, 2017, interest deduction limited to acquisition debt of $750,000. Acquisition debt incurred prior to that date is still subject to the $1 million limit.

Home equity loan/line of credit interest deduction eliminated beginning in 2018, regardless of when the home-equity loan originated.

The deduction for contributions of cash to public charities will be limited to 60% of AGI beginning in 2018 (prior limit was 50% of AGI).

Miscellaneous itemized deductions have been eliminated. This category included unreimbursed employee business expenses and investment expenses. Under prior law, these were deductible to the extent they exceeded 2% of AGI.

• In view of the elimination or limitation of certain deductions and the increase in the standard deduction, fewer taxpayers will be itemizing. To maximize the benefit of deductions, you should consider bunching allowable deductions in alternating years. For example, a married couple with no mortgage and state and local income taxes and real-estate taxes of at least $10,000 will need an additional $14,000 to exceed the standard deduction. Combining multiple years’ charitable contributions in one year may be a way to benefit from itemizing in a particular year. One technique for doing this is a donor-advised fund.

Elimination of other deductions: The moving-expense deduction has been eliminated.

Alimony: For divorce agreements executed after Dec. 31, 2018, alimony will no longer be deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. If anticipated, any such agreement should be reviewed in light of the new law to determine the effects of timing.

Alternative minimum tax: The individual AMT has been retained, but the exemption has been increased. With the limitation on taxes and the elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions, fewer people will be subject to AMT.

Section 529 plans: These plans can now be used to pay up to $10,000 per year for private elementary or secondary school tuition.

Casualty and theft losses: The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster.

Estate and Gift Taxes

For decedents dying and gifts made after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the federal exclusion has been doubled to roughly $11 million per person. Keep in mind that this expires in 2025 and then reverts to about $5.5 million per person.

Taxpayers with large estates should consider the benefit of making large gifts now to take advantage of this temporary increase in exemption.

Business Tax Provisions

These provisions have been made permanent in the new tax law unless otherwise indicated.

C-corporation: Flat corporate tax rate of 21% (old law 15%-35%). This low tax rate is attractive; however, keep in mind that there is a second level of tax when the corporation pays dividends or is liquidated. Also, C-corporations have additional potential penalty taxes (personal holding company tax and accumulated earnings tax).

Pass-through entities: Many S-corporation shareholders, LLC members, partners, and sole proprietors will be able to deduct 20% of their pass-through income. This seems like a simple concept. Unfortunately, there are some very complex rules depending upon the individual’s taxable income and whether the business is a professional service business or real-estate business. It is not practical to try to explain these rules in this communication. Therefore, you should consult with your tax adviser to discuss the optimal entity choice for your business and how you can plan to take additional advantage of some of these rules.

DPAD repealed: The new law repeals the domestic production activities deduction for tax years beginning after 2017.

Entertainment expenses: No longer deductible (50% deductible under prior law). Business meals remain deductible subject to the same substantiation rules and limitations. The 50% disallowance is expanded to cover meals provided via an in-house cafeteria or otherwise on the employer’s premises

Section 179 expensing: Annual limit increased to $1,000,000 (previous limit was $500,000). Also, the expanded definition of assets eligible for section 179 includes certain depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging or in connection with furnishing lodging. The definition of qualified real property eligible for expensing is also expanded to include the following improvements to non-residential real property after the date such property was first placed in service: roofs; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning property; fire protection and alarm systems; and security systems.

Bonus depreciation: increased to 100% (from 50% under prior law) for property placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2023, and expanded to include used tangible personal property. After 2022, it phases down by 20% each year until Jan. 1, 2027.

Luxury auto depreciation limits: Under the new law, for a passenger automobile for which bonus depreciation is not claimed, the maximum depreciation allowance is increased to $10,000 for the year it’s placed in service, $16,000 for the second year, $9,600 for the third year, and $5,760 for the fourth and later years in the recovery period. These amounts are indexed for inflation after 2018. For passenger autos eligible for bonus first-year depreciation, the maximum additional first-year depreciation allowance remains at $8,000 as under pre-act law.

Business interest deduction limitation: For businesses with gross receipts in excess of $25 million, interest-expense deductions will be limited to 30% of adjusted taxable income. For years beginning before 2022, adjusted taxable income is computed without regard to depreciation and amortization. Any excess interest expense is carried over to future years. Real-estate businesses may elect out of this limitation. However, the election requires use of ADS depreciation, which results in longer depreciable lives and loss of bonus depreciation.

Net operating losses: There is no longer a carryback provision; however, the carry-forward period is now unlimited (previous law provided that NOLs could be carried back two years and forward 20 years). In addition, any losses incurred after Dec. 31, 2017 can offset only 80% of taxable income.

Excess business limit: The new tax law limits the ability of a non-corporate taxpayer to deduct excess business losses. After application of passive loss rules, the deduction of business losses is limited to $500,000 per year for taxpayers filing jointly and $250,000 for others. The excess loss is carried forward as part of the taxpayer’s net operating loss. This provision applies to tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and prior to Jan. 1, 2026.

As you can see from this brief summary, the new law is extremely complex. You should consult with your tax adviser to fully explore how to take advantage of the opportunities and to minimize the impact of the negative changes.

David Kalicka, CPA serves as partner emeritus for the Holyoke-based public accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; (413) 536-8510; [email protected]

Bankruptcies Departments

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

Alicea, Hipolito
31 Biddle St.
Springfield, MA 01129
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/07/17

Beauchamp, Elizabeth A.
20 Marquette St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/07/17

Blanco-Munoz, Jacinto
165 Prospect St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/07/17

Boutet, Tiziana
63 Peterson Circle
Feeding Hills, MA 01030
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/10/17

Brown, Mary Ann
121 Lincoln St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/01/17

Christy, Natasha Irene
67 Marmon St.
Springfield, MA 01129
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Ciborowski, Paul A.
Ciborowski, Beverly J.
27 First Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/04/17

Condron, Raymond A.
71 Daniels Terrace
Cheshire, MA 01225
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/11/17

Dascanio, Shane R.
119 Sampson Parkway
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/08/17

DeMatos, Christine Elizabeth
152 Ferncliff Ave.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Doe, Season
PO Box 609
West Warren, MA 01092
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/14/17

First Security / Pro Se
Harris, Roney Louis
615 White St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/13/17

Freeman, Kenneth
26 Washigton St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Hill, Josephine A.
152 Old Palmer Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/13/17

Hill, Mark
152 Old Palmer Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/13/17

Jacobs, Jeffrey D.
217 Greenwich Road
Ware, MA 01082
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/04/17

Joe’s Remodeling
JS Home Improvement
Smith, Joseph E.
Smith, Susan A.
a/k/a Rivera, Susan A.
36 Montvue St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Josefiak, Tammie Fawn
a/k/a Fawn, Tammie Griffen
32 Luther St. #1
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/14/17

Kailo Mentoring Group
Bacon, Paul Charles
65 Logtown Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/11/17

Kiniry, Jacob Daniel
21 Victoria St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/13/17

Liberti, John P.
5 Somerset Road
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Lugo, Angel L.
7 Harlan St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/15/17

Luzanova, Aleksandra
51 VanDeene Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/14/17

Mansfield, Sean E.
39 Neptune St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Mosher, Tina M.
PO Box 304
Huntington, MA 01050
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/01/17

New England Building and Renovation
Boutet, Steven M.
63 Peterson Circle
Feeding Hills, MA 01030
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/10/17

Novikov, Dmitriy
41 Day St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/01/17

O’Brien, Kimberlie
a/k/a Depoutot, Kimberlie
113 Winton St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/11/17

Parsons, James
151 Bryant Road
Cummington, MA 01026
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/13/17

Payson, Stephen Carl
Payson, Michelle Lee
87 Pilgrim Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/07/17

Perez, Lena A.
12 Longwood Court
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Peters, Robyn L.
106 Harkness Ave.
Springfield, MA 01036
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Ramirez, Omar Azpurua
Flores, Wanda E.
41 Chestnut St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/14/17

