1. Articles from Contributor

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    1. Ludlow Weighs Options for Rescue Plan Funds

      Ludlow Weighs Options for Rescue Plan Funds

      This fall, two long-anticipated projects in Ludlow opened to the public, and officials say there’s more to come. In September, the Harris Brook Elementary School on Fuller Street opened for full classes for students in grades 2-5. And in early November, the new Ludlow Senior Center officially opened on State Street. Board of Selectmen Chairman William Rosenblum said that, while Ludlow is already a desirable community, the new school and senior center make it even more so.

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    2. Monson Pursues New Growth Opportunities

      Monson Pursues New Growth Opportunities

      It’s a classic small-town balancing act. As Monson leaders look forward to new infrastructure and energy projects, many residents also want to maintain a small-town feel. But progress is important, Town Administrator Jennifer Wolowicz says. With the town about to receive $1.7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and a team at Town Hall looking at ways to use those funds, she favors infrastructure projects because she believes they offer the best return on investment. “There are plenty of projects we could pursue that serve only part of the community, but everyone benefits from improved roads ...

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    3. Companies Need to Understand What Matters to Job Seekers

      Companies Need to Understand What Matters to Job Seekers

      You’ve just woken up. As you sip your morning coffee, you open your e-mail and give it a quick glance. Wedged in between your work and personal mail, you have several e-mails with the subject line ‘We’re Hiring’ or ‘Join Our Team.’ You switch over to social media and see that your neighbor just announced she’s left her place of employment for a new opportunity. There are few more posts from friends who are frustrated with their employers’ lack of communication or insistence on returning to the office.

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    4. Stockbridge Looks Forward, Honors Its Heritage

      Stockbridge Looks Forward, Honors Its Heritage

      One of Norman Rockwell’s most famous paintings depicts a snow-covered Main Street in Stockbridge. The painting “Home for Christmas” was intended to celebrate small towns all over America, but these days, it’s nearly impossible for modern-day photographers to recreate the artist’s vision without including a constant stream of traffic. While that might frustrate photographers, Margaret Kerswill is encouraged by all the activity she has seen this summer and into the fall.

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    5. North Adams Pursues Return to Normalcy - BusinessWest

      North Adams Pursues Return to Normalcy - BusinessWest

      While North Adams tries to return to familiar norms, many are prepared to adjust if new pandemic concerns arise.  That’s the perspective of Mayor Thomas Bernard, anyway, who said his community has slowly and cautiously taken steps to bring back the positive routines of daily life.  “The moment that stands out for me is our first concert at Windsor Lake in early to mid-June,” Bernard said. “There were people who hadn’t seen neighbors and friends for more than a year. The sound of kids laughing and playing, great music, the spirit was unbelievable.”


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    6. Square One Aims to Make an Impact with Financial-literacy Program

      Square One Aims to Make an Impact with Financial-literacy Program

      Given the scope of Square One’s work for children and families, it’s not unusual for the organization to receive contributions to support its efforts. But recently, FR Investment Group offered a donation that goes far beyond writing a check. “Instead of making a monetary donation, we’ve chosen to do something harder,” said Peter Cote, president of FP Investment Group. “We’re giving our time and services to help Square One clients and staff improve their financial literacy.” Dawn DiStefano, Square One’s executive director, had seen similar attempts at financial education fizzle out, despite good intentions. This ...

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    7. North Adams Chamber to Build Public Outdoor Dining Space

      North Adams Chamber to Build Public Outdoor Dining Space

      MassDevelopment has awarded a $10,000 grant to the North Adams Chamber of Commerce to transform the Center Street parking lot at 55 Veterans Memorial Dr. in North Adams into a seasonal public dining corridor dubbed Mohawk Plaza. The organization will use funds to add outdoor seating, a sidewalk surface mural, wayfinding signage, ambience lighting, and landscape work. The chamber will also crowdfund this summer and fall; if the organization reaches its $7,850 goal, it will receive an additional $7,850 matching grant from MassDevelopment.

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      Mentions: MassDevelopment
    8. Southwick Emphasizes Balance for the Community

      Southwick Emphasizes Balance for the Community

      When they talk about managing their town into the future, officials in Southwick emphasize the word “balance.” In order for the town to remain a desirable place to live, said Karl Stinehart, chief administrative officer, there needs to be a combination of housing and recreation areas as well as commercial and industrial development. “We like to point out that Southwick is a recreational community,” he noted. “We also want to make sure our zoning allows for commercial and industrial developments because the taxes they contribute will keep our town an affordable place to live.”

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      Mentions: Westfield
    9. Home Show Fills Need for Contractors, Consumers - BusinessWest

      Home Show Fills Need for Contractors, Consumers - BusinessWest

      In the old days — prior to the pandemic — when homeowners wanted to make improvements to their property, they called several contractors for competitive bids. Once a contractor was selected, the job would start shortly after that.  Since the pandemic, those days are long gone. Contractors are busier than ever, and building materials have been affected by worldwide supply shortages and price hikes. Now, homeowners seeking a contractor can leave a phone message, but may not receive a call back.

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    10. IT Labor Force Presents Challenges and Opportunities

      IT Labor Force Presents Challenges and Opportunities

      When the pandemic arrived early last year and many companies adjusted to remote work for their staff, it was IT professionals who got everyone up and running from their homes. Now, as the world begins to move away from the pandemic and companies begin bringing employees back to the office, the demand to hire IT pros is even higher than it was before COVID-19 emerged. And that poses challenges for employers.

