An architectural rendering of Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary's new Program Barn. Image courtesy Mass Audubon

Business Briefs: Pleasant Valley expansion; Small Business Relief Partnership Grant; Davis joins Construct; Guido’s donations; Greylock commits to inclusion

Through membership in the African American Credit Union Coalition, Greylock is working to strengthen access to financial services for people of color in the community.

Major expansion project set to begin at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Lenox — Through the generous donations of many supporters and funders, including the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary’s Opening Doors to Nature capital campaign is now within $200,000 of its $1.12 million goal. Construction is scheduled to start Monday, Aug. 24, on an energy-efficient addition to the 18th-century program barn that includes modern restrooms, expanded lobby area, expansive decking and a small kitchen.

Mass Audubon President David O’Neill noted that while Pleasant Valley has been a longtime popular destination for birders and other outdoors lovers, the sanctuary can also serve as a 21st-century “base camp” for contemporary programming and outreach into the region’s varied and diverse communities.

“And that’s why the Openings Doors to Nature campaign is so timely and important, and worthy of support” O’Neill said. “This project will both increase capacity and accessibility at the sanctuary, while allowing staff to more fully realize Pleasant Valley’s potential as a resource within the greater Berkshires.”

–E.E.

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Berkshire Regional Planning Commission awarded Small Business Relief Partnership Grant by Mass. attorney general’s office

Pittsfield — Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has been awarded $45,000 in grant funding to directly support businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Berkshire County Small Business Recovery Fund will provide small for-profit businesses in Berkshire County with emergency assistance in addressing fixed debt, payroll, accounts payable and other working capital expenses. The focus of this fund will be on fixed costs that could not be avoided while businesses were either unable to operate or operate at full capacity.

“Small, locally-owned businesses have been hard hit by restrictions related to COVID-19, and we are pleased to receive this grant from the Attorney General’s Office to help support them directly,” said BRPC executive director Tom Matuszko. “This is part of a larger strategy for economic recovery in our region which will include both direct funding and technical assistance for business owners.”

Grants up to $3,000 per business will be awarded on a rolling, first-come, first-served basis through Wednesday, Sept. 30, to small businesses physically located in Berkshire County that employed no more than 10 people as of March 23, 2020, and that have been in operation for a minimum of one year. A full description of criteria for eligible businesses is available online. For more information, contact Laura Brennan at lbrennan@berkshireplanning.org.

–E.E.

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Leigh Davis joins Construct as development director

Leigh Davis

Great Barrington — Construct Inc. has announced that Leigh Davis has joined it to fill the newly created position of development director following an extensive search and selection process by Construct’s board of directors.

A native of Washington, D.C., Davis moved from Ireland to Great Barrington with her three children in 2009. Before joining Construct, Davis was director of development of Eagle Mill Redevelopment LLC, a historic, mixed-use affordable housing development in Lee. Prior to that, Davis was director of marketing of New England Newspapers Inc. and marketing manager of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. She serves as a member of the Great Barrington Selectboard and is a member of the Great Barrington Community Preservation Committee. Davis is a cinema and photography graduate of Ithaca College; holds a Master of Arts in film studies and screenwriting from the National University of Ireland; and was a tenured film professor at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, also in Ireland. She resides in Great Barrington with her three children.

–E.E.

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‘Round Up at Checkout’ program supports local food bank

Pittsfield — Guido’s Fresh Marketplace co-owners Matthew and Chris Masiero have announced the launch of “Round Up at Checkout,” a program that gives Guido’s customers the opportunity to give back to their local community every time they shop. Guido’s shoppers have the option to round up to the nearest dollar when they check out; the difference will be donated to fight local food insecurity. There is also the option to round up to the nearest $5 or $10 increment.

All funds collected at Guido’s Pittsfield and Great Barrington locations will go directly to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which supplies food pantries throughout the region. Last year, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts served nearly 40,000 people at 40 sites around Berkshire County alone. This year, there is a 20% increase in food bank need. Twenty-five percent of current visitors to food pantries are new visitors.

Said Matt Masiero: “A few cents doesn’t seem like much, but every dollar Guido’s customers raise for the Food Bank pays for four meals. We launched this program on July 9, 2020. In just three weeks, at the close of July, just under $5,000 in Roundup contributions were made. That’s almost 20,000 meals made possible by generous Guido’s customers!”

–E.E.

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Greylock Federal Credit Union commits to financial inclusion

Pittsfield — Greylock Federal Credit Union has joined the African American Credit Union Coalition. In addition, Greylock’s board of directors has unanimously voted to sign on to a national Credit Union Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collective’s statement of solidarity and commitment to change.

Through membership in the AACUC, Greylock is working to strengthen access to financial services for people of color in the community. The added counsel and tools of the AACUC’s Commitment to Change will help Greylock as the credit union continues to pursue meaningful change around historically unequal access to financial resources.

The pledge has gained the support of a coalition of over 150 credit unions and service providers nationally since its launch on Juneteenth (June 19). The position statement commits: “Together, we are stronger. Together, we can create a better world where all members of our communities can take part in our democracy, live free of fear from violence, and enjoy physical and financial well-being. We stand for financial democracy.”

–E.E.