Ricks Complete Lawn Care
Ricks Complete Lawn Care
Shove, Richard M.
Shove, Kathleen E.
PO Box 392
Lenox, MA 01240
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/15/17

Rose, Marilyn S.
Rose, Terrence B.
137 Lexington St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/14/17

Rowe, Elizabeth L.
22 Pasadena St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/01/17

Rubner, Lisa A.
73 Maple St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Sady, Lisa M.
a/k/a Perry, Lisa M.
20 North Blvd.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/11/17

Schroth, Marc J.
43 Bluebird Circle
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/07/17

Stirlacci, Eleanor A.
92 Wildflower Circle
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Streeter, Myra N.
231 Tiffany St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/15/17

Thomas Anthony Curtis Computer Consulting
Curtis, Thomas Anthony
a/k/a Curtis, Tony
a/k/a Curtis, T.A.
27 Highland St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/01/17

Thompson, Christine
a/k/a Runyan, Christine
120 Hamilton St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/05/17

Trade Press Inc.
Barrows, John W.
30 Fairview St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/12/17

Voyik, Jason R.
113 Geneva St.
Indian Orchard, MA 01151
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Voyik, Kaitlyn M.
30 Greenwich St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Ward-Walsh, Heather Ann
107 Second St.
Leominster, MA 01453
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 12/06/17

Wesson, Pamela
a/k/a Sweatland, Pamela J.
18 Paper St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 12/11/17

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. was recognized with an Excellence in Holography Award from the International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) at its annual conference in Barcelona, Spain. The annual awards recognize outstanding achievement in pioneering innovative holographic products or techniques, as well as the best use of holography in commercial applications. Singled out from a record number of entries, Hazen was awarded Best Applied Decorative Packaging Product for its own promotional 2017 calendar and supporting brochure.

The six-panel brochure and related poster/calendar each highlight different capabilities and product characteristics, though they both feature a dramatic image of a woman dressed in a gown of gold satin, who appears radiant and three-dimensional, thanks to custom Hazen Holography. According to the IHMA, the two are “a beautiful display of holographic art with many technical features.”

The brochure, which showcases more than 50 holograms to inspire design and packaging innovators, was constructed of holographic film laminated to both sides of a paperboard cover stock. The film acts as a hinge at the folds and seals the stock, resulting in enhanced lay-flat properties and durability. Holography on the front is registered to print as well as to the holography on the back, without re-combine lines.

The poster/calendar demonstrates Hazen’s large-format holographic capability and compatibility with green objectives, digitally printed on transfer-metallized Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product that uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, none of the film, and is recyclable as paper. Film-free Envirofoil’s ultra-thin metallized layer also delivers exceptional lay-flat results on this oversized piece.

The IHMA, a nonprofit organization registered in the United Kingdom, promotes the cooperation of over 100 of the world’s foremost holographic companies to maintain the highest professional, security, and quality standards in support of its customers. IHMA members, who are scrupulously vetted, adhere to a “strict code of practice governing standards, business ethics, customer service, respect for and protection of customers’ and each others’ intellectual property.” In 2016, the IHMA presented Hazen President John Hazen with the Brian Monaghan Award for Business Innovation. Hazen Paper has been a member of the IHMA since 2005.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Last week, American International College (AIC) launched Rex’s Pantry, a food and necessities pantry housed on the AIC campus to assist community members in need.

On Dec. 22, the inaugural deliveries took place, with 100 Rex to the Rescue kits going to Friends of the Homeless on Worthington Street. The kits contained an assortment of hats, socks, gloves, and foot and hand warmers. Later, AIC personnel delivered 100 Rex to the Rescue kits to the Springfield Rescue Mission, containing boxed lunches, bottled water, snacks, and non-perishable food items.

“This time of year is celebratory for many, but we cannot forget those who are homeless or who struggle with food insecurity on a daily basis. While American International College reaches out to the community in many ways throughout the year, Rex’s Pantry is an opportunity for us to do more to help those in need of assistance,” said Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Jeffrey Bednarz.

Later that day, AIC staff members stopped by Springfield Fire Department Station 8 and the Springfield Police Department with trays of lasagna in gratitude for first responders’ dedicated service to the college.

The donations are a collaborative effort at AIC. Food was prepared by Chartwells Dining Services for Higher Education, a division of Compass – USA Foodservice. C&W Services and G4S, in charge of facilities and campus security, respectively, at the college, donated hats, socks, gloves, and warmers. The AIC Campus Bookstore provided backpacks to hold the contents of the Rex to the Rescue kits.

Community members interested in donating non-perishable food items, toiletries, or other necessities to Rex’s Pantry are invited to call (413) 205-3231.

Insurance Sections

Avoiding the Winter Blues

policysecartWinter weather brings a host of insurance risks to homes and businesses, from ice dams wreaking havoc on a building’s interior to frozen and burst pipes causing serious water damage, to liability issues if someone falls on the ice on the front sidewalk. Insurance policies help protect property owners against exposure to such events, but just as important are common-sense preparations to minimize such risks in the first place.

John Dowd Jr. remembers 2011 well. That’s the year that brought Western Mass. a tornado in June, a tropical storm in August, and the out-of-nowhere snowstorm in late October. It was, in short, a rough year for insurance claims.

But the first rush of claims arrived in February, recalled Dowd, president and CEO of the Dowd Insurance Agencies in Holyoke. That was when a constant barrage of snows and thaws built up ice dams along countless homeowners’ rooflines, many breaking through the walls and dousing the interior with water.

“Ice dams are nothing new; it’s the confluence between snowfall and warming temperatures that create the backup,” he said. “That year, it was especially bad, coming after heavy snowfalls and creating enormous claims. People had situations where water was literally pouring into their living room.”

That’s especially true of older homes, he added, as many newer houses are built in a way that minimizes the flow of warm air into the cracks that fosters the growth of ice dams. However, while the damming phenomenon is nothing new, what has changed is insurance companies’ tolerance for paying for the damages, he went on.

“There’s a national database of claims histories that insurance companies can access. If you’ve had claims, they ask you what steps you’ve taken to keep this from happening again,” Dowd explained, citing options from professionally installed electrical wiring on the roof to plastic panels designed to prevent dams from forming. “And if you haven’t taken those steps, in some cases, insurance companies are not going to insure you.”

While some of those remedies, like the wiring, aren’t cheap, he added, no one wants to go through an ice-dam experience — not the insurance company, and certainly not the homeowner, who must grapple with interior damage and loss, and perhaps mold issues down the line.

David Matosky, operations director at First American Insurance in Chicopee, noted that standard homeowners’ insurance typically covers damage to a structure as a result of an ice dam, but will not cover the expenses to eliminate or prevent the root cause of the ice dam. It also will not cover water damage to the contents of the structure as a result of the dam, though customers can check with their agent to see if they can add such coverage.

David Matosky

David Matosky says home and business owners can avoid winter-related claims by taking some strategic steps.

And it’s a growing concern at a time when the climate seems to be changing — check out all the leaves still on trees a week into December — and temperatures that fluctuate between freezing and balmy. Those kinds of conditions with snow mixed in are fertile ground for ice dams. “That’s when you get big problems,” Dowd said, “so it’s smart to invest in some kind of protection.”

In fact, ice dams are far from the only winter hazard that concerns homeowners, business owners, and insurance companies alike. And, like the dams, most of those hazards can be anticipated, and steps taken to minimize the risk well in advance.

“Make sure your attic is properly insulated,” Matosky said. “Take the time now to buy a shovel and roof rake, not after you’ve gotten 15 inches of snow. And you have to be consistent and clean snow from the roof on a regular basis, as long as it’s safe — we don’t recommend people going up on a two-story house to clear snow, so maybe bring in a professional who knows how to do it. If you have damaged singles on the roof or the drip guards are in need of repair, take care of that now, before the snow starts falling.”

