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State Unemployement Rate Drops Slightly
On: 11:44AM / Tuesday December 24, 2013
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BOSTON – The state's unemployment rate trended slightly downward for November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But for the first time in some years, it's shifted above the national unemployment rate.

The seasonally adjusted statewide November unemployment rate, released on Dec. 19, was 7.1 percent, down 0.1 of a percentage point over the month and up 0.4 of a percentage point over the year. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 6,500-job gain in November following a revised gain of 9,400 jobs in October.

The preliminary estimates put the unadjusted unemployment rate at 6.6 percent, down 0.2 of a percentage point over the month. Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate was up 0.4 of a percentage point from the November 2012 rate of 6.2 percent.

Pittsfield's unadjusted rate was 7.7 percent, with more than 1,700 of the city's 22,664-member labor force out of work; North Adams' stood at 8.7, with 592 out of 6,822 out of work. For the Pittsfield Metropolitan area, including surrounding towns from Cheshire to Windsor to Washington, the jobless rate was slightly lower at 7.2 but still above last year's November rate of 6.6.

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported on Tuesday that seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for November were down in 15 areas, up in five areas, and unchanged in two areas.

 

More labor information here.



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New Biotech Firm Setting Up in Pittsfield
On: 06:05PM / Wednesday December 04, 2013
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new biotechnology firm, Molecular Metabolism LLC, born out of a relationship with Nuclea Biotechnologies, has chosen Pittsfield as its  headquarters.

Molecular Metabolism is in the process of assembling its management team and is expected to create seven to 10 new jobs locally.

It is a development stage company focused on the discovery of biomarkers and therapeutic-based targets for metabolic syndromes and central nervous system (CNS) diseases. These biomarkers can aid physicians in determining the best, individualized courses of treatment for patients suffering from metabolic conditions, such as obesity, fatty liver disease and diabetes.

Molecular Metabolism and Nuclea Biotechnologies have established a collaboration with Joslin Diabetes Center, the diabetes research and care organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School, in biomarkers of insulin resistance and applications of imaging. The initial research in imaging will help identify "brown fat" in humans, a type of fat that drives energy expenditure and may potentially benefit metabolic endpoints.

Molecular Metabolism's collaboration with Joslin will assess the feasibility of using MRI and Infrared thermal imaging to measure the mass and activity of cold-activated human brown adipose tissues (BAT). The partners believe that the results of this research will provide greater insight into how Type 2 diabetes is evaluated and diagnosed with the goal of screening new therapies that stimulate generation of brown fat.  This work will be done with Dr. Aaron Cypess, assistant professor and investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center.

"Diagnostics and imaging techniques can make a significant impact on the detection and management of diabetes and its complications, and Joslin’s interest in brown fat stimulation and energy expenditure is an exciting area to apply this to," said Cypess. "We hope to advance our techniques to a stage where brown fat can be easily detected and quantified."

Patrick Muraca, interim president of Molecular Metabolism and president and CEO of Nuclea Biotechnologies, said, "Molecular Metabolism will collaborate with Nuclea in the research and development of the biomarkers. Joslin is a tremendous partner and I believe this research in brown fat imaging will help us as we work to create new tools for the treatment and diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes."

Joslin will also work with Nuclea Biotechnologies, under the direction of Dr. Mary Elizabeth Patti, assistant professor and investigator at Joslin, to apply proteomic analyses on patient cohorts in order to understand pathways leading to insulin resistance and develop biomarkers of risk of Type 2 diabetes.

"We are very pleased to be partnering with Nuclea to identify new biomarkers which could potentially be used to determine risk of diabetes and other metabolic disease," said Patti. "These efforts are crucial in the fight against diabetes, so that we can identify those individuals at the highest risk of disease, and also to individualize optimal treatment strategies."



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Crane Museum Opens Retail Store
On: 03:08PM / Monday November 25, 2013
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The Crane Museum now has a retail shop to pick up note cards and other Crane products.

DALTON, Mass. — The Crane Museum of Papermaking opens a new retail store on Tuesday, Nov. 26. Housed in what was formerly Crane's stainless steel fabrication shop, the space has been transformed into 500 square feet of retail, which is accessed through the museum.

"We're very excited about this project," said Crane Museum Director Peter Hopkins. "Almost without fail, visitors to the museum want to purchase Crane stationery. We're pleased to bring them a generous assortment."

