May 16, 2022

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: New BCC certificate programs; BHS launches training program; economic recovery workshops; Greylock Community Impact Report; Cain Hibbard & Myers adds three

BCC announces two new academic certificate programs

PITTSFIELDBerkshire Community College (BCC) announces the creation of two academic certificate programs beginning this fall: Technical Theatre and Advanced Manufacturing Technician. Certificate programs, which may be completed in as little as a year or less, provide the skills needed for immediate entry into the job market or the first step toward continuing higher education.

Technical Theatre Certificate

The Technical Theatre Certificate is designed to prepare students for a wide range of careers in educational, community and resident theatre venues, as well as in the film industry. With an immersive, hands-on learning approach, the program introduces students to the fundamentals of technical theatre and helps build an understanding of theatre history, design and practical uses of current industry standards.

Students who complete the 26-credit program will be prepared for careers in stage management, audio, costuming, hair and makeup, lighting, properties, set construction and scenic artistry. The Technical Theatre Certificate can also serve as a stepping stone toward an associate or bachelor degree.

Berkshire County provides numerous employment and internship opportunities for theatre professionals and students. The demand for theatre technicians is constant.

Advanced Manufacturing Technician Certificate

The Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) Certificate program encompasses the fundamentals of electricity and manufacturing in order to educate a well-rounded professional for the local manufacturing industry. The program is designed to help students gain faster entry into manufacturing jobs, while also preparing them to continue their education by working towards an associate degree in mechatronics (a multidisciplinary field that combines electronics and mechanical technologies). Upon completing the certificate, which represents the first half of the mechatronics degree, students may either immediately enter the workforce with an entry-level job or go on to earn a mechatronics degree and secure a mid-level job.

Students enrolled in the 28-credit program acquire basic skills in electronics, manufacturing, automation and design. Unlike traditional engineering programs, which often center on differential calculus-based concepts, the BCC program is tailored to students who thrive in a hands-on learning environment. The program specifically addresses the severe shortage of technician-level professionals in the local and national industry, and the increasing need for well-rounded technicians who can quickly adapt to changes in modern technology.

Ben Sosne, executive director of Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC), said, “BIC member companies tell us on a consistent basis that they are poised for significant growth; however, the challenges of an aging workforce and severe labor shortages limit their ability to recruit and retain qualified employees. BCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician Certificate will be a key component to educate the region’s workforce and provide local manufacturers with a pipeline of qualified candidates.”


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Berkshire Health Systems launches training program to support nursing assistants

PITTSFIELD Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) is taking action to address staffing challenges that are currently impacting the healthcare workforce. With position vacancies and high turnover rates impacting hospitals across the nation, BHS has been piloting a series of workforce development pipeline programs for nursing assistants, medical assistants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses designed to expand and build a skilled healthcare workforce.

“Our goal is to create a direct career path from education and training to full-time employment in healthcare,” said Patrick Borek, BHS vice president of human resources. “We recognize that many strong candidates face personal challenges that can create huge hurdles to employment, and we are designing our training programs to help reduce those barriers and help candidates succeed.”

For example, BHS covers the cost of all training in its pipeline programs and, in most cases, also pays a full-time salary with benefits to the program participant while they are completing their training course so that no candidate is required to choose between receiving a full-time salary and completing the training requirements necessary to advance their career.

One area of significant pipeline growth has been in the Nursing Assistant Training Program, which helps train and place candidates as nursing assistants at Berkshire Medical Center. Program participants receive three weeks of intensive, on-the-job training from an expert team of nurse educators and are eligible to receive full-time nursing assistant wages and benefits as soon as they begin their training. At the conclusion of their training, nursing assistants are accepted into full-time caregiving positions. The program accepts new applicants monthly and recently announced a significant hourly wage increase, in which starting nursing assistants can earn up to $25 per hour.


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Berkshire Economic Recovery program announces additional offerings

PITTSFIELD1Berkshire, in partnership with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and with support from the United States Economic Development Administration, announces additional cohorts to the Spring 2022 slate of technical assistance offerings of the Berkshire Economic Recovery Program (BERP).

Through a series of cohorts across topical areas in the Fall of 2021 and Winter of 2022, the BERP Technical Assistance series has supported more than 35 businesses through targeted, need-specific offerings. To address more demand and specific needs, three additional cohorts will be offered, including one entirely in Spanish.

