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Biz Briefs: Lee Outlets Join In 'More Than Pink' Movement

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Thinking pink: Simon Malls and Simon Premium Outlets across New England, including the Lee Premium Outlets, is holding its Spring 2017 More Than Pink movement in support of Susan G. Komen and the fight against breast cancer. As part of its pledge to donate $1 million each year in 2017 and 2018, more than 180 participating Simon Malls, The Mills and Premium Outlets nationwide will be participating in a range of activities throughout the month of May.

Visitors to Simon Malls and Simon Premium Outlets will notice the pink theme carried throughout the shopping centers with features such as pink-lit entrances, pink flowers on display, pink ribbon parking and more. Staff will also be donning pink accessories. Other planned activities that vary property by property include a Discount Card Program, offering $10 discount cards sold at select centers providing 15 percent or 25 percent off one item at participating retailers. Discount cards can be purchased online or guest service.


In addition, Susan G. Komen, Northeastern NY will visit May 6-7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a breast cancer awareness table featuring resources and sign-up opportunities for the 2017 Race for the Cure in Albany in October.

As of April 2017, Simon has raised $441,667 in support of Susan G. Komen, all generated through the support and participation of shoppers, retailers and employees.


Good quarter: A report detailing market results for the first quarter of 2017 in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties and the Shoreline in Connecticut, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and Westchester County, New York, has just been released by William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. The report found that most markets posted increases in both sales volume and unit sales compared to the same period last year. 

Westchester County saw quarter over quarter increases of 13 percent in dollar volume and 7 percent in units, with the southern region up by 10 percent in volume and 4 percent in units, and the northern region by 22 percent and 14 percent in volume and units, respectively. Similarly, sales in Fairfield County were higher county-wide than they were at this time last year, with dollar volume rising quarter over quarter by 7 percent and unit sales by 9 percent. Up on the Connecticut Shoreline, comprising New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties, sales were very steady versus the first quarter of 2016, with dollar volume standing 1 percent higher than this time last year and unit sales 1 percent lower. 

In the Berkshires, sales results were very much on par with the exceptionally robust first quarter of last year, with volume 1 percent above that period and units 10 percent higher. The first quarter of 2016 had seen enormous gains over the same time the previous year. Lastly, Litchfield County, exhibited a strong performance this quarter with significant closings in the high end driving a 29 percent increase in dollar volume over the first quarter last year, and unit sales demonstrating a 9 percent increase.

The report commented that buyers have been entering the marketplace in droves, prompted by the Federal Reserve’s recent rate hikes and projected further increases for this year. The changes have caused mortgage rates to tick upward and motivate real estate intenders to act before they get much higher. Additional factors supporting a strong real estate market include the first quarter rally on Wall Street, the U.S. unemployment rate falling to a 10-year low in early April, and the consumer confidence level climbing to its highest peak since December 2000 at 125.6 (1985=100), as reported by the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.


Acquisition: NMDX, formed in April of 2016 in Lee, recently acquired the assets of Nuclea Biotechnologies. Patrick J. Muraca, the chair, CEO and founder of NMDX, is the former president and CEO of Nuclea. The assets acquired by NMDX include all of the intellectual property, biological material, capital equipment, licenses, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals and allowances, marketing and customer materials, trademarks and all relevant scientific data.

NMDX, headquartered in a newly designed and built immunohistochemistry facility in Lee, was formed to develop proprietary assays and screening technologies for the detection of various cancers, cardiovascular, hepatic diseases and metabolic disorders. Since its founding last year, the company has successfully raised almost $1 million dollars in capital and is expected to raise a total of $3 to $5 million by the middle of next year.

With the acquisition of Nuclea’s assets, NMDX’s number one priority will be to sell all of the viable HER-2/neu (HER-2) kits that were acquired. Beyond that, NMDX’s focus will be marketing and growing market share for HER-2 and commercializing the Fatty Acid Synthase (FAS) assay designed for immunohistochemistry.


