1. Articles from George O'Brien

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    1. That’s What the PVPC’s Tim Brennan Has Done for the Past 47 Years - BusinessWest

      That’s What the PVPC’s Tim Brennan Has Done for the Past 47 Years - BusinessWest

      Tim Brennan’s almost-half-century-long career with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will draw to a close later this summer. As he pivots into retirement, Brennan talked with BusinessWest about the many ways the landscape has changed over the past four and half decades, and especially the emergence of a more regional focus in the Valley.

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    2. Jazz & Roots Festival Brings People, Energy to Springfield

      Evan Plotkin has always been a firm believer in the arts as an economic-development strategy and vehicle for “changing the conversation about Springfield,” as he likes to say. And this belief has manifested itself in a number of ways, from the manner in which he has turned 1350 Main St. (the downtown Springfield office building he co-owns) into a type of art gallery to the sculptures he has helped bring to the central business district, to his long-time support of the Springfield Museums and other institutions.

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    3. Innovate413 Looks to Take Its Mission to a Higher Level

      Innovate413 Looks to Take Its Mission to a Higher Level

      Samalid Hogan says that, when the website Innovate413 was launched roughly four years ago, it was with a desire to not only promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the region, but to inspire more of both. And when she agreed to essentially take over the initiative early last year, she admitted the original goal was just to “keep it going,” as she put it, because she could clearly see the value it represented.

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    4. Chikmedia Celebrates Five Years of Growth in the Marketing World

      Chikmedia Celebrates Five Years of Growth in the Marketing World

      When Meghan Rothschild launched Chikmedia as a two-woman operation five years ago, she was determined to build a successful marketing firm that focused heavily, if not exclusively, on women and brought a fierce attitude and a sense of fun into the work. Five years later, as the head of a small team with an ever-growing clientele, she says those philosophies haven’t changed — nor has the need for a company that reminds women of the power they wield when they lift each other up.

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    5. Innovation Fest to Celebrate Region’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

      Innovation Fest to Celebrate Region’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

      HUBweek in Boston. Denver Startup Week. The Tom Tom Summit & Festival in Charlottesville, Va. South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. These are just a few of the many highly successful and very well-attended entrepreneurship and innovation events now taking place across the country. Some of them go on for a few days, others for a whole week, as their names make clear, said Kristen Leutz, executive director of Springfield-based Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), who has been to Startup Week and will likely attend some of those other gatherings in the months and years to come as she seeks to learn ...

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    6. Peter Pan Charts a Route to Continued Growth

      Peter Pan Charts a Route to Continued Growth

      Peter Picknelly says the higher prices that consumers are experiencing at the gas pump are a fairly recent phenomenon, with the surge coming over the past few months or so. But in the bus business, such changes to the landscape can, and usually do, have a quick and profound impact. And Easter weekend provided ample evidence of this. “Business was up 18% over the same period a year ago — we were really busy over Easter weekend,” said Picknelly. “When gas prices go up, we see an increase in ridership, and they’ve been going up.

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    7. MASS MoCA Continues to Expand and Contribute to the Big Picture in the Berkshires - BusinessWest

      MASS MoCA Continues to Expand and Contribute to the Big Picture in the Berkshires - BusinessWest

      Anyone who hasn’t been to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the past decade might be surprised at how different it is from its early days. From a near-doubling of art space to a growing array of long-term exhibits to a robust music, theater, and festival business, MASS MoCA has become a true driver of Berkshire County’s creative economy — and that’s by design.

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    8. Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 Charts Ambitious Course to Economic Growth

      Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 Charts Ambitious Course to Economic Growth

      Jonathan Butler knows what happens to a lot of reports, and he’s determined to avoid that fate. “This wasn’t intended to be just a two-year study that ends up as a report that sits on a shelf,” he said, referring to Berkshire Blueprint 2.0, an 80-page action plan of sorts for the Berkshire County economy. “It very much means to be a new look at our economy, a new baseline for where we are that identifies challenges we have in different areas and action steps needed to move forward.”

