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BIC Executive Director Ben Sosne, left, introduces himself at Tuesday's meeting.

PEDA to Create Site-Readiness Report On Park's Largest Parcel

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The 16-acre parcel will be looked at in depth so prospects know what they need.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It wasn't long ago that a company got "scared away" from building on the William Stanley Business Park because it wasn't sure what was in the ground.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority doesn't want to see that happen again so it is spending about $27,000 to perform a "comprehensive" analysis of the land.
"This one is site-specific," said Chairman Mick Callahan at Tuesday morning's PEDA meeting. EDM will be looking at the largest parcel at the park known as Site 9.
"This is a very comprehensive analysis of one parcel of land that encompasses approximately 16 acres."
Callahan said while there has been some work by General Electric, by PEDA, and by the state in the past, it hasn't been done with businesses in mind. This study, he said, will be more geared toward marketing and finding out the information prospective businesses need — such as information about the utilities and water systems — so they have a ballpark cost going in.
"We have a strong sales effort with Mike Coakley working leads and prospects," Callahan said.
The site was most recently proposed to host a Walmart but the company backed out of the plans. The developers for that project, Waterstone, had planned to do the foundation and utility repairs needed on the site. Waterstone had filed for a permit from the city when Walmart backed out. PEDA is now seeking a new tenant and Coakley, business development manager for the park, told the board recently that the uncertainty there led to at least one potential developer backing out.
"They will do an implementation strategy on Site 9, which we would define as the northeast side of Woodlawn Avenue," Callahan said, meaning the report will detail exactly what needs to be done.
Coakley said he has multiple irons in the fire for attracting new businesses. He serves as the "quarterback" for PEDA, the city, and Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. To bolster his efforts, Coakley said a new website is being developed to help make it easier for prospects to find all that the city, or the other organizations, have to offer in order to help development.
"When people are looking to see business development in the city, they don't know where to go to," he said.
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
"This is a great opportunity to promote the Berkshires and bring businesses in, bring young people in, and help businesses that are here," Sosne said as he introduced himself to the board.
Sosne has been on the job for two weeks. He is a Great Barrington native now living in Williamstown. He moved backed to the Berkshires three years ago and was working on the development of Thomas Krens' proposed Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum.
"It means a lot to me to take this [position] because it means a lot to Berkshire County," he said.
PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston added that all of the necessary permitting for operating is just about complete — including an amendment to the restriction that would have excluded educational use.
"I think BIC has all of its permits in place now," he said.
Lastly, Thurston added that MountainOne has acquired its building in the park. It was constructed by Pittsfield Stanley Works and was being leased to the bank. Now, the bank has completed a purchase of it.

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Pittsfield Votes Hybrid Education Model, Considers Remote Start

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee has voted to go forward with a hybrid education model with the possibility of a fully remote beginning to the school year.
During the second half Thursday's meeting, the committee directed the administration to go forward with a morning/afternoon hybrid education model with the option to begin the school year remote.
"Today we are attempting to thread a needle of being respectful of the negotiation we are doing with our teachers and be respectful of the community that has weighed in in large numbers to say that they want to see some sort of version of in-person school," Superintendent Jason McCandless said. 
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