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MassHire's first in-person job fair on Thursday involved some 50 businesses and organizations.
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MassHire Career Center Filling Jobs & Building Connections

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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BerkshireJobs, an affiliate of iBerkshires, was at the fair to show the resources it can provide for jobseekers and employers. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — MassHire Berkshire Career Center last week held its first big in-person job fair since the pandemic. 
 
Local businesses and organizations were able to network with job seekers and find candidates for their openings. 
 
"There's a lot of businesses that are looking to fill positions and to be able to make meaningful connections between businesses and job seekers. So that way they can have sustainable income as well," the center's business services coordinator Melanie Herzig said. 
 
"There's a lot of businesses that are looking to fill positions and to be able to make meaningful connections between businesses and job seekers. So that way they can have sustainable income as well."
 
Approximately 50 businesses and organizations registered to table at the fair and to engage in on-the-spot interviews.
 
"I think it's important to the community so that individuals can come to the job fair and talk to employers face to face and really make that connection because a lot of the times now we're doing everything from behind the computer or behind some type of electronic device," Pittsfield's Human Resources Director Michael Taylor said. 
 
"So to be able to come in person and make a real connection with an employer and I think that's just really critical."
 
To honor veterans, the center offered early entrance to all veteran job seekers. In addition to that, five of the 50 participating organizations were veteran services including Soldier On, Pittsfield's Veteran Services, Berkshire Veterans Outreach Center, and more. 
 
The fair helps spread the word about the resources veterans have in the community to aid in the transition back into civilian life. 
 
The nonprofit Soldier On tabled at the event to share with the local veterans the resources it has for finding a job, housing, health care and other services.
 
"We do everything in our power to help the veterans in any way that we can," Soldier On case manager Justin Rathbun said. "We just really want to get the word out that if there's a veteran in need, that we are there to help and we don't want them to feel like they are on their own. So we want them to know that we have their backs. We go help them in any way possible and that's our mission."
 
Multiple businesses and organizations commented that the fair's turnout has been great and helpful to the community. 
 
"We have a community of people that are looking for work. We have employers who are looking for staff so it's a huge event for our community to help people get out and working," Molari Employment staffing manager Liz Goclowski said. 
 
"Being a staffing agency we know a lot of people, we have a lot of people come back and apply when they're in between jobs, and I met with both people that we've had in history with and brand-new people that I've never met before. So, it's been great."
 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts was also tabling at the event to promote its undergraduate opportunities and employment opportunities.
 
"[It's been] very busy. MassHire does an outstanding job promoting the events and supporting the events so the people who we meet have been having interest in continuing [their education] as well as opportunities to work for the college," MCLA's Associate Dean of Graduate & Continuing Education for Partnerships & Programs Joshua Mendel said. 
 
"Anytime we have a chance to share knowledge about exploring your education opportunities, your educational goals, it's very, very important, as well as opportunities to build our workforce and to put people back into opportunities to grow."
 
Growing businesses such as High Lawn Farm also attended the fair to help fill various positions to supplement its expanding needs. 
 
"As our farm continues to grow, we're looking to fill numerous positions. Many of them are oriented around the production of our delicious dairy products and then some of them are related to the distribution and quality of our products and maintaining that," High Lawn Farm General Manager Caitlin Moriarty said. 
 
Having a job fair, such as this one, is important to the community because it improves the accessibility to job seekers, she said. 
 
"It's been well attended so far. We've got a handful of great applicants and their resumes to follow up with our communities," Moriarty said. 
 
"It's important to our community to have a space to have everybody together and it's a little bit more accessible than having people come on site. We could get the preliminary interview here and follow up with them further."
 

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Pittsfield's Former Polish Club Eyed For $20 Million Condo Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a sizable grant from the state, the former Polish Community Club is eyed for a 40-unit housing development that adds four additional buildings to the property.

On Wednesday, the Affordable Housing Trust heard from developer Robert Shan about the project that could cost as much as $20 million.  Planners are vying for $10 million through the MassHousing CommonWealth Builder Program created to facilitate the construction of single-family homes and condominiums affordable to households with moderate incomes.

"We're looking not just to do a one-off but to have a presence in Pittsfield, a presence in Berkshire County, and look to bring forward attainable and affordable housing to many communities," he said.

"We see this as as as the first step and it's ready to go. We've put a tremendous amount of work into it and we're looking forward to being able to work with you."

While utilizing the former club, the plot at 55 Linden Street would have five buildings of one to three-bedroom condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  The final costs have not yet been determined but it is estimated that a unit for those of the 80 percent area median income will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and those in between 80 and 100 percent AMI will cost between $190,000 and $250,000.

The proposed condos are single-story units with an entrance from the street with the first-floor units having a private fenced backyard.  The existing building is staged for single-story condos and two-story townhouses.

Planners aim to bring the character of the 1872 structure into the new construction through colors and architectural elements.

"In developing housing for first-time buyers, we wanted a form that all had entries from grade, from outside without common corridors, without elevators to get that feeling of homeownership," Shan explained.

"While we can't afford to build and get these first-time families at the single-family homes, we wanted a hybrid product that really felt and operated like a home where a lot of the units have backyards, is its own community, etc. So in that, we have not maximized the density."

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