Berkshire Business Journal April 2024

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Berkshire Business Journal

Training the workforce

BCC prepares students to step into occupations, grow careers

— The courses and expertise offered at Berkshire Community College form the core of the region’s network of workforce preparation initiatives.

“I appreciate the college even more than I did before,” said former Pittsfield Mayor Linda (Tyer) Clairmont, who began in February as the school’s executive director of workforce development and community education.

Clairmont left office in January after serving two four-year terms as the city’s chief executive. In that role, she worked with the college and the other institutions and organizations striving to enhance economic

opportunities for students and adult learners.


“The college has so much to offer students,” Clairmont said, “no matter their background, no matter their age, no matter their intent.”

That’s the case for those in high school or recent grads, she said, as well as for people in mid-career and seeking a fresh start, or trying something they’ve thought about but never had the opportunity to pursue.

“It is just a gem for the Berkshires to have,” she said.

BCC offers multiple economic advantages to the community, and also to local employers, Clairmont said.

“The college is accessible, and we can offer all kinds of programs to students,” she said. “Really, the goal is to provide people opportunities for social mobility, financial independence, and give employers a well-trained workforce around the Berkshires.”


With both a workforce training component and traditional academic courses, BCC can prepare students to enter the workforce immediately or work toward a two- or four-year degree — often simultaneously.

BCC’s workforce programs, said Clairmont and others in the field, have grown in importance and variety — and

BCC President Ellen Kennedy (left), says the college “has a commitment to a robust and knowledge-based workforce in Berkshire County. Former Pittsfield Mayor Linda (Tyer) Clairmont (right), now BCC’s executive director of workforce development and community education, says the college’s workforce program can be “nimble” and “responsible to what employers STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN
BCC PREP, Page 12 Berkshire Business Journal 75 S. Church Str. Pittsfield, MA 01201 Change service requested APRIL 2024 I VOL. 3, NO. 4
BCC alumnus Denise Foss is the lead preschool teacher at Southern Berkshire Childcare Program in Sheffield. She says her time at BCC made her more confident “socially and within myself.” BCC teachers, Foss says, “were as invested in my education as I was.”
Downtown gets Boost! Ten small North Street businesses in Pittsfield will be eligible for consulting services and grants — a new program designed to help bolster the city’s downtown. Page 2
Rebecca Brien

Front pages

North Street businesses get a Boost!

Ten small operations will each be eligible for consulting services and grants

A new grant program aims to bolster the downtown business community in Pittsfield as part of the city’s larger participation in the statewide Transformative Development Initiative (TDI).

The Boost! North Street Cohort is a collaborative, competitive program in which 10 small North St. businesses will each receive free consulting and grants up to $7,500 towards the costs of implementing specific improvements.

“Boost! is one of the resources that have become available to downtown businesses,” said Rebecca Brien, managing director of Downtown Pittsfield Inc., which is co-facilitating the grant. “It will help participating businesses identify specific needs and solutions and provide funds for them.

Boost! is funded through a $125,000 grant from the TDI, which is sponsored by the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency (Mass Development), an entity that provides financing and other support to stimulate economic development. The grant is supplemented with $50,000 by the City of Pittsfield.

The grant was awarded to the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association Inc. a non-profit organization that collaborates with other initiatives and groups.

Boost Pittsfield! is being co-facilitated by Downtown Pittsfield, Inc., a notfor-profit membership organization whose mission is to strengthen and promote its members and the city’s downtown through advocacy and collaboration. The other co-facilitator is the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC), which provides access to loans and other resources for small businesses to promote economic and community development.

A competitive application process for businesses interested in participating in Boost! opened March 15. Applications will be accepted through April 30, and the 10 selected awardees will be announced on May 15. To access the online application in English or Spanish, visit

The grants are targeted to for-profit small businesses that are independently owned and are not a franchise and have an annual net income not exceeding $2 million in 2023, and a net worth not exceeding $18 million.

The grants are not oriented to new startup businesses, which are covered by other programs. To qualify, applicants must have an established storefront or upper-level physical location that they have leased or owned in the TDI district since before April 2023. The district encompasses the downtown area along or adjacent to North St.

It contains a mix of businesses, including retailers, service providers, restaurants and yoga and fitness studios, among others. Boost! applications are open to most of these commercial categories. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they bring significant foot traffic to the district. For example, an online-only business that deals exclusively with customers elsewhere, rather than on site, would likely not be eligible.

Selected awardees will be required to attend one in-person cohort meeting on June 4, and will also engage in at least two individual Zoom meetings with a business consultant. These services will be delivered by Revby LLC, a consulting firm based in Boston that has been retained by the program.

“We help people in small businesses by providing technical assistance to develop viable business models and strategies in areas such as marketing and operations,” said Michael Aparicio, Revby’s founder and CEO. “We work in rural and urban communities across the country.”

The funds awarded can be used for projects that have been developed with the consultant. They should fall into one of several possible categories, including sales; marketing and digital presence and eCommerce development; financial organization or growth strategy; and/or operations and workflow.

Specific eligible expenses include equipment, new lines of inventory, website development, programs to support day-to-day business operations, marketing campaigns, professional services, physical improvements or other items designated by the consultant.

The grants cannot be used for rent, payroll or other expenses that do not fall within the intent of the grant program.

PERC will participate in the review of applications for the program. It will also help eligible participants apply for additional support from PERC.

“Our hope is that someone who qualifies for Boost! will also be eligible for additional funds and assistance from PERC,” said Laura Mick, community development specialist with PERC and

the City of Pittsfield.

In addition to the $75,000 allocated to Boost!, the balance of the overall grant will be used for an upcoming program to link downtown’s cultural and entertainment attractions. The details of that program are currently being developed and will be announced shortly.

It is expected to cross-promote downtown events, such as theater, music performances, art displays and other activities. The goal will be to encourage people who come downtown for a theater performance, for example, to also attend another activity such as a live-music show at an area restaurant or nightspot.

This part of the grant “will be used for collaborative location-driven marketing,” said Brien. “It will likely include marketing through social media and other forms of advertising and promotion.”

It’s also just one facet of the TDI, which is a program to accelerate economic growth in focused districts within selected communities designated as

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BOOST!, Page 11

Business updates

BCC students

log high pass rates

Practical nursing students had a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination in the 2023 calendar year, according to a statement from Berkshire Community College.

Associate degree in nursing students had a 91.43 percent pass rate for firsttime test takers, the school reported. All 17 PN students passed, and 64 out of 70 ADN students passed.

The council uses computerized adaptive testing technology to deliver the exam, ensuring a valid and reliable measurement of nursing competence.

The passing standard for the council is the cut point at which the minimum ability is determined to require safe and effective practice nursing at the entry level.

“Our nursing students continue to maintain impressively high pass rates, which are consistently on par or higher than the average pass rates statewide,” said Lori Moon, BCC dean of nursing. “It’s a competitive program, and our students work hard. I’m very proud of their accomplishments.”

For information on BCC’s nursing programs, visit


DPI lands $1.6 million grant

The Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association Inc. is one of 13 organizations awarded grants totaling $1,625,000 through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative Local program for small-business support programs in Gateway Cities.

The Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association Inc. was awarded $125,000. This grant, supplemented with $50,000 by the city of Pittsfield, will fund flexi-

ble financial support to 12 established North Street businesses that simultaneously undergo business counseling focused on operations, e-commerce, marketing or financial recording.

Additionally, this grant will be used to market the district and strengthen collaboration between businesses and theaters by helping drive pedestrian traffic to participating venues before and after shows.


Cultural programs awarded $13K in grants

James Warwick, chair of the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, has announced the awarding of 33 grants totaling $13,170 for cultural programs that directly benefit the residents of Alford and Egremont.

This year’s grant recipients include Center for Peace Through Culture, Pop-up Choir Berkshires, Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood, Flying Cloud Institute Inc., Berkshire Bach Society Inc., West Stockbridge Historical Society Inc., Shakespeare & Company Inc., Dewey Memorial Hall Inc., Costello Astronomy Lectures, Edith Wharton Restoration Inc., and Dewey Memorial Hall Inc.

Also, Berkshire Pulse Inc., Berkshire Children’s Chorus Inc., Peggy Henden-Wilson, Triplex Cinema Inc., Aston Magna Foundation for Music and the Humanities Inc., New Marlborough Village Association Inc., WAM Theatre Inc., Blue Rider Stables Inc., Dewey Memorial Hall Inc., Festival Latino of the Berkshires Inc., IS183 Inc., and Great Barrington Public Theater Inc.

Also, Triplex Cinema Inc., Vocalis Youth Choir Inc., West Stockbridge Historical Society Inc., Greenagers Inc., Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Greenagers Education Stew-

ardship, Berkshire Ukulele Band and Berkshire Sings!, Alford Artists Open Studios Tour, Jazz & Pie, and Stockbridge Sinfonia Inc.

The Alford-Egremont Cultural Council will seek applications again in the fall. For guidelines and complete information on the Alford-Egremont Cultural Council, contact Warwick

Applications and more information about the Local Cultural Council Program are available online at


Sweetwood community tops online searches

UniversityRetirementCommunities. com, a national directory and information website for the rapidly growing model of senior living communities with a connection to a university or college, has released its list of the most searched University Retirement Communities, or “URCs,” since the launch of the site last fall.

Leading the list of the top 10 most searched URCs is Sweetwood of Williamstown, a senior living community with a connection to Williams College. There are more than 80 URCs on the site.

Through its partnership with Williams College, Sweetwood residents are provided opportunities to audit classes or attend special class sessions at the invitation of faculty.

Sweetwood also offers its residents a full roster of programming opportunities with Mount Greylock Regional School, local museums, cultural institutions, youth groups and more.

WEST STOCKBRIDGE Diaper Project lands $7K grant

The Berkshire Community Diaper Project (BCDP) has received a $7,000 grant from the Greylock Federal Credit Union. With the grant, the Diaper Project can purchase more than 37,000 diapers that will be distributed to families in need through 24 partnering agencies

within Berkshire County.

According to the Diaper Project, data from the National Diaper Bank Network indicates 1 in 2 U.S. families cannot afford enough diapers to keep their infants or children clean, dry and healthy. Without access to clean diapers, the Project notes a child cannot attend preschool and a parent cannot access childcare.

The Diaper Project is an all-volunteer organization with every dollar donated going to the purchase of diapers and wipes. Since its inception in 2014, it has distributed more than 2 million diapers to under-served communities in Berkshire County.

For more information:

PITTSFIELD Cooperative Bank marks 135-year anniversary

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, one of the oldest cooperative banks in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is poised to mark its 135th anniversary. The co-op has approximately $385M in total assets and annually donates nearly $200,000 through its charitable contributions to regional scholarships; non-profit, economic development, and health and human service organizations; and youth mentorship programs.

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank will commemorate its anniversary through several initiatives. It is opening a new location at 734 Williams St. in Pittsfield, launching a new website and will have several promotions throughout the year.

For its 135th Giveaway, each month $135 will be given away to a randomly selected entrant and one grand prize of $1,889 — the year the Bank was incorporated—will be awarded at the end of the year. One entry is permitted per individual, and entries can be filled out online at the new website or at one of the institution’s branches.

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 3 Michael Coakley Business Development Manager Pittsfield, MA 01201 u 413.448.9726 Call Now. We’ll Help You Get Started. u Construction-ready lots from 1.1 to 16.5 acres u Generous state and local economic incentives u Already approved zoning and environmental permits u Red Carpet Treatment from Team Pittsfield IT’S TIME TO MAKE YOUR MOVE to the William Stanley Business Park Be in the center of Innovation u Center of the Berkshires close to Albany, Boston and New York u Rail access u Onsite businesses: Berkshire Innovation Center, Electro Magnetic Applications, Mountain One, and Eversource Registration The mission of the Global Interdisciplinary Green Cities Conference is to share scientific knowledge and research and contribute to achieving a net-zero carbon emission economy by the year 2050 In June 2024, the conference will be in the United States for the first time at the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, MA Throughout the conference, hundreds of university faculty and industry participants from across the globe will share knowledge and information about how we can achie ve a green and sustainable planet

Business briefs


Berkshire sustainability prize awarded to eSki

eSki Watercraft based in Worcester is the winner of Lever’s 2024 Berkshire Sustainability Challenge and its $40,000 prize. eSki is developing a cleaner, quieter Jet Ski to address carbon dioxide emissions. Several finalists will each receive a $2,500 scholarship sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Lever’s fourth consecutive Sustainability Challenge focused on climatetech companies with fundable and scalable business models. Finalists spent the past four months working with the Lever team, refining their pitches, learning from Lever’s network of mentors, and deepening their entrepreneurship skills through Lever’s Challenge program.

Founded in 2014 and based in North Adams, Lever is an economic development non-profit focused on innovation-driven job creation. Lever supports entrepreneurs with startup expertise, investment capital investment fund, research, mentors and access to talent.


SolaBlock and Sunwize join forces on tech project

Sunwize, a solar module and power system manufacturer, and SolaBlock, a manufacturer of an innovative solar and construction tech product, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which SunWize will manufacture the solar module essential for SolaBlock’s forthcoming Solar Masonry Unit (SMU), which is expected to come to market during Q1 of 2024.

SolaBlock’s SMU embeds a solar module into a standard size cement masonry block, enabling exterior walls of commercial and institutional buildings to be transformed into vertical solar

power generating assets.

SolaBlock is intending to move into its final assembly facility in Pittsfield in this first quarter of 2024.


MassHire Berkshire awarded $2.2 million grant

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has awarded the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board a $2.2 million grant to support behavioral health and healthcare employment programs to provide no-cost job training, placement and retention services to unemployed and underemployed Berkshire County residents.

The MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board has partnered with Berkshire Health Systems, Integritus Healthcare, Community Health Programs and Berkshire Community College to provide 51 trainings throughout the 3-year grant period. These trainings include nursing assistant, certified nursing assistant, medical assistant, certified clinical medical assistant and registered behavior technician trainings. Additional trainings will be added in 2025 and 2026.

