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Berkshire Innovation Center Open For Business

A group of dignitaries stand behind a ceremonial ribbon on a staircase
Josh Landes
The ribbon cutting at the Berkshire Innovation Center

The Berkshire Innovation Center is now open after more than a decade of planning. WAMC was at the grand opening.

The ribbon cutting was held before a packed crowd in the new almost $14 million facility at 45 Woodlawn Ave in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at the former General Electric site.

“September 2017 seems like a really long time ago, and when I asked the Pittsfield city council to financially support the Berkshire Innovation Center, we won unanimous support for the construction of this remarkable, state-of-the-art facility,” said Mayor Linda Tyer. Her administration is the third to handle the development of the BIC, from concept to grand opening.

“And almost exactly one year later, standing with our generous funding partners on a freezing, raining cold day, ground was broken," continued Tyer. "And today, we all come together in this gleaming, gorgeous, modern facility at the William Stanley Business Park.”

The sleek metal and glass building represents a collaboration between private entities, public funding, and educational institutions. The center is designed to allow its 20-plus member companies and over 10 educational partners to develop their ideas and train workers and students with shared technology and opportunities to interact in a neutral space. After years of funding shortages, the state closed the gap in March 2018, making the long-held dream a reality. Tyer praised the city and state leaders who participated in the process over the many years, and underscored the private partnerships that made the BIC possible – specifically highlighting the efforts of the chairman of its board.

“I am most especially inspired and in awe of the determination and the tenacity of business leaders like Stephen Boyd, who, without his...” Tyer said as applause filled the room. “Truly, I am in awe. This is a lesson of what to do when you won’t give up. He is a visionary, and like our education leaders – Ellen Kennedy – countless hours by our dedicated business and community leaders have been devoted to this endeavor. And I cannot overstate the power of our collaboration, our networks here in Pittsfield and the Berkshires.”

“What happens tomorrow and the day after and the day after is ultimately going to tell the story with respect to this particular innovation center," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “We’ll be there to do what we can to help with the next act and the next step and some of the stuff that people would like to see happen on a go-forward basis. But the real great story about this, 10 years from now, I hope is not about the planning and the rest and not even the construction and the building of this – I want the story 10 years from now to be about all the amazing ideas and the great companies and the great organizations that came out of this place that made this part of Massachusetts even more special than it is today. That’s ultimately how we’ll definite success.”

“Today we officially open the doors to this amazing facility, but already it’s serving as an intersection point for engineers and educators and thought leaders who are seizing the opportunities of tomorrow and who are eager to solve challenges that our generation and future generations will be faced with," said BIC Executive Director Ben Sosne. He pointed to companies like Dive – which develops technology to explore the depths of the ocean – Lenco Armored Vehicles, and Electro Magnetic Applications, who plan on installing a test chamber to simulate the atmosphere of space inside the BIC.

“The evolutionary pace of technology is staggering," said Sosne. "These changes translate into a range of opportunities and disruptions across every industry. The Berkshire Innovation Center is a home for our community to congregate to navigate those changes and position ourselves to be leaders in the industry of tomorrow.”

With that, Sosne and the assembled dignitaries cut the ribbon in the front hall of the center, signifying the realization of years of planning, advocating, and dreaming.

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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