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North County young professionals Amanda Chilson of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Annie Rodgers and Jessica Sweeney of the ROOTS Teen Center accept their 40 Under Forty awards in the 2017 ceremony.

Biz Briefs: Berkshire Community College Hosts Annual 40 Under Forty Awards

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40 Under Forty

This year's awards ceremony will be held Thursday, March 29.

Berkshire Community College, in partnership with 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Eagle, is hosting the third annual Berkshire County 40 Under Forty Awards. The event aims to recognize outstanding young professionals who are excelling in their industries through their leadership roles. The event, taking place on Thursday, March 29, at 5 p.m., will be held at Berkshire Plaza Hotel.

The selection process again this year for winners was competitive and nomination driven. Nominees needed to demonstrate a commitment to business success, personal growth and community involvement. The judging panel was made up of previous winners and community members. The full list of 40 Under Forty winners can be found online.

The event is a major fundraiser for BCC. Monies raised will support a variety of initiatives at the college. The premier sponsor for the 40 Under Forty awards is Berkshire Money Management. Presenting sponsors include General Dynamics Mission Systems, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Greylock Federal Credit Union. The Underwriting Sponsors are Berkshire Bank and Raymond James.


Building capacity

Berkshire Bank Foundation is offering new grant opportunity to help meet the evolving needs of nonprofit organizations in communities served by Berkshire Bank. Through the Capacity Building Grant RFP, Berkshire is inviting proposals that seek to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations by providing funds for a variety of activities that will improve the organization’s performance and impact. If selected, the organization will be eligible for a grant of $5,000.

The mission of the bank's charitable foundation is to strengthen and improve the quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices by supporting important programs that will enhance opportunities for children and adults.
Capacity building may be used to bring a nonprofit to the desired level of operational, programmatic, financial or organizational maturity. Capacity building is not just about the capacity of a nonprofit today but about the organization's ability to deliver on its mission into the future. Project examples that will be considered include but are not limited to: the development of a communications strategy, improving program design, improving volunteer recruitment, improving corporate partnerships, technology enhancements, professional development, conference attendance and more.
Berkshire Bank Foundation plans to award nine $5,000 grants – one in each of Berkshire Bank's market areas. To be eligible for support, organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in or directly providing services in communities served by Berkshire Bank. Organizations must also submit an application through the online process.  Grant applications are now available online. The application includes basic organization and contact information as well as an open response field to address a series of questions. Deadline for applications is April 30.
All submissions will be reviewed by Berkshire Bank employees as part of their Xtraordinary Day of Service on June 5. These employees will evaluate each submission using an electronic scoring system. Each submission will be reviewed three times with the average of the scores used as the final score. The organizations with the highest score(s) will receive funding in late June 2018.


Gateway grant

Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires has received a $1,000 grant from the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to obtain two state-of-the-art computers that will be used in the organization's mission services program. The program helps community members with barriers to employment attain independence and self-sufficiency, gain confidence, and enhance quality of life through vocational, educational and work training, along with other support services.

Goodwill served more than 1,400 community members in its mission services program last year and plans to offer a new, retail-focused program in April. Goodwill's "Gateway to Employment" custodial training program, launched in January, recently completed its first session. The next session will begin on May 1. For more information about enrollment in Goodwill's "Gateway to Employment" programs, call 413-442-0061.


Business talk

Business decision makers gathered recently at a round table hosted by Berkshire Money Management to address key challenges facing local business owners and organizations. Fred Rutberg, president of New England Newspapers, Barbara Pickwell of Wohrle's Foods, Zogics, LLC founder Paul LeBlanc, Sarah Eustis, managing director of the Main Street Hospitality Group, and BMM founder and CEO Allen Harris all brought their concerns and ideas to the discussion, which was aired live on the John Krol Show on March 8. The full video can be viewed here.

One of the more pressing challenges that the group brought to the floor is hiring (and retaining) skilled employees. Other general feedback that emerged from the round table included teaming up with other similar businesses to address the same challenges – Eustis said that Main Street is working with others in the local hospitality industry to create a universal training program for new hires; using the technology of big name online services such as Amazon and Airbnb to snag wider markets; and considering the value that customers and clients place on experience.  

This first business round table was inspired by the consistent results of the Berkshire Business Confidence Index (BCI) that is distributed quarterly and analyzed by Berkshire Money Management. For the latest results of the Berkshire BCI, click here.



The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has been selected as a Community Partner and awarded a 2018 allocation of Community Investment Tax Credits in the amount of $100,000 from the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit Program. These tax credits are provided by the state to increase the capacity of certified community-based organizations such as the CDC of South Berkshire.

The Department of Housing and Community Development evaluated CDCSB's Community Investment Plan, Statement of Progress and demonstration of previous credit utilization in making this investment decision. The tax credits provide a 50 percent Massachusetts tax credit for donations of $1,000 or greater. The allocation from DHCD allows CDCSB to raise $200,000 in donations. Individuals, businesses, non-profits, and out of state residents can all take advantage of this program.

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