For additional information, please contact:
1Berkshire Director of Economic Development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1Berkshire, EforAll, Berkshire Innovation Center, and PERC Announce Upcoming Women & Minority Owned Business Certification Summit
December 12, 2022 – Berkshire County, MA – 1Berkshire, EforAll Berkshire County, the Berkshire Innovation Center, and Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation, with support from Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the United States Economic Development Administration are excited to announce their upcoming Women and Minority Owned Business Certification Summit. This event, happening on January 20th, 2023 from 8am-1pm at the Berkshire Innovation Center, aims to bring together women and minority owned businesses in the Berkshires, resource providing partners, and educational presentations to support our women and minority owned business community through the process of becoming certified as such.
While the Berkshires are rich in diverse businesses owned and operated by women, BIPOC individuals, immigrants, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and individuals with disabilities, a very small percentage of these businesses are formally certified as such. Certification of women and minority owned business enterprises (W/MBEs) is a powerful tool for building business success, sustained revenue, acquiring larger contracts, and gaining access to critical resources for resiliency, recovery, and emergency issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this lack of certification disadvantaged hundreds of businesses in the region and beyond who missed out on an array of grant and emergency funding resources only available to certified entities.
Since 2020, 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission have been working to provide referrals and technical assistance to W/MBEs to help them begin the process of getting certified. As we head into 2023, this collaboration of partners, along with an array of critical partners and providers in this work, are seeking to ramp up the certification process of Berkshire W/MBEs and help us collectively build a more resilient and vibrant community of small businesses.
Ben Lamb, 1Berkshire Director of Economic Development notes “We’ve seen firsthand how powerful certification of W/MBEs can be, and how unfortunate it can be when businesses aren’t certified. Our hope is that by bringing eligible businesses together in a common space to network, learn, and engage resource providers with a mission to support them will help to foster a culture here where certification is accessible, supported, and common practice across our W/MBE business community.”
Allison Schmitt, Program Manager for EforAll Berkshire County adds “We are excited to empower local entrepreneurs to use all of the tools available to them. This summit is a great opportunity to learn about these valuable certifications, but also to network and continue building crucial relationships in the small business community.”
Partners and panelists to which attendees will have direct access are coming onboard, but currently include, Blackshires Community Empowerment Foundation, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, DEI Outdoors, LGBT Chamber of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network.
This event will run from 8am-1pm, is free to attend, and will include light breakfast refreshments and lunch. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, please go to: https://1berkshirestrategicalliancemacoc.weblinkconnect.com/events/Women%20Minority%20Owned%20Business%20Certification%20Summit-4433/details
If you are an agency that specifically provides support for businesses to go through the W/MBE certification, please contact the Economic Development Team at 1Berkshire at EconomicDev@1Berkshire.com.