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      Mentions: 1Berkshire
    9. Machine Metrics Continues Torrid Pace of Growth

      Machine Metrics Continues Torrid Pace of Growth

      Over the past five years, Machine Metrics, a company that specializes in predictive analytics for manufacturers, has been scaling up its operation. But with an infusion of $11.3 million in venture capital last fall, this process enters a new and dynamic phase. The company has nearly doubled its workforce, expanded with a new office in Boston, and become much more aggressive in efforts to educate potential clients about its game-changing software.

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    10. JA Celebrates 100 Years of Providing Life Lessons - BusinessWest

      JA Celebrates 100 Years of Providing Life Lessons - BusinessWest

      The 100th Anniversary Gala for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts will have a decidedly ’20s flair — as in the 1920s. In fact, the theme is “The Roaring ’20s are Back.”  Attendees are encouraged, but not required, to come in period dress, a challenge that Jennifer Connelly, executive director of the local JA chapter, met (with considerable help from her daughter) by doing a hard search online that yielded the appropriate dress as well as a headband with a feather.

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    11. For 150 Years, the YWCA of Western Mass. Has Been Helping Survivors Heal - BusinessWest

      For 150 Years, the YWCA of Western Mass. Has Been Helping Survivors Heal - BusinessWest

      Helping survivors heal. That’s been the mission of the YWCA of Western Mass. for 150 years. Today, the agency does this in a number of ways, some well-known, such as its 58-bed domestic-violence shelter, and others far-less-heralded but still important, such as helping area young people attain their high-school equivalency. In each case, the key is providing these survivors with the tools they need to achieve a higher quality of life.

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    12. Wyckoff’s New Owners Have Ambitious Plans for Facility

      Wyckoff’s New Owners Have Ambitious Plans for Facility

      None of the members of the new ownership team at Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke had spent any time on the golf course — or in the golf business — prior to their acquisition earlier this year. But they did know a few things about what they were getting into. Actually, more than a few. They knew how to run a business — Bob VanZandt Sr. has operated American Tire Sales & Service in Springfield for nearly 40 years, and Charlie Arment has been at the helm of Charlie Arment Trucking in Springfield, a 65-year-old family business, since 1978. Beyond that, well, they knew ...

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      Mentions: Holyoke
    13. EforAll Helps a Challenged Constituency Share the Wealth - BusinessWest

      EforAll Helps a Challenged Constituency Share the Wealth - BusinessWest

      The agency is called SPARK EforAll Holyoke. It represents a merger of SPARK Holyoke, an entity created to inspire and mentor entrepreneurs, and EforAll, the Lowell-based organization that has created an effective model that does essentially the same thing. By whatever name it goes, the agency is helping to spur business ownership among minorities, women, and other constituencies, and it is already changing the landscape in the Paper City.

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    14. Nearing the End of an Era: Bay Path University President Carol Leary to Retire in 2020

      Nearing the End of an Era: Bay Path University President Carol Leary to Retire in 2020

      Carol Leary was ready to announce her retirement, but not exactly ready to talk about it. OK, she talked about it a little, mentioning how it would include, among other things, travel to some of the places she hasn’t been to yet (countries along the Adriatic and in Scandinavia, for example) and ongoing work to maintain the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine, where she and her husband, Noel, have owned a home for some time now; she’s on that landmark’s preseveration committee.

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    15. Celebrating the Class 0f 2019

      Celebrating the Class 0f 2019

      It was almost a decade ago now when Bill Ward, then the executive director of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, stepped to the podium at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke to accept the first Difference Maker award presented by BusinessWest. Much has happened since then. Ward retired a few years later, and the REB is now known as the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board. But the Difference Maker award remains a constant — and a symbol of excellence and dedication to improving quality of life in this region. The six members of the class of 2019 ...

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    16. Eric Lesser Wants to Close the Distance Between East and West - BusinessWest

      Eric Lesser Wants to Close the Distance Between East and West - BusinessWest

      Since first elected to office five years ago, state Sen. Eric Lesser has made economic development and, more specifically, closing the wide gap in prosperity between the eastern and western areas of the state his top priority. While he’s most closely linked to high-speed rail, he’s put his name — and energy — behind a number of initiatives to bring more jobs and more vibrancy to the 413.

