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Disaster Relief Grant Will Be Used to Aid Businesses
Staff Reports On: 07:54AM / Saturday July 13, 2013
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshires and Franklin County are teaming up on a grant to help small businesses in the two regions.

The project will be launched on Friday, July 19, with an event at 11 a.m. at MediTerra on Main Street.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded a Disaster Relief Opportunity grant to the Franklin County Community Development Corp. with project partners Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. The goals are to support small businesses and entrepreneurs that are investing in their businesses and creating jobs.

Officials also see the project as a way to build economic collaboration between Northern Berkshire and Franklin County.

"Small businesses are the heart and soul of our community and this collaboration will bring together a wide variety of services and providers that will be available to our business owners," said Mayor Richard Alcombright in a statement. "Additionally, the ability to provide business planning and modeling along with access to capital and funding sources is a significant win for our businesses."

The mayor said he sees it as a team effort to ensure growth for North County.

The grant provides resources to support direct business technical assistance including individual counseling, trainings, financing, connections to available resources and industry experts for existing businesses and entrepreneurs with business startup ideas. The 18-month grant also provides resources to facilitate capacity building with collaborators in Northern Berkshire for enhancing sustainable business development.

Friday's event will include local and state officials, and Dan Johnson from U.S. Rep. Richard Neal's office.

"This project will serve and support local businesses that have been struggling to recover from natural disasters and the recession but are looking for an opportunity to create new jobs," said state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, who represents towns in both counties.

Collaborating organizations:

Northern Berkshire: Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Enterprises/Berkshire Community College, city of North Adams, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network, North Adams Chamber of Commerce, town of Adams, and Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.

Franklin County: Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association, Greenfield Community College and Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network

For more information: Amy Shapiro at 413-774-7204, Ext. 107, or amys@fccdc.org.



     
Ferrin Gallery Sells For $160K at Auction
By Andy McKeever On: 02:59PM / Tuesday April 09, 2013
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Only a few people attended the auction for the North Street building, including representatives from the bank holding the mortgage.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The former Ferrin Gallery on North Street sold for $160,000 at auction on Tuesday.

Only a few people showed up for the 11 a.m. auction and there was only one bidder. While bids opened at $140,000, the sole bidder offered $160,000 when it was clear no one else was going to jump in. 
 
The buyer refused to provide any information but left with representatives from the People's United Bank, the mortgageholder.
 
Aaron Posnik Auctioneers managed the short auction. The building features two commercial/condominium spaces. The Ferrin Gallery most recently occupied it as the only tenant in the building.
 
The building at 437 and 439 North St. has a total of 2,800 square feet — Unit 102 has 1,340 and Unit 103 has 1,460. there is a 1,900 square-foot basement. It is zoned as a Downtown Arts District Overlay and has parking for more than 20 vehicles in the back.
 
The purchaser is responsible for $1,885.11 in back taxes owed to the city. 
 
Leslie Ferrin opened the gallery in 2007 but put it on the market in 2011 for $350,000. Failing to interest any buyers, Ferrin moved her business and closed the gallery last month and the bank took possession.


     
North Adams Verizon Store Under New Ownership
By Andy McKeever On: 05:00PM / Friday March 01, 2013
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The Main Street business in now under new management.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Wireless Zone, an authorized Verizon Wireless store on Main Stree,t has new owners, who are looking to expand inventory and remodel the showroom.

On Friday, owners Nate Bastarache and Keith Parzych moved into their new store after buying the business. The North Adams location is the fifth Bastarache will own and second in the Berkshires.

Over the next two weeks, the store will still be open but the owners will be completely overhauling the interior. The store will be a fully staffed, with five to six employees, open seven days a week and carry all Verizon products, including Apple products.

"We are remodeling with all brand-new fixtures and equipment. We're going to stock everything Verizon has to offer," Bastarache said.

They were even open Friday despite their inventory arriving late in the afternoon. The store may install a new exterior sign after receiving approval from the city.

Bastarache also opened the Verizon Wireless store in Great Barrington and when the opportunity to buy the North Adams store presented itself four months ago, he jumped on it.

"I love it [in the Berkshires]. I wanted a store on the other side of the county," he said. "There was the need and opportunity in North Adams."

Bastarache worked with Parzych for 12 years in the auto industry. After being frustrated with the customer service, he was receiving with wireless stores, he opened his first Verizon Wireless store in Easthampton. Shortly after, he opened another store in Northampton, followed by Chicopee and last year in Great Barrington. He reunited with Parzych to partner in purchasing the North Adams location.

He said the key to making the business thrive is good customer service and having the items in stock. All of the showroom products will be "live" for customers to "basically test drive the device" and at least two staffers will be on at all times, he said, including either himself of Parzych.



     
Berkshire Home Expo Seeking Exhibitors for 2013
On: 03:41PM / Thursday January 31, 2013
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce will present the 2013 Berkshire Home Expo on the weekend of March 8-10 at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough.

Thousands come from all corners of Western Massachusetts to attend this annual event, which is open and free to the public during mall hours.

More than 20 exhibitors have already secured booth space, include those offering landscaping services; home renovations and expansions; appliances; financial services; and even "green" and solar options for your home. Booth space is extremely limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Director of Programs and Events for the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce Christine Hoyt is confident exhibit space will sell out and encourages all interested parties to contact her directly at 413-499-4000, Ext. 126.



     
Neal, Business Organizations Sponsor Export Forum
Staff Reports On: 02:49PM / Friday January 25, 2013
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Small-business development organizations and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal are sponsoring a forum on how local companies could benefit from exporting their products.

The Pittsfield Export Forum on Tuesday, Jan. 29, will run from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza will feature two panel talks, followed by a luncheon with the congressman.

The forum sessions are free and open to all area businesses.

Neal will join the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce for a luncheon following the forum at the Crowne Plaza at noon in the ballroom; the cost is $35. Register for the luncheon here.
 
Neal will address the current fiscal situation, tax reform, exports, the recent AMT fix and energy independence.  

The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network is encouraging those who currently export and those who are considering exporting to attend the event.

The panels will include business exporters from Western Massachusetts who will share their success stories. The forum also will feature an overview of a broad range of programs available to help companies with their international business efforts, including the opportunity of grant money available to small businesses to export.  Following the presentations, participants will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with government officials and local businesses to answer specific export questions.

Agenda

Welcome Remarks - Congressman Richard E. Neal

Panel One

    Tom Gradel, Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment
    Paula Murphy and Ann Pieroway, Massachusetts Export Center
    John Joyce, Small Business Administration
    Melissa Branzburg, U.S. Department of Commerce
    Keith Girouard, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network

Panel Two

    Mike Supranowicz, President & CEO, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce – Moderator
    Mike Tweed-Kent, Vice President & General Manager, General Dynamics
    Virginia DuBois, Inside Sales Manager, Interprint
    Josh Levine, President, LympheDIVAs
    Lyn Biasin, Supply Chain Manager, Onyx
    Michael Hopsicker, President & CEO, Ray Murray, Inc.


Sponsors are Neal, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network's Mass Export Center, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, CONECT, Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment and the Small Business Administration.



     
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Bill Schmick separates the bull from the bears in his weekly columns on investing and market wrap-ups.



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