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Startup LocalPorch launches in Worcester area
LocalPorch, an online community and marketplace for locally handmade merchants and consumers, comes out of stealth mode and launches its first market right here in Worcester.
Two entrepreneurs — CEO Kim Sullivan and vice president of operations Suzi Capone — and a seasoned e-commerce team have been readying LocalPorch for initial launch in the Worcester area. In addition to providing a platform that allows consumers to buy handmade goods nearby, the company itself is a local success story as a member of the Worcester CleanTech Incubator and Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Tech Advisors Network (TAN) program in Worcester.
Check out the Sun’s Local Business Spotlight on LocalPorch
Sarah Mahan, who is an associate director of entrepreneurship at WPI and coordinates the TAN program, said “it is always exciting when a company in our program publicly launches. This is a big win for the Worcester area on many levels.”
LocalPorch.com is a virtual craft market, enabling consumers to discover and purchase from local makers and artisans. The assortment would typically only be found at a craft fair or a retail location that specializes in offering locally made products. While consumers can still choose a delivery option, the site allows and encourages direct engagement between the buyer and seller.
Consumers are often able to interact with the product and maker in person, hear the story of the item from its creator, and experience the social impact of supporting a local small business.
Anna Maria College launches Master’s in social work
Anna Maria College announced the launch of a new master’s in social work program to provide an advanced level of study for community-minded students.
The program will be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is now accepting applications. Classes will start with the Fall 2017 semester. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a full- or part-time program that will run on weeknights and weekends.
“Being the only provider of social work education in Central Massachusetts, Anna Maria College has had the honor of educating more than 1,000 social workers with a Bachelor in Social Work degree,” said Anna Maria President Mary Lou Retelle. “Our approach to social work is multidisciplinary, giving students broad exposure to social work topics and careers. We are extremely excited to move forward with the Council on Social Work Education to provide these students with an exemplary Master’s in Social Work program.”
The need for social workers continues to increase according to government data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for social workers will grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, greater than the average for all occupations.
Worcester Public Library partners with Worcester County Food Bank on Food for Fines this month
The Worcester Public Library launched its Food for Fines program last Thursday.
The library will be accepting donations of nonperishable food items. For patrons with overdue library fines, every food item will equal $1 removed from their account. Collected food will be donated to the Worcester County Food Bank.
The items will be collected at the Main Library, 3 Salem Square.
“This program is a win-win,” Head Librarian Geoffrey Dickinson said. “Holding a Food for Fines program at the Worcester Public Library allows us to offer those patrons who may have lost access to library services (from excessive overdue fees) an opportunity to regain their privileges by ‘paying’ with food rather than cash. It also helps the community by collecting much-needed food for the Worcester County Food Bank.”
The WCFB list of recommended items includes cereal, rice, beans, soup, stew, chili, dry and canned pasta, macaroni and cheese, canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna and chicken, and peanut butter and jelly. The library will not be able to accept food items in glass containers, home-canned items, opened foods or foods past their expiration dates.
Two manufacturing training projects serve 750-plus workers
Two Central Mass.-based manufacturing consortium training projects (Southern Worcester County/Worcester Area Manufacturing Consortiums) intending to enhance incumbent worker skills recently reached completion.
The projects involved 17 area manufacturers in the two-year consortium grants, funded through the Mass. Workforce Training Fund Program and managed by the Commonwealth Corporation. The two consortiums were coordinated by the Central Mass. Workforce Investment Board in partnership with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provided instruction.
The participating companies were Southbridge Sheet Metal, INCOM, David Packard Co., Dexter-Russell, G&F Industries, United Lens, H.T. Machine, Magnetic Technologies, Schott North America, Swissturn, T & D Specialties, Eaton-Wrightline, ECM Plastics/A. Schulman, Prematech, Kinefac, Stellar Industries, and Primetals Technologies.
These local manufacturers took part in 17 different course offerings with the goal of updating the skills of their incumbent workforce. The topics included: Basic Manufacturing Skills, Geometric Dimensioning & Tolerancing, ISO Internal Auditor Training, CNC G&M Codes, Value Stream Mapping, Leader Effectiveness Training, Statistical Process Control, Job Safety, Principles of Lean 101, and 5S Kaizen.
Anonymous ring donations sparkle for Salvation Army
The wave of generosity that began in 2014 with the donations of wedding rings has continued for a third straight year, with reports of new donations of diamond rings in Red Kettles in Northbridge and Waltham.
“These latest donations make it clearer than ever that generosity is contagious here in Massachusetts,” Major Gregory Hartshorn, general secretary of The Massachusetts Salvation Army, said. “These heartwarming gifts embody the generosity we see during the holiday season and we’re grateful to all of the donors who continue to support the work of The Salvation Army.”
On Monday night, a woman approached a bell ringer at the Walmart store at 100 Valley Parkway, Whitinsville, and asked if the bell ringer if the red kettle could be opened. The bell ringer said he wasn’t able to open it, so the woman dropped four diamond rings into the kettle, one at a time, that have a combined value of $2,050, according to the Salvation Army.
Last Wednesday, an anonymous benefactor dropped a diamond ring into a Red Kettle outside of a Market Basket store in Waltham that was valued at more than $600.