Berkshire Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Expands Resilience Chapter

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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DALTON, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday got an update on the Berkshire Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and its expansion on the resilience chapter.
"So in past years, BRPC CEDS report has included mention of resiliency in a brief kind of way, but given the impacts of COVID-19, the federal government has made it clear that they want all future CEDS reports starting with this one to really expand fairly dramatically the resiliency section," Wylie Goodman, the senior economic development planner with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said. 
Berkshire County's first CEDS was developed in 2011 with the intent of identifying regional economic goals and priorities, implementing strategies, and measuring progress in the region. Progress reports are sent to the Economic Development Administration investments in order to maintain the region's eligibility for EDA investments.
"It's both a document but it's really an ongoing process that gathers regional partners together to agree upon economic development goals for Berkshire County, and create a strategy for how these goals will be achieved," Goodman said. "So the CEDS are first certified by EDA as a five-year look ahead and then every year thereafter, there are shorter annual reports" 
On Jan. 26, the EDA approved BRPC's request to be designated as an economic development district, which recognizes the region's desire to maintain its shared goals of economic development and innovation. 
"That's a special designation that recognizes the region's demonstrated enthusiasm and competence in partnering with EDA to pursue these mutually held goals of regional collaboration around economic development, and innovation driven economic growth," Goodman said. "So it serves as a foundation for future economic success to benefit families and businesses in the region."
CEDS consists of six goals of talent and workforce; entrepreneurship and innovation; infrastructure site readiness and transportation; collaboration, industry and occupational clusters, and economic resiliency.  
"CEDS tracks things like regional economic conditions and trends, we do a SWOT analysis, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the region. We look at performance measures that evaluate how we're doing in terms of achieving regional economic goals. And we start to assess, looking at our economic resilience," Goodman said. "So that's things like planning, information networks, communication, predisaster recovery planning, and resiliency measures that make sure that the region could handle not just what happened in COVID, but future economic threats to the region that could that serve as economic shocks."
CEDS is working on resilience in terms of three categories: people, community and economy. 
"We look for projects that will enhance the region by creating good paying jobs and improve physical assets that are in disrepair and put them to productive use," Goodman said. "The kind of SWOT analysis that we're doing around resiliency is again at some of the issues that arose during COVID, like a need for child care. As well as resiliency factors are indicators that we knew existed prior to COVID, like the fact that the Berkshire's needs to ensure that we have a diverse set of industries in the region that we attract entrepreneurs."
CEDS takes programs that already exist but could be enhanced if given proper funding. CEDS looks for projects that will provide jobs and solve issues that were around prior to the pandemic. 
"These are building on assets that we already have and taking them to the next level. So one of those is growing the future food economy. Another is the Berkshire skills cabinet, which we work on in collaboration with MassHire," Goodman said. "And then the Berkshire County digital economy built to scale, which again, we're working on with 1Berkshire, making sure that we have a workforce that is trained and ready to be able to perform digital economy work not just for local businesses, but so that they could live in the Berkshires, and work remotely for companies anywhere in the country or even the world."
Goodman provided the board with four questions that it will have to answer within 30 days. These questions are: what are the current strength-weaknesses-opportunities and threats facing your town; how resilient were your town's "people-community-economy pre-pandemic, during the pandemic and currently; in the next five years, what are your recovery-related concerns for your town and the country as a whole, and what solutions to those concerns can you envision. 
The answers that the board puts together will be compared to the answers from the 32 other towns in Berkshire County to find commonalities. 
In other business, Town Hall renovations are still ongoing and testing throughout the building for asbestos is complete. 
Meerkat Pest Control has pushed the bat extraction to next Monday rather than completing it on March 14 due to the snowstorm over the past weekend. It will be sealing the cracks and leaving the front entrance open until May 1. 
"They will put the one-way doors on and the bats will leave when they come out for feeding after hibernation and they won't be able to come back in," said Patrick Pettit, building and grounds superintendent.
A couple of offices have already been moved across the street. They also requested an ad alternate for repairs on the third floor annex where the building department and historic committee are based. 
"Everything is running good, a couple small little quirks this morning, but everything's running smoothly across the street from the collector's office and for the assessor's office, everything's good over there," Pettit said. 
Pettit spoke to the architect and they will have prints by mid April and bidding will commence early May. 
Dawn Fahey requested a 13.41 percent increase in the Treasurer FY23 project to account for the increases in salaries, and costs of vendor checks, W2's, and envelopes. She has also budgeted for the preliminary legal opinion from the Bond Counsel for the Dalton Division Road Project. 
John Diver will be having a meeting with Pittsfield City Council President Peter Marchetti to discuss sharing in the $1.5 million engineering cost for the Dalton Division Road project. 
Diver also mentioned that he will be recommending using part of the $43 million American Rescue Plan Act funds that Pittsfield received.

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City of Pittsfield Enacts Water Usage Restrictions

PITTSFIELD, Mass.  – With a fast-increasing depletion of the water supply at the Pittsfield Cleveland Reservoir, the city of Pittsfield’s Department of Public Services and Utilities has enacted a State of Water Supply Conservation to ensure an adequate supply of water for fire protection and emergency response effective Monday, Aug. 8.
The action, which falls under the city’s Stage 2 Drought Management Plan, implements mandatory water restrictions.
Restricted activities include outside water use in general, watering lawns and  gardens, washing vehicles, and filling swimming pools. These activities are only permitted before 7  a.m. and after 7 p.m. and are limited to alternate days. Addresses ending in even numbers may water on even days of the month. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on odd days of the month.
These  restrictions will be enforced by the Department of Public Services and Utilities and will include fines for violations. These include a written warning for the first violation; a $50 fine for the second violation; and $300 for subsequent violations.
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