The Berkshires is the western-most county in Massachusetts, stretching north to the Vermont border and south to Connecticut. To the west is New York State, and to the east a ridge of hills over which runs the Appalachian Trail.
Berkshire County is 945 square miles of which 28% is protected from development. The region is equidistant from Boston - about 120 miles east - and New York City - about 150 miles southwest, or a two to two-and-a-half-hour drive. The Berkshires are able to boast the best aspects of both town and country living - nowhere will one find the natural beauty of the Berkshire landscape coupled with our world-class offerings of business, culture, recreation, and art.
Cities and Towns in Berkshire Region
Adams, Alford, Becket, Cheshire, Dalton, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, North Adams, New Marlborough, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savory, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown, Windsor
Berkshire County a confluence of quality, where the community, culture, technology, industry and history reinforce and compliment one another. The region's long history of groundbreaking innovations and technological savvy has made it home to a remarkably diverse roster of business and industry. With lower overall taxes and office rents that are 50% lower than the national average, the Berkshires are booming. Currently, there is growing diversification of industry in the region. Some of the region's leading employers include SABIC Innovative Plastics, Crane & Company, and Country Curtains remain strong and other major employers such as Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, Interprint, General Dynamics, and Berkshire Health Systems have prospered. Most recently, success has included WorkshopLive, a premier on-line music education company. It is in this mix of major corporate employers and new growing sectors of the economy that the Berkshires see the most economic gain. Industries that make up the landscape are a mix of manufacturing, financial services, health care, educational services, printing and publishing, tourism, and arts, entertainment, and recreation.
The industries which experienced the most growth between 2001 and 2005 were Professional & Technical Services and Real Estate & Rental & Leasing.
The region is focused upon four unique clusters for current and future growth:
- Financial Services, a "Big & Growing" and "High Wages & Growing" cluster in the Berkshires has added over 350 jobs in the past few years and is projected to grow 2.25% annually
- Diversified Manufacturing, a "Current Core" cluster that consists of Plastics, Forest Produces (paper), and Chemical Products as the major manufacturing industries
- Hospitality, Arts, Culture & Tourism, a "Big & Growing" cluster continues to play a large role in the Berkshire economy. Hospitality & Tourism is projected to grow at 3.70%/year while Arts, Recreation & Entertainment is projected to grow at 3.65%/year for the next 5 years.
- Education & Knowledge Creation, a "Big & Shrinking" cluster has not experienced the same growth over the past 5 years but with the Creative Economy and the Massachusetts Broadband Initiative's (MBI) growth is projected over the next few years.
Education and Training
The Berkshire region's labor force extends well beyond the county's borders. With travel time in the minutes, the Berkshires boasts a workforce draw of more than 670,000 people within 60 minutes of the county's center, the city of Pittsfield. More than thirty 4-year and 2-year colleges and universities in the region prepare for careers in every field and over 50 training providers to meet virtually every workforce need. Over 26% of Berkshire residents have a Baccalaureate degree or higher .
The Berkshires have a variety of other career building programs including:
The Berkshire Applied Technology Council, Inc. is a collaboration of regional employers and educators, delivering an integrated system for technical learning in the Berkshire region, including pre-engineering, specialized core programs in paper technology, plastics technology and machine and computer technology and an active internship program.
Academy Programs in area high schools preparing students for career paths in a variety of industry, including:
Travel and Tourism Academies
Biology and Chemistry Academies
Project Lead the Way, a program for engineering administered by McCann Technical High School
Quality of Life
The Berkshires is comprised of 30 unique towns and 2 cities encompassing 945 square miles, bordering Vermont to the north, New York to the west and Connecticut to the south.
An unparalleled mixture of natural beauty, arts, culture, recreation, and affordability make the Berkshires an extremely appealing place to work and live. Recreational opportunities are limitless. The Berkshires history of groundbreaking innovations and technological savvy has attracted a diverse roster of businesses, and the intangible natural and cultural appeal of the area has made it a magnet for business talent.
The 2.5 million visitors who travel to the Berkshires each year immerse themselves in the many cultural, historic and arts events and venues that made this area what it is today: America's premier cultural resort. Here you'll find world-class theatre, music, dance, museums, art and historical sites galore. The Berkshires is internationally recognized for having some of the finest cultural offerings including Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Jacob's Pillow, MassMOCA, Hancock Shaker Village, Berkshire Museum, the Colonial Theatre, Barrington State Company, Shakespeare and Company, and the Clark Art Museum. From skiing at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort to enjoying hot cider by the fire in the historic Red Lion Inn's lobby, there is no place like the Berkshires. And all this with a lower price tag-- the cost of living in the Berkshires is almost 8% lower than Burlington VT, 10% lower than Hartford CT, 20% lower than Providence RI, and 30% lower than the Greater Boston region.
Infrastructure and Permitting
Several major airports, commuter rail and a modern highway infrastructure serve the Berkshire area. Residents or visitors can find commercial airline service at Albany International Airport, just 45 miles west, or Bradley International Airport in Hartford, about 70 miles away. Boston's Logan International Airport is 135 miles down the Massachusetts Turnpike. Charter airline services are available at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, Harriman & West Airport in North Adams, or at Great Barrington Airport. Amtrak train service also serves the region.
There are three communities that have adopted the Commonwealth's new expedited permitting program and they are:
- Berkshire Chamber of Commerce
- Berkshire Economic Development Corporation
- Berkshire Regional Employment Board
- Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
- Berkshire Visitors' Bureau
- Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
- Berkshire County Board of Realtors
Mike Vedovelli, Senior Regional Director
Massachusetts Office of Business Development
1350 Main Street, Suite 1110
Springfield, MA 01103