The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning process is an on-going regional economic development effort focused on identifying regional economic goals and priorities, identifying strategies for and facilitating implementation, and measuring progress in the region. The result of this ongoing planning process is the development of a 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the region and accompanying annual progress reports, which are sent to the Economic Development Administration (EDA), in order to maintain the region’s eligibility for EDA investments.
Initiatives In Community and Economic Development
The Berkshire Brownfields Program was created in 2004 when the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) received its first grant from EPA to conduct environmental assessments at Brownfields sites. Since then, the Berkshire Brownfields Program has grown to include an Assessment Program for Phase I, II & III Environmental Site Assessments, a Revolving Loan Fund for Brownfields Cleanups, and site specific Cleanup Projects.
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) assists Berkshire County municipalities in applying for and administering Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which are awarded on a competitive basis by MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). CDBG grants are funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through an annual allocation to the Commonwealth, for award by DHCD to municipalities all across the Commonwealth. In many cases, municipalities may have documented need for projects funded by the CDBG program, but not have the administrative capacity to apply and manage the grants.
The Shared Planner program is now in its second year, and allows each participating town to access services and assistance that fit their specific needs and budget. Many participating towns have requested assistance with creating a more supportive and welcoming environment for businesses and residents. This can range from increasing access to important information and forms online through the town’s website to promoting the town as a good place to live and work through a variety of marketing channels. At other times, grant applications and collaborations with neighboring towns will be the focus. All municipalities in Berkshire County are invited to contact BRPC to learn more about the Shared Planner program.
BRPC is working with the Economic Development Administration to apply for Economic Development District designation on behalf of Berkshire County. The primary purpose of an EDD is to implement the economic development activities and priorities set forth in the region’s CEDS. One of the few regions remaining in Massachusetts without this designation, Berkshire County stands to benefit from EDD status through increased access to regional economic development funds as well as public works assistance grants for individual municipalities.