大奖娱乐注册送_首页

Skip to content

Rural Commonwealth Posts

Western Franklin County needs more lodging

“Thirty years ago, the store was packed during hunting season. All the hotels were booked.” Owners of different kinds of businesses cited a need for more hotel rooms in West County. A lack of higher end lodging facilities limits business growth. Recreation companies see the biggest demand for these facilities. Bruce Lessels, co-owner of Zoar Outdoor with his wife Karen Blom, believes there is a local demand for 300 hotel rooms, with 100 of these being high-end. Berkshire East’s Jon Schaefer also cited a similar need. He envisions a need for “50 to 60 nice rooms,” in addition to the…

1 Comment

Legislative update in Shelburne Falls

On Saturday, the Franklin County chapter of the League of Women Voters held a legislative coffee in Shelburne Falls with Senator Stan Rosenberg, Senator Adam Hinds, Representative Steve Kulik, and Representative Paul Mark. Topics addressed by the legislators that specifically impact rural Massachusetts residents included internet access, regional school transportation reimbursements, and local control of wind farm locations. (A bill that would move control from local communities and to a small, Boston-based board is, according to Senator Rosenberg, “dead, not going anywhere.”) The legislators also highlighted an agricultural tourism bill introduced by Representative Kulik earlier this year. An initial hearing…

Leave a Comment

Staffing West County businesses

The following is an excerpt from our recently-released Western Franklin County Business Report – the first report in our Rural Commonwealth Business Series. Over the next few weeks, we will post sections of the report highlighting key themes that came up during more than 40 hours of interviews with local business owners. (Our previous posts in this series looked at?three-phase power and electrical grid issues?and the five kinds of marketing assistance needed by West County businesses). The full report, which you can?download as a PDF here, includes an overview of our research into the Western Franklin County business community and…

Leave a Comment

What we’re reading this week

In an article titled, “Mass Broadband Institute to chip in $1 million to broadband project for New Marlborough, Sandisfield,” The Berkshire Eagle reported, “To bring high-speed internet to the towns of New Marlborough, Sandisfield and Tolland, directors of the quasi-public Massachusetts Broadband Institute have agreed in theory to pay $4.77 million to a private company, Frontier Communications. “That is the sum of the three communities’ full last-mile allocations plus an additional $1 million requested by Frontier.” On Martha’s Vineyard, the Island Housing Trust is working on the lack of affordable homes, a problem that is so acute on the Cape…

Leave a Comment

West County businesses need five kinds of marketing help

The following is an excerpt from our recently-released Western Franklin County Business Report – the first report in our Rural Commonwealth Business Series. Over the next few weeks, we will post sections of the report highlighting key themes that came up during more than 40 hours of interviews with local business owners. (Last Wednesday, our first post in this series looked at three-phase power and electrical grid issues.) The full report, which you can?download as a PDF here, includes an overview of our research into the Western Franklin County business community and outlines the economic development projects we are now…

Leave a Comment

This week on Beacon Hill

We currently are tracking 46 bills going through the Massachusetts House and Senate that reference rural communities in one way or another. Some of these bills have had hearings and are waiting for release from committee, while others are waiting to have hearings. No new information about the bills we are tracking has come up since our legislative post last Monday. There are 12 hearings scheduled this week, however, and these hearings may consider bills of interest to your community. You can see a full list of the hearing and drill down for details about the bills they address on…

Leave a Comment

What we’re watching and reading this week

The Berkshire Eagle reported about efforts to stem enrollment declines in Berkshire County’s Adams-Cheshire School District. A sudden drop in enrollment is partly due to the closure of Cheshire Elementary School last year and parents opting to send their children out of district as a result. That said, the article continued, “Declining enrollment is nothing new for the district. [School] Committee member Darlene Rodowicz noted that while 80 students graduated from Hoosac Valley last year, only 54 students are enrolled in preschool this year. Kindergarten and first grades have also seen declines for several years. ‘That’s just the demographics of…

Leave a Comment

Three-phase power and electrical grid problems

The following is an excerpt from our recently-released Western Franklin County Business Report – the first report in our Rural Commonwealth Business Series. Over the next few weeks, we will post sections of the report highlighting key themes that came up during more than 40 hours of interviews with local business owners.? The full report, which you can download as a PDF here, includes an overview of our research into the Western Franklin County business community and outlines the economic development projects we are now launching based on our research and interviews.   Business owners we interviewed repeatedly talked about…

