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Corey Thurston, center, seen in this file photo, is retiring as director of PEDA after nine years leading the business park development agency.

PEDA Director Thurston Stepping Down in April

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The head of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority is stepping down at the end of April.
 
Corydon "Cory" Thurston last week announced his retirement as executive director of the development agency he's lead for nine years.
 
"It has been a positive time and I think there is a new energy and I think one of the best accomplishments is getting the city and PEDA to work collaboratively," Thurston said in an interview Thursday evening.
 
Thurston had initially planned to retire three years ago but ended up cutting back to part time as PEDA looked to consolidate its office and focus more on collaborating with the city with matters having to do with the William Stanley Business Park and development.
 
"The last couple of years I have just been doing a couple of days a week and slowly working to create more synergies and save a bit more money for development opportunities and incentives for businesses," he said. 
 
PEDA will remain an independent, quasi-public agency, managed by its 11-member board of directors. There are no current plans to start a search for a new part-time director and in the interim, Michael Coakley, the business development manager for the city of Pittsfield, will serve as the director. PEDA oversees the redevelopment of former the General Electronic property off East Street. 
 
During his tenure, Thurston headed negotiations with GE, CSX railway and the state Department of Transportation that led to the demolition and reconstruction of the Woodlawn Avenue bridge. Also, the erection of the MountainOne building and, of course the Berkshire Innovation Center, that he said is a one-of-kind facility that will only help grow the economy in Pittsfield. 
 
Thurston, who came from the private sector — his family had owned a network of local radio stations — said he learned that things move a bit slower in the public sector. The BIC is a prime example of this.
 
"I discovered that grant opportunity right out the gate on day one and dogged that for the full nine years. That is how long it has taken," he said. "But in the public sector that is quite a lot in nine years. When I first went into the job from the private side you think that things move a little more quickly but that is not the case."
 
He noted that he was only part of these efforts and thanked the board as well as affiliates in the city. He said he was happy that PEDA and the business park are now getting more attention.
 
"It is not about me and certainly, in my opinion, we raised the exposure of PEDA and the William Stanley Business Park," he said. "We certainly accomplished a number of very positive things ... there are a lot of new opportunities and a new focus ... only good things can happen from here."
 
Thurston said this is what he will miss the most: the contacts and being out in the field making things happen.
 
"I enjoy the contacts and I enjoy being involved," he said. "I am the kind of person that I am going to stay busy and in terms of being right for the job. I wasn’t trying to make a career. I already had one. It was an easy transition."
 
Thurston said he was also happy that the city and PEDA were able to bring on Coakley as the single point of contact for all potential businesses.
 
His advice for the city and those involved in development: keep on the same trajectory but learn from the past.
 
"I think we need to keep working on that track and we need to be positive, we need to be aggressive, and we need to think about the lessons learned," he said. "You need to work with your strengths it isn't always 'build it and they will come.' You need to identify and understand what you are as a community and then try to develop and work with that and grow."
 
Thurston said he is happy with his legacy and is looking forward to some time to himself but concluded that he will always be around if needed.
 
"It has been a great job and I am looking forward to the success that will come out of the BIC," he said. "I will enjoy maybe a little more personal time off but I won't be ignoring it and I won’t be totally absent. I am still in town."
 

Tags: PEDA,   retirement,   

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Pittsfield City Council Passes Capital Budget for FY21

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council has approved the $8.4 million capital budget that was pulled out of the fiscal 2021 budget at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The council accepted an order from the mayor Tuesday to borrow an aggregate a sum not exceeding $8,470,000 for General Fund Capital Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2021 to address various city projects.
 
"There is enough back up in the packet to be able to move forward with this tonight Many of these are ready to go out to bid," Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said. "... We would really like to get these projects moving and done before winter."
 
With questions around the budget during the early days of the pandemic, the administration decided to pull all capital projects out of the budget. And with uncertainty over state aid, the administration was hesitant to commit money toward projects.
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