For the first time in 3 years, 1Berkshire held its 2022 Annual Meeting, in person at the Berkshire Innovation Center on Thursday, December 8. With a focus on Reconvening, over 150 attendees heard the 1Berkshire team provide a year in review.
Jonathan Butler, President and CEO of 1Berkshire started his remarks by thanking the staff of 1Berkshire for their dedication and resiliency over the past several years. He also reported on the financials and the membership of 1Berkshire stating that the membership is strong, with businesses from every sector, size, and regional geography participating in the narrative of the Berkshires. He thanked our 1Berkshire investors for their continued support and referenced their loyal contributions as well as the strong member retention that has contributed to a strong financial report for FY22. Although event numbers continue to be low due to the lack of in person programming in 2021 and 2022, 1Berkshire has seen growth in our programs, grants, and other income areas to make FY 22 the most successful income year for 1Berkshire to-date.
Other highlights from the year include:
- The release of the A Housing Vision for the Berkshires. 1Berkshire co-chaired this 2-year long effort, along with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to identify critical housing issues and potential strategies for addressing them, while outlining recommendations for actions that can be taken to begin addressing the issues.
- In 2022, an updated Berkshire Benchmarks was launched with a State of the County Report on May 23, 2022. The reboot allows for the quick search through eight sectors, plus general demographics, to view various data points for our region.
- Partnering with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and other regional partners, Berkshire Funding Focus was launched in the fall of 2022 to help serve as a clearinghouse for the investment of the federal and state COVID-19 recovery dollars.
- It was reported that in 2021, the Berkshires saw a $900 million total Economic Impact of Tourism in the Berkshires. This is compared to $598 million in 2020 and $895 million in 2019. Jonathan Butler stated “we are excited to learn that the visitor economy has recovered to pre-pandemic numbers, which is encouraging, although we are aware of the challenges that still exist for this sector.” For more about this rebound in tourism, click here.
- 1Berkshire members continue to value the 1B Social Media channels and Events Calendars as part of their member benefits. Members are encouraged to use these benefits by sharing social media news and their events with our staff.
- Berkshire Leadership Program approaching 25 years old and with over 650 graduates, the program is looking ahead to the Class of 2023. Applications are still be accepted for the spring 2023 program.
1Berkshire Director of Economic Development, Ben Lamb, provided an update on
- the jobs thing migrated over to berkshires.org in 2022 and reported that nearly 300 jobs were posted in FY22, and we are on track to beat that number in FY23.
- The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) was overhauled and relaunched in 2022, welcoming a class of 30 students. YLP continues to be a great resource for high school juniors as they spend 10 months engaging with the Berkshire community through career exploration and community involvement. Applications for the 2023-2024 program are now open.
- The Economic Development Team at 1Berkshire conducted 200 consultations with 35% self-identifying as BIPOC, female, veteran, immigrant, LGBT, or disabled individual owned businesses in 2022. These consultations continue to be a free resource for businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking to discuss their needs and explore potential resources for their business. Click here to schedule a free consultation.
- With over $600,000 in Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) grant funding introduced into the region this year, 1Berkshire spearheaded the applications for a variety of collaborative endeavors to help inject high-impact capital to support the regional economy.
- Entrepreneurial Meetups continue to be among the popular events and workshops hosted by 1Berkshire’s Economic Development team and were part of the 64 various events that were held in 2022 to support businesses, create networking opportunities and provide direct technical assistance.
- The Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 continues to be a living document that guides the work of the economic development team. Initiatives under the Blueprint that were implemented in 2022 include the Tech Impact Collaborative, deeper connection to Berkshire Agricultural Ventures as we continue to support the Food and Agriculture cluster, and identifying Outdoor Recreation as the 6th Economic Cluster in the Berkshires.
Vice President of Tourism and Marketing, Lindsey Schmid discussed the relaunch of the new berkshires.org that took place in the spring of 2022. At the same time as the relaunch, an SEO audit was conducted that helped identify things we are doing well and what we could do better and worked to align our SEM campaigns accordingly. With the relaunch and some different digital retargeting campaigns, we saw record visitation to berkshires.org in FY 22 with over 800,000 sessions and over 1,300,000 page views (up over 100,000 from last year).
Lindsey provided some additional information to the membership:
- Branded social media campaigns using in-feed and reels to keep Berkshires top of mind to our various audiences. We saw over 33 million impressions, which was an increase of over 5 million impressions the year prior.