Leave a Comment

New blog post series on rural legislation starts today

Small towns in Massachusetts are usually run by a few paid staffers and a group of volunteer board and committee members — all of whom are stretched thin?just trying to deal with day-to-day business. In this context, it often is difficult for municipal officials and employees to stay on top of pending legislation that might impact their communities. To help improve this situation, we are starting a new weekly blog post series today about rural issues being addressed on Beacon Hill. Since the 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts started in January, almost 6,000 bills have been introduced…

Leave a Comment

What we’re reading this week

Town drafts condo conversion bylaw, again The Provincetown Banner reported on efforts by the Town of Truro to address a shortage of affordable, year-round housing. “The median price of a house in Truro is $750,000, [Truro Board of Selectmen Chair Paul] Wisotzky said, and condo conversion should be allowed because housing costs are driving residents out of town… ‘It’s going to take a variety of strategies [to fix the housing crisis here] and this is one of many strategies,’ [Truro Selectman Jay] Coburn agreed. Year-round condos could allow seniors, who live in big houses they can’t maintain, to stay in…

Leave a Comment

Rural issues on Beacon Hill

New blog post series Starting Monday, October 16, we will launch a new weekly blog feature about rural issues on Beacon Hill. We will provide updates on pending legislation and highlight upcoming hearings about bills that could impact rural communities around Massachusetts, like the one listed below. The first few posts in this series will feature updates on bills that specifically reference rural areas of the state. We plan to expand the weekly posts to cover other bills that may not specifically address rural communities but have implications for the smaller towns in Massachusetts, such as the short-term rental bill…

Leave a Comment

Local business leaders talk about economic development

Rural Commonwealth, a newly formed not-for-profit organization, has released its first publication entitled, “Western Franklin County Business Report.” After months of research and interviews, this report details the issues confronting the businesses in West County. Most importantly, this paper outlines action steps for economic development in western Franklin County. The Directors of Rural Commonwealth, Beth Bandy and Toby Gould, both served on the Charlemont Selectboard and heard business owners detail their concerns about broadband, state regulations and transportation. Interviews with fifteen business owners opened other issues such as staff training, access to capital, marketing and lodging for both customers and…

Leave a Comment

What we’re watching and reading this week

“Rural Development and Energy Programs: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill” was the subject of a hearing held this week by the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.? You can download transcripts of hearing testimony and submit your own comments about the Farm Bill on the Committee’s website.   The Massachusetts?Senate released a new report, MassMoves: A Vision for the Commonwealth’s 21st Century Transportation System, this week. Public comments about regional needs and action items can be found in Appendix C, with several ideas related to rural services, especially in the Western Massachusetts section, which starts on…

Leave a Comment

Upcoming talks and webinars – Women in agriculture, ways to keep young people in rural towns, the Farm Bill

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture kicks off a three-part lecture series, “Women Entrepreneurs in Agriculture and the Food System,” on Tuesday, September 26 at 5:30pm in Paige Hall Room 202 on the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus. The topic of the first session will be, “Campus Farms and the Women Who Run Them,” with speakers Amanda Brown of the UMass Amherst Student Farm and Maida Ives of Book & Plow Farm. Future events topics will be “Distribution Solutions for Regional Food Systems” (October 24) and “Building a Niche Agri Enterprise into a Successful Business” (November 28).   The University of Illinois…

Leave a Comment

What we’re reading this week

From The Vineyard Gazette: “Nature Means Millions to Oak Bluffs Economy.” “Combined under the heading Cultural Services, recreation, the arts and local events such as festivals and fishing tournaments contribute the lion’s share of the economic benefits to Oak Bluffs from its coast: $132 million to $167 million a year, or $4.5 billion to $5.68 billion through 2050.”   From today’s Berkshire Eagle: “North Adams, Village ambulance services plan to merge.” “Village Ambulance, formed in 1982, provides coverage to the [rural] towns of Williamstown, Hancock and New Ashford.?It?is headquartered on Water Street in Williamstown, a facility the regional organization would…

Leave a Comment

Small Town Summit today

The next meeting of the Small Town Summit — an opportunity for Select Board and Finance Committee members to work across town boundaries on issues of common concern — will be held tonight in Charlemont. The format of this event will be slightly different from what it has been over the last 18 months. We will have a shorter-than-usual formal meeting, followed by an opportunity for networking and for workgroup members to touch base about their projects. After tonight, the Summit will go on the road for the rest of the fiscal year. You can learn more about upcoming meeting…

