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    1. BusinessWest Announces 2018 Continued Excellence Award Finalists

      BusinessWest Announces 2018 Continued Excellence Award Finalists

      BusinessWest has announced the five finalists for this year’s Continued Excellence Award. They are Michael Fenton, associate at Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin, P.C.; William Gagnon, vice president of Marketing & Key Accounts for Excel Dryer Inc.; Samalid Hogan, regional director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center; James Leahy, assistant director, Business Development and Promotion Sales for the regional office of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission; and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

       

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    2. Gourmet Food Solutions scooping up success in Springfield with Aunt Lily's line of dips (photos, video)

      Gourmet Food Solutions scooping up success in Springfield with Aunt Lily's line of dips (photos, video)

      Aunt Lily is doing very well for Gourmet Food Solutions of Springfield. Aunt Lily isn't a she, it's the brand name for Gourmet Food Solutions' new line of dairy-free refrigerated vegetable dips. Selling under its own brand name is a departure for the 4-year-old company. It had been exclusively making dips, salsa, pesto, sauces, salads and dressings used to simmer or finish vegetables. Those products are sold under store brand names for retailers like Stop & Shop, Wegman's, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and others.

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    3. Massachusetts gives Holyoke $131,600 grant for early college program for high schoolers

      Massachusetts gives Holyoke $131,600 grant for early college program for high schoolers

      Students can earn up to 12 college credits before they graduate from high school thanks to a $131,600 state grant. The funding is for an early college partnership between the city public schools and Holyoke Community College (HCC). "We are most appreciative of the state's critical investment in the sustainability and growth of early college access linked to our high school academies for more students in Holyoke," said Stephen K. Zrike, the state-appointed receiver managing Holyoke public schools.

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    4. Early education gets another needed boost

      he need for a sustained, targeted improvement of Massachusetts early education programs is captured by some disturbing numbers from 2011. According to research done by the Children's Investment Fund, 20 percent of facilities had one or more classrooms with no windows. A third had inadequate heating and cooling. Two-thirds lacked sufficient technology for teachers. That's why the re-authorization of the Early Education and Out-of-School Time Capital Fund (EEOST Capital Fund) in the state's housing bond bill is such important news.

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      Mentions: Chicopee
    5. Eastfield Mall: Sears closing clears way for redevelopment

      Eastfield Mall: Sears closing clears way for redevelopment

      The imminent end of Sears at the Eastfield Mall might signal a new beginning for the 44-acre property. Mall owner Mountain Developer, based in New Jersey, plans to buy the Sears buildings -- department store and auto center --  and its parking lot and will proceed with plans to redevelop the mall, said Nicole Sweeney, co-property manager for Eastfield Mall at 1655 Boston Road.

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    6. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signs $1.8 billion bill authorizing spending on housing modernization and redevelopment

      Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signs $1.8 billion bill authorizing spending on housing modernization and redevelopment

      A low-income tax credit for affordable housing projects would hit $20 million a year. Another tax credit program would allow for the commitment of $10 million for market-rate housing projects in so-called "Gateway Cities" like Springfield and New Bedford.  And the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development would be able to spend $10 million or more on producing and preserving housing for people recovering from substance abuse. All three items are part of in a $1.8 billion borrowing bill signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday. Baker has pressed for the capital spending bill, citing the state's ...

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    7. First Whip City Brewfest in Westfield to feature over 50 brewers

      First Whip City Brewfest in Westfield to feature over 50 brewers

      The inaugural Whip City Brewfest is Saturday, and with over 50 local craft breweries offering samples, there is sure to be a beer for every taste. The event begins at noon for VIP ticket holders and from 1-5 p.m. for general admission. Advanced pricing is $40 for VIP, $30 for general and $10 for designated drivers. The Brewfest is at 62 School St. If capacity permits, tickets will be available the day of the event for $45/$35/$10. Tickets can be purchased at www.whipcitybrewfest.com.

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    8. US Rep. Richard Neal announces $350,000 in public arts funding for Western Massachusetts

      US Rep. Richard Neal announces $350,000 in public arts funding for Western Massachusetts

      Despite recent threats to federal arts funding, Western Massachusetts cultural organizations will receive nearly $350,000 in National Endowment for the Arts grants to support theater, dance and other projects throughout the Berkshires and Springfield, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, announced Thursday.

