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Council President Peter White, left, is recognized for his local boosterism and Milltown Capital, represented by Andy Wrba, for its strong local partnerships.
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Incoming board President Chuck Leach, left, with Director Rebecca Brien and outgoing president, Brandon Huldeen.
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Mayor Peter Marchetti lauds the new festivals and events that are bringing people back to downtown.
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The annual meeting was held at the Berkshire Museum on Thursday.
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Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Celebrates a Bustling 2023

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Director Rebecca Brien is credited with the vibrancy seen downtown, including 23 new businesses in the past year. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This past year has been a "whirlwind of activity" for Downtown Pittsfield Inc., according Director Rebecca Brien.

DPI held its annual meeting at the Berkshire Museum on Thursday, touting the 17 businesses welcomed to the downtown in 2023 and six so far this year.

In preparing for the event, Brien referred to her first project with the 230-member organization for inspiration: the strategic plan.

"We envision downtown as a place that welcomes people, businesses, and events to join a diverse, vibrant, and bustling district. Our goal is to strengthen and promote our members through advocacy, collaboration, and celebration," she said.

"It was then that I realized that in this past year, with support from our partners, our board, our members, and our community, that the DPI team has been every day doing just those things"

She highlighted the recent myriad successful DPI events such as the Let It Shine! celebration of public art, the It's Alive! Halloween block party, the 10x10 Restaurant Week, and Downtown Celebrates Spring Week.

"The Heart of the Berkshire's marketing is working this year. The Love Pittsfield Downtown and Beyond guidebooks have increased to 10,000 copies being printed because we ran out and they are getting distributed throughout the county," Brien added.

"Our website is the hub for all news downtown and followers on our Facebook, Instagram, and the expanding DPI app grow every day. At this point, our weekly newsletter is so full that it may qualify as a small novel."

Mayor Peter Marchetti pointed to the recently launched First Fridays at Five event in collaboration with DPI that combined the beloved Third Thursdays and First Fridays Artswalk events.

"Downtown has been full of activity over the last year. Most recently we welcomed a new event First Fridays at Five. Even Mother Nature worked in our favor and gave us a beautiful evening to dance to Soul Magnets, to grab a dinner and a drink, experience a live creation of art view exhibits, and participate in family fun activities," he said.

"I'm so proud of the city's collaboration with DPI on the successful evening for a new event and can't wait for the next one on June 7."

Council President Peter White was honored with the Robert K. Quattrochi Downtown Person of the Year Award and Mill Town Capital was honored with the Downtown Pittsfield Community Award.

White was recognized for his consistent promotion of city businesses, frequenting many downtown spots and posting about it on social media. In presenting him with the award, Hot Plate Brewery owner Sarah Real said he was a supporter before they even opened their doors.

"He is a great human being. He walks the walk, talks the talk, walk it like he talk it, it and he is everywhere," she said. "And he really promotes Pittsfield and what we all have to offer."

Marchetti said that through White, "we have witnessed the positive power of social media."

"Thank you for giving us so many reasons to be proud of our downtown Pittsfield businesses and providing so many new and fun events to keep us busy," White said.

"I work downtown and I know if we want places to succeed, we must all keep supporting them and spreading the word, whether in person or on social media, about how wonderful the downtown is."

Branden Huldeen, former board president, said Milltown was an easy answer for the community award "that we're actually shocked we didn't think of years ago."

"They're always one of the first people to jump in when we need help at an event, either just being at the event or sponsoring it," he said.

Milltown's program manager Andy Wrba accepted the award, saying, "The importance of strong partnerships cannot be understated and a community thrives on the strength of its collaborations."

"We are tremendously lucky to have an organization like Downtown Pittsfield Inc. that fosters a vibrant and inclusive culture in the heart of our city," he said.

Huldeen turned over the reins to Chuck Leach, who was elected as the new president and who looked back on the last four years. He pointed to the collaborative effort of members, businesses, and the government during the COVID-19 pandemic and got choked up when explaining that Brien "has changed DPI."

During the event, many praised Brien for her leadership over the last two years.

"I spoke a lot last year about how the downtown was an inflection point and you saw that gigantic list of all the new members and that's part of it but there's such goodwill that's happening downtown now," he said.

"I've really felt a shift in the past two years from animosity between businesses and the city or businesses and each other to everyone really wanting to help each other and grow. What I did not anticipate this time last year was how it was an inflection point for Downtown Pittsfield Inc."

But Huldeen says it is important to feel comfortable holding his husband's hand in any business downtown and he currently doesn't. He also wants a summer where he does not hear about racial incidents in businesses downtown.

He said the key to this is for DPI to start providing training to create spaces that are welcoming to everyone downtown.

"Whether they are shopping at your store or not, whether they are buying something at your restaurant or not, everyone should feel welcome downtown," he said, followed by roaring applause.

Leach outlined his goals for DPI, explaining "I'm here because I believe in Pittsfield." Brien's energy and optimism made him feel confident in accepting the role.

"I don't think pessimism is in her vocabulary or pessimistic is so that gives me a lot of confidence and energy myself going into this," he said.

"I think honestly, from where I sit, I've been involved with DPI for probably six or seven years now, I think she's the best thing to happen to it."

Some key areas he is focused on are the growth of the membership, economic activity, foot traffic in the downtown, and DPI programming.

"Growth will be coupled, hopefully, with innovation, optimism, and energy," he said.

The evening began with networking and refreshments in the museum's Ellen Crane Memorial Room and ended with more networking at 101 Restaurant and Bar.

Tags: annual meeting,   recognition event,   

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Post 68 Seniors Top Westfield

WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Matt Burega pitched a complete game Tuesday to lead the Pittsfield Post 68 Seniors to a 4-1 win over Westfield in American Legion Baseball action at Bullens Field.
Jack Reed doubled, and Ben Jacob hit a two-run single for Post 68.
Pittsfield (1-0) is home against Northampton Post 28 on Wednesday evening at Clapp Park.
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