After all, insurance professionals say, buying coverage is just one element in protecting one’s assets from seasonal damage; the other is simply common sense and preparation.

People Get Ready

Matosky noted that, while it’s good to have insurance, filing a claim is never an enjoyable experience.

“There’s a distinction between a loss and claim. A loss is when something bad happens; a claim is where you’re able to have the loss paid for,” he said. “In some events, you may have a loss but not have a claim, and you’re left holding the bag.”

That’s why the best way to prepare for winter events is to take the necessary steps to minimize the chances of a loss in the first place, he said. That means not only buying a roof rake before the snow season begins, but also maintaining and testing snow-blowing equipment before a blizzard kicks up. “One of the worst things is getting 12 inches of wet, heavy snow, and you go to start your snowblower, and it doesn’t start.”

Dowd’s agency recommends several steps to prepare for winter, advising clients to insulate the pipes in their crawlspaces and attic, as exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing, and to seal air leaks, not only to improve the home’s heat efficiency, but to protect the pipes. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze; and

Also, before winter hits, homeowners should disconnect garden hoses and use an indoor valve to shut off water to the outside, then drain water from outside faucets to reduce the chance it will freeze in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

Be Aware of
Indoor Risks, Too

With fires and space heaters for warmth, candles and holiday décor for ambiance, and more indoor cooking and entertaining, the risk for fires in homes increases exponentially in the colder months. The Dowd Insurance Agency in Holyoke offers these helpful tips to keep in mind:
• Be sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned regularly based on how much you use it, and ensure the flue is open before you light a fire.
• Candles should not be left to burn unattended, or within easy reach of children, pets and flammable materials like curtains and holiday decorations. The same goes for space heaters.
• Take care not to overload electrical outlets with holiday decorations or small appliances like space heaters.
• Do not leave items on the stove unattended, and keep towels and other flammable materials away from the cooktop.
• Be sure you have a fire extinguisher easily accessible in your home, and that you know how to use it.

Power loss after a storm is another hazard, which is why Dowd recommends people have a backup generator easily accessible, so they can at least run the heat, their refrigerator, and a few lights. He recalled the freak October 2011 snowstorm that felled trees and power lines throughout Western Mass. and knocked out power in some communities for extended periods.

“We had no lights, no heat for a week in my house, and I didn’t have a generator, so we just lived without power,” he told BusinessWest. “We felt like we were pioneers.”

Loss of power can also cause pipes to freeze up, which is especially dangerous for people who head down south for vacations during the winter. Fortunately, Dowd said, technology is available to alert people remotely when temperatures drop in their home. Even so, he added, it’s a good idea to shut off the water main before leaving for an extended time, so if power shuts off and the pipes freeze and break, the water damage in the home will be minimal.

Other holiday risks may not be so obvious, such as the possibility that thieves are scoping out houses that may be stocked with Christmas gifts. Dowd recommends shutting the curtains at dusk to prevent would-be burglars for scoping out what’s in the house, or using a timer for indoor lights while away so the house doesn’t look empty, or installing motion-sensor lights outdoors as a deterrent. Such a device, or, even better, a complete security system, may qualify for a discount on the homeowner’s insurance policy.

Staying Upright

While water and fires can cause tremendous damage in a home, there are other hazards that increase during the colder months as well. One of the most important is the liability risk from slips and falls on driveways and sidewalks that may not be completely cleared of ice and snow, or properly de-iced or sanded, after a weather event.

“That’s an issue for commercial properties as well as landlords and homeowners,” Matosky said. “Most towns have ordinances that you have to remove snow and ice from your sidewalk at the end of a storm.”

And that means keeping it off, both with additional shoveling or plowing as necessary and with ice-melting agents. “And if the commercial property is hiring someone to do the snow removal, they should make sure they have the correct coverage; if they don’t plow or shovel correctly, and someone falls, they need to make sure they have the coverage to respond to such a claim.”

Property owners with steeply pitched roofs often have to worry about snow constantly falling as the weather warms after a storm, and they could be liable if snow or ice falls on a passerby, so they need to take a combination of steps, from clearing snow regularly, if possible, to simply posting signs or barricades to keep people out of danger spots.

Meanwhile, with more homes and businesses installing solar panels on the roof these days, there’s also the danger of sheets of snow sliding off those panels onto the ground below.

A lot to think about? Sure, but planning ahead for the winter weather — and responding quickly after a storm — can go a long way toward avoiding the types of losses and claims that cause headaches for property owners and insurers alike.

“We’re conditioned in our business to think of the worst-case scenario — what could happen? — and then develop a disaster plan,” Dowd said. “These things probably won’t happen, but they may happen, and you want to do all you can to mitigate the damage.”

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

ACM International Travel Inc., 36 Ramah Circle North Suite 104, Agawam, MA 01001. Haibo Zheng, same. Tourism.

Holyoke

2017 Holyokemall-MA Inc., 50 Holyoke St., Holyoke, MA 01041. Harry C. Chen, 507 Whitney Ave., Apt. 4C, Holyoke, MA 01041. Restaurant.

Housatonic

Anderson Family Landscapes Inc., 7 Linda Lane, Housatonic, MA 01236. Robert S. Anderson, same. Landscaping services.

Greenfield

A & J Kitchen & Bath Design Inc., 235 Greenfield Road, Suite 5B, South Deerfield, MA 01373. Jesse J. Edwards, 84 Norwood St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Kitchen and bath design and installation, etc.

Leeds

A.B. Ashton Enterprises Inc., 90 Haydenville Road, Leeds, MA 01053. Amanda Ashton, 1 Bernache St., Leeds, MA 01053. Restaurant.

Northampton

Arch Dental Care, PC, 12 Center St., Northampton, MA 01060. Ranga N. Chirumamilla, 11 Blue Spruce Road, South Windsor, CT 06074. Dental services.

Springfield

AEB Foundation Inc., 233 Senator St., Springfield, MA 01129. Maria Sombe-Baraka, same. This corporation is established to form partnership with local communities in Tanzania to support schools in the area of academics, arts and athletics.

All Town Transportation Mass Corp., 58 Glen Ham St., Springfield, MA 01104. Buenavetura F. Guzman, same. Ambulette services.

West Springfield

Adams Express Inc., 49 Chester St., West Springfield, MA 01089. Anvar Bayramov, same. Long haul trucking business.

West Stockbridge

A-1 Security Inc., 26 Iron Mine Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266. Jeffrey A. Mason, same. Alarm and security systems.

Westfield

AG Express Inc., 50 Mechanic St., Westfield, MA 01085. Alexander Gribanov, same. Transportation services.

Daily News

DEWITT, N.Y. — Identity theft has always been a top consumer concern. However, with Equifax’s massive data breach earlier this year and Uber’s last month, discussion on the topic has spiked throughout American households.

December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month and aims to help consumers protect themselves against future data breaches and identity theft. While there is no bulletproof solution to identify theft, there are steps to take to ensure consumers are protecting themselves to the best of their ability.

Therefore, this December, Community Bank N.A. recommends taking a hard look at your personal security and following the steps below to help prevent identity theft:

• Shred non-critical documents. Shredding personal documents is crucial to protecting your identity against theft and fraud. Important documents to shred include financial statements, personal documents, credit-card offers, employee pay stubs, ATM receipts, and any items with a signature.

• Protect your personal information. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone unless you’ve initiated the contact or know whom you are dealing with. That includes phone calls, e-mails, and online contacts.

• Give your passwords a difficulty boost. Create hard-to-guess passwords that cannot be found in the dictionary, have at least eight characters, and include a mix of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters.

• Pay attention to your bills. Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit-card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit account and changed your address.

• Stay alert. Be cautious when using ATMs or your debit card at checkout — someone could be looking over your shoulder to steal your PIN number.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — At the fifth annual Cybersecurity Summit held recently at the Longmeadow campus of Bay Path University, keynote speaker and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) CEO Timothy Connelly told summit attendees that cybersecurity is a top issue for Gov. Charlie Baker and MassTech.

