1. Articles from Kathleen Mitchell

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    1. Multi-faceted Plan in Greenfield Reaps Success

      Multi-faceted Plan in Greenfield Reaps Success

      Mayor William Martin recently acquired a book about Greenfield that was published in 1912. He keeps it in his office, and during a recent visit by BusinessWest, he culled through it and pointed out initiatives integral to the town’s economic development that mirror historic advances in the book that were considered progressive in the early 20th century. They include increasing density downtown, attracting businesses where growth is occurring, and developing town-owned energy companies, while continuing to meet the needs of residents. “We have taken ideas from the past and brought them into the modern day, which is very, very ...

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    2. HAPHousing Becomes Way Finders to Reflect Scope of Its Work

      HAPHousing Becomes Way Finders to Reflect Scope of Its Work

      When the Housing Allowance Project opened its doors in 1973, the idea of providing people with assistance to pay their rent was a novel concept.  “Giving people a housing allowance was a radical concept, but poor people were concentrated in projects and high-rises that had become real problems, especially in large cities,” said Peter Gagliardi, president and chief executive officer of Way Finders in Springfield and Holyoke. “Many were poorly built and filled with children who had no place to play other than the hallways and elevators, so the idea was to stop building projects where the poor were all ...

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    3. Public-safety Plan Spurs Springfield Development

      Public-safety Plan Spurs Springfield Development

      Most people are familiar with the major projects underway in Springfield: the $950 million MGM casino, the $90 million renovation of Union Station, and the $95 million CRRC MA rail-car factory being built at the former Westinghouse site. But a highly successful, multi-pronged program to improve public safety that was created by Mayor Domenic Sarno and the Springfield Police Department has gone on mostly behind the scenes and yielded remarkable results. “We have had a 20% drop in crime since 2015,” said Police Commissioner John Barbieri.

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    4. Developers Find New Uses for Holyoke Properties

      Developers Find New Uses for Holyoke Properties

      Marco Luzuriaga and his brother Denis are betting on the future. To be precise, that’s the future of Holyoke, a city where years of disinvestment led to vacant buildings with major environmental challenges that squashed any interest developers had in investing in them. But a slow evolution has occurred over the past few years, and the landscape is undergoing marked change. The combination of Mayor Alex Morse’s proactive stance, support from the City Council, and work by other officials led to the creation of an urban-renewal plan four years ago that is finally coming to fruition. Notable progress ...

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    5. Efforts to Boost South Hadley Falls Gain Steam

      Efforts to Boost South Hadley Falls Gain Steam

      In two months, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge that leads from Holyoke into South Hadley Falls will be closed for a day for a “River Roll and Stroll” event.  The family festival is designed to promote healthy living and is being co-sponsored by the Holyoke Bike-Pedestrian Committee and the South Hadley Bike-Walk Committee, a grass-roots effort to help promote recreational opportunities for bicyclists and pedestrians.  “The River Roll and Stroll will give people a look at the Falls and allow them to see the potential that exists while providing an economic boost to businesses there,” said Mariann Millard, co-chair of ...

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    6. I-91 Viaduct Project Will Provide Concrete Benefits

      I-91 Viaduct Project Will Provide Concrete Benefits

      In May 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation signed a $148 million contract with the Joint Venture of JF White-Schiavone to overhaul the 1-91 viaduct in Springfield. The project is immense in scope, and although it has inconvenienced drivers, especially during peak hours, it is ahead of schedule and brings concrete benefits for the local economy and area businesses that manufacture or provide products needed for the repair and reconstruction of the 45-year-old section of highway.

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    7. Colleges Respond to Growing Demand for Healthcare Professionals

      Colleges Respond to Growing Demand for Healthcare Professionals

      Many students work hard to earn a college degree, then find there are no jobs that match their credentials.  But the demand for people to work in healthcare settings continues to rise, and high-school graduates or individuals seeking a career change are likely to be hired quickly after graduating from a certificate or degree program in any of several fields.  “Each year, we graduate 125 to 150 students from our healthcare programs, and they walk into jobs within months of passing their exams,” said Julia Chevan, dean of Springfield College School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies. “In the past ...

