NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A small group of business owners is hoping to establish a merchants association in the city.
Working in conjunction with Develop North Adams and the city's Office of Tourism, the group will hold a networking event on Monday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 7:30 at Desperados on Eagle Street.
The topic will be how local businesses and shop owners can work collectively to promote business and shopping here in North Adams, particularly during the holiday season. The group encourages participants bring along ideas of how to market the city or about organizing events.
While many of establishments here are part of the larger Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the city's been without a formal merchants group for years. DNA was started more than a year ago to more broadly bring businesses and community together to benefit the city. It positioned itself not so much as a business group, but an umbrella under which a merchants association could develop.
Those planning to attend the meeting should RSVP by noon on Friday, Sept. 30, to Veronica Bosley in the Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180 or email@example.com. Anyone wishing to bring up specific topics at the meeting is asked to send them to Bosley as soon as possible.
North Adams Walmart Project Passes MEPA
By: Staff Reports On: 10:02AM / Wednesday January 26, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on Friday cleared the way for the Walmart Supercenter to move forward.
New Secretary of Energy Richard K. Sullivan signed off on the project's environmental impact report, saying it "adequately ad properly complies" with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
The 157,000 square-foot store will be built on the city's old gravel bank at the intersection of Hodges Cross Road and Curran Memorial Highway. The property is in an industrial zone and consists of 26.7 acres. It will include two points of access, including a reconfiguration of the current jug handle at the Route 8 intersection.
The project will alter 21 acres, creating 12.2 acres of "impervious surface" and 701 parking spots.
The store has received its permits from both the city Planning Board and Conservation Commission; it still needs a federal permit for pollutant discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It's expected to discharge more than 10,000 gallons of waste water a day into Adams waste-water treatment plant to the south.
The developers have been grading the site and addressing prior wetlands violations and waste dumping on the property.
In his decision, posted below, Sullivan urged the company to further invest in clean technology.
"While I am pleased with the progress and impact it will have on the energy use and GHG emissions at the proposed North Adams store, I continue to urge Walmart to make a significant commitment to sustainability and the burgeoning solar industry in Massachusetts by incorporating solar PV into new buildings such as this one."
Construction is expected to take from 15 to 18 months, putting the store's opening sometime in the late summer of fall of 2012.
Here's a short roundup of some interesting business news from last month.
Bus Company Putting Brakes on Tours Dufour Tours is getting out of the tour business. The Berkshire Eagle reported last week that owners William and Barbara Dufour are seeking to sell the 40-year-old motor coach business before they retire. The Dufours, who also operate a regional school bus fleet of nearly 200, have four 2007 Prevost Co. motor coaches. The vehicles run around $450,000.
That's down from a dozen or so back in the 1990s. The company was started by William Dufour's father and uncle in Connecticut and made inroads into the Berkshires after buying Yellow Bus Lines in the 1960s. It now manages most of the school bus routes in Western Mass. and Southern Vermont.
Dufour Tours over the years have included multiday trips to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, DisneyWorld and Canada. Their one-day trips bring people to Boston for historic tours, to Fall River for shopping and New York City for Broadway productions.
William Dufour told The Eagle that several bus lines were interested in buying the tour business; if not sold, the division would likely be shut down.
Walmart on Track
The $17 million Walmart SuperCenter planned for the city's former gravel yard is expected to break ground this spring and be built within the next year or so. That's pretty much on schedule according to a rough time line offered the Planning Board last spring.
The North Adams Transcript reported last month that remediation work at the site, specifically for asbestos, has been completed and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to a reconfigured intersection at Hodges Cross Road that will eliminate the current jug handle. More cleanup at the site has to be completed before the land, owned by developer Ceruzzi Properties, is sold to Walmart and construction can begin.
Walmart is estimated to generate some $594,000 in revenue for the city, and bring nearly a $1 million in wages annually. The supercenter will be 157,000 square feet and include a 38,000-square-foot grocery.
BJ's Wholesale Club may have a buyer. The East Coast chain put itself up for auction in November; analysts say if a private investment firm purchased it, the company would be better positioned to move into markets dominated by its competitors Costco and Sam's Club.
The chain is currently building a new store in Pittsfield off Hubbard Avenue that's expected to create more than 100 jobs.
The wholesale club first operated by the Zayre Corp. is being eyed by Leonard Green & Partners. The equity firm just bought out Jo-Ann's Stores (which also has a location in Pittsfield) and may launch a hostile takeover if the previously announced auction isn't set.
Update, Jan. 5, 2011, 8:44 a.m.: The Boston Globe reports that the company will close five stores and layoff 500, including 114 from its Natick headquarters.
Defense Spending Benefits State
Two Berkshire County companies — Draper Laboratories Inc. and General Dynamics — are about to reap the rewards of military spending but they're not alone. A column in MassLive.com cites a new study by the University of Massachusetts that shows federal military spending has increased 146 percent in the Bay State in less than 10 years.