According to Connelly, MassTech is making cybersecurity a priority “because we recognize this is the fastest-growing sector. This is why we established the MassTech Cyber Growth and Development Center. Governor Charlie Baker thinks this is a terrific market that can produce sustainable jobs as long as we develop the needed talent.”

MassTech CEO Timothy Connelly and Bay Path President Carol Leary

MassTech CEO Timothy Connelly and Bay Path President Carol Leary

Connelly noted that there is currently a talent deficit in the field, with more than 8,000 available jobs in cybersecurity in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth is the number-one generator of STEM graduates nationally, and is home to 37 of the 500 most innovative security companies in the world, second only to California, he added.

MassTech is a public agency created to support the innovation economy in the Commonwealth and help support formation and growth of the state’s technology sector. Connelly is head of the newly established Cybersecurity Center at MassTech.

Other speakers at the summit included Tim Russell, supervisory special agent in Cybersecurity, FBI Boston; and Carol Leary, Bay Path president. This year’s summit was titled “Building a Cybersecurity Ecosystem: the Roles of Higher Education, Law Enforcement, and Technology.”

“It is critical for higher education to be a central part of this emerging cyber ecosystem,” said Leary, who serves as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Academic Advisory Council. “We are developing the right talent, the diverse talent needed to be a part of the cybersecurity workforce. To the students pursuing a cybersecurity career — you are the future, you are qualified, and we need you more than ever.”

Added Russell, “cybersecurity is a human-capital issue and is an entire company endeavor. All should be part of developing a cyber ecosystem. Engagement and collaboration with government and law enforcement is important in detection.”

The summit was co-sponsored by the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. According to Rick Sullivan, president and CEO, “The EDC is focused on growing our economy, and one of our greatest assets is higher education. We want to develop economic-development sectors that are new and cutting-edge. We can become a center of excellence in cybersecurity, and our colleges and universities can help us grow that sector. I want to thank Bay Path University for being the leader in the cybersecurity sector, and we are here to follow your lead.”

According to Thomas Loper, associate provost and dean of the School of Science and Management at Bay Path, the summit drew over 200 people, including professionals in the cybersecurity field; small-business owners; executives from financial-services, manufacturing, insurance, and healthcare organizations; and students, faculty, and staff from the region’s colleges.

Chamber Corners Departments

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

• Nov. 15: Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Security Supply, 50 Roberts Dr., North Adams. Remember to bring your business card to enter a drawing to win a door prize.

GREATER CHICOPEE
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101

• Nov. 15: Veterans Day Salute Breakfast with Stephanie Shaw, Chicopee’s new Veterans Services officer, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by the La Quinta Inn & Suites and Westfield Bank. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members, which includes breakfast buffet. Veterans are free. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.holyokechamber.com
(413) 534-3376

• Nov. 15: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted and sponsored by Elms College MBA Program, 129 Springfield St., Chicopee. A casual networking event with appetizers, refreshments, and a raffle. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Register online at holyokechamber.com or call the chamber at (413) 534-3376.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618

• Nov. 15: 57th annual Meeting & Awards Dinner, 5:30-8 p.m., hosted by East Mountain Country Club, 1458 East Mountain Road, Westfield. Congratulations to our Award Winners: Business of the Year: ProAmpac; Nonprofit of the Year, Kevs Foundation; and Lifetime Achievement Award: the Perez Family of East Mountain Country Club. Event sponsor: Baystate Noble Hospital. Cost: $50 for chamber members, $60 for potential members. Online registration is available at www.westfieldbiz.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available on the website as well. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, or additional information, contact Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618 or [email protected]

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER
www.springfieldregionalchamber.com
(413) 787.1555

• Nov. 16: Government Reception, 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Carriage House, Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. An opportunity to meet socially with local, state, and federal officials. Cost: $60 for members, $70 general admission. Res ervations may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.ourwrc.com
(413) 426-3880

• Nov. 16: Lunch N Learn Seminar – How to Promote your Business on Social Media, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by the Carriage House at Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy lunch while learning about the do’s and don’ts of promoting one’s business on social media, including best practices, target audience, boosting, and other aspects of promotion. Cost: $30 per member or guest. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information, contact the chamber at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]

Agenda Departments

Farmington Bank Food Drive for Gray House

Through Nov. 14: Farmington Bank is collecting non-perishable food items through Tuesday, Nov. 14 at its West Springfield and East Longmeadow branch offices. All collections will be donated in time for Thanksgiving to the Gray House Food Pantry, which is located in the north end of Springfield and serves 80 to 120 households per week. “Thanksgiving is an important time to show appreciation and give back to the communities in which we live and work,” said John Patrick Jr., chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “We invite the public to join our food-collection efforts to help our neighbors in need in West Springfield and East Longmeadow.” The public is invited to donate non-perishable food items at 85 Elm St. in West Springfield and 61 North Main St. in East Longmeadow. During the same time, all Farmington Bank locations in Connecticut are collecting food items for Hartford-based social-service agency Hands On Hartford.

Diabetes Wellness Fair

Nov. 15: Holyoke Medical Center will host a free Diabetes Wellness Fair from 3 to 7 p.m. in the HMC Auxiliary Conference Center. This event is free and open to the public. The fair will offer free blood-pressure checks, a type-2 diabetes risk test questionnaire, raffles, and more. Medical experts will be on hand to offer information on preventing diabetes-related complications, including skin, foot, dental, eye, and ear health. Demonstrations on exercise and food portion control will be presented and allow for hands-on participation. Pharmacists will be on hand to discuss medications available to treat diabetes. Private consultations for those with more in-depth questions about medications and how to manage their diabetes can be scheduled. These one-on-one, half-hour meetings will be by appointment only; call (413) 534-2789 to register. In conjunction with the Diabetes Wellness Fair, a free flu clinic will also be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Registration for flu shots is required by calling (413) 534-2533. Complimentary valet parking will be available. HMC also offers regular transportation services throughout Holyoke, Chicopee, and South Hadley, which will be available for a portion of the fair. To inquire about and arrange transportation, call HMC Transportation Services at (413) 534-2607.

Undergraduate Open House at WNEU

Nov. 12: Western New England University will host high-school and college students and their parents at an open house from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the St. Germain Campus Center. Guests will have the chance to tour the campus and residence halls, meet current students, get a general overview of the admissions and financial-aid process, and have academic questions answered by members of the faculty. The day concludes with an exhibit where students can gather more information on student clubs and activities, honors programs, and athletic opportunities at both the NCAA and intramural levels, as well as hear from the Career Development Center regarding the varied internship and career opportunities Western New England University students are receiving. The event is free, but advance reservation is requested. To register, call (413) 782-1312 or (800) 325-1122, ext. 1312, or visit wne.edu/openhouse. Prospective students interested in learning more about careers in sport management or social work are invited to specialized information sessions during the open house. The Career in Sport Management Panel is open to prospective students at all levels who want to learn more about the program’s outcomes. The panel will include Sharianne Walker, chair of the Sport Management program, and several professional leaders in sport management, including Ethan Lang, director of Operations for the XL Center and Pratt and Whitney Field; Chelsea Johnson, director of Educational Programs, Basketball Hall of Fame; and WNEU alum Laura Madaio, marketing manager at Athletes of Valor. Also on the panel is senior Tim Smith, president of the Sport Management Assoc., who works for the Springfield Thunderbirds as a gameday operations coordinator and recently completed an internship with the Travelers Golf Tournament, and recent graduates who will share how Western New England University’s Sport Management program helped them to break into the field. Western New England University is one of only three programs in the country with both the Commission on Sport Management accreditation and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation. The Social Work Luncheon is open to prospective students at all levels who want to have a chance to meet with a small group of faculty members, current students, and alumni of the Social Work program, and to discover more about the program’s accreditation, including the opportunity to complete four internships in four years. This luncheon is open to all students and families who want to learn more about the field of social work and the benefits of the WNEU program. The Council on Social Work Education has awarded its highest marks to the Western New England University Social Work program. This accreditation qualifies students to apply for advanced standing in master of social work programs to earn their master’s degree in one year, rather than two. “We are in a time in our nation where there is a lot of focus on the state of higher education, and for good reason. We know that families are not only looking for a quality academic experience, but expect a clear return on investment,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “With so much national attention on the rising cost of college, the fact that Western New England University opened the fall 2017 semester with its largest undergraduate class in university history demonstrates our clear commitment to providing value to our students. Our student outcomes are impressive, and both students and employers are taking notice that we are a university with a unique focus on student success. The undergraduate open house is the perfect opportunity to tour our beautiful campus, meet with members of our faculty, [and] ask questions to current students.”

