Building economy is a team sport


Saturday, February 16
Nearly three years ago, a new effort was launched in Berkshire County called the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation (BEDC). I say "effort" because it is more than one person, one organization, or one plan. The BEDC was intended to provide a structural catalyst to collaboration in the county and provide connectivity between its economic development organizations and their respective activities. This effort also intended to pull together a regional plan to guide our collective endeavors. The BEDC was also charged with the very specific task of marketing and promoting the region, as well as attracting investment, business ventures and quality talent.

Now, three years later, the BEDC has achieved some ambitious goals and is preparing for its next phase. From a personal point of view, it has been an absolute labor of love to be part of the leadership of this undertaking. I have enjoyed it immensely. As a lifelong resident, I am passionate about not only the uniqueness of the Berkshires, but more so about its potential. In fact, I see so much potential that I am venturing into a private start-up business enterprise that will call the Berkshires home.

Many times during these past years, either the BEDC or I have received media attention and interest as many of the successes of the Berkshires were publicized. As flattering and humbling as this attention has been, I am compelled to set the record perfectly straight: Economic development is a team sport.

The number of unsung heroes, organizations, and individual efforts that contribute to our region's growth is immense. Unless you are involved in this type of work, you may not have the opportunity to see how many great people are doing extraordinary work every day to make the Berkshires the best it can be. It is simply astonishing.

We recently took a quick inventory of the number of organizations participating in activities outlined in the Berkshire Blueprint; this number totaled 29, and is growing. Organizations like the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD), the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board (BCREB), the Berkshire Visitors Bureau (BVB), the city of Pittsfield's Community Development Office, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, and the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education are just a few of the entities who shoulder so much of the work that is strengthening our regional economy.

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Although the higher-profile volunteer leadership and the commitment of the local legislative delegation and mayors are immeasurably important to the county's achievements, what is notably deserving of attention is the effectiveness of our economic development practitioners and their teams.

Sometimes we simply do not realize how lucky we are. From Michael Supranowicz of the Chamber and Ray Smith of the BVB, to Heather Boulger of the BCREB and Pam Malumphy of MOBD, to Deanna Ruffer of the city of Pittsfield's Community Development Office and Rich Vinette of the Lee CDC, and to Donna Cesan of the town of Adams Community Development Office. This list goes on and on. These people go to work each day, quietly making a major difference in the quality of our regional economy, and they deserve our gratitude for their efforts. Without them, their staff and volunteers, economic development would be stagnant.

While it is difficult to leave the BEDC, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to build my own enterprise and I am terribly excited now to be moving on to this next stage, especially because it is centered in the Berkshires.

Although I will volunteer time and continue to participate in the BEDC's mission, I know I will miss the honor of calling this my "day job" and especially will miss being a player on this team. I have every confidence that my successor, David Rooney, will be not only a dynamic and effective leader of the BEDC, but will also develop the same profound respect for this group of dedicated people who are driving this great story of success called the Berkshires.

Tyler Fairbank is president of the Berkshire Economic Development Corporation.


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