These cohorts include:

  • May 5: Branding Para Emprendedores with Juliana Gomez Gomez
  • May 11: Get Paid: Best Practices for Selling Your Services with Glenn Geiger
  • May 18: It’s Time to Stop Running My Business by the Seat of My Pants with Robin Helfand

Participants in each cohort will join a scheduled kickoff workshop with the technical assistance provider. Upon completion of the workshop, each participant will be provided up to two hours of free one-on-one technical assistance from the consultant leading the workshop.

The BERP Technical Assistance series is free, and offered to any business that has been operating for at least one year. Each cohort has a capacity of seven participating businesses, so space is limited and registration is required. For a list of current technical assistance offerings and links to register, please visit the 1Berkshire website.

For more information, or for additional inquiries, please contact the 1Berkshire Economic Development Team at [email protected]


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Greylock donated $778,697 to community partners in 2021

PITTSFIELDGreylock Federal Credit Union has released its 2021 Community Impact Report. The report highlights the many relationships held throughout the region, to show members how their Credit Union invests in a stronger community.

Greylock made cash donations of over $778,000 to area non-profit partners in 2021. The list of partners ranges from local Lions Clubs and after-school programs to the Berkshire Family YMCA and the United Ways of Berkshire County.

Greylock’s continued COVID-19 response is also summarized in the document. Data shows that, in the second year of the pandemic, Greylock supported 3,414 area jobs with Paycheck Protection Program loans, provided millions of dollars in loan deferrals for members facing hardship, and issued over $51 million to first-time home buyers.

The Community Empowerment Center, which opened in 2018, grew to a five-person team with a branch-wide volunteer network of 29 certified financial coaches to meet the increasing need for services. The Center hosted 82 free seminars on everything from couponing to preparing for retirement. They also educated 2,805 area students on financial literacy, conducted 873 free financial coaching sessions, and helped 204 immigrants enter the U.S. banking system.

As a Certified Community Development Financial Institution, Greylock can be awarded federal funds to support the local economy. In 2021, Greylock was issued access to up to $23 million in emergency capital investment funding from the U.S. Treasury (to be used over 30 years), $1.8 million in Rapid Response funds to help stabilize local households and businesses affected by the pandemic, and a $500,000 award to tackle issues of local poverty and economic mobility.

The Impact Report, combined with the recently released Annual Report, shows that Greylock is a thriving financial institution with a commitment to community support.


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Cain Hibbard & Myers adds three to team

PITTSFIELDCain Hibbard & Myers, PC announces its expansion with the recent hire of three additional attorneys to serve the firm’s growing network of clients in Western Massachusetts and New York. Susan Herman, Jeff O’Connor, and Kyle Patzwahl bring a diverse array of skills and expertise to the firm.

Susan Herman. Photo courtesy Cain Hibbard & Meyers

Susan Herman joins the firm as Of Counsel with over 40 years of experience in the private and public sector. Susan’s experience includes 15 years as a private practitioner with a firm in Lewiston, Maine, where her practice included corporate matters, torts, domestic relations, civil litigation, appeals, and employment matters. Herman’s public sector career includes serving as an Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and most recently Chief Deputy for the Maine Office of the Attorney General, working under seven Attorneys General over 26 years. As Chief Deputy, she worked closely with the Attorney General on high priority and sensitive matters relating to state agencies, the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and members of the public. She was the primary attorney responsible for multi-state impact litigation in cases involving immigration, healthcare, election issues, the census, and reproductive rights. She was also instrumental in the development and implementation of policies and protocols relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeff O’Connor. Photo courtesy Cain Hibbard & Meyers

Jeff O’Connor also joins the firm as Of Counsel. After starting his career at Cain Hibbard, he most recently practiced for 12 years as an associate and partner of a regional, Boston-based firm, primarily defending medical and legal malpractice cases, and representing professionals in licensing and disciplinary matters. He also has experience defending employment discrimination claims on behalf of both secular and religious employers; litigating commercial disputes; guiding clients under investigation by state and federal agencies; and counseling health care organizations in HIPAA, Stark, and other areas of regulatory compliance.

Kyle Patzwahl. Photo courtesy Cain Hibbard & Meyers

Kyle Patzwahl joins Cain Hibbard as an Associate with the firm’s real estate and business group. Originally from Hudson, New York, he graduated from The George Washington University in 2017 with a BA in political science and a minor in business administration. He earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School and will earn his MBA from Boston College Carroll School of Management in 2022. Patzwahl was previously a summer associate at the firm in 2021.