Girls on the Run 5K

Nov. 19: Girls on the Run of Western Massachusetts will host a 5K celebration at 10:30 a.m. at Smith College. Girls on the Run is a positive youth-development program that uses physical activities, fun running games, and dynamic discussions to teach life skills to girls in third to eighth grade. During the 10-week program, girls participate in lessons that foster confidence, build peer connections, and encourage community service while they prepare for an end-of-season celebratory 5k event. Participation in the 5K event on Nov. 19 is open to the public. The program boasts about 400 girls and 120 volunteer coaches this season, and more than 1,200 participants are expected. The registration cost is $20 for adults and $12 for children and includes a GOTR 5K event shirt. After a group warm-up and remarks from Smith College President Kathleen McCartney, the event will begin on the Smith College athletic fields. Registration is open at www.girlsontherunwesternma.org. Registration on the day of the event will begin at 8:30 a.m. The run will begin at 10:30 am, but the opening festivities will begin at 10 a.m. Early arrival is suggested. Visit the website for more information about the event, how to register, and volunteer opportunities.

Lawyer on the Line

Nov. 20: The Hampden County Bar Assoc., in conjunction with WGGB, will hold a Lawyer on the Line event from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The volunteers will provide legal advice on a variety of topics from callers during the evening news broadcast. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 846-0240 to speak to a volunteer. Founded in 1864, the Hampden County Bar Assoc. is a nonprofit organization representing the interests of lawyers, the justice system, and the public in Hampden County. It provides professional support, education, and networking opportunities to its members, and advocacy on behalf of lawyers, the judiciary, and the public.

Baystate Bloodmobile

Nov. 22: Celebrate the season of Thanksgiving by donating blood as part of your plan before the holiday weekend. The community is invited to join a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Baystate Mary Lane on the Baystate Health bloodmobile. The bloodmobile will be parked in the north (visitors) parking lot, located at 85 South St. in Ware. “Please help us to ensure a safe and adequate blood supply is available by donating blood with the Baystate Health Blood Donor Program,” said Deb Oberg, co-coordinator of the blood drive, which is sponsored by Country Bank and Baystate Mary Lane. “One donation helps to save two lives, and 100% of all blood collected on the bloodmobile stays in our community for use in Baystate Health hospitals and facilities.” Blood donations take approximately one hour to complete, including the interview, donation, and refreshments. Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, have a photo ID, be in good health (no colds or sore throat), and not have donated blood within the past eight weeks. All eligible donors will receive their choice of a gift card. For more information or to book an appointment, call (413) 967-2180. Walk-ins are welcome.

Babysitters Academy

Dec. 2: Baystate Medical Center will hold a Babysitters Academy to prepare area youth for their babysitting responsibilities. The one-day program will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the BRL Conference Room at the Baystate Health Education Center, 361 Whitney Ave., Holyoke. Participants should bring their lunch. Babysitters Academy is a certified babysitter program for young adults ages 11½ to 15. The session offers potential babysitters instruction in baby care, first aid, CPR, fire safety, home security, child behavior, and accident prevention. Participants will also receive a course booklet containing helpful tips and other information, as well as a graduation certificate upon completion of the course. The program, offered by the Parent Education Department at Baystate Medical Center, costs $75. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required. To register, visit baystatehealth.org/parented.

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.

FRANKLIN SUPERIOR COURT
Kevin v. Chickering v. City Tire Co. Inc. d/b/a Lodge Tire Co. and John Doe
Allegation: Motor-vehicle negligence causing injury: $105,822.54
Filed: 9/21/17

HAMPDEN DISTRICT COURT
Bob Pion Buick-GMC Inc. v. Daigle’s Truckmaster Inc.
Allegation: Failure to pay for vehicle repairs: $9,619.23
Filed: 9/29/17

HAMPDEN SUPERIOR COURT
Leah LaRock and Sarah Chartier v. Mardi Gras Entertainment Inc. and Anthony Santaniello, individually
Allegation: Breach of employment contract: $1,000,000+
Filed: 10/2/17

Dontay Hall v. Marc L. Nierman, M.D.
Allegation: Medical malpractice, wrongful death: $101,400
Filed: 10/2/17

Emilio Hernandez v. Pyramid Management Group, LLC; Holyoke Mall Co., LP; Fahad Alsadoon; and Sarah Ali
Allegation: Negligence, escalator suddenly stopped, causing injury: $41,371.54
Filed: 10/3/17

Desert Aire, LLC f/k/a Desert Aire Corp. v. Sage Engineering & Contracting, Wojtkowski Bros. Inc., and Khem Organics Inc.
Allegation: Breach of contract/mechanic’s lien: $39,338.62
Filed: 10/4/17

Matthew Buchberg v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp.
Allegation: Negligence causing injury on roller coaster: $40,866.79
Filed: 10/5/17

Geraldine DePretto v. Sears Roebuck & Co. and Pyramid Management Group
Allegation: Negligence, trip and fall causing injury: $24,055.03
Filed: 10/10/17

Peter M. Phillips v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp. d.b.a Stryker Orthopaedics
Allegation: Product liability: $2,500,000
Filed: 10/11/17

HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Thomas Mulrooney v. Whole Foods Market and WS Asset Management
Allegation: Negligence, slip and fall causing injury: $48,000+
Filed: 10/3/17

Lalla Orman v. Cumulus Media Inc.; Atwood Drive, LLC; Securitas Security Services USA; Amherst Development Associates, LLC d/b/a Hampshire Hospitality Group; and Oldway Leasing
Allegation: Negligence, fall in unlit area causing injury and property damage: $96,000
Filed: 10/12/17

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — The 5th Annual Cybersecurity Summit will be conducted on the Longmeadow campus of Bay Path University on Nov. 9. This free event will start with a networking continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m., followed by an open lecture and panel to begin at 8 a.m. Speakers include:

  • Timothy Connelly, executive director and CEO of the Mass. Technology Collaborative including the new Cybersecurity Growth and Development Center;
  • Tim Russell, Supervisory Special Agent in Cybersecurity, FBI / Boston; and
  • Dr. Carol Leary, president of Bay Path University, member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council.

This year’s summit will be Building a Cybersecurity Ecosystem: the Roles of Higher Education, Law Enforcement, and Technology. Today, cyber attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. From the most recent, Equifax, to Dyn and Yahoo, these incidents not only impact a company’s bottom line and integrity, but also reach down to the consumer level compromising personal information and security.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is taking the lead in fighting cyber attacks and crime through the Cybersecurity Growth and Development Center. The center works with the private sector to provide business development support, helps existing cybersecurity firms grow in Massachusetts, oversees programs to increase the cybersecurity talent pipeline in the state, and collaborates with businesses to help inform the state’s cybersecurity strategy. The open lecture / panel will elaborate and discuss these goals, current issues in cybersecurity, and focus on the tremendous need for cyber professionals.

“When Gov. Charlie Baker announced the new Massachusetts cybersecurity center at MassTech, he pointed to the Commonwealth’s global leadership in this sector, but also noted that we can do more when it comes to developing our cyber workforce and realizing the full potential of our cybersecurity ecosystem,” said Connelly. “Bay Path’s forum will be an important opportunity for us to engage with and gain feedback from cybersecurity thought leaders from across the region on how best to develop these new efforts.”

