Chamber Channels 
Serving Agawam, East Longmeadow/Longmeadow, Hampden/Wilbraham, Ludlow, Springfield, West Springfield
September 2008
In This Issue
Legislative Update
ACCGS and Hampden Bank Co-Sponsorship
Our Sponsors 

Hampden Bank

Health New England

Quick Links
Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, Inc.
1441 Main Street, 
Suite  136
Springfield, MA 01103 
Board Meeting Dates 
East of the River Chamber of Commerce
9/16 Gardens of Wilbraham
10/21 Gardens of Wilbraham
11/18 Gardens of Wilbraham
Locations TBA
All meetings will begin at 8:00 a.m.
West of the River Chamber of Commerce
All meetings will be held at the Captain Leonard House in Agawam and will begin at 8:00 a.m. 
Legislative Update


     The Chamber's trip to Washington, sponsored by Congressman Richard Neal is at capacity and the 45 members who will be attending are anxiously looking forward to a great symposium September 17th - 19th.
     Sponsored by Comcast and the Westfield State College Foundation, this trip is normally scheduled every other year. In the past speakers such as the Vice President Al Gore, Senator Kennedy, and several cabinet members and leaders of both the House and Senate have addressed our group. It will be an action-packed two days including a reception and a breakfast at the Library of Congress. The symposium, put together entirely by the office of Congressman Neal, is always a great opportunity to be able to listen to and converse with decision makers in our Nation's Capital. The quality of speakers is truly a testament to the high regard in which the Congressman is held by his colleagues in Washington.
     Back here in Massachusetts, the legislature has completed its major work for this year and is now meeting in informal sessions to take care of relatively routine matters. The budget was finally finished after the House and Senate overrode roughly half of the Governor's vetoes. Thanks to the hard work of the Springfield delegation led by State Representatives Swan and Coakley-Rivera, and our Senators Buoniconti and Candaras, the Chamber's successful Technical Assistance Program which benefits businesses that move into vacant storefronts in Springfield, was once again fully funded.
     A new Health Care Containment bill was enacted into law and while it is obviously too early to tell what effect it will have on curtailing the escalating increases in health care premiums, it was certainly encouraging to see this issue being dealt with. The increase in the cost of health care has always been a major concern of our members and is now one of the biggest causes of a strained budget on the state level.

     Changes to the CORI law, as previously discussed in this column, were not made. It is the Chamber's hope that over the next several months discussions will occur that will result in reasonable changes being made next year, not the drastic ones as originally proposed.
     Several state wide bond bills were passed; among them are a capital improvements plan, transportation projects, and an environmental bill; all of which will benefit many projects in our area. Thanks to our area's Representatives and Senators for fighting for these projects as they will not only bring construction jobs to our area but will have long lasting benefits to our economy.
     The Chamber continues to monitor the employment and unemployment statistics on a monthly basis as well as the state revenue picture. The talk in Boston is still that the data indicates a slowing down of the economy and therefore a slowing down in the revenue growth. This slow down could result in the Governor making cuts in the already approved budget during the year. As noted, the Chamber will aggressively monitor all of these numbers.

     Lastly, the Chamber has taken a position to oppose Question One on the November ballot that would repeal the Income Tax in Massachusetts resulting in the loss of 40% of all revenues collected.  More work is being done on this position internally as well as with other business groups throughout the state. 
Enjoy the summer, don't take your eye off the ball, and resolve to get more involved in the fall.

President's Message


     On behalf of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, Inc., (ACCGS) I am pleased to announce that due to the good offices of our local legislative delegation, most notably Speaker Pro Temp Thomas Petrolati, Representatives Ben Swan and Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and Senator Stephen Buoniconti, the Chamber obtained a $250,000 grant from the state to continue its very successful Technical Assistance Program (TAP).  TAP provides funding to businesses that move into vacant storefronts in Springfield.
     In the three years of the state TAP existence, the ACCGS has assisted well-over 100 businesses to move into vacant storefronts throughout the city. These businesses are as diverse as Springfield's population and include restaurants, hair salons, a food packaging company, law firms, small grocery stores, an Italian specialty meats store, a security company, a clothing store,  auto repair facility, a dance studio, and a funeral home, just to name a few.
     The TAP provides money for services rendered in connection to a business moving into the vacant storefront.  Among others, these services include labor for an electrician, plumber, carpenter and marketing/advertising dollars, legal and accounting and businesses planning assistance.  The primary objective of the program is to help stabilize fragile commercial districts in the city. Studies have shown that by filling vacant stores in a city like Springfield, it reduces vandalism and petty crime and provides work opportunities for neighborhood residents.
     This program has proven itself to be a benefit to Chamber members who are not located in Springfield as many Chamber members have been utilized for the services rendered in connection with the TAP grants.  The businesses that are the recipients of the grants can choose the vendors that they wish to contract with and the vendor in turn is paid directly by the Chamber.  This is clearly a win-win for everyone involved.  
     Should you know of a business that has moved into a vacant storefront in Springfield or that is planning to do so between July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, please feel free to have them contact the Chamber at 413-787-1555.

