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PERC, PEDA, and the city announced Michael Coakley as the business development manager on Monday.

Pittsfield Announces First-Ever Business Development Manager

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Lenox native will put his sales and marketing experience to use in efforts to grow the city's economy.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When it comes to growing and attracting businesses to the city, Michael Coakley is the guy you want to talk to.
Coakley was announced on Monday as the city's first-ever business development manager. The job is newly created through a partnership between the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., and the city to serve as a one-stop shop for businesses to access incentives, information, and assistance with growing in the city.
"We have come together to break down economic development silos and Michael will be serving as our quarterback in all of the work we are doing to transform the way we support businesses, both those that are here now and are growing and expanding and businesses we hope to bring to Pittsfield," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
PERC and PEDA had both lost key personnel in the last year and, with the city, banded together to pitch in equal amounts of money toward the position. The three groups then had representatives narrow 29 applications to seven, and then down to two. 
Eventually, the Lenox native Coakley won the job.
"The moment he walked in the door and delivered his ideas on how we can grow the city of Pittsfield, I knew instantly he was certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with," said Christina Wynn, who represented PEDA on the search committee.
Coakley hails from Lenox but spent much of his youth playing sports in Pittsfield. He graduated Taconic High School and then went on to Williams College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in history. After graduation, he took a job with Mass Mutual before heading to Northeastern University for his master's degree in business. 
From there, he spent decades working in sales in marketing. He's worked with companies like Kraft Foods and Maxwell House Coffee in marketing. He assisted other companies such as Nabisco and Palmolive with marketing plans. When he got married in 1996, he decided to return home to the Berkshires.
"We decided to move back to the Berkshires. We thought this was a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We've been back here for about 20 years now," Coakley said.
He took a job with the Lenox-based Winstanley Partners, where he worked with clients such as Spalding, Smith & Wesson, Reebok, and Polar Beverages on a national scale and local companies like Lyon Aviation and Scarafoni Associates. He has been with Winstanley for more than two decades and is currently the vice president of account services
"I have experience working with large companies, smaller companies, and everything in between," Coakley said.
Coakley says the sales and marketing background will transition well into the new role. He's has a long experience building relationships with companies and will be able to revamp the marketing plans to help convince those outside to look at moving to the city.
"I think companies had a tough time figuring out what was available as far economic incentives, and who to talk to," Coakley said. "Now I will be the contact that companies can talk to help streamline the process."
As for attracting businesses, he gave an example. He said in Springfield CRRC, which build rail cars for numerous cities throughout the country, is spending millions on a facility. He wants to find out who is supplying the materials and to see if they would want to open a site in Pittsfield. Those are the type of opportunities he'd be looking track down for Pittsfield. 
But the former member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce will also be there to help provide any incentives and assistance for local companies to expand.
"I really do see this as a team effort, not just between the city, PERC, and PEDA but all of the companies around. We are all working toward the same goal," Coakley said.
Tyer is particularly looking at Coakley's ability to reach out to current businesses to make sure they know all of the incentives the three organizations provide to attract businesses are also available to those here now as well.
"I believe strongly that the strength of our economy lies with supporting those businesses that are here now, employing people, contributing to the economy, paying taxes, providing new products, moving into a new marketplace. I think that is a very key strategy to our economic development plan," Tyer said.
She added that Coakley's sales and marketing background brings a piece of the economic development strategy that was missing.
"We needed, to advance the work we are doing, to find someone who had lots of experience in sales and marketing so we can elevate the work we are doing around economic development. We knew that there was a gap in rounding out this set of strategies and sales and marketing is a key component to what we were looking for in the candidates we sought to bring on board," Tyer said.
Tyer had recently developed what she calls the "red carpet team" of representatives from various economic development agencies. Coakley will now serve as the head of that effort and coordinate all of the various the efforts in a more efficient manner.
"If we don't think differently about how evolve our economy here in Pittsfield, we are just going to get the same results. This is a real shift in the way we think about economic development and the way we partner around these strategies," Tyer said.
At the William Stanley Business Park, Wynn said PEDA has received numerous interested developers over the years. When the park isn't right for that developer, she said there could be other areas in the city that do work. But in the past, the developer would have to go through another agency altogether in order to see those properties and incentives.
"There are some challenges but there are also some bright spots [with the William Stanley Business Park]. When we think about the attention we've received over the years from developers, that is a real opportunity for Mike," Wynn said.
She particularly cited work he do to not only get the Berkshire Innovation Center under construction but to attract companies to develop alongside it. Coakley himself mentioned advanced manufacturing as being a type of industry he'd be looking to recruit to the city.
Mark McKenna, of PERC, agreed that the partnership will benefit all parties.

