City of Pittsfield Announces New Economic Development Strategy

Mayor Linda Tyer, in conjunction with Jay Anderson, Chair of the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC) and Mick Callahan, Chair of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA), hosted a press conference at City Hall on Thursday, May 4 to discuss the City of Pittsfield’s new economic development strategy, including the announcement of a new position and the new appointment for the director of Community Development position.

The conference, which was held in Council Chambers, was attended by many in the city’s business community, elected officials and representatives from state agencies. Mayor Tyer opened the briefing, thanking businesses such as Fire Cider, Red Apple Butchers and Covanta, which the city has previously worked with regarding economic development initiatives. She also praised both the work of 1Berkshire for its attention to the region and its support toward attracting new businesses to the city, and the support of the state agency, MassDevelopment.

“The City of Pittsfield has no time to waste and neither do the companies who are working so hard on a start-up or expansion. We must be excellent ambassadors and skilled technicians,” the Mayor said. “The first of three points of great news to share with you is that starting this month, MassDevelopment will have once a month office hours in City Hall.”

The second highlight centered on the creation of the “The Red Carpet Team,” a group of comprised of business and thought leaders who have specifically collaborated to develop strategies for attracting and expanding business opportunities in Pittsfield.

“Success demands that we are well prepared, organized, welcoming and polished. We have agreed that breaking down silos and strengthening our connections is imperative. When a business prospect arrives in Pittsfield, they are greeted with a round table of professionals from the city, PEDA, PERC, MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD),” the Mayor said.

“In this forum, they are able to present their business plan to every agency and each agency is able to offer its technical assistance and incentives. A full menu of opportunities is presented, strategies are aligned, and a road map is created. Over the past year, we have deployed the Red Carpet Team for several business prospects and it has been embraced. The model has been tested and we have now formalized this method, strengthening it one more step.”

Mayor Tyer cited the example of a particular business owner in the molding industry who praised the city for its level of attention and detail. Following the session with the Red Carpet Team, the business owner toured the William Stanley Business Park and submitted an application for the state’s Economic Development Incentive Program.

Callahan, a longstanding business leader in the city, championed the expanded collaboration. “We need a unified effort to not only be successful in the expansion of our economy but we also need to be respectful of the money that we are spending,” said Callahan.

To that end, the city, PEDA and PERC are joining forces to create a new shared full-time economic development position entitled, Business Development Manager. The role will serve as the both an ambassador and technician in recruiting and expanding business opportunities in Pittsfield.

“In this way, Pittsfield’s three primary economic development agencies will have aligned their strategies, combined their resources, and evolved their commitment to business development,” the Mayor said. “This role will serve as the first point of contact to requests from businesses on city procedures, eligibility for programs, incentives, and services. This person will have the pulse of Pittsfield’s commercial real estate market and will create and lead a sales and marketing strategy.”

Following this news, Mayor Tyer also announced the appointment of Deanna Ruffer to the helm of Community Development, as an essential component to this work. Ruffer served as Director of Community Development from 2004 to 2012, overseeing several major development projects, including the revitalization of North Street, the renovation of the Pittsfield Common, and the redevelopment of the Rice Silk Mill apartments; Ruffer has secured more than $20 million in grants for city projects.

Ruffer’s appointment will go before the City Council on Tuesday, May 9th.

“Deanna has a stellar record of accomplishments, extraordinary vision, and finely-honed technical skills. She understands the culture of our city, knows every inch of every neighborhood, deftly navigates the business and housing landscape, and has a deep familiarity with state agencies,” the Mayor said. “I am honored that she has agreed to return to Pittsfield, to be a member of my senior management team, and help us realize that next evolution of our community vision.”

For more information, please contact Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Director of Administrative Services, Office of the Mayor, 413-499-9322 or rmdews@pittsfieldch.com