PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire County contains several businesses that export goods to other countries, but it’s not known as a hub for that kind of activity.
It doesn’t mean that other firms can’t get in on the action.
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, in conjunction with several national, state and local business organizations, is sponsoring a forum to discuss opportunities for Western Massachusetts exporters on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Admission to the forum is free for all Berkshire business owners, although there is a charge for business owners who plan to attend a plated lunch with Neal following the event.
One of the forum’s sponsors, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, holds export forums frequently in the eastern part of the state, where numerous companies that trade globally are located.
But these types of forums are rarely held in Western Massachusetts, and they almost never take place in the Berkshires.
"I think that it was just an opportunity with a new representative to reintroduce to the business community here that there is a big market out there that they can navigate," said Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Michael Supranowicz, whose organization is also sponsoring the event in affiliation with 1Berkshire.
"People are cautious about exporting to some degree," he said. "While we have companies that do a good job [of exporting]
Neal was elected to represent the Berkshires last fall, after the state’s legislative districts were redrawn based on the results of the 2010 federal census. Bringing the forum to Pittsfield is one of Neal’s first acts as the county’s federal representative, and he is scheduled to give the welcoming remarks.
"With the addition of Berkshire County in my new congressional district I am looking forward to hosting this important export forum in Pittsfield," Neal said in a written statement. "It is my hope that local business owners will fund this unique event informative and useful."
The speakers will be divided into two panels, one consisting of representatives of different business organizations, the other of local businesses that trade internationally.
"I have assembled a panel of experts from the public and private sector that should be able to answer any questions relating to the export business," Neal said. "These events have been a great success in other parts of the state, and I am excited to bring one to the Berkshires."