The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security has pumped $146.2 million in conctracts to 237 Western Massachusetts companies just in 2009. The study states "The value of federal defense contracts awarded to Massachusetts firms has increased by nearly 200 percent from $5.5 billion in 2001 to $15.6 billion in 2009" and supported more than 115,000 jobs.
"Even as the overall economy has struggled in the face of two recessions and fundamental industry shifts, defense has surged ahead," writes Allan Blair, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., and Richard Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
The study can also be found at our scribd.com account here.
Editor: In general, we do not provide links to articles from the local papers because they are archived behind a paywall within two weeks of publication. We apologize for any inconvenience.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than a year after announcing the construction of a BJ's Wholesale Club on Hubbard Avenue, the Braintree developer secured a $9.2 million construction loan for the project this weekend.
Reported on Monday by Waltham-based Bostonsf.com, Cape Breton Corporation and Saxon Partners worked with real estate intermediary Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P. to get the loan through Sovereign Santander Bank.
The developers plan to build a 85,188-square-foot freestanding building and fueling station behind Berkshire Crossings.
The project was announced in October of 2009 when Robert MacPherson, president of Cape Breton, said the group will begin the formal permitting process aiming to break ground in 2010. It will be the county's first BJ's club and City Hall said it would create about 120 new jobs. The closest BJ's clubs to Berkshire County are in Greenfield, Springfield and Albany, N.Y.
BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. is a leading operator of membership warehouse clubs in the East. The company, now in its 25th year, currently employees more than 20,000 team members and operates 180 clubs in 15 states from Maine to Florida.
Formed in 1998, Saxon Partners is a retail and residential developer focused on the New England region and Cape Breton Corporation is a real estate development company specializing in the site acquisition and local permitting of retail buildings and shopping centers.
Ward 1 Councilor Christine Yon cuts the red ribbon at the grand opening of Simmons Lifestyle Furniture with help from Mayor James Ruberto.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Shop owners at the Allendale Shopping center have welcomed Simmons Lifestyle Furniture into its fold. The store opening is not only the furniture company's third location, it marks the beginning of an alliance between related shops to offer consumers a broader palette for acessorizing their homes.
"This has always been the dream for us," store manager Donna Riley said. "It was a collective draw. We'd always sit around the dinner table and say 'this is what we should do.' Now we're doing it."
The 130-year-old Simmons also operates stores in Adams and in the Pittsfield Plaza on Route 20.
In addition to their own collective skills as designers and decorators, Riley and her mother, Phyllis Riley, have also signed on with the other stores in the shopping center to form the Interiors Resources Alliance, which includes Stevens World of Flooring (which recently added a discount flooring warehouse and includes Organize It home and closet organizational systems), Berkshire Fabric and Wallpaper and Litco Supply Co., which will be highlighting its Luxury Bath Center Showroom.
High-end bedroom sets are paired with modern recliners and accent pieces at the new Simmons.
Simmons celebrated its grand opening in Allendale on Thursday evening with supporters, other business owners and Mayor James Ruberto. Riley said moving into the large anchor space, formerly occupied by Stevens World of Carpets, has been an "unbelievable" experience thanks to her new neighbors.
"It's been a little bit of a long transition but everyone's been very welcoming," she said. "The doors have been open for about a week now and the purchasing is the same as in some of the other stores that we run. We've been having fun here, though, because we can really push the limits on style. We can go from really contemporary to really traditional. It's all here to visualize."
Indeed, the 25,000-square-foot space is filled with different styles and price points from $200 armchairs to $8,000 custom dining room tables. The store also offers bedroom, living room and dining sets, accent furniture, recliners and mattresses to name a few. The pieces are showcased in various themed settings, including a "Jetsons" living room complete with a bobble-head dog statue and futuristic glass folding tables.
High-end bedroom sets are paired with modern recliners and accents pieces in Simmons' Allendale store.
"Between all of us you can do anything," Riley said. "For shared customers, we're doing certain discounts. It's a new way for us to do business."
David Gopfert, owner of Berkshire Fabric and Wallpaper next door, said he was thrilled to have Simmons on board.
"This is a great addition to the center," he said. "It's going to drive a lot of people in this direction. It's one-stop shopping. There's everything for the budget-minded client as well as the high-end client."
Jan Barranger of Litco Supply was also at the opening to welcome her new neighbors.
"I'm thrilled to death that I have all of the resources my customers need here at Allendale," she said. "How nice to be able to say to a customer 'just walk up the stairs and take a left.'"
The Interiors Resources Alliance, said Ruberto, is a reassuring step in the right direction for the city's economic growth.
"Thank you for investing in the city of Pittsfield. This idea is terrific," he said. "This is really remarkable because small businesses are the backbone of Pittsfield and they are creating more jobs here. This is a mini design center, and we're very pleased that you've invested here."