Urbschat said marketing and advertising budgets are among the first things to be cut during a downturn like the recent recession, and they’re also some of the last things to be restored. But she’s seeing definite signs of progress. “That’s the natural order of economic downturns and recovery, and I feel we’re in recovery,” said Urbschat, who speaks from the experience gained from living through several recessions. “That’s the beauty of being a small business — we’re lean; we can make adjustments as needed and respond. We took appropriate measures, and now we’re off ...(Read Full Article)
Albertson said MassDevelopment will continue working on a plan for the former Belchertown State School property, which could include a mix of retail establishments, space for offices, some light research and development, and perhaps some small-scale residential development, although the latter will not be the focus. In addition, a set of commercial design guidelines created for the entire town, presented to the board of selectmen in November, is on the agenda for the spring town meeting. So, growth will continue to move Belchertown into the future, but some things will remain unchanged, including the residents’ appreciation for the landscape that ...(Read Full Article)
When Yasir Osman arrived in New York from his homeland of Sudan in 1989, he had $100 in his pocket and very limited knowledge of English. Osman, who would relocate to Springfield a few years after arriving in Brooklyn — only a few months after meeting his future wife, who grew up in the City of Homes — has taken an intriguing ride from being an attendant in a parking garage on East Court Street to working his way up with that enterprise to regional manager, to starting his own company, Executive Parking. That venture now manages more than a dozen garages ...(Read Full Article)
As a former economic-development director for 13 years with the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Mass., Robert Pyers was consulted several times by various Greenfield municipal employees about growing the town at the intersection of Interstate 91 and Route 2. The answer was always the same. “We’ve been very successful since converting from the selectman style of government to mayoral; it changed things because you have greater impact in terms of designing your business plan,” he said, noting that a mayor’s decision comes much faster than the colliding opinions of select board members and their executive council ...(Read Full Article)
When the Sovereign Bank signs suddenly came down across Massachusetts last fall, replaced by the Santander Bank name, it was … well, anything but sudden.(Read Full Article)
“We branded as Santander on Oct. 17, but as you can imagine, a lot of work went on behind the scenes prior to the rebranding,” said David L’Heureux, Santander’s market manager of Commercial Banking for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as he explained why the international banking giant, based in Spain, made the name change almost four years after acquiring Sovereign. “We’ve been preparing for the rebranding for the past year and a half ...
The deal, which would create a $4.8 million community institution with more than 50 branches in Massachusetts and Connecticut, is similar to others consummated in recent months in that the banks are of similar size (United has $2.5 billion is assets, Rockville has $2.2 billion), there has been considerable give and take in the negotiations, and the ‘selling’ bank — United, in this case — is actually the one keeping its name, because those involved believe it will ultimately travel better.(Read Full Article)
But in some respects, this transaction is resetting the bar when it comes to the MOE. Indeed, expectations ...
Over the past two years, said the city’s 24-year-old mayor, “we’ve been doing some excellent planning, laying the foundation for things we’ll be pursuing in 2014. And we have a lot of projects happening this year. Residents, and people visiting Holyoke, have been noticing the changes in the city.” Added Marcos Marrero, Holyoke’s planning director, “where 2012 was a big year for planning, and in 2013 we took steps to bring things to fruition, we’ll actually see that fruition in 2014.”(Read Full Article)
Optimism for such a development stems in large part from the emergence of new programs and tens of millions of dollars in research projects at the university, said Maroulis, who pointed specifically to the new, $157 million Life Science Laboratories, part of the Mass. Life Sciences Center (MLSC), and one of many potential catalysts for economic development in the town. Through the MLSC, the Commonwealth is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life-sciences supercluster. At UMass Amherst, the MLSC includes such facilities as the Biosensors and Big Data Center, the Healthcare Informatics and ...(Read Full Article)
The screens tell the story. Hundreds of stories, actually. They line the walls of a room at Mercy Medical Center, appropriately called the ‘hub.’ One screen details the occupant of each inpatient bed and their anticipated time of discharge. Another details patient movement in the emergency room, while other screens keep tabs on various hospital departments. And at any time, specially trained nurses known as clinical care coordinators, or C3s, can call up a patient’s status to make sure they’re getting the care they need in a timely fashion. “We were looking to some system to pull the ...(Read Full Article)
He grew Sandri from an oil company into a $250 million, full-service energy firm, dealing in everything from wood pellets to photovoltaics. He has also expanded the main businesses, gas stations, through imaginative initiatives that have produced a 60% increase in the total number of gallons sold (the main measuring stick in this industry) to more than 70 million, with plans to get to 100 million in the near future.(Read Full Article)
One of his latest endeavors has been a push into the highly competitive convenience-store market. The Sandri name is now on five such facilities, and the ambitious goal is to ...
