Photo Gallery | Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Good News Business Salute
PITTSFIELD — A monthlong "listening tour" in the rear view, new Mayor Linda M. Tyer said at a Thursday night Berkshire Chamber of Commerce gathering that she and her administration are well-equipped to morph Pittsfield into "a great city, a modern city that's thriving and dynamic."
One cannot wait on elusive entrepreneurs to drop money-bombs downtown, Tyer said. City "resources, efforts, energy, enthusiasm" instead belong with "the businesses that are here right now."
"The businesses that turn on their lights every day, employ people, produce a product, provide a service," she said. "We need to turn the [old] equation on its head. The government that I lead is committing its resources to your small businesses, so you can grow and employ."
She added, "That is our next great potential."
In the economy-minded address, Tyer hit on broad issues — the Berkshires' natural advantages, the problems of poverty, addiction, crime and safety; the needs of the burgeoning local economy and more — offering her most complete vision to date on Pittsfield's potential and her administration's goals.
Tyer gave due to two stalwart Pittsfield businesses — the restaurant Flavours and Unistress Corp., which invested millions in its local operation last year — and she gave play to the much talked about creative economy.
One of the greatest needs of the new economy will be broadband access in all Pittsfield's commercial centers and all over the county, Tyer said, to applause from the room full of local business owners and employees who gathered for the chamber's annual Good News Business Salute.
Saluted during the event were the Kiwanis Club of Pittsfield, the Town Players of Pittsfield and the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board.
"Our strength, our future lies in the creative economy," Tyer said. "How do we build an economy around architects, engineers, software designers, film and media? We have an emerging and dynamic art and culture community. We should be investing in it."
She added, "People in those lines of work want to live in a place that's interesting. And isn't the Berkshires interesting? We have a beautiful natural environment, and now in Pittsfield some hip urban living spaces and a fabulous downtown. Let's capitalize on those strengths. That's where our next great economic prosperity lies."
Tyer also emphasized connecting 1,600 local job openings with the 5 percent of local people who are unemployed, or others from outside the area.
Older businesses and manufacturing firms like Unistress will also need a boost, she said, pointing to difficulties the latter has in transporting heavy materials through downtown Pittsfield on the way to New York.
Regarding crime, Tyer praised Pittsfield Police for arresting a 30-year-old city man this week in connection with a spate of armed robberies dating back to early December. She said police are working hard to keep putting away such offenders, and take seriously "our obligation to protect your investment."
The first city mayor elected to a four-year term, Tyer was inaugurated on Jan. 4 amid expressions of hope for a more inclusive and collaborative city government.
The host of the event, M. Christine Macbeth, CEO of the Brien Center, summed up Tyer's words.
"The bottom line of what I heard is, most importantly, under your leadership, we are going to be celebrating Pittsfield," Macbeth said. "You want to grow businesses, you want to make sure we have the infrastructure there, you want to keep the young people here and you want to keep people safe."