1. Articles from George O'Brien

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    1. Ludlow’s Mill Project Is Right on Schedule

      Ludlow’s Mill Project Is Right on Schedule

      Eric Nelson said he recently had cause to look over the occupancy permit issued to Westmass Area Development Corp. for the property now known as Ludlow Mills. The date on the document — April 2012 — gave him both pause and more evidence that time does, indeed, fly. Yes, it’s been more than six years since this ambitious project — a blend of both brownfield and greenfield development — was launched, and, for the most part, it is on schedule, said Nelson, president of Westmass for roughly half the duration of this effort. And by on schedule, he was referring to the pace ...

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    2. PeoplesBank Series Takes Viewers on a Rollercoaster Ride

      PeoplesBank Series Takes Viewers on a Rollercoaster Ride

      Throughout its 133-year history, PeoplesBank has touted innovation as one of its core values. But until very recently, this emphasis on innovation has been focused inward, on products, services, and ways of doing business. With a new program, called, appropriately enough, the Innovation Series, the bank is turning that focus outward, telling stories of entrepreneurship with the broad goal of inspiring more of it.

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    3. MassMutual Responds to a Changing Landscape

      MassMutual Responds to a Changing Landscape

      Over the course of its 167-year history, MassMutual has successfully responded to changes in society and also in how business is conducted. Today, the pace of change has accelerated greatly, but the company is answering with new strategic initiatives involving everything from the design of workspaces to how individuals apply for life insurance. They call it ‘State and Main.’ MassMutual built its former headquarters building in Springfield at that very intersection, so that may have something to do with that name. But it’s more likely a reference to the fact that this is where two of the main spines ...

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    4. Greenfield’s Downtown Gaining Momentum

      Greenfield’s Downtown Gaining Momentum

      Greenfield Mayor William Martin acknowledged that it isn’t exactly a scientific measure of either his downtown’s vibrancy or the efficiency of his long-term strategic plan for the central business district. But it certainly works for him. He’s being told there’s a parking problem downtown. Actually, he’s been told that for some time. Until recently, the commentary involved the east end of that district by Town Hall, and the chorus was so loud and so persistent that the community is now building a 272-lot parking garage in that area, due to open in the fall.

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    5. Way Finders Relocation Creates More Momentum in Both Ends of the City

      Way Finders Relocation Creates More Momentum in Both Ends of the City

      The nonprofit group Way Finders, formerly known as HAPHousing, has released renderings of the new 35,000-square-foot home it intends to build on the site of the soon-to-be abandoned Peter Pan Bus station. The move to the North End will bring benefits for the agency and its many types of clients, but it will also generate momentum — and economic development — at two locations, a trickle-down effect not always seen with relocations of this type.

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    6. Local Companies Starting to Land Contracts with MGM Springfield

      Local Companies Starting to Land Contracts with MGM Springfield

      Rebeca Merigian says the slip was found, and promptly given to her, many years ago by a long-time customer, a description she quickly categorized as an obvious understatement. Indeed, the date at the top is 1940, and thus this item, now displayed under glass, is a time capsule as much as it is a pick-up slip for a two-piece suit. Start with the phone number at the top; there are just five digits because that’s all that were needed back then (ask your mother; actually, make that your grandmother). The name of the company was Park Cleaners & Dyers Inc ...

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    7. Simply Grace Partners Helping to Create a New Dynamic Downtown

      Simply Grace Partners Helping to Create a New Dynamic Downtown

      Like most people who grew up in and around Springfield in the ’60s and ’70s, Mikki Lessard has fond memories of getting on a bus and spending an entire Saturday afternoon downtown. She said most of those visits would start, and a good number would also end, at Johnson’s Bookstore, but there were plenty of other stops as well. “We would go to Johnson’s, and Steiger’s, and many other stores. There was always something happening; it was positive, and it was fun,” said Lessard, adding that, while she acknowledges that things won’t ever be exactly like ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
    8. Deerfield Strives to Be More Than a Tourist Town

      Deerfield Strives to Be More Than a Tourist Town

      Wendy Foxmyn acknowleged that, when pressed to describe Deerfield with a word or two, most responders would say ‘tourist town,’ or something to that effect. And, sounding somewhat like the Seinfeld characters in that infamous episode, she said there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. But she quickly, and repeatedly, stressed that this community that is home to Yankee Candle’s flagship store — one of the most visited attractions in New England — as well as Mount Sugarloaf, Historic Deerfield, and the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservancy and Garden wants to diversify and broaden its commercial portfolio.