- Over 530 million impressions correlating back to the work of 1Berkshire through 1Berkshire generated stories, social media influencers, and the efforts of our members.
- Two years to spend a $1 million season extension grant to support tourism across Western MA. This grant was funded through MOTT in conjunction with the 4 regional tourism councils of Western Massachusetts.
- $500,000 in ARPA funding used for re-engaging with our Canadian target market, starting a paid TikTok campaign to help bolster our reach with a younger audience. We will also launch an Influencer campaign to help the Berkshires resonate to a more diverse audience.
1Berkshire also announced some new initiatives for 2023 which included continuing to build upon the work of 2022 through more collaboration, which is our greatest strength here in the Berkshires. More in person events – after hours series, and bringing back Celebrate the Berkshires and Trendsetter Awards.
During the business portion of the Annual Meeting, the membership accepted the Nominating Committee’s recommendation to appoint the following officers for a term of two (2) years: Lori Gazzillo Kiely of Berkshire Bank (Chair), Jonathan Butler of 1Berkshire (President), Brenda Burdick of General Dynamics Mission Systems (Vice-Chair), Peter Statiowski of Interprint (Treasurer), and C. Jeffrey Cook of Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook, LLP (Clerk).
The membership renewed a term of three years for each of the following Directors: Brenda Burdick (General Dynamics Mission Systems), C. Jeffrey Cook (Cohen Kinne Valicenti & Cook, LLP), Tyler Fairbank (The Fairbank Group), Lori Gazzillo Kiely (Berkshire Bank), Kat Lockridge (Classical Tents & Party Goods), Peter Stasiowski (Interprint), Richard Pollard (Guardian Life Insurance), and Anastasia Stanmeyer (Berkshire Magazine).
The membership voted in new Board Members Kristen Van Ginhoven, WAM Theatre; Shaun Cusson, Hillcrest Educational Centers; and Mary Skorupa, Onyx Specialty Papers. Each was approved to serve a term of three years.
The Annual Meeting also allowed 1Berkshire and its membership to thank outgoing Board Members for their service to the 1Berkshire Alliance Board of Directors: Pat Begrowicz (Onyx Specialty Papers, Inc.), Jerry Burke (Hillcrest Educational Centers), Phil Coleman (Heirlooms Jewelry), Don Dubendorf (Dubendorf Law), Michelle Lopez (Berkshire Immigrant Center), and Dan Zimmer (Wheatleigh).
1Berkshire Board Chair Danielle Gonzalez took the opportunity during her remarks to thank the 1Berkshire staff, board of directors, and the membership for their partnership and continued investment in our community. She also passed the baton to Lori Gazzillo Kiely of Berkshire Bank who will be taking on the role as Chair. Gonzalez stated, “I am thrilled that Lori has agreed to take on the role of chair. Lori has been a stalwart supporter of 1Berkshire, and prior to, the chamber board of directors for more than a decade. We continue to thoughtfully seek all forms of embodied diversity in our board representation, and we are fortunate to have such respected women leaders in the chair and vice chair roles.”
Lori Gazzillo Kiely reflected on her time in the inaugural Berkshire Leadership Program class as her first connection to 1Berkshire. Lori also focused on resiliency and how 1Berkshire has brought people together to support our region. Lori thanked 1Berkshire for their leadership and for being on the forefront of many initiatives key to the success of our region.
Our first in person Annual Meeting was made possible through the generous support of our sponsors: General Dynamics Mission Systems (Presenting Sponsor), Berkshire Innovation Center and Berkshire Community College (Event Underwriters), BusinessWest (Media Sponsor), Adams Community Bank, Classical Tents, and Tricia McCormack Photography (Event Supporters), Berkshire Bank (Social Media Sponsor), Hillcrest Educational Foundation (Decor Sponsor), Greylock Federal Credit Union (Bar Sponsor), and Thistle ‘N Thorn (Door Prize Sponsor).
To view the 2022 Virtual Annual Meeting in its entirety, please click here.
1Berkshire is a county-wide organization focused on economic development and promotion of the region as a preferred place to visit, to live, and to grow a business. It provides programs that connect businesses with each other and with potential customers and works to develop future leaders and support entrepreneurs. For more information, visit 1Berkshire.com.