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Biz Briefs: Young People Start to Work on Their Own Businesses
04:59PM / Monday, February 13, 2017
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Community members develop business ideas at a workshop presented by BerkShares and MSBDCN, hosted by the Morningside Up project at La Fogata restaurant on Tyler Street in Pittsfield.

Planning on business: The business planning program for young people, which is presented by BerkShares in partnership with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network's Berkshire Regional Office and in collaboration with Berkshire Community College's South County Center, has involved community members as mentors, teachers, and advisors for young entrepreneurs over the past two years. On Jan. 25, this year's program started off with a whole new level of community involvement.
Students in the program, who range in age from 14 to 27, are asked to write business plans that address gaps in the local economy, meeting needs for basic goods and services that we are currently importing to the region. This year, students will be given a boost as they begin to imagine these businesses; they will be able to refer to a set of business ideas generated by by members of the community from up and down the county.
These ideas were developed by participants in a series of workshops called "Bringing Buy Local Full Circle," which were co-facilitated this fall by BerkShares, Inc. and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network. The two organizations collaborated with associations throughout the County to involve community members from all walks of life in a participatory approach to economic development.
The Adams Council on Aging, Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Manos Unidas’ Harvest of Hope Festival, the Alchemy Initiative’s Morningside Up coalition, and Berkshire Young Professionals all hosted workshops. The ideas that came out of each workshop reflected the particular contexts of the hosting groups; participants from different backgrounds identified different opportunities based on their own points of view.
Thanks to this input, students in Entry to Entrepreneurship will begin this year's program with a wider perspective on the market opportunities in the regional economy. Students have the option to choose one of these ideas to develop further into a business idea, or to use an idea of their own. At the end of the program, students will present their business plans to the public and receive 200 BerkShares in seed money. Presentations will take place on Wednesday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m. at Dewey Hall in Sheffield.


The winners are ...: Berkshire Money Management has chosen the winners from its random iPhone 7 drawing for current employees of Berkshire Health Systems.  The drawing is part of BMM's continued mission to support local organizations, especially within the healthcare community.

Ten BHS employees in all areas of healthcare—nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, groundskeepers--with a cumulative total of nearly 80 years with BHS were selected at random to receive an iPhone 7. The drawing was inspired by BMM investment advisor and independent financial commentator Bill Schmick, who recently had major surgery at Berkshire Medical Center.

In addition to the iPhone, all winners were offered a complementary review of their 403 (B) investments, which included suggestions for improving their performance and a comprehensive review of their financial planning needs. Berkshire Money Management will be planning another drawing for BHS employees in the spring.

Reporting in: Berkshire Hills Bancorp reported record earnings of $59 million in 2016, an increase of 18 percent over the prior year. Earnings grew due to positive operating leverage from business expansion and improved efficiency. Fourth quarter 2016 results included the operations of First Choice Bank from the date of its acquisition on Dec. 2.

Scholarships available: The Zonta Club of Berkshire County is accepting applications for its 2017 scholarship. Applicants must meet the following qualifications: be a graduate of a Berkshire County High School, and be presently enrolled full-time as a freshman, sophomore, or junior in a four-year college or university. Applications must include all of the following: a cover letter including your name and contact information, high school name and year of graduation, and a list of college extracurricular activities including any community service or volunteer work; a 250-word essay stating current or intended college major and goals upon graduation; and official college transcript.

Zonta is a nonprofit organization committed to a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to reach her full potential. In such a world, every woman is literate and has access to education, health care, legal and economic resources on an equal basis with men. In such a world, no woman lives in fear of violence.

Completed applications must be postmarked no later than April 10, 2017, and mailed to Zonta Club of Berkshire County, c/o Scholarship Committee, P.O. Box 2184, Lenox, MA 01240. The scholarship winner will be notified by May 1

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