By Christy Heady, originally published in the Berkshire Edge

March 12, 2015
Pittsfield, MA – Business executives are bullish on the future of Berkshire County.

There is a new spirit of collaboration and innovation at work, aiming to catapult the Berkshires and its surrounding region into a period of economic growth, accompanied by job creation and retention.

For Stephen Boyd, president and CEO of Boyd Technologies in South Lee, Mass. — and a graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School — the possibility a dynamic and growing future for his hometown and home state excites and intrigues him. Despite the presence within Berkshire County and its surrounding region of many strong organizations, the lack of connectivity among companies and research institutions has stymied success. The solution? The Berkshire Innovation Center.

“If you take a look at the Berkshires, you’ll find promising activity in the development of medical devices and also in related research, yet within the immediate region there are no teaching or research hospitals nor academic support for technology,” he said. “The mission of the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) is to address this deficit.”

The Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) is a 20,000-square-foot structure that will be built in William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires, located in Pittsfield; its mission is to advance the manufacturing strengths of the region. The project is made possible by a state grant of $9.7 million from the Mass Life Science Center plus two start-up grants of $250,000 each from the Pittsfield’s economic development fund and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.

The impetus for the BIC came from a feasibility study conducted by Rod Jané, president of New England Expansion Strategies in Westborough, Mass. He obtained input from key influencers within the region, including private sector companies, universities, colleges, hospitals, venture capital firms, and the local government, to determine what was needed to spur economic development and the retention and creation of jobs.

What Jané initially discovered was that the existing life sciences industry – including biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical devices – was tiny. “Only a few companies and fewer than 100 employees,” Jané said. However, the study also revealed an important cluster of life sciences supply chain companies: 30 companies with more than 4,000 employees either supplying or capable of supplying the medical device industry. The clear opportunity to build on this existing strength, this cluster of life science supply chain manufacturers, strengthened the prospects that the BIC could make an important contribution.
With grant money from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the study proceeded to evaluate how economic development money could be invested to yield the highest probability of success.

“There turned out to be broad industry support for an innovation center that could assist small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies, by allowing them access to advanced equipment, training, research partnerships and student internship programs,” Jané said. “These results from the feasibility study form the basis of the Berkshire Innovation Center.”

The site plan for the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, showing the location of the Berkshire Innovation Center (Site 3).

Ten companies have already signed formal membership agreements with the Berkshire Innovation Center. The members to date include Apex Resource Technologies, Boyd Technologies, Sinicon Plastics, Intertek PTL, General Dynamics, Interprint USA, Sonoco Plastics, MRA Laboratories, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing and New Dalton Group.

Because he had already participated in helping to define the BIC’s mission and to grow its membership, Boyd recognized that it could help answer the strategic questions he had been asking himself for a while.

“In the midst of every business transaction I conduct, I wonder, what would happen if I did it differently or if I could take a step in a new direction,” said Boyd. “You try something, you test it, you try it again. That’s innovation.”

Pittsfield’s Director of Community Development Douglas C. Clark seconded Jané’s findings, stating that many people understand that a regional approach is essential to successful economic development.

“The City of Pittsfield or even Berkshire County alone are too small,” he added. “I look to the BIC’s becoming the hub of a network extending from Springfield to Albany in advanced manufacturing for the life science supply chain.”

Clark explained how the history of the area has shaped where the strategic thinking patterns lie today.

“In the days of General Electric, we had a huge employer that was able to fund its own R&D and workforce training programs,” Clark explained. “Intellectual property in slower changing times allowed the owner of that information to profit as long as he could protect that information. In contrast, our small to medium sized companies can’t self-fund the workforce training and R&D that are critical to remaining competitive.”

Also, because the pace of change is so rapid today, he said, “it is more about the flow of information than about the ‘stock’ of information. For this reason, it is increasingly important to collaborate and network with other firms and institutions.”

A UMass Donohue Institute study showed that the manufacturing sector still accounts for 10 percent of employment and 15 percent of all income and wages in Berkshire County. Jané said that the BIC is an economic development catalyst that can help small and medium-sized manufacturers innovate new products, train their work force in advanced manufacturing, and compete effectively with global competition.

The City of Pittsfield, Clark said, does not have the benefit of a large research institution. The collaboration provided through the BIC can fill that void, drawing on the resources of its institutional partners UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst, RPI and SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

“Public money is definitely seeding the project,” Clark offered. “But what I like is that this will be a private sector-led initiative and will benefit from the leadership and investment of time and effort of many of our leading local companies.”

