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Business Briefs: Local Farmer Awards applications; NAACP meeting, panel discussion; taxation planning workshops; EforAll pitch contest; new Berkshire Taconic board members

Described as “’Shark Tank’ without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase followed by pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more who are added the night of the event.

Applications open for 2020 Local Farmer Awards

Agawam — Farmers in Western Massachusetts are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards of up to $2,500 toward equipment and infrastructure projects to help them compete in the marketplace. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, is entering the sixth year of the awards program, which has helped more than 150 farmers carry out a total of 250 projects.

Some examples of how the awards have been used include a commercial egg washer, an overhead sprinkler system for a seedling greenhouse, greenhouse reconstruction, a deer fence, a fresh greens sanitizing system, and a grain wagon for pigs on pasture.

To be eligible for an award, a farm must have gross sales of $10,000 or above, and be a member of either Berkshire Grown or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or located in one the four counties of Western Massachusetts. The application process is online and the deadline to apply for an award is Friday, Jan. 31, 2019. For more information, contact Cari Carpenter at (413) 276-0831 or


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Berkshire NAACP to hold meeting, panel discussion on inclusion

Pittsfield — NAACP – Berkshire County Branch will hold its monthly meeting followed by a panel discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 6 p.m. in the Berkshire Athenaeum auditorium.

Organized by the NAACP’s Social Justice Action Committee, the panel discussion will focus on what it means for a business to be truly “open to all.” The impetus for the discussion came from several incidents in Berkshire County in which persons of color complained of disrespectful treatment in Berkshire establishments. Participating businesses include representatives of Circa, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Hotel on North, Jan Perry Realty and Otto’s Kitchen and Comfort. The conversation will be moderated by NAACP executive committee member and past president Will Singleton. The Berkshire NAACP hopes the conversation will provide a voice for those who may feel unwelcome in business establishments as well as identify some concrete action steps for businesses that seek to create welcoming environments.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the NAACP – Berkshire County Branch at


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Taxation planning seminar to focus on small business startups

Kris Roberts. Photo courtesy Roberts Tax Group

Salisbury, Conn. — Salisbury Bank, Scoville Memorial Library and the Entrepreneurial Center of Northwest Connecticut will offer the two-part seminar “Taxation Planning and Strategies for Small Business Startups” Wednesday, Jan. 15, and Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Scoville Memorial Library.

Part One will cover how to select the best legal entity for a new business, as well as the tax and liability implications of the entity selection. Also discussed will be the steps needed to register a new business or change its existing legal structure, and what types of taxes (beyond income tax) any business may be subject to. Part Two will focus on financing and organizational structure. There will be an introduction to financial statements analysis and why they play an important role in any business. There will also be a discussion of record-keeping options and strategies, as well as an overview of banking and insurance needs for small businesses.

Presenter Kris Roberts, MBA, EA, ABD, of the Roberts Tax Group is a tax professional with over 20 years of experience representing clients before federal and state tax agencies. She concentrates on the special tax preparation and consulting needs of “s” and “c” corporations, multistate entities, limited liability companies, partnerships and fiduciary entities. She also assists clients with tax audits, offers in compromise, bankruptcy, individual tax planning, payroll taxes and amended returns.

The seminar is free and open to the public. Snow dates are Thursday, Jan. 16, and Thursday, Jan. 23. Reservations are suggested, but not required. Reserve a spot online or, for more information, contact Genia Wilson at (860) 453-3496, or email with “Taxation” in the subject line.


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EforAll to hold pitch contest in North Adams

Kaitlyn Pierce celebrates first place in the Entrepreneurship forAll Berkshire County pitch contest at Berkshire Museum in October 2019. Photo courtesy Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County

North Adams — Entrepreneurship for All Berkshire County will hold an “All Ideas” pitch contest Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green.

Described as “’Shark Tank’ without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase followed by pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more who are added the night of the event. Each participant is given 2.5 minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. Prizes for the winners, who are chosen by a panel of judges, are $1,000 for the grand prize winner, $750 for second place, $500 for third place, and $500 for the fan favorite. EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first place finisher wins $1,000; second place $750; third place $500; and audience favorite $500. Applications and audience registration are both available online.

EforAll’s first pitch contest at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield in October 2019 saw more 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The first-place winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear.

The event is free and open to the public. The application deadline is Thursday, Jan. 23, at noon. For more information, contact program manager Casey O’Donnell at


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Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation adds two to board

David Offensend. Photo courtesy Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Sheffield — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has announced that David Offensend of Wassaic, New York, and Eleanore Velez of Lee have joined its board of directors.

Eleanore Velez. Photo courtesy Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Offensend is president and CEO of Waltham-based Education Development Center, a global nonprofit focused on improving education, promoting health and expanding economic opportunity. Before that, he was chief operating officer for America Achieves and the New York Public Library. Prior to his work in the nonprofit sector, Offensend cofounded the independent investment banking advisory firm Evercore Partners, and held leadership roles at the investment organization of Robert M. Bass as well as Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking Partnership. He has served on the boards of Princeton University, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

Velez is an admissions counselor and coordinator of the Berkshire Community College Multicultural Center, where she serves students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds. She has received the 2019 Latinx Excellence on the Hill award from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, as well as the Literacy Network of South Berkshire Founders of America Award, the Berkshire Immigrant Center’s Jane Addams Spirit Award and the Multicultural Competence Award from Multicultural BRIDGE. She is a board member of Barrington Stage Company and a member of the Four Freedoms Coalition.



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