Individuals interested in enrolling in a no-cost training, or employers seeking to hire trainees can contact Bryana Malloy, industry manager at industry@


$1,000 grant funds series at Berkshire HorseWorks

Berkshire HorseWorks, Inc., a 501©(3) nonprofit which offers equine-assisted psychotherapy, learning, team building and other therapeutic and recreational activities with horses, has secured a $1,000 grant from MountainOne Foundation to support local schools in Berkshire County. The grant from MountainOne will fund an eight-week series, which integrates horses and social-emotional learning with academics. The experiential strength-based program uses horses

in ground-based metaphorical activities to complement classroom learning at the nonprofit’s 7-acre ranch in Richmond.

Berkshire HorseWorks also announced it has welcomed new board member Beth Persing, a licensed social worker and substance abuse counselor.


Equitable Developers Fund launched to boost housing

MassHousing and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) announced they will partner to launch and grow a new $50 million Equitable Developers Fund. The fund will diversify the state’s housing delivery system by providing enterprise-level financing to active developers from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds and communities. The fund is the largest publicly led financing program of its kind in the country.

Before launching the Fund, MassHousing conducted a statewide listening tour to understand disparities and identify opportunities to increase participation in the affordable housing ecosystem among developers from underrepresented communities and backgrounds. The listening sessions identified access to capital as a significant barrier to growth.

The Fund will address disparities in capital access by providing interested developers with predevelopment and growth capital, through lines of credit and other financial assistance. Expanding capacity and the number and diversity of capable developers is expected to accelerate the Commonwealth’s production of affordable housing.

MHIC and MassHousing intend to expand the Fund’s reach by raising an additional $25 million from private investors. Funding applications are expected to open in the spring of 2024.


Berkshire Pulse, Wonderfund team up Berkshire Pulse, South Berkshire

County’s dance and performing arts education center located in downtown Housatonic, has formed a partnership with the Wonderfund. The partnership is expected to increase access to Berkshire Pulse programs.

Pulse will offer an ongoing 100 percent tuition discount for the Youth Performing Arts Program and Community Class enrollments for families with a valid Wonderfund Access Card. Families can present the Wonderfund Access Card in person and fill out a short form to receive the 100 percent discount.

For more information, visit https://

GREAT BARRINGTON Volunteers in Medicine receives $75,000 grant

Volunteers in Medicine, a free health care center serving uninsured residents of Berkshire County, has been awarded a 2-year grant from Greylock Federal Credit Union, to increase health care access to the uninsured in Berkshire County.

The $75,000 grant to support the Volunteers’ CareWorks Campaign will be used to launch a new Volunteers health care center in Pittsfield and expand the Volunteers’ center in Great Barrington.

Almost 4 percent of Berkshire County adults are uninsured. In 2023, Volunteers cared for more than 1,700 patients in more than 7,000 visits — a 15 percent growth from the previous year

LUDLOW Wind Power scholarships coming

For the third year, Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corp. will award scholarships to students from Lanesborough and Hancock. The scholarships are open to seniors at Mount Greylock Regional High School and Charles H. McCann Technical School. The Cooperative will select two students from the class of 2024 to receive $1,000 scholarships.

4 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024

Business briefs

The scholarships will be awarded to qualifying seniors who are planning to attend either a two- or four-year college or trade-school program. Special consideration will be given to students with financial need, but all students are encouraged to apply. The deadline is April 19.

The Cooperative owns and operates the Berkshire Wind Power Project, a 12 turbine, 19.6-megawatt wind farm located on Brodie Mountain in Hancock and Lanesborough.


IT company expands into Fenn Street office

Independent Connections, an IT solutions company, recently hosted the grand opening of its downtown Pittsfield office. The new building at 579 Fenn St. will serve as the company’s Massachusetts branch and will house its growing team of professionals who work to provide innovative technology solutions to businesses across the region. The company also has other office locations in Hartford, Conn., and East Greenbush, N.Y.

The opening of the downtown Pittsfield office featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the new facility, and networking opportunities with industry professionals, local business leaders and city officials.



Berkshire Bank selling 10 of its N.Y. branches

Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Berkshire Bank has entered into definitive agreements with three buyers to sell 10 of its upstate and eastern New York branches, consisting of eight offices in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady and Columbia counties, one office in Whitehall and one office in East Syracuse. Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. is the parent company of Berkshire Bank.

The sales include approximately $485.5 million in deposits, $60.5 million of related residential mortgage and consumer loans along with all branch premises and equipment. The transactions exclude Berkshire’s commercial banking business.

Hudson Valley Credit Union is purchasing eight locations in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady, and Columbia counties, Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company is purchasing one location in Whitehall and Pathfinder Bank is purchasing one location in East Syracuse. The buyers intend to offer employment to all associated staff. The sales would reduce Berkshire’s overall branch footprint from 96 to 86 locations.

WESTBOROUGH Affordable housing units get broadband service

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech has announced the launch of the Residential Internet Retrofit Program, a $22 million statewide initiative to equip public and affordable housing units across the state with high-speed internet for current and future residents. The Institute will bring together internet service providers and property owners to upgrade in-building telecommunications wiring, equipment and infrastructure within older housing developments. The upgrades will provide residents with the necessary network capabilities to fully utilize high-speed internet service essential for daily activities, such as communicating with friends and family, remote work, online educational opportunities and telehealth appointments.

The effort will involve updating the wiring infrastructure of approximately 22,000 units in affordable housing developments across the state. The funding for the Retrofit Program comes from the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Proj-

ects Fund.

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield said the Retrofit Program marks progress towards “ensuring no residents are left without internet access due to lacking infrastructure or affordability issues, which are commonplace issues both in my district and across the Berkshires.”

NEW YORK Wilmers Integrity Prize winner announced

The Robert G. Wilmers Integrity Prize, which honors individuals striving to better our world, has been awarded to Edafe Okporo, founder of Refuge America, a nonprofit committed to strengthening America as a welcome place for displaced LGBTQ+ people. Offered each year, the Prize is a nostrings-attached cash award of $50,000.

This recognition was announced at a reception for 65 inaugural donors to the Wilmers Integrity Prize, a nonprofit established in 2019 to support individuals working in the U.S. with exceptional integrity to better our world through their actions and advocacy. Integrity in leadership and service to the community are at the forefront of the Prize’s search, and individuals working in the arts, education, environment, law, medicine, nutrition, social justice and social reform are eligible.

“Named for the late chairman and CEO of M&T Bank, the Prize honors leadership and service to community — values that Bob himself pursued rigorously through his enduring commitment to enrich and uplift the communities where he lived and worked,” said Jennifer Trainer Thompson, executive director of the Wilmers Integrity Prize. A seasonal resident of Stockbridge, Robert Wilmers also was one of four partners who returned The Berkshire Eagle to local ownership in 2016.


Community college trainings net $1.5 million

Gov. Maura Healey has announced her administration is awarding $1.5 million in grants for new community college workforce training programs for adults looking to enter or reenter the workforce.

The grants, part of the Training Resources and Internships Network program, are being issued to 13 community colleges across Massachusetts to prepare residents for careers in fields such as education, health care, addiction recovery, cyber security and manufacturing. The grants are expected to provide free career training to more than 400 adult learners, with all programs targeting residents who are unemployed or underemployed.

Through its grant, Berkshire Community College will support workforce training programs for participants seeking a Phlebotomy Technician Certificate. It will enroll 24 students in two cohorts. The college will aim to reach veterans and populations disproportionally impacted by COVID’s impact on the labor force — specifically women of color. And the college will award a planning grant that will result in the creation of new advanced training programs for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning mechanics and technicians, and potentially certification programs related to electrical occupations.

NORTH ADAMS Wi-Fi for Housing Authority

The North Adams Housing Authority has been selected as a recipient of funds for the Apartment Wi-Fi Program from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. The initiative aims to enhance digital equity and connectivity for residents, ensuring that everyone has equal access to high-quality internet services.

The Authority will provide Wi-Fi access to all 305 housing units across its properties, including Greylock Valley Apartments, Riverview Apartments, Ashland Park and Spring Park. Residents will receive seamless con-

nectivity for online learning, telehealth services, job searches and communication with loved ones.

Residents will be informed by the Authority about installation timelines.


New advertising scholarships announced

The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts Scholarship Committee reports applications are now available for a $1,000 scholarship to be awarded to a deserving western Massachusetts high school graduate pursuing higher education in the communication arts in 2024. Guidelines and an application form can be found at www.adclubwm. org/scholarships.

Western Massachusetts high school seniors who plan to attend an accredited college or technical school to study advertising, communications, marketing or graphic design and will be attending school in September 2024 are encouraged to apply.

Completed scholarship applications and all support materials must be postmarked by April 15.


Pittsfield schools, SolaBlock work to build students’ skills

Pittsfield Public Schools and SolaBlock Inc. are partnering to boost students’ knowledge and skills in advanced manufacturing and development. Starting next school year, students in Taconic’s Chapter 74 programs (Advanced Manufacturing, Carpentry, Electricity, and Horticulture) will gain hands-on experience through various opportunities with SolaBlock, Inc.

Students will explore SolaBlock’s facilities, witness manufacturing, production and the use of technology in energy generation, and participate in activities that simulate real-world work environments in advanced manufacturing.

The programs aim to increase students’ work readiness and equip them with the skills they need to succeed in today’s advanced manufacturing industry and address a persistent need for qualified technicians, machine operators and inspectors in Berkshire County. According to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics there are more than 50 annual openings for technicians, machinists and production workers in Berkshire County with an average wage in Pittsfield of $55,000. The projected growth of annual openings for this sector in the county and surrounding areas is moderate to high with an expected growth of 1.2 percent.


Grants boost farmers markets

Farmers markets in Pittsfield, Sheffield and North Adams are among those receiving grants from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to help them grow their outreach to consumers. Twenty-three organizations representing 31 farmers markets will be sharing in the $205,000 allocated through the Farmers Market Sustainability Grant Program.

“Farmers markets provide our communities with the opportunity to purchase locally sourced and fresh produce, while supporting our farmers and local economy,” said state Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D–Lenox. More than 220 summer/fall farmers

GREAT BARRINGTON Nonprofit Center updates its resource directory

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires has published an updated version of its Resource Directory to help nonprofits access information to business products and services.

The directory features more than 600 curated resources in 40 categories including accounting, fundraising, human resources and technology.

A free, downloadable version is available online and is ADA compliant for people with visual impairment who use screen readers. For more information and to view the directory, visit

rectory/. markets operated in Massachusetts in 2023, with 49 winter farmers markets opening over this past winter.

For fiscal 2024, the city of North Adams Farmers Market will receive $3,900, the Farmers Market of Sheffield will receive $14,945 and Roots Rising in Pittsfield will receive $10,000. Consumers looking for a farmers market location near them can visit MDAR’s MassGrown map at


BRTA turns 50 and goes retro

To celebrate turning 50 this year, the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority is wrapping several of its newer buses with retro graphic designs that the Authority featured in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Buses sporting those way-back designs will be five 35-foot, heavy duty Gillig diesel-electric hybrid vehicles that the Authority received as part of President Biden’s infrastructure law under the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Grant Program.

These buses will be launched and put into service over the coming weeks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. Small-business summit resignation is open

Registration for the 2024 National Small Business Week Virtual Summit is now open. The two-day online event will take place April 30-May 1. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. To register, visit National Small Business Week Virtual Summit registration.

This year’s summit will feature educational workshops presented by event cosponsors, access to federal resources and networking opportunities.

For more information about National Small Business Week, visit www.sba. gov/NSBW.

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 5 A free monthly publication by The Berkshire Eagle 75 South Church Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201 Visit for advertising information and to subscribe NEWS DEPARTMENT VICTOR SCHAFFNER, Editor 413-496-6171 vschaffner@berkshireeagle com ADVERTISING DEPARTMENT AMY FILIAULT, Advertising Manager 413-496-6322 afiliault@berkshireeagle com CHERYL GAJEWSKI, Director of Advertising Sales 413-841-6789, 413-496-6330 cmcclusky@berkshireeagle com Share your news with the Berkshire Business Journal. If you have a company promotion, a new business or a new venture let the Berkshires know about it Remember the 5 Ws and that briefer is better Email text and photos to BBJ@newenglandnewspapers com. Provide your expertise in the Berkshire Business Journal. Do you have the answer to a persistent question about business and the Berkshires? Do you have ideas and suggestions on how our business community can grow? If you have a comment to make about doing business in the Berkshires or if you ’ re looking to raise an issue with the business community, this is the venue for that We welcome letters up to 300 words and commentary up to 600 words Send these to Victor Schaffner at vschaffner@berkshireeagle com. Berkshire Business Journal is published monthly by New England Newspapers Inc 75 S Church St Pittsfield, MA 01201. Periodicals postage paid at Pittsfield, MA 01201. Berkshire Business Journal is delivered free to businesses in Berkshire County via third class mail. Additional distribution is made via drop-off at select area newsstands The publisher reserves the right to edit reject or cancel any advertisement at any time Only publication of an advertisement shall constitute final acceptance of an advertiser s order All contents are copyrighted by New England Newspapers Inc

A New York (pizza) state of mind

Owner of The Billy Club in Hancock finds his niche

HANCOCK — After Seven Grill closed in 2014, Billy Rose promised himself he wouldn’t work in another restaurant — unless it was his own.

Now, Rose can call himself an entrepreneur, as well as a husband and father of two.

The Billy Club, Rose’s first venture as a restaurateur, opened in February at Liberty Plaza on the north side of Route 20 in the location of the former Anna’s Pizza.

While it may look like a typical pizza place from the outside, check out some of the options: Truffle fries, or toppings that include caramelized onions, coconut flakes, feta, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and ricotta.

Rose is serving pies based on a New York-style dough that includes olive oil and sugar for a bit of extra rise and with a slow-roasted and slightly sweet tomato sauce he formulated from a blend that includes Alta Cucina tomatoes. His house-made pesto includes cashews.

Once they’re in season, Rose plans to source heirloom tomatoes from Forthill Farm in Pittsfield.

