MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge Announces Three Winners

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Although this year's MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge, held May 4-8, was a virtual affair, the college community still came together to view and vote for the three finalists' pitches.

The finalists, all seniors who pitched their business ideas via video, were David Flight, Kimberly Granito and Sierra Lamonde. The students were coached through a series of deliverables — determining the solution to the problem, developing a budget and business plan as the roadmap for the project or business, and presenting before a panel of judges.

Granito’s "Detailing Dream" won first place, which came with a $7,500 award. Lamonde's "Pyrography Crafts" placed second, for a $5,000 award, and Flight's "Settling the States” won the $2,500 third-place award. The startup funding awards aim to cover inventory, equipment, and marketing costs for the three new businesses.

While this year's challenge was different than past events, Granito said the vollege made sure everyone had a good experience nonetheless. The sociology major, with minors in criminal justice and women, gender and sexuality studies, admitted to being a little intimidated going into the challenge because she wasn't a business major, but stressed that anyone could do it.

"It takes a lot of time to put a business plan together, but it was possible with the mentorship the challenge offers," she said. "It's such a great opportunity, even without the prize money, just learning the ins and outs of putting a plan together."

Her winning business, Detailing Dream, is a car detailing service meant to cater to people who may think they don't have the time or money for such a service. Granito's packages include lower-cost options that other companies don't offer because they usually cater to luxury cars. Unlike most of her competitors, Granito's business would also include a mobile option where she would come to the customer, so they could take advantage of the service without leaving their home or office.

"I was trying to cater to single women, single moms, and parents with kids who might be too intimidated to go to a big shop with all men," she said. "I'm a female in a very male-dominated career — society has deemed cars a man's hobby. It was empowering to be a female jumping into a male-dominated area."

Second-place winner Lamonde said her business, Pyrography Crafts, aims to bring joy to customers by creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wood-burnings of people, pets and other animals, cartoons and more.

Flight's Settling the States is a company that designs legacy board games inspired by the geographical regions of the United States. The company's first product, Settling New England, makes players compete against each other to survive the changing seasons to become legend settlers.

This year’s judges were Anthony Barbosa '15, Alison Thompson '98, and Tim Oxborough. Entrepreneur-in-residence Amy Shapiro worked with the students for 16 weeks, walking them through solving a problem, creating a viable solution, and investigating, testing and developing a business plan and pitch video. Director of Alumni Engagement and Donor Relations Kate Gigliotti and Assistant Professor of Digital Journalism and Communications Shawn McIntosh handled the logistics of the virtual event. MCLA students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends participated in the challenge by voting online.


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Berkshires Beat: Food Pantry Returning to Eagle Street Starting Aug. 12

Back home

Starting Wednesday, Aug. 12, the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry will return to operating out of its home at 45 Eagle St. in North Adams. At that time, the hours will change to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those coming directly to the Friendship Center. Intake and food distribution will take place at the front door. Those who cannot physically come to the food pantry or who feel ill, may call 413-664-0123 on Wednesday during hours of operation to set up a delivery. Deliveries will take place between 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, Aug. 13.

The Food Pantry will operate from the Holden Street side of the St. Elizabeth Parish Center one final Wednesday, Aug. 5, during two sessions, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The food pantry operation moved to the St. Elizabeth Parish Center at the end of March. This move allowed for food distribution with greater social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back at 45 Eagle St., safety will remain very important, and staff asks members to continue to help all of us stay safe by maintaining social distance and utilizing face coverings. For more information and for future updates see the Facebook page or the website.

 

Basketball courts reopen

Basketball courts in the city of Pittsfield have now reopened for limited use in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Signage with these directives will be posted at parks throughout the city.

In April, city basketball courts were among a list of public spaces that were temporarily closed, as part of the city’s mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Per the guidelines, the reopening of the courts will allow for practice and drills only. No pick-up games or scrimmages are allowed until further notice. Visitors are reminded to exercise social distancing and limit group size to 25 players or less.

Additionally, facial coverings must be worn when intermittent contact might occur and when participants are not actively engaged in an activity.

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