How do people decide that the Berkshires a rich and vital place to visit, to come to college, to buy a house? How can the Berkshires encourage them?
Lauri Klefos, chief marketing officer for 1Berkshire -- encompassing the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Visitors Bureau and Berkshire Creative -- wants answers to these broad questions.
1Berkshire has recently collected answers to a privately funded survey, launched in the spring, to fnd out how people who live here, and people who have never been here, see this part of the world. The survey sought six different audiences -- residents, visitors, businesses, young professionals (20s to 40s) and college students -- and gathered some 9,000 responses.
The full results are not yet available -- the survey team are still analyzing the data they have collected -- but Klefos shared some individual answers from the younger generations.
To the question "what would convince you to stay," many college students answered, good jobs, she said. Many young professionals answered: friends and family.
Would they recommend that a friend move here? Eighty-six percent of them said yes.
Of those young professionals who have returned to the Berkshires, about 35 percent have friends and family here, and about 20 percent grew up here. And nearly half of them came from New York or cities to the east in Massachusetts.
"The Berkshires are as well-known as we think," Klefos said, "but we have a high return rate with visitors. We hear from visitors that they're pleasantly surprised at what's here."
Those people who have heard of the Berkshires, and have come to see them, have liked them -- and have put down roots here.
"The connection runs deep," she said. "The place pulls people back."