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    9. Hofbrauhaus in West Springfield rebooting as 1105 Main with a 'smoke and game' menu

      Hofbrauhaus in West Springfield rebooting as 1105 Main with a 'smoke and game' menu

      It really was the final goodbye to the Hofbrauhaus back in April, but it was only auf Wiedersehen -- until we see each other again -- to chef and owner Joe Stevens. Husband and wife team Joe and Liz Stevens are transforming the closed German restaurant into a new concept -- 1105 Main, named after the building's address -- that'll have what he calls a smoke and game menu featuring  briskets, ribs, wings, venison, bison and boar. He plans to keep the price of an entree under $25. "Just a twist on whatever is around," Joe Stevens said.

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    10. Yellow Stonehouse Farm in Westfield offers organic vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs

      Yellow Stonehouse Farm in Westfield offers organic vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs

      When Connie Adams and John Keilch inherited a farm in 2005, the couple knew they wanted to make it work. The former dairy farm on Root Road in Westfield had been in Keilch's family since the 1930s, but Adams and Keilch were no dairy farmers. "We both worked in business," said Adams, "but I was a master gardener and we had an organic garden at home, so we decided to go for it." Today, Yellow Stonehouse Farm is the area's only community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm that is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a fact ...

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      Mentions: Westfield
    11. Businesses aim to save $100M in health care costs by reducing emergency room visits

      Businesses aim to save $100M in health care costs by reducing emergency room visits

      A group of 20 business organizations are launching an effort to save $100 million in health care costs by 2020 by reducing avoidable emergency room visits by 20 percent. The businesses are still figuring out their exact strategies. The first step will focus primarily on raising awareness among employees about the resources available for them to get care outside of the emergency room.  "Our plan is to provide employers with a toolkit, which will include appropriate information communicated in plain English about the most appropriate sites for care, why that's important, and how it impacts premiums," said Eileen McAnneny ...

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    12. 'It's our oasis': Starbucks opens in plaza at Springfield's Monarch Place

      'It's our oasis': Starbucks opens in plaza at Springfield's Monarch Place

      The Monarch Place Starbucks is part of a revamped pedestrian plaza facing Main Street and Boland Way. Paul Marcelina, general manager at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, said the restored fountain is back up and running and there is music playing at the outdoor seating area. "It's our oasis in the heart of downtown Springfield," he said.

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    13. Freight railroads' key role in moving the Western Mass economy

      Freight railroads' key role in moving the Western Mass economy

      When the Massachusetts Department of Transportation released a draft of its five-year state rail plan earlier this year, it faced concerns from transportation advocates and organizations based here in Western Massachusetts that the plan understates our region's economic growth potential. Accordingly, agencies like the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission voiced concerns that the plan doesn't fully reflect rail's impact on the region's economy or how additional rail system investments could help bolster job growth and economic competitiveness

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    14. BusinessWest Accepting Nominations for Women of Impact Awards

      BusinessWest magazine decided recently, after much consideration, to launch a new recognition program to honor a specific segment of the local population: women. More specifically, women making an impact in and on this region. BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the Women of Impact honor (www.businesswest.com/women-of-impact), and those who score the highest in the eyes and minds of a panel of three independent judges will be honored at a luncheon in December (date and venue to be determined). “We decided to create a special program recognizing women because, after careful consideration, we decided that this ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
    15. Springfield Business Improvement District's architectural lighting program shines spotlight on best of downtown (photos)

      Springfield Business Improvement District's architectural lighting program shines spotlight on best of downtown (photos)

      The Springfield Business Improvement District's architectural lighting program is highlighting the best of downtown, and making the evenings a little brighter.  The program, in partnership with DevelopSpringfield, is designed to assist property owners located within the Springfield Business Improvement District. According to the BID, the three goals of the Architectural Lighting Program are:

      • To highlight historical architecture within Springfield's downtown metro area.
      • To provide a corridor of light for night time visitors to the downtown area.
      • To provide a level of comfort to visitors, increasing foot traffic and therefore economic growth.
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    16. Chicopee students receive job training in Westover Job Corps partnership

      Chicopee students receive job training in Westover Job Corps partnership

      In her senior year of high school, Nalaysha Dykes was pondering a career in nursing but she wasn't sure if working in the medical field was something she would like. Meanwhile, Gino Guiel is certain he wants to be a professional chef but wasn't sure how he would go about getting the training he needed. The two each got their answers while attending the Westover Job Corps under a new partnership between Chicopee Academy and the neighboring job training institution. Guiel was the first Chicopee Academy to sign up for the program when it began two years ago ...

