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 www.Longsjo.com 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 mary.giannetti@heywood.org

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.

Tourism Sales Mission

The Johnny Appleseed Trail Association, the tourism arm of the chamber, participated in the New England Society of Association Executives, NESAE, 2018 Annual Management Conference where we had a table promoting our meeting venues to association executives from all over New England. In attendance were over 100 association executives and destinations looking to do business. Members who were promoting North Central Massachusetts alongside us were Great Wolf Lodge New England and the Devens Common Center.

This is an example of the many ongoing efforts of JATA to promote the region to visitors and groups in key markets. Ultimately these efforts help generate additional visitors and additional dollars to the communities in our region. In 2016, our collective regional tourism marketing strategy resulted in $131 million economic impact for North Central Massachusetts.


Chamber Bids Farewell to Lawlor

The Chamber bids a fond farewell to Public Affairs Manager, Patrick Lawlor, who recently left to pursue a new opportunity as management analyst for the Town of Andover. Lawlor finished his master’s degree in public administration from UMass Boston during his tenure with the Chamber.

“We are saddened to lose Patrick, but also excited for him to pursue his career further,” said Roy M. Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “Patrick has been an important and dedicated member of our team and a contributor to our success. I want to thank him for his hard work and commitment to the Chamber and wish him well in his new position.”


We recently welcomed Nutrishop Fitchburg located at 18 John Fitch Highway in Fitchburg.

When Scott Radford (a policeman by trade and a life-long fitness buff) and his wife, Melissa, decided to open a new business, they wanted to establish a wellness center, not just a supplement shop.  Frustrated by what he felt were staff lacking product knowledge and offering generic service at national chain shops, Scott set out with Nutrishop to fill a void in the retail nutrition industry locally, by providing health-conscious consumers with a diverse selection of superior supplements at low prices, sold by fitness enthusiasts who could help each customer choose the right products based on body type and workout goals.

Due to the popularity of wellness programs within businesses, Nutrishop offers a “body transformation challenge” for employees of local companies. The points-based contest begins with a weigh-in on advanced In-Body scale, which uses electric impedance to measure a host of fat & strength stats, including “lean analysis” by limb & and by trunk.  Participants are consulted on their goals and given guidance on meal planning and exercise (when and how often).  Over a 3-month period, they come back to check-in every 2 weeks, and receive points for each pound of fat or % of body fat lost – or pound of muscle gained.  Nutrishop does the admin work and the challenge is flexible enough to accommodate other routines as well.

Scott hopes people will appreciate his advice, and offers a discount on supplements (and free samples) for participants.  But he makes it clear that supplements aren’t the most important part of a fitness routine:  “They really are a niche product, supplements & vitamins may address a deficiency but first you need the foundation of exercising and eating right.”

Please join Nutrishop for their Grand Opening on Friday, April 7th at 11:00 am at 18 John Fitch Highway in Fitchburg.  You can call the shop on (978) 516-2476.


The North Central Mass Chamber is pleased to welcome ENE Systems of Canton as a new member in January

The North Central Mass Chamber is pleased to welcome ENE Systems of Canton (www.ENEsystems.com) as a new member in January.

For the past 60 years, ENE has been helping businesses large and small, municipalities, and schools reduce the operating and energy costs of their facilities. Energy efficiency upgrades can improve occupant comfort and productivity, as well as increasing property value through renovation. ENE will perform an on-site assessment and recommend specific projects for consideration, depending on priorities and budget. As a full-service contractor, ENE will engage and manage the contractors you choose to work on your facility, but can also assist with financing projects, writing grants, applying for tax credits and more.

ENE is a full-service energy contractor and installer for National Grid utilities. Sample clients include Lawrence Schools, Lowell High School, Haverhill City Hall and Boston Public Schools, as well as retail, hotels, assisted living, and healthcare facilities.

Regional Market Manager Eric Sandberg describes ENE Systems as “the Mass Save for businesses”, referring to the popular state-subsidized energy efficiency program for Massachusetts homeowners. For more information, please contact Eric at esandberg@eeiservices.com or on (603) 581-3311

Attention North Central Chamber Members

Attention North Central Chamber Members

Overtime regulations not going into effect on December 1st

What happened?

Over the last several months, businesses in North Central Massachusetts have been preparing to comply with new overtime rules set to go in effect on December 1, 2016. But last week, a federal judge blocked the new regulations, pausing businesses from having to comply with the law. In short, there are currently no changes to overtime laws.
Many employers have been actively taking steps to change personnel policies surrounding overtime pay, employee classification, and even the way employees perform their job duties. But with this latest decision, those changes may not have been necessary as existing overtime regulations are still in place.

