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    1. Investments in a Promising Future | BusinessWest

      Investments in a Promising Future | BusinessWest

      The awards — $95 million to UMass Amherst and $5.5 million to the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield — are part of a $1 billion, 10-year investment on the part of the state designed to stimulate growth of its life-sciences supercluster, considered the largest in the country.  When asked what this latest investment would mean for the Western Mass. region and the state as a whole, Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the MLSC, said simply, “drive economic development and job creation.”

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    2. Strategic Choices | BusinessWest

      Strategic Choices | BusinessWest

      In 1998, when Jason Mark was teaching a class on Internet strategy, he told students that, before they used any type of technology to create a website, they needed to identify their goals and what they were trying to accomplish.
      “Even though there is so much different technology that developers can use today, the exact same process still needs to take place,” said the co-founder of Gravity Switch in Northampton. “People need to know what their goals are, and businesses should not assume that technology will fix all their problems. If it were that easy, their competitors would have already ...

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    3. Elevating Their Game | BusinessWest

      Elevating Their Game | BusinessWest

      Mary Kay Wydra, exective director of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, agreed. She told BusinessWest that the bureau, which was in what she called “survival mode” during and just after the Great Recession, when visitorship was down and the state was cutting back its contributions to such organizations, is now being much more aggressive in pursuit of conventions, meetings, and events — and sports can and should be a big part of that equation.

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    4. Seeing the Light | BusinessWest

      Seeing the Light | BusinessWest

      Massachusetts has experienced rapid growth in its solar-energy sector in recent years. The total capacity generated by solar energy in Massachusetts has doubled in the last two years, reaching 105 megawatts (enough to power more than 15,000 homes) in 2012, a figure that is forecasted to quadruple by 2020.
      Massachusetts’ renewable-energy sector now employs more than 64,000 people statewide (including nearly 10,000 in Western Mass.) and is projected to grow 15% per year. Massachusetts is now considered to be one of the best states in the country for solar development, a phenomenon driven largely by the state ...

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    5. Funding a College Education | BusinessWest

      Funding a College Education | BusinessWest

      A Crash Course in the Options Available to Parents and Students By any measure, college is expensive and continues to rise rapidly in cost. How to pay for college is one of the biggest financial concerns for today’s parents, no matter what their income level.  The parents’ concern is enhanced by the uncertainty of college costs and financial aid, the complexity of the application process, and the desire to provide the best education for their children. With a long-term plan that carefully balances savings, borrowing, and college selection, parents can help their children reach their dreams without bankrupting their ...

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    6. Engaging Concept | BusinessWest

      Engaging Concept | BusinessWest

      Kathy Dube says that talk of creating a women’s leadership council within the United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been ongoing for some time now.
      There was never any doubt about the benefits to creating such an organization, both within the community and for the women taking part, she explained, noting that there are now 130 such councils operating across the country in partnership with United Way chapters. And they have been effective in reaching out to women leaders in the community to engage and involve (the two words you see most often with respect to such groups ...

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    7. In a Class by Itself | BusinessWest

      In a Class by Itself | BusinessWest

      John Williamson says Northampton has a magnetic quality that draws a broad spectrum of people to its businesses, restaurants, retail shops, and entertainment venues. And that quality has allowed commercial real estate not only to weather the economic downturn, but register unprecedented growth over the past two years.
      “It’s so far and away from other markets, there really is no comparison,” said the president of Williamson Commercial Properties LLC in Springfield.

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    8. Community Profile: Springfield

      Community Profile: Springfield

      Jeff Ciuffreda has become a bit weary of the casino issue as well. As executive director of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, he knew any stand taken by the ACCGS would be controversial with some, “so we supported it with one caveat — that it not distract from ongoing economic development.” After all, an $800 million casino does change the equation downtown, and is not exactly the sort of project the City of Homes is accustomed to. Ciuffreda wants assurances that MGM or Penn National won’t ignore the small businesses that are in many ways the city ...