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    9. GCC’s Bob Pura Made the Community-college Mission a Career

      GCC’s Bob Pura Made the Community-college Mission a 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 ...

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    10. Greentown Initiative Links Startups with Manufacturers

      Greentown Initiative Links Startups with Manufacturers

      Adam Rodrigues, manufacturing fellow with Greentown labs, says his job description can be smashed down to two words: Making matches. That would be matches between startups across the state, and especially those within the 413, and manufacturers in Western Mass. that can help bring a concept to the marketplace. He’s already made several of these matches and plans to make many more, connections that have a number of benefits — for the startups, the manufacturers, the region, and the state.

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    11. There’s Certainly Growing Interest in Holyoke

      There’s Certainly Growing Interest in Holyoke

      Marcos Marrero says that if one were to have a machine running an optimization algorithm that would weigh a host of quantitative and qualitative factors to ultimately determine the very best spot in the region — and maybe the country — to locate a marijuana cultivation and distribution facility, it would, when done with its analysis, likely spit out two words: Holyoke and Massachusetts. He doesn’t. He’s director of Planning and Economic Development for the other Holyoke, the one on the Connecticut River. The one heralded as one of the first planned industrial cities in the country. The one where ...

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    12. Bradley Airport Reaches New Heights in Customer Focus

      Bradley Airport Reaches New Heights in Customer Focus

      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 ...

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    13. Evan Plotkin: President of NAI Plotkin

      Evan Plotkin: President of NAI Plotkin

      The 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.

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      Mentions: Springfield
    14. Union Station Project Earns Top Brownfield Redevelopment Honor

      Union Station Project Earns Top Brownfield Redevelopment Honor

      Springfield’s Union Station — and the project to bring it back to productive life after more than 40 years of dormancy — have both been described using a whole host of words and phrases. But ‘a bureaucrat’s delight?’ That was a new one, and one that most people probably wouldn’t expect to see the light of day. But Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, summoned it as he talked about the latest additions to what is becoming known as the Union Station trophy case — only there is no such thing. Yet. These would be two awards from the ...

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    15. Springfield Project Offers a Window to Changing Role of Libraries

      Springfield Project Offers a Window to Changing Role of Libraries

      As she talked about libraries, and borrowed (that’s an industry term) from Mark Twain when she said their death was greatly exaggerated, Molly Fogarty used some words and phrases that definitely brought her argument home. That’s because these are not the kinds of things that would have been said about these institutions a century ago, or perhaps even a decade ago. “Libraries help level the playing field,” said Fogarty, director of the Springfield City Library. “They help people cross the digital divide; they’re technology hubs.” Elaborating, he said that, in this computer age, access to the Internet ...

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    16. Ambitious Renovation Project Will Reshape the Basketball Hall of Fame

      Ambitious Renovation Project Will Reshape the Basketball Hall of Fame

      The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will soon commence work on an ambitious, $15 million renovation and expansion that will dramatically change the look and feel of the shrine. While the project represents the future, it also speaks loudly to just how far the Hall has come since the dark days — and years — earlier this century. John Doleva calls it a “spaceship.” That’s what he and others at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame have come to call the individual lights that sit atop the dome that defines the shrine on West Columbus Avenue and change color ...

