|1Berkshire Restructures Leadership, Enters 'Next Phase'|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
10:48PM / Monday, July 16, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — 1Berkshires has quietly restructured its leadership as it enters what officials are calling the "next phase" in its evolution.
The county's four economic agencies are centralized at the appropriately named Central Fire Station in Pittsfield.
Stuart Chase, former head of the Berkshire Museum, completed a year's contract on June 28 to consolidate the four economic agencies that make up 1Berkshires and Chairman Michael Daly has stepped back into a vice chairman role on the board.
The collaborative agency will now use a team approach in operations.
"When Stuart was brought in we really needed someone who could approach it in a business-minded way and move it to a reality," said new 1Berkshire Chairman Reggie Cooper on Monday. "This was a trial situation; rather than spend a year bringing someone in to learn about the Berkshires, Stuart could hit the ground running."
Cooper, a 7-year veteran in serving on the various agency boards of 1Berkshire, said Chase will "wrap up" several projects that were not yet completed during his tenure, including ensuring some grant funding. However, he said the board had determined that the governance structure was working well enough that a CEO was not needed.
1Berkshire, made up of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Creative and the vestiges of the Berkshire Economic Development Corp., was conceived two years ago as a collaborative approach for economic development. It did little under a series of interim leaders until the decision was made to hire a full time CEO in February 2011.
Chase was selected in April that year to lead 1Berkshire as chief executive officer.
At the time of his departure from the museum, Chase said he planned on doing consultant work for museums and non-profits. He is owner and operator of S.A. Chase & Associates and, Cooper said, "Stuart's long-term passion is for museums."
He said it was not clear how long Pam Malumphy, hired by Chase as an economic development specialist, would stay because her position is grant funded.
During Chase's tenure, the four agencies were relocated to the Central Fire Station on Allen Street and Berkshire Creative and the BEDC integrated as 1Berkshire divisions. He also shepherded the organization through the 501(c)3 process. Officials also say the agency:
• Obtained a state Office of Business Development (MOBD), and a Regional Economic Development Organization grant for the second year for developing marketing materials to become the designated economic development agency for the county.
• Formalized a database for lead tracking and service to businesses
• Established the 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance Foundation for education and charitable activities and for leasing the Central Fire Station for use of the agency, related groups and as a business incubator.
Chase's tenure did hit bump after allegations that 1Berkshire had backed a low-impact cleanup of the Housatonic after accepting business donations from the river's polluter, GE. Officials have denied the claims.
Photo courtesy 1Berkshire
The 1Berkshire leadership team is Lauri Klefos, left, Jodi Joseph of Berkshire Creative, and Michael Supranowicz.
Cooper said the board will now take the lead in fundraising while the current heads of the chamber, bureau and Berkshire Creative will share leadership responsibilities as vice presidents.
Berkshire President and CEO Michael Supranowicz will also be chief operating officer and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Lauri Klefos will be chief marketing officer.
Putting them together in the same building has broken down their individual silos and has them keeping abreast of what the other is doing, said Cooper, since they see each other regularly.
"Laurie, Mike and Jodi are working collaboratively," he said. "The strength of this has moved so incredibly fast ... like they're in a similar market with similar responsibilities. That's why we made the decision for them to run it."
The directing manager of Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Cooper is chairman of the Visitors Bureau, a member of the Executive Committee and a former Berkshire Chamber board member. In taking over for Daly, one of the founders of 1Berkshires, he said his experience working on the various agencies has shown him how well they can work together.
"I've got a good sense of what each of those pieces do... how those organizations could really benefit each other and how they could enhance each other," said Cooper.
Moving forward, he envisions 1Berkshire positioning itself as an economic hub for information, resources and education for different sectors; developing a strategic plan; becoming an incubator; providing higher-level collaboration and programming; and fund raising.
"Let's really fine tune the message and raise the funding to market the message," he said. "We don't want 1Berkshire to be another organization, but the mechanism that brings these organizations together. They don't need someone to tell them what to do."