Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, in partnership with project partner 1Berkshire, will respond to economic injury to the region as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, through regional resiliency planning, recovery project support, economic indicator tracking, technical assistance and capacity building for businesses and municipalities, and workforce and industry support. Areas of work include:
Regional Resiliency Planning – Expansion and revision of the Berkshire County CEDS to include updated and significantly expanded economic resiliency section, taking into account a wide range of potential emergency situations including pandemics similar to COVID-19, as well as natural disasters and drastic market downturns; work with regional partners to strengthen collaboration and to develop new protocols for coordination of business support during emergency situations.
Recovery Project Support – Identification and fostering of grant-eligible projects, assistance to municipal leaders, project managers, and investors in bringing beneficial and sustainable projects to fruition; facilitation of CEDS priority projects which will have a positive impact on the region’s economy and workforce to counter negative economic impacts of COVID-19.
Economic Indicator Tracking – Rebuilding of the region’s online data clearinghouse, “Berkshire Benchmarks“, to track economic recovery after COVID-19, using a range of data points; creation of a framework to reliably identify variables for gauging trends of the region pertaining to quality of life; expanding use of Berkshire Benchmarks among community organizations and municipalities to improve situational awareness.
Technical Assistance & Capacity Building – Support of Berkshire County municipalities to establish and improve policies and operations for increased responsiveness and resiliency during economic disruptions; provision of tools and guidance to small businesses in Berkshire County to better operate virtually and communicate with employees, customers, and other stakeholders, as well as be better prepared to access state and federal assistance if needed.
Workforce and Industry Support – Facilitation of working groups and industry task force activities aligned with CEDS, the MassHire Workforce Board Blueprint, and the Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 as a means toward meaningful growth and resiliency; management of the Berkshire Site Selector and Jobs Thing, as well as the regional jobs board via MassHire; coordination of Economic Development Practitioner meetings, Entrepreneurial Meetups and other networking functions; engagement with sector leads for key industry clusters; assessment of needs to increase regional economic diversity; monitoring of cross-cutting issues such as transportation, housing, broadband, and workforce skill development.