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    8. Development in Chicopee Soars to New Heights

      Development in Chicopee Soars to New Heights

      Richard Kos says officials in Chicopee are doing all they can to foster good relationships with developers, government leaders, and local businesses, and their efforts have led to a strong surge in growth. “In 2016 the building department issued $31 million in building permits, but we anticipate that, by the end of the first half of 2017, we will more than double that amount,” the mayor said. Indeed, the list of projects in the planning stages or underway is not only lengthy but diverse in nature, ranging from new hotels to new and improved housing, a solar farm, business expansions ...

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    9. Amherst Charts Growth, Retains Small-town Feel

      Amherst Charts Growth, Retains Small-town Feel

      Roberts owned the historic First National Bank building in the heart of downtown on 11 Amity St. which the trio identified as an ideal spot, and after an extensive, four-month, $500,000 renovation that resulted in a state-of-the-art workspace with a kitchen, the doors opened late last fall. It addition to areas with shared desks and tables, there are 10 individual offices, and seven were rented long before work on the structure was finished.

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    10. Stockbridge Evolves While Retaining Its Character

      Stockbridge Evolves While Retaining Its Character

      The idea of change in Stockbridge might seem antithetical to its nature, because the town’s economy is centered on tourism driven by its quintessential New England charm.  Indeed, thousands of people flock to Stockbridge each year to frequent its quaint downtown shops or visit iconic attractions that include Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.  But change has taken place in the town in recent years. Some of it has been unplanned, while other measures have been carefully crafted to retain its ambience, while keeping up with the times.

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    11. Commercial Construction Companies Forecast a Very Good Year

      Commercial Construction Companies Forecast a Very Good Year

      The construction sector has always been a good barometer when it comes to the economy and what may happen with it in the foreseeable future. And this historical trend is one of many reasons why cautious optimism abounds in the region. Indeed, many firms report that they have a number of projects on the books for the year ahead and beyond, and that these projects involve a number of economic sectors.

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    12. STCC Expands Options for EMT Course

      STCC Expands Options for EMT Course

      If a medical crisis occurs when Joan Osana is nearby, he feels confident that he can take control of the situation until help arrives.  The 25-year-old father of two just completed an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basics course at Springfield Technical Community College, and although it involved a tremendous amount of study, he is happy he signed up for it.  “I gained a lot of knowledge in a short period of time that will help me throughout my entire life. I would advise others to take the course,” Osana said, adding that he hopes to become a firefighter, and gaining ...

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    13. Recreational Offerings Spur Progress in Southwick

      Recreational Offerings Spur Progress in Southwick

      Freda Brown inherited 120 acres of forestland in Southwick that her parents had purchased generations before.  “It’s a beautiful area that borders my backyard, and I wanted to preserve the open space and find something to do with it that was sustainable and that my children could inherit,” she told BusinessWest. “The last thing I wanted was to see it turned into a development.” She came up with a viable option several years ago when she met Christopher Barden and Drew Gardner at an event in Southwick and they suggested turning it into a disc golf course, which, as ...

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    14. Employee Satisfaction, Innovation Key to OMG’s Success

      Employee Satisfaction, Innovation Key to OMG’s Success

      Hubert McGovern says people might wonder why a company would choose to manufacture screws in Agawam when they could be made far more inexpensively overseas.  “Twenty years ago, someone asked our board of directors why we hadn’t moved to China,” McGovern, president of OMG Roofing Products, told BusinessWest. “Many manufacturers have moved jobs overseas, and it’s no different in the screw business. But that’s not our story.”

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    15. Accelerator Helps Job Shops Find New Ways to Thrive

      Accelerator Helps Job Shops Find New Ways to Thrive

      alley Venture Mentors has made a name for itself providing invaluable mentoring and technical assistance to mostly young, startup ventures. But this fall, it has taken its ‘tough-love’ approach to helping business owners become more competitive and efficient to some businesses that are anything but young. Indeed, several of the participants in VVM’s Manufacturing Accelerator are decades old. But they are learning new ways to communicate with and better serve customers — and gain new ones.

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    16. O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates Finds Cost Efficient Environmental Solutions

      O’Reilly, Talbot & Okun Associates Finds Cost Efficient Environmental Solutions

      The firm known colloquially as OTO has been involved in most of the major building projects that have taken place across the region in the past few decades — everything from the major addition at Baystate Medical Center to construction of a subway-car manufacturing plant in Springfield’s east end. But much of the company’s work goes unnoticed, because it takes place before the heavy machinery arrives. To say their work is important, though, would be to only, well, scratch the surface.