He bought the business for $55,000 and kept the phone number, but he put in new equipment, cleaned and painted, kicking up his initial investment to close to $100,000. Banks were skeptical of the location, so his father, Ulrich Rose, helped him finance the opening with a personal loan.

Rose’s father died in December. The pizzeria has black and white framed photos of city scenes that he took.

His mother, Carol LabrieRose, was born in California, and was a model whose image appeared on the cover of Vogue. His parents met in Europe and lived in Paris for 15 years prior to moving to New York. Rose credits them with teaching him to cook.

If you go

housemade mac and cheese, or chicken fingers and fries. There are house wings, a soup of the day and baked mac and cheese. There’s a single offering for dessert: cheesecake.

What: The Billy Club Location: 175 Lebanon Mountain Road, Hancock. In the Liberty Plaza on the north side of Route 20 Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday

His eyes light up as he talks about recipes. He’s looking forward to offering a special of black garlic chicken wings.

Options: Takeout and eat-in

To order: 413-447-7119

Inside the restaurant, there are booths and tables, as well as a bar seating 32, but not yet a liquor license. Rose said his lawyer is working on it. During an impromptu interview, he weighed and portioned frozen potatoes into small plastic bags to use his time well, donning a single black glove.

Rose grinds brisket to make the 6-ounce classic cheeseburger on the menu, which has heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions and a choice of cheese. He plans to create his own sausage from pork butt, salt and fennel as well.

The Hawaiian pizza includes ricotta, ham, pineapple and coconut. And the caprese has fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomato and is finished with basil and balsamic glaze.

The two kids’ options come with a juice box and include the

Born in Manhattan, N.Y., he moved with his family to New Lebanon, N.Y., when he was 9 years old and graduated from New Lebanon Junior/ Senior High School in 2007.

At the age of 14, he landed his first job at the Pillars in New Lebanon as a dishwasher. He took other restaurant jobs, including at the Shaker Mill Tavern in West Stockbridge and at the Brick House Pub in Housatonic, moving up through the ranks to sous chef.

He also worked as a butcher for Mazzeo’s Meat and Seafood inside Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield.

As a customer of Liberty Package Store, he befriended James Catalano, the owner, who in 2021 suggested he consider buying the pizzeria.

For now, it’s a one-man operation, with a little help from Rose’s longtime friend, Jeremy Curtiss, who has also worked in restaurants. He hopes to be able to put Curtiss on the payroll.

In 2016, Rose met his wife to be, Brielle Netzer, at Methuselah in Pittsfield. “As soon as I met her, it kind

of clicked,” he said. The two were married in 2019 at the New Lebanon Town Hall. They have two daughters, Harlo, 2, and Reagan, 4. In his second day of business, he was feeling hopeful. “I feel very confident and I know the food that we are presenting and how we are set up to do it,” he said. “I look forward to the future. Hopefully this will be a good venture, I can grow on it, and keep the ball rolling. I’m hoping to build a nice life, a little niche for myself.”

6 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
PHOTOS BY JANE KAUFMAN Billy Rose is hopeful that he’ll be able to find a niche as a restaurateur. The Billy Club opened in February at Liberty Plaza on Route 20 in Hancock. Billy Rose said the first New York dough recipe he tested worked out, and that the recipe includes olive oil and sugar to give the dough a little extra rise. The Billy Club’s caprese pizza includes heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and a balsamic glaze drizzled on top.

Egremont Barn, inn on the market

Iconic music venue weathered the pandemic

EGREMONT — Eight years ago, Nick Keene and his then-girlfriend, Jenny Rubin, began what would grow into a live music landmark and a community hub.

But now it’s time for a change at the Egremont Barn and the adjacent Egremont Village Inn; Keene and his two siblings have put the entire property up for sale.

It is listed by Lance Vermeulen Real Estate at $2.4 million for the entire 10-acre property and buildings, or at $1.35 million for just the inn and approximately 4 acres.

Keene and Rubin say the family is flexible about how they’ll sell it. They are also having ongoing discussions with potential investors in the Berkshires.

Those interested in buying and operating a music venue, bar and restaurant, the couple say, may or may not also want to run a bed and breakfast. But there are, they note, a host of possibilities here at 17 Main St. Those include another restaurant and a wedding venue. (Nick and Jenny were married here in 2021.)

Rubin, who also is a stand-up comedian, says she would love to continue shepherding The Barn under a new ownership. To the community, she is its spiritual leader, if you will.

“Jenny is the lynchpin for the entertainment and the general vibration of the place,” Keene said, “and just really ... has organically evolved to be the face of it.”

The Barn, the couple say, has not reached anywhere near the end of its life cycle. It’s weathered much yet continues to pack in audiences. Keene and Rubin have “gone all in and have invested every dollar, and every moment of the day that we have, to bring it this far.”

It “survived the pandemic — a miracle,” Keene notes. And it has soldiered on amid the continued challenges of cost hikes, inflation and new consumer habits.

The Keene family brought the property in 2013, largely enticed by the potential for a barn that had been the Robbie Burns Pub until the mid-1980s, to be restored for a music and entertainment venue.

They also wanted to be close to their mother, the opera singer Sara Keene, who died in 2021 and left the property to her three children. The businesses are owned by Nick, Jenny and

Nick’s sister, Gigi Teeley.

In July 2016, The Barn doors opened with live music, comedy and weekly events like karaoke nights that have drawn “all walks of life,” Rubin said.

Keene and Rubin are inspired by the joy they see here, and they want that to continue.

“We see people change at the Barn,” Keene said. “We’ve seen autistic people come out of their shell and we’ve seen people really embrace their self expression.”

There are days when the pressure is heavy. Utility, food and wage costs are up 30 to 40 percent from pre-pandemic levels,

the couple say. They’ve kept their prices down for the community, and they continue to feed and house the musicians who play here.

“You don’t make your nut in large chunks,” Keene said of the hospitality business. “You make it beer by beer and burger by burger.”

They’ve also had some setbacks. In 2021 They opened Sara’s Place, a breakfast and lunch cafe at the inn. They had trouble staffing it, but say that it was long-lasting roadwork on Route 23 that finally killed it, forcing them to close in December.

It didn’t help that a contract

Jenny Rubin and Nick Keene have steered The Egremont Barn toward landmark status since they opened the entertainment venue in 2016. Keene and his two siblings have put up for sale the 10-acre property that includes the live music venue as well as the adjacent Egremont Village Inn.

between the inn and a vacation rental company went sideways, leaving them without their usual revenue from hotel bookings. It was this, in part, that led to a GoFundMe campaign in December that raised nearly $25,000 to keep The Barn going.

“Twenty-five thousand dollars is two weeks of operations,” Keene said, “just to keep the lights on and the staff paid.”

Alarmed at the prospect of a shutdown here, the community quickly came to the rescue.

Rubin says she is hoping to continue helping The Barn flourish into the future. She and Keene might even brand it and move it to a new location if a new buyer doesn’t want to take it on.

“We’re hoping that the right person or persons emerge,” Keene said, “who have a vision for this space for the next chapter of it.”

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 7
BEN GARVER EGREMONT VILLAGE INN The Egremont Village Inn at 17 Main St. is for sale along with the larger, 10-acre property that includes The Egremont Barn, a live entertainment venue. The inn also can be purchased alone with 4 acres. NICK KEENE The Egremont Barn shown in full swing during summer. The owners are selling the property, looking for investors or a buyer who can keep the live music venue going strong into the future.

‘They can grab what they need’

Loeb’s Foodtown owners aim to reinvigorate Public Market in West Stockbridge

For the new owners of the West Stockbridge Public Market, taking a vacation is simply out of the question.

Even though Bernie and Isabel Fallon of West Stockbridge currently put in well over 60 hours a week in their Lenox store, Loeb’s Foodtown, the couple are adding to their workload with another small-town staple.

The Fallons purchased the West Stockbridge Public Market — located in a Main Street building Bernie has owned since 2006 — from Tim Walsh, who had been operating it since 2012. The goal is to run it as a companion business to Loeb’s Foodtown.

“It’s 60 hours or more of enjoyment, of loving what you’re doing,” Bernie said.

Step-by-step over time, they aim to reinvigorate and restore the Public Market, co-founded in 1930 — during the depths of the Great Depression by Tom Fallon and his brother Francis, Bernie’s grandfather, as Fallon’s Market. For several years before that, the Fallon Brothers had operated a meat wagon with deliveries to the town and neighboring communities.

A youthful 61 and a fourth-generation West Stockbridge native, Bernie served on the town’s Select Board for three years, beginning in 2017. He ran the market from 2003 to 2010 and purchased the building in 2006.

“I want to stay humble, put my head down and work,” Bernie said recently. “I know my skill set and want to give as much as I can. As I said to the employees, it’s not the saying but the doing that matters. So, I hope to do the right things and great things at the Public Market.”

The purchase agreement with Tim Walsh was completed in February. Walsh is the husband of former Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington —

who now works as deputy chief of staff at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Fallon declined to give the transaction price for the business, but he said the cost of ren-

ovations will be funded primarily by reinvesting the market’s operating revenue based on the strength of the business.

Timeline . . .

A brief history of the West Stockbridge Public Market:

Late 1920s: The Fallon Brothers (Tom and Francis, grandfather of Bernie Fallon) drove a meat wagon delivering to West Stockbridge, Richmond, neighboring communities and nearby New York state.

1930: The West Stockbridge property at 8 Main St., a former saloon prior to Prohibition, was purchased by the Fallon Brothers. The store, initially known as Fallon’s Market, become the destination for quality meats, produce and groceries for more than 30 years.

1963: After more than 32 years, Francis Fallon sold the building and business to his butcher, George Gerdin, and son Gerard (Jake) Gerdin.

1977: A couple from California bought the Market from Jake Gerdin, and ran it for less than one year.

store and rearranging its inventory. She arrives at the Public Market by 5 a.m. to set up for the day and then heads over to Loeb’s in Lenox by 6 a.m. for the same routine before returning to the West Stockbridge store with a goal of creating more customer-friendly space and a smoother traffic flow.

“We’ve been working hard to help the public and the community,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have the hard-working employees here.”

The ultimate goal is to return the Public Market to its roots by adding produce, fresh-cut meats and other grocery store staples, since West Stockbridge is at least eight miles from the nearest full-service market, and residents from adjoining Richmond also patronize the market.

“We have already added a ton of new products,” Bernie said. “Just look at Loeb’s and you’ll get an idea. I want the people in town to have a place where they can grab what they need. That’s really important to me. Prices have already been lowered throughout. We are working on the whole store.”

He noted that some stores, especially convenience stores, have become “devoid of nutritional value. We didn’t want the Public Market to focus on lottery tickets, cigarettes and liquor.”

The timeline for the upgrade can be relatively quick, Fallon said, since Loeb’s has relationships with distributors who can also deliver to West Stockbridge “and stock the place up quickly.”

A redesign and layout revamp will follow.

Store hours will remain 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (opening at 7 a.m. on Sundays) for the time being.

“It’s really important to me to get as much done before the summer,” he said. “If we go through the summer without having tweaked a lot of these things, then you’re working real-

1978: Michael and Anna Skorput, Bernie Fallon’s step-father and mother, purchased the building and business, adding coffee, sandwiches and lunch to the groceries and meats.

2003: After a two-year lease by a new owner, Bernie Fallon returned from Arizona to take over the store, remodeling and cleaning up the inside of the building and increasing customer traffic for the Public Market. In 2006, he bought the building.

2010: The business, though not the building, was purchased by Randy Burkhart and his wife, Erika, making many improvements, including tables and chairs in the front of the store.

2012: Tim Walsh purchased the business, rebuilding and restoring the building after a major fire. He continued to run it successfully for 12 years.

February 2024: Bernie and Isabel Fallon buy back the business as a complement to their market in Lenox, Loeb’s Foodtown.

ly hard for not as much. So we’ll work really hard now to hopefully gain the benefits then.”

As for how the couple will split their time between their Lenox and West Stockbridge stores, Bernie called it “a moving target, dictated by needs.” He emphasized that the Public Market and Loeb’s have a strong staff, and all shifts are covered.

Where does the energy come from for his and Isabel’s sevenday-a-week work schedule?

“It comes from wanting to give people what they want, so you just keep working hard,” Bernie said. “We have the desire to do it, so we’ll find a way.”

8 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Isabel Fallon has been working on a deep-cleaning of the Peter Thorington takes orders during a busy lunch hour at the West Stockbridge Public Market on Main Street, purchased recently by Bernie and Isabel Fallon, who bought Loeb’s Foodtown in Lenox nearly five years ago. PHOTOS BY BEN GARVER The ultimate goal is to return the West Stockbridge Public Market on Main Street to its roots by adding produce, fresh-cut meats and other grocery store staples. Bernie and Isabel Fallon, who also own Loeb’s Foodtown in Lenox, just purchased West Stockbridge Public Market. The town’s grocery store was established by Bernie’s grandfather in 1930 and has had multiple proprietors over the years, including Bernie Fallon, who also owns the 8 Main St.

Starting a fresh chapter


It’s an oft-asked question posed to the couple, who this month bought the foodie paradise Cantina 229 property off Hartsville-New Marlborough Road. They’ll also keep the name, “Cantina,” though without the “229.”

“We love it and it has such a following as it is, and we figure if we were to change it people would still call it Cantina,” Austin said, standing outside the restaurant. Inside, the place has been turned inside out for a deep clean.

There have also been other questions, like, “when can we make a reservation?”

And many have called to inquire about work, collaboration and to offer support and help for an exciting new venture and the resurgence of food and energy here.

The couple purchased the 4.5-acre property, with its circa 1911 home, the restaurant with its extensive patio and gardens from Emily and Josh Irwin, Cantina 229’s founders.

The Irwins closed Cantina in January last year after eight years of business, calling it a “sweet labor of love,” and moved on to focus on their other businesses and new ventures in Great Barrington, including a takeout restaurant adjacent to the Triplex Cinema.

