Senate Passes Kerry's Small-Business Innovation Plan

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a senior member of the Small Business Committee, today applauded the unanimous Senate passage of two small-business research programs Kerry originally sponsored as the committee's former chairman.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs under the Small Business Administration offer competitive awards to innovative small businesses. Reflecting Kerry's original legislation, today's vote will reauthorize both programs for eight years, making the new sunset date Sept. 30, 2017.

"This is a shot in the arm for small businesses in Massachusetts and throughout the country," said Kerry. "This vote ensures that these programs do not lapse so that small, high-tech firms from Springfield to Newburyport can continue to utilize them to develop technologies to keep our military strong, advance medical breakthroughs, and develop energy sources that are renewable and clean."

Small businesses awarded funding through SBIR or STTR work through three incremental phases. Today's legislation will increase the awards from $100,000 to $150,000 for Phase I and from $750,000 to $1 million for Phase II.
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Berkshires Beat: Berkshire Museum Starting Series of Renovations

Museum renovations

Construction fencing and heavy machinery will appear on South Street next week as the Berkshire Museum begins essential renovations. Together, three capital projects will preserve the 117-year-old museum structure and protect its unique collection of fine art, historical objects and scientific specimens for many years to come. Improvements include a modern sewer line, freight lift, and extensive waterproofing around the building’s basement level.

The lengthiest and most visible phase of construction will be the installation of a new sewer line to replace the original pipe installed when the historic institution was first built in 1903. The new plumbing will connect to the sewer main located under South Street. To make way for the new sewer line, Wally, the museum's beloved stegosaurus, was transported in April to Louis Paul Jonas Studios in New York for refurbishment. The fiberglass dinosaur will return when work on the front of the building concludes.

Over the coming months, crews will excavate around the museum’s basement level section by section to seal the building’s foundation with a new moisture barrier that will protect the community museum’s one-of-a-kind collection. Efforts are already underway to install a new freight lift to safely transport large objects from the museum's existing loading dock to the basement level and second floor. Elevator doors will be installed in a second-floor gallery, allowing for easier and safer movement of large-scale objects.

The museum’s doors are currently closed as part of state-wide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, with the organization operating online instead. When the museum building reopens, construction is expected to have little impact on visitor experience. Temporary gallery closures will be shared in advance via the museum’s website.


Fraser installation

During this time of physical distancing, the Installation Space at 49 Eagle St. will be sharing a new installation virtually through a series of live broadcasts and streaming video on its website and social media. The installation opens with a reception streaming live to Facebook and Instagram at 6 p.m. Friday, May 29. It runs through July 5.

Nicholas Fraser's "Left Hanging" project transforms would-be love letters into meticulous shrines to longing and a monumental exercise in oversharing. He converts unanswered internet dating site messages, his failed efforts to spark a connection, into an intimate portrait whose tireless sense of hope and humor belies a weary awareness of the artificial, projected nature of these online communications. Each message is hand cut with the letters left attached and dangling. Some are warped and distorted, the stretched letters echoing the author’s initial efforts to shape the message for its intended recipient. Others are layered over images dense with competing texts. Legibility is thoroughly compromised, undermining attempts to decipher the message.

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