Chamber offers new experiential networking program

In September 2018, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber introduced an additional networking program for members called Experience North Central. This addition styled like a Business After Hours  offers attendees yet another social networking opportunity with the inclusion of an experience at one of our many gems within the community.

The first Experience North Central featured a cider donut and fudge making lesson at the nationally renowned Red Apple Farm in Phillipston, a 100 year old destination for all things fall. In October, we featured local beer manufacturer, Moon Hill Brewing, in celebration of Manufacturing Month. Both were said to be “the best networking experience ever” by several attendees.

If you’re sick of the same old networking and also looking to learn behind the scenes secrets of local businesses, then Experience North Central is for you! Our next event will be held in January 2018. Have an idea for an Experience? Contact Events & Programs Manager, Maria McCaffrey, at 978.353.7600 ext. 235 or

Addiction and the Economy:  The Hidden Link 

The preventable loss of life from addiction is a tragedy which destroys families and devastates communities. But often absent from the conversation about addiction is the fact that it is also inflicting harm on the American economy, on a scale not seen in any previous drug crisis.  A 2011 study,  published in the journal Pain Medicine, estimated that health-care costs related to prescription opioid abuse amounted to $25 billion dollars, and criminal-justice-system costs totaled $5.1 billion. But the largest financial cost was to the workplace, which accounted for $25.6 billion, in the form of lost earnings and employment. Howard Birnbaum, a health-care economist and one of the authors of the study, explains, “There are major consequences to the economy…If people don’t have jobs, they don’t have money to spend in the grocery store, or on gasoline.”

And evidence supporting the link between addiction and the economy is growing. In July of 2017, economists from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., reported that America’s opioid epidemic is sidelining people in their prime working years and contributing to the stubbornly low rate of men and women who are either employed or looking for jobs. In September of 2017, Princeton economist Alan Krueger, noted a definitive link between addiction and the reduced labor force: Where Have All the Workers Gone? An Inquiry into the Decline of the U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate

The human, social and economic costs of this national crisis can certainly feel overwhelming.  However, here in North Central Massachusetts we have reason to be hopeful as our region is uniquely poised to face this challenge head-on. In February of 2017, the City of Fitchburg applied to be a Pilot Community with Facing Addiction, Inc. The application was submitted by the Joint Coalition on Health after requesting and receiving the full support of Fitchburg leadership including Mayor DiNatale, Chief Martineau and Board of Health Director, Stephen Curry.

Facing Addiction Inc. received more than 50 applications from communities across the country. In March of 2017, it was announced that Fitchburg, MA was selected as one of 15 communities to participate in the organization’s pilot community project.


The Pilot Project, Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond, is seeking support and participation from all sectors including our region’s vibrant business community.

Ways to take action now:

  • Support our work: We are an entirely grassroots initiative. If you are interested in becoming a benefactor of this important work, please contact us at
  • Consider participating in in our research project: On October 16, 2017, we are launching LUV: Listening to Unheard Voices. Working in partnership with UMass Medical School, Community Health Connections and others, the project will conduct interviews and focus groups throughout North Central MA.  The Project is particularly interested in talking with people who have been directly impacted by addiction. All interviews are completely confidential. Information gathered will be shared with community leaders to inform them about what is being experienced on the frontlines. For more information, please contact us at
  • Visit us at Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond
  • Join our mailing list by contacting us at


 “Addiction is a health issue that must be treated as such. It is a preventable illness, and recovery is a reality for over 23 million Americans. But with 22 million still suffering, it is past time to take new and innovative approaches to solving this public health crisis.” – Michael King

If you or a loved one is in need of treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction in MA, call 1-800-327-5050. The Helpline is the only statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services. Helplines services are free and confidential.

  • Susan Buchholz, Volunteer Chair and Coordinator of the Joint Coalition On Health & Volunteer Director of Facing Addiction In Fitchburg And Beyond.

