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SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield regional Chamber of Commerce announced that it supports Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s recommendation for the city’s fiscal year 2022 property tax rate, which would reduce the commercial and industrial rate level from fiscal year 2021.

“This reduction will support our hardest hit business sectors like our retailers, our restaurants, and our hotels, especially those that saw their property values decrease as a result of the pandemic,” the chamber said in a statement. “We understand the mayor’s need to provide tax relief to the city’s residents during these economically difficult times despite their rising property values, but we appreciate the fact that the mayor recognizes the challenges that continue to face our business community as well. Through his rate recommendation, the mayor has found a way to balance the needs of all constituents while serving as a catalyst for the economic recovery of the city.

“The business community cannot succeed without the residents who work for our companies, organizations, and nonprofits, who shop in our stores, and who dine in our restaurants,” the statement continued. “Residents cannot succeed without the jobs, tax dollars, and charitable giving from our business community.

“We must all continue to work together as we come out of this unprecedented crisis and move the city forward, and we hope that we do not find ourselves in a situation where we are creating opposition against each other,” it went on. “As a member of the city’s Tax Advisory Committee, which has been working to find common ground on this issue and will make its recommendation to the City Council, we hope that the committee and the Council will ultimately come to the same conclusion and find that balance.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — After more than a decade serving the Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) and overseeing the region’s economic growth, Nancy Creed is stepping down from her position as chamber president to help care for her elderly mother.

Creed served as the president of SRC since 2016, and as vice president of Marketing and Communications for five years prior to her appointment as president. She successfully navigated the chamber through several challenges, the most recent being the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During her tenure with the chamber, Nancy has been an invaluable resource,” said Barbara-Jean Deloria, senior vice president and chief credit risk officer at Florence Bank and chair of SRC’s board of directors. “She has laid the groundwork for the chamber to grow and thrive and has positioned the chamber on solid financial footing. On behalf of the board of directors, I want to express our thanks to Nancy for creating a robust foundation for the future of the chamber. I know how difficult this decision was for her to make, and I applaud her for prioritizing herself and her family. We’re grateful to have her full guidance and support while we recruit a new chamber leader, and we wish her all the best.”

During Creed’s tenure, she repositioned the chamber as a regional organization for businesses in Western Mass., creating a channel for the voices of the Pioneer Valley to be heard by key stakeholders in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Creed developed a successful future for SRC by establishing educational programming for businesses and dynamic networking opportunities for professionals, engaging members across all industries, creating a minority business council to better support the growing business sector, and issuing informative legislative updates for the community that are now pillars of the chamber’s mission and will continue after her departure.

“The past 18 months have been an incredible challenge, but I am so proud of how we rose to that challenge and met it head on. While we still have work to be done, I recognize that I need to shift my priorities from an executive role to a caregiving role and focus on my family,” Creed said. “I’m incredibly thankful for my time at the chamber, the members I had the pleasure of collaborating with, and all those who worked with me to make the chamber what it is today. I look forward to working closely with Barbara-Jean and the board of directors to assist with the transition and position the next president to be as successful as they can be. I am incredibly proud of the progress and evolution the chamber has made, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.”

To ensure an orderly transition, Creed will remain president until either a successor is appointed by the chamber’s board of directors, or no later than April 21, 2022. The board has engaged a search committee and recruiter to find the best candidate to serve as the next president of the Springfield Regional Chamber.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) will partner with MassHire BizWorks, a division of the MassHire Department of Career Services’ Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, to offer a free educational webinar for businesses. On Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 to 10 a.m., participants will meet leading authorities and learn how the state’s economic-development programs can be applied to their businesses.

SRC will offer the webinar in collaboration with all chambers throughout Western Mass., including 1Berkshire, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce, Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and West of the River Chamber of Commerce. The webinar will outline the tools and resources that are available through MassHire BizWorks and local chambers of commerce to assist business owners.

Since its inception in 2012, MassHire BizWorks has enhanced and aligned the resources and services available to businesses throughout Massachusetts. BizWorks partners with agencies in workforce development, economic development, and education to help businesses grow and thrive. The BizWorks model offers assistance to employers for every stage of the business cycle. Services are available for business growth, expansion, maintenance, and downsizing.

“In this time of recovery, it’s critical that our business community take advantage of all the resources the Commonwealth has to offer, from job recruitment to hiring incentives; tax credits to workforce training, grants, and money-saving initiatives; and everything in between,” Springfield Regional Chamber President Nancy Creed said. “We’re thrilled to involve our members, along with members from neighboring regional chambers, so they can benefit from several money-saving services that are offered by Massachusetts and free for all businesses. Over the years, thousands of companies have profited, grown, and thrived because of BizWorks’ dedication.”