Austin and Chapin’s vision includes also offering the restaurant and property as an event and wedding space. And they’ll continue to rent the house on Airbnb, as did the Irwins after they moved to Great Barrington.

The couple said they are staying flexible and creative about what kind of menu they’ll have, just like mother nature and her food cycles — which they intend to honor.

They’ll be hiring a head chef to navigate that, and one “who has the same values as we do.”

They do know the food will be mostly local — even hyper-local, depending on the season. They are farmers — Chapin

New owners aim to reopen Cantina this summer

and his mother, Jan Johnson, run Mill River Farm and have owned the Mill River General Store since 2021. Johnson continues to keep bees and run Berkshire Wildflower Honey.

In 2019, Chapin bought Sheffield-based Equinox Greens, a longtime microgreens grower and wholesaler.

The couple is also renovating the back of the Mill River General Store, built in 1840, to make a small, eat-in coffee, breakfast, lunch and soft-serve place with a few tables.

With a commercial kitchen at Cantina, they’ll be able to prepare food for the store, roughly 3 miles away, which this time of year makes around 100 sales per day.

The store has expanded its range of products. Chapin points to freezers packed with local meats. There is prepackaged curry paste from a small producer in Easthampton, to frozen Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon, to bread made by professional bakers in Mill River village. All of it chosen by Chapin and Austin, who say they are always “testing” the store’s inventory by shopping there. They want to know if there is enough variety and if the products are good.

Austin says it’s a “natural evolution” from the farm to expanding into these other, connected businesses.

The Cantina purchase, Chapin said, is “really bringing everything we’re doing together.”

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Chapin and Maddie Austin will keep the soft-serve ice cream flowing at Cantina when they open this summer. STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN Maddie Austin and Peter Chapin, the owners of the Mill River Store in New Marlborough, have bought the Cantina 229 property and hope to reopen the restaurant by the summer.

Rouge poised for summer revival

Buyers plan to bring a taste of Tuscan cuisine to West Stockbridge

WEST STOCKBRIDGE — It took close to two years, but longtime local restaurateur Maggie Merelle has finally found what she says are ideal buyers for her popular downtown restaurant Rouge.

The buyers of the eatery and wine shop that Merelle put on the market in April 2022, are a culinary team based in Florence, Italy. Liza Stace Pagliari, an artist, and her husband Valentino, a veteran restaurateur, will be bringing a replica of their Acqua al 2 Tuscan cuisine to West Stockbridge this summer.

“This is our first restaurant in the United States,” the couple said in a joint email interview from Florence. “We were drawn to the Berkshires initially because we love the culture and atmosphere of the area. West Stockbridge is specifically appealing not just for its intimate community, but for its location.”

Merelle, a real estate salesperson at William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in Great Barrington and Lenox, handled the transaction herself.

The sale of the business and the building at 3-5 Center St. totaled $870,000, including $220,000 for the appraised value of the furniture, fixtures and equipment, Merelle said.

“I represented the buyers as a Sotheby’s agent,” she told The Eagle. “They are lovely people. I believe that they will bring spectacular traditions of their own to the Berkshires.”

The Pagliaris aim to open early this summer, starting with dinner service Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m., with a seating capacity of about 80.

The West Stockbridge Select Board approved an all-alcohol liquor license for the establishment, Acquevo LLC, last month. No substantial renovations are planned, said attorney William E. Martin, representing the buyers. The interior restaurant layout will remain the same as the former Rouge, he said.

Liza Stace Pagliari, participating in the meeting by phone, described the West Stockbridge venture as a year-round, family style restaurant. She and her husband will manage the restaurant themselves at the site.

The cuisine will be comparable to the offerings in the Florence restaurant, where a chef’s sampler tasting menu is a highlight. The “Assagi” option includes tastes of courses from salads to cheeses, pastas, meats and desserts.

Valentino Pagliari is a London native and the son of Italian restaurateurs. He moved to Florence in the early 1990s, intending to study architecture but, as he explained, “I was immediately attracted to the vibrant Florentine nightlife scene.”

For 22 years, he operated a late-night cocktail bar, The Blob Club, mainly catering to international students. He became a patron of the Acqua al 2 restau-

by summer.

rant, “a combination of great food and ambiance.”

After consulting with the management on a new concept in Florence — a breakfast and brunch eatery that evolved into “The Diner” — he became manager of the establishment before buying into Acqua al 2, which had been founded in 1978, as a partner.

Liza Stace Pagliari grew up outside New York City, spending vacations and most weekends at her family home in Great Barrington.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Syracuse University in printmaking and a master’s at the the Rhode Island School of Design for printmaking and art education, she is currently residing and working in Florence as a practicing artist and printmaker working with high school and university level students.

Noting the importance of the artistic community in the Berkshires, she anticipates “creating opportunities for those who practice art and those who appreciate it at the restaurant.”

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BEN GARVER The former Rouge restaurant in West Stockbridge has been sold to restaurateurs from Florence, Italy, who say they hope to reopen LIZA STACE PAGLIARI Liza Stace Pagliari and Valentino Pagliari purchased the business and building at 3-5 Center St. in West Stockbridge for $870,000.


Gateway Cities. These are defined as cities with a population between 35,000 and 250,000, have a median household income below the state median and a lower percentage than the state average of adults with college degrees.

The TDI program works with cross-sector partnerships to engage community members in actionable planning, implement local economic development initiatives and spur further public and private investment. TDI commits resources for a defined period to real estate development, small business stability and growth, arts and cultural amenities, placemaking and targeted technical assistance and strategic planning.

Pittsfield previously received TDI status and assistance for the Tyler St. corridor in 2015 through 2018. That led to a variety of projects and initiatives in that section of the city.

The city subsequently applied for and received designation for a new threeyear TDI for the North St. district in 2022.

In addition to Boost!, the current TDI for downtown has provided grants and support for other businesses and community development activities since 2023. Those have included the creation of murals in the downtown area and startup money for the Pittsfield Community Design Center, a grass-roots initiative to encourage public participation in improvements to the city’s urban streetscape and transportation.

“The TDI has been a great collaboration that has brought positive results for businesses and the community,” said Brien.

Brien, who has been in her position at Downtown Inc. for two years, believes there is increasing momentum to rebound from a difficult period for the city center, including the negative impacts of Covid.

She added that are also increasing resources available to local businesses, for a variety of purposes.

“The Boost! grant is just one of many programs available that businesses can turn to for help,” she said. “I’d suggest that a business that is looking for assistance reach out to Downtown Pittsfield Inc. or the city government for more information.”

Downtown Pittsfield Inc can be reached at (413) 443-6501. The Pittsfield Department of Community Development number is (413) 499-9368.

“There are great partnerships going on with many stakeholders working together,” she said. “With that, plus funding from the TDI, the federal American Rescue Plan Act and other grants, we are making strides in bringing downtown back.”

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Boost!, funded by the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), is a collaborative, competitive program designed to help North Street businesses implement specific improvements. TDI has provided grants and support for other businesses and community development activities since 2023.

they’ve become progressively more flexible, with infusions of grant support and funding from state, federal and business sources.

“The training can be nimble, and it can be more responsible to what employers need,” she said.

For students in workforce programs, Clairmont said the intent is to leave a pathway in front of them with at least two broad options — to enter the workforce immediately or to pursue an academic degree.


“We work collaboratively with BCC on a number of fronts, in particular, through the lens of the Berkshire Blueprint 2.0,” said Ben Lamb, director of Economic Development at 1Berkshire. The updateable report, required by the state, highlights major job categories or sectors and develops a collaborative vision and action plans for each economic region.

The job sectors include advanced manufacturing and engineering services, the creative economy, food and agriculture, healthcare, and hospitality and tourism.

“Since the Blueprint’s inception, BCC has actively leveraged it as a source of inspiration and direction in how they have pivoted and adjusted their workforce development programs and resources,” Lamb said. “As we have seen shifts in the workforce dynamics across the country and locally, it’s been vital having BCC centrally focused on meeting the needs of our primary economic clusters in the region, and doing so in an inclusive and data-informed way.”

Lamb said 1Berkshire staff and officials “are often engaged with individuals at all levels of the institution as they think through how the academic rigor and programs will meet the demands and expectations of industry partners.”

Another laudable component of these efforts, Lamb said, has been the joint leadership of the MassHire Workforce Board Skills Cabinet, which includes Heather Boulger, executive director of the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board and Career Center, Jonathan Butler, president and CEO at 1Berkshire, and BCC President Ellen Kennedy.

“I think we are incredibly lucky to have BCC in the region,” Lamb said. “They are an adaptable, responsive, and

committed partner in educating, up-skilling and re-skilling our workforce and community members in ways that add to their value as contributors to our businesses and economy in general.”

“They do some amazing work on that campus,” said Ben Sosne, executive director at the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield.

“They are really tight in the community,” he said, “and I am really excited that Mayor Tyer is stepping into that role in the workforce department.”

The Innovation Center staff has had good working relationships with the college, Sosne said, adding that the school’s key role in employee hiring and retraining “has been a tremendous asset to the county.”

The courses offered have aimed at addressing long-standing or emerging situations, he said, such as in filling new jobs for the planned full reopening of the former North Adams Regional Hospital facility under Berkshire Health Systems.

At the innovation center, Sosne said, the college has collaborated on inter-disciplinary courses, which are “what companies need and [are] so critical to our employers.”

The college, with its science departments and professors, and the Innovation Center “really compliment one another” in projects and initiatives, he said, giving students a taste of working in an advanced manu-

facturing business.


“BCC has been a really close partner,” said Bryana Malloy, manager of industrial relations at MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board and Career Center. “The college has been really pivotal in moving forward on workforce initiatives and goals in our region.”

Malloy said the college has collaborated with the workforce board and has focused on programs in critical or emerging areas of the local economy, especially involving skills highlighted in the Berkshire Blueprint report.

The workforce programs “offer people an opportunity to step into an occupation where they can grow, where it is not just a job but a career,” she said.


BCC “has a commitment to a robust and knowledge-based workforce in Berkshire County,” said BCC President Ellen Kennedy, who is in her 12th year leading the college.

That goal is long-standing at BCC, she said, noting the evolution over many years of workforce programming under the former vice president of lifelong learning and workforce development at BCC, William Mullholand, and his team.

Those efforts “put us on the map” in the field, she said, not only in terms of workforce

program development but in collaboration with other organizations and government entities and in securing grants and other support to make varied options available at little or no cost to students.

The college has long focused on both pathways toward both a career and academic advancement, Kennedy said.

“This is really what integrated us with the community,” she said, as the college “made a concerted effort to participate in initiatives happening in the county,” and in strategies to help improve the local economy.

Similar collaborations are ongoing on the state level and with the other 14 community colleges in Massachusetts, Kennedy said, all of which offer workforce training programs.


The workforce and accademic programs at BCC each year spawn multiple successes, involving career advancement, an advanced degree, a better job, or simply a broader horizon for students of any age.

Denise Foss, currently the lead preschool teacher at Southern Berkshire Childcare Program in Sheffield, followed the inspiration she felt at the school to the head of her class.

“I started at Berkshire Community College with one goal, which was to receive an associate degree,” Foss said. “I had no intention of continuing my

education after I graduated, but after having such a positive experience, I thought, why not?

“Never did I think I would graduate with a 4.0 or be valedictorian of my class,” she said.

Foss added, “Without the guidance of the BCC teachers, I’m not sure I would have been so successful. They were dedicated and took the time to answer any questions I had throughout my journey. They were as invested in my education as I was.”

She said her goals “began to evolve as I moved closer to receiving my degree. The more classes I took, the more confident and knowledgeable I became in my field. I also gained more confidence socially and within myself. That’s when I began to think about continuing my education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.”


Kennedy said another factor driving course development has been the need in the modern economy for workers to keep their skills up to date.

“Retraining is more constant,” she said, and many employees are now expected to keep abreast of the updated job requirements.

The need for educational options extends as well from “high school students to grandparents,” she said. With its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, BCC offers more

BCC PREP, Page 13

12 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
GILLIAN JONES Ben Lamb, director of Economic Development at 1Berkshire, says the BCC has leveraged the state-mandated Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 to help it adjust its workforce development programs and resources.
Bryana Malloy, manager of industrial relations at MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board and Career Center, says BCC’s workforce programs “offer people an opportunity to step into an occupation where they can grow, where it is not just a job but a career.”
BCC prep

From cybersecurity to mechatronics

BCC workforce development courses include specific training toward a certificate and courses leading to an associate’s degree with the option of pursuing a four-year degree.

A sampling:

Excellence in service training

— Teaches the fundamentals of food safety, knife skills, timekeeping, teamwork, communication and goal setting, along with food preparation techniques needed for a career in the industry.

How to plan and start a business — Explores generating business ideas and understanding customers, building a strong brand and marketing.

Adult ESOL program — Classes are designed to assist non-native English speakers.

Medical interpreter — Allows individuals to use linguistic skills to provide medical interpreting services to patients and medical professionals.

Phlebotomy technician —

BCC prep


than 100 courses and programs specifically designed by and for individuals over 50 years of age.


With an increased emphasis on workforce programs, Kennedy said, state, federal and business sector financial support has accelerated in recent years.

The nursing and health care programs at BCC provide striking examples.

In one instance, she said, a local need for trained phlebotomists to replace those who were retiring led to a sixweek program to address the situation but the cost for students was $2,100, creating an accessibility problem. However, grants were received to help fill an increasingly desperate need, Kennedy said.

Lori Moon, the college’s dean of Nursing, Health and Wellness, described some of the opportunities that have emerged for students hoping to enter the health care field.

For its certified nursing assistant and related programs, BCC “collaborates directly with Berkshire Health Systems,” the county’s largest employer, and with other employers, Moon said.

That support includes the opportunity for fees and book costs to be covered by the institution or other entities that hope to ensure a steady flow of trained individuals for a large number of nursing positions.

“Berkshire Health System’s talent pipeline has been hugely beneficial to our students,” she said.

In addition to having program fees covered, students can have the opportunity to work 16 hours per week as a

Trains individuals in the drawing of blood for lab testing.

