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Job Summit Organizers Shrug Off Negative Press

By Tammy Daniels

Baldwin took to the airwaves last Friday to explain the circumstances that landed him prison.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The negative press on the principals isn't affecting Friday's Berkshire Job Summit in Pittsfield.

Allen Harris of Berkshire Money Management said Wednesday afternoon that a flurry of RSVPs this week had bumped the number of attending to more than 180.

"I've had more phone calls about Money Management in the last week than the last three months," he said. "It turned out pretty good."

The summit, focusing on the role of employers job creation rather than employment agencies, brings CNBC's senior analyst Ron Insara, Robert H. Nelson and P. Edgardo Tarratts of the Small Business Administration and marketing strategist Jonathem Salem Baskin.

Harris and fellow organizer Sherman Baldwin of WBRK talk show "TalkBerkshires" were the subject of an article in last Friday's Berkshire Eagle that delved into the two men's legal peccadillos.

Harris was ordered to pay $2 million to former employer Dion Money Management over a client list used to establish his business and was charged with misdemeanor assault over a bar fight in 1994.

Baldwin defrauded investors of  funds to ensure the completion of the cult hit film "The Crow" after the accidental death of its star Brandon Lee. The film went on to make $400 million worldwide. Baldwin, however, ended up in federal prison in 1999 for nearly a year and is still paying off a fine.

Harris described the story as an insult. "It was presented like it was new news. It was stuff that was already talked about. It was literally old news."

Neither man has disputed the main facts of the article but both were concerned over its effect — and a paired story on local  skepticism  — on the summit.

On Friday, after a "press conference" discussing the past charges against him on his radio show, Baldwin said most of the response had been positive. (The entire program, with responses by Eagle writer Clarence Fanto can be downloaded here.)

Representatives of the Small Business Administration debated declining their invite to the summit because of the negative press but have remained on board, said Harris.

Both said they remained committed to $1.5 million in equity investment to the right business - Harris with $1 million through BMM and Baldwin in $500,000 in advertising. Harris said they haven't back away from the investment but did say it was pulled from ads because they focus was too much on them and not on the summit.

Harris is focused on the morning summit that will take the more than a 100 business leaders through Insana's analysis of current conditions, the SBA's available programs and how to bring it all together in branding with Baskin.

"People aren't going to create jobs to makes themselves feel good, they're going to create jobs because their business in growing," he said. "By being brave, by natural self-interest, jobs will be created.

"What we need to do is have a conversation with people on how to make 2010 a good year."

As for the fallout about revelations of his past: "People are calling and they're not saying 'you're a jerk.'"

 

Note: The Eagle stories will disappear behind a paywall so read them quick.

 

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Tags: Berkshire Job Summit, Berkshire Money Management, Talk Berkshires      

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