Biz Briefs: Outlets Going Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness
Racing for a cure: Lee Premium Outlets' parent company, Simon Malls and Simon Premium Outlets in New England, continue engagement as one of five national sponsors of Susan G. Komen, encouraging employees, retailers and shoppers to participate in activities and contribute to the achievement of Komen's bold goal of reducing current U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.
Visitors to the Lee Premium Outlets, as well as other Simon malls and outlets in New England, will notice the pink theme carried out at select Guest Services booths and staff will be honoring National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donning pink accessories. Other planned activities include: $5 and $10 discount cards being sold at participating centers providing 15 percent or 25 percent off one item at participating retailers and a Susan G. Komen Visa Simon Giftcard. For every Gift Card purchased, Simon will donate $1 towards Susan G. Komen.
It's a revolution: On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Small Business Revolution returns to North Adams to provide a free, one-day marketing seminar for the area's small business community.
In 2017, North Adams was named a finalist in the second season of Deluxe Corporation's Small Business Revolution – Main Street contest, where one small town would win a $500,000 makeover. North Adams residents and business leaders rallied around one another, gathering hundreds of thousands of votes, but lost out to Bristol Borough, Pa. Yet the enthusiasm of the community caught the attention of the Minnesota-based company, which decided to bring this seminar back to North Adams.
The day-long seminar is free and open to the small business community in and around North Adams. Deluxe marketing experts will be on hand at Mass MoCA to deliver marketing best practices, from reaching an audience through social media to email marketing to website design. There will also be workshops and opportunities for one-on-one support.
Seminars will be held in the morning from 9 a.m. to noon (registration begins at 8:30 a.m.), with workshops and one-on-one support from 1 to 3 p.m. Space is limited and registration is required online.
For the community: Greylock Federal Credit Union will be expanding community development programs with the help of $686,000 in grant funds from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. The CDFI Fund awards grants of up to $2 million to help certified CDFIs sustain and expand their products and services to low income communities and disadvantaged businesses. Greylock was certified as a CDFI in 2015 by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Greylock will use the CDFI grant funds to supplement its roll out of almost $8 million of "New Road" auto loans that help credit challenged borrowers avoid predatory car loans; $2 million in small business loans to create new jobs in Berkshire County; and $750,000 in Safety Net Loans, an alternative to expensive "Pay Day" loans. The grant funds will also help support Greylock’s community development initiatives by ensuring sufficient financial literacy coaches to meet the needs of the Credit Union’s membership and the community.
Greylock pursued the CDFI certification to expand services and address the needs of low to moderate income families in Berkshire County, where 20 percent of families with children under age 5 live in poverty. To receive this certification, Greylock demonstrated that its primary mission is promoting community development and providing development services in conjunction with their financing activities. One of the benefits of CDFI certification is access to financial grants from the CDFI Fund.
Money School: Elizabeth Freeman Center will be offering a new series of "Money School", a financial independence series for people impacted by domestic or sexual violence, starting the first week in November. Money School is an award-winning financial independence initiative designed to create long-term safety and economic security for survivors of domestic or sexual violence.
"Money School" is a five-week series for survivors that offers financial workshops, income resources, one-on-one financial coaches from local banks, and more. The workshops cover topics like: rebuilding credit, accessing the benefits you deserve, building supports, getting by now, and building toward your financial future.
The next series in Pittsfield will be on Tuesday evenings, from Nov. 7 through Dec. 5. All workshops are 5 to 8 p.m. Additional workshops will be held in Great Barrington and North Adams in the spring of 2018. A $125 stipend will be offered, as well as free dinner, childcare, one-on-one financial coaches from local banks, networking with other resource providers in the community, and ongoing supports. To register for any of the series, call 413-499-2425, ext. 613, or email.
Buying hotels: Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality Group, announced the addition of a sixth hotel into the company's portfolio with the acquisition of the Briarcliff Motel in Great Barrington, Mass. Main Street took ownership of The Briarcliff Motel, the 16-room motel located at 506 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, Mass., on Oct. 3. Recent owners Richard and Clare Proctor converted the 1960s-era motel to a stylish, relaxed, affordable place to stay when visiting The Berkshires.
The acquisition was financed by Lee Bank of Great Barrington. Main Street Hospitality includes six properties, 275 rooms and 350 employees in Western Massachusetts. Its footprint now expands from its affiliate property Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield in the southern part of the county, to the Briarcliff in Great Barrington, through Stockbridge, home of the flagship The Red Lion Inn and Maple Glen at the Red Lion Inn, to centrally-located Hotel on North in Pittsfield and further up county to The Porches Inn at Mass MoCA in North Adams.
Bank merger: Berkshire Hills Bancorp has completed the acquisition of Commerce Bancshares Corp. and the merger of Commerce Bank & Trust Company into Berkshire Bank, effective at the close of business on Oct. 13.
Berkshire issued approximately 4.84 million common shares and 521,000 shares of non-voting convertible preferred stock as merger consideration in the stock for stock exchange detailed in the merger agreement. The total stock consideration is valued at approximately $230 million. Including the new shares issued, Berkshire's outstanding common stock has increased to approximately 45.3 million shares, resulting in a market capitalization of approximately $1.8 billion. Commerce's Chief Executive Officer Brian W. Thompson, along with Chief Operating Officer Michael J. Crawford, will serve as advisers to Berkshire and liaisons to the local community.
With this acquisition, Berkshire adds 16 branches in the Worcester and Boston areas and becomes the largest regional bank headquartered in Massachusetts. The merger adds approximately $1.8 billion in assets, bringing the combined assets to $11.6 billion.
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