What does this mean?

The federal judge’s injunction to this law gives merit to the existing court cases that have challenged the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations. Basically, the federal judge believed that the lawsuits challenging the new regulations were legitimate cases that should be heard before any regulations are put in place.
This means that the salary threshold for overtime exemption is still $23,660 and not $47,476.

This decision is not permanent and court decisions could provide a variety of impacts and outcomes for overtime rules.

What to do next?

If you have already made changes to employee classifications and salary, it may be best to not make any more changes. It may be difficult to take back decisions you have made about an employee’s status and job duties. You should consider your own unique situations and the relative costs to making changes to your personnel policies.

If you have not yet made decisions or implemented changes regarding classification of employees, it may be best to hold off on making any changes and see how the litigation works out. You may want to have a plan in place to move forward in the future in the event that the federal judge’s decision is reversed. You should consult an employment attorney or CPA for guidance.

Need more information?

Keep an eye out for more information from the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. If you need assistance, please reach out to Patrick Lawlor, public affairs manager, by phone at 978.353.7600 ext. 224 or by email 




Question: Is there a specific committee charged with overseeing the project or will one be created prior to the project’s start?

Answer: In the past, we have had a steering committee comprised of high level decision makers in the region that participated in the process. So, yes we would envision creating a steering group of volunteer leaders organized to help provide leadership and input into the process. However, I would envision that most of the project oversight would be staff driven.


Question: Will there be staff assigned to the project by the sponsor organizations and if so, what will their role be?

Answer: Yes, we would envision that the professional staff would be engaged in the project in various capacities (i.e. providing oversight, guidance and support).


Question: What is the desired start date for the contract?

Answer: Our timeline is to select a consultant and execute a contract by February 1, 2017. We would like to start the project immediately after the contract is executed.


Question: Is there a desired completion date?

Answer: Based on our initial timeline, we had planned that this project would take 4-5 months once a consultant is selected and the contract executed. However, we have some flexibility and can adjust if deemed necessary. We do not want the project to be rushed and want the consultant to deliver the best quality product. However, the project should not take more than 10-12 months maximum. I should also note that we have some deadlines imposed on us by some of our grant funding sources that are supporting this project which may require the consultant to provide us with formal progress reports to satisfy their requirements.


Question: Given the holiday season, can you tell me when you are considering holding interviews?

Answer: We anticipate that the selection committee will review the proposals in early January and potentially select 2-3 finalists to invite in for interviews and presentations. We would hope to have the selection process completed by the end of February.


Question:  The amount and type of “input’ is an important question with this many cities/towns involved. Do you have any further thoughts on that component ?

Answer: This is a critical piece of the project. I would envision that whomever we select would be experienced in hosting and facilitating “visioning” sessions (as well as other techniques) to gather input from various stakeholders and build consensus around a collective economic development strategy. However, we do not expect that the consultant we select to engage with the elected leadership in each and every community that we represent on an individual basis. We can provide guidance on major stakeholders that should be included in the process.


Question: We are quite experienced in creating a comprehensive community assessment to give you a clear picture of all the demographic and economic data and a meaningful analysis. Will you want to include research on comparison regions from the Northeast or around the country?

 Answer: The data piece is another critical part of the project. If you believe that a comparison with other regions will be helpful, then you should include it in your proposal.


Question: One of our major concerns is the data availability given the many cities/towns to be included.  Is the region represented by the Montachusett RPC and its 22 communities a good source for data ?  Does it cover almost all of your region ?

Answer: Yes, the Montachusett RPC represents most of our core communities and is a good source of data. However, we expect that the consultant we select should also have access to other sources of data.


Question: Is there any flexibility with the budget?

Answer: The $100,000 is our total budget for the project. We have no flexibility there. You should make sure to document if anything is excluded in your final proposal.


Question: How many firms have been invited to respond to the RFP? I don’t see that it’s publicly posted, is that right?

Answer: Currently, there are ten consulting firms that we invited to respond to the RFP.


Question:  Do you have a cut-off date for questions, and will you be sharing Q&A with all prospective bidders?

Answer: We don’t have a set cut-off date for questions. However, I would recommend submitting any questions well in advance of the deadline as possible.  We may not respond to the questions immediately and you want to leave yourself enough time to prepare your proposal and submit by the deadline.

Sharing the Q&A will depend on the number of questions we receive and if we deem them relevant and helpful for the preparation of the proposals. In such a case, we might compile and share the questions and our responses to the questions with all of the bidders.


Question: It appears that submission by email is acceptable and hard copies are not required. Is that accurate?


Answer: Yes, email submission is fine. But, I would recommend that you confirm receipt.