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    11. Great Barrington Reinvents Itself for Success

      Great Barrington Reinvents Itself for Success

      On a summer Friday night in Great Barrington, Mark Pruhenski simply enjoyed the sight of dozens of diners eating outside and the sound of musicians playing from various spots around downtown. Town manager since 2019, Pruhenski said Great Barrington is fortunate to have weathered the pandemic well. He gave much of the credit to a task force formed early on that included town staff and a strong network of partners, including Fairview Hospital, local food banks, and others who lent support.

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    12. Indoor Activity Centers Look to Bounce Back After Pandemic - BusinessWest

      Indoor Activity Centers Look to Bounce Back After Pandemic - BusinessWest

      Among the industries battered by the pandemic and the ensuing economic shutdown, indoor recreation centers — from bowling alleys to trampoline rooms to roller rinks — took a massive hit last year, forced to close for longer than most other businesses and then tasked with navigating a very gradual ramp-up to normal operations. Now, a month after the final restrictions were lifted, the owners and managers of these businesses are grateful to be fully open, with a renewed understanding of the value of play in people’s lives.

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      Mentions: Easthampton
    13. Easthampton Is Getting Down to Business

      Easthampton Is Getting Down to Business

      While grateful that Easthampton is reaching the other side of COVID-19, Mayor Nicole LaChapelle understands there is still plenty of work ahead. Even though her city came through the pandemic in better shape than many communities, she has prioritized building up the Public Health department to help the city move forward. “We’re looking at public health as a part of public safety,” LaChapelle said. To that end, the mayor hopes to add more clinical staff to the department as well as encourage other city departments to collaborate with Public Health.

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    14. New Challenges Emerge in Employee Benefits — but More Options, Too

      New Challenges Emerge in Employee Benefits — but More Options, Too

      With five generations in today’s workforce, employee benefits are no one-size-fits-all proposition — yet, they remain a key issue for employers looking to attract and retain a skilled workforce. Striking a balance between what employees want and what the business can afford is certainly a challenge — but the flexibility and options available to employers these days makes the task a little easier to navigate.

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      Mentions: Springfield
    15. Westfield Grateful to Move Past Pandemic

      Westfield Grateful to Move Past Pandemic

      For Donald Humason, the phones ringing at Westfield City Hall is a sure sign the pandemic is nearing its end. While recognizing that some people suffered devastating personal and economic loss, Humason remains grateful that, on the whole, Westfield came through the last 14 months better than expected. He credits the team at City Hall for working tirelessly with state officials to secure grants for Westfield agencies and businesses. “At our weekly department meetings, I would always ask if we were prepared for the eventual end of the pandemic, so we would be ready when the phones start ringing again ...

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    16. Price Hikes, Supply Shortages Challenge Construction Industry - BusinessWest

      Price Hikes, Supply Shortages Challenge Construction Industry - BusinessWest

      Few industries have been immune to the supply shortages and rising costs that have plagued the world economy over the past few months, but construction is especially vulnerable, relying heavily on materials — most notably lumber and steel, but dozens more as well — riddled by soaring prices. The good news is that demand for work is high, but many still worry about the long-term implications of a cost problem with no end in sight.

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    17. MassDevelopment Loan to Finance Transformation of Eagle Mill

      MassDevelopment Loan to Finance Transformation of Eagle Mill

      MassDevelopment has provided an $800,000 loan to Eagle Mill Redevelopment, LLC, which is using the proceeds to redevelop the former Eagle Mill and surrounding parcels in Lee into a mixed-use complex featuring 128 residential housing units and 14,000 square feet of retail and office space. The developer used loan proceeds and additional financing from Adams Community Bank to buy 10 adjacent properties that will be combined and subdivided into six separate parcels for future redevelopment. Construction on the project, which is expected to cost approximately $55 million, is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, with ...

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      Mentions: MassDevelopment
    18. Nicholas Amanti

      Nicholas Amanti

      Nick Amanti grew up in a family business where he learned life lessons he still follows. For 60 years, his family has owned Advance Manufacturing, which provides precision-manufactured parts for a number of industries. Amanti was taught to treat the people who work for Advance like family. Though his career is outside the company, Amanti provides legal services for many different business owners and feels a true connection with them.

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    19. Remote-work Movement Presents Challenges, Opportunities in IT

      Remote-work Movement Presents Challenges, Opportunities in IT

      After a chaotic start, the pandemic has proven to be good for business in the IT world, where professionals were deluged with requests from clients to set up remote networks for their employees, not to mention a flood of new clients seeking network services for the first time. More than perhaps anyone, these IT pros have seen first-hand how COVID-19 has changed the way companies are doing business. And some of the changes, they say, may be here for the long term.

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    20. Lead Engineer on NASA’s Perseverance Mission Started at HCC

      Lead Engineer on NASA’s Perseverance Mission Started at HCC

      Not many people can say they’ve worked on every U.S.-led rover mission to Mars. One who can is David Gruel, a Holyoke Community College graduate from the class of 1991. Five years out of HCC, Gruel was part of the Pathfinder mission that landed the Sojourner rover on Mars, the second Mars mission since the Viking became the first-ever U.S. mission to Mars in 1975. Sojourner had limited movement when compared to other rovers (most recently Perseverance) that travel across the planet, but it was a milestone nonetheless.

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    21. Palmer Looks to the Future with Optimism

      Palmer Looks to the Future with Optimism

      As the nation recovers from a year of dealing with COVID-19, Palmer Town Manger Ryan McNutt looks to the future with optimism. While larger cities had to contend with high COVID infection numbers and revenue losses from business taxes, Palmer maintained low infection numbers and relies more on residential taxes, which remained stable. These days, as many people in the larger metropolitan areas work from home, there is no certainty they will return to five days a week in the office. That dynamic, McNutt believes, gives Palmer a real opportunity. With the average home price in Palmer at $191,000 ...

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      Mentions: Palmer
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