1Berkshire Strategic Alliance: How It Came to Be

The Four Organizations in 1Berkshire

The Berkshire Visitors Bureau (BVB), established in 1938 and charged with attracting and serving visitors to the Berkshires

The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, formed in 2001 by the merger of the former Northern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce (established circa 1890) and the Chamber of Commerce of the Berkshires (founded in 1911).

The Berkshire Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) created in 2005 and charged with recruiting new business and industry to Berkshire County.

The Berkshire Creative Economy Council, to support economic development within the creative community, was founded in 2007.

1Berkshire Timeline

2006: The BEDC and the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, working with leaders in the business, education, and governmental communities, initiated the Berkshire Strategy Project, an evaluation of the economy of the entire region, including a detailed analysis of the most significant industry clusters and a list of priorities to increase the economic health of the Berkshires.

A group comprised of the leaders of arts and cultural organizations in the Berkshires established the Berkshire Creative Economy Project, which sought to quantify the impact of the creative sector on the economy of the Berkshires. The research project resulted in the Berkshire Creative Economy Report, published in 2007, and the founding of Berkshire Creative Economy Council.

2007: Business and cultural leaders in the community acknowledged the parallels between the Berkshire Strategy Project and the Berkshire Creative Economy Project, and it was decided to weave the projects together into the Berkshire Blueprint, an action plan for economic development in our region. One of the recommendations included in the Berkshire Blueprint was to find a way to effectively integrate the work and the resources of the four groups tasked with economic development: the Chamber, the BEDC, the BVB, and Berkshire Creative.

2009: The leadership of those four agencies convened; and working with the boards of the four agencies, a volunteer steering committee was formed in late 2009 to determine a plan and timeline for creating a more formal partnership. The committee also began raising the needed funds for the partnership as well as undertaking public relations, explaining and promoting the plan to the public and to the members of the four agencies.

2010: 80 business and community leaders gathered for a day-long retreat; discussing the future of the Berkshire region, identifying priorities, and finding ways to overcome obstacles. 1Berkshire was developed out of that meeting.

The creation of the formal strategic partnership between the four groups was announced April 15, 2010, by the boards of the four affiliates.

On November 12, 2010, it was announced that the BEDC had folded operations into 1Berkshire; the other three organizations retained their individual missions and services while beginning to operate under the umbrella of 1Berkshire.

2011: A Board of Directors (three members from each organization and three at-large members) facilitated regular meetings to oversee 1Berkshire’s organizational plan and the five priorities agreed upon by each of the four founding groups’ Boards:

  1.  Co-location
  2.  Branding the Berkshires
  3. Advocacy for region-wide issues
  4. Investigate combined membership model
  5. Create Development function

Inspired by the leadership of Michael Daly, president and CEO of Berkshire Bank acting as Board Chair, 1Berkshire recruited two volunteer CEOs; Roger O. Goldman, managing director of the Berkshire Opportunity Fund and Paul Haklisch from Williamstown.  They were followed by Stuart Chase who served as CEO until July 2012.

1Berkshire was designated as the official Regional Economic Development Organization by the Commonwealth and received supporting grant funds.

2012: 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance Foundation was created.

Berkshire Creative was formally assimilated into the organization as a division of 1Berkshire.

Berkshire Bank transferred ownership of the Central Station building to the Foundation and the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Creative, and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau moved in to join forces and deliver a one-stop shop for all things related to strengthening and growing the Berkshire economy.  These efforts were further solidified by having the Berkshire Regional Employment Board, Mass Development, and the Berkshire Film and Media Commission also under the same roof.  Incubator space was created.

Reggie Cooper, Managing Director of Canyon Ranch took over as Chair of the Board and leadership of the operations was transferred to the staff of the Berkshire Chamber, the Berkshire Visitors Bureau and Berkshire Creative.