Dental hygiene — BCC has an agreement with Springfield Tech-

nical Community College that allows the transfer of BCC credits to STCC toward an associate in science in dental hygiene degree.

Networking and cybersecurity — Provides students with technical understanding of computer systems and computer networking and cybersecurity.

Fire science — Focuses on fire prevention and fire protection principles and techniques.

Cannabis industry — Provides students with applicable skills and knowledge to work professionally in the areas of cannabis cultivation, processing, preparation, retail and outreach.

Mechatronics — The Associate in Mechatronics degree combines technologies of mechanics and electronics.

Paraprofessional and teaching assistant — Enables parapro-

Lori Moon, BCC’s dean of nursing, says 100 percent of BCC students seeking LPN certification and 91.4 percent of those seeking registered nurse qualification pass exams on their first try. It’s “cool to walk the hospital corridors

nursing assistant while being paid for 40 hours, Moon said, adding, “That has been a huge plus” for the program and students over the past four years.

“They are really paying students to get their education,” she said.

After the college enrollment declines

of the pandemic years, Moon said BCC’s numbers have rebounded with more than 200 nursing students expected for the fall semester.

“And our success rate has been very good,” she said, with 100 percent of those seeking LPN certification and

75 1949-2024 years

fessionals to earn an associate degree at BCC and continue to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts to earn a bachelor degree and teaching license.

Addiction recovery assistant — Prepares students for entry-level work in the substance use field.

Early childhood education — Provides training for those early childhood educators who choose to remain in the field at an associate degree level.

Technical theater — Prepares students for a range of careers in educational, community and resident theater venues, as well as the film industry.

For more information, visit the college website at https://www. or call 413236-2115, or email workforce@

91.4 percent of those seeking registered nurse qualification passing exams on their first try.

Moon said she also makes a point of speaking to each CNA class to encourage students “not to stop,” but to pursue a licensed practical nurse certificate, an associate’s degree, or to become a registered nurse and/or obtain a four-year degree.

To assist students toward a degree, she said BCC has agreements in place with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State University and other institutions, both in-state and elsewhere in New England.

In addition, there are now extensive online course options.

The college also has contracts to allow clinical experience for students at every nursing home in the county, as well as at Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital.

Moon said the school’s workforce and academic programs “are putting out some awesome nurses, and it’s cool to walk the hospital corridors and see all of our graduates working.”

Nursing and pre-nursing courses are among the most popular at BCC, said Laurie Gordy, vice president for academic affairs. Other popular courses include business and liberal arts courses and education.

“We have also added more certificates” in recent years, she said, spanning work in theater and film and the cannabis industry.

If students afterward pursue an academic degree, she said, BCC is poised to work with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, UMass, Westfield State University and other institutions to enroll them in four-year programs.

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 13
STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN and see all of our graduates working,” she says. FILE PHOTO Berkshire Community College campus in Pittsfield.

Berkshire voices

New opportunity for workforce of the future

Berkshire Innovation Center is collaborating with Amazon Web Services

Central to our work at the Berkshire Innovation Center is a fundamental belief that the deployment of sophisticated technologies will help our regional firms secure future growth.

We also believe that — in pursuit of new innovations — that all organizations will rely on skilled individuals to sustain their missions.

Whether a technology innovator or an advanced manufacturing, financial or health system, all modern firms will need modern tech.

Whether these new technologies are hardware or software solutions, we believe that appropriately leveraging new technology can lead to continuous improvements in quality and efficiency, making our regional firms more competitive. Leaning into this way of thinking also means taking advantage of our greatest asset here in Massachusetts, our people. People are always the answer. Providing individuals with added opportunity to develop needed skills creates a workforce for the future, today.

Recent research from McKinsey and Co also confirms that for investments in new technologies to take root and bring enterprise-wide benefits, companies need to develop operating models and cultures that embrace innovation.

Cultural challenges are often the biggest barrier to getting results from new technological investments. For example, when firms and employees are risk averse, have siloed mindsets or are generally skeptical of new tools and processes, the transformations that technology can bring often stall or fail. We want the opposite. We want levers for growth that sustain and support our regional businesses. We promote cultures of learning.

At the BIC, we seek to raise awareness of new tools and technologies and encourage adoption, when appropriate, and also work with our members on developing a company-wide culture that embraces the new tools and processes that often lead to breakthrough growth. Indeed, this is embedded throughout the work we do in our BIC Manufacturing Academy.

Leaning into this commitment to helping regional businesses better leverage new technologies, we are excited to announce a new collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS is a comprehensive and widely adopted cloud computing platform provided by Launched in 2006, AWS offers an array of cloudbased services, including computing power, storage, databases, analytics, machine learning, networking, security and more. These services are designed to help businesses scale, innovate and achieve operational efficiency without the need for large upfront investments in physical infrastructure.

In the manufacturing sector — where many BIC members operate — companies are leveraging AWS’s cloud capabilities to drive digital transformation. They utilize AWS IoT services to connect and monitor their production equipment in real-time, optimize supply-chain operations, implement predictive maintenance strategies and improve overall efficiency and productivity on the factory floor.

AWS, of course, is also leveraged across a range of other sectors critical to the economy in the Berkshires and beyond.

Generally speaking, forward thinking healthcare companies are using AWS to modernize their infrastructure and improve patient care. AWS’s secure and compliant cloud services are often

Next up at the Berkshire Innovation Center: Amazon Web Services Cloud Institute, an adult training program designed and delivered by AWS. The goal of the program is to speed up cloud innovation for AWS customers and partners by increasing the pool of job-ready, cloud-skilled talent.

leveraged to store and analyze large amounts of patient data, facilitate telemedicine solutions, enhance research and development efforts through advanced analytics and deploy AI-driven applications.

Software development, gaming, design and digital media companies rely on AWS to power their applications and services. They utilize AWS’s scalable infrastructure, serverless computing and AI/ML tools to accelerate innovation, improve time-to-market for new products, enhance user experiences and scale their operations globally with ease.

Financial institutions, such as banks, insurance companies and fintech startups, harness AWS’s cloud services to enhance security, compliance and agility in their operations. They leverage AWS for processing transactions, analyzing large datasets for risk management and fraud detection, developing and deploying digital banking solutions and ensuring high availability and disaster recovery capabilities.

In the retail sector, AWS transforms e-commerce platforms, improves customer experiences and optimizes supply-chain operations. Retailers leverage AWS’s cloud infrastructure for hosting websites, managing inventory and logistics, implementing personalized marketing strategies based on data analytics and enhancing cybersecurity to protect customer information.

Educational institutions are adopting AWS to modernize their learning environments, deliver online courses, conduct research and manage administrative tasks more efficiently. They tend to use AWS for hosting learning management systems, providing virtual classrooms, analyzing student data for personalized learning experiences and leveraging AI/ML for educational insights.

In short, AWS is a powerful cloud computing platform that enables forward-thinking companies across various sectors to innovate, scale and stay competitive. Because we believe in the value of this tool, we are pleased to announce that we are now an approved sponsor of the AWS Cloud Institute.

The AWS Cloud Institute is an adult training program designed and delivered by AWS that produces Cloud Application Developers for their customers and partners. The goal of the program is to speed up cloud innovation for AWS customers and partners by increasing the pool of job-ready,

cloud-skilled talent.

Beginning this spring, the BIC will enable local learners to participate in AWS Cloud Institute courses in a dedicated student learning lab at the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, provide computer access for students and connect local learners to career and success coaches to support student learning

and assist in career readiness. AWS, in collaboration with the BIC, is offering grants to help students in Berkshire County offset the cost of the program.

The opportunity for this collaboration came from BIC board Vice Chair James Kupernik. Kupernik, former CTO at VidMob, the leader in creative data, said “As a technology leader, I know the transformative potential of the cloud and the hurdles in finding specialized talent. I’m excited about the Berkshire Innovation Center becoming an approved sponsor for the AWS Cloud Institute. This demonstrates a shared commitment to developing the next-generation workforce with job-ready skills for businesses across every industry.”

Dennis Rebelo, the BIC’s chief learning officer, who helped build the BIC Manufacturing Academy with MlIT, stressed the BIC’s devotion to creating a venue-for-learning and noted how vital such environments are in enhancing and supporting student learning, at any age or stage of life. “We’re thrilled to be assisting the Berkshires region prepare for cloud-based computing careers in collaboration with AWS.”

For more information on the AWS Cloud institute and the novel ways that the BIC will support ACI students engaged in the program, please join us at the Berkshire Innovation Center for an information session from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 24.

14 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
Ben Sosne is executive director of the Berkshire Innovation Center. FILE PHOTO Ben Sosne News from the BIC

Ta-da! Pulling back the curtain on gala season

Now that spring has sprung, nonprofit gala season is officially upon us. A quick glimpse at the Berkshire Gala & Fundraising Event Calendar, and one thing becomes clear: Annual fundraisers are the lifeblood of local nonprofits. These festive celebrations not only engage donors and community members, they also highlight invaluable work being done throughout Berkshire County and the resulting impact on the community at large.

At Community Access to the Arts, Executive Director Margaret Keller and her team raise

almost one-third of their annual budget in one fell swoop.

“The CATA Gala & Annual Performance is our biggest fundraising event of the year,” said Keller, underscoring that this year’s fete — on Saturday, May 11 at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox — marks the 30th anniversary of an event whose proceeds directly underwrite year-round arts programs for 1,000 children, teens and adults with disabilities, where they explore their talents, build community and express who they are and how they see the world.

While some folks still pitch fancy tents and don party clothes, most galas have evolved to reflect nonprofit

needs and echo services delivered. As Keller puts it, “The CATA Gala is our mission in action: People with disabilities share talents they’ve developed in year-round programs, and our community comes together to celebrate their creativity.” Read on for more of what’s on tap:

On Friday, April 12, South Community Food Pantry will present its inaugural Rock & Bowl Fundraiser at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield — featuring soup and bread served by area restaurants in beautiful, ceramic bowls (valued anywhere from $25-$100), hand-crafted by local artists. “We welcome all to purchase tickets, donate soup and/or

raffle items, and just spread the word,” said volunteer Joan Morgan who has seen the number of community members served rise every year as they aim to provide food for more than 1,400 families each month. “We continue to rely on community support, not only for this event, but also for ongoing donations to the pantry,” said Morgan in a nod to each dollar raised providing more than three meals for the food insecure in our area. Join Northern Berkshire United Way on Thursday, May 9 for their Spirit of Caring Awards & Celebration at the Norad Mill in North Adams. “We use this event to recognize

some of the individuals and businesses in our community that make an impact on Northern Berkshire County, [our organization], and the agencies that we fund,” said executive director Patti Messina. The dollars raised at this event, now in its sixth year, help to supplement the nonprofit’s yearly fundraising campaign goal which, in turn, provides funding for 20 member agencies. This year’s awards will go to Rep. John Barrett; Detective and School Resource Officer Stephanie Mirante; Wild Oats Market; and Adams Plumbing & Heating.

Over five weekends in June, Construct will debut their


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Gala season

Designer Showcase House at Cassilis Farm in New Marlborough — the former Gilded Age mansion slated for redevelopment as affordable housing. “While we aim to raise at least $200,000 towards the renovation, of equal importance is the opportunity to draw attention to the need for workforce affordable housing and [the town’s] response to that need in their community,” said Executive Director Jane Ralph. A linchpin in the fundraiser is support from local and regional designers who understand the intersection of their work and the need for housing their employees can afford. “Berkshire County has more towns with 0 percent affordable housing than any other county in Massachusetts,” said Ralph, whose waitlist includes 385 families (100 of whom are currently homeless), an increase of 40 percent in one quarter.

Make tracks to Gould Farm in Monterey on Sunday, June 2, for the Gould Farm 5K — the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser of the year, with a $50,000 goal. “Dollars raised underwrite 5 percent of the total financial assistance provided for low- to moderate-income people with serious mental health challenges to access vital treatment [in our residential, therapeutic community],” said Executive Director Lisanne Finston, who hopes to include a stop at the new Roadside Store & Cafe in this year’s event — celebrating yet another important aspect of how Gould Farm promotes recovery, reduces stigma and supports community inclusion for all.

On Sunday, June 9, Beacon of Hope: A Benefit for Berkshire Immigrant Center, returns to Shakespeare & Co. with a novel name upon a storied stage — indoors at the beautiful Tina Packer Playhouse. “This year’s proceeds [will] help offset the coming loss of $90,000 in Covid-related funding … and support the cost of keeping [our] doors open, including offsetting the expense of free or subsidized client services,” said Development Director Sheryl Lechner. Berkshire Immigrant Center serves the immigrant community through affordable legal services — including

citizenship and related immigration applications — as well as free citizenship prep classes and tutoring.

Mark your calendar for June 25 in Lenox when the Kids 4 Harmony Gala — 18 Degrees’ single largest fundraiser, tallying 20 percent of its annual budget — takes to the stage at Tanglewood. “Funding expands opportunity and promotes social justice,” said President and CEO Stephanie Steed, addressing the diverse pool of student musicians who have become a part of the rich cultural fabric of the Berkshires. “This year, Kids 4 Harmony’s second-year

students will make their debut on the stage at Ozawa Hall and the concert will feature original music composed by one of the high school students,” said Steed, calling the gala a celebratory step toward the nonprofit’s long-term goal: to expand horizons and provide students with great opportunities in music.

Join Flying Cloud Institute on July 15 at Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield as they mark a momentous milestone: Summer S•M•Arty Party: Celebrating 40 Years! “ For four decades, Flying Cloud has cultivated the next generation of Berkshire artists, scientists

and engineers with creative experiences,” said Executive Director Maria Rundle, underscoring that low overhead means the vast majority of every dollar donated goes directly to serving youth in our community. This year’s event will celebrate that legacy and honor the founders, Jane and Larry Burke, while welcoming alums — many of whom have successful careers in science, robotics, engineering and art. “We appreciate the support of our corporate sponsors and volunteers,” said Rundle, calling their help essential to sharing programs free-ofcharge so ALL children have access to the transformational experiences at FCI.

