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Funding Secured For Pittsfield BJ's Wholesale

Staff Reports

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.


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Financial Writer Weiner Speaking at AIER

Staff Reports

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Bookloft and the American Institute for Economic Research are sponsoring an event with financial journalist and local author Eric J. Weiner. Weiner will be at AIER's headquarters Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. to speak and to sign copies of his new book "The Shadow Market," published by Scribner.

America's economic confidence has been deeply shaken by the Great Recession. But while the media has focused on such factors as consumer-debt levels, unemployment, and the government bailout of banks, an entirely different phenomenon has arisen — the arrival of the "Shadow Market," a multitrillion-dollar network of super-rich, secretive, and largely unregulated financial vehicles that are quietly buying up the world, piece by valuable piece.

Weiner reveals in his new book how these investors, many of them foreign countries, are increasingly controlling the global economy and seizing power from the United States in ways that our government cannot stop and about which the average American knows nothing.

Weiner has covered business and economic issues for 15 years as a writer and editor. A former columnist and reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, he has written for The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, and countless other major publications. He is the author of the critically acclaimed "What Goes Up: The Uncensored History of Modern Wall Street as Told by Bankers, Brokers, CEOs, and Scoundrels Who Made It Happen." He is also a contributor to the news and opinion website The Huffington Post. He and his family live in Great Barrington.

The talk is open to the public. AIER is located at 250 Division St. Call The Bookloft at 413-528-1521 or AIER at 413-528-1216 for more information.

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South Adams Exposes Retail Clients

By Tammy Daniels

The employees of South Adams Savings Bank will put your shirt on their backs if you're a customer.

ADAMS, Mass. — If everyone at the South Adams Savings Bank is wearing a promotional T-shirt, it must be the first Monday of the month, when the bank quite visibly takes care of business.

The bank's found a way to help its commercial clients by offering free advertising. The concept's simple: Provide a space for business clients to showcase business cards, brochures and fliers. Then pick one to be featured for a whole month on the South Adams Web site.

The dividend: You can't buy that kind of advertising.

"Oasis Liquors was the first one we featured," said bank President Charles O'Brien. "They were being complimented just about on a daily basis."

Businesses were a bit shy about jumping on board, said O'Brien and Amy Giroux, senior vice president of retail banking, but soon saw the benefits. The promotion's only been going a couple months but the number of businesses participating has doubled with 35 featured during April. "Good buzz goes around," said Giroux.

The idea was hatched by a member of the Taking Care of Business committee, a group of bank employees who discuss ways to aid customers. In addition to space in the bank for advertising, the workers don promotional garb as well.

The promotion not only helps get out the word about businesses doing business with the bank, it also helps other bank patrons connect with its retail customers. The bank also has branches in Williamstown, Cheshire and Lee.

"We're really happy to provide this benefit to our customers," said Giroux. "It's such a spot-on idea and it doesn't cost anything."

This month's featured business on the Web site — and on the bank's Facebook page — is Bedini & St. Pierre Building and Maintenance Contractors. Look for a new business May 3.

If you're interested in becoming a featured business, contact tcb@sasavings.com.

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Legacy Acquiring Renaissance Investment

Staff Reports

Legacy Banks is entering into a "strategic affiliation" with Renaissance Investment Group LLC of Pittsfield.

The bank, one of the largest in the county, said it plans to purchase 10-year-old Renaissance, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary. According to a statement, Renaissance will continue as an independent investment adviser and will operate separately and distinctly from Legacy Portfolio Management.

Legacy Chairman J. Williar Dunleavy said the investment is a win-win, since both companies will be able offer clients alternatives in financial counseling and investment management.

Renaissance President and Managing Director H. Ashley Smith Jr. said the company's investment philosophy won't change and that clients will continue to see their same investment managers. "We will maintain our name as well as our South Street offices."
 
Renaissance's track record and financial strength attracted Legacy, said Smith.

Both men said a "seamless transition" is expected and that clients should notice no change. The transaction is expected to be completed by April 30.

Legacy Banks is headquartered in Pittsfield and employs 186 people in 19 offices throughout Western Massachusetts and eastern New York. Renaissance lists seven officers and counselors and manages a $95 million portfolio.

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Pittsfield Co-op Offers 'Basic Banking'

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Co-operative Bank has been designated a "Basic Banking for Massachusetts" bank by the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council.

It is a participating bank in a low-cost program designed to encourage state residents with modest incomes to open bank accounts and use banking services.

"It is our intent to serve the entire community and make our services available to anyone who wants them," said bank President Jay Anderson. "We're certainly happy to be recognized for our efforts to meet the needs of individuals with limited incomes who need a checking or savings account."

There are no eligibility requirements for Basic Banking accounts. Free checking accounts are offered to students up to age 18 and seniors aged 65 and older.

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank is a $235 million community bank with locations in Pittsfield, Dalton and Great Barrington. For more information: www.pittsfieldcoop.com

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