Baristas prepare beverages at Tunnel City Coffee's new Uptown Tunnel shop in Williamstown (see item below). Photo courtesy Tunnel City Coffee

Business Briefs: Record-breaking season for Jacob’s Pillow; Pungl launch event; ambulance services merger; new Tunnel City Coffee location; BTCF grant deadlines

Pungl connects donors with the charitable work that means the most to them, whether in their backyards or halfway across the world.

Jacob’s Pillow reports record-breaking season

Pamela Tatge. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Becket — Jacob’s Pillow Dance’s 2017 Festival season, the first programmed by director Pamela Tatge, boasted over 500 performances, events, classes, pop-up performances and new initiatives, culminating in over 111,000 festival experiences, the highest number ever accounted for.

Amid the announcement of Vision ‘22, a strategic five-year plan for the future, Jacob’s Pillow focused on new programming with 10 international companies, five world premieres and 11 female-led companies as well as commissions, site-specific works and artist-as-curator opportunities. Jacob’s Pillow presented 197 dance performances from May through August 2017, an increase of 37 presentations over the previous year with 132 ticketed performances and 65 free performances. The venue also saw a 39 percent increase of under-35 ticket buyers after expanding its discount program.

In its second year of operation, Jacob’s Pillow’s community engagement department implemented several new and expanded programs designed to directly engage with communities throughout Berkshire County. This season, community engagement programs accounted for 160 classes, workshops and special events, through which approximately 6,300 participants engaged with dance in a new way, nearly doubling last year’s 98 offerings that engaged around 3,000 participants.


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Pungl to launch online fundraising platform

Abby Tovell. Photo courtesy T Square Design Studio

Pittsfield — Pungl, a new marketplace that aims to transform online fundraising and charitable giving, invites area nonprofit managers, school administrators, town board members and others who are interested or involved in charitable fundraising to a launch event Thursday, Oct. 5, from noon to 7 p.m. at Hotel on North. One-on-one sessions will be held from noon to 5:00 p.m., with a presentation and question-and-answer session to follow from 5 to 7 p.m. The event will introduce Pungl’s concept to nonprofits and give them an up-close look at how to use Pungl to reach beyond a local donor base to anyone in the country who shares similar values.

Many Americans, including millennials and young professionals, are no longer satisfied with material objects as gifts; instead, they want to leave their marks. Pungl connects donors with the charitable work that means the most to them, whether in their backyards or halfway across the world. They can use the Pungl marketplace to search for a variety of named giving opportunities from arts and culture programming to projects that support services in a town or community or causes that have global impact.

Pungl is the result of a brainstorm by 15-year-old Great Barrington native Zachary Goffin. At a sporting event, Goffin spied some bricks outside the stadium with donors’ names engraved on them and had a lightbulb moment. “The bricks reminded me of what these people are interested in and what they find meaningful,” Goffin explained. “I thought there should be a place, like eBay, where you can shop for charitable gifts you can name after people—rather than things—and where browsing one item might lead you to another and another.” The concept was then refined and transformed into a new online-giving marketplace by Housatonic-based creative director Abby Tovell, who runs the company.


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North Adams Ambulance, Village Ambulance to merge

A Village Ambulance Service vehicle. Photo courtesy Village Ambulance Service

North Adams — Representatives of North Adams Ambulance Service and Village Ambulance Service of Williamstown have announced and agreement for VAS to merge with NAAS pending due diligence.

VAS, like many small providers of emergency medical services, has been facing increasing financial challenges. In light of this, a working group consisting of representatives from Williams College, the town of Williamstown, the Williamstown Fire Department and VAS was formed to evaluate and recommend the best solution to would ensure continued, sustainable emergency medical services to the communities that VAS serves.

After engaging EMS consultant Plumb Associates and examining several possible solutions, the group unanimously recommended the pursuit of a merger agreement with NAAS. The boards of directors of both services have endorsed the concept. To successfully accomplish this merger, due diligence has been initiated by both services and the consulting services of Page Wolfberg & Wirth have been secured.

Operational, regulatory, governance and legal issues must be worked through, but it is hoped that successful resolution of the issues will culminate in a regional Northern Berkshire Ambulance Service as expediently as possible. In the meantime, both services remain committed to their communities and employees, who will be relied upon to ensure the success of the new service.


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Tunnel City Coffee introduces Uptown Tunnel

A barista prepares coffee at Tunnel City Coffee’s new Uptown Tunnel location in Williamstown. Photo courtesy Tunnel City Coffee

Williamstown — A quieter take on the bustling Spring Street staple, Tunnel City Coffee’s new Uptown Tunnel shop, inside the Williams College bookstore at 81 Spring St., offers double doses of espresso and lattes in an intimate space. The new shop celebrates specialty coffee with alternative brewing demonstrations and tastings covering the finer points of brewing methods and coffee production.

Uptown Tunnel offers small batches of imported specialty coffee sourced from small communities in Mexico, Thailand and Costa Rica, among other places. Drip coffee is available as a pour-over, one of several brewing methods featured at the new shop. Customers can also enjoy a few nondairy milks, an expanded variety of textures, tastes and options for those seeking out more than soy. Uptown Tunnel will host evenings featuring local artists as well as its regular brewing and tasting events.

Said Tunnel City Coffee owner Paul Lovegreen, “Our goal for Uptown Tunnel is to give people a space where they can get together with friends and stay for an hour or two and enjoy what Williamstown has to offer.”


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BTCF announces final round of 2017 grant deadlines

Sheffield — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has announced the fourth and final round of deadlines for 2017 competitive grants. Covering the period from Sunday, Oct. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 31, the fall cycle of deadlines is open to regional nonprofits, schools and individuals.

For nonprofits
The Central Berkshire Fund supports nonprofits, public agencies and community organizations serving the residents of Becket, Cummington, Dalton, Hinsdale, Peru, Washington and Windsor. Applications are due Tuesday, Oct. 10.

For nonprofits and individuals
The Wassermann-Streit Y’diyah Memorial Fund supports projects that encourage learning about Judaism and dispel religious intolerance. Applications are due Wednesday, Nov. 1.

For schools
Five education enrichment funds will award grants between $100 and $3,000 to support extracurricular projects in schools and school districts in Berkshire County: Berkshire Hills Fund for Excellence for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District (deadline: Sunday, Oct. 1); Adams Cheshire Educational Partnership for the Adams-Cheshire School District (deadline: Friday, Oct. 6); Williamstown Elementary School Endowment Fund (deadline: Friday, Oct. 6); Seven Towns’ Education Enrichment Program for the Central Berkshire Regional School District (deadline: Tuesday, Oct. 10); and Lee Fund for Educational Enrichment for the Lee-Tyringham School District (deadline: Monday, Oct. 30).

The application process for all grants is online.