Dave Cruise’s desk — or, more specifically, what sits on it — speaks volumes about his work with the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, and also his work ethic and his passion for putting other people to work. Sitting in one corner are a few “toys,” as he calls them, including a plastic device (a tracheal tube of sorts once made by Mitchell Machine in Springfield), as a well as a small plastic castle tower, complete with an interior staircase, that are there as reminders of the many different types of products made in this region and of the high ...(Read Full Article)
Mike Zaskey says LED (light-emitting diode) technology has been on his radar screen for more than a decade now. He understood its vast potential to open new doors for the company he founded, Chicopee-based Zasco Productions, by enabling it to contend for projects — and there are many of them — that could benefit from the technology’s ability to produce a sharp, bright, high-quality video display image, even in direct sunlight, a considerable improvement over projection technology. But he also understood its high price tag and how difficult — especially years ago, when this technology was considerably more expensive — it would likely ...(Read Full Article)
The fact that the Business Growth Center positively teems with knowledge, from the array of economic-development organizations, small businesses, and other agencies that populate the center, is one of its key strengths, she noted, and one that the center is actively marketing, not just to lease space at the center, but through a series of new programs and outreaches aimed at helping small businesses throughout the region grow and thrive.(Read Full Article)
As the director of Economic and Public Policy Research for the Donohue Institute at UMass, Dan Hodge has been involved in a number of initiatives in — and involving — Springfield. He had a role in the post-tornado initiative called Rebuild Springfield, for example, and has been both a close observer and color commentator of sorts with regard to the many different types of development that have emerged over the past several years. Summing up the mood, or attitude, he believes is taking shape in the City of Homes, he said, “people are asking, ‘when are things going to happen here?’” The ...(Read Full Article)
Rudi Scherff, manager of the Student Prince, a landmark eatery in downtown Springfield that just celebrated 78 years in business, is used to the ups and downs of the hospitality business. Scherff, who undoubtedly has one of the strongest and most affluent regular clienteles in the Pioneer Valley, said he’s getting the sense that, while there is apprehension and concern, people are a bit happier with at least the regional economic situation than they were a year ago. Scherff told BusinessWest that the holidays are “huge” for his restaurant, which does a solid 20% of the year’s business ...(Read Full Article)
Fran Ahern acknowledged that the analogy isn’t perfect, but, for the most part, it works, and it helps him effectively tell the story of one of the region’s least-known — and least-understood — business success stories.(Read Full Article)
“We’re a service center for airplanes,” said Ahern, general manager of Gulfstream’s sprawling operation at Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield. He would go on to draw a number of loose comparisons between his operation and the corner garage or auto dealership where one might bring their Buick for new tires, a tuneup, or an inspection sticker.
Bob LePage spends a lot of time talking to employers from many different sectors, from healthcare to hospitality; financial services to manufacturing. And they all have one thing in common — a need for quality workers. He related a conversation he had with the head of an area manufacturing firm. “He said, ‘we have more work than we have capacity. And what’s the biggest capacity constriction? Lack of workers. If I could find them, I’d add a shift, I’d add another line. Our challenge is, we need more qualified workers, whether that’s taking assemblers and upscaling them ...(Read Full Article)
Doug Bowen, PeoplesBank president and CEO, admits that the bank may not see a return on the added investment through energy savings for “seven to eight years from now” at the earliest, but that timetable certainly isn‘t deterring him from such endeavors. Indeed, what interests him most is that PeoplesBank continues to be an industry leader in developing sustainable branch offices, fostering an environmentally friendly corporate culture, and investing in projects that will be energy-efficient. This is a mission that PeoplesBank staked out a couple of years after Bowen took over the leadership of the bank in 2006, and ...(Read Full Article)
Hampden has countered that trend, Welch said, with the strong recent performance of its commercial-loan portfolio; in fact, the bank recorded loan growth of almost 22% in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, outpacing deposit growth of 9%. Overall, Hampden Bank boasts almost $700 million in assets and 111 employees spread across 10 branches in Springfield, Agawam, Longmeadow, West Springfield, and Wilbraham. That wasn’t enough for a group of non-local shareholders who waged an unsuccessful proxy fight for more control over the bank’s dealings earlier this month. Texas-based Clover Partners, which owns about $7.8 million ...(Read Full Article)
The Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community (CHCRC), a $192 million, 517,637-square-foot complex across Commonwealth Avenue from the Mullins Center, opened its doors in August, and it’s already turning heads with a number of constituencies. Indeed, the gleaming, seven-building campus within a campus is gaining the attention of other students at the university, high-school juniors and seniors weighing their options about where to pursue their undergraduate degrees, and other institutions looking to build an honors community of their own.(Read Full Article)
Like Phelon, Ciuffreda, and Nascimento, Anderson also mentioned efforts to partner with other chambers and various economic-development-related organizations to bring still more value to members and bolster the business community or specific sectors within it. These efforts and the others chronicled above represent a response to the new landscape facing chambers, said Nascimento, adding quickly that the scene didn’t change overnight, and the necessary adjustments won’t come that quickly either. “There are a lot of challenges for chambers,” he said in conclusion, “but there are also a lot of opportunities. This is an exciting time for chambers and ...(Read Full Article)
As she gave BusinessWest a tour of the 24,000-square-foot MicroTek plant on Justin Drive, Paradis stopped at a number of the workstations where she learned this business and its specific products more than 25 years ago. She explained the processes involved with specific parts, offered high praise for the workforce, and ended with some pointed commentary. “This is a good example of how manufacturing is still a big part of our economy in Western Mass.,” she said. “People say this sector is in decline, and maybe it’s not what it once was, but what we’re doing here ...(Read Full Article)
Jeffrey Ciuffreda says there are a number of encouraging signs to take from this year’s roster of Super 60 companies — the 24th compilation of the region’s top-performing businesses. For starters, there are the numbers — for both revenue and revenue growth — posted by the winners, said Ciuffreda, president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, which has presented the program since 1990. He noted that companies in the first category averaged more than $35 million last year and combined for more than $1 billion. Meanwhile, one-third of the companies in the revenue-growth category averaged in excess of ...(Read Full Article)
The website was developed as a result of a collaborative effort. It is an initiative of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County (REB), which teamed up with members of the Healthcare Workforce Partnership of Western Mass., with the goal of strengthening the region’s healthcare workforce and enhancing the quality of patient care. “The idea for the website was generated by employers, educators, and community-based organizations with the express desire of letting people know what types of healthcare jobs and careers are available in the Pioneer Valley and where they exist on the continuum of care,” said Kelly Aiken ...(Read Full Article)