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Changes In Berkshire County's Economic Leadership

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While key political leaders in Berkshire County retained their posts entering 2014, there is some movement among key economic players in the region.

Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi has announced the appointment of a new executive director for BerkshireWorks. The organization helps administer unemployment insurance as well as workforce placement and training to all of Berkshire County. Pittsfield native William Monterosso will take over for former North Adams Mayor John Barrett, who has served in the role for the past two years. Barrett’s contract expired in September but he has stayed on to assist with the rollout of the state’s unemployment insurance website. Bianchi says after an unsuccessful first round of resume-gathering, which included Barrett, and a subsequent second round, Monterosso was the best fit.

“As I indicated to all the candidates, I want somebody that lives and breathes the issues of folks who are unemployed and takes the job almost home with them,” said Bianchi.

Monterosso is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and has more than 15 years of experience in workforce development managing 700 employees and leveraging millions of dollars in grant funding for agencies in West Virginia. Bianchi says Berkshire Works plays a major role in the county’s economic development.

“It should have a critical role in partnering with organizations and corporations so that they are intimately aware of the needs of corporations and are intimately aware of those folks who might be able to fit the bill who are currently unemployed,” said Bianchi.

Monterosso will start January 21. He could not be reached for comment in time for this broadcast.

Meanwhile, the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce plans to hire a new president and CEO in the beginning of March. Michael Supranowicz has held the position since 2005 and will be leaving at the end of January for a position with Hillcrest Educational Centers. Peter Stasiowski chairs the Chamber’s board of directors. He says the board is looking for a person who will work well and potentially take a role with 1Berkshire, the county’s leading economic development agency encompassing the Chamber, the Berkshire Visitors Bureau and Berkshire Creative.

“The skill sets are roughly the same in many respects,” Stasiowski said. “So we are not turning a blind eye towards where all of these organizations in Berkshire County are heading. We know that down the road these organizations under the 1Berkshire umbrella will need a leader and why not start to think about that now.”

Supranowicz has served as the COO of 1Berkshire. The Chamber’s vice president of member services, June Roy-Martin, will fill in as interim president until a successor is brought on. The chamber serves 1,000 business members and Stasiowski says the Berkshires offer unique economic opportunities.

“We recognize that our population has continued to slowly decline over the years, but we feel that our labor force is highly educated and the cost of that labor force is less than many other areas in Massachusetts,” Stasiowski explained. “These factors put the Berkshires in a very competitive position when it comes to either recruiting new businesses or expanding the businesses that are already here and helping them to help themselves.”

Stasiowski says the Chamber has already received more than a dozen qualified applications and expects to choose from a pool of about 25.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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