Letter: Locals didn't receive 'Red Carpet' treatment
To the editor:
My family has been in business in Pittsfield for almost 60 years. I personally have been in for 30-plus years. I employ more than a hundred people. Not only have I worked hard to create successful businesses, but I have also valued this community through business/organization partnerships. Simply stated, I give back to my community. I am on the board of BCARC, a corporator for the Boys & Girls Club, a member of the Jimmy Fund and UNICO. I also support youth sports, PTAs, and our local Special Olympics. There should be no question that I have contributed to making Pittsfield a better place to live and work. But there is a question about how the city of Pittsfield — NOT the people of Pittsfield — has supported me.
As the owner of Mazzeo's Ristorante, a gateway business into Pittsfield, I have not seen the "Red Carpet" treatment that the mayor talks about. In fact, less than one year ago, I attempted to purchase the Flower Shop across the street from my current business to open a small business that would bring tax revenue back into the city and also create jobs. I called the mayor's "Red Carpet Team" and was told it could do nothing to help me. Even though I offered to buy the property and donate another valuable land, I was denied the transaction. I should have approached them the same way some other businesses have: Instead of paying for the business with my own funds, I should have asked for a tax incentive package.
Shortly after my discussions, the same Red Carpet Team supported a move by the mayor and other leaders to forgive a loan of $2 million to the Beacon Cinema. I was refused help to purchase a vacant building that would bring revenue to the city, yet an out-of-town company was forgiven $2 million. What would have made more business sense — increased revenue and jobs or a loan forgiveness to an out-of-state business?
The mayor talks about how she has supported small businesses over the past four years. It was your tax dollars that were used to provide incentives for out-of-town companies while small businesses like mine were denied the "Red Carpet" treatment.
My wife has been a steward of your tax dollars for the last 10 years on the City Council. She has worked hard to ensure your money is being spent responsibly. She has worked hard to support our family while we have grown our business because, as every business owner knows, running a business is a 24/7 job. Personal relationships have never gotten in the way of decisions she has made. If it meant upsetting a friend to look out for the best interest of the city, she has done it. That is not easy, but it is respectable.
Thank you for your 30 years of support. I humbly ask for you to support my wife, Melissa Mazzeo, for mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The writer is owner, Mazzeo's Ristorante and Mazcots Bar & Grill.
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