For CEOs like Boyd, accessibility has proven a strong incentive for committing time, energy and money to the BIC.

“If I wanted to buy an electron microscope that I would use to take three-dimensional pictures of nano-fiber, I would spend $300,000 on that piece, at least,” Boyd said. “There is no way my business can justify that expense while using it once a week. It’s not a revenue-generating piece of equipment. With the BIC, it’s nice not to have to buy that on my own. The BIC can buy it. Then I and other companies can join the BIC and gain access to it and other equipment.”

Companies pay a membership fee to join. Annual fees range from $5,000 to $10,000. Firms with fewer employees can take advantage of reduced rates and associate memberships which allow access to networking opportunities and attendance at events on a limited basis.

“Membership allows access to video conferencing and meeting space, BIC workshops, industry-tailored training events, and access to state-of-the-art equipment,” Clark shared. “Membership also will allow access to equipment at other facilities that have signed on as part of a regional equipment-sharing collaborative.”

“An opportunity like this $10 million grant does not come along often,” Jané said and noted how the BIC will influence the economic future of the Berkshires. “It is vitally important that everybody be in the same boat and rowing in the same direction, to make sure that the Berkshire Innovation Center is successful and sustainable and makes a difference in the future of the Berkshires and its residents.”

Since innovation happens in little steps, as Boyd said, one of the first steps toward growing the awareness of the BIC was a speaking event held at the end of January.

On January 29, 2015, at the Berkshire Community College, 40 attendees participated – including representatives of eight BIC member companies – in the BIC event, despite the heavy snowstorm the day before. The event was co-hosted by MassMEDIC. Bruce Stanley, former Becton Dickinson supply chain executive, was the guest speaker. The main topic of the evening’s discussion was the MedTech program, which will connect BIC member companies to major medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

As the BIC moves forward, Clark added, he will be focusing on building a capacity for resilience into the economy of both the city and the region.

“In the face of technological change and global competition, I am interested in seeing how we can be resilient,” he said. “The BIC will allow us to innovate, develop our workforce, and stay competitive as we face an uncertain and challenging future.”

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a new location for the Berkshire Innovation Center within the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires.

The new site is on a 4-acre parcel on the west side of Woodlawn Avenue, between the CSX Railroad tracks and East Street. On maps it is referred to as the third of the 52-acre park’s nine building sites.

The board previously considered constructing the 20,000-square-foot structure on a 2.1-acre parcel on the east side of Woodlawn Avenue that borders directly on East Street.

The BIC has been proposed as an accelerator facility that will provide local companies that supply products to the life sciences industry access to advanced equipment, and as a job training hub. The city received a $9.7 million state grant last year to construct the two-story facility, expected to open by the summer of 2016.

The PEDA Board’s Executive Committee approved the switch to the new parcel on Feb. 2. Both during and after the meeting, officials said the new site is better suited to the type of facility that the city hopes to construct.

“This site creates a new campus environment,” said PEDA Board Chairman Maurice Callahan. Over the long term, Callahan said the new site is more amenable to expansion and would allow officials to “build out in stages.”

“We feel the campus setting is a real win for PEDA and the park,” said Stephen Boyd, chairman of the BIC Board of Directors. The site is flatter than the one originally under consideration, Boyd said, and will allow for the construction of a “slightly wider” two-story structure.

That kind of structure will allow the heavy equipment that the BIC will house for reverse engineering and research and development to be located on the same floor, which will eliminate the need for freight elevators, Boyd said. He said two thirds of the new site could be utilized for additional development.

The previous site, located between East Street and a parking lot, was narrower, included a “capped area” that is prohibited from development, and was limited in width, said PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston.

“It’s a better site to do more creative work,” Thurston said.

Boyd termed the date to begin construction of the BIC as “the $9.7 million question,” a reference to the state money the city received to build the facility.

He said the ground-breaking could occur in either May or June, but “certainly within the 2015 building season.”

The board on Wednesday also voted unanimously to allow Thurston to represent PEDA in lease negotiations for the BIC and the authority to negotiate a Tax Increment Financing agreement, or TIF, with city officials.

TIFs are programs the city offers to private businesses. Participating entities typically receive tax breaks from the city on a sliding scale over a fixed number of years, provided they satisfy both job creation requirements and a prearranged sum of private investment.

