Business Briefs: Clinton Church Restoration seeks proposals; grant for CDCSB; Davis joins Saint James Place board; Jack Miller Contractors makes Remodeling’s Big50; BCC receives grantMore Info
Clinton Church Restoration seeks proposals for the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church
Great Barrington — Clinton Church Restoration Inc. is seeking proposals for historic preservation, architectural design and engineering services for the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church at 9 Elm Court in Great Barrington. The nonprofit organization purchased the historic property last year and plans to restore and repurpose it as an African-American heritage center.
“We invite inquiries from well-qualified preservation architects,” said board member and building committee chair Diego Gutierrez, noting that the announcement is being sent to a list of recommended firms, and that women- and minority-owned firms are encouraged to submit proposals. Interested parties who have not received the announcement may contact Gutierrez by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is significant for its association with civil rights leader and Great Barrington native son W.E.B. Du Bois, and as a distinctive example of 19th-century vernacular church architecture. It also served as the spiritual, cultural and political home of the local African-American community for nearly 130 years, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, which was deconsecrated in 2016, has been vacant for several years and suffers from severe water damage.
The historic structure report commissioned by the organization identifies treatment recommendations and an initial phase of work needed to stabilize the building. It includes constructing a new wood-shingle roof over the entire structure; improving site and basement drainage; and making the church’s basement social hall a usable, code-compliant space. The majority of funds needed for the stabilization phase has been secured from a National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant awarded through Housatonic Heritage, an emergency grant from the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and Community Preservation Act funds from the town of Great Barrington.
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Eastern Bank grants $1,000 to Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire
Great Barrington — The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has announced that the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation has made a $1,000 grant to CDCSB, funding its work building low- to moderate-income housing and creating jobs in the Berkshires. The grant will support the organization by growing its general fund to expand staff and further the nonprofit’s work helping families and individuals in the southern Berkshire region.
“Access to affordable housing positively affects the lives of families in our community by improving financial stability and providing a safe and stable environment for parents and school children,” said CDCSB executive director Tim Geller. “We are grateful to Eastern Bank for its continued support of our work in creating healthy and sustainable housing.”
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Leigh Davis joins Saint James Place board of directors
Great Barrington — Saint James Place has announced that Leigh Davis, director of development at Mill Renaissance LLC and Eagle Mill Redevelopment LLC, has been elected to its board of directors.
Before joining Mill Renaissance and Eagle Mill Redevelopment as director of development, Davis was marketing director of New England Newspapers Inc. Prior to that, she was marketing manager of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. She was also an elected member of the Great Barrington Finance Committee. A cinema and photography graduate of Ithaca College, Davis holds a Master of Arts from the National University of Ireland and was a tenured professor at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, also in Ireland. She resides in Great Barrington with her three children, all of whom who are students in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.
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Remodeling names Jack Miller Contractors to its Big50
Williamstown — Jack Miller Contractors has been selected by Remodeling magazine to join the Remodeling Big50. Each year since 1986, the Remodeling Big50 inducts 50 remodeling companies that have set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship and impact in their communities or the industry at large. Big50 remodelers run companies of various sizes that have taken the lead in raising industry standards.
“To get a sense of how unique this status is, consider there are roughly 98,000 remodeling firms in America with paid staff,” noted Remodeling’s editor-in-chief Craig Webb. “Since 1986, we have selected only about 1,600 firms. That’s just 1.6 percent of all the remodeling businesses in the country today.”
This year’s Big50 includes full-service remodelers, home improvement firms, insurance restoration firms and specialists in specific parts of the homes, such as basements, kitchens and bathrooms. Some have a history going back decades, while others are just a few years old. The 2018 Big50 winners are featured in the August-September issue of Remodeling, a national trade publication read by more than 150,000 professional remodeling contractors.
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Berkshire Community College receives grant from Guardian Life Insurance
Pittsfield — Berkshire Community College has been awarded a grant totaling nearly $200,000 from Guardian Life Insurance Company of America for a proposal to expand the college’s financial literacy programming to continue offering, at no cost to students, the Money Management for Life course as well as debt forgiveness grants. The grant will also support hiring a new financial services coach at the college, offering paid internships to students, and expanded marketing for the Guardian-supported efforts.
BCC received an initial grant last year from Guardian to begin offering a free, three-credit course to students called Money Management for Life. The class covers strategies to help students manage budgets, expenses and debt; save and invest for the future; plan for the unexpected; and establish personal financial plans to achieve their goals. It is being offered again this fall, both on the main campus and at the South County Center.
In the funding for 2018–19, BCC’s proposal included hiring a full-time student financial literacy coach, who will promote and coordinate financial literacy initiatives across the campus. The coach will help students understand their financial health, develop a new Guardian internship program, and collaborate with community organizations in Berkshire County to promote financial literacy through workshops and outreach events. This will be a new position at BCC that will help students to not only successfully repay loans, but also to manage their finances on a daily basis.
The grant will also help pay for the textbooks for the Money Management for Life class, and will help pay the student accounts community college debt (up to $1,800 per student who qualifies) for up to 32 students over the course of the year. Students who receive this tuition reimbursement will also be enrolled in the Personal Money Management class.
Over the course of the year, the grant will also help develop a new internship program for students and help to connect BCC’s academic programs with the community to place students in internship positions. The coach will oversee and evaluate this program, and work closely with the coordinator of Career Services to place students in the internship program.