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    9. Ventures and Adventures

      Ventures and Adventures

      Sharon Styffe, dean of Workforce and Professional Development at Holyoke Community College (HCC), says that coming up with a successful new business concept is a challenge that comes in two parts: having a good idea, and identifying a market to buy that idea. “It’s one thing to do what you’re good at,” she told BusinessWest, “but its quite another thing to find something you’re good at — and that the market will buy. You can’t just sell something that’s your passion; it has to be someone else’s need — because otherwise it’s just an organized ...

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    10. Face Lift | BusinessWest

      Face Lift | BusinessWest

      Shardool and Kishore Parmar, president and vice president respectively of the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group (PVHG), understand that they have two sizeable challenges when it comes to the property at 711 Dwight St. in Springfield.  The first is to get people to stop talking about it in the past tense — a still-common practice, especially when it comes to the rotating restaurant on the top floor that was once a major destination in the region — and using one of the names that used to be on the building, especially Holiday Inn.  The second is to convince several constituencies, from families to ...

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    11. Setting a Course of Action | BusinessWest

      Setting a Course of Action | BusinessWest

      There is a new strategic planning initiative underway at the Amherst campus, said Subbaswamy (known to colleagues as ‘Swamy’), one that will provide a detailed outline of where this soon-to-be-150-year-old institution needs to be with regard to everything from the life sciences to economic-development initiatives within the Commonwealth; from increasing the volume of research initiatives on the campus to improving graduation rates.

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    12. Changing Perceptions

      Changing Perceptions

      Don Courtemanche lives in downtown Springfield. He walks to work and takes advantage of the cultural events, eateries, and other offerings readily available to him in the area. “I think of downtown as a neighborhood. It’s a place where I want to live, stay, and raise my family,” said the executive director of the Springfield Business Improvement District, or BID, adding that he can walk to 40 restaurants from his home on Maple Street, which is not technically within the boundaries of the BID, but certainly impacted by the organization’s efforts.

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    13. Looking to Make Some Waves

      Looking to Make Some Waves

      The parent corporation, FloDesign, is essentially an aerospace company that has designed, prototyped, and developed products ranging from noise suppressors for jet engines to something called a RAP nozzle, a device that transmits a fluid force, gas, or fine particles over a distance with minimal loses. Thresher takes the helm at an intriguing time for the enterprise, as it looks to create new business opportunities and avenues for growth.

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    14. Finding Answers | BusinessWest

      Finding Answers | BusinessWest

      There remains a large and vibrant research component at the institute, as evidenced by the white board that dominates one wall in the office occupied by Dan Hodge, the recently named director of the agency’s Economic and Public Policy Research department.  It lists more than a dozen potential projects, or “opportunities,” as he called them, and several initiatives already underway, including a study on the growth potential of the manufacturing sector in the Berkshires, commissioned by the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., and another research project, undertaken for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, on retention of college graduates.

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    15. Community Profile: Holyoke | BusinessWest

      Community Profile: Holyoke | BusinessWest

      If cultivating a vibrant city is equal parts art and science, Holyoke certainly has plenty of both.  The science ranges from the $165 million Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center that opened in November to a number of high-tech firms moving into former mill space along the canals, to the ‘green’ hydroelectric power harnessed by the Holyoke Dam on the Connecticut River.

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    16. The Nominations Are In | BusinessWest

      The Nominations Are In | BusinessWest

      A total of 99 individuals have been nominated for the honor of joining the class of 2013, the seventh since the program was initiated in 2007.  The daunting, yet rewarding, task of scoring these individuals now falls to five judges (including two previous winners), who represent fields ranging from law to accounting; from education to financial services. They will be returning their scores later this week, and the winners will be notified in the days that follow.

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    17. ‘Challenge Accepted’ | BusinessWest

      ‘Challenge Accepted’ | BusinessWest

      Marcos Marrero remembers that there was about a month between when he received the phone call from Mayor Alex Morse telling him he was being offered the job of planning and economic development director for Holyoke (which he quickly accepted) and when he actually moved into his office at One Court Plaza.

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