Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Annual Meeting Highlights 2022's Successes
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The year 2022 was one of gathering, celebrating and strategic planning in the downtown corridor.
On Thursday, Downtown Pittsfield Inc.'s annual meeting at the Colonial Theatre highlighted the return of events and various new initiatives that put the city on the map.
"As I was preparing for this meeting, it occurred to me that I am regularly asked 'Why do you do so much?' and after thinking about it I realized it's not me, it's us," Managing Director Rebecca Brien said.
"It is the Downtown Pittsfield team. It is the DPI board. It is our members. It is those that we collaborate with and it is our community. We do so much."
Brien was appointed to her role in early 2022 and declared, "what a year this has been."
She highlighted a number of successes including downtown cleanups, arts festivals, and holiday celebrations as well as the welcoming of new businesses and the Berkshire Flyer.
"One of the things I love the most about Pittsfield is the spirit of collaboration," Mayor Linda Tyer said in a video message.
"There are a variety of instances and residences and businesses and nonprofits that all come together for a common cause of making this city the best place to live, work, and visit. Downtown Pittsfield is a great example of what collaboration can achieve."
She reported that the Beacon Cinema in April experienced its highest attendance since opening with more than 47,000 moviegoers and is expecting to welcome a record-breaking 179,000 this year.
Liam Gorman of CozQuest Creative was honored with the Robert K. Quattrochi Downtown Person of the Year Award, Pittsfield Beautiful with the Downtown Community Award, and the Berkshire Family YMCA and Allegrone Companies with the President's Award.
"Today's awardees are a powerful reflection of the impact that can be made in a community," Tyer said.
During the pandemic, Gorman created local business treasure hunts to "gamify" the act of shopping with the help of DPI and the Entrepreneurship For All business accelerator.
He launched his first small-business treasure hunt in fall 2020 and since then, they have been used in many different communities and venues.
For more than three decades, Pittsfield Beautiful has volunteered to make the downtown look its absolute best with the goal of creating a welcoming presence with plantings of flowers and ornamental shrubs.
Its members have maintained 19 perennial gardens at City Hall, the Colonial Theatre and The Common as well as more than 100 planters.
The YMCA recently completed a $12.4 million renovation of its North Street facility to expand its child-care program, improve the athletic facilities, and update its facade.
Earlier this year, a soft opening was held for the new basketball court and elevated running track and, later this month, there will be a grand opening of the entire upgraded facility.
DPI's board President Branden Huldeen said the downtown is currently at a moment when years of hard work by many people in the room are coming together to form an exciting future for the corridor.
He believes that it will be "reborn and new."
DPI updated its mission statement to read: The mission of Downtown Pittsfield Inc. is to strengthen and promote Downtown Pittsfield Inc.'s membership through advocacy, collaboration, and celebration.
This process made the organization realize that it is a member service organization, which had not been made explicitly clear before.
"A member service organization has a very simple premise: To serve our members. All of you. If it serves our members, we do it. If it doesn't serve our members, we don't do it. It's a very simple concept," Huldeen explained.
"For years we were a business development group and an economic development group but we stumbled upon that we are here to serve our membership that represents all sorts of types of organizations and businesses and property owners and residents of downtown and it became much more clear why we're here and what we're here to do."
Last year, Downtown Pittsfield was identified as a Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) district. This MassDevelopment initiative, concentrates economic development activities, resources, and investments within designated neighborhood areas, known as "TDI districts," for a term of two to four years.
Huldeen said members of a dozen different downtown groups including those that meet monthly to keep the ball rolling with the TDI district and this is how DPI held the "It's Alive!" festival in October.
In partnership with the Berkshire Black Economic Council, DPI is also distributing "Vibe North Street" grants funded by TDI monies to revitalize storefronts.
In partnership with the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. (PERC,) DPI is also administering "Glow Up!" business improvements grants to businesses affected by the pandemic. This was made possible by securing $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Huldeen said 2023 is the "year of commitment," as the organization needs to double down on everyone's efforts to make sure this is the start of something amazing that is sustained.
"All of this is possible by having the conversations, by sharing our ideas, by getting involved, participating, collaborating," Brien said.
"And by working together, we can create a downtown Pittsfield that is truly the vibrant and bustling district we all know it can be."
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