PITTSFIELD, Mass. — James Ruberto today challenged his opponent Dan Bianchi on his statements regarding small businesses in Pittsfield. In recent debates, Bianchi has cited his intent to set aside $1 million of the Economic Development Fund for small businesses.
"Small businesses today face the toughest economy since the Great Depression," Ruberto said. "Any local business that has a viable plan to stay and grow here deserves more help from the city not less. Yet Dan is proposing to cut back the amount of the City Economic Development Fund available to small businesses from its current level of $6 million down to only $1 million. That is the wrong idea at the wrong time. Dan called this economy 'rosy' compared to past recessions; he is clearly out of touch which may be why he does not recognize that the needs of small business owners are more profound than ever before."
"Today, the City Economic Development Fund has $6 million, all of it available to small businesses that meet the criteria and receive the proper approvals," Ruberto said. "All of the companies who have received allocations during my administration have been small businesses."
Ruberto, the mayor, said the Bianchi campaign has offered no specifics on how the $1 million would be allocated.
"Dan speaks of cutting the amount of funds available to small businesses down to $1 million, and has offered no standards for transparency or public accountability, no measurements of success, no requirements for job retention or creation. I strongly resist any proposal that weakens our ability to help small businesses grow, especially if such a proposal would decrease the amount of oversight from the City Council and the public. The people of Pittsfield deserve to know that the administration and the Council are investing these funds wisely and that we are getting returns on the investments in the form of job growth."
Ruberto said that in addition to the $6 million available to small businesses from the fund, assistance is available from Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp.
"Dan has expressed no interest in or awareness of the important function played by PERC in promoting small business. PERC plays a vital role in providing small-business technical assistance grants and loans of up to $100,000. In the past six years, PERC has provided more than $700,000 to support 23 businesses," said Ruberto.
All of the efforts combined had helped to create more than 125 jobs and brought $60 million in private investment into the city during his administration, said Ruberto, and that his administration has been responsible for returning $1.7 million to the Economic Development Fund.
"The administration prior to me, with the support of Dan Bianchi, steered $1.4 million in economic development funds, to run water and sewer service on Dan Fox Drive. I negotiated with the state and with a private developer, with the result that the developer paid the costs for water and sewer, and Pittsfield received the $1.4 million back to be used for other opportunities. We have also received back more than $360,000 as the first installment on our bridge loan to the Beacon Cinema, again because we negotiated terms with a private developer which met the needs of our downtown and benefitted the people of Pittsfield."
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