Coakley was announced as the new manager by Mark McKenna, from PERC, Mayor Linda Tyer, and Christina Wynn, from PEDA.
"I'm looking forward to PEDA, PERC, and the city working together with Mike and bringing new businesses to Berkshire County and Pittsfield," McKenna said
Another aspect of Coakley that stood out is that he is local. His family goes back generations and he has been back living and working in the area for 20 years. Wynn said economic development takes time and is happy to find a candidate who has no plans to leave immediately.
"He has a long history of being here in Berkshire County and has a background in sales, which is incredibly helpful for this kind of role and developing relationships with businesses," Wynn said.
Despite sharing the position, Tyer said that PERC and PEDA will still remain autonomous agencies. Coakley's time isn't going to be split up between the three by an hourly basis, but he will work for all three. Tyer said the partnership isn't the start of merging the three agencies, but she didn't rule it out in the future.
"I believe that is a potential in the long run, but that is not the strategy at the moment. I view the three of us as partners in economic development," Tyer said.
Coakley, who will have an office in City Hall, said is first task will be meeting with local business leaders, commercial property owners, and government officials to start building relationships.

Tags: business development,   business manager,   economic development,   PEDA,   PERC,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Aug. 23-29

This weekend is your last chance to see the 2019 Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. Performances are held on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. on the First Street Common. Featuring the witty on-again, off-again lovers Beatrice and Benedick, Much Ado is the story of the trials of love in a society dominated by patriarchal traditions. Beatrice's cousin Hero and the soldier Claudio meet and fall in love, but when a man spreads nasty rumors about her, Hero's voice is silenced and their relationship torn apart. Loyalties are tested as the community responds, including a ragtag group of officers who just might save the day. FREE, donations suggested.
The Shaker Barn Music Series presents singer-songwriter Nellie McKay. The deep, and deeply funny, McKay has paid tribute to the disparate likes of Doris Day, transgender jazz pianist Billy Tipton, environmentalist Rachel Carson and comedian Joan Rivers. Wallace Field opens. 7:30 p.m.
FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow | FRI Karaoke Night at Friends | FRI Dan Gingras at Proprietor's Lodge | FRI Todd McLeod at Rusty Anchor | FRI Mr. Doubtfire at Mission | FRI-SAT Wine, Cheese & Trees at Bousquet | SAT Latin Night at The A | SAT Pete Boyd at Proprietor's Lodge | SAT The Damaged & More at Crossroads | SAT Acoustic Gravel & Jessica Wilson at Rusty Anchor | SUN-MON Karen Mason at Barrington Stage | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Entrepreneurial Meet-up at Thistle & Mirth | WED Melissa Massery at Methuselah | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU The Picky B's at Mission | THU Jessica Wilson at Proprietor's Lodge

Children ages 6 and older are invited to learn to paint a sparkly unicorn on a 16x20 canvas at Berkshire Paint & Sip. All painting materials, instruction, light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the $25 fee. 1-3 p.m. at 305 North Street.
FRI FREE Fun Friday at Berkshire Museum FRI WeeMuse: Adventures at Berkshire Museum FRI Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum SAT Kitchen Ka-Boom! at Berkshire Museum SAT Back to School Event at Berkshire Dream Center SAT Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum SAT Robbins Zust Marionette Show at Dottie's SAT da Vinci After Hours at Berkshire Museum SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum | MON Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum TUE WeeMuse: Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum WED Gallery Scavenger Hunts at Berkshire Museum THU Farm Friends at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum THU Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum 
SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Massage at Radiance
Indulge in the ultimate self-care experience, combining restorative yoga with CBD massage, at Radiance Yoga. Shannon will lead you through comfortable yoga postures and licensed massage therapists will guide you deeper into relaxation with massage using Vermont Farmacy's Herbal CBD Salve. 6 p.m.
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