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    17. Federal Grant Will Help STCC Students Achieve STEM Degrees

      Federal Grant Will Help STCC Students Achieve STEM Degrees

      Arlene Rodriguez says people who apply for a grant of any type need to have a compelling story about why the money is important. The vice president of Academic Affairs at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) knows developing the story is something that takes time, energy, dedication, and great attention to detail, which are all elements that were incorporated into a recent grant application the college submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. The year of work that went into its preparation was well worth it, however, as the story met with unparallelled success: STCC was recently awarded one ...

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    18. WSU, STCC Forge Unique Partnership in Nursing

      WSU, STCC Forge Unique Partnership in Nursing

      A new partnership between Westfield State University and Springfield Technical Community College will allow nursing graduates from STCC to earn a four-year degree from WSU on the Springfield campus. At a time when it’s increasingly important for nurses to have four-year degrees, the goal, as one STCC dean said, is to “remove any barriers to success.”

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    19. Public, Private Investments Boost Great Barrington

      Public, Private Investments Boost Great Barrington

      Two years ago Christopher Rembold described investment in Great Barrington as a “rising wave.” That surge has continued to gain force, and today Rembold says the wave has arrived, as major projects downtown come to fruition that were spurred in part by a $5.2 million renovation of Main Street that was finished this summer and includes new drainage, sidewalks, traffic signals, and landscaping. “Recently permitted and planned private investment has totaled close to $70 million over the past year, and we’re seeing the type of growth we wanted to encourage,” said the town planner. “Many places talk about ...

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    20. Diverse Growth Enhances Easthampton’s Vitality - BusinessWest

      Diverse Growth Enhances Easthampton’s Vitality - BusinessWest

      It’s a park like no other.  To begin with, it’s inside an old mill building and filled with a seemingly endless array of large, leafy edible plants that are used to prepare foods in the open restaurant that sits in the park’s center. The plants are grown hydroponically, or without soil, and are nourished with lights and a special mineral solution.  There are spaces inside the park’s 14,000 square feet to suit every mood: private and communal seating areas, a mushroom house designed to be an enclosed area for meetings and other gatherings, an amphitheater ...

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    21. Westfield Development Being Whipped into Shape

      Westfield Development Being Whipped into Shape

      Construction on the new, $6.6 million PVTA Intermodal Center is also underway, and when it opens next March, it is expected to increase the use of public transportation and spawn related economic development. The state-of-the-art center will include parking space for four buses with bicycle racks, as well as a bicycle-repair station, which are important because the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail is only a block away. Phase I of the rail trail has been completed, and Phase II will be finished next June, but at this point, bicyclists can access the trail from Main Street and ride all the ...

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    22. Women’s Chamber Helps Members Achieve Critical Balance

      Women’s Chamber Helps Members Achieve Critical Balance

      The Women’s Professional Chamber of Commerce is like most of the organizations with those three words in their title. But it is different in one important respect — the membership shares common challenges, issues, and emotions as they go about trying to balance work and life. This makes the WPC not only unique in character and mission, but also quite effective in providing needed support to members.

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    23. Partnerships Attract Business to Quaboag Region

      Partnerships Attract Business to Quaboag Region

      The chamber and QVCDC have coordinated their efforts and are working collectively to help new businesses as well as landlords with property to rent in the 400-square-mile rural region. “If a business in Ware does well, Palmer and Brimfield also benefit, and if we all work together, we can bring more businesses to the area, which will lead to more jobs,” Weake said, adding that, although some might question the desirability of setting up shop in this region roughly halfway between Springfield and Worcester, it is not as far away as people think. “Palmer is only 15 minutes from Springfield ...

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    24. West Side Balances Private, Public Projects

      West Side Balances Private, Public Projects

      Mayor William Reichelt says West Springfield is a small town that in many ways assumes the character of a city, due in part to the popular retail establishments — stores and restaurants — that line its two main commercial corridors, Riverdale Street and Memorial Avenue.  But that economic development has been balanced by efforts initiated by the new mayor: Reichelt, a member of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2016, took office in January and has already streamlined the permitting process and formed new committees and task forces to ensure that the zoning is appropriate, traffic flow does not affect residential ...

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