For more information or to register, visit: www.baypath.edu/cybersummit.

Employment Sections

Hire Degree of Difficulty

groupsilhouetteart

The region’s staffing industry has always been a solid barometer of the overall economy, and that is certainly true in this economy. Firms report that demand for qualified workers is high, and the pool of talent is small and in some respects shrinking. Meeting the demands of various sectors, firm owners and managers say, requires a mix of persistence, imagination, and, well, hard work.

Andrea Hill-Cataldo calls it the ‘Perm Division.’

That’s ‘perm,’ as in permanent-hire, or direct-hire, work. The venture she founded nearly 20 years ago, Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, has always provided such services. But they didn’t comprise a division of the company, and there weren’t staff members dedicated directly to them.

Until recently.

Indeed, the Perm Division is now staffed, and it is quite busy, said Hill-Cataldo, helping companies secure everything from administrative assistants to CFOs and CEOs. And it’s busy for several reasons.

They include the fact that many businesses, bolstered by a prolonged recovery that shows few if any signs of slowing down and challenged by everything from retiring Baby Boomers to on-the-move Millennials, are hiring. And also the fact that many of them need some help with that hiring.

“When businesses aren’t sure what they want to do, they might go temp or temp-to-hire, or they might just wait and see,” Hill-Cataldo explained, noting that the third option involves trying to get by without filling a vacancy. “But when they’re hiring on a permanent basis right off the bat, they’re pretty confident, and they know they need that position filled.”

The creation and consistent growth of Johnson & Hill’s Perm Division — and the reasons for both — are clear examples of how the staffing industry, as it’s called, is an effective economic indicator in its own right, and also how its operations essentially reflect, as a mirror would, what is happening with the local economy.

Andrea Hill-Cataldo

Andrea Hill-Cataldo says her company is meeting client clients and creating effective matches — but it is has never had to work harder to do so.

Discussions with Hill-Cataldo and others in this sector reveal that they are busy virtually across the board, meaning nearly all sectors of the economy; that they are handling increasing volumes of work in temp-to-hire and permanent hiring scenarios; and that they are becoming increasingly challenged when it comes to meeting the needs of their clients for qualified, motivated workers.

“Our work becomes more difficult as the pool of candidates gets smaller,” said Jennifer Brown, a certified staffing professional and vice president of Business Development at Springfield-based United Personnel, noting that, despite these challenges, the firm is meeting growing client needs across two main divisions — manufacturing and ‘professional’ positions.

All these developments reflect what is happening regionally, where companies are reasonably confident, need qualified help, and are having trouble finding it. And also where workers are equally confident, not shy about moving on to different challenges seemingly every few years, and are doing so in huge numbers, leaving their employers with the task of somehow replacing them, a situation that will certainly be exacerbated as MGM Springfield goes about filling roughly 3,000 positions over the next 10 months or so.

They also reflect the unemployment numbers and what’s behind them. This area’s jobless rate is higher than the state’s and the nation’s, which might sound beneficial for staffing agencies. But observers say it’s higher for a reason — most of those out of work lack many of the skills (technical and ‘people’ skills alike) to attain work.

The mirror-like quality of the staffing industry even extends to the broad realm of technology.

Jackie Fallon, president of Springfield-based FIT Staffing, which specializes in finding IT personnel for clients large and small, said a growing number of clients want and often desperately need individuals to collect and mine data, keep their systems safe from hackers, and enable computers (and therefore people) to continue working.

But in addition to now knowing how to find and evaluate good candidates (one big reason FIT is extremely busy these days), they are often surprised by and put off by the sticker price of such qualified individuals. They often want help at lower wages than what the market is often dictating, thereby adding a degree of difficulty to the search process.

“Think about a small manufacturer,” said Fallon while offering an example of what she’s running into. “Someone running a plant doesn’t want to pay an IT guy more than he or she is paying the plant manager. But that’s what the market is like out there; that’s what people are getting, and it’s creating challenges for companies.”

For this issue and its focus on employment, BusinessWest talked at length with several staffing-agency executives about what they’re seeing, hearing, and doing, and how all of that reflects the bigger picture that is the region’s economy.

Getting the Job Done

Hill-Cataldo was asked about how challenging it is to meet the needs of various clients and whether she was, in fact, able to keep up with demand. And with her answer, she probably spoke for not only everyone in her specific sector, but almost every business owner in Western Mass.

“It’s much more challenging to find qualified candidates than it probably ever has been, and I’ve been doing it for 25 years,” she explained. “We’ve never had to work this hard to get the right people; we’re getting them, but we’re just putting tremendous amounts of resources into doing that, and more hours. We have to work very hard.”

Jackie Fallon

Jackie Fallon says the need for data and security specialists continues to soar, making her company extremely busy.

Brown and Fallon used similar language, by and large, and collectively, their words speak volumes about the employment situation and this particular cycle that the region and its staffing agencies find themselves in.

And like all businesses, staffing firms see life change considerably with those cycles.

When times are worse, or much worse, as they were during and just after the Great Recession a decade ago, there are large numbers of skilled people looking for work. The problem is, there isn’t much of it to be had as companies, out of necessity, make do with fewer bodies.

During such cycles, more hiring is done on both a temporary and temp-to-hire basis (providing some work for agencies) because companies generally lack the confidence to bring people on permanently.

When times are better, of course, the situation is reversed. There are more positions to fill as companies staff back up, but fewer qualified individuals to fill them. There are still large amounts of temp-to-hire work because companies generally want to try before they buy (and with good reason), but also considerably more permanent hiring, hence Johnson & Hill’s Perm Division.

If it sounds like there are no easy times for staffing agencies, that’s about how it is, although these would obviously be considered better times, or even, for some, the best of times.

“Technology is always in high demand because everyone needs it,” said Fallon. “We’re really busy; we had our best year ever last year, and this year, we’re continuing that trend.”

Both United and Johnson & Hill are also having a very solid year, continuing a recent run of them, and for a variety of reasons that have to do with the economy and a changing environment when it comes to the process of hiring.

Elaborating, Hill said busy managers often lack the time to recruit and interview candidates. Meanwhile, others aren’t fully up on the methods required to reach younger audiences and assemble a strong pool of candidates. Thus, they’re leaving it to the experts.

“The way companies recruit now has become so complex that, if you don’t need to hire on a large scale, you don’t have the time to invest in social-media campaigns and all the things you need to do to build that pipeline of people coming into your organization,” she explained. “That’s what we do all day; we’re building a pipeline of people for the positions we need to fill. That makes it cost-effective for us, and far less so for small companies that can just offload the whole process.”

Brown agreed, and said this helps explain why United’s Professional Division, as it’s called, is quite busy. But there are other factors, and they include the fact that, in most all respects, the market has shifted in favor of the employees and job seekers, who, like employers, have large amounts of confidence.

“With this economy, there are opportunities,” she explained. “People aren’t fearful about moving from one company to another, whether they want to enhance their skill set to get ready for the next step or relocate, or just earn more money.”

Meanwhile, larger numbers of Baby Boomers are making the decision to retire, leaving companies with the often-challenging task of replacing long-time, valued employees.

Pipeline Projects

In this environment, where agencies have to commit more time, energy, and financial resources to the task of creating solid matches (that’s the operative word in this industry), staffing work requires persistence, resourcefulness, imagination, and often working with partners to help individuals gain the skills needed to enter the workplace and succeed there.

“Before, it might take a few days to find someone; now, it might take a few weeks,” said Hill-Cataldo, as she addressed that persistence part of the equation. “Searches are more difficult and time-consuming.”

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown says the key to making successful matches is to fully understand a company’s culture, and finding individuals who can thrive in that environment.

Brown agreed, but stressed that, while the work is harder and it takes longer, there can be no shortcuts, because a firm can only succeed in this business if client needs are met — that is, if successful matches can be made.

And one key to accomplishing this is understanding not only a firm’s needs, but its culture, and then essentially working in partnership with the client to create what all parties concerned would consider a proverbial good hire.

