Rudi Scherff started washing dishes at the Student Prince restaurant, then co-owned by his father, Rupprecht, when he was 12 years old. This means that, among many other things, he has a half-century’s worth of perspective on downtown Springfield.
There are a number of intriguing initiatives underway to help grow and strengthen the region’s precision-manufacturing sector — everything from a project involving UMass Amherst that will drive innovation, to a conference this fall aimed at spotlighting this sector and keeping business in this region.
This is the main motivation behind the Pioneer Valley Precision Manufacturing Collaborative, or what Langevin described as an ambitious pilot program that involves four small area manufacturing outfits: Boulevard Machine & Gear and Thorn Industries, both in Springfield; Mechanical Drive Components Inc. (MDC) in Chicopee; and Creative Machining & Molding Corp. (CMMC) in Westfield.
As part of Bay Path’s commitment to providing students with a career-focused education, the college has been fine-tuning its entrepreneurial academics on all levels, with offerings from graduate programs all the way to summer sessions for area high-school girls.
His destination this time was New Hampshire and several of the Yankee Candle stores there. Kent, who became CEO of the company last fall, does this often. He talks to the people who run the stores, and he talks to customers. The goal is the same: to find out if the store in question is providing the kind of products, services, and experience that the corporation demands of each outlet.
Eric Snyder, director of the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, said there is still some manufacturing in the city of just around 16,000. “Physically, we are not a big community, so any new industry wouldn’t have access to a large footprint,” he explained. “So that asks the question of how do we get the smaller-scaled businesses in.”
When the economy improves and states have more flexibility in their budgets, Massachusetts and Connecticut have to get serious about properly funding the corridor, because the numbers do, indeed, jump off the page when you show them to people. By themselves, the Hartford and Springfield metropolitan areas do not exactly stand out with site selectors, largely because neither one cracks the magic 1 million mark when it comes to population or workforce.
Economic-development leaders on both sides of the border generally agree with that assessment. And they say this education is ongoing, albeit hampered by a lack of public investment in that process, especially in the past few years.
Marla Michel and Ira Rubenzahl were trying — but not ultimately succeeding — in their efforts to come up with a single word to describe what they’re doing with the Scibelli Enterprise Center in the Technology Park at Springfield Technical Community College.
In fact, the pastoral landscape in Hadley is one of the draws that business people and townsfolk enjoy. “We have a historic village, a vibrant commercial center, and lots of open space and farmland, so the town is very picturesque,” said Town Adminstrator David Nixon.
Lorie Valle-Yanez, chief diversity officer for MassMutual, said that diversity means much more than implementing hiring practices that encourage the inclusion of the various demographic groups that comprise modern society.
As president of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, Denver knows that a lot of work needs to happen in the city he’s called home for most of his life — and, for all but four years since 1980, where he’s worked as well.
“That said, I’m quite sure that you couldn’t find anyone who would work harder in this job than me,” he continued, adding that part of what drives him is that recognition of the fact that, to many, it’s simply his last name that is responsible for his title and success.
Details are still falling into place, but a planned conference to showcase the region’s manufacturing sector and resources that support it appears to be exactly what this region — and this all-important sector of the Knowledge Corridor’s economy — needs.