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    1. Community Spotlight: Chicopee | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Chicopee | BusinessWest

      Kenn Delude, president and CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp., cites the Chicopee River Business Park as an example of an area poised for development. The park, built on the grounds of the former Oxford Country Club and Springfield Rifle Range, is located at the intersection of I-90 and I-291, and contains plots that vary in size and could be used for office space and/or manufacturing.  “The park contains 147 acres and has fully permitted sites for sale that are complete with utilities,” Delude said, adding that 826,000 square feet of space has been pre-permitted, and incentives are ...

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    2. Signs of the Times | BusinessWest

      Signs of the Times | BusinessWest

      On the commercial side, business has definitely picked up, but education is necessary in that area of the building industry as well, due to heightened processes involving commercial and residential contractors’ licensing requirements, the Bay State’s increasingly strict energy-saving codes, and for the commercial consumer, a reality check about what is necessary and what isn’t for efficiency processes and new high-tech building products.  Town by town, Massachusetts is becoming the strictest state in the nation for energy-saving codes, said both Campbell and Seth Crocker, vice president and co-owner of Crocker Building Co. in Springfield.

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      Mentions: Springfield
    3. An Urban Laboratory | BusinessWest

      An Urban Laboratory | BusinessWest

      As John Aubin talked about Open Square, the massive former mill complex along the canals in downtown Holyoke that has been his passion for the past dozen years or more, he continually referred to it as an “urban laboratory” — for architecture, planning, sustainability, and economic development.  By that, he meant this was a place to experiment and drive innovation in response to an ongoing movement that has more people apparently willing and able to work, live, and locate businesses in urban settings, although many cities are struggling to take full advantage of that phenomenon.

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      Mentions: Holyoke
    4. Steeling for Change | BusinessWest

      Steeling for Change | BusinessWest

      ef Sharpe and Jeff Hausthor are on the edge again. The cutting edge, that is.  The entrepreneurs, who have been partners in five business ventures, joined Henry Lederman last October to start a new company called Qnect, and are launching a new software product called QuickQnect at the three-day NASCC Steel Conference in Toronto.  They say the product will revolutionize the way the joints in a steel structure are connected. “The idea of turning this manual process into a software solution is brand-new, and QuickQnect is up to 100 times faster than the conventional way of connecting the joints in ...

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    5. Priming the Pump | BusinessWest

      Priming the Pump | BusinessWest

      Wellspring is the name of a unique collaborative designed to create economic opportunities and revitalize Springfield’s neighborhoods. Launched in 2011 with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the program intends to use the purchasing power of the region’s largest employers to provide a market for new worker-owned companies that will create entry-level jobs and ownership opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents.  These employers, also called ‘anchors,’ include Baystate Health, the Sisters of Providence Health System, Springfield Technical Community College, UMass Amherst, and Western New England University, and the hope is to add more, said Fred Rose ...

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    6. Community Spotlight: Northampton | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Northampton | BusinessWest

      Mayor David Narkewicz said the dealerships are among a bevy of exciting new projects that will increase vitality in Paradise City. “There is a lot of investment going on right now, which we are very pleased about,” he told BusinessWest.
      Terry Masterson agreed. “There are 13 projects with a total value of $88.6 million that will add 203,000 square feet of office/professional floor space, 110 new hotel rooms, 73 housing units, and 83 assisted-living units,” said the city’s economic development director.

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    7. Meetings of the Minds | BusinessWest

      Meetings of the Minds | BusinessWest

      ‘Collisions.’  That’s the term Paul Silva absolutely wore out as he talked about what happens when entrepreneurs — or ‘crazy people,’ as he calls them — as well as creative types, such as writers, editors, musicians, and website designers, get together in close quarters.  “There are collisions — and lots of them,” said Silva, adding quickly that these developments take many forms, such as individuals collaborating on an idea that becomes a business concept. Or an entrepreneur finding an angel investor that can provide the capital to get an idea off the ground. Or a writer making the acquaintance of a social-media ...

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    8. Community Spotlight: Pittsfield | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Pittsfield | BusinessWest

      The Innovation Center holds real promise, and $6.5 million has already been earmarked for the project as part of the Commonwealth’s Life Sciences Bond Bill. It will be built in William Stanley Business Park, which encompasses 52 acres on the grounds of the former General Electric Pittsfield Works. The park opened in the summer of 2012 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its first tenant, Mountain One Financial Center, but since that time, plans for the Innovation Center have taken center stage.  Clark said the original plan called for a ‘life science center,’ but the name was changed to ...

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    9. Change Agent | BusinessWest

      Change Agent | BusinessWest

      In his first year, Traverso found that several students had earned enough academic credits to qualify as 10th graders, but were recorded as seniors, or were making the grade in their academics but not in their vocational classes, and were still being passed upward. Making more friends by the day, Traverso and the teachers met with 60 quite upset parents, one on one, and explained that the credits would have to be made up, with the help of the school, or the student in question would have to transfer. But the recommendation was to stay at Putnam, and most students ...

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    10. Market-driven Move | BusinessWest

      Market-driven Move | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    11. Community Spotlight: Belchertown | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Belchertown | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    12. Casting His Lot | BusinessWest

      Casting His Lot | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    13. Community Spotlight: Greenfield | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Greenfield | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    14. Sovereign Rulers | BusinessWest

      Sovereign Rulers | BusinessWest

      When the Sovereign Bank signs suddenly came down across Massachusetts last fall, replaced by the Santander Bank name, it was … well, anything but sudden.
      “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 ...

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    15. Generating Interest | BusinessWest

      Generating Interest | BusinessWest

      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.
      But in some respects, this transaction is resetting the bar when it comes to the MOE.  Indeed, expectations ...

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      Mentions: United Bank
    16. Community Spotlight: Holyoke | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Holyoke | BusinessWest

      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.”

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      Mentions: Holyoke Alex Morse
    17. Community Spotlight: Amherst | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Amherst | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    18. Care Traffic Control | BusinessWest

      Care Traffic Control | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    19. Entrepreneurial Energy | BusinessWest

      Entrepreneurial Energy | BusinessWest

      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.
      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 ...

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      Mentions: Greenfield
    20. Cruise Control | BusinessWest

      Cruise Control | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    21. The Lights Fantastic | BusinessWest

      The Lights Fantastic | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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      Mentions: Chicopee
    22. Raising Their Game | BusinessWest

      Raising Their Game | BusinessWest

      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.

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      Mentions: Marla Michel
    23. Picking Up Steam? | BusinessWest

      Picking Up Steam? | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    24. Season of Hope | BusinessWest

      Season of Hope | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
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