Community Development Director Douglas Clark said the TIF program for the BIC was “brought forward” because the BIC is a private-public partnership between the city of Pittsfield and PEDA. The building will be a municipal facility but is located on land that is maintained by PEDA.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, a PEDA board member, abstained from the voting on the site change and the measures involving Thurston’s participation because the BIC is scheduled to be a municipal building.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.

By Joe Durwin
iBerkshires Correspondent
February 18, 2016

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Bridge completion, breaking ground on BIC, three current tenant prospects and a new outreach campaign are among the pieces in play for the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority this year as it continues the ongoing slog to build up the William Stanley Business Park.

Identities of the three prospects that have emerged in recent months are being kept private for now, but discussions with them are ongoing, according to PEDA Executive Director Corydon Thurston.

“I’m not at liberty to publicize at this time, but that’s all good news,” said Thurston, who said the mayor and other new incoming public officials have been briefed on these leads.

Currently the park has two tenants leasing parcels; Eversource, whose solar array field rings the north side of Silver Lake, and Mountain One Financial Partners, which opened a new administrative center there in 2012. At least two other prospective tenants have seriously eyed the former General Electric lots for development in recent years — a regional headquarters for Action Ambulance and a big box retail operation by Waterstone Retail Development.

A third tenant will emerge with the eventual completion of the Berkshire Innovation Center, which is anticipated to move forward within the next several months despite short about $600,000 from the estimated cost needed for the construction of the center.

“There was a gap between what was set up a couple of years ago without any designs in mind,” explained board member Douglas Crane. “By the time it went out to bid, the construction industry had warmed a bit, and things cost more.”

“We’ve been diligently working with their engineers to redefine and analyze the bids and building design so that they can get a grip on the actual gap, funding wise, and make the ask,” Thurston told the board, who said he felt “confident” that such funds will be forthcoming from the Mass. Life Sciences Center.

Thurston said he anticipates a ground breaking for the Berkshire Innovation Center “sometime in the early second quarter.”

Even without a facility in place, the BIC is already active as an entity, working on a variety of programs that included sponsorship of last year’s Berkshire Robotics Challenge, an event which is the subject of one of the new videos produced as part of the BIC and PEDA’s outreach campaign to enterprises that may be lured to the park by opportunities stemming from the new center.

PEDA board Chairman Mick Callahan said the outreach program will “encompass stakeholders, site professionals, bankers, realtors, prospects, in a very targeted fashion.”

Board member Christina Barrett said there are more videos being developed that will highlight other aspects of the business park, along with continued social media and other advertising efforts.

“We’re spending as much time as possible on this,” added Thurston. “We’ll continue to grow that, to outreach to various key segments, or to try and leverage the Innovation Center and other activities that are going on in the market in support of new development and prospects for the business park.”

Another positive that PEDA hopes to highlight in publicity this year will be the completion of the Woodlawn Avenue bridge this spring. The opening of this bridge will mark the first time this route has been open to any traffic in ten years. The previous bridge was closed in 2006, and demolished in 2012. Once slated to be done by the summer of 2013, the bridge project has been plagued with a series of delays over the years.

With mild winter weather this year, work has proceeded swiftly throughout the season, and PEDA is looking to celebrate the finished bridge on a date to be determined this spring.

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

PITTSFIELD — The city has received final approval for $500,000 in startup costs associated with the construction of the Berkshire Innovation Center.

The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA) on Wednesday unanimously approved a $250,000 allocation from the quasi-public agency’s funds toward the center’s launch. The City Council on Sept. 2 approved allocating $250,000 from its GE Economic Development Fund.

“It’s important to understand that our agreement to fund this runs with the city’s agreement,” board Chairman Maurice Callahan said.
An additional $300,000 in startup costs is expected to be raised by the center itself through grants and membership fees, according to PEDA’s Executive Director Corey Thurston.

In May, the city received a $9.7 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center toward the construction of the center, a 20,000-square- foot structure at the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires that is expected to supply training, and equipment for local companies who supply materials to the life sciences industry.

The center is considered crucial to the future development of the 52-acre business park, which is administered by PEDA. Construction could begin by next spring, according to project consultant Rod Jane, and is expected to be completed by July 2016.

The city was required to obtain additional funding in start-up costs because the capital grant only includes funds for the construction of the building and equipment.

Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle
September 5, 2014

PITTSFIELD – With all signs pointing to strong support, the City Council made it official this week by approving $250,000 in start-up funds for the Berkshire Innovation Center planned at the William Stanley Business Park.

