By Michael Coakley
Three years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, along with Mick Callahan, chair of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, and Jay Anderson, chair of the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp., embarked on a visionary new economic development strategy. Instead of working in silos, they decided to harness the power of their respective business development efforts into a unified partnership.
A dedicated position — business development manager — was created to promote economic development, job growth and capital investment in the city of Pittsfield by working to retain and grow existing city businesses, and to attract new companies from outside the area.
In addition, the Red Carpet Team — composed of economic development representatives from the city, PEDA, PERC, MassDevelopment, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and MassHire — was established. This group meets with prospective businesses to develop an array of incentives and a course of action for the expansion of local companies and for locating new businesses in Pittsfield.
This strategic partnership has been paying dividends since its inception, as the Red Carpet Team has collaborated with several employers across a broad range of industries. For example, e-commerce home goods retailer Wayfair opened a call center at the Clock Tower building that would employ 300 people. Mill Town Capital continues its impact investments in housing, businesses and outdoor recreation facilities such as Bousquet Ski Area and Berkshire West. Innovative aerospace companies such as Electro Magnetic Applications and United Aircraft Technologies have recently located in the city.
In addition, existing local businesses with plans to grow and create new jobs have received tax incentives, including Johns Building Supply, which is constructing a new retail space. And the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires recently received more than $1.1 million in grants to begin the greening process for the 52-acre park’s largest parcel, the 16.5-acre Site 9. The construction of a 20,000-square-foot facility will begin on a different building site this summer.
Hit the ground running
When the city, PEDA and PERC agreed to join forces four years ago in the interest of boosting Pittsfield’s economic growth, the idea that a pandemic would upend society was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. However, that foresight has not only provided the structure to keep business development on track during a time of significant disruption, it has positioned our city to hit the ground running as the economy opens up.
Michael Coakley was named business development manager for the city of Pittsfield when the position was formed in 2018.