“We need to make sure that the candidate we’re seeking aligns with what the client is looking to fulfill with the position,” Brown told BusinessWest, adding that this often goes beyond expected technical skill sets and into the realms of teamwork and company culture.

And with both sides of that equation, United is devoting time and resources to many forms of workforce development to help provide candidates with needed skills, she said.

As an example, she said the firm works with Goodwill Industries to present a training program to assist individuals with acquiring the essential skills to succeed in the workplace today.

“We need to make sure that the candidate’s character aligns with what the company is looking for, but also their competency as well,” she explained, adding that this is both an art and a science.

All of these traits are also needed within the broad spectrum of technology, said Fallon, adding that this has proven to be a lucrative, yet still challenging niche for the agency because, as she noted, technology is a critical component in every company’s success quotient, and also because the needs within this realm continue to grow.

This is especially true on the data side of the equation, as evidenced by growing use of the acronym DBA, which still stands for ‘doing business as,’ but increasingly, it also stands for ‘database administrator.’

“These are individuals in high demand,” said Fallon. “Data is a company’s goldmine; they need to protect it, and they need to make sure it’s running smoothly.”

Likewise, system security specialists are in equally high demand, said Fallon, adding that such professionals can and usually do demand a six-figure salary, a number that causes sticker shock in this region, which further complicates that aforementioned process of creating solid matches for both temp-to-hire and, increasingly, permanent-hire scenarios.

Matters are even further complicated by the fact that, increasingly, IT specialists can work remotely, which makes competition for them regional if not national or even international in scope.

“Someone can live here, work for a company in Boston, and maybe go into Boston once a week or maybe even less,” she explained, adding that firms in urban areas not only understand this, but they are generally less intimidated by the salaries such individuals are commanding.

The lesson companies can take from this is to be flexible and, when possible, allow people to work remotely, said Fallon, adding that, for various reasons, including an unwillingness, or inability, to meet those six-figure salaries, FIT has to cast an extremely wide net in its efforts to make matches.

“It’s easier for us to find someone from the Midwest to come here than it is someone from Boston — unless they were originally from this area,” she explained. “There’s more opportunity in Boston and places like it; if something doesn’t work out, they can walk down the street and find something else.”

Body of Work

While there are opportunities for staffing agencies during virtually all economic cycles, it is times like these when firms are particularly busy and when, like FIT, they are likely to record that proverbial ‘best year ever.’

But, as Hill-Cataldo noted, the rewards don’t come easy, and firms like hers must work harder than ever to not only meet the needs of clients, but exceed them.

In this respect, and many others, the staffing industry is reflecting the bigger picture and the economy of this region.

In other words, it’s a work in progress — in all kinds of ways.

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

Chamber Corners Departments

1BERKSHIRE

www.1berkshire.com

(413) 499-1600

• Nov. 1: BYP Fall Extravaganza, 5:30-7:30 p.m., hosted by Hilltop Orchards, 508 Canaan Road, Richmond. Join Berkshire Young Professionals at Hilltop Orchards, home of Furnace Brook Winery, for a fall get-together. Wear flannel and boots and enjoy music, hikes into the orchards, wine tastings, Johnny Mash cider beverages, cheese plates, cider donuts, and apples galore.

• Nov. 15: Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Security Supply, 50 Roberts Dr., North Adams. Remember to bring your business card to enter a drawing to win a door prize.

GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.chicopeechamber.org

(413) 594-2101

• Oct. 18: Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Salute Breakfast with Kay Simpson of the Springfield Museums, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Collegian Court, 89 Park St., Chicopee. Sponsored by the Arbor Kids and Westfield Bank. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members, including breakfast buffet. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

• Oct. 19: Oktoberfest Collaborative Event with Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Munich Haus Biergarten, 13 Center St., Chicopee. Free to YPS and chamber members. Call (413) 594-2101 for more information.

• Oct. 26: Lunch & Learn: New Marijuana Legislation, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Residence Inn, 500 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by the Greater Chicopee Chamber and Residence Inn of Springfield/Chicopee. Cost: $30 for members, $35 for non-members, including lunch. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.easthamptonchamber.org

(413) 527-9414

• Oct. 25: The Hampshire County Tourism Council will launch its new tourism guide at Northampton Country Club, 135 Main St., Leeds, 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.

• Nov. 1: Hampshire County Business Bash, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Lord Jeff Inn, 30 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. This event, a partnership of the chambers of commerce of Easthampton, Amherst, and Northampton, is sponsored by Duseau Trucking and the Lord Jeff Inn. It offers members a unique opportunity to showcase their business to a regional audience. For more information, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org, or call the chamber office at (413) 527-9414.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.holyokechamber.com

(413) 534-3376

• Oct. 18: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted and sponsored by Westfield Bank, 1642 Northampton St., Holyoke. Business networking event. Refreshments, 50/50 raffle, and door prizes. Cost: $10 members, $15 for guests. Call the chamber at (413) 534-3376 to register, or sign up at holyokechamber.com.

• Oct. 25: Holyoke Chamber Business Person of the Year/Volunteer of the Year Award Dinner, 6 p.m, hosted by Delaney House, Country Club Way, Holyoke. Social hour 6-7 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. A celebratory dinner honoring the 2017 Business Persons of the Year: Michael Hamel, owner of Hamel’s Creative Catering and the Summit View Banquet and Meeting House, and the Henry A. Fifield Volunteer of the Year, Harry Montalvo, Community Development specialist at bankESB. Cost: $65. Register online at holyokechamber.com, or call the chamber at (413) 534-3376.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.explorenorthampton.com

(413) 584-1900

• Oct. 19: “Microsoft Excel: Tips, Tricks, & Shortcuts,” 9-11 a.m., presented by Pioneer Training, hosted by Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. This workshop will present tips, tricks, and shortcuts that we have collected and developed over 20 years of teaching and using Microsoft Excel. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops and follow along with the instructor, but this is not required. Pre-registration is required, and space is limited. Cost: $35 for members, $45 for non-members. To register, visit goo.gl/forms/My7lF9Xk1aB7xg0Q2.

• Oct. 24: Start Your Business, 9 a.m. to noon, at TD Bank, 175 Main St., Northampton. Presented by SCORE of Western MA. This three-hour workshop will help you clearly understand the details, challenges, opportunities, and rewards of owning and operating your own business. This workshop is a suggested prerequisite to our Business Planning Workshop. Cost: $25. RSVP, as space is limited. To register online, visit westernmassachusetts.score.org/content/take-workshop-38.

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

(413) 787.1555

Oct. 27: Super 60, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. The 28th annual Super 60 awards luncheon celebrates the success of the fastest-growing privately owned businesses in the region. Cost: $60 for members in advance, $75 for non-members. Reservations for all Chamber events may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com.

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.ourwrc.com

(413) 426-3880

• Oct. 19: Networking Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Cal’s Woodfired Grill, West Springfield. Must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Enjoy a sit-down lunch while networking with fellow chamber members. Each attendee will get a chance to offer a brief sales pitch. The only cost to attend is the cost of your lunch. Attendees will order off the menu and pay separately that day. We cannot invoice you for these events. Register online at [email protected]

• Oct. 25: Food Fest West, 5:30-8 p.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, West Springfield. Local restaurants show off their cuisine at this well-attended event. Vote for your favorite restaurant or enjoy a cigar on the patio of Springfield Country Club. A DJ, raffle, and entertainment round out this event. Proceeds raised by Food Fest West will go toward the Partnership for Education and the WRC Educational Fund, which provides grants to businesses for on-the-job training and continuing-education needs. Cost: $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online by visiting www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information about this event, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

• Nov. 8: Multi Chamber Night of Networking & Open House, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Burnett Road, Chicopee. Join us for an evening of networking with the Springfield Regional Chamber as we welcome our newest member to the community, Mercedes-Benz. Cost: $10 for members. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information, call the chamber at (413) 426-3880.

