Biz Briefs: Tourists Hotel to be Honored at Celebrate the Berkshires Event
Tourists, the 48-room hotel that opened in North Adams in 2018, will receive the 2019 Putting the Berkshires on the Map honor in recognition of the substantial contribution that they have made to the Berkshire economy. This recognition will be presented at the 1Berkshires' ninth annual Celebrate the Berkshires event on Sept. 26 at Jiminy Peak.
"In the past 18 months, no property has garnered as much press or shone a light on the Berkshires more consistently than Tourists," said Jonathan Butler, CEO of 1Berkshire said. "With over $15 million in private investment, this project has assembled and reimagined a diverse collection of properties that illuminate the deep and complex history of North Adams. They’ve developed relationships and opportunities with new investors to the region, and created an incredible experience for guests.”
Tourists is a hotel and riverside retreat inspired by the classic American roadside motor lodge, set in North Adams at the confluence of the Mohawk Trail, the Hoosic River and the Appalachian Trail. The property is a union of design and nature, home to woodland trails, riverbank vistas, sculptural installations, unique food experiences, and more. Since opening in August of 2018, Tourists has welcomed nearly 10,000 guests to North Adams, many on their first visit to the region.
In addition to honoring TOURISTS, 1Berkshire’s Celebrate the Berkshires will also showcase Berkshire-based individuals and businesses who demonstrate excellence in several Trendsetter Award categories. The entire community is invited to come celebrate these achievements and commitments that have strengthened the local economy and helped the region grow. Visit the website to reserve tickets.
Plastic bag ban
Big Y Foods is eliminating single-use plastic bags at the checkouts from its more than 80 supermarket and specialty store locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut on Aug. 1. The grocer will offer discounts on reusable bags through the month of August as customers transition away from plastic.
Big Y has been complying with single-use plastic bag bans in several Massachusetts communities since 2014. Coming off of recent changes to laws in various towns across the New England region, Big Y has moved up its 2020 timeline to eliminate single-use plastic at checkouts in all of its locations in order to streamline operations and to do its part to support sustainability.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year. When not disposed of properly, this plastic can end up in waterways and forests where it can harm wildlife and our local communities. By removing single-use plastic bags at checkout, and encouraging shoppers to use reusable bags for their groceries, Big Y and its customers can work together to make a difference, eliminating the 100 million plastic bags that were previously distributed each year from the grocer.
"At Big Y, beyond providing great quality, great prices and great customer service, we also try to be smart about the resources and energy we use," said Richard D. Bossie, Big Y's senior vice president of Operations and Customer Experience. "By working with our shoppers, we can further reduce consumption to make a difference in and around the tight-knit communities that we serve across New England."
Shoppers can find a variety of easily accessible, reusable bags in fun, new designs and sizes by the checkout counters. From local university logos to hometown sports icons and nautical themed bags, there’s something for everyone. For those shoppers who do not bring their own shopping bags beginning in August, a 10-cent charge per paper bag will be added to their bill. This fee is in an effort to promote the use of reusable bags instead of paper, which also cause harm to the environment.
Berkshire Bank has joined the growing coalition of businesses pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. More than 600 CEOs have come together for the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, including Berkshire Bank's Richard Marotta.
By signing on to this commitment, Marotta and Berkshire Bank are pledging to take action to cultivate a workplace where diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected and where employees feel encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion.
"Berkshire Bank has been committed to serving the communities in which we operate for over 170 years. The neighborhoods we work with have changed greatly over this time. We want to ensure that as demographics shift and our communities become more racially and ethnically diverse that we're as nimble and adaptive as possible," Marotta said. "For us, this means creating programs and services that are inclusive and address the needs of our neighbors. We are committed to making sure all of our customers feel like we are attuned to their financial dreams as well as their struggles. We are honored to sign this pledge as it is a reflection of the values we hold dear."
Organizations joining the pledge are taking a step toward effecting positive change. A diverse and inclusive workforce facilitates community but also drives innovation and creativity. A recent study found that 85 percent of those surveyed reported that diversity is a key component to fostering innovation.
Great Place to Work
Southwestern Vermont Health Care has been named by Becker's Healthcare, publisher of Becker's Hospital Review, one of the industry's most influential sources of news for hospital leaders, to the 2019 list of "150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare" for the fourth year running. It is the only Vermont company on the list.
"SVHC really cares about being a place where employees thrive both professionally and personally," said Polly Cipperly, director of Human Resources. "These factors, plus competitive pay and great benefits, have attracted the attention of Becker’s and other employer recognition organizations."
The editors of Becker's consider health institutions for the Great Places to Work in Healthcare list based on several factors, including whether the organization has received national, state, or local recognition for workplace excellence; benefits offerings; wellness initiatives; and efforts to improve professional development, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, and a sense of community among employees.
"SVHC is a values-driven organization and a rewarding place to work," Cipperly noted. "We are grateful for the review and commendation that Becker’s provides, because it helps us share our qualities as a great place to work with job seekers and with our community."
The list features both U.S. healthcare provider organizations and other types of healthcare-specific companies. It has been published every year since 2011. Organizations cannot pay for inclusion on this list.
Kimball Farms bond upgrade
Fitch Ratings has upgraded the revenue bond rating for Berkshire Retirement Community (dba Kimball Farms Continuing Life Care Community (CLCC)) from "A" to "A+" with a stable outlook. Fitch is an international credit rating agency based out of New York City and London. Investors use the company's ratings as a guide as to which investments will not default and subsequently yield a solid return. Along with Moody's and Standard & Poor's (S&P's), Fitch is one of the top three credit rating agencies in the world.
The bonds are secured by a pledge of gross revenues, a first mortgage lien on certain property and equipment and a debt service reserve fund. The upgrade to "A+" reflects Kimball Farms' continued liquidity growth and debt moderation, all of which compare favorably to Fitch's "A" category medians.
"We are thrilled that Kimball Farms CLCC has received this improved rating from Fitch and are proud of our staff and leadership who have established a consistent track record of excellence in everything they do," said Bill Jones, president of Berkshire Healthcare Systems. "This reinforces Berkshire Healthcare's commitment to providing a broad range of quality senior living care options in our community."
Kimball Farms is a Type-A (life care) life plan community located on two campuses in Lenox, Mass. The Kimball Farms at Walker Street campus includes 150 independent living units, 48 assisted living units and 26 memory care units. The Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center at Sunset Avenue includes a 74-bed skilled nursing facility with a dedicated memory care unit. The campuses are located approximately one mile apart, and transportation is provided to residents and family members.