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Business Resource Expo provides entrepreneurs a helping hand — and a welcome opportunity to mingle

people talking in rows of expo booths

Small businesses and organizations gather for a day of networking, panel discussions, and information about resource opportunities during the Berkshire Small Business Resource Expo at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

DALTON — Greg and Lisa Rose have run their own small business for 33 years. Elizabeth Heller’s small business is just getting started.

Their enterprises are in different places, but the needs are similar. They both need access to information about resources in the community to function efficiently.

The Roses and Heller were among the over 200 participants who attended Tuesday’s first Berkshire Business Resource Expo, which took place at the Stationery Factory. The five-hour event, presented by five Berkshire-based business organizations, featured close to 60 exhibitors, and included three panel discussions on small business-related topics.

In addition to gathering information about available resources, the expo also allowed small-business owners to network and mingle, activities that have been rare since the COVID-19 pandemic had left many of them isolated.

“It can be lonely being an entrepreneur,” said Heller, a Pittsfield resident and a recent graduate of Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County.

“I can meet the community and let them know what I’m doing,” said Heller, who runs her own company — and recently self-published her own book. “I can look around and see, ‘Wow, there’s all this help here,’”

The Roses operate Rennie & Rose of Dalton, which designs fabric for home decor products. Their customers include museums and boutiques.

3d printer running on table at expo

A 3D printer runs on the table at the Berkshire Innovation Center’s booth at the Berkshire Small Business Resource Expo at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

“We wanted to see what there was for help with technical assistance with websites and social media, that type of thing,” Lisa Rose said.

Rennie & Rose, founded in 1989, has never had a physical location. The Roses, the firm’s only employees, sell most of their products directly to wholesalers, but also sell online.

“You have to get out and see what’s out there and and what other people are doing,” she said. “You don’t know what’s available until you go see.”

The selling point behind Tuesday’s event was attendees being able to access all the resources they need to both start or maintain their enterprises in one central location.

room full of booths and people gathered for expo

About 200 participants attended Tuesday's first Berkshire Business Resource Expo at the Stationery Factory in Dalton. The five-hour event featured close to 60 exhibitors, and included three panel discussions on small-business-related topics.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Greg Rose said, “especially if you’re looking for funding if you’re just starting... . You get to meet all the banks and you get to meet the people who can bridge the gap for you.”

Besides banks and credit unions, event exhibitors included two community development corporations, academic institutions, merchant organizations, and multiple chambers of commerce, including the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber.

“Small business is such a core part of the economics of the Berkshires,” said Dominica D’Avella, the operations manager for Greylock Audiology of Pittsfield, who attended the event as a participant. “I think our success as a county is heavily tied to whether our small businesses cannot only survive but thrive.”

Like the Roses, D’Avella also liked having the ability to access multiple resources in one location.

people talking at expo

Small businesses and organizations gather for a day of networking, panel discussions, and information about resource opportunities during the Berkshire Small Business Resource Expo at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

“There are a lot of things in a small business that you don’t normally have in house, whether that’s accounting, legal or HR,” she said. “Those may be separate departments in a larger company, but in a small business you have to tend to all of it. So it’s critically important to be connected to the people around you and the people who are best at those other functions, so that you can take care of what you need to in your own business without devoting a disproportionate amount of time to things other than the core of what you do.”

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.

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