Berkshire Bank gives back in support of National Small Business Week

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PITTSFIELD — As Berkshire Bank has grown in size, so has its small business lending operations.

Berkshire Bank is currently ranked as the U.S. Small Business Administration's top lender in five separate sections of its coverage area, including Berkshire County, New York's Capital District and Vermont.

In honor of National Small Business Week, the Berkshire Bank Foundation on Thursday awarded $17,000 in grants to support 10 Small Business Development Centers and seven Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) chapters located in the bank's footprint.

The foundation personally presented a $1,000 grant to the Berkshire Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, which is located in Pittsfield. The ceremony took place at Berkshire Bank's headquarters at 99 North St.

The MSBDC provides free, confidential, one-to-one business advising and free or low-cost educational training programs to both prospective and existing small businesses.

Because so much of the MSBDC's work is confidential, Berkshire Regional Office head Keith Girouard said, "not a lot of people know what we can do."

"It's great that Berkshire Bank recognizes our work," Girouard said. "We appreciate it."

Girouard and his two colleagues in the Berkshire Regional Office, Nancy Shulman and Karen Abellie, accepted the grant from the foundation.

State regional SBDC offices at Clark University in Worcester, UMass-Boston, and Springfield also received grants from the foundation on Thursday. The other small business development recipients are located in Connecticut, New York and Vermont.

The Western Massachusetts SCORE Chapter also received a grant from the foundation Thursday at a ceremony in the Pioneer Valley, according to Berkshire Bank spokesperson Heidi Higgins.

This is the first time Berkshire Bank has held such a ceremony to honor National Small Business Week, which takes place from May 5-11.

"This was done to appreciate and give back to the organizations that we partner with," Higgins said.

"We applaud the Small Business Development Centers and SCORE chapters that are providing essential support to not only sustain small businesses, but help them thrive," said Berkshire Bank Foundation Director Lori Gazzillo.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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