Councilors OK’d the use of $250,000 from the GE Economic Development Fund to help cover startup costs for the 20,000-square-foot facility, which will be constructed with $9.7 million in state funding through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

“This is exactly what the fund was set up to do,” said Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell. The money was set aside by GE for development and job creation in the city as part of a consent decree agreement 14 years ago that led to an environmental cleanup of former GE industrial sites in Pittsfield.

Other than a few unpointed questions about long-term prospects to bring in enough revenue to sustain the center’s annual budgets, councilors mostly offered glowing praise for the opportunity the facility presents for countywide job creation.

“To me, this is the most important vote we have taken so far this year,” said Councilor at large Kathleen Amuso.

Supporters of the request from Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi for the startup funding, including a number of local business leaders, turned out in force to reiterate details of the proposal — and express why they believe it could bolster the manufacturing revival here.

The nonprofit “private sector-led” center is expected to sustain itself through fees from member firms and organizations, grants such as for research, and income from training, video conferencing and other services.

Other revenue is expected from rental of sophisticated industrial equipment and testing facilities, which smaller companies could not otherwise afford.

City Community Development Director Douglas Clark said the “conservative” business plan developed for the center was unanimously endorsed by the Life Sciences Center board in deciding to provide the construction grant. If revenues are lower than expected during the first two startup years, he said, there is room for further adjustments on expenses and costs to address that.

In answer to councilor questions, he said the intention is to ensure the center is self-sustaining and not require further allocations from the development fund.

In addition to the $250,000 for startup costs over the next two years, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority board is expected to match that amount this month. PEDA is a quasi-public agency charged with development of the Stanley Business Park.

“It took a lot to get here tonight,” said PEDA board Chairman Mick Callahan, but now, he said, the building “is going to go vertical at 901 East Street.”

Enthusiasm among the local businesses seeking to become members of the center is strong, Clark said, and that bodes well for the success of the facility. In addition to small manufacturing firms, a number of institutions of higher education from the region are expected to participate.

The intention is to have the nonprofit center programming ready to begin by the time construction is complete in 2016, and to have the organization’s structure completed and staff members hired.

The center, which originally was planned as an industrial incubator space, morphed into a collaborative organization offering a wide range of expertise, training for precision manufacturing procedures and specialized equipment to help speed research, design and product development for local companies.

Based in part on those changes, the state board upped an original $6.5 million grant promise to $9.7 million.

In praising the BIC concept, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi said it offers the potential to bring in some much needed jobs, many of which are expected to be good-paying skilled manufacturing positions. In addition, he said, “This will put Pittsfield on the map” as a burgeoning manufacturing center.

Fruition of the center plan is an example of the community taking time to develop the best possible facility to become a spur for economic development, said Ward 6 Councilor John Krol.

Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop lauded “all the hard work you’ve done on this,” adding, “I can’t wait to attend the groundbreaking.”
The council vote to approve the funding was greeted by sustained applause from supporters in council chambers at City Hall.

June 5, 2014

Rod Jané, President of New England Expansion Strategies, and consultant for the City of Pittsfield’s Life Science Initiative, has been invited to be a panelist at the 3rd Annual Capital Region Commercialization of Life Sciences Innovation Day on Friday, June 6, 2014. Sponsored by “Bioconnex” the event will be held at the Albany Molecular Research, Inc.’s Corporate Headquarters in Albany, NY.

The goal of the conference is to showcase life science research and bring together innovative biotechnology researchers and institutions, business executives, academics and possible collaboration partners from within the Capital Region. Last year, more than 130 people attended to hear from speakers on topics from Public Policy to Hot Life Sciences Research in the Capital Region and Venture Capital Funding.

“We are excited that Rod will be speaking at this prestigious conference and introducing the attendees to the mission of the Berkshire’s Life Science and Innovation facility at the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield,” said Corydon Thurston, Executive Director of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA). “We have had discussions with a number of businesses and institutions in the NY market and already have a half dozen committed to memberships for our new facility.”

Thurston believes that this opportunity is a reflection of the great work Rod has done in executing the feasibility study and building a strong marketing plan for the center.

“Jane will be sitting on the panel, Regional Biotechnology Development, which will give him the opportunity to reach out to a large industry sector in the Capital District and make them aware of who we are and what will be available for equipment access and collaborative partnerships within our new Life Sciences and Innovation Center here in Pittsfield.”

