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City economic team starts looking for jobs

By Bill Carey
Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Published: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 2:15:41 AM EST

Local economic development and business officials have taken Berkshire County on a road show, promoting the area at the Nanotech 2004 conference and trade show in Boston.

Representatives of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce staffed a booth yesterday at the event, which is being held through tomorrow at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. Chamber officials were scheduled to be there today.

The presentation, while small, represents a coalescing of efforts by PEDA, the chamber and Pittsfield city government to attract new industry by promoting Berkshire County in other venues. Nanotech 2004 is centered around the emergent field of nanotechnology -- designing and building devices at the atomic and molecular levels.

The principal agency supporting the booth is PEDA, which is developing the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires. The booth itself is an old chamber display that was updated by PEDA's marketing consultant, Winstanley Associates of Lenox. Plunking down a credit card to reserve the booth space was William Hines Sr., the point man for Mayor James M. Ruberto's "Jobs for Pittsfield" initiative and a recent addition to the PEDA board.

PEDA plans to reimburse Hines for the expense, assured the board's chairman, Gary Grunin.

"This is our first attempt at something like this," said Grunin, a former Pittsfield city councilor. "Ultimately, in the future, something like this should be split between PEDA, the chamber and the city. But it's easier for PEDA to do it [now]. This is relatively minor -- I think it [cost] under two grand."

Grunin was accompanied yesterday by Thomas E. Hickey Jr., the former Pittsfield City Council president who now serves as PEDA's executive director, and three officials from the chamber: President and CEO David R. Bissaillon, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Supranowicz and businessman George Whaling, an officer of the organization.

The group distributed a PEDA brochure and literature from the chamber and Berkshire Visitors Bureau.

Interviewed by telephone during the conference, Grunin and Hickey remarked that many passers-by were familiar with the Berkshires. Hickey noted that the booth's focus -- the Berkshires as a place to work -- didn't exactly fit with the trade show roster, which included many equipment vendors.

"We're learning a few things as to how to present and how to put our best foot forward," he said.

Still, economic development officials from other regions are working the conference. Grunin said the Berkshire contingent spoke with Ralph Carlson, vice president of the Economic De-velopment Council of Western Massachusetts, about possible collaboration.

The latter council is part of a larger partnership devoted to promoting the Interstate 91 corridor from Springfield south to Hartford, Conn., which has named itself "New England's Knowledge Corridor."

"We're having discussions with them," Grunin said. "Maybe, somehow we can form an al-liance with them and move the line over a little bit to the Berk-shires."

Asked if the trade show has been a worthwhile exercise, Grunin said, "absolutely. It gives us an idea what to expect when we go further. ... Our marketing plan from PEDA's standpoint is to sell the Berkshires, and I see that will work."

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