1Berkshire Strategic Alliance
Designated as the official Regional Economic Development Organization by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1Berkshire creates an innovative approach to traditional economic development through projects that leverage the considerable strengths of existing organizations – the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Creative, and Berkshire Visitors Bureau. As the regional economic development authority, 1Berkshire focuses on business retention, branding the Berkshires to attract new businesses, and creating new workforce development initiatives. It also serves the county as a unified voice for regional advocacy and as a single point of entry for business assistance
- The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber), 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) is charged with leading and advancing economic development and supporting the civic and social welfare of Berkshire County through the advocacy and support of its members, and the Berkshire Community.
- The Berkshire Creative Economy Council (Berkshire Creative) formed in 2007 to advance creativity to strengthen economic success and quality of life in the Berkshires.
- The Berkshire Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) was created in 2005 and charged with recruiting new business and industry to Berkshire County. BEDC operations have been merged into 1Berkshire as the economic development organization for the county.
- The Berkshire Visitors Bureau (BVB) was formed in 1938 and serves as the official destination marketing organization for the County, charged with attracting and serving visitors to the Berkshires.
- With over 30 investors, 1Berkshire has gained momentum and continues to invite additional businesses to become involved with and support economic growth through 1Berkshire.
- Efforts to create a Berkshire Brand that will work across all constituent audiences has reconvened and messaging, using the research collected in Phase I, is currently under development.
- David Curtis, the 1Berkshire Economic Development Specialist, continues working with Berkshire-based businesses to help them grow, as well as potential new businesses who are looking to establish themselves in the County.
- 1Berkshire operations solidify with David Curtis coming on as the Economic Development Specialist focused on working with companies hoping to expand, open, or relocate in Berkshire County. Berkshire Community College became a stakeholder in 1Berkshire, moving their Berkshire Enterprises program into the learning center at the Central Station and providing training for entrepreneurial ventures.
- The research portion of the Berkshire Branding Initiative was completed, providing several key-insights that will serve as the foundation of a Berkshire message that will resonate with raising awareness of the area as a good place to work, to live, and to visit.
- A tiered investment model for 1Berkshire was launched, which allows businesses to join all three affiliated organizations with one check, in addition to qualifying them for additional benefits available exclusively to 1Berskhire investors.
- Community leaders became well acquainted with the Central Station, as it hosted over 300 meetings (with over 4,000 attendees in total!) in its meeting spaces space for various organizations
- The 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance Foundation was created.
- Berkshire Bank transferred ownership of the Central Station building to the Foundation and the Chamber, Berkshire Creative, and the BVB moved in to join forces and deliver a one stop business resource center 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 Chamber, Berkshire Creative, and the BVB.
- A Board of Directors (three members from each organization and three at-large members) formed to oversee 1Berkshire’s organizational plan and the five priorities agreed upon by each of the four founding groups’ Boards:
- Branding the Berkshires
- Advocacy for region-wide issues
- Developing a combined membership model
- Create an ongoing 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.
- Eighty 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 organizations 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.
- 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.
- 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, Berkshire Creative, the BEDC, and the BVB.
- BEDC and the Chamber, 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.
1Berkshire invites the entire community to look forward… Whether you’re a year-round resident or second-home owner, a small business owner or entrepreneur, we need your help to create prosperity for everyone. A flourishing economy will ensure that property values stay strong; that the business community thrives; that public services, education and health care are of the highest quality; and the unique blend of rural scenic beauty and quality amenities is maintained in the Berkshires.