Ken Messina, of both BizWorks and the Department of Labor’s National Rapid Response Workgroup, will lead the webinar’s presentation. Messina has been with MassHire BizWorks since its inception and has started several initiatives, including the first Regional Rapid Response Summit and the Rapid Response Set Aside Fund program, and he developed the Massachusetts Rapid Response model that ensures consistency is maintained statewide. This model has been recognized nationally and duplicated in many other states. In his 30 years of experience, Messina and his team have served more than 12,000 companies, assisting with closings or layoff events that have affected more than a half-million employees.

To register for the free Oct. 5 webinar, click here.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber has partnered with MassHire and the Baker-Polito administration on a statewide virtual job fair, the first of its kind. The event will be held Aug. 16-20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no cost to participate, and the online platform will allow employers to connect with candidates on the spot.

“We are working with our partners across the state and convening the chambers in our region to ensure that this opportunity is available to every business seeking talent and every resident seeking a job,” said Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber. “I encourage you to take advantage of this unique recruiting opportunity to find the talent you need.”

Employers and job seekers can register at www.mass.gov/massachusetts-virtual-job-fair. The fair will focus on all industries on Aug. 16 and 19; manufacturing, professional services, and finance on Aug. 17; healthcare, hospitality, and education on Aug. 18; and information technology, building services, and others on Aug. 20.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber has partnered with MassHire and the Baker-Polito administration on a statewide virtual job fair, the first of its kind. To date, nearly 3,000 job seekers from across the Commonwealth have registered to participate.

The event will be held Aug. 16-20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no cost to participate, and the online platform will allow employers to connect with candidates on the spot.

“We are working with our partners across the state and convening the chambers in our region to ensure that this opportunity is available to every business seeking talent and every resident seeking a job,” said Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber. “I encourage you to take advantage of this unique recruiting opportunity to find the talent you need.”

Employers and job seekers can register at www.mass.gov/massachusetts-virtual-job-fair. The fair will focus on all industries on Aug. 16 and 19; manufacturing, professional services, and finance on Aug. 17; healthcare, hospitality, and education on Aug. 18; and information technology, building services, and others on Aug. 20.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) is seeking nominations for its annual Super 60 awards program. Marking its 31st year, Super 60 recognizes the success of the fastest-growing and privately-owned businesses in the region.

The last awards ceremony took place in 2019, honoring winners from 21 communities across the region and representing all sectors of the economy, including real estate, transportation, sports, dining and entertainment, insurance, energy, health care, technology, manufacturing, retail, and service. After a hiatus due to COVID-19, the award program is back, with a nomination deadline of August 6.

Each year, Super 60 identifies the top-performing companies in our region, based on revenue growth and total revenue. In 2019, one-quarter of the Total Revenue winners exceeded $30 million, with all the winners culminating to more than $720 million in revenue. In the Revenue Growth category, all winners had growth above 21%, and 50% of the top 30 companies grew by more than 50%.

“It’s been a tough year, but our region is incredibly strong and we have persevered. We are thrilled to celebrate the robust accomplishments our small businesses have achieved in a year that posed tremendous challenges and adversity,” said Springfield Regional Chamber President Nancy Creed.

To be considered, companies must be independently and privately-owned; based in Hampden or Hampshire counties or be a member of the Springfield Regional Chamber; have revenues of at least $1 million in the last fiscal year; and have been in business for at least three full years. Companies are selected based on their percentage of revenue growth over a full three-year period or total revenues for the latest fiscal year.

Companies may be nominated by financial institutions, attorneys, or accountants, or they can self-nominate. Along with an application, nominators must provide net operating revenue figures for the last three full fiscal years, signed and verified by an independent auditor. All financial information must be reported under generally accepted accounting principles and will be considered confidential.

Nomination forms can be found on the Chamber’s website at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com and can be submitted by faxing to SUPER 60, Springfield Regional Chamber, (413) 755-1322. Nomination forms must be submitted no later than August 6. The Super 60 awards will be presented at the annual luncheon and recognition program on Oct. 22 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

The Super 60 award luncheon attracts nearly 700 business leaders each year. Super 60 sponsorships are now available. For information, call (413) 755-1310 or email Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, at [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Regional Chamber President Nancy Creed issued a warning to chamber members about a recently reported scam.

“It’s come to our attention that the Springfield Regional Chamber’s likeness is being used in a targeted phishing attack,” she wrote. “You may have received an e-mail regarding membership verification. This is not a chamber-affiliated communication. Please be cautious and do not input any personal data.”

Creed also listed some tips for identifying phishing attacks:

• Check the sender information. Does the email address look suspicious?

• Watch out for shortened links. Cybercriminals often use these — from Bitly and other shortening services — to trick the recipient into thinking they are clicking a legitimate link, when in fact they are being inadvertently directed to a fake site.

