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Cosmetics Maker Iredale Featured on White House Blog

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Cosmetics entrepreneur Jane Iredale was featured on the White House blog on Tuesday in support of President Obama's American Jobs Act.

South County's Iredale was one of a half-dozen small-business owners and entrepreneurs featured on the blog, which also included veterans, teachers, the unemployed and others rolled out as examples of how the ambitious bill would help create jobs.

According to Iredale, the proposal to pump $447 billion into the economy will put more money into her 160 workers' pockets. "Cutting my company's payroll taxes in half will allow me to put those gains back into the company to aid with growth," she says on the blog.

Said the White House, "By understanding the power of proper marketing, Iredale pitched and sold her products to dermatologists, plastic surgeons and skin care specialists who understood its value. This innovative thinking and business-savvy resulted in skyrocketing sales, both in the U.S. and overseas. In addition to providing jobs for her 160 full-time employees, Iredale’s business invigorates the economy throughout the Berkshires in Massachusetts, as over 1,000 people visit her offices for meetings and trainings each year."

While Iredale's expansion into the old Bryant schoolhouse was applauded throughout Berkshire County, the president's having a tougher time getting his creation through Congress. Late Tuesday, Senate Democrats failed to break a filibuster delaying debate on the measure. It's expected to be an even harder sell in the Republican-controlled House.
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Friendly's Files Chapter 11; Local Restaurants Stay Open

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Friendly Ice Cream Corp. of Wilbraham has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move has been expected for weeks as the 76-year-old chain has struggled with rising costs and the economic recession.

The company's closed 63 "underperforming" restaurants across the Northeast, Virginia and Florida as part of the restructuring. However, local restaurants in North Adams (State Road), Pittsfield (Dalton Avenue and Elm Street), Lee (Housatonic Street), Lenox (Route 20), Great Barrington (Stockbridge Road) and Bennington, Vt. (South Street), will remain open. Also remaining open is the Friendly's at the bottom of the Mohawk Trail in Greenfield although a second Greenfield restaurant on Federal Street will close. Two in Albany, N.Y., on Wolf Road and Western Avenue, will also close.

"We have embarked on an aggressive campaign to enhance restaurant operations, improve the guest experience, strengthen our team and expand the company's successful retail ice cream business," said Harsha V. Agadi, chairman and CEO of Friendly's in a statement.

The company faced significant financial challenges, Agadi said. "This was exacerbated by the weak economy and rapidly rising commodity costs that have impacted the entire restaurant industry."

Read the full press release here.
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MountainOne Building Rising at PEDA Park

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The new MountainOne financial center is rising pretty quickly at the Stanley Business Park along East Street.  You can watch the action online via the "Stanleycam" at www.stanleycam.net. The $2 million building is expected to open in February.
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North Adams Starting Merchants Association

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A small group of business owners is hoping to establish a merchants association in the city.

Working in conjunction with Develop North Adams and the city's Office of Tourism, the group will hold a networking event on Monday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 7:30 at Desperados on Eagle Street.

The topic will be how local businesses and shop owners can work collectively to promote business and shopping here in North Adams, particularly during the holiday season. The group encourages participants bring along ideas of how to market the city or about organizing events.

While many of establishments here are part of the larger Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, the city's been without a formal merchants group for years. DNA was started more than a year ago to more broadly bring businesses and community together to benefit the city. It positioned itself not so much as a business group, but an umbrella under which a merchants association could develop.

Those planning to attend the meeting should RSVP by noon on Friday, Sept. 30, to Veronica Bosley in the Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180 or vbosley@northadams-ma.gov. Anyone wishing to bring up specific topics at the meeting is asked to send them to Bosley as soon as possible.
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NBT Bank Gets Approval For Legacy Locations

Staff Reports
iBerkshires
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — NBT Bank said on Monday that it has received regulatory approval for the acquisition of four banking locations in Berkshire County currently doing business under the Legacy Banks name.

The banking locations being acquired by NBT Bank are in Great Barrington at 700 Main St.; Lee at 76 Park St.; North Adams at 331 State Road, and Pittsfield at 609 Merrill Road. These bank offices will undergo a systems conversion during the fourth weekend in October and open to the public as offices of NBT Bank on Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. All current employees at these locations have been offered positions with NBT Bank.

"Receiving the final regulatory approval for our upcoming branch acquisition in Berkshire County is an important milestone in the acquisition process," said NBT Bank Director of Marketing Florence Doller. "We are now engaging the employees and customers of these bank offices as we prepare to welcome them into the NBT Bank family. We are confident that our focus on top-notch customer service and quality financial offerings will be received positively in Berkshire County."

Legacy Bancorp Inc. closed a number of branches as part of a merger with Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. (Berkshire Bank) earlier this year. The State Road branch opened in 2007 in the former Pizza Hut location. The bank was approved for signage at the location at the last Planning Board meeting.

NBT Bank, headquartered in Norwhich, N.Y., offers personal banking, asset management and business services through two NBT Bank and Pennstar Bank, with a network of 123 branches in three states. NBT Bank has 30 offices in New York's Capital Region and a total of 87 offices in upstate New York and northwestern Vermont. Pennstar Bank does business from 36 locations in northeastern Pennsylvania. NBT Bank's parent company, NBT Bancorp Inc., had assets of $5.3 billion as of June 30, 2011.
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