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    17. Jim Ayres Directs the United Way Through a Time of Change, Challenge

      Jim Ayres Directs the United Way Through a Time of Change, Challenge

      Jim Ayres, who took the helm at the United Way of Pioneer Valley this past spring, arrived knowing he would be leading the organization through a time of significant change and challenge. His elaborate to-do list includes efforts to increase efficiency, do a better job of telling the United Way’s story to the younger people who probably don’t know it, and continuing the work of building coalitions to take on the many issues confronting the region’s communities and families. There’s an old map hanging on the wall just inside the door to Jim Ayres’ office within ...

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    18. Great Barrington Is Taking Big Steps Forward

      Great Barrington Is Taking Big Steps Forward

      Jennifer Tabakin acknowledged that, figuratively speaking, at least, City Hall in New York and Town Hall in Great Barrington are much more than 125 or so miles apart.  In most all ways, they’re worlds apart, and she should know, because she’s worked in both settings, and is firmly entrenched in the latter as town manager.  In New York, she worked for former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for several years. To be more specific, she worked under the deputy mayor for Economic Development after a stint in state government with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority working on capital projects.

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    19. Group’s Mission Centers Around Women Investing in Women

      Group’s Mission Centers Around Women Investing in Women

      Kate Putnam knew something special was going on — right from the first get-together. That was back about 18 months or so ago, when a dozen women were invited to a breakfast to discuss ideas for making Western Mass. the place for women entrepreneurs and innovators. “More than 30 showed up,” said Putnam, one of the organizers and chief spokespeople for a group that came to be known, after considerable discussion, as WIT, initially a joint venture of Valley Venture Mentors and the Economic Development Council of Western Mass. That’s short for Women Innovators & Trailblazers, and also for What It ...

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    20. Peoples United Relocates Office, Names New Manager

      Peoples United Relocates Office, Names New Manager

      Jim Curran was asked about the heightened state of competition within the commercial-lending realm in Western Mass. and how People’s United Bank is responding to this changing landscape.  He began his answer by noting that, while conditions in this region are perhaps somewhat more competitive than they were when he first started working in this market more than 30 years ago, the reality is that there have always been a lot of strong competitors for People’s United, formerly the Bank of Western Mass.

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    21. Rural Franklin County Is Making Strides Toward Becoming a Destination

      Rural Franklin County Is Making Strides Toward Becoming a Destination

      Franklin County, the state’s most rural county, and also its poorest, faces a host of challenges today — from a declining and aging population to poor broadband service in most of its communities, to statistically lower wages for comparable jobs. But those working to spur economic development and improve quality of life here see progress in many forms and vast opportunities to attract the young people who covet many of things this region can offer them.

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    22. FogKicker Principals Have a Vision, and Like What They See

      FogKicker Principals Have a Vision, and Like What They See

      There’s no word yet on whether the creators of FogKicker will embrace Johnny Nash’s 1972 reggae hit ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ as their theme song, but it would certainly work. The product, developed in the polymer science lab at UMass Amherst, has proven itself successful in keeping a range of surfaces, from scuba masks to bathroom mirrors, clear of fog. Partners Yinyong Li, Marc Gammell, and Kenneth Carter are scaling up their venture, Treaty Biotech LLC, and while their vision of the future isn’t totally clear, it is certainly coming into focus.

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    23. Staffing Agencies Meeting Needs, but Challenges Are Mounting

      Staffing Agencies Meeting Needs, but Challenges Are Mounting

      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 ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
    24. Sunshine Village Celebrates a Half-century of Creating Great Days

      Sunshine Village Celebrates a Half-century of Creating Great Days

      Back in the mid-’60s, a group of parents, advised by friends, family members, and attorneys alike to put their developmentally disabled children into an institution, collectively rejected that idea and, far more importantly, came up with a much better one. The result of their innovative, forward-thinking outlook was Sunshine Village, which, 50 years later, remains an immensely powerful source of light, warmth, hope, and lives fulfilled. Lenny Recor was in a good mood — or as good a mood as you might expect someone to be in on a Monday morning.

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    1-24 of 178 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 »
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