Demand for nonprofit programs and services are at an all-time high. “During the current fiscal year, CATA expects to serve 28 percent more people and provide 44 percent more workshops than in pre-pandemic 2019,” said Keller who emphasizes that funding from their gala is critical in helping the nonprofit to meet a demonstrated need in our community.

What are you waiting for?

Gather a group of colleagues and make plans to attend one or more of these upcoming events. Consider it a fun, festive, after-hours appointment — one rife with networking opportunities, community engagement and (of course) giving back.

Liana Toscanini is the founder of Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires; Hannah Van Sickle writes frequently about Berkshire nonprofits.

Liana Toscanini is the founder of Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires; Hannah Van Sickle writes frequently about Berkshire nonprofits.

16 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
FILE PHOTO The Gould Farm 5K is the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser. Annual fundraisers are the lifeblood of local nonprofits and highlight their impact on the community.

Used-car dealership approved Berkshire Mazda will move into Yankee Candle site

LENOX — An extension of the new Berkshire Mazda dealership that’s taking shape on Pittsfield Road (Routes 7/20) has won a green light from the town’s Zoning Board.

As a result, the Yankee Candle retail shop, in business since 1987, will yield its location to a used-vehicle sales and rental facility on the commercial strip across the highway from the new dealership, a $5 million-plus construction project well underway.

The Zoning Board of Appeals last month voted 5-0 to approve the special permit and site plan to change the use of the 475 Pittsfield Road property just south of the Center at Lenox, though members voiced concerns over traffic and pedestrian safety — as well as regret over the closing of the Yankee Candle store.

The 1.6-acre site, north of the Yankee Inn and east of the CVS pharmacy, will remain largely unaltered, including its existing 37 parking spaces, with the exception of new pavement markings to ease traffic flow, along with repainting and minor landscaping, said civil engineer James Scalise, president of SK Design Group in Pittsfield. He cited a traffic study based on state Department of Transportation data indicating a below-average accident rate for a busy state highway in a commercial zone with an average of 29,000 vehicles passing through each day, according to MassDOT.

Nevertheless, Zoning Board member Shawn Leary Considine described traffic safety concerns as “the elephant in the room.”

“Aren’t there going to be people walking across Route 7, back and forth?” she asked Scalise, representing 475 Pittsfield Road LLC, the real estate company formed by owner Patrick Sheehan, a partner with Jim Salvie in the upcoming Berkshire Mazda relocation from East Street in Pittsfield. That move is expected by the end of this year.

Scalise emphasized that the facility would be separate from that new-car dealership because it would only sell or rent used vehicles.

However, Zoning Board Chair Robert Fuster suggested that some Berkshire Mazda

customers might be interested in checking out used vehicles by walking across the five-lane state highway.

Scalise pointed out that most automotive shopping now originates online, requiring appointments for customers to look at specific new or previously owned vehicles. Signage at the former Yankee Candle would specify that it’s a used car facility and would indicate one-way directional traffic flow in and out of the site, which would be open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Citing a surge of automotive projects on the commercial

strip, Zoning Board member Kimberly Duval commented that “we’re slowly accumulating Pittsfield’s auto mile, and I don’t think that’s a great look for Lenox. That’s a question for the Planning Board to think about.”

But Fuster noted that the commercial strip is the only zone in Lenox where auto dealerships can be sited.

Leary Considine, previously concerned about possible pedestrian crossings of the state highway, voiced relief that “the people who come in to the Mazda dealership will know they’re going to look at new cars and

the people going to this place will know they’re looking for used cars.” She supported the planned use of the existing building and parking lot since it would not impinge on woodlands behind the building.

Duval, in support of the application, expressed regret over the closing of Yankee Candle and hoped that the store could relocate elsewhere. Considine and board member John Simons agreed.

“I appreciate that the plan is an improvement on the property, making it prettier than it is now, and not pushing out any further,” said Zoning Board member Arthur Oliver.

“Property owners are entitled to sell their property and I’d much rather have an auto dealer there rather than a vacant building rotting away because there’s nobody there,” Fuster said.

He joined the other members in urging a Yankee Candle relocation, noting a store manager’s report that it has eight employees currently and 20 in the summer.

“I’m really glad there’s not going to be any repairs or servicing on the property,” Fuster said.

Company representatives of the Yankee Candle retail store did not respond to messages seeking information about a possible relocation.

Following the unanimous approval of the special permit and site plan, a condition was added restricting lighting to the two existing pole-mounted fixtures to be replaced by downward-facing, dark-sky compliant fixtures.

Another condition requires signage specifying that the store is limited to used cars, separate from the Mazda new-car dealership across the highway.

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 17
PHOTOS BY BEN GARVER Berkshire Mazda’s owners are purchasing the Yankee Candle building, left, to operate a used car facility across the Pittsfield Road site of its new auto dealership, right, under construction at a reported cost topping $5 million. The Mazda store will be relocating from its current space on East Street in Pittsfield. Construction continues on the new Berkshire Mazda dealership on Pittsfield Road in Lenox, across from the Center at Lenox complex housing Market 32/Price Chopper, CVS Pharmacy and other businesses. The Lenox Zoning Board has approved the special permit and site plan for a related used-car business in the Yankee Candle store, which will be closing.

Co-op aims to transform Fenn Street

King Kone, community spaces and more planned for downtown Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — Fenn Street is becoming a hub of activity thanks to a local co-op working to meet the needs of the neighborhood.

Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds Inc. now owns a series of storefronts that run from 117 to 129 Fenn St. and is filling the block with community spaces, classrooms and a food pantry. They also plan to reopen the beloved ice cream spot King Kone at 133 Fenn St., which they purchased in September 2023.

The most recent change has been the opening of Mercado de Vida, a community space and food pantry at 119 Fenn St.

The space is the first in a series of the newly purchased Fenn Street properties to open, as organizers work to transform it into a “community-owned ecosystem.”

Michael Hitchcock and Nicole Fecteau, board directors of Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds, said the co-op purchased the building for $230,000. It is currently the only part of the building that is in working order for the co-op’s operations, but the organizers have big plans for the rest of the space.

“The mission is to increase working class participation and ownership of the land, natural resources, economy and culture,” Fecteau said. “Which is a huge mission, really.”

Its operation is much the same as it was before at its previous location at 5 Melville St.: providing a place for people to share a meal and spend time.

It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 11 a.m.

to 3:30 p.m. Friday; and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The space is a classroom by design, where modern dance and Spanish lessons are taught by co-ops members and community partners. But shelves along the walls are lined with canned goods and nonperishable food, and community fridges and freezers stand ready for those who need them.

It comes down to meeting the community’s immediate needs, Hitchcock said.

“The reason we have a food pantry here is because that’s what the community needs, and the community cannot

appreciate our more abstract, intellectual, cultural offerings if they’re just plain hungry,” Hitchcock said.

The space is especially meant to offer refuge to the most vulnerable populations in Berkshire County, Hitchcock said, and offer resources to help.

“There is desperate poverty here on uncounted people,” Hitchcock said. “A lot of Latino migrants and homeless people.”

The ultimate goal is to string together several community spaces and services in the Fenn Street corridor. Next door to Mercado de Vida, the co-op hopes to open a com-

munity kitchen with commercial-grade equipment that chefs can rent out.

Fecteau said La Cocineras Latinas, a producer co-op that is part of Roots Dreams and Mustard Seeds, has about 24 displaced chefs that need a place to cook. She’s working on a state grant to furnish the space with commercial kitchen equipment.

“The chefs, they just need to plug in somewhere,” Fecteau said. “And kitchens are really expensive; the shared kitchen, I think, would help more people than we know right now.”

Beside that, a people’s art gallery will give local talents a

place to showcase their work. The gallery will also function as a maker’s space that community members can use.

The co-op also owns the building that houses Rem Roc’s Fried Chicken and Soul Food at 117 Fenn St., but has no plans of displacing the business. Hitchcock and Fecteau said an apartment above the restaurant may be used for affordable housing in the future, but it is currently occupied.

With the help of $200,000 in Community Preservation Act grants, the team is working to fix the roof, foundation and electrical in some parts of the building, Fecteau said.

The co-op also recently bought King Kone, the storied ice cream business at 133 Fenn St., and plans to continue serving up ice cream cones under a co-op model that gives equitable ownership to employees. The soft-serve spot will function almost identically, with only a few changes: they want to bring back the painting of King Kong holding an ice cream cone and put a fresh coat of paint on it. The King Kong painting is a passion of Hitchcock’s — he said it was “emblematic of his childhood.”

The co-op also wants to add more outdoor seating and plans to reopen when spring rolls around.

“We are keeping King Kone open, and it is substantially the same as it has been since I was a kid,” Hitchcock said. “It’s going to have big ice cream cones with low prices, window service. We don’t want to change almost anything about it.”

18 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
Nicole Fecteau and Michael Hitchcock, board directors of Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds, said they hope to string together the Fenn Street properties to offer more community spaces. PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN Roots & Dreams and Mustard Seeds Inc. now owns a series of storefronts that run from 117 to 129 Fenn St. and also 133 Fenn St. around the corner.

Growing into their new home

Casita Mexican eatery opens on Mass MoCA campus, expanding offerings, hours

NORTH ADAMS — Doing a lot with a little “is kind of our comfort zone,” Casita coowner Mariah Forstmann says. Now, the popular restaurant can do a lot more with the extra space its new location at 1111 Mass MoCA Way offers.

More than six months after its soft opening, the Mexican eatery held its grand opening dinner service recently. The restaurant, which is nestled near the entrance to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s campus and founded by Mariah Forstmann and her partner, Justin Forstmann, has a newly renovated kitchen. The upgrade allows it to fill out its menu and expand its hours.

“Now we have new equipment; we were a bit limited on what was going on in the kitchen,” Mariah Forstmann said. “We have completely new floors and a new layout, so we can produce more.”

The restaurant had to remove every piece of equipment in order to install the new floors in the kitchen, before putting it all back with a new layout. The Forstmanns, along with their sous chef, traveled to Mexico while the floors were being laid, in part to meet with some of Casita’s mezcal producers. Then they returned to the Berkshires, reassembled the kitchen and opened up in earnest.

Mariah Forstmann said it was a meaningful trip to Oaxaca to witness the granular process; to see where the actual agave is being cut.

“We did a lot of touring around the markets trying everything we could try. Then, [we learned] the stories of the food and the years and years of history behind the dishes we make ourselves,” she said.

The Forstmanns are not new to managing limited resources. Their Chingón Taco Truck had a skeleton crew of just the duo. The married couple opened the operation in August 2020 and operated it mostly in the warmer months in the

museum courtyard. People would line up for quesadillas, tacos and guacamole and chips. They often sold out of food.

“That’s the restaurant industry in general; there’s always an issue,” Mariah Forstmann said.

If you go

“There’s always going to be a bump in the road; it’s how you approach how to fix it. It’s usually last-minute that you pull it off, but that’s why everyone gets so addicted to the industry: It’s the ups and downs.”

“Then we opened, it was a totally different ballgame. We’ve been in this industry for years, but now, there’s payroll, and making sure all our employees are taken care of.”

What: Casita Berkshires

Where: 1111 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams

Hours: Thursday through Sunday, 12:30 to 2 p.m.; 5 to 9 p.m.


Now, the two head a team of 12. Forstmann said that running Casita “is totally different” from El Chingon.

“When MoCA approached us about this space, we were of course jumping for joy. It was a no-brainer,” she said.

“It feels like a big happy family,” she added. “It’s been very rewarding.”

Casita has seen a strong public response since it opened last summer, consistently packing its dining room. The restaurant opened at the height of the Berkshire busy season, “so it was immediately busy,” Forstmann said. She thanked patrons for their patience while the restaurant worked out a few kinks.

“North Adams is such a great community, people are always bringing plants

for us to hang or fresh herbs from their gardens,” Forstmann said. “Brian Alberg from the Break Room helped us build tables because our tables hadn’t come in yet. Some people would see it as competition, but we see it more as a community.”

Casita also was expecting to stay open between lunch and dinner services, offering small plates such as a cheese board or tinned fish, reframing it as an afternoon wine bar.

“Come summertime, we’re hoping to be open Sunday nights and pick up Monday as well. Right now we’re Thursday [through] Sunday,” Mariah Forstmann said. “We’re in talks with friends in the industry about Monday night pop-ups. That’s how we got our start, so we want to make sure we’re still fueling that.”

April 2024 Berkshire Business Journal 19
Mariah and Justin Forstmann have opened Casita, their new Mexican restaurant, on the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus in North Adams. An order of assorted tacos is picked up in the kitchen at Casita, a new Mexican restaurant opened on the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus in North Adams. PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE ZOLLSHAN Casita, a Mexican eatery owned by Mariah and Justin Forstmann, has officially opened on the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art campus in North Adams.

Real estate transactions

Berkshire County Real Estate transactions for Feb. 5 to March 1.


FP Lend Fund I LLC sold property at 6 Lower Linden, Adams, to Berkshire Capital LLC, $225,000.

Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB, as trustee, sold property at 10 Liberty St., Adams, to Gabrielle Emery, $69,000.

David A. and Wendy K. Norcross sold property at 2 Woods Drive, Adams, to Taryn S. Lascola-Miner, $200,000.

Soraya Tejada sold property at 25 Temple St., Adams, to D&B Real Estate Ventures LLC, $70,000.

Alexandra Management LLC sold property at 23-25 Albert St., Adams, to Priority Property Management Inc., $30,000.

John J. and Jessica M. Perez sold property at 17-19 Richmond St., Adams, to John J. and Michelle Walsh, $265,000.


George O. Klemp and Lynne Sebastian sold property at 0 Whites Hill Road, Alford, and 27 Whites Hill Road, Egremont, to Gregory Schneider and Cynthia Schneider, $350,000.


Arthur T. Aylward Jr., personal rep. of the Estate of Rita R. Aylward, sold property at Minstrels Way, Becket, to Kevin Constantine, $5,750.