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    17. Grant Aims to Build Pathways in a Technology-driven Workforce

      Grant Aims to Build Pathways in a Technology-driven Workforce

      When people talk about an ‘IT gap,’ Amanda Gould says, the appropriate response might be, ‘which one?’ Indeed, there’s the gap that seems to getting most of the attention these days, the one that involves the huge gender disparity in the IT workforce, with the vast majority of those well-paying jobs going to men, said Gould, chief administrative officer for the American Women’s College at Bay Path University, one of the institutions working to do something about this through its expanding Cybersecurity and IT degree programs.

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    18. Announcing the 2019 Difference Makers - BusinessWest

      Announcing the 2019 Difference Makers - BusinessWest

      t was almost a decade ago now when Bill Ward, then the executive director of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, stepped to the podium at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke to accept the first Difference Maker award presented by BusinessWest.  Much has happened since then. Ward retired a few years later, and the REB is now known as the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board. But the Difference Maker award remains a constant — and a symbol of excellence and dedication to improving quality of life in this region.

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    19. At MGM Springfield, Revenues Are Slow, but Optimism Abounds - BusinessWest

      At MGM Springfield, Revenues Are Slow, but Optimism Abounds - BusinessWest

      A half-year after opening its doors, MGM Springfield is well behind its stated goals and expectations for gross gaming revenues, or GGR, and the numbers have been declining each month since the fall. But the winter months are traditionally the slowest in this industry, said Mike Mathis, president and COO of the resort, and the company is still ramping up its operation. Overall, he said, there are a number of positive indicators.

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    20. Balise Motor Sales Celebrates 100 Years of Seizing Opportunities - BusinessWest

      Balise Motor Sales Celebrates 100 Years of Seizing Opportunities - BusinessWest

      Some time in 1919 — when, exactly, no one really knows — Paul Balise went into business for himself repairing automobiles and selling them on the side. Today, that company he founded is one of the largest auto-dealer groups in New England and one of the 50 largest in the country. But in most all ways, it’s still doing business the same as it was when Woodrow Wilson was in the White House.

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    21. Callaway’s Chicopee Plant Doubles Workforce Since 2017 - BusinessWest

      Callaway’s Chicopee Plant Doubles Workforce Since 2017 - BusinessWest

      The Callaway golf-ball-manufacturing facility in Chicopee has borrowed a famous page from the Chicago Cubs’ playbook.  When the Cubs win, a white flag with a large blue ‘W’ is flown atop the legendary hand-operated scoreboard in center field. Back to Callaway. When a member of its team — comprised of players on the various professional tours who play Callaway balls and clubs — posts a win, a flag with a large script ‘C’ (the same one used for the Callaway brand) flies underneath the American flag on the pole outside on the facility on Meadow Street.

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    22. New Ownership Group Exudes Confidence on the Future of Tower Square

      New Ownership Group Exudes Confidence on the Future of Tower Square

      Both the office/retail complex known as Tower Square and the hotel that sits on the property would be considered somewhat risky investments, given their recent history. But the investment group Springfield Hospitality believes otherwise — in both cases. The new ownership group has announced an ambitious plan to get the Marriott flag back on the hotel, and it is confident about gaining a wide range of new tenants on the retail side of the equation.

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    23. Greenfield Presents Blend of Familiar and New - BusinessWest

      Greenfield Presents Blend of Familiar and New - BusinessWest

      Greenfield could now be considered 4/20-friendly, said M.J. Adams, the city’s director of Community Development and Economic Development, adding that there is already a medical marijuana dispensary, Patriot Care, located within the community, and it is poised to become a recreational dispensary next month. And there are many other parties expressing interest in establishing different forms of cannabis-related businesses within Franklin County’s largest community.

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    24. Isenberg School Expansion Makes Powerful, Practical Statement - BusinessWest

      Isenberg School Expansion Makes Powerful, Practical Statement - BusinessWest

      The Isenberg Innovation Hub, a $62 million expansion and renovation of the business school’s facilities on the UMass Amherst campus, will open its doors to students later this month. The building’s exterior design is stunning, and it gives a new face to Isenberg and perhaps the university, but the architects have made it functional as well.

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