Thursday November 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- When the economy get tough, business owners in the Berkshires go networking.

On Wednesday, representatives of 43 business concerns gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business-to-Business Showcase.

Now in its 12th year, the event gives business owners the opportunity to meet with each other, and the public a chance to meet with them. This year’s event was held to coincide with the Chamber’s monthly Chamber Nite event.

"It’s a full house," Berkshire Chamber President and CEO Michael Supranowicz said at Wednesday’s event.

The public’s participation turns the event into a "mini-trade show," he said.

Networking is always important for business owners, but it’s almost a requirement under the current economic conditions.

"It’s even more important with the way the economy is now," said Karlyn Fenton Hinkley, an account executive for Gentiva Home Health. "There’s a lot more competition, and you have to have a quality product."

Wednesday’s event also drew educational institutions, such as Darrow School and Mildred Elley, and at least one business organization, Berkshire Business and Professional Women.

"What we’re doing is letting women in the county know that we exist so they can join our organization," said BBPW President Victoria Ross.


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"A lot of women don’t know where to go to network with other businesswomen except at Chamber things," she said.

The Berkshire County Regional Employment Board was also in attendance. Exec utive Director Heather Boul ger said BCREB was hoping to alert business owners about the funding it offers for workforce training and for its internship program.

"They know the resources that they have in their own backyard," Boulger said. "They don’t know we can help get training dollars."

Even long-established county businesses, like QualPrint of Pittsfield, see the Business-to-Business Showcase as a chance to pick up new customers.

"It let’s people know who you are," said QualPrint’s Business Development Man ager June Roy Martin.

"I go to chamber meetings because it’s a good way to meet other members of the community," said Tom Van Wert of Pittsfield, who works for General Dynamics. " Š You can meet different members of the community as well as business people."