Russell F. Denver
President, ACCGS
Hampden Bank 
Joe Lawler, Gaudreau Group; Nicholas Manolakis, Elissa Langevin, Florence Savings Bank; Nicole Potito, Martin O'Shea, principal of Minnechaug Regional High School; Tom Manzi, Wachovia Securities.  Staff photo.

Hampden/Wilbraham Chamber Celebrates Success at Annual Breakfast

     Joseph DellaPuca, Executive Director of the Gardens of Wilbraham, served as Chief Greeter at the recent Hampden/Wilbraham Annual meeting.  Joe welcomed more than 70 business leaders and town officials to the breakfast sponsored by Friendly's and held at the Hampden Country Club.
     Terry Nelson, owner of Terry Nelson Consulting Service and 1st Vice Chairman of the Hampden/Wilbraham Chamber reviewed the Chamber's accomplishments from the past year, including a very well attended Legislative Breakfast where business leaders heard from State Senator Gale Candaras, and State Representatives Mary Rogeness and Angelo Puppolo.  Terry also recognized the Chamber's monthly Small Business Roundtable Series, held the third Thursday of each month and hosted by Wilbraham & Monson Academy.  The program is designed to encourage dynamic discussions on Chamber involvement, membership benefits and various other issues that are of concern to Chamber members.  
     The Chamber season also featured the active work of the Town/Business Committee, chaired by Terry Nelson.  Terry also serves as the Hampden/Wilbraham Chamber's representative on the ACCGS Legislative Steering Committee, which closely monitors various issues that affect the business community.
     The Chamber once again presented a very detailed position on the value of maintaining a single property tax rate for residential and business properties in both towns at the annual hearings on this subject. Cities and towns reliance on the property tax has been a major issue statewide, and some feel that shifting more of the burden onto businesses is an easy solution. Fortunately, in Hampden and Wilbraham the Chamber's presentation has been found to be factual and to the point and the Selectmen have agreed with maintaining one rate in both communities.
     Elissa Langevin, Assistant Vice President with Florence Savings Bank, who serves as co-chair for the Hampden/Wilbraham Golf Classic was pleased to present scholarships to Nicole Potito and Nicholas Manolakis.  Nicole is from Wilbraham and she will be attending Endicott College, majoring in Hotel and Hospitality Management.  Nicholas is also from Wilbraham and will be attending UMass Amherst, the Isenberg School of Management where he will be a business major.  Both recipients were students from the Entrepreneurial Program, a collaboration with Springfield Technical Community College's Entrepreneurial Institute, the Public School Systems of Western Mass. and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurialship.  Minnechaug Regional High School students have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to start and maintain a small business.  Elissa noted "how pleased the Chamber was to be able to contribute to this wonderful program." 
     Elissa took the opportunity to introduce tournament co-chairs Joe Lawler from the Gaudreau Group and Tom Manzi from Wachovia Securities. The tournament will return again this Chamber season on Friday, October 3rd at the Country Club of Wilbraham.  
Russell F. Denver, President of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, gave a brief "Economic/Demographic Snapshot" for the towns of Hampden and Wilbraham.  He highlighted new construction, housing starts, income levels and graduation rates for the towns. 
     To round out the event, nationally recognized motivator, humorist and author Dr. Steve Sobel, Speaker Extraordinaire, entertained the audience with his insights on how to "Play Like a Champion - Lessons from the Golden Dome".  Dr. Sobel is the author of the best-seller, "The Good Times Handbook - Your Guide to Positive Living and Exciting Life".
     For information on the Hampden/Wilbraham Chamber 6th "Golf Classic" Tournament being held on Friday, October 3, 2008 and other events, visit the Events Calendar on the Chamber's website at or contact Affiliate Coordinator Sylvia Poole at 755-1318 or by email at .

Hampden Bank
Back row:  Attorney Carmina Fernandes, Tiago Martins, Matthew Lavoie; Front row:  David Richer, HealthSouth, Gloria Faria, Chicopee Savings Bank, Nevin Xavier, and Alissa LaMotte.  (Not pictured - Susan Cotti).  Staff photo.
Ludlow Chamber Awards Scholarships
    The Ludlow Chamber of Commerce recently awarded scholarships to five Ludlow High School graduating seniors of the Class of 2008.  Applicants were judged on academic performance, extracurricular activities, community service and/or work experience.  In addition, each applicant was interviewed by the Selection Committee chaired by David Richer, CEO of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, and members Carla Alves, Berkshire Bank; Gloria Faria, from Chicopee Savings Bank; Attorney Carmina Fernandes; and Chip Harrington, Our Town Variety & Liquors.
     This year's Ludlow Chamber Scholarship recipients are Alissa LaMotte, who attends Seton Hall and is majoring in law; Matthew Lavoie, who is majoring in political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Tiago Martins who attends Holy Cross where he is a pre-med major, Susan Cotti who is pursuing a career in art at Westfield State College, and Nevin Xavier who is attending Johnson & Wales.  With his degree in culinary arts, he hopes to open a Portuguese restaurant. 
     The scholarship program is funded by the Ludlow Chamber of Commerce Annual "Golf for Kids" tournament.  This year's tournament, chaired by Chip Harrington, owner of Our Town Variety & Liquors will be on Monday, September 22nd at Ludlow Country Club.  There are still a number of sponsorship opportunities available for this event.
     For information on the Ludlow Chamber and other events, visit the Events Calendar on the Chamber's website at  Ludlow Events or contact Sylvia Poole, Affiliate Coordinator at 755-1318 or by email at

