Our Opinion: State of the city moving into 2017

Pittsfield's first State of the City address, made Monday by Mayor Linda Tyer, was a good idea for a city where residents have had occasion over the years to feel left in the dark on city affairs. Communication with the press and public is important for every executive office, from mayor to president.

Much in Pittsfield is centered around creating jobs, and the mayor indicated that there are four potential businesses supplying a total of 100 jobs that may come to the city. Pittsfield may have finally moved past waiting for another General Electric to drop out of the sky to return 1960s-style prosperity to the city and come to the sobering realization that bringing in a collection of small businesses, primarily in light manufacturing and the health industry, is the realistic way of providing jobs going forward.

The mayor is correct that the city cannot focus solely on bringing jobs that appeal to millennials — it must give young people reasons to stay here and contribute to building the economy. The city offers low housing prices, a good educational system, cultural and recreational opportunities, and in general a good quality of life. Jobs and quality of life are both important to people, and building on the latter can help grow the former.

Ms. Tyer said the city will look locally and outside the Berkshires for business, noting that the city will continue to explore outside businesses even though it was burned on a couple in EV Worldwide and Workshop Live that didn't meet expectations. While the city can't get overly cautious about taking a chance on a new business from outside the county it does have to be careful about letting hope overcome good sense in handing out tax breaks and other incentives.

While the mayor expressed confidence that the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) will be built, the continued radio silence from Beacon Hill on providing the $3 million needed to complete a project the state has pledged $9.7 million to has to be of concern. With cuts being made to core social programs, that money may not be easy to find in Boston. If BIC is to become a reality it may have to do so in a current building rather than in a new one.

Pittsfield's economic struggles are hardly unique among New England and Northeastern cities, but Pittsfield's location within the Berkshires, where it is centrally located and the county's biggest population base, gives it advantages that similar cities don't enjoy. Those advantages can be built upon in 2017 and in the years ahead.


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