The view from the Mahanna Cobble trail inPittsfield. Photo courtesy Berkshire Natural Resources Council

Business Briefs: New BNRC trail; ‘Reimagining America’; Greylock promotes Escobar; Mass. nonprofit loss

Escobar is an active volunteer throughout the region and a steadfast advocate for equity and inclusion for Berkshire County’s immigrant community.

BNRC, Mill Town open Mahanna Cobble trail

Pittsfield — On June 19, Berkshire Natural Resources Council and Mill Town announced their partnership to create improved public access to Mahanna Cobble, a conservation reserve owned and operated by BNRC. Mahanna Cobble is free and open to the public, and rests atop the south-facing side of Bousquet Mountain.

Mill Town, which recently purchased the Bousquet Mountain ski resort, is focused on expanding outdoor recreation opportunities at Bousquet and around the Berkshires, including hiking activities. BNRC and Mill Town have placed temporary signage at Bousquet to highlight an access route for hikers from the mountain’s base lodge and parking area up a ski hill to BNRC’s new Mahanna Cobble trail.

This brand-new route to Mahanna Cobble, funded by BNRC donors, was completed at the close of the 2019 trail construction season under the direction of BNRC trails coordinator Tyler Fogg. Many BNRC volunteers and staff assisted in the design of this sustainably built trail, with some portions constructed by OBP Trailworks.

The Mahanna Cobble trail is a 1-mile single-track hiking path with gradual elevation gain, and requires walking on stone steps. The entire out-and-back hike is 2.8 miles. BNRC and Mill Town plan to collaborate on developing a permanent, four-season Mahanna Cobble trailhead.

–E.E.

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The participants in Berkshire Bank’s ‘Reimagining America: How to Be a Strong Ally’ online workshop, to be held Thursday, June 25. Images courtesy Berkshire Bank

‘Reimagining America’ series to focus on ‘How to Be a Strong Ally’

Boston — On Thursday, June 25, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Berkshire Bank and Reevx Labs will present the online workshop “Reimagining America: How to Be a Strong Ally,” which will address how white allies can help build an equitable and inclusive economy that ensures all communities can thrive. The panel of participants will include comedian and “Stand Up! with Pete Dominick” podcast host Pete Dominick; Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen; Portfolia’s Rising Tide, Enterprise, and First Step Funds lead investor Barbara Clarke; Vanderbilt University director of medicine, health and society Jonathan Metzl; and Malia Lazu, executive vice president and chief culture and experience officer at Berkshire Bank.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Registration is required. For more information or to register, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Berkshire Bank corporate communications coordinator Aaliyah Outlaw at aoutlaw@berkshirebank.com.

–E.E.

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Greylock appoints Escobar to new immigrant-focused role

Gloria Escobar. Photo courtesy Greylock Federal Credit Union

Pittsfield — Greylock Federal Credit Union has promoted of Gloria Escobar to the newly created role of financial wellness Latinx outreach coach. In this new role, Escobar will expand her financial coaching responsibilities, assist members in obtaining ITIN loans, and strengthen Greylock’s relationships within the growing Latinx community and its commitment to its designation as a Juntos Avanzamos credit union.

Escobar is an active volunteer throughout the region and a steadfast advocate for equity and inclusion for Berkshire County’s immigrant community. She holds certifications as a credit union financial counselor and an IRS ITIN acceptance agent. She is currently enrolled in the business management program at Berkshire Community College and has earned an accounting certificate from Mildred Elley as well as an administrative business degree in her home country of Colombia.

–E.E.

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Report: Massachusetts nonprofits have lost over $8.6 billion due to COVID-19

Boston — The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has released “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Nonprofit Impacts and Policies to Boost Resiliency,” the latest edition of its Commonwealth Insights report series. The report, drawing on over 1,500 responses to surveys of nonprofits conducted by MNN and Philanthropy Massachusetts in the spring, underscores the enormity of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit sector and outlines policies that will preserve sector jobs and services.

Commonwealth Insights notes that nonprofits across Massachusetts reported a total of at least $8.6 billion in lost revenues due to the pandemic. More than half (52%) reported that they had made reductions in their workforce. The top three specific impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic cited by nonprofit respondents were disruptions of services to clients and communities (88%), decreases in revenues (78%), and an increased demand for services from clients and communities (44%).

While the surveys illustrate sector-wide impacts, the report also notes differences in impacts and responses to the pandemic between different mission areas and regions of Massachusetts. For example, in terms of revenue loss, artistic/cultural nonprofits and environmental nonprofits reported the highest incidences of revenue loss, with 86% of respondents in both categories indicating that they had lost revenue as a result of the pandemic.

The report calls for three public policy reforms to boost nonprofit resiliency and help the nonprofit sector recover from the impacts of COVID-19:

  • Expand nonprofit access to capital and financial support by lifting the current 500-employee cap for Paycheck Protection Program loans and by adjusting the Mid-Size Business Loan Program to include loan forgiveness and support for nonprofit employers;
  • Provide more unemployment insurance relief for states in the next federal relief package, which will enable state policymakers to pursue policies addressing the timing and amount of UI reimbursement payments for self-insured employers; and
  • Improve charitable giving incentives by making permanent and increasing the cap on the federal above-the-line charitable deduction provided in the CARES Act.

–E.E.