Affiliated Chambers Of Commerce And Hampden Bank To Sponsor Local Initiative For Business Growth
     Russell Denver, President of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, ACCGS, and Thomas Burton, President of Hampden Bank have announced a sponsorship by the Chamber and the bank to support the efforts of local small and mid-size business owners to participate in a successful organization that has helped many local business owners to profitably grow their businesses.
     The ACCGS will become a sponsor and supporter of The Breakthrough Executive Board, which is comprised of a group of local business owners who have joined together to promote the growth and excellent management of their companies.  Both organizations will be inviting local business owners to attend an Executive Briefing session titled  "Seven Things CEO's of Breakthrough Companies Know That You Don't" on either Wednesday, September 24th or on Thursday, October 9th from 8 am to 10:30.  Curing this Briefing they will also be introduced  to the Breakthrough Executive Board concept and the benefits they can receive by Board membership  The Board was first organized almost three years ago by its founders and Board facilitators, well known local business advisors Harry Gilligan and Ray Smalley who are partners in Breakthrough Business Advisors, LLC, of Springfield.
     During this period over 15 business owners have participated as members of the Breakthrough Executive Board with the great majority achieving excellent results in both business growth and increased profitability.  Current Board members are as follows: Michael Brown of Camfour Inc., Jules Gaudreau, Gaudreau Insurance, John Kendzierski of Professional Drywall Inc., Glen Lundstrom of Smith and LaMountain Services, Andy Myers of Myers Information Systems, Kent Pecoy of Kent Pecoy and Sons Construction and Tom Schmitt of M.L. Schmitt Electric.  Harry Gilligan is especially pleased that the ACCGS has joined Hampden Bank as a sponsor.  He said, "the Chamber support will enable the Breakthrough Executive Board concept to expand and to add a second Board Group that will be able to focus on the unique needs of smaller businesses,  and their owners who by the nature of their business must involve themselves in the day to day operation of their businesses".  The current Board was designed to service larger businesses where the owner has the availability of a team of managers to assist in business growth and operational excellence. Because of the sponsorship of these two organizations there will now be two Boards one servicing smaller companies and one servicing mid-size companies in the Springfield area.Registration can be done by calling (413) 583-3653 or by e-mailing  Financial assistance for Board membership is supported by the State workforce Development fund and discounted fees are available to ACCGS members and Hampden Bank business banking customers.
     Complimentary, Executive Briefings, hosted and sponsored by the ACCGS and Hampden Bank will be held at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in West Springfield, on Wednesday September 24th and on Thursday October 9th from 8:00 to 10:30 am for small or mid size business owners who would like to learn more about Board membership.  Prior registration for either Executive Briefing session is required as seating is limited and can be accomplished by calling 413 583-3653 or e-mailing  Financial assistance for Board membership is supported by the State Workforce Development Fund and discounted fees are available to ACCGS members and Hampden Bank, business banking customers.
ACCGS Calendar 
September 2 ~ Springfield Chamber Board of Directors, TD Banknorth Conference Room, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
September 3 ~ ACCGS Breakfast Club, The Log Cabin, Holyoke, 7:15 a.m. - 9:00 a.m., $20- Members, $25 Non-members
September 10 ~ ACCGS After 5, Forest Park Zoo, Springfield, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., $10 Members, $15 Non-members
Women's Partnership 3 Wicked Ways to Win Over an Audience, Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, West Springfield, 11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m., $25
September 12 ~ ACCGS Legislative Steering Committee, TD Banknorth Conference Room, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
September 16 ~ East of the River Chamber Board of Directors Meeting, Gardens of Wilbraham, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
September 17 ~ Washington Symposium, Capitol Hill Suites, Washington, D.C., September 17-19.
September 18 ~ ACCGS Board of Directors' Meeting, TD Banknorth Conference Center, 8:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m.
September 22 ~ Ludlow "Golf for Kids" Tournament, Ludlow Country Club, Registration 12:00 p.m., Shotgun Start 1:00 p.m., $110 per golfer
September 23 ~ West of the River Chamber Board of Directors Meeting, Captain Leonard House, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
September 24 ~ Executive Briefing, sponsored by the ACCGS and Hampden Bank, Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, West Springfield, 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., contact (413) 583-3653 or for more information.