William Mulholland, Director of Economic Development at Berkshire Community College, will also be attending the conference as part of the Berkshire delegation along with Thurston and Jané, They are hopeful that the industry speakers and networking will help to cultivate new relationships, with various levels of industry participants, for the entire Berkshires.

May 20, 2014

Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) today announced approval of a $9.7 million capital grant to the City of Pittsfield for construction of a new 20,000 square foot Life Sciences “innovation center” in the William Stanley Business Park. Spearheaded by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA), the facility will enable shared research, early-stage production and commercialization, and work force training for life science companies and related businesses.

The MLSC award includes $7,725,000 for building design and construction and $2 million for equipment, including state of the art tools for precise measurement, precision analysis and microscopy, and rapid 3D prototype printing.

“I am thrilled, because we have been diligently, deliberately and systematically pursuing this fabulous award for more than two years–with support and direction from the PEDA Board, City Hall and MLSC staff,” said Corydon Thurston, PEDA Executive Director. “This is a new and unique economic engine for Pittsfield and the Berkshires, one that provides an exciting opportunity to create jobs by enabling existing businesses and mentoring new startup companies.”

To secure the grant, New England Expansion Strategies (NEES), Westborough, conducted an extensive industry and stakeholder feasibility study. This included outreach to more than 85 external organizations primarily based within Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts. Along with 30 private sector companies, 26 of them in the Berkshires, study contributors included industry trade groups, higher education institutions, hospitals and venture capital firms.
In operation, the innovation center will be a self-sustaining entity with private sector support. It will foster innovation by, and the growth of, existing area companies to spur regional economic expansion, jobs and investment. Primary participants will be small to medium sized manufacturers in life sciences and the field’s supply chain.

Educational Opportunities
The facility will enable start-ups in early-stage production and commercialization with shared research and work force training support. The operating budget will be funded through membership, usage fees and rental income from labs, clean rooms and offices. To date, PEDA has secured signed membership commitments from 19 private sector companies and five institutions.

“The PEDA board has been supportive throughout this process because the William Stanley Business Park is an absolutely perfect location for this investment,” said Maurice Callahan, Jr., PEDA Board Chairman. “This successful collaboration is a fine example of our region working together towards building the foundation for a new economy.”

Along with choosing a formal name for the facility, Thurston said, organizers must now create a new and separate 501c3 nonprofit corporation with its own board of directors, advisory board and staff. The facility’s core membership will be actively involved, he said, and once the corporation is established the group will focus on selecting an architect and planning for groundbreaking. Officials anticipate that construction can begin by the summer of 2015.

“We are especially grateful for the patient and thoughtful guidance of Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, MLSC president and CEO,” Thurston said, “and for the outstanding work of our consultant Rod Jané, NEES president, who helped develop the sustainable business plan that secured this grant.”

Through the MLSC, Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences supercluster. These investments are being made under the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, proposed and signed into law by Governor Patrick. Since 2008, the MLSC has awarded or committed more than $520 million, including nearly $400 million to support capital projects, creating over 1.3 million square feet of new educational, research and manufacturing space and thousands of jobs.

PEDA has been aggressively marketing the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park, General Electric Company’s former industrial facility in the heart of the city. With approval of the MLSC grant, the third of a group of nine original parcels is scheduled for development.

May 16, 2014

PITTSFIELD, MA– Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA) will dedicate the recently completed Silver Lake Walkway, between East and Fourth Streets, on Friday, May 23 at 10 a.m. A ribbon cutting ceremony will officially open the reclaimed lake and shoreline, with benches and plantings, as the city’s newest recreational amenity.

Now in use by the public, Silver Lake is open for nature-watching, boating and winter skating. The lake hosts a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, carp and sunfish, for catch and release fishing. The banks have been replanted with grasses, shrubs and trees and a handicap accessible pedestrian walkway graces the northern and eastern shorelines.

Silver Lake is a focal point of the 52-acre William Stanley Business Park, General Electric Company’s former industrial facility in the heart of the city. PEDA has been aggressively marketing the park, with three of nine original parcels now occupied.

“It is unique to have a lake in an urban setting,” Mayor Bianchi said. “Silver Lake will enhance the William Stanley Business Park and will add a valuable marketing aspect to the business park.”

“The Silver Lake walkway is a great addition to the recreational resources offered in our inner city,” said James McGrath, Pittsfield’s Park, Open Space, and Natural Resources Program Manager. “We’re pleased to have been a part of its development.”