Katherine Mary Kinsman and Eric Troy

D’Antonio sold property at 176 Plumb Road, Becket, to Todd Storti, $200,000.

Richard D. and Daneen Saks sold property at Skyline Ridge Road, Becket, to Peter S. and Jane S.C. Kontrimas, trustees, Kontrimas NT of 2017, $20,000.


Jennifer S. DeGrenier sold property at 459 Stafford Hill Road, Cheshire, to Jessica Thoresen and Timothy Palmer, $445,000.

Fern Cliff Properties LLC sold property at 75-79 Depot St., Cheshire, to Berkshire Depot Properties LLC, $268,000.

Caren Lee Les and Harriette R. Bator, trustees of the Francis T. Bator and Harriette R. Bator Trust Agreement, sold property at 104 Fred Mason Road, Cheshire, to Joseph Nicholas Puia, $146,500.

Frederick P. and Sarah A. Mach sold property at 1897 South State Road, Cheshire, to Kira Wells, $35,000.


Barbara J. Little sold property at 1136 River Road, Clarksburg, to Edward B. Briggs, $349,000.

Many Forks Farm LLC sold property at 1360 River Road, Clarksburg, to 1360 River LLC, $312,000.

Patrick L. and Megan J. Welti sold property at 290 Horrigan Road, Clarksburg, to Kyle G. Christensen, $287,500.

Scott R. Smith and Patricia L. Galusha sold property at 66 Henderson Road, Clarksburg, to Seyedmohammad Mavadati, $178,000.

Anthony C. Liporace Jr. sold property at 121 Mountain View Drive, Clarksburg, to Eric S. Lavoie and Casey E. Alcombright, $430,250.


Carlton N. Dodge, trustee, Carlton N. Dodge LT and Judith M. Dodge LT, sold property at 65 Kimberly Drive, Dalton, to Lydia Short, $332,500.

Darren A. Miller sold property at 630 Main St., Dalton, to Lipton Properties LLC, $500,000.

Patricia D. Thompson-Freeman, trustee, Thompson FNT, sold property at 601 Main St., Dalton, to Brendan R. and Ann E. Klein, $170,000.


Ronald W. and Jill M. Hurley sold property at 31 Moores Road, Florida, to Michael and Samantha Maloy, $355,000.

John Duquette Jr. sold property at 114 Stryker Road, Florida, to Shelley O’Dowd, $4,000.

Kennard E. Sherman sold property at Mohawk Trail, Florida, to James M. Pedro, $55,000.

Kyle Poirot sold property at Mohawk Trail, Florida, to James M. Pedro, $48,500.

James M. Pedro sold property at Mohawk Trail, Florida, to Michael G. George, $178,500.

Hevey Jr., trustee, Robert Donald Hevey Jr. RVT, $2,200,000.

Susan M. Floyd sold property at 128 Holmes Road, Lenox, to Eric A. and Haley K. Holmes, $419,000.


St., Pittsfield, to Ellies Holdings LLC, $78,500.

FP Lend Fund I LLC sold property at 153-155 First St., Pittsfield, to Berkshire Capital LLC, $312,500.


Benjamin Fowler Lee sold property at 30 Clark Road, Sandisfield, to Carol B. Ivers, $325,000.

Alicia A. Jost sold property at 5 Depot St., Great Barrington, to Abigail M. Wade, $275,000.

Sandra L. Pratt sold property at 232 Grove St., Great Barrington, to Tyler J. Wade, $245,000.

Michael Heath sold property at 541 Main St., Great Barrington, to James J. Mercer and Mary D. Mercer, trustees of Chalkley

Nominee Trust, $100,000.

6 Parley LLC sold property at 6 Parley St., Great Barrington, to Parsley Holdings LLC, $520,000.

Stephen W. Johnson and Jeri C. Johnson, trustees of Johnson Realty Trust, sold property at 23 Church St., Great Barrington, to Silke Aisenbrey and Debra Minkoff, $993,960.

Mary P. Akers sold property at 4 Cottage Court, Great Barrington, to Carol Iancu, $650,000.

Marie Humes sold property at 15 Lake Ave., Great Barrington, to Melany Dobson, $370,000.

Nuisance Fee LLC sold property at 6 Nolan Drive, Great Barrington, to T.P. Land & Cattle Co. Inc., $875,000.

Garret Peaslee sold property at 13 Londonderry Drive, Great Barrington, to Michael J. Brooks, $350,000.

Kent Daniel Milligan and Lisa Ann Lindel sold property at 115 Bridge St., Great Barrington, to Lukas Montano, Tyler P. Wilmot and Christa Montano, $344,000.


Jeffrey P. and Cynthia S. Cheesman sold property at Corey Road, Unit 822, Hancock, to Hiufai Sunny and Bonnie Wong, $411,500.

Joseph Franz and Rockwell Cooley sold property at Corey Road, Hancock, to Brenda Durant, $267,000.


J.A. Realty Corp. sold property at Forest Hill Drive, Hinsdale, to Jayne DeAngelis, $30,000.

Barbara A. Patton, trustee of Patton FNT, sold property at Forest Hill Drive, Hinsdale, to Jayne DeAngelis, $28,600.

Patrick E. Flanagan Jr. and Amanda R. Flanagan sold property at 298 Old Dalton Road, Hinsdale, to Anthony C. Liporace Jr., $480,000.


Barbara Arpante, personal rep. of James A. Arpante, sold property at 441 North Main St., Lanesborough, to Heather A. and Thomas W. Foland, $30,000.

Mary-Louise M. Coons sold property at 60 Narragansett Ave., Lanesborough, to Ann M. Connors, $322,500.

Mindy Block sold property at 39 North Mountain Road, Lanesborough, to Jonathan and Misty Ruppert, $685,000.


James Alan Harter and Anneke Leffel sold property at 240 Willow St., Lee, to Daniel and Jennifer Northcutt, $440,000.

James M. Guenther Sr. and Martha J. Guenther sold property at 35 Richmond Ave., Lee, to Ruth P. Webb, $465,000.

Grodeuce LLC sold property at 35 Limestone Road, Lee, to William H. and Becky B. Brunell, $275,000.

Michael and Carol Striker sold property at 750 Mallard Lane, Lee, to Kusum Gaind and Rupinder Puri, $1,550,000.

LND Investments LLC sold property at 95 East Center St., Lee, to Rebecca and Gilbert Clerget, $304,900.

Nicole McMillen sold property at Marble Street and Pleasant Street, Lee, to 360 Pleasant Street LLC, $125,000.


Beverly J. Spence sold property at 10 Lasher Lane, Lenox, to Michael G. Kahn, $260,000.

John C. Borhaug and Hannah L. Liscombe, trustees, Borhaug-Liscombe FT, sold property at 4 Melville Court, Lenox, to Nedra Oren and Alan Tinsmon, trustees, Nedra Oren 1997 Residence Trust Agreement, $2,180,000.

Julia Kaplan and Heather Herman sold property at 5-1 Rolling Hills, Lenox, to Candy L. Allessio, $335,000.

Joan M. Lewis and Bonnie A. Konopka sold property at 6 Poirot Road, Florida, to Chance Lewis and Mirabel Diaz-Sanchez, $128,000.

Diane C. Cataldo sold property at 165 Kemble St., Lenox, to Robert Donald


Emlen S. Garrett and Hideko S. Garrett sold property at 346 West St., Mount Washington, to 346TO LLC, $320,000.

New Marlborough

Emily Rachel Irwin sold property at 231 Hartsville New Marlborough Road, New Marlborough, to Cantina Holdings LLC, $1,400,000.

William C. Hutchinson and Chelsea D. Hutchinson sold property at 14 Brewer Hill Road, New Marlborough, to Brian Lichtenstein and Stephanie Lichtenstein, $685,000.


Timothy Siddhartha Burnes sold property at 17 Frederick St., North Adams, to D & B Real Estate Ventures LLC, $187,500.

Michael R. Chapman sold property at 5052 Chase Ave., North Adams, to Amanda B. Turner, $10,000.

James C. White II sold property at 101 Marion Ave., North Adams, to Helen and Laura Blackstone, $400,000.

Richard J. and Stacey L. Cantoni sold property at 981 Old Mohawk Trail, North Adams, to Cynthia A. Shea and John T. Murphy, $515,000.

Properties R Us & Investments LLC and Areid Estate LLC sold property at 29 Victory St., North Adams, to Penny M. King and Brenda Lee Shephard, $250,000.

Kevin P. Kemp sold property at 1110 South Church St., North Adams, to Benjamin and Rebecca Moore, $137,900.

Benjamin D. and Heidi M. Johnston sold property at 188 Pleasant St., North Adams, to Jeffrey Ryan Grantz, $340,000.

Danita Boutiette sold property at 74 Reed St., North Adams, to Ada Scott, $140,000.

Paula M. Delaurentiis sold property at 16 Overlook Terrace, North Adams, to Dean C. and Heidi Whitus, $309,000.

Jennifer Malloy sold property at 541 East Main St., North Adams, to HLP Realty Holdings LLC, $25,000.

Jeanette I. Kittler sold property at 20 Barlow Ave., North Adams, to Kyle J. Danforth, $3,500.

Belvedere Development Co. LLC sold property at 203 Church St., North Adams, to Bella Art LLC, $340,000.

James and Donald Wolfe, Eileen Tobin and Katherine Taverna sold property at 69 Notch Road, North Adams, to Richard Wolfe, $260,000.

Laurie Gancarz, Lisa Haskell and Leslie Teal sold property at 88 Beaver St., North Adams, to Renee and Jeffrey Wlodyka Jr., $74,522.86.


Florence Pitoniak, personal rep. of the Estate of Rebecca Bliven, sold property at 23 Judd Road, Otis, to Angelina Dubourg, $115,000.

Kevin Gough and Werner Kauer sold property at Becket Road, Otis, to Brittany Moore-Lusignan, $35,000.

Mark D. and Eileen M. Artruc sold property at 1170 Monterey Road, Otis, to Mirian Eunicle Lara-Souza, $305,000.

Frank J. Scago III sold property at Dimmock Road, Otis, to Joshua P. Berthiaume, $50,000.

Wicked Deals LLC sold property at 345 East Otis Road, Otis, to Haley Remodeling LLC, $160,000.

Diane L. Dyer sold property at 25 Witter Road, Otis, to Gregory A. and Kathleen A. Dyer, $125,000.


Lizanne Campanini sold property at 7 Ash Lane, Peru, to Bruce E. and Dehlia M. Weinfurt, $499,000.


Trinity Ventures LLC sold property at 263 Barker Road, Pittsfield, to Daniel E. Bradley, $245,000.

Donna L. Plankey sold property at 24 Maple St., Pittsfield, to Tarkan Topcuoglu, $183,000.

Marie T. McGuire sold property at 100 Roselyn Drive, Pittsfield, to Ellies Holdings LLC, $132,000.

Cynthia P. Auerbach sold property at 1136 Barker Road, Pittsfield, to Erin Kushi, $510,000.

Michael J. and Samantha A. Brown sold property at 923 Barker Road, Pittsfield, to Roots Rising Inc., $309,900.

John Tucker Jr. sold property at 173 King

Andrew M. Germann sold property at 291 Lenox Ave., Pittsfield, to Charles K. and Laiza Cepeda, $265,000.

U.S. Bank NA, trustee, sold property at 22-24 Crosier Ave., Pittsfield, to Marcio Jaod Da Silva, $175,000.

Lori McHugh sold property at 101-103 Lincoln St., Pittsfield, to Daniel and Elvira McGonagle, $209,300.

Candy L. Allessio sold property at 201 Mountain Drive, Pittsfield, to Ryan D. Turner and Jennifer A. Clark, $475,000.

Ethan William Delphia and Mitchell S. Harris sold property at 262-264 Benedict Road, Pittsfield, to Brooke Schnabel and Santha Parke, $344,500.

U.S. Bank Trust N.A., trustee, Great Lake Funding I Trust, sold property at 11-13 Francis Ave., Pittsfield, to Anthony S. Morsen, $307,000.

JRCR Realty LLC and South Church LLC sold property at 1½ Cherry St., 3-5 Cherry St., 6 Cherry St., and Pleasant Street, Pittsfield, to Marcio Jaoa Da Silva and Carlos Eduardo Rigonato, $270,000.

Linda Boyd sold property at 89 Cromwell Ave., Pittsfield, to RPS Enterprises LLC, $60,000.

Toole Properties Inc. sold property at 14 Goodrich St., Pittsfield, to Joshua Rocca, $160,000.

Christopher L. Phair sold property at 29 Dartmouth St., Pittsfield, to Hurricane Properties LLC, $230,000.

Laiken Rapisarda sold property at 15 Hoover St., Pittsfield, to Oleg Baburin, $263,000.

Mountain Stream LLC sold property at Churchill Street, Pittsfield, to Michael C. and Audrey J. Gordon, $59,900.

Michael C. Szymanski sold property at 366 Onota St., Pittsfield, to Edward R. Boulerice, $209,000.

Hampdale LLC sold property at 48-50

Bartlett Ave., Pittsfield, to AES Consulting LLC, $370,000.

Christopher W. Atwood sold property at 929 North St., Pittsfield, to Emilie Belyea, $230,000.

Thomas F. and Michele M. Rivers Murphy sold property at 15 Grand Ave., Pittsfield, to Sarah Premo, $245,000.

Corey A. and Stephanie A. Aiello sold property at 72-74 Edison Ave., Pittsfield, to Jocelyn S. Lussier, $305,000.

Chis-Home LLC sold property at 44-46

Danforth Ave., Pittsfield, to Froilan Rafael Yanza Avila, $330,000.

Fannie Mae sold property at 33 Circular Ave., Pittsfield, to Sanjeev Kumar Arora, $16,000.

Richard X. Drennan, trustee, Margarete G. McClintock 2014 FT, sold property at 56 Edison Ave., Pittsfield, to Ignacio Matos Jr., Angelica Matos and Rebecca Matos, $235,000.

Vincenzo and Jon Papa sold property at 319 Fenn St., Pittsfield, to Tony Sonsini, $339,900.

