Berkshire Creative joins statewide economic network


PITTSFIELD -- The state has designated Berkshire Creative a partner in a new network that is using a regional approach to accelerate the economic growth of creative industries across the state.

The local organization is now part of the Massachusetts Creative Economy Network, an initiative that the Patrick Administration established in 2012.

As the Berkshire region's lead organization in this network, Berkshire Creative will have the ability to implement or sustain regional programs and services in five key areas: business development, access to capital, talent, visibility and space.

"We're really hoping that it will provide additional resources, in terms of financial resources, physical resources, and intellectual resources to further what our goals are," said Julia Dixon, Berkshire Creative's managing director.

Dixon said her organization's mission has been aligned with those five key areas of growth through the programs it is instituting now, and by what it has been trying to accomplish since its inception.

"It also opens up a wider variety of connections for us throughout the commonwealth," she said. "It can give us accessibility to a venture capital firm in the Pioneer Valley that we wouldn't otherwise have a connection with."

Founded in 2007, Berkshire Creative's mission is to stimulate new job growth and economic opportunity in the region by sparking innovative collaborations between artists, designers, cultural institutions and businesses.

The state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development announced Berkshire Creative's designation to the network at a news conference on Thursday at Interprint Inc. That state agency oversees the state's Creative Economy Industry, which employs more than 100,000 workers, and has a $1 billion impact on the Massachusetts economy.

The Massachusetts Creative Economy Network grew out of a listening tour that state Creative Economy Industry Director Helena Fruscio held in 2012. A Berkshire County native, Fruscio is a former director of Berkshire Creative.

"There's only so much you can do on a statewide level," Fruscio said.

In particular, finding space that creative economy industries need to operate is easier to find regionally, she said.

"When we're talking about space in the Cape, or in Boston, or here, it's a different discussion and the nuances are very localized," Fruscio said. "So this gives (organizations) the opportunity for something that really works for them."

Berkshire Creative is only the second regional entity to be designated to the state network, but Fruscio said six others organizations are expected to join this spring. The other is Boston's North Shore.

Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Gregory Bialecki said the state considers the creative economy to be part of the innovation economy that the Patrick Administration supports to revitalize economic development.

"If our goal is to promote the innovation economy, not unilaterally by new government programs, but by figuring out how to be a good partner," he said, "we've found the best way to do that is region by region across the state."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:

(413) 496-6224


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