Under the terms of a consent decree, General Electric funded the Silver Lake project to remediate the shoreline and cap the lake. In accordance with the decree, and in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the work resulted in a new and vibrant resource for all to enjoy.

“This is a significant landmark in the city and PEDA was pleased to play a key role to acquire the shoreline property and facilitate the construction of this lovely walkway,” said Corydon Thurston, PEDA Executive Director. “This project is yet another example of the scenic beauty and recreational amenities that set Pittsfield apart as a compelling location for business development.”

Guests attending the dedication ceremony are asked to park in the lot next to the Western Massachusetts Electric Company solar facility along Silver Lake Boulevard and proceed to the tent adjacent to the driveway.

February 12, 2014

The Pittsfield City Council voted unanimously last evening to approve a $1 million allocation, matching $1 million already offered by the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA), to entice manufacturers bidding to build rail cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Councilors also indicated their willingness to consider furnishing additional incentives.

Massachusetts will select a transit car maker to provide 152 new vehicles for the MBTA’s Orange and Red lines. Nine companies are vying for the estimated $850 million contract, which requires that final assembly work be completed in Massachusetts.

“I am most grateful to the Mayor and City Council for doubling the incentive to $2 million, and for their willingness to provide additional tax increment financing to encourage companies to consider Pittsfield to build these rail cars,” said Corydon Thurston, PEDA Executive Director. “This decision is a powerful statement of our desire to accommodate new business and will help mitigate the differential between new construction and retro fitting existing space.”

“Two million dollars should get their attention–and getting them to the table is our current objective,” said Thurston. “If we do that, and have the opportunity to outline all the benefits the Berkshires has to offer, I think we stand a very good chance of success.”

If chosen, Berkshire County could see the creation of up to 250 jobs during a project that will continue for at least a decade. The $2 million being offered will be drawn from the city’s Economic Development Fund and from PEDA’s financial reserves.

PEDA’s William Stanley Business Park is one of four proposed Berkshire county sites for manufacturing the cars, as each car builder will have different facility requirements. The PEDA site has a “ready-to-build” foundation of more than 120,000 sq. ft. with rail access and siding, plus 19 acres of adjacent available land in the center of Pittsfield.

PEDA has been aggressively marketing the 52-acre business park comprising nine parcels, three of which are occupied. Gold Rated by the MA Biotechnology Council, the location has also been designated for construction of a 20,000-square-foot multi-tenant life sciences facility, supported by a $6.5 million earmark in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Life Sciences Bond Bill.

The MBTA rail car makers’ proposals, which will include a designated site, must be submitted by May 1. The state is expected to award the work at the end of the year.

Learn more about the proposed site.

December 11, 2013
Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority wants to lure a railroad car manufacturer to the city — and it is planning to sweeten the deal by offering a $1 million incentive.

The William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires, which is managed by PEDA, is one of four proposed county sites currently being proposed as suitable for a manufacturer that would make new railway cars for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
A manufacturer hasn’t been chosen yet, and the project isn’t expected to commence until 2015.

Two of the other sites are in Lee, while the fourth is in Dalton. The Stanley Business Park is the only site currently under consideration in Pittsfield, although its possible another city site could be chosen. All four of the current sites have access to rail. New Bedford also is believed to be interested in the proposal.

PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston said the MBTA is seeking a manufacturer to build new railway cars for its Orange and Red lines. But the state is requiring that the final assembly of the cars be conducted in Massachusetts.

He said the initiative, worth in excess of $800 million, could last 10 years and bring between 200 and 250 jobs to the Berkshires.
PEDA and 1Berkshire, the county’s leading economic development agency, are both putting together proposals to “sell manufacturers” on the Berkshires, Thurston said.

PEDA’s board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the $1 million incentive as a way to help bring the manufacturer to Pittsfield and alleviate construction costs. PEDA’s executive committee is expected to work out the exact details of that offer by February. The funding would come from PEDA’s financial reserves.

Thurston said PEDA would consider placing the facility in an area known as the “40s,” which is located across Kellogg Street from the authority’s administration building.

There are existing building foundations that General Electric left behind on that parcel, and Thurston said engineering studies are currently taking place to determine if those areas could house the type of facility a manufacturer would need to construct.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski: tdobrowolsk[email protected], or (413) 496-6224. On Twitter: @tonydobrow