Season Tickets now available

Each year, the NCMCC offers the convenience of season tickets for two of our most popular programs: the Good Morning North Central executive breakfast and Human Resources Council lunch series. Many who attend these programs, often attend the full program year and thus, deserve a token of our appreciation for their program loyalty!

Season ticket holders are offered convenience and a discount on programming by purchasing the entire year up front. At a 20% discount and automatic registration for each event, season tickets are an economical and efficient purchase for business leaders in the community. Season Tickets can also be transferred to another employee within your business if you are not able to attend one of the events.

The Good Morning North Central executive breakfast series is $100 for five events while the Human Resource Council is $150 for nine events (individual event pricing is $125 and $180, respectively).

Season Tickets can be purchased directly through our online calendar at the discounted rate or by contacting Maria McCaffrey at or 978.353.7600 ext. 235.

Delicious event planned for Fitchburg

By Elizabeth Dobbins,

FITCHBURG — It’s not just about the food at Al Fresco Fitchburg, a new Main Street event promoting locally owned restaurants.

It’s also about the scene.

“You’re going to have eight restaurants cooking in front of you,” said Joel Kaddy, organizer and Ward 3 City Councilor. “You’re going to have beautiful dinner music. You’re going to have the smell of the food.”

During the event Thursday evening, diners will sit down at tables set up in Main Street to watch chefs cook multiple course meals and dine, Kaddy said.

“The whole idea is to provide outdoor dining and to support locally owned restaurants,” he said.

The event — a collaboration between Kaddy, Fitchburg Pride and the city’s economic development office — will temporarily shut down Main Street between Prichard and Oliver streets.

Tables of six, two for each restaurant, will be seated at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and diners will eat as soft music is played.

Craft beer and other alcohol will be available at a cash bar until 10 p.m. and afterward diners are encouraged to visit other downtown businesses, like The Boulder Cafe, for drinks.

“I would like some of our customers to visit some of our other locations,” he said.

Unlike many “taste of” events, diners will eat food at the event from only one restaurant — the place where they purchase the ticket.

Tickets are available at Dario’s Ristorante, Zapata Mexican Cocina, The Fay Club, Dickie’s Grillin, Slattery’s, Oak Hill Country Club, Beemers Pub & Grill and Il Ricordi.

Zapata’s offerings will include ceviche, rice, beef, guacamole and smoked churros, owner Michel Coronado said.

A preliminary menu from Slattery’s includes chilled gaspacho, a salad of roasted red and golden beets and a roast tenderloin of beef.

“We’ve always been involved in the city,” Slattery’s owner Dave Celuzza said. “It’s the good will. It’s being part of it with the rest of the city.”

The restaurant’s 24 seats at the event were almost all purchased as of Friday afternoon, according Celuzza.

Kaddy said he hopes diners are inspired to try new restaurants from the food they see at the event.

“We have some wonderful restaurants and some wonderful people running them,” he said.

In the event of rain, Al Fresco Fitchburg will be moved to July 27.

Follow Elizabeth Dobbins on Twitter @DobbinsSentinel
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JULY MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: US Army Recruiting Center – Leominster, MA (1A4F)

In each newsletter we highlight a Chamber member doing interesting work in our community.  This month we welcome the US Army Recruiting Center of Leominster, MA (1A4F).

It is very fitting we highlight the US Army in this month’s membership spotlight as we honor the men and women serving our country all month long.

We are extremely proud to have the US Army as a part of our chamber and we are very thankful they were honored guests at our Annual Business Meeting with Governor Charlie Baker this past month.

The US Army will also be a part of our upcoming Appleseed Country Fair held Labor Day Weekend this year!

The US Army Recruiting Center of Leominster, MA is available to those individuals ready to make a positive change in their life. They are on hand to answer questions like how to pay for college, how to receive free skill training, what travel opportunities and benefits are available to qualified applicants, and more.

Their goal is to provide the strength to the United States Army, the finest fighting force ever fielded in human history. They seek intelligent young men and women who feel they have what it takes to defend our country, and make our world a better place.