Allen C. Scaccia sold property at 19 Roselyn Drive, Pittsfield, to Frank M. Savino and Svetlana Chartier, $345,000.

William M. and Kerry M. Bourassa sold property at 139 King St., Pittsfield, to Mark R. Libby, $155,000.

Michael P. Daly sold property at 10 Applewood Lane, Pittsfield, to Nancy R. Seguin, trustee, Nancy R. Seguin LT, $330,000.

Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB, trustee, and Nancy L. Quinton sold property at 77 King St., Pittsfield, to Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB, trustee, $174,593.74.

Berkshire Bank and Charles Robert

Frank sold property at 15 Bernard Ave., Pittsfield, to NAMV Investments LLC, $140,000.

Delma Pluchino sold property at 44 Pinehurst Ave., Pittsfield, to Caitlin B. Bean, $319,000.

Sharon A. Coughlin sold property at 50 Velma Ave., Pittsfield, to Marta Joanna Marszalek, $315,000.

Douglas C. Robinson, trustee, Barbara D. Robinson Irrevocable Trust, sold property at 84 Emerson Ave., Pittsfield, to Kijoo Kim, $275,000.

Raymond W. Chapman sold property at 11 Boison St., Pittsfield, to Leslie Nyer, $290,000.

Adam E. Ackerley sold property at 71 Strong Ave., Pittsfield, to David H. and Christiana R. Greene, $274,000.

Stephen Peet sold property at 0 South Beech Plain Road, Sandisfield, to Tegan

V. Abear and Karen A. Abear, trustees of Tegan and Karen Abear Revocable Trust, $35,000.

Jeffrey Benezra and Donna Pastalove sold property at 321 Tamarack Trail, Sandisfield, to Eric Caine, $500,000.


William R. Breen sold property at 1739 Hewins St., Sheffield, to Town of Sheffield, $225,000.

David Lloyd Smith and Lucinda Ross Smith sold property at 0 Alum Hill Road, Sheffield, to Walter Hewins IV and Kendra Hewins, $15,000.

David Albert Bruno Jr. and Molly M. Landman sold property at 216 South Undermountain Road, Sheffield, to Robert H. Baldwin Jr., $549,000.

Christine L. Bump sold property at 233 Hulett Hill Road, Sheffield, to Peter G. Terezakis and Allyson L. Green, $510,000.

Marcia A. Savage sold property at 45 Root Lane, Sheffield, to Francis J. Parnin and Christine L. Bump, $465,000.

Robert L. Boyett Jr., trustee of Cooper Hill Farm Nominee Trust, sold property at Cooper Hill Road and Silver Street, Sheffield, to Louis T. Aragi and Louis T. Aragi Jr., $5,160,000.

Estate of William F. Dowling sold property at 704 South Main St., Sheffield, to Ryan Christopher Ward, $141,000.


Karen T. Williams sold property at 16 Interlaken Road, Stockbridge, to William E. and Rae Williams, $730,000.

William E. and Rae Williams sold property at 10 Church St., Stockbridge, to Thomas R. Manisero,

20 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
$666,750. Peter and Margarita Wallach sold property at 1 Housatonnuck Road, Stockbridge, to Inez Stewart, $105,000. WEST STOCKBRIDGE Gerard P. Michney and Theresa M. Terry sold property at 0 Red Rock Road, West Stockbridge, to Maryon G. Noble, $33,825. Estate of Mildred D. Pieropan sold property at 64 High St., West Stockbridge, to Peter Pieropan, $370,000. Ryan D. Salame sold property at 47 Stockbridge Road, West Stockbridge, to Ryan J. Vandervoort, $150,000. Cassi Amanda Gibson sold property at 7 Stockbridge Road, West Stockbridge, to Alexi Lubomirski and Giada Lubomirski, $550,000. WILLIAMSTOWN Edward B. Briggs sold property at 95 Thornliebank Road, Williamstown, to Christoph H. and Sarah Behrer Schmidt, trustees of the Living Trust of Sarah Behrer Schmidt, $900,000. Ellies Holdings LLC sold property at 58 Luce Road, Williamstown, to Susan H. Smith, $299,000. John M. Cellana and Erin M. Scott sold property at 76 Luce Road, Williamstown, to Emmie R. Cellana, $155,000. Laura A. Renaud and Justin D. Kumpulanian sold property at 130 Henderson Road, Williamstown, to KMC Sprague LLC, $330,000. Michael A. Fressola sold property at 490 Main St., Williamstown, to Mary R. Fressola, $49,151.68. WINDSOR Joseph F. and Emily Boucher sold property at 733 North St., Windsor, to Jennifer S. DeGrenier and Corey B. McGrath, $660,000. Ray S. Frost sold property at 1411 North St., Windsor, to Nichole and Kai Nalenz, $575,000. Patrick A. Brady sold property at 344 Worthington Road, Windsor, to Amber L. Valentyne and Mark Kelso, $505,000. FT — Family Trust LLC — Limited Partnership LT — Life Trust NT — Nominee Trust RET — Real Estate Trust RT — Realty Trust RVT — Revocable Trust The real estate transactions are provided by the Middle Berkshire, North Berkshire and South Berkshire Registry of Deeds offices.

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People in the Berkshires

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures has announced that local food advocate and Bard College at Simon’s Rock professor Maryann Tebben has stepped into the role of board president. Tebben succeeds Tom Gardner, who led the board since BAV’s founding in 2017. Gardner continues as a member of the BAV board of directors.

Tebben directs the Center for Food and Resilience at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, where she has been on faculty as a professor of French since 2000 and has headed the food studies program since 2013. She has served on the BAV Board for four years, most recently as vice president.

Since its 2017 founding, BAV has provided $1.8 million in low-cost loans, $1.5 million in grant awards, and over $250,000 in technical assistance to local farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Great Barrington Public Theater has added Serena Johnson as development director as it enters its sixth season. Johnson’s an experienced performer who helped establish fundraising processes and infrastructure for the community-based Glendale Arts, 18th Street Arts Center in Glendale, Calif. Johnson’s expected to bring fundraising management, special event and campaign planning, community engagement and creative experience to the Public Theater’s next phase of growth.

Great Barrington Public Theater performs new plays June-August in the Liebowitz black box and McConnell mainstage theaters, Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 84 Alford Rd. More information can be found on

the GBPT website and on Facebook.

Elder Services of Berkshire County, Inc. has brought aboard Kayla Brown-Wood as the agency’s community services director.

In her new role, Kayla will be responsible for Elder Services’ federal programs, and oversee the agency’s outreach activities and marketing efforts.

Brown-Wood, who resides in Adams, worked at BFAIR for the past eight years, most recently as the Director of Day Services with responsibility for the community-based day habilitation and employment programs funded by the Department of Developmental Services, the Mass Rehab Commission and MassHealth.

Saint James Place has appointed Seth Keyes as its executive director, charged with extending its growth through management of finances, marketing and expanded program development.

Saint James Place hosts music, theatre, dance, lectures, classes and meetings year-round.

Keyes has been a producer and presenter of performing arts for 40 years. He began his career in 1984 as manager director/producer of the Francis Wilson Playhouse in Clearwater, Fla., and progressed to talent booking and senior programming for performance venues in Tampa Bay, Fla., Cleveland, Ohio, and Akron, Ohio. Prior to founding his consultancy, Artist License, LLC, he served as vice president for Innovation Arts & Entertainment, overseeing touring Broadway seasons in 20 subscription markets throughout North America and collaborating extensively with lumi-

naries such as David Sedaris, Anthony Bourdain, William Shatner and Neil deGrasse Tyson, among others.

Maryann Hyatt, Berkshire County Arc’s president and chief executive officer, has been appointed to the board of the statewide Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, which serves to provide a unified voice to the governor and other elected officials and policymakers across Massachusetts.

“Berkshire County Arc has always advocated loudly for people with disabilities, as part of our mission,” Hyatt said. “Our staff are considered critical workers, and that status should be paid appropriately for the work they do. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the state to fight for these issues and more.”

BCArc provides a broad range of services to 1,000-plus individuals with developmental disabilities, brain injuries and autism throughout Berkshire County and the Pioneer Valley. Information:

The Berkshire Innovation Center announces the appointment of two new officers to its board of directors effective Jan. 26. Both new officers are current board members who have stepped into these leadership positions.

James Kupernik was originally appointed to the BIC board in October 2020 and will now serve as vice chair. Kupernik is the chief technology officer for VidMob, leading their engineering team in building the best-in-class, scalable, intelligent creative platform.


Giovanna Fessenden-Fairbank first joined the BIC board in October 2021 and will now serve as secretary. Fessenden-Fairbank is an attorney with the firm Hamilton Smith Brook Reynolds. Her practice focuses on all areas of intellectual property with an emphasis on technologies related to blockchain, nonfungible tokens, epsorts and gaming, wearables, artificial intelligence, biometrics, cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges.

In these leadership positions, Kupernik and Fessenden-Fairbank are replacing Peter Stasiowski, director of communications, Interprint USA, and David Valicenti, partner, Cohen, Kinne, Valicenti, Cook. Both Stasiowski and Valicenti are founding board members and will continue to serve on the board.

The Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce elected new officers and honored members during its annual meeting held Feb. 7 at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, according to Executive Director Barbara Zanetti.

Officers elected for the 2024-25 term included President Pamela Boudreau, Lee Bank; Vice President Amanda Barcenas, Prada de Lana Sheep Farm; Assistant Vice President Douglas Goudey, Wheeler & Taylor Inc.; Treasurer Wendy Pearson, Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives; and Secretary Amy Moorby, Berkshire Theatre Group.

Seven others will be joining the board as members at large: Margit Hotchkiss, Norman Rockwell Museum; Doug Bagnasco, Devonfield Inn; Janis Monachina, The Shop Around the Corner; Simon Dewar, The Red Lion Inn; Mike Beck, Berkshire Botanical Garden; Avie Maloney, Once Upon a Table; and Kelly Palmer, Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. These members sit on PEOPLE, Page 23

22 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
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the board as advisory members.

Boudreau gave thanks to the members’ individual and collective efforts this past year. She recognized new businesses, highlighted chamber marketing efforts, and thanked the town of Stockbridge for its continued support.

Greylock Federal Credit Union has promoted Megan Hagen to assistant vice president, retail services/teller operations manager. Hagen will coordinate and implement specialized training and resources to further improve branch operations, while helping to maintain compliance requirements and the quality of teller operations throughout the branch network, ATMs, video teller services and shared branch services.

Hagen has been employed by Greylock for 16 years, starting her career as a parttime teller at the Williamstown branch. She is a resident of Adams.

The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has appointed Philip Orenstein as interim executive director.

Orenstein, who has stepped down as a CDCSB board member and treasurer, will lead the nonprofit’s dual mission to create housing and economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income households in the southern Berkshires.

A finance professional with over 35 years of experience in banking, capital markets and investment management, Orenstein received a Bachelor of Arts

degree in economics from The George Washington University and an MBA in finance from New York University. He also serves as the chair of the Great Barrington Finance Committee and is a member of the board of the Great Barrington Housing Authority. For information or to make a donation, visit

Literacy Network welcomes three new members to its board of directors and announces the expansion of the role of one of its existing employees.

Sarah Boyd returns to the LitNet board following a mandatory one-year hiatus after completing a 10-year term in 2022. Boyd has been a tutor with LitNet for 20 years, working with adult learners on basic reading skills, and serves on LitNet’s Education and Development Committees.

Boyd taught elementary school from 1968-73 and was the director of a preschool in Stockbridge from 1981-91. She later worked as an administrative assistant for Boyd Converting, now Boyd BioMedical, and has served on the boards of Berkshire Botanical Garden and Laurel Hill Association as well as on committees for the Stockbridge Golf Club and the Lenox Garden Club.

Lisa Cavender, returning to the LitNet board after having previously served a 10-year term from 2010-20, is the principal designer for LNDesign, a graphic design company creating professional communications for a variety of channels. She serves on LitNet’s Development Committee and is a committee member for Community Access to the Arts.

Cavender has a master’s degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts: The Interactive Telecommunications Program, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in photography from San Francisco State University.

Hugo Faria joins the LitNet board for the first time. He serves on LitNet’s Education Committee and is the education advising director at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, leading the development and implementation of a comprehensive advising system for Education Department undergraduate and graduate students.

Faria is dedicated to improving college access and post-college success for under-represented students. He has worked at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity as the vice president, responsible for their top-of-class college program, and later became SEO’s first chief operating officer. At Autentike Advisors, Faria works on higher education access-success projects. Previously, Faria worked for three decades in finance.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, and a Certificate in Higher Education Leadership and Administration from UMass Amherst, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Education program.

In addition, the role of staff member Amanda Giracca has been expanded. Giracca joined the LitNet team in 2020 and most recently served as the organization’s grants and communications coordinator. She joins the staff full-time

with the additional role of new programs coordinator.

Previously, Giracca was a writing professor at the State University of New York at Albany and at the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her Master of Fine Arts in writing in 2013. She also holds a Master of English degree from Northern Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and creative writing from Prescott College in Arizona.

Pearson Wallace Insurance, a family-run and locally owned insurance agency in the Berkshires, has hired Marc Membrino as a customer service representative. The company also has promoted Robert “Bobby” Tyrol III as personal lines customer service manager.

Membrino joins the team with an extensive background in the insurance industry. He moved to the Berkshires in 1979 and worked for his family-owned insurance company that he later bought in 1989 and subsequently sold years later.

At Pearson Wallace, he rates and services policies and provides help to all customers.

Tyrol, who joined Pearson Wallace in 2021 as a personal lines client manager, recently received his insurance designation of a property and casualty producer.

In his new role, he takes charge of all personal line services for the company.

Prior to joining Pearson Wallace, Tyrol was an assistant golf professional at the Berkshire Hills Golf Course for six years. He has lived in the Berkshires since 2015.

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FROM PAGE 23 Orenstein
Hagen Cavender Boyd Faria Tyrol
24 Berkshire Business Journal April 2024
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