Giving back: Berkshire Bank will close all locations at noon on Wednesday, June 7, for its company-wide Xtraordinary Day, The Power of Giving Back. Xtraordinary Day provides all Berkshire Bank employees the opportunity to volunteer in communities the Bank and its affiliates serve.
This second annual Xtraordinary Day is set to focus on more than 60 community projects with approximately 90 percent of employee participation across the country. The previous year's Xtraordinary Day marked the first year the bank as a whole closed its doors to dedicate an entire afternoon to give back to the communities in which it serves. Last year, employees were able to help 54 different nonprofit organizations and directly impacted more than 100,000 individuals across the Bank’s footprint.
With the continued growth of the bank, this year's Xtraordinary Day will now benefit nonprofit organizations and communities across the United States. Some of this year’s community projects include assembly of literacy kits in partnership with Berkshire United Way, downtown guide assembly at Downtown Pittsfield, cleanup of Housatonic River Walk, Burbank Park and Girls Inc., painting at Lee Youth Association and Dalton CRA, meal assembly for Rise Against Hunger and financial education at Farmington River Elementary School.
Survey says: Berkshire businesses were eager to share their thoughts in the inaugural Berkshire Business Confidence Index (BCI) survey that was sent to nearly 5,000 local businesses and organizations last month. The Berkshire BCI, which is sponsored by Berkshire Money Management, is a monthly survey that measures the confidence of area businesses as they navigate the months ahead. Each month the surveys are tallied and interpreted by BMM in a free monthly newsletter.
The inaugural survey results reveal that Berkshire businesses see a modest improvement in overall business conditions in the next six months. They also see the advantages to living in a ‘small-town’ community where customer service is fairly easy to achieve.
One of the greatest challenges that many respondents cited is the lack of skilled labor in the area. There is a strong demand among businesses and organizations to add to their workforces, but finding qualified employees is difficult across all of the industries. To meet this and other challenges facing area businesses, Berkshire Money Management CEO and Chief Investment Officer Allen Harris suggests that decision makers continue to communicate with one another, and become active participants in the BCI.
The next Berkshire BCI survey was mailed out on June 1. Everyone is encouraged to share their concerns, suggestions, and ideas. To see the complete BCI survey results newsletter, click here.
Cooking with gas: When people think of a natural gas utility, they don't typically think of an enterprise that is deeply steeped in the arts. Rather, the stereotype is of an industrial/technical complex of energy delivery professionals and industrial systems. And while Berkshire Gas is that to a degree, its commitment to community and the arts makes the company so much more than just an energy utility. With the opening of the final build-out phase of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass., on May 28, the company's investment some 30 years ago in an unlikely arts start up has benefited the region and the arts in both the United States and abroad.
Not only has the museum’s success validated Berkshire's reputation for supporting the many arts and cultural attractions in western Massachusetts, Mass MoCA also has an annual regional economic impact in excess of $22 million.
Berkshire Gas stood strong with local officials and the development team working on the Mass MoCA concept. As the developers took possession of the sprawling 16-acre industrial complex, they lacked the resources needed to heat and maintain the 26 building campus. Berkshire Gas was instrumental in providing energy to heat and preserve the integrity of the overall facility while final plans were completed and financing was secured.
It was the stability and breathing room provided by this support from the company that made it possible for the development team to ultimately move forward and be successful. The company's support also demonstrated corporate confidence in the MASS MoCA proposal and served as a magnet for additional investment, both public and private.
Today, Mass MoCA has become one of the world's largest and most productive centers for making and showing new art that matters. With no permanent collection, the museum hosts long-term installations (up to 25 years), organizes short-term exhibitions (6-18 months), and presents live music, theater, and dance performances all year round. All 26 buildings on MoCA's 19th-century factory campus are listed on the National Historic Register.
With its sponsorship support, Berkshire Gas has engaged both its employees and the public at large at the museum by helping to make possible diverse programming attracting wide audiences. Berkshire Gas has also been the principal sponsor of the museum's annual Free Day, each winter, making it possible for anyone to visit, explore and experience Mass MoCA free of charge, again with the emphasis on making this vital cultural and educational attraction accessible to all. In recognition of the company's support and association, Mass MoCA designated a gallery on the ground floor of Building 4 as the Berkshire Gas Gallery in 1999 when the museum first opened.
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