• Be wary of threats and urgent deadlines.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, has been elected president of the Massachusetts Assoc. of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE) through 2022. MACCE is a Massachusetts-based organization that offers resources and networking opportunities to its member chamber of commerce professionals across the Commonwealth.

Creed has amassed more than 25 years of strategic alliance building, communications, public relations, media relations, and government and community outreach experience. She has served as president of the Springfield Regional Chamber since 2016. Prior to becoming chamber president, she served as vice president of Marketing and Communications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is certified in nonprofit organization management through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management, and is a 2000 graduate of the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Leadership Institute.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as president of the MACCE board and look forward to connecting with fellow chamber professionals to provide information, education, and peer experiences to help them grow, learn, and succeed,” she said.

Creed has served in a variety of capacities on the MACCE board, including Region 1 vice president, secretary, and vice president.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Longtime ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton will headline the Springfield Regional Chamber’s virtual Outlook on April 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Presented by Baystate Health, Outlook generally brings together more than 500 business leaders to network and hear from expert speakers on local, state, and federal issues.

 

Keynote speaker Compton has 41 years of on-air experience for ABC News. Her tenure spanned seven presidents and 10 presidential campaigns. Assigned to the White House in 1974, she reported for ABC News broadcasts from Washington and around the globe, traveling with presidents, vice presidents, and first ladies. Notably, Compton was the first woman assigned to cover the White House on network television. Compton received special recognition onboard Air Force One during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the awards bestowed on ABC’s coverage which included an Emmy, a Peabody, and a SilverBaton from the DuPont awards at Columbia University.

“This year’s Outlook program will look a little different, but it’s important to note that the content will be just as informative,” said Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber. “It has been a challenging year for our business community, our region, our Commonwealth and our country, but we do have a path forward and are making strides in our recovery. We’re thrilled to be able to discuss what lies ahead with key leaders who are helping our communities rebuild a sustainable future.”

 

The Outlook event will once again be hosted by Congressman Richard E. Neal, who will provide insights on what is happening on Capitol Hill, the American Rescue Plan stimulus package, and what is on the horizon relative to a major infrastructure spending bill. The event will include remarks from recently elected speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Ronald Mariano, who has represented the third Norfolk District, comprised of Quincy, Weymouth, and Holbrook in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1991.

Additional speakers will include Michael Knapik, vice president of Government and Community Relations at Baystate Health, who will serve as the event’s emcee; Springfield’s Mayor Domenic Sarno, and representative of the 8th Hampden District and assistant majority leader, Joseph Wagner.

This year’s Outlook is supported by platinum sponsors: Comcast, Mercy Medical Center, Health New England, Eversource, and United Personnel along with gold sponsors MGM Springfield and BusinessWest. Print and television media partners include The Republican/MassLive and WWLP-TV 22.

Tickets cost $39.95 for Springfield Regional Chamber members and $49.95 for general admission. Enterprise-level tickets (six access passes) for members are available for $179 and enterprise level tickets (six access passes) for general admission are available for $225. Visit www.springfieldregionalchamber.com to register. For additional information, visit [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber will host three virtual events on Wednesdays in January, each dedicated to helping business leaders across Western Mass. navigate the challenges, complexities and hope that the COVID-19 vaccine now offers.

“What to Expect with the COVID-19 Vaccine” is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, will lead a conversation about the COVID-19 vaccine, what businesses can expect, how and when it may be distributed, and more. During this virtual event, sponsored by Health New England, attendees will have the opportunity to have their questions answered by one of the region’s leading public-health experts.

“Navigating the Legal Complexities of the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace” will follow on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 9 to 10 a.m. Employment attorney Meghan Sullivan of Sullivan Hayes & Quinn will offer insights around navigating the HR complexities of the COVID-19 vaccine and the issues surrounding deployment to the business community. Held with the support of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, this event is designed to help small businesses understand their rights and responsibilities when rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine and beyond.

Finally, “Effectively Communicating the COVID-19 Vaccine” will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 9 to 10 a.m. Justine Griffin from Rasky Partners will deliver an informative program on developing cross-cultural communications strategies, messaging, and more to gain buy-in on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for employees, business, and the entire community. The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast is sponsoring this event.

“The COVID-19 vaccine offers the hope of normality and recovery for businesses and our entire region,” said Nancy Creed, Springfield Regional Chamber president. “As we wait for widespread availability, now is the time to prepare, plan, and learn new practices and legal guidelines. Our January event series is designed to help the business community do just that.”

To learn more or register, visit springfieldregionalchamber.com. Chamber members receive exclusive discounts.

Economic Outlook

Springfield Regional Chamber to Host Marijuana Professionals, Officials

There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the cannabis industry.

