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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Turkey dinners for seniors; The Pass grow capacity; Berkshire County COVID-19 Adaptation Fund; ‘Put Your Money Where Your Life Is’; nonprofit insurance; BIC board members

The program will be available to both for-profit and nonprofit small businesses in Berkshire County, with maximum grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the number of employees.


Wheeler & Taylor Insurance creates Thanksgiving meals for seniors, Claire Teague Senior Center delivers

Great Barrington — This Thanksgiving has been tough for many local seniors, who weren’t able to see friends and family because of the pandemic, so Wheeler & Taylor Insurance teamed up with the Claire Teague Senior Center to give local seniors a complete Thanksgiving dinner to easily prepare at home.

Wheeler & Taylor President J. Scott Rote bought oven-ready kits containing turkey breasts with gravy at a local supermarket. He and his staff added vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed potato mix, dessert and four KN95 face masks to each package. In all, the packages yielded 300-350 meals.

Clare Teague Senior Center director Polly Mann-Salenovich delivered the packages to the local senior housing complex and individual seniors. “I got wonderful feedback from our seniors,” she said. “Wheeler & Taylor thought of everything. All I had to do was put the packages in our van and deliver them. I was thrilled. It really was wonderful, great fun.”

Rote got a call from an old acquaintance who had gone through tough times and can no longer get out easily. “He said he hasn’t had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner years and was almost in tears when he called to say thanks,” Rote said.

Separately, Wheeler & Taylor account manager Kimberly Briggs, who is the secretary of the Junior League of Berkshire County, spearheaded employee fundraising for the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. In total, Wheeler & Taylor employees donated 10 boxes of groceries that were delivered to the pantry by Briggs and Rote.


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The Pass to expand grow capacity

The Pass cannabis store and grow facility in Sheffield. Photo courtesy Berkshire Welco

Sheffield — On Nov. 19, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts granted approval for The Pass cannabis dispensary to add outdoor growing plus five additional greenhouses to its capacity at a second location in Sheffield. This added site will allow The Pass to manage an outdoor area of approximately 43,000 square feet, cultivating 2,700 plants in season and greenhouses containing 2,400 additional plants year-round to provide raw material for its retail store and wholesale business. The new site will not be accessible to the public.

The Pass’ original site has a 7,200-square-foot multilevel indoor growing facility, a 5,760-square-foot outdoor greenhouse and a lab for manufacturing its own products from the flowers grown on-site.

“Having our flower production on-site ensures that our customers are getting the freshest cannabis possible,” said head of cultivation Pete Steimer. “The opening of The Pass’ second grow location will allow us to develop our wholesale business, have a stronger presence at dispensaries throughout the state and expand and diversify our in-house menu.”

The Pass will hire around six full-time staff members for the second site with an additional four to six seasonal workers when the outdoor season is in full swing. The Pass has eight cultivation staff members working the original site, which will also see a push of seasonal workers when outdoor production begins.


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Berkshire County COVID-19 Adaptation Fund announced

Pittsfield — Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, in partnership with the office of Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced the availability of grant funds through the Berkshire County COVID-19 Adaptation Fund. Grants through this program will help businesses and organizations with up to 25 employees address expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants may use funds to cover a range of eligible expenses, including the purchase of PPE and other COVID-19-adaptation supplies as well as general business expenses such as rent, utilities, payroll and insurance. BRPC will begin accepting applications online Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The program will be available to both for-profit and nonprofit small businesses in Berkshire County, with maximum grant awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the number of employees. Preference will be given to applications from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) -owned businesses.

BRPC is currently also helping to administer two regional Community Development Block Grant programs specific to for-profit businesses with five or fewer employees with low-to-moderate income owners.

The fund will also consider applications of up to $15,000 from established nonprofit organizations to support programs aimed at supporting individuals and groups of individuals impacted economically by COVID-19. Organizations seeking to apply for programmatic support should contact Berkshire Regional Planning Commission senior planner Laura Brennan at


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BerkShares to host ‘Put Your Money Where Your Life Is’ virtual fireside chat

John Lewis. Photo courtesy BerkShares Inc.

Great Barrington — John Lewis and Michael Shuman will join in virtual conversation on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. for the BerkShares Inc. annual meeting in a keynote event titled “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is.” The speakers will consider what role greater localization of finances, food and energy could play in achieving a more inclusive and racially and socially just economy in the Berkshires.

Lewis is CEO of R3SET Enterprises and chairman of the Berkshire Black Economic Council, and he sits on the advisory committee of the 1Berkshire Blueprint 2.0. He recently led an “Idea Jam” for Black and Brown business leaders to discuss economic development within communities of color in the Berkshires. He joined the board of BerkShares Inc. in 2020.

Michael Shuman. Photo courtesy BerkShares Inc.

Shuman is an entrepreneur, attorney, economist and author. He is director of local economy programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation, and an adjunct professor at Bard College’s business school in New York City. His latest books include “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is: How to Invest Locally Using Solo 401ks and Self-Directed IRAs”; “The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity”; and “Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street.”

This event is free but donations are encouraged. Registration is required. For more information, contact BerkShares at


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NPC Berkshires to host program on insurance for nonprofits

Robert Zuber. Photo courtesy Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires
Kate Lauzon. Photo courtesy Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires

Great Barrington — On Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires will host Cross Insurance for a Lunch & Learn session on “Stuff My Insurance Agent Never Told Me.” Robert Zuber and Kate Lauzon from Cross Insurance, a family-owned agency with 40 branches, will talk about what nonprofit insurance should be providing and the impact of COVID-19 on insurance. The session is free for nonprofits. Registration is required. For more information, contact the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires at (413) 441-9542 or


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From left to right: Thomas Adjei, James Kupernik, Adrian Dion and Justin McKennon. Photos courtesy Berkshire Innovation Center

Berkshire Innovation Center announces new board members

Pittsfield — Berkshire Innovation Center has announced the appointment of four new members to its board of directors: Thomas Adjei, Adrian Dion, James Kupernik and Justin McKennon.

Adjei is director of research and development and new business at Neenah Technical Papers. He previously did research and development with Crane & Co. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, and his Master of Science in biological systems engineering from Virginia Tech. He also has a Master of Business Administration from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and completed the design thinking executive program at MIT. Thomas also serves as the treasurer of the board of directors of the Christian Assembly Church.

Dion is chief operating officer of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, where she has managed a global team and an annual budget of more than $50 million. Dion has guided the growth of the Foundation’s flagship program, PJ Library, which distributed books to 20,000 children in the United States when she began and now serves nearly 700,000 children a month in 30 countries. She lives in Northampton but was raised in the Berkshires. She has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.

Kupernik is the chief technology officer for VidMob. Before joining VidMob, he was vice president of operations and technology at UpSnap, and director of technology for Raceway Media. Earlier in his career, he was a senior web engineer at Country Curtains and served as webmaster for Studio Two. Outside of the office, Kupernik has been the choir director at First Baptist Church for over 10 years, enjoys traveling with his wife, cycling and enjoying the Berkshires.

McKennon is a principal scientist with Electro Magnetic Applications Inc. and is an industry-recognized leader in understanding and simulating electromagnetic and space effects. He obtained his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts. He holds an FAA Designated Engineering Representative license in all lightning disciplines. He previously worked for large defense contractors, and recently served as chief engineer of NTS Lightning Technologies. He was instrumental in bringing BIC’s BETA program to fruition.



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