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    1. 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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    2. 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
    3. 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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    4. 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
    5. 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
    6. 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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    7. 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
    8. Plane Speaking | BusinessWest

      Plane Speaking | BusinessWest

      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.
      “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.

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    9. Big Picture | BusinessWest

      Big Picture | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    10. Greener Pastures | BusinessWest

      Greener Pastures | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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      Mentions: Douglas A Bowen
    11. Margin Calls | BusinessWest

      Margin Calls | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    12. Creating a Community | BusinessWest

      Creating a Community | BusinessWest

      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.

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    13. Climate Change | BusinessWest

      Climate Change | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    14. Connecting Points | BusinessWest

      Connecting Points | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    15. The Super 60 | BusinessWest

      The Super 60 | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    16. Access to Opportunity | BusinessWest

      Access to Opportunity | BusinessWest

      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 ...

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    17. Setting a Course | BusinessWest

      Setting a Course | BusinessWest
      She told BusinessWest she was comfortable with the institution long before she actually toured it, and even well before her first two interviews for the position, the first via Skype and the second at a hotel at Bradley International Airport — although those sessions and her subsequent visit certainly reinforced her opinion.
      She liked the feel and the fit so much that she quickly terminated a quest for another college president’s position to focus all her energies on this one.
      The primary reason why is the culture that pervades the school, one summed up by its motto (“Spirit Mind Body ...
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    18. Data Driven | BusinessWest

      Data Driven | BusinessWest

      As president of Easthampton-based Innovative Business Systems (IBS), a 23-year-old IT-solutions company — and the parent company of newly acquired TechCavalry — DelVecchio and his four partners are tasked with finding solutions for businesses and individuals to access data, at home or at work.
      Through IBS specifically, DelVecchio and his team can provide expertise and resources to meet a client’s information-technology needs, or operate as the IT department’s best resource.

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    19. Grade Expectations | BusinessWest

      Grade Expectations | BusinessWest

      Larry Snyder says his broad goal is to help position Bay Path College as a “hub of cybersecurity in Western Mass.”
      That’s a somewhat ambitious but certainly attainable goal, he said, noting that there are many aspects to the process of getting there, starting with the school’s decision to create what is believed to be the first master’s degree program in cybersecurity management in New England, which will be led by Snyder and launched later this month.

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      Mentions: Bay Path College
    20. Making a Scene | BusinessWest

      Making a Scene | BusinessWest

      Recognizing the economic-development potential of the arts, in 2011 Easthampton designated ECA a city committee. Today, it’s funded through the municipal budget, state grants, and private donations, and Maxey works out of the remodeled former town hall, along with a few other creative businesses.  Jean-Pierre Pache was the first tenant in the remodeled building, moving Eastmont Custom Framing — a business he started in 2001 — as well as a small art studio, to the historic property. As one of the more than 240 artists active with ECA, he said he has seen the town’s creative community boost more than ...

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      Mentions: Easthampton
    21. Life’s Work | BusinessWest

      Life’s Work | BusinessWest

      Bill Ward has a wide assortment of photographs adorning the walls and shelves of his office in downtown Springfield.  There’s one of him conferring with Sen. Edward Kennedy, for example, and also one that puts him in a group with, among others, Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son team famous for their exploits in marathons and triathlons. There are others featuring a host of local, state, and national political leaders, and even a framed copy of the story announcing him as one of the first winners of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers award.  But maybe the one he’s most ...

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      Mentions: Springfield
    22. Generation Next | BusinessWest

      Generation Next | BusinessWest

      Schewe, an author and professor of Marketing at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, has been studying generational differences for more than 20 years. His most recent book — Defining Markets, Defining Moments: America’s 7 Generational Cohorts, Their Shared Experiences, and Why America Should Care — distills much of that research and applies it to the marketplace.
      He says the Millennials — the second-largest generation in American history, behind the Baby Boomers — have arrived in the workforce with the baggage of a reputation for being lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and restless, perceptions that are, in many cases, exaggerated at best.

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    23. Creating a Sense of Place | BusinessWest

      Creating a Sense of Place | BusinessWest

      Creating a cultural district can do very much the same thing for Springfield, he went on, noting that it will help the city brand itself and its many cultural attractions and, in many ways, give people a reason to give the community a look — or another look.  Kay Simpson agreed. She’s the vice president of Springfield Museums and one of the primary architects of a proposed cultural district that would cover several blocks downtown and include everything from the Armory Museum to the Paramount; from the Community Music School to the five museums in the Quadrangle; from Symphony Hall ...

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    24. Team of Rivals | BusinessWest

      Team of Rivals | BusinessWest

      he knot of Hampshire County schools known as the Five Colleges — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and UMass Amherst — boast tens of thousands of students who share much more than a region.  They’re also able to attend courses on each other’s campuses, access free buses between schools, share library and dining services, attend open theater auditions, and much more, thanks to Five Colleges Inc., the Amherst-based consortium that has been dedicated, since its inception almost 50 years ago, to fostering partnerships and shared resources among the five institutions.

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