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Business Briefs: Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet meeting; new land trust board members; grant for collaborative workspaces; Toole is Pacesetter of the Year; Mellon grant for Williams

A grant of $147,572 will support design, renovation and repairs at the Studio for Integrated Craft in Housatonic, the former Housatonic Curtain Company mill at 430 Park St.

Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet meets about next steps

Pittsfield — Co-chaired by the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board, 1Berkshire and Berkshire Community College, the Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet met Oct. 30 after receiving a $30,000 support grant from the state. The cabinet brings together leaders from the sectors of education, private business, and workforce development and economic development to collectively work to advance workforce skills projects and grant-seeking opportunities for Berkshire County.

Funded via the state’s Workforce Skills Cabinet program, administered by the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board and contracted with 1Berkshire, the Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet will spend the next seven months auditing existing assets, developing a plan to meet projected benchmark goals and implementing mechanisms to track workforce development metrics within Berkshire County. As one of only seven designated Workforce Skills Cabinets in the Commonwealth, the Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet will be working collaboratively and collectively to address significant needs specifically in the industries of health care and social assistance, hospitality and management, and advanced manufacturing with timelines ranging from within 2018 and through 2022.


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Berkshire Community Land Trust announces board members

Bill Shein. Photo courtesy Berkshire Community Land Trust

Great Barrington — The Berkshire Community Land Trust and Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires welcome newly elected member Bill Shein and re-elected members Harry Conklin and Robin Zeamer to their boards of trustees, each for three-year terms. A community land trust board is designed to be representative and balanced in its administration of the organization’s activities and assets. The identical boards are made up of nine residents of southern Berkshire County: three leasing member representatives, three non-leasing member representatives and three professional community representatives.

Robin Zeamer. Photo courtesy Berkshire Community Land Trust

Leaseholder representative Zeamer joined the board in 2012 as a leaseholder member representing Forest Row, and begins her third term as president of the Forest Row Association’s management committee. She is a political activist, and is co-founder of the Berkshire Columbia Investment Network.

Harry Conklin. Photo courtesy Berkshire Community Land Trust

Community representative Shein is a writer and technology consultant who works with nonprofit organizations on information technology infrastructure, data management and operations/capacity-building. He lives in Alford.

Professional representative Conklin was a founding member of the CLTSB board of trustees in 1980. He has been practicing law in the Berkshires since 1980 and lives in Sheffield with his wife, Ali.


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Collaborative workspace projects receive state development grants

Great Barrington — Two collaborative workspace projects have received an infusion of more than $170,000 in funding from MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development and finance agency.

A grant of $147,572 will support design, renovation and repairs at the Studio for Integrated Craft in Housatonic, the former Housatonic Curtain Company mill at 430 Park St. Costs for architectural, structural and engineering services along with demolition, machinery removal and roof work will be covered by the grant. The property is now owned by artists Jamie and Asher Israelow, who also own a contemporary custom furniture design business. The 25,000-square-foot brick factory on the Housatonic River will be reconfigured and improved to accommodate a wide range of professional working artists. One tenant is confirmed and others are arranging leases.

Another $25,000 grant has been awarded to Berkshire Community College’s South County Center to pay for a feasibility study, engineering and design costs for a “learning kitchen” at the Main Street campus. The kitchen will serve as an educational laboratory for new academic programming, professional development, workforce training, community engagement and personal enrichment workshops.


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Toole named Pacesetter of the Year

John Toole. Photo courtesy Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents

Lee — The Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents has announced that John Toole of the L.V. Toole Insurance Agency is the 2018 recipient of its Henry F. Barry Jr. Pacesetter Award. The award is presented annually to the MAIA member who sets a personal and professional example to be followed by their fellow independent agents across the Commonwealth.

Toole carries several professional designations demonstrating his commitment to professional development. He served for many years on MAIA’s board of directors, becoming its chairman in 2011. During his time on the board, Toole was instrumental in reactivating the Young Agents Committee, which engages and supports the next generation of leadership within the independent agent community. A founder of the Brock Wilkerson Memorial Cancer Research Fund, Toole also serves as chair of the Lee Bike Path Committee, is a past chair of the Lenox Libraryand has held leadership positions in several other Berkshire County organizations.


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Williams College awarded Mellon grant to increase access to scholarship

Williamstown — Williams College, in partnership with the Islandora Collaboration Group and in consultation with the Islandora Foundation, has received a $153,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Islandora for All project.

Islandora for All is designed to advance the development of Islandora, an open-source digital repository that enables institutions to manage and share scholarly materials. Islandora was originally developed by the University of Prince Edward Island’s Robertson Library, but is now implemented and contributed to by an ever-growing international academic community that includes Williams, Barnard College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Grinnell College and Hamilton College, among others.

The Williams-led project will build on Islandora’s existing framework to make the platform easier to install and manage. Among the expectations of the project is that institutions will be able to reduce costs for installing and maintaining Islandora by approximately 50 percent. This will help democratize and equalize access for institutions with limited resources, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, community colleges and tribal colleges.

By creating a high-storage-capacity digital repository that can be installed and maintained by a single person with modest technical skills yet will perform at the level of more expensive platforms, Islandora for All aims to alleviate financial barriers and foster a scholarly community that values all institutions as producers of scholarship and promotes the dissemination of scholarly works.



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