Leave a Comment

The future of broadband for towns large and small in Western Mass

The Berkshire Eagle hosted a forum Thursday evening on the future of broadband. Panelists were Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minnesota; Andrew Hogeland of Williamstown, who with others is pursuing high-speed options in his town; and Richard Carnall, senior IT architect with Westfield Gas & Electric. That public utility is teaming up with rural towns in the region to design and build fiber networks. The discussion clearly divided between the larger Berkshire Towns and the city of Pittsfield and continuing concerns about the buildout of rural towns under the evolving Massachusetts Broadband Institute plan to serve…

Leave a Comment

What we’re reading this week

Here?is round-up of articles, reports, and books about small towns in Massachusetts and beyond that caught our attention this week.   From today’s Boston Globe:”In the Berkshires, locals struggle as tourism booms” (subscription).   The Cape Cod Commission released a report on Monday, “Regional Housing Market Analysis and 10-Year Forecast of Housing Supply and Demand for Barnstable County, Massachusetts.”   A bill with bipartisan sponsorship was introduced into the US House this week that focuses on ways to strengthen the connections between farms and schools. Could Grow Connection Between Farms, Schools.”   Former western Massachusetts resident Dar Williams has a…

Leave a Comment

Politics of Resentment – learning about rural concerns from local residents

I came across a very interesting new book entitled, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker?by Katherine J. Cramer, Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The title is the most long-winded part of the book, because, for an academic, Cramer writes in plain speak and uses a highly unusual technique for finding what people think about politics, their lives and the state of the nation. She asks them their opinion. Instead of sending out a questionnaire, Cramer gets in her car and goes to the places in small town Wisconsin where people…

Leave a Comment

Traveling around Massachusetts, talking about rural issues

Friday’s trip to Truro was was part of a week spent traveling around the state working on small town issues. In our travels, we had fascinating conversations with legislators, business owners, municipal employees, and community organizers. We had the particular pleasure of speaking with US Representative Richard Neal, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, Senator Adam Hinds, and Representative Paul Mark. These discussions focused on issues like broadband access and economic development strategies for rural Massachusetts communities.

Leave a Comment

Outer Cape trip

Toby Gould and I, directors of Rural Commonwealth, went to Outer Cape Cod on Friday. The trip was an opportunity to continue building a statewide network in small towns and to stay up-to-date about the activities of other groups working on rural issues in Massachusetts. We spent part of the day attending a quarterly meeting of the Rural Policy Advisory Commission (RPAC), a State commission that was launched in 2015 to advise State legislators and the Governor’s office on rural issues. A longer description of RPAC’s mission, along with meeting announcements, minutes, and background reports can be found on the…

Leave a Comment

What we’re reading and watching this week

Here are videos, events, and articles about rural communities in Massachusetts and beyond that caught our eye this week.   Manufacturing in rural America The Aspen Institute continued its panel discussion series, America’s Rural Opportunity, this week with a session called, “Rural-Grown, Local-Owned Manufacturing.” Previous session videos are on the America’s Rural Opportunity webpage.   Future of internet in the Berkshires The Berkshire Eagle will host a public forum, “The Next Big Internet Challenge for the Berkshires,” on Thursday, September 14. This event will be held from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield.   Young…

Leave a Comment

Volunteer research assistants needed!

  Rural Commonwealth is looking for volunteer research assistants to help with two current projects. One project concerns economic development, and the other deals with the impact on small town finances of payments for State-owned land. For both projects, volunteer research assistants will travel to town halls located in specific western Massachusetts communities to collect data from Town Clerks and Assessors. Each volunteer will be given a brief project orientation, access to a Google Sheets template for recording data, and support by email and phone as needed. For more information about the requirements and time commitment involved with these projects,…

Leave a Comment

Rural Commonwealth now running Small Town Summit

Rural Commonwealth is taking over coordination of the Small Town Summit, which was launched by the Charlemont Select Board in the Spring of 2016. Toby Gould and I, co-founders of Rural Commonwealth, were both on the Charlemont Select Board at that time and have been involved with running Summit meetings ever since. Rural Commonwealth will serve in a facilitation and coordination role for the Summit. We will reserve room spaces, prepare agendas and minutes, maintain a state-wide email list of interested municipal leaders, and facilitate meetings of the summit and its workgroups. Our intention is to continue holding meetings and…

Leave a Comment
大奖娱乐注册送