In development: The Berkshire Bank Foundation will support National Small Business Week by awarding $22,000 in grants to support Small Business Development Centers, SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) chapters and local entrepreneurial assistance centers throughout the Bank’s footprint. As part of this acknowledgement, business banking officers will host events on various days from May 1-10, at different Berkshire Bank locations.

The events will honor local SCORE chapters, Small Business Development Centers and local entrepreneurial support centers, each receiving a grant ranging from $1,000 to $2,500, in recognition of their commitment to supporting and assisting local small businesses. This occasion allows Berkshire Bank to play an integral role in the economic development of the communities it serves.

The Small Business Development Centers being recognized include: Syracuse SCORE (Syracuse, N.Y.); Berkshire Regional SBDC (Pittsfield, Mass.); Western MA Small Business Development Center (Springfield, Mass.); Onondaga Small Business Development Center (Syracuse, N.Y.); University at Albany SBDC (Albany, N.Y.); Small Business Development Center Mohawk Valley SUNY Polytechnic Institute (Utica, N.Y.); Vermont Small Business Development Center (Rutland, Vt.); Small Business Development Center- The College of New Jersey (Ewing Township, N.J.).

SCORE Chapters being honored include: Boston SCORE (Boston); Western Massachusetts SCORE (Springfield, Mass.); Worcester SCORE (Worcester, Mass.); Northeast NY SCORE; Syracuse SCORE (Syracuse, N.Y.); Utica SCORE (Utica (N.Y.); Greater Hartford SCORE (Hartford, Conn.).

The additional assistance centers being honored include: Center for Women and Enterprise (Boston); University of St. Joseph – Veteran Jumpstart Program (Philadelphia); UCONN Foundation - EBV Veterans Business Program (Hartford, Conn.); Community Capital of Vermont - Business Advisory Services Program (Barre, Vt.); Rutland Economic Development Corporation (Rutland, Vt.).


Sharing the love: During the Berkshire Humane Society’s 13th annual Cause for Paws Radiothon on April 4, George Haddad, Mike Coggins, and Chris Kramek stopped by Live 95.9 and WUPE to present the Berkshire Humane Society with a rather large contribution. As part of its ongoing support of local communities, Subaru of America and Haddad Subaru presented a check to Berkshire Humane Society for $33,139.

From November 17, 2016, to January 3, 2017, customers who purchased or leased a new Subaru vehicle selected from a list of charities to receive a donation of $250 from SOA. For 2016, SOA selected four national charities: ASPCA, Make-A-Wish, Meals On Wheels America and National Park Foundation, while Subaru retailers could also elect to add a local charity to help support their community. Haddad Subaru selected Berkshire Humane Society as its “hometown charity” and this year, 93% of Haddad Subaru customers chose Berkshire Humane Society.

At the beginning of the Share the Love campaign, Chris Kramek and John Perrault hoped that at least $20,000 would be raised during the event, so to say that they exceeded their goal is an understatement. Berkshire Humane Society intends to use the funds for scholarships to their summer camp, classroom visits to local schools, as well as their Safe Pet Program, which allows people in crisis situations to foster their pets.


Survey says: Berkshire Money Management has just mailed out 5,000 surveys to Berkshire businesses and is anticipating valuable feedback for the newly created Berkshire Business Confidence Index, an economic indicator that measures trends of certainty held by area decision makers. By developing and distributing the Berkshire BCI, Berkshire Money Management is answering a need in the local business community, says president and CEO Allen Harris, who has been wanting to implement an index for several years.

BMM’s goal is to collect the responses provided in the anonymous survey, and then present a monthly analysis to business owners and the public.

Many business communities across the country already have active BCI’s that are provided through local Chambers of Commerce, private companies, and organizations looking to see how their business communities fit with bigger national trends and challenges. Questions on the Berkshire BCI survey will address issues like hiring, obtaining financing, and the impact of other business closures. There will be an opportunity for every industry to offer valuable input, and for the community to see what is on the horizon for local businesses.   

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