• Nov. 16: Lunch N Learn Seminar – How to Promote your Business on Social Media, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by the Carriage House at Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy lunch while learning about the do’s and don’ts of promoting one’s business on social media, including best practices, target audience, boosting, and other aspects of promotion. Cost: $30 per member or guest. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information, contact the chamber at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD

www.springfieldyps.com

• Oct. 18: Professional Breakfast Series: “The EQ Exchange,” 7:30-9 a.m, hosted by the Colony Club in Tower Square, Springfield. Use emotional intelligence to manage your boss. Cost: free for members, $15 for non-members.

• Oct. 19: Oktoberfest Third Thursday with Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Munich Haus. Join us for live music, light appetizers, and networking. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members.

Daily News

WILBRAHAM — To raise money for the American Institute for Cancer Research, PROSHRED Security will hold a “Shred Cancer” event at the Scantic Valley YMCA Branch at 45 Post Office Park, Wilbraham, on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The suggested donation in exchange for shredding is $5, with all proceeds benefiting the American Institute for Cancer Research. PROSHRED will also match a portion of all donations.

Anyone is welcome to bring paper, file folders, hanging files, notepads, envelopes, CDs, and DVDs they need destroyed in a secure manner. Shredding trucks will be parked in designated areas to collect and destroy the unwanted confidential documents. Attendees can also enjoy free food, and children can view a fire truck provided by the Wilbraham Fire Department.

PROSHRED Springfield is located at 75 Post Office Park in Wilbraham and offers mobile shredding services anywhere in Massachusetts. Led by President and CEO Joe Kelly, PROSHRED Springfield specializes in the secure destruction of confidential and sensitive documents, computer hard drives, and electronic media.

PROSHRED has hosted similar “Shred Cancer” events across the country. For more information about the event, visit www.proshred.com/springfield/events/shred-cancer-event.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Stephen Duval, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., recently announced he has moved his practice to a new location at 551 Newton St. and changed its name to Summit House Wealth Partners. Duval has also expanded his team of financial advisors by one.

A certified financial planner, Duval moved his office in June from 130 College St., and colleague Justin Osowiecki, a financial advisor, made the transition with him. At the same time, Duval partnered with Edward Boscher, who is also now serving clients as a Summit House Wealth Partners financial advisor.

The team will hold an open house for the public at the new Newton Street office on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m.

Duval holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass in business administration and is a graduate of the College for Financial Planning. He has been with Ameriprise for 25 years. Boscher is also a certified financial planner and a certified investment management analyst. He has spent much of his career working with Voya Investment Management out of its Windsor, Conn. office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

Boscher made the transition to Summit House Wealth Partners, he said, “to put my 23-plus years of asset-management experience to work for people around here, because I live here.”

Duval’s practice is an Ameriprise Financial franchise. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. offers financial-advisory services, investments, insurance, and annuity products. For more information, or for details on upcoming workshops — on topics ranging from Social Security to identify theft to retirement planning — call (413) 540-0196.

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank will host a complimentary workshop titled “Small-business Retirement Plans” on Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the bank’s corporate office, 107A Main St., Monson. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

The workshop will be presented by Phil Hahn, regional vice president of Security Benefit. Through a combination of innovative products, strong investment management, and a unique distribution strategy, Security Benefit has become a leader in the U.S. retirement market. Attendees will learn what the state of the retirement plan market is, defined benefit versus defined contribution, the many different types of plans, and much more.

“We are very pleased to be offering this free workshop,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings Bank. “Owning your own business and making the right retirement-plan choices for you and your employees can be a daunting process. This workshop will help you understand the many different plans, describe the different benefits, and address your questions and concerns.”

Seating is limited, and reservations are required. To RSVP, call Anna Calvanese at (413) 267-1221 or e-mail [email protected].

Building Permits Departments

The following building permits were issued during the month of August 2017.

AGAWAM

Hillside Development Corp.
198-202 South Westfield St.
$8,000 — Install two attached building signs

AMHERST

Good Old Dave’s, LLC
241 Sunset Ave.
$5,000 — Connect breezeway to full bath and laundry area

Hampshire College
West Street
$7,000 — Build two storage rooms

Town of Amherst
70 Boltwood Walk
$113,729 — Renovate four bathrooms

CHICOPEE

Meg Realty, LLC
199 Broadway
$6,750 — Lay over rubber roof

Urzula Nominee Trust
474 Springfield St.
$3,500 — Add two restroom stalls

EASTHAMPTON

Autumn Properties, LLC
184 Northampton St.
$400,000 — Construct mixed-use, three-story building

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$7,500 — Install spiral duct system

Orchard View Elderly Housing Inc.
108 Everett St.
$1,000 — Build out interior space for office

Williston Northampton School
81 Park St.
$2,900 — Relocate wall to expand hallway, install new door, reconfigure two dorm rooms to apartment space

EAST LONGMEADOW

Secure Energy
515 Shaker Road
$6,000 — Fire alarm

United Methodist Church
215 Somers Road
$2,000 — Handicap ramp

HADLEY

Common Media
84 Russell St.
$1,800 — Alter ground sign

First Congregational Church
102 Middle St.
$10,000 — Install exhaust hood and related equipment

Hartsbrook School
193 Bay Road
$3,400 — New office space

Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School
317 Russell St.
$103,668 — Classroom divisions, metal framing, doors, door frames, hardware, paint, cabinetry, sinks

Pyramid Mall of Hadley Newco, LLC
367 Russell St.
$203,796 — Replace roof above new Planet Fitness

LONGMEADOW

Michael Crowley
21 Dwight Road
$29,737 — Foundation for new, two-story medical office building

LUDLOW

Black Diamond Development
487 Holyoke St.
$225,000 — New commercial construction

Citizens Bank
33 Center St.
$72,000 — Commercial alterations

Paul Baird Middle School
1 Rooney Road
$9,400 — Alterations

NORTHAMPTON

86 Pleasant St., LLC
84 Pleasant St.
$1,500 — Non-illuminated wall sign for Asian Taste

City of Northampton
20 Florence St.
$1,001,190 — Roof replacement on Leeds School

City of Northampton
69 Main St.
$110,620 — Roofing

City of Northampton
2 Parsons St.
$969,012 — Roof replacement

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Inc.
30 Locust St.
$10,000 — Add three antennas and related equipment to existing telecommunications

O’Connell Oil Associates Inc.
506 Pleasant St.
$1,200 — Non-illuminated wall sign for Shell gas station

SPRINGFIELD

American International College
963 State St.
$14,500 — Construct handicap ramp for old science building

Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC
1224 MGM Way
$500,000 — Install devices and wiring for fire-alarm system in hotel

Boston Road Property, LLC
665 Boston Road
$119,000 — Remodel existing space for a dental office

MassDevelopment
1550 Main St.
$380,179 — Tenant fit-out for Fuss & O’Neill, including demolition, new partitions, floors, ceilings and mechanical systems

Mercy Medical Center
271 Carew St.
$20,173 — Wall demolition/reconfiguration, installation/relocation of countertop, installation of glass transaction window and security shutter, floor patch, wall paint

Monarch Enterprises
1414 Main St.
$661,302 — Create eight new office spaces, including new sprinkler heads, HVAC, lighting, and walls

New England Family Dental
367 Cooley St., Suite 22
$390,500 — Interior build-out of dental facility, including partitions; floor, wall, and ceiling finishes; lighting and emergency lighting; exit signs; mechanical distribution; and plumbing

David Zheng
146 Chestnut St.
$9,800 — Replace fire-alarm panel, add speakers

WARE

Country Bank
85 South St.
$2,000 — Canopy sign

RT’s Welding
730 Belchertown Road
$2,200 — Install fence

Ware Coin Laundry
142 West St.
$35,000 — New roof, windows, storefront, and soffit

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
$81,285 — General non-structural renovations

WILBRAHAM

Country Club of Wilbraham
859 Stony Hill Road
$24,950 — Repair and replace roof on pro shop, replace roof on porch