PITTSFIELD — The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all the things throughout the previous 12 months, and the Berkshire County economic system was no exception.
Because the area’s economic system begins to recuperate, it’s price wanting again at the place the Berkshires have been, businesswise, since March 2020. Here’s a temporary retrospective of among the occasions which have taken place.
Studying to pivot
Because the pandemic regularly shut down the Berkshire economic system, a number of native producers started to pivot away from their regular operations to not solely survive, however implement methods to assist combat the coronavirus.
Two of the businesses to change gears earliest had been Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing and Boyd Technologies, each in Lee.
Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing makes use of state-of-the-art know-how to supply sterile injectable medicine for pharmaceutical and biotech corporations which are in medical research for the remedy of ailments. It initially was approached by the federal authorities in early March 2020, to gauge its curiosity in serving to to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. As a substitute, the corporate used its amenities to assist purchasers develop medicines for individuals who had contracted the virus.
Boyd, a family-owned medical system producer, transformed its manufacturing facility with a view to produce private protecting gear, like medical masks for frontline well being care employees. Later within the yr, Boyd teamed with Digital Eyes Movie of Northampton to make “Venture Frontline,” a multipart documentary sequence on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unemployment fee spikes
The primary indication that the pandemic would impact the native workforce occurred in April, when the Berkshire unemployment fee soared to 17.2 %, the best stage in a minimum of 22 years, based on the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board.
The unemployment fee within the county’s two cities was barely lower than 20 % in April. The county fee continued to drop barely after that, but it surely remained in double figures till August. It has stayed above 8 % since then.
Out for the season
In Might, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge introduced that it deliberate to put off 90 % of its nearly 500 workers when it closed for the remainder of the yr in July.
Kripalu turned to digital programming after shutting down, but it surely has but to announce when it plans to reopen its campus this yr.
The virtues of digital
With social distancing measures in place, many Berkshire institutions, notably these within the nonprofit sector, turned to new applied sciences and commenced holding conferences, celebrations and different related occasions just about.
The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires turned its annual assembly in June right into a two-day digital summit on nonprofit sustainability. 1Berkshire, the county’s state-designated financial growth company, held a sequence of digital city halls throughout the summer season, focusing every session on a distinct facet of the Berkshire economic system, and simply introduced a brand new sequence of webinars to help native companies as they arrive out of the pandemic.
Small-business accelerator Lever, of North Adams, transformed all its well-liked enterprise challenges into digital occasions. Lever additionally agreed to host 4 digital occasions for the state in one other problem occasion designed to extend the variety of Massachusetts corporations that will be capable to manufacture private protecting gear.
Staying the course
The $13.8 million Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, the county’s most talked about financial growth venture in a decade, was pressured to shut two weeks after its official opening ceremony Feb. 28. However, regardless of the restrictions that resulted from the pandemic, three small corporations with ties to the middle had spectacular achievements.
In September, Colorado-based Electro Magnetic Applications put in an aerospace testing chamber on the middle, lower than a yr after coming to the Berkshires. Additionally, EMA just lately acquired a $429,000 grant from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Institute to assist develop spacecraft gear for testing parts.
In July, Dive Applied sciences, which makes autonomous underwater autos, acquired a $1.3 million mortgage from MassDevelopment to ascertain a producing facility in Pittsfield, which could open by the top of this yr.
And in February, VidMob, which offers video advert content material for social media platforms, raised $50 million throughout a second spherical of funding, and it plans to double the 30 workers that the corporate has in Pittsfield by the top of this yr.
Mill Town Capital, a non-public funding agency in Pittsfield, has made a number of important neighborhood investments over the previous 12 months. The agency bought Bousquet Ski Space, the previous Berkshire West Athletic Membership and Pontoosuc Lake Nation Membership, all in Pittsfield; the Gateways Inn in Lenox; and Skyline Nation Membership in Lanesborough.
At the side of the Berkshire Regional Planning Fee, Mill City final summer season launched a complete out of doors recreation plan for the Berkshires. In December, Mill City launched plans to construct 36 market-rate housing items on Tyler Road.