More than anything else, the US Army is here to offer advice and options on the best way to achieve your goals. You can learn more by visiting

The US Army Recruiting Center of Leominster, MA is located at 110 Erdman Way, Leominster, MA 01453.

Leominster Credit Union Participates in United Way of North Central Mass Meal Packing Event

A Leominster Credit Union team of volunteers recently participated in the Combat Hunger food packaging event for the United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

This was the 4th event held at the Town and Country Apartments in Leominster where in 3-4 hours approximately 90 volunteers packaged 22,224 nutritious meals.

The packaged meals were sent to over 20 local food pantries as well as Kylee McCumber’s Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kids and Kira Andreucci’s Karing 4 Kidz.


JUNE MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: The Art Longsjo Foundation

On June 24th & 25th, the cities of Fitchburg and Leominster will host the second-oldest bicycle race in America, the 56th running of the Longsjo Classic, named for Fitchburg native and Olympian “Art” Longsjo, Jr.  This month, the North Central Mass Chamber reveals the history of this time-honored, classic American cycling event, a community celebration of cycling, fitness, and health.

Arthur “Art” Matthew Longsjo, Jr. (October 23, 1931 – September 16, 1958) was an American Olympian speed skater and cyclist, the first athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in the same year (1956).  After he died tragically in 1958 following a car accident in Burlington, Vermont, the first Fitchburg Longsjo Classic was held in 1960, with the Longsjo Foundation formed to make donations from race revenue to community charities.

The foundation contributes thousands of dollars annually to groups that volunteer at the race — from the American Legion, to Fitchburg High School’s athletic teams, to the Boys and Girls Club.  But this carries on throughout the year, with recent support for Our Father’s House, the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network, the New Patriots Veterans Outreach Center, and others.  Longsjo funding will also help build the inclusive Sam Pawlak Community Playground at Coolidge Park, and keep holiday lights on in downtown Fitchburg.

The Longsjo will feature 15 races for men & women of different age groups and ability levels over 2 days of exciting criterium racing on Saturday June 24th (Leominster) and Sunday June 25th (Fitchburg), along with a kids’ race each day.  Mayors Dean Mazzarella and Stephen DiNatale will also host a charity ride on the same course the pros use, with a trophy for the mayor who raises the most money at stake for his City Hall!

“Crit” racing consists of several laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap ranging from about 500 to 1000 meters.  More than 1000 racers will compete, with thousands of spectators expected to line the courses and attend the race expo.

 The Longsjo Classic is proud to be a local race with international reach, committed to the local community.  Please visit to sponsor the race or volunteer (race marshals, registrars, and set-up & take-down crews still needed!).  You can also purchase race merchandise, apparel, and accessories on the website (all produced by Chamber member Northeast Promotions). 





In each newsletter we highlight a Chamber member doing interesting work in our community.  This month we welcome Heywood Hospital in Gardner.

Heywood Hospital is a non-profit, community-owned, 134-bed facility in Gardner, with more than 1,000 employees.  A strategic alliance formed with Athol Hospital in 2013, to take advantage of economies of scale, has further expanded the service area.  The Heywood Medical Group network includes 200 active, courtesy, and consulting physicians in primary care and a multitude of specialties.

Dawn Casavant, Heywood’s Vice President of External Affairs, has brought a philanthropic focus to Heywood’s mission in the Greater Gardner and North Central regions of Massachusetts, believing that social services play an important role alongside healthcare:  “We are trying to address the pressing need for behavioral health and addiction services in our region.”

An unsettling trend is the increase in suicide and depression among teens.  Heywood Hospital has established a Suicide Prevention Task Force, in conjunction with the Mass Department of Public Health, to prevent suicide and to provide education and resources to help those who struggle with depression, survivors of suicide, and those who have lost loved ones.

