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    1. Demand Is Heating Up | BusinessWest

      Demand Is Heating Up | BusinessWest

      Community colleges have also seen a brisk increase in summer enrollment. “We have a very robust summer program. Almost everything that is offered in the fall and spring is also offered in the summer, but with fewer sections, or classes,” said Debbie Bellucci, dean of Continuing Education and Online Learning at Springfield Technical Community College. “We try to add a few new courses every summer, whether they are online or totally new topics, and this summer we have instituted a format change. In the past, we ran two five-week sessions, but this summer we have some 10-week, on-site courses for ...

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    2. HCC Will Expand into Former Photo Studio, Modernize Facilities

      HCC Will Expand into Former Photo Studio, Modernize Facilities

      The opportunity to expand and modernize those facilities is what inspired the college to become motivated when it came to the Jarvis Avenue property, said Messner, noting that the school is now moving forward with a multi-faceted, $15 million initiative centered around creating its new Center for Health Education in the 22,000-square-foot Grynn & Barrett building.  Plans call for moving the nursing program, the radiology technician (rad-tech) offering, and the medical assisting program from the Marieb building to Jarvis Avenue, said Hankel, and then renovate the vacated space to create what will be called the Center for Life Sciences, which ...

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    3. Leading Edge | BusinessWest

      Leading Edge | BusinessWest

      Indeed, she recently succeeded Peter Straley as president and CEO, completing a succession process that began heating up over the past several months as Straley let his intention to retire be known, but has actually been a work in progress for several years.  As she talked with BusinessWest about her ascension, one that has quickly made HNE one of the largest women-led business in the region, McCaffrey said the company essentially put her on a path to the CEO’s office, and she took it, along with many more of those risks she described earlier.


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    4. Going All In | BusinessWest

      Going All In | BusinessWest

      Mary Kay Wydra says she understands how some tourism-based businesses might not like the idea of a major casino company setting up shop in downtown Springfield.  “We have 260 members, and not all of them are for it,” said Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau (GSCVB). “Big brands like Six Flags and Yankee Candle are very much for it, but among the smaller businesses, many of them remain concerned about what a casino will do to business.”

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    5. Community Spotlight: Wilbraham | BusinessWest

      Community Spotlight: Wilbraham | BusinessWest

      Eric Fuller, the town’s planning director, told BusinessWest that the three-mile strip of Boston Road that runs through Wilbraham is zoned for commercial and industrial use and contains land and buildings available for purchase or for lease. “Properties for sale include the former Medeiros Williams Chevrolet Co. building and lot.”
      Pearsall agrees that opportunity abounds on Boston Road, home to a significant amount of underutilized and/or vacant space. “The former Taylor Rental property next to Home Depot is available, and on a smaller scale, there is space for lease in a number of strip malls,” he said. “Plus ...

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    6. Introducing the Class 2014 | BusinessWest

      Introducing the Class 2014 | BusinessWest

      On June 19 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, 40 more plaques will be handed out, to members of a class that is both distinguished and diverse. It includes bankers, lawyers, and accountants, but also a Holyoke city councilor, a contractor who specializes in blitz building, and Springfield’s senior project manager. And it represents virtually every business sector, from healthcare to education; from technology to the nonprofit realm.

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    7. Building Blocks | BusinessWest

      Building Blocks | BusinessWest

      Jay Minkarah says there’s a course of action, or series of steps, traditionally followed by developers as they are contemplating whether to acquire a piece of commercial real estate and ready it for tenants.  “Typically, you undertake your feasibility analysis and make sure the market’s there,” he said, adding that most developers will take a cautious, conservative approach to such work, especially in difficult financial times such as those experienced over the past several years. “Then, you go through your financial analysis, you line up your financing, get tenants or an end user in place, and then you ...

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    8. 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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    9. 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
    10. 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
    11. 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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    12. 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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    13. 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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    14. 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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    15. 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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    16. 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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    17. 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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    18. 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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    19. 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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    20. 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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    21. 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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    22. 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
    23. 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
    24. 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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