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Keith Parzych, owner of the Verizon Wireless Zone store at 43 Main St. in North Adams, presented a check for $1,000 to Mark Rondeau, co-founder of the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, on Tuesday at the food pantry on Eagle Street.

Biz Briefs: North Adams Verizon Wireless Zone Gives $1,000 to Food Pantry

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Verizon donation

Keith Parzych, owner of the Verizon Wireless Zone store at 43 Main St. in North Adams, presented a check for $1,000 to Mark Rondeau, co-founder of the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, on Tuesday at the food pantry on Eagle Street.

The donation came from the Wireless Zone Foundation of Giving, which is made up of Verizon Wireless Zone stores across the country who take small donations then sponsoring local charities. Founded in 2003, raises significant amounts of money and supports a large number of local and national charities and causes, including Make-A-Wish, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Sandy Hook Promise.

Parzych sponsored the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry to receive the donation. The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Donations of food and money are gratefully accepted. For monetary donations, make checks payable to the Friendship Center Food Pantry and mail them to Al Nelson Friendship Center, PO Box 626, North Adams MA 01247. Donations of food may be brought to 45 Eagle St. on Tuesdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.


BIC announcement

The Berkshire Innovation Center announced Tuesday that Mill Town will be expanding its operations to the BIC, occupying roughly 500 square feet of dedicated space in the brand-new facility as the organization's newest member. Committing sponsorship dollars at the Platinum Level, Mill Town will also serve as the on-site venture capital partner. In this role, Mill Town has reserved investment capital to fund the growth of BIC-affiliated businesses and entrepreneurs.

Mill Town is a private investment group based in Pittsfield that focuses on improving the region through impactful business investments, real estate projects and community development efforts. Mill Town's mission is simple:  to improve Pittsfield by expanding the quality and quantity of opportunities to live, work and play in the Berkshires.   An aspect of Mill Town's work is supporting entrepreneurs with scalable concepts across all stages of company development. The organization invests across many business sectors and company stages, from idea generation to business expansion.
The Berkshire Innovation Center expands the innovation capacity and growth potential of private industry by providing advanced capabilities to manufacturers in the Berkshires region - primarily small and medium sized companies (and start-ups) in life sciences, the life sciences supply chain, advanced manufacturing, and technology. The goal is to enable and accelerate the growth of the manufacturing sector with the ultimate objective of spurring economic growth, job creation and retention. Construction on the BIC’s brand new facility, the result of a capital grant awarded by the Massachusetts Life Science Center and the support of the City of Pittsfield, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, and Mass Development, will be complete in late October and the facility will be open for business in January 2020.


All-Ideas Pitch Contest

EforAll Berkshire County will be hosting its first Pitch Contest on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street in Pittsfield. This event is free and open to the public. For aspiring entrepreneurs, this is a golden opportunity to share, receive feedback and possibly win prize money for their business or nonprofit idea.  Prizes for the winners, who will be chosen by a panel of judges, are $1,000 for the grand prize winner, $750 for second place, $500 for third place, $500 for the fan favorite.  Applications closed on Oct. 11 and a full complement of ideas will be on display.

Audience members will have as much fun as the entrepreneurs at the EforAll pitch contest. There are two networking opportunities – before and after the contest – and up to 20 entrepreneurs will be talking about their ideas, looking for feedback and advice. It's a great chance to catch the enthusiasm and energy of passionate people looking to create a business or nonprofit. Entrepreneurs engage with community members and receive encouragement and feedback – it's a great networking event.

EforAll launched this Fall in Berkshire County with the support of key community partners including the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation, 1Berkshire, The City of Pittsfield and PERC, Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Feigenbaum Foundation and Jill & Niraj Shah. 


New Verizon Wireless Zone

The grand opening took place on Sept. 19.

The official grand opening of Verizon Wireless Zone in Great Barrington took place Sept. 19. complete with refreshments, a ribbon cutting and the presentation for the Nonprofit Award winner. The Southern Berkshire Chamber along with Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Community College, the Jewish Women's Foundation, Jewish Federation, general public and many Verizon employees were on hand to celebrate the new owners.

The Verizon store changed ownership earlier in 2019, with new franchisees Eric Maldonado and Bill Sestrom taking over the location in February. Leading up to the grand opening, Verizon Wireless Zone held a nonprofit challenge, with members of the public invited to stop in at the store in the Big Y Plaza to vote for their favorite nonprofit organization. The winner was the Jewish Women's Foundation of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires. Dara Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and Jane Glaser, founder of the Jewish Women's Foundation, were on hand to receive the $1,000 award.


Technical Assistance Grant

The Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation  has awarded a $5,000 Technical Assistance Grant to Shire Acupuncture of Pittsfield to support computer and software purchases to manage medical records and appointments. Shire also will receive assistance for professional guidance and services of a technical nature, such as financial, architectural, legal, engineering, or specialized business planning.

Shire Acupuncture, a full-service acupuncture clinic, will provide natural and effective healing modalities. Owned and operated by Kacey Boos, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, the business will offer a variety of treatments, consisting of acupuncture and adjunctive therapies along with herbal and nutritional consultations. She plans on opening her doors in October.