The store is stocked with dozens of Crane's engraved holiday cards, as well as initial notes and cards, thank-you notes and a mix-and-match bordered stationery and envelope table. The table itself was once used by a Crane borderer. It features many stocking-stuffer items and hard-to-find Crane stationery.

The opening also marks the return of Crane's Old Money list pads, made with recycled U.S. currency paper. Crane has supplied the United States with currency paper since 1879.

"We see this space as somewhere between a museum store and a factory outlet," said Hopkins. "Everything we have is available at significant discounts."

The store hours will coincide with those of the museum, which for the first time, will be open year-round. Regular hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. In anticipation of the holiday season, the museum and store will be open Friday, Nov. 29, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every Wednesday before Christmas until 7 p.m.

The Crane Museum is housed in what was the rag room of Crane's Old Stone Mill, built in 1844. It is located off West Housatonic Street behind Crane's Main Office. For GPS purposes, use West Housatonic Street, and you will see signs.



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License Commission Approves River Street Package Move
By John Durkan On: 07:04AM / Wednesday November 20, 2013
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Chairman Jeffrey Polluci, left, and Commissioner Jeff Kemp review the floor plans of the future River Street Package location.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Joseph Lora got the go-ahead from the License Commission to move his store, River Street Package, to the former Lopardos Package Store location.
 
The commission granted the move quickly on Tuesday evening and credited Lora with holding his license without issues.
 
"You've got your nose clean over there, I expect the same here," said Chairman Jeffrey Polluci.
 
Real estate agent Michael Hernandez said not much will change in the store's operation. 
 
"There's not much in the change of the business, all the hours, licenses and everything are going to stay the same," he said, adding that the 1,200 square-foot space is very similar to the amount allotted at the current location after rental spaces are considered.
 
The current, and future, hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
 
Hernandez said storage will be adequate. The new location at River and Eagle streets will feature two walk-in coolers and additional storage space in the basement.
 
Earlier this month, Hernandez said the store will remain open at 177 River St. until around Dec. 16 and the new store will open in early January at a previous Planning Board meeting. 


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North Adams Big Y Celebrates Renovations
By John Durkan On: 03:00PM / Friday November 08, 2013
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Store Manager Raanan Hartman cuts the cake as Mayor Richard Alcombright, left, and others look on.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Some of the changes at D'Amours Big Y have been obvious throughout the last couple months.

An aisle was knocked down at the entrance for an expanded produce section. Pizza and grinder stations and a soup bar have been set up at the back of the store. New cafe seating now exists on the east side.

The list of changes go on at the 47,000 square-foot store: new floors, motion-sensor energy-efficient lights on the now completely encased frozen food cases, new signage, new equipment, and new storage spaces for meat and dairy.
 
The renovations began at the beginning of September. Store Director Raanan Hartman said there's not much left to get done except some back-of-house tweaks and replacing the lobster tank.
 
"I know my employees did a great job getting this ready and we're all happy that it's coming to an end," said Hartman. "And the store came out really nice, it looks great, and I look forward to the future here in North Adams."
 
Big Y celebrated the change with many samples for its customers and an official cake-cutting ceremony with Mayor Richard Alcombright on Friday morning.
 
Alcombright said although the investment speaks about Big Y's financial dedication, to the city, he credited the convenience and service to the store's success.
 
"People wouldn't come here if they weren't well served," Alcombright said.
 
At the entrance a table was set up with coffee and doughnuts. Employee Becca Pike raced around the store hustling fresh, made-from-scratch pizza and sharp cheddar cheese. Near the bread section, a popcorn machine was set up. And of course, a celebratory cake rested on a table at the cafe.
 
The cafe offers two rows of tables with chairs and is convenient for eating a slice of pizza, a sub or enjoying some coffee and doughnuts. A bar is set up against the window looking outside with stools to come, Hartman said.
 
"It's nice, it's great for my customers. It's great for my employees," Hartman said. "It's a nice change."
 
North Adams wasn't the only North County store to get a makeover. Next door in Adams, the smaller 27,000 square-foot store had some changes of its own.
 
Adams Store Director David Smith said the store expanded in many departments. The bakery now offers single-serving desserts. The produce and meat departments and the hummus and cheese section has expanded. The deli now offers premade on-the-go and hot foods, including stuffed roast chicken.
 
In addition, to compensate for the store's tighter space, there are new smaller carriages for easier mobility.
 
Hartman said the renovations cost a total of $1.4 million for both stores. The North Adams store employs 110 people while Adams has 100 employees.


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