AMHERST, MA – The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announces the A+ Awardees for their October 3 Annual A+ Awards Celebration to be held at Hadley Farms Meeting House. Each year, the Amherst Area Chamber takes a moment to collectively celebrate the outstanding achievements of community members and entities that contribute to the growth and well-being of the place we choose to work and live. “Much of this year’s categories capture the changing spirt of business in the 21st century. The themes are more universal, from those that represent the human experience, to those that capture state-of-the-art innovation and movement.” said Claudia Pazmany, Executive Director, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. As they have since their inception in 2010, the A+ Awards have and continue to reflect overall, the Chamber’s mission to create, maintain, and promote a vital, thriving business climate throughout the Amherst Area.
Here are the awardees and their achievements:
Lifetime Achievement Award - Pioneer Valley Hotel Group/Parmar Family - PVHG is a family owned and operated hotel management company that owns five hotels in the Pioneer Valley area and the Hadley Farms Meeting House in Hadley. PVHG has an impact on our region with 104 active part-time and full-time employees in Hadley alone. The Parmar Family exemplifies the values of the Chamber. They partner with local vendors such North Hadley Sugar Shack, KMA glass, Atkins Farms, V One Vodka; they hire only local construction crews for all our new projects and renovations; and they invest in sustainable practices including working with PV Squared to place over 500 solar panels on the roof of Homewood Suites location, their newest addition in Hadley, MA. When not at work the Parmar family is invested in their community. Shardool Parmar, has served on many boards and currently sits on the Regional Employment Board and his brother Kishore Parmar serves on the Amherst Area Chamber Board of Directors. Pioneer Valley Hotel Group is this year’s Lifetime Achievement award for the lasting impact and legacy of the Parmar family for over 30 years.
Leader in Innovation - Amherst Innovative Living – Wonderful communities deserve exceptional development. Amherst is no different. The goal at Amherst Innovative Living is sustainable, place-based development that is both environmentally and economically responsible. As leaders in the field of sustainable development, each of their projects seeks LEED certification. The result: extraordinary projects with increased density, increased respect for their environment, and increased financial performance. The moment you walk into an Amherst Innovative Living property, you know you've never experienced anything like it. Collaborative work spaces, concierge service, fully equipped workout room, enterprise level gigabit wireless internet are just the beginning. Their properties currently include: AmherstWorks, One East Pleasant, Boltwood Place, Kendrick Place, and Olympia Place. At Amherst Innovative Living they take the opportunity to innovative at every level - because no detail is too small. By rethinking how living and working spaces can complement the way our residents live in Amherst, they have brought a new product to the area that can only spark future innovation on many levels. New revenues, new work/co-work spaces, new living spaces, new retail/restaurant space and new jobs have all been a result of their innovation. Amherst Innovative Living is the recipient of this year’s Leader in Innovation Award.
Leader in Sustainability - Laura Draucker, Director of Sustainability, Amherst College - As director of Amherst College's Office of Sustainability, Laura Draucker helped lead the creation of an ambitious Climate Action Plan that was adopted by the Amherst College Board of Trustees on January 2019. The plan commits the college to carbon neutrality by 2030, a bold goal. Laura helped compose and champion the plan. As the inaugural Chair of the Town of Amherst's new Energy and Climate Action Committee the impact of her work on climate neutrality and reducing our carbon footprint will have a deep and lasting impact on building a more sustainable Amherst Area. Laura is the recipient of this year’s Leader in Sustainability Award.
Young Professional Award - Carolyn Forcade, Operations & Student Engagement Specialist at the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst, and founder, The Travel Unicorn. In her role at Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, Carly Forcade brings a depth of knowledge to her work with student start-ups and works hard to ensure that each student she meets has every opportunity to grow their business. Carly's company, The Travel Unicorn, is an LGBTQ+ travel guide which connects travelers to safe destinations across the world. Carly's work has made an impact on UMass, Amherst, and the greater community. As a founder of her own start-up, Carly holds a deep understanding of the process and her commitment to that process comes through in every detail of her work at UMass Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. She helps create the pipeline that will help us retain this rising talent right here in Western Mass. Carly is the recipient of this year’s Young Professional Award.
Community Service - Lisa Solowiej and Jocelyn Potter, Neighborhood Food Project, Amherst Survival Center - Lisa Solowiej and Jocelyn Potter have developed and implemented the Neighborhood Food Project which has benefitted and impacted many people in Amherst and the surrounding communities. It has allowed an increasing number of people to volunteer their services through food drives that take place every other month at the neighborhood level. The Neighborhood Food Project has yielded thousands of additional pounds of food at each collection and going into the hands of those who most need it. Lisa and Jocelyn are the recipients of this year’s Community Service Award.
Chamber MVP - Jessye Deane, Community Action Pioneer Valley & F45 Training Hampshire Meadows Jessye Deane wears many hats. She is the Director of Communications & Development for Community Action Pioneer Valley and the owner of F45 Training Hampshire Meadows while raising three children and serving on countless boards and committees. Community Action Pioneer Valley is the area's largest antipoverty agency, which serves more than 28,000 of our lower-income neighbors. F45 Training is the fastest-growing fitness network in the world and F45 Training Hampshire Meadows is proud to be the first F45 in Massachusetts. In its first year, F45 has donated more than $38,000 in cash and in-kind services to 19 local nonprofits. Jessye sought out the Amherst Area Chamber as a member for her new business, signed on as an Ambassador, joined our Annual Charity Golf Committee and A+ Annual A+ Awards Committee and quickly became one of our most respected volunteers bringing new ideas, resolve, commitment and partnership. Her energy, attitude, and accomplishments truly benefit our Amherst Area business community and make her this year’s Chamber MVP.
Pazmany closes, “Congratulations to ALL of our deserving awardees. And many thanks to the leadership of our A+ Awards committee who are making this year’s event our most memorable ever, and for their thoughtful deliberation on this year’s Awardees. These awardees represent an important cross section of our communities and work.” The committee members are: Heidi Flanders, Integrity Development & Construction; Lynn Gray, Hampshire Mall; Jennifer Gannett, W.D. Cowls Inc.; Beth Pearson, Pearson/Wallace Insurance; Sherri Willey, Hampshire Hospitality Group/Jones Realtors; and Roisin Quinn, Cooley Dickinson Health Care.
Amherst Media will be creating video tributes for each awardee. Our Presenting Sponsor is PeoplesBank, a long-time business and community partner and an Amherst Area Chamber Champion.
A + Award Dinner sponsorships and ads are still available to reach over 250 attendees representing over 200 area businesses. Please email Claudia Pazmany, Executive Director, for any inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org
The mission of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce is to create, maintain and promote a vital, thriving business climate throughout the Amherst area and to initiate and support the civic, educational, recreational and economic well-being of the Amherst Area. Proudly serving Amherst, Hadley, Belchertown, Palmer, Leverett, Sunderland and Shutesbury.