Shire Acupuncture is located on the second floor of 55 North St. in Pittsfield, the home of the Beacon Cinema, and will be part of the transformation to a health and wellness center.


Habitat volunteers

More than 25 volunteers from Berkshire Gas will be donating their time and skills to build with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity on Friday, Oct. 18, at the new Gordon Deming Village at 52-62 Gordon St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to make a difference for six area families in their community.

Berkshire Gas donated the Deming Street parcel to Habitat more than 10 years ago and a private donor provided a house that Habitat for Humanity sold and turned into $425,000 in seed money for the $1 million Gordon Deming project. Habitat also received a $425,000 MassWorks grant in 2017, fundraising will fill the $150,00 funding gap.

The following Wednesday, Oct. 23, Lowe’s Heroes employees also will volunteer at the site. Lowe's awarded Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity a $76,000 grant to support the new workforce development program, Habitat BuildCorps.

Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization that builds strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Founded in 1992, Central Berkshire Habitat is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.


Big Y Turns Pink

In order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, all Big Y Supermarkets will be donating proceeds from various departments throughout the store to 31 local breast cancer support groups throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. Since 2007, the chain has raised more than $2 million dollars for this cause. The program, "Partners of Hope," reflects the partnership, commitment and support of breast cancer awareness and research that is so vital for many. Last year, Big Y raised close to $217,000.00.

During the entire month of October, Big Y will donate a portion of the proceeds from both the floral and produce purchases, including Sunshine Bouquets. Additionally, the Big Y Butcher Shops will donate 10 cents from every pound of All Natural Angus Beef and Big Y Smart Chicken sold during the entire month of October. Big Y Pharmacy & Wellness Center will also donate $5 for every flu shot given. Every store will be promoting Partners of Hope pink ribbons for $1 through Oct. 31 as a way of generating additional proceeds for local breast cancer organizations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.


BUW Workplace Campaign

Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of Maritime & Strategic Systems at General Dynamics Mission Systems, speaks at the Berkshire United Way campaign kickoff. (Photo courtesy Tricia McCormack Photography)

Berkshire United Way has officially launched its 2019 Workplace Campaign. BUW’s fundraising goal this year is $2.3M. BUW supports 42 programs in 28 agencies throughout Central and Southern Berkshire County. Last year, contributions to BUW helped change the lives of 16,914 residents in the Berkshires.

Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of Maritime & Strategic Systems at General Dynamics, said his company has set a goal to increase their contributions this year – and he challenged each workplace collectively to increase their giving by 5 percent to help BUW reach its goal. "A lot of communities have needs. Berkshire United Way looks very analytically at where the needs are greatest and helps make your contributions and the contributions of your employees matter the most," Zaffanella said.

Chris Montferret, director of Strategy and Business Development at General Dynamics and a BUW Board member, emphasized the meaning of BUW’s new slogan, #HereForGood: BUW is here to stay and is doing good in the community.


OctoberFest collaboration

Mezze Bistro + Bar, Tourists and Bright Ideas Brewing are joining forces for a fall celebration of OctoberFest on Thursday, Oct. 24, at The Airport Rooms in North Adams. Crafting a creative spin on traditional wurst and kraut styles, Mezze chef Nicholas Moulton and his kitchen crew will feature a small-plate-style menu alongside local beer pairings from Bright Ideas Brewing and cocktails crafted by the bar team at Tourists.

OctoberFest-themed dishes will include Cricket Creek Farm veal knackwurst with kohlrabi kraut, East Mountain Farm pork bratwurst on a potato roll with celery root mustard slaw, Square Roots Farm chicken weisswurst with German new potato salad, and East Mountain Farm pork-and-apple scrapple with pickled onions, arugula and a Square Roots Farm egg. Priced between $6 and $9 for small plates, the event is designed for guests to try more than one option and to share with friends.

Local farm and artisan food producers include Bright Ideas Brewing, Cricket Creek Farm, East Mountain Farm, Ski Bum Rum and Square Roots Farm. No reservations are needed. The event begins at 5 p.m., is first-come, first-served and will continue until all food is sold out. The Airport Rooms are located at 861 State Road (Route 2) in North Adams.

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Massachusetts Early Voting Runs Through Oct. 29

A record turnout is expected for the 2020 election as states with early voting say they are surpassing numbers from just four years ago. The Washington Post reported that turnout is already at 70 percent of the total early voting numbers of 2016. Massachusetts on Tuesday has already seen more than 1 million early and mail-in ballots two weeks before the election; in 2016, the total for the election was 1,038,144.  
Voting in advance or by mail is being encouraged to reduce long lines and potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. Early voting in person began on Oct. 17. 
If you are mailing a ballot, the U.S. Postal Service recommends that it have been in the mail by Oct. 20 to ensure it arrives by Nov. 3. You can also drop off your mail-in ballot in person at your town or city hall and many have secure drop boxes for ballots so they can be returned at any time. Make sure the drop box is legitimate -- don't fall for cardboard boxes or handmade signs. 
Early in-person voting ends on Oct. 29. 
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