Launch of Berkshire Innovation Center seen as spark for Berkshire economy

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PITTSFIELD — Unity, collaboration and teamwork.

Those were cited as the key ingredients behind the $13.8 million Berkshire Innovation Center, which was officially dedicated Friday at the William Stanley Business Park.

Around 300 people attended the ceremony, which marked the culmination of a project that officials hope will reinvigorate the Berkshire economy.

"I believe that this is going to be great, because I've heard the story of how it could be great," said Gov. Charlie Baker, one of the several local and state officials who spoke at the event. "The folks who are part of this community, the educational entities that you've brought into this. ... They are going to be the family, the community, that makes this great."

A who's who of the Berkshire County business community joined government officials at the event, which took place in a first-floor conference room at the two-story, 23,000-square-foot structure. Stephen Boyd, the chairman of the nonprofit organization's board of directors, led a tour of the facility for Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy and other assorted dignitaries.

After the tours, several speakers addressed the gathering, followed by a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the BIC's main entrance.
While nodding to the hard work and collaboration that went into building the BIC — a project that took 12 years to bring from concept to completion — Baker also looked to the future.

"I want the story 10 years from now to be all the great organizations, and companies that came out of this place that made this part of Massachusetts even more special than it is today," he said. "That's, ultimately, how we'll define success."

During the remarks, other speakers emphasized on the spirit of unity that held together the private-public partnership over the course of its sometimes rocky journey.

Leaders had to overcome a $3 million funding gap that delayed the start of construction for three years until late 2018. Construction was completed last summer, and the building received its certificate of occupancy from the city of Pittsfield in October.

"These are the results when leaders lock arms and make this region a better place," said state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield.

The BIC contains classroom, meeting and conference space along with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratory facilities that are available for use by the nonprofit organization's 33 members, which include 21 private businesses and 12 educational institutions.

The project's proponents believe the BIC will provide Berkshire County with the resources and connections to compete with the high-tech economy that has been so successful in Eastern Massachusetts, especially in the greater Boston area.

Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer referred to the BIC as a "symbol of our dreams and our aspirations."

"This is a lesson in what to do when you won't give up," she said, in a nod to the struggles that took place before the project's completion.

"Pittsfield is reinventing itself." she said, "honoring our past and welcoming our brand new future."

Polito said the BIC can serve as the catalyst for training the future Berkshire workforce. She said the innovation economy can't survive solely on workers who have advanced academic credentials.

"It's a degree and skills play," she said. "If you build it they will come, and if you train them, the jobs will be here in Berkshire County."

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier stressed the BIC's importance to the region as a whole.

"This is not called the Pittsfield Innovation Center," the Pittsfield Democrat said, "It's the Berkshire Innovation Center."

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


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