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Berkshire Businesses To Be Honored At Awards Gala

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1Berkshire

A Berkshire County group that represents the region’s businesses is celebrating local economic leaders Thursday night.

Jonathan Butler is the President and CEO of 1Berkshire, which he describes as the county’s “lead economic development and business organization.”

“We have about a thousand different members throughout the Berkshires and we are involved in a whole bunch of different initiatives,” he told WAMC.

Thursday night is its 8th annual “Celebrate the Berkshires” gala, where 1Berkshire will give out two sets of awards. The first are the Trendsetter awards.

“The Trendsetters recognize individual and organizational excellence across a number of different categories,” said Butler.

The seven categories range from “Under 40 Change Maker” to “Visionary Of The Year.”

“The Trendsetter finalists are everywhere from individual entrepreneurs and small business owners up to medium-sized organizations," said the 1Berkshire President and CEO. "There’s finalists from some of our largest organizations in the Berkshires. It runs the full gamut from the nonprofit sector to the creative economy all the way to manufacturing and health and human services.”

The other award is the Putting the Berkshires on the Map award.

“We define the award as going to an organization or project or initiative that has left an indelible mark on the region and contributes substantially to the advancement of the public perception and overall image of the Berkshires,” said Butler.

Past winners include Hotel On North, Berkshire Health Systems, Tanglewood, MASS MoCA, and last year, the community of North Adams as a whole.

This year’s recipient is General Dynamics Mission Systems, the multinational aerospace and defense corporation that occupies four of the former buildings on the General Electric campus that dominates the eastern portion of Pittsfield.

“For more than 60 years we’ve been supporting the U.S. Navy submarines and surface ship programs. We’re a high tech company that manufactures and integrate systems on both these surface ships," said Stan Kordana. A Cheshire native, he's been the vice president of surface ship programs in Pittsfield for over 33 years. He says the company’s steady growth over the last two decades makes the award well deserved.

“You know, back in 1997 we had about 500 employees based here in Pittsfield," Kordana told WAMC. "To date, we’re approximately 1,400 employees.”

Kordana says some of those employees represent an investment in the future.

“So we have about 60 paid interns here a year," he told WAMC. "Those interns are either local or come from outside the area, and a lot of those interns receive job offers before they go back to college in their senior year, and come back and work for us.”

He says the company’s recruitment team visits colleges within a 100-mile radius of Pittsfield “to include a lot of the high tech colleges that make up the type of skills that we need, such as RPI, UMASS, Rochester school of technology, MIT," as well as in-county schools like the Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts in North Adams and Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.

In addition to honoring local businesses and economic development, “Celebrate the Berkshires” is also a coming out party for the venue that will host the event.

“It was the ITAM Lodge up until December of 2017," said Eric Taylor. He bought and redeveloped the building into its new form: the Proprietor’s Lodge. Taylor says the original building, constructed in 1970, had never been renovated in its 47 years of operation.

“We’ve took a vision of ours that’s similar to what we’ve got going on in the Lakehouse guest cottages in Lanesborough and adapted it and kind of put a facelift on the exterior of the building and completely renovated the interior,” Taylor told WAMC.

The building now boasts a 300-person banquet hall, and Taylor says he plans to open a restaurant on the lower level with a view of the adjacent Pontoosuc Lake.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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