An important resource in this struggle will be The Quabbin Retreat project, a substance abuse and mental health center in Petersham.  The first stage, the Dana Day Treatment Center, opened in February and will provide outpatient services for patients in need of addiction and behavioral health treatment.  When complete, the Quabbin Retreat will offer both inpatient and outpatient mental health services, including an adult residential substance abuse center.  In the coming years, phases two and three will encompass a residential adolescent substance abuse treatment program and an inpatient detox center, according to Casavant.  More than 30% of day rehab patients at The Quabbin Retreat currently come from Fitchburg and Leominster.

The center is named in honor of the town of Dana, one of the four lost towns of the Quabbin Reservoir, which was created in the 1930s by digging up four towns to create two immense dams.

Dawn, who also sits on the board of the Greater Gardner chamber, views Chamber of Commerce engagement as an important tool for improving community health.  “Chambers give us a pulse on what’s happening in the region, relationships with big businesses, and the support of government affairs and advocacy efforts.”  A colleague of Dawn’s, Mary Giannetti, serves on the Behavioral Health working group of the Community Health Improvement Project (CHIP), a program the Chamber has supported.

Heywood Hospital is regularly applying for grants to provide more access to services, and connect families to community-based resources.  A $10 million capital campaign is also underway.

To learn more about Heywood Hospital or get involved, please call Mary Giannetti on (978) 630-5797, or email on

Chamber Awards $48,000 in Scholarships

On May 12, Chamber members will meet the region’s most accomplished high school seniors as they receive scholarships from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation. A total of $48,000 in 24 scholarships will be  awarded at the Good Morning Breakfast at the Doubletree by Hilton in Leominster. Special thanks go to HealthAlliance for sponsoring the breakfast.

The following students each received a $2,000 scholarship, and are listed by their name, school and the specific scholarship:

Emily Buchanan of Westminster,  Oakmont Regional High School, Roderick W. & Donna M. Lewin Scholarship; Alivia Burns, Leominster High School – Center for Technical Education Innovation, HealthAlliance Hospital Inc. Scholarship; Sophia Goncalves, Fitchburg High School, Elizabeth & Anthony DiGeronimo Family Scholarship; and, Morgan DiPilla from Sterling,  Wachusett Regional High School, Barbara Silva Scholarship.

Also, Shanina Ferreira of Fitchburg, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Chamber Foundation Scholarship; John Gove, Leominster High School, Enterprise Bank & Trust Scholarship; Olivia Houle from Leominster,  Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Edward C.J. Healey Scholarship; Laura Jenny of Lunenburg, Leominster High School, HealthAlliance Hospital Inc. Scholarship; Shanna Joseph from Sterling, Wachusett Regional High School, Salny Family Scholarship; Keith Kidder of Ayer,  Ayer Shirley Regional High School, Elizabeth & Anthony DiGeronimo Family Scholarship; Anneke LaPosta of Lancaster, Nashoba Regional High School, Benjamin Asher Scholarship; Kristen Maguy, Leominster High School, David L. McKeehan Scholarship; Mark McKew from Ashby, St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School, M.Ruth Lee Scholarship; Cameron Moylan from Ashby, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, George R. Wallace and Alice G. Wallace Scholarship; Kyleigh Olivier, Leominster High School, M.Ruth Lee Scholarship; and, Mark Pothier, Leominster High School, Chamber Golf Tournament Scholarship.

In addition, Sashealy Rivera of Fitchburg, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, HealthAlliance Hospital Inc. Scholarship; John Shelton, The Bromfield School, Rollstone Bank & Trust Scholarship; Amy Sjoberg from Groton, Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Ronald Ansin Scholarship; Madeleine Steele, The Bromfield School, HealthAlliance Hospital Inc. Scholarship; Bryson Tang of Pepperell, Nashoba Valley Technical High School, Chamber Foundation Scholarship; Brendan Tobin, Lunenburg High School, Adams Family Scholarship; Chloe Wespiser of Townsend, North Middlesex Regional High School, Chamber Golf Tournament Scholarship; and, Peyton Wirtz, Fitchburg High School, Workers’ Credit Union Scholarship.