Archives for FCCDC News

Client Focus: Our Family Farms

An Anchor Dairy Moooves Forward It’s been a long time coming and Our Family Farms’ new bottling plant is now churning out milk in pretty new containers. At a recent grand opening at the Leyden-based Bree-Z-Knoll Farm, Angie Facey welcomed guests, including Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle, who pronounced June Dairy Month.   The $1.8 million, 4,500 square foot operation includes a creamery where the farm’s 120 happy cows step onto an automated milking station whenever they feel like it. The robots take it from there, collecting their fresh milk. The bottling plant fills quarts and pints
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Recovery-Friendly Workplaces: Removing Stigma

In this tight labor market, many employers are finding it hard to find workers. A recent event offered some solutions that might not be top of mind: expanding employment offerings for people in recovery, people who are formerly incarcerated, and people who are neurodivergent.   Convened at Greenfield Community College by the Opioid Task Force, the gathering—Building Recovery-Friendly Workplaces in Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region—brought together experts in the field for a discussion on how to remove stigma about addiction and contact with the justice system, and provided resources for employers.   Mickey Wiles, CEO and Founder of
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Client Focus: Meriyem’s

A family business serves Mediterranean food with “giving hearts” A new venture offering Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine at 186 Main Street in Northampton is slated to open early this summer. The owners at Meriyem’s—Rania Yetts, her mother Meriyem, and Rania’s husband Caleb— hope to provide delicious fresh options, whether it’s coffee to go, a bite to eat, or catering for an event. The storefront also will sell artisanal handmade and imported home goods from Morocco in the back “Bazaar.”    The owners operated a catering business in Salem beginning in 2022, focusing on Mediterranean foods, with specialties from Rania’s and Meriyem’s home country
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Client Focus: 10 Forward

Ang Buxton and Alex Noonan are creating a scene If you’re suddenly realizing that people are going out again, and are looking for a fun scene, you may want to check out 10 Forward. The queer-friendly bar/venue, which borrows its name from the lounge on the USS Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” is tucked under Mesa Verde on Fiske Avenue in Greenfield. In late 2022, 10 Forward employees and partners Ang Buxton and Alex Noonan bought the business from its previous owner, using financing from the Franklin County CDC. Originally from Springfield, the two now live in South
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Client Focus: Many Graces Farm

Flower farm and design studio with an ecological mission During the pandemic, Many Graces Farm, a commercial production flower farm and full service floral design studio down the road in Hadley, created a fresh flower CSA, supplying certified organic fresh flowers to local homes and businesses that last longer than those shipped in from abroad, and use less energy to transport. Kel Komenda, Managing Director at Many Graces, noted that pivot was one way the farm made it through the pandemic. The other way was an emergency farm fund loan from the PVGrows Investment Fund and CISA, Community Involved in
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Client Focus: Ben Reigle

An artist pivots with help from the FCCDC Ben Reigle has been a tattoo artist for 16 years. “I came from a street-shop environment, walk-in tattoos, small designs, many in a day,” he said in a recent telephone interview. Over the years, as he developed his skills, he kept seeking out higher quality, custom-tattoo-shop positions. “Being surrounded by positive, entrepreneurial people lit a fire under me as to what I could accomplish,” he said. With a loan and business assistance from the FCCDC he opened his own shop, Great Spirits, on Federal Street in Greenfield, in 2016. However, a health
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Client Focus: Carson’s Cans

Walter Kleeberg Finds Success Through Commitment to Clients and Securing a Niche of His Own There’s a vital piece of infrastructure without which many businesses can’t function: the portable toilet. Walter Kleeberg, owner of Deerfield-based Carson’s Cans, understands that he’s filling a niche. “It’s not for everybody,” he concedes.   And when it comes to the odor emanating from the products he supplies and services for countless farms, construction sites, outdoor recreation facilities, and festivals throughout the Pioneer Valley, don’t worry about Walt. “I don’t smell it,” he said with a smile. “It all looks like cash to me.”  The business he took
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Client Focus: Massive Bookshop

Bookstore as Art Project with Social Justice at the Fore  When Andrew Ritchey began exploring the idea of opening a bookstore, his mind traced out the usual steps: get a lease on a space, buy a lot of books, hire people, etc. However, the traditional path was not for him. He decided on a unique business model, an anti-profit online bookstore, which places his values and social justice first.   Ritchey opened Massive Bookshop in 2020, operating out of his Greenfield home at first, and then in 2022 moving into the Franklin County CDC’s Venture Center. The bookshop’s structure gives
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Client Profile: Quabbin Harvest

Food coop as community connecting point  Quabbin Harvest Food Co-op in Orange, Massachusetts, is a grocery store and so much more for the community it serves. The store offers a full range of groceries for local shoppers as well as “Community Shares” programs that help to make food affordable to low-income customers.    It buys fruits, vegetables, meats, and other products from the small farms that dot the rural North Quabbin region, giving those farmers a predictable market for their goods. But, as the store’s Board Chair Cathy Stanton notes, the co-op most importantly provides a community gathering space for
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Moroccan Fellows Tour FCCDC

A group of Moroccan professionals attending the Amherst-based Institute for Training and Development toured the Franklin County Community Development Corp. last month. The nine visitors work in varied careers, from municipal jobs, to business owners, and professionals in education and nongovernmental organizations. They were here to learn about the FCCDC’s approach to helping small businesses and overall economic development. Executive Director John Waite and Business Development Director Amy Shapiro led the tour, along with Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center Food Business Coordinator Kate Minifie. Waite and Shapiro provided business counseling to one of the visitors previously, and even went to
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