Despite the fact that medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2012, and recreational marijuana in 2016, the business community is juggling countless regulations and laws, whether looking to get into the cannabis industry themselves or just dealing with this new economy in general.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, many of these questions will be answered.

From 12:30 to 5 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton, the Springfield Regional Chamber will host “The Buzz About Cannabis: Marijuana in the Marketplace and the Workplace,” a collection of business, legal, and medical marijuana professionals, distributors, and entrepreneurs, as well as state cannabis officials, who will give attendees all the information they need to know about cannabis.

Nancy Creed describes retail cannabis sales as just one spur on the wheel of an industry that has pushed its way to the forefront over the last several years, and the president of the Springfield Regional Chamber is making plans to prepare business folks for this rising economic driver.

“The cannabis industry is clearly a, no pun intended, budding industry,” Creed said. “When you look at the revenue associated with it and the taxes, it really is the next economic engine of its time.”

It was a meeting with Cannabis Control Commissioner Kay Doyle that inspired Creed to begin researching this topic.

Nancy Creed describes retail cannabis sales as just one spur on the wheel of an industry that has pushed its way to the forefront over the last several years

“This, to me, was kind of a no-brainer,” Creed said. “We need to make sure that we are at the front of the industry and we are helping businesses either get into the industry or, on the flip side, deal with this new economy.”

The conference itself features an opening keynote from Doyle, breakout sessions focused on topics like “Business Structure and Banking in the Cannabis Industry” and “Cannabis in the Workplace,” and a closing keynote by Beth Waterfall, founder of Elevate Northeast, titled “Cannabis: What’s Next?”

Budding Goals

Chamber leaders thought carefully about what their goals were for the cannabis conference — the first time a chamber in the region has hosted an event of its kind.

Creed said this first conference will take a general focus, building a solid foundation on the basics of the industry — and leaving room for a potential focus on hemp, CBD, or other spokes on the wheel, as she calls them, next year.

The main goal of the conference is to educate attendees on what cannabis is, what they need to know when getting into the industry, and how it affects the economy.

“It’s a place for business people to come and get educated,” she noted. “I think it’s also an opportunity to recognize the growth of the cannabis industry and how that will positively impact our economy and be able to shine a light on it, so people see it as the future of our region.”

In order to accomplish this, she knew they needed to bring in several experts and professionals from different parts of the industry — including someone from the commission, Doyle, to talk about the landscape of the industry and the regulations entrepreneurs need to grapple with.

Next, Creed wanted to ensure the conference featured someone who could help businesses figure out what they needed to know about not only getting into the industry, but also what type of business they would be classified as.

Perhaps most importantly, they needed an expert in the banking industry. Because marijuana is still federally illegal, almost no bank will deal with marijuana businesses — although that could eventually change. Tina Sbrega, CEO of GFA Credit Union, will accompany Scott Foster, partner at Bulkley Richardson, to talk about banking and business structure.

“I want to make sure that businesses understand that, so they are successful when they start out, and aren’t just starting out not thinking through all of the things you need to think through to be a successful business,” Creed said.

She added that this conference is not just for people looking to get into the business, but also for people who just need to understand how it works.

Joanne Berwald, vice president of HR at Mestek; Erica Flores, attorney at Skoler Abbott; and Pam Thornton, director of Strategic HR Services at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, will lead a breakout session about recruitment, retention, and employment law.

“There are a lot of complex laws that come into play,” Creed said. “We wanted to make sure, for the rest of the business world that isn’t interested in getting into the cannabis industry, that we had information about what is it like for the other folks working and hiring in a cannabis world.”

For the final breakout session, Creed explained that she wanted to bring in a panel comprised of a marijuana grower, a user, and a distributor, but did not have the internal resources to find people who fit the description. That’s when she reached out to Michael Kusek, cannabis journalist and publisher of Different Leaf magazine. He crafted a team — Noni Goldman, Leslie Laurie, Ezra Parzybok, Karima Rizk, and Payton Shubrick — to talk about their individual niches and how they navigate the cannabis industry in different ways.

Sowing Seeds

Overall, Creed hopes to help as many people as possible navigate a still new and quickly growing industry.

Because it is the first event of its kind, she is unsure just how many people will register, but believes that, once people learn more about the event, they will see the benefits of attending.

“I really don’t know how much the business community is going to understand the conference and embrace the conference,” she said. “Our hope is that they will, but it’s new.”

What she does know is that the cannabis industry is evolving at a rapid rate, and keeping up with the high demand is a must for the chamber.

“It’s a place for business people to come and get educated,” she said. “I think it’s also an opportunity to recognize the growth of the cannabis industry and how that will positively impact our economy, and be able to shine a light on it so people see it as the future of our region — because it’s here.”

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

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