A 30,000 Foot View of 2021
Though the challenges of 2020 are not fully in our rearview, 1Berkshire is setting its sights on progressive goals and positive initiatives for the new year. 2021 is sure to present its own set of hurdles and shortcomings, but by working together, proactively and diligently, we believe we can positively impact the economic growth and promotion of our region.
1Berkshire is committed to supporting regional diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. We are already in conversation with partners in the creative economy, brainstorming ways our community can celebrate our diverse residents and highlight new talent and voices. Whether we approach this goal through a region-wide communal event or by helping organizations, ours included, commit to building more diverse staff, patronages, and audiences, 1Berkshire has pledged to broaden the Berkshires’ embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Housing in the Berkshires is not a new challenge, nor one that can be easily solved; however, 1Berkshire is developing an agenda to address the crisis while simultaneously embracing the opportunity. As 1Berkshire President and CEO Jonathan Butler wrote in a recent Berkshire Edge piece, “we must address barriers to housing affordability and equity to ensure that everyone among us is able to achieve the dream of safe, comfortable housing, with dignity. It will require a concerted effort from a variety of stakeholders.” Read that story here.
If you’ve searched for a job over the past few years, you may have employed 1Berkshire’s jobs thing tool, the most high-touch employment resource for employers hiring full-time, permanent positions with pay equal to $40K+. This year, we will launch a second jobs thing portal devoted to part-time jobs. This new tool will assist both job seekers looking for pandemic-accommodating employment and organizations hiring for primarily part-time positions. The tool will be just as easy to use as the original.
As we move through and beyond the COVID pandemic, the work of the Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 continues to evolve to address emergent, changing, and critical aspects of our regional economy. To those ends, in 2021, we will share a COVID addendum to the Blueprint 2.0. This addition and update will highlight new opportunities, challenges, needs for action, and added key components that will be core to our economic rebound and resurgence as we come out on the other side of the pandemic.
One project that the pandemic brought to a halt is the redesign of Berkshires.org, a vital tool that serves as the quintessential planning site for our region to first-time and return visitors, and to future residents and job seekers. As the 2019 tourism impact data bears witness, visitor spending is crucial to the Berkshire economy. More than $553.7 million visitor dollars was spent in 2019, an increase of 4.4% over 2018. Nearly 4,500 jobs were directly supported. Until the pandemic hit we were seeing this impact grow on average 4% year over year for the last 5 years. We understand the importance of our tourism members, to both our local community’s economic health and our region’s continued success and growth. To this end, we are excited to restart this ambitious and much-needed endeavor. A new website will better enable us to reach and attract more visitors, and in turn infuse the tourism economy with essential visitor spending.
Other initiatives will arise as we move through 2021, but this overview provides a 30,000 foot view of 1Berkshire’s goals and objectives for the new year. Stay tuned for more detailed information. Thank you for your support and happy new year!