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      Mentions: Chicopee
    17. People On the Move

      People On the Move

      The Springfield Regional Chamber has named Ellen Freyman, an attorney with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. in Springfield, its 2018 Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year. Freyman concentrates her practice in all aspects of commercial real estate: acquisitions and sales, development, leasing, and financing. She has an extensive land-use practice that includes zoning, subdivision, project permitting, and environmental matters. A graduate of the Western New England University School of Law and Pennsylvania State University, Freyman has been recognized or awarded by the National Conference for Community and Justice for Excellence in Law, the Professional Women’s Chamber as ...

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    18. Seen@ Paradise City Arts Festival at Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton

      Seen@ Paradise City Arts Festival at Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton

      When Alan Bennett was five years old, he caught a bluegill. As the story goes, he thought the fish was beautiful so he kept it in his pocket where his mother found it several days later when she did the laundry. Fast forward, many years later, to the Paradise City Arts Festival at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton on Sunday. There was Alan Bennett, with his wife Rosemary, standing in an ocean of fish - glazed ceramic fish of all colors and sizes; fresh water fish, ocean fish and reef fish.

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      Mentions: Northampton
    19. Savage Arms in Westfield for sale in corporate restructuring

      Savage Arms in Westfield for sale in corporate restructuring

      Savage Arms is for sale as part of a corporate restructuring that'll see parent Vista Outdoor get out of gunmaking and focus on ammunition, hydration bottles and packs and outdoor cooking products. With 367 workers at its factory on Springdale Road, Savage is one of Westfield's largest private employers. Vista said it plans to complete its sale of Savage by the end of its 2020 fiscal year. Vista, based in Utah, has taken heat in recent months for its connections to the NRA and donations to politicians whop oppose gun control even in the wake of more school ...

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    20. MGM Springfield, PVTA: 'The Loop' bus service to connect city attractions, businesses

      MGM Springfield, PVTA: 'The Loop' bus service to connect city attractions, businesses

      MGM Springfield officials promised Friday that the casino's new free bus service, called "The Loop," will bring visitors to the doors of Springfield stalwarts like the Armory, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Springfield Museums and Union Station. The casino and the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority unveiled the service Friday to members of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau in a presentation at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site.

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    21. Northampton Energized by Its Lively Downtown

      Northampton Energized by Its Lively Downtown

      Northampton’s downtown, Amy Cahillane says, is nothing if not eclectic. “We have a great mix of businesses,” said the director of the Downtown Northampton Assoc., a two-year-old organization dedicated to boosting vibrancy in the city’s center. “We have a lot of different clothing stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars — there’s a lot of room to find your niche here.” She said business owners downtown are very much a network of mom-and-pop outfits that take pride in the district’s economic vibrancy and work hard to welcome new shop owners into the fold as they’re launching their ...

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    22. Senate passes amendment approving Pittsfield-Springfield-Boston rail study

      Senate passes amendment approving Pittsfield-Springfield-Boston rail study

      The state Senate unanimously adopted an amendment on Thursday requiring the state Department of Transportation to conduct a study of high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield, this time with an extension to Pittsfield. "We owe it to all four counties to make sure the entire four-county region of Western Mass. is included in the analysis," said Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who sponsored the amendment. The study would look at capital and operating costs, ridership levels, operational issues, environmental and economic impacts, and the availability of funding.

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      Mentions: Springfield
    23. MGM Springfield reports continued success in diversity hiring

      MGM Springfield reports continued success in diversity hiring

      MGM Springfield, preparing to open its casino on Aug. 24, presented its latest quarterly report on Thursday, including statistics showing that it continues to exceed its goals for diversity hiring and contracting for the $960 million construction project. The report, for the three months ending March 31, was shared with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a meeting in Boston. Commission member Gayle Cameron praised the latest report, saying it continues past trends. "You are consistently good with your diversity numbers," Cameron said. "It's always encouraging to see."

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    24. Starbucks at Springfield's Monarch Place opens next week; will donate proceeds toward Forest Park zoo African cat exhibit

      Starbucks at Springfield's Monarch Place opens next week; will donate proceeds toward Forest Park zoo African cat exhibit

      The new Starbucks in Monarch Place opens at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, May 30, building owner Paul Picknelly said Thursday. Workers were training this week in the new downtown store at the corner of  Main Street and Boland Way. The coffee shop will donate all proceeds from its first week of business to The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center. The money will go toward a new educational exhibit featuring two African cats, Picknelly said.

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