Business Ideas

Community Supported Industry 

Business ideas

 

The following business plans are the result of the collaboration between the Schumacher Center, BerkShares, Inc., and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network. Some of them have been developed by the students of Entry to Entrepreneurship, a 10-week business planning course for youth 14-25 years. Others have been developed using a "rapid business build-out" process during a series of workshops called "Bringing 'Buy Local' Full Circle." 

This page will be an open resource for anyone to access for business ideas that are regionally scaled and applicable to the Berkshire region.

 

Food
The Berkshires have a rich agricultural history and the local food movement is one of our strongest industries today.  Value added products, the processing of a raw material to increase its value and convenience offer great possibilities for import replacement.  Hosta Hill in West Stockbridge is a producer of Sauerkraut and Kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented cabbage condiment, using crops grown here in the Berkshires and processed in a certified kitchen.  

Mead - Luscious Nectar takes the wholesome sweetness of honey and turns it into mead, an alcoholic beverage of impeccable character. Mead invites consumers to re-discover lost roots and ancient tradition while providing versatility of flavor that appeals to a modern sensibility. Local apiaries, orchards, and gardens will provide all the necessary ingredients to craft several varieties of this naturally gluten-free beverage. Two varieties will have less alcohol and be sold in four-packs of twelve ounce bottles and one variety will be stronger and sold in corked glass bottles. Selling at farmer’s markets and developing relationships with package stores to offer tastings will build awareness. Mead’s simple recipe can utilize local ingredients to offer a beverage more interesting than cider and more friendly than beer.  

Apple Juice - Berkshire Orchards sustainably harvests and gleans apples to make a fresh apple juice.  

Cricket meal - An alternative to animal protein that can be grown, processed and packaged in a small facility.

Restaurants:

The Melting Pot -  The Melting Pot is a restaurant in the Berkshires focused on selling a unique cultural experience both in food and entertainment. Our goal is to incorporate global culture in the restaurant by serving themed dishes and booking entertainment from different cultures around the world. In the Berkshires there is a significant lack of culture among residents. The goal of The Melting Pot would be to give people a view of the world without the costly expenses of travel.

Sam's Pizza - Sam's Pizza provides an authentic, yet modern take on the Greek Pizzeria.

Mobile Food Market Changes Mobile Market (C.M.M.) is a mobile food market that distributes local produce and products to disenfranchised communities at prices made affordable. By purchasing and redistributing goods from local producers, members of low-income communities do not have to resort to purchasing food from fast food restaurants and corner stores that sell mass-produced products. Instead, their needs can be instrumental for increasing the market size of local producers.

Food Truck - Loring's Food Truck provides healthy options on the go by offering a fast food-style menu designed around locally grown produce.    

Mini Mall and International Food Bazaara space that incubates small businesses and allows them to test out the market before increasing the scale of their business to occupy an individual space. 

Urban Agriculture Center - Adaptive reuse and repurpose of existing historic buildings to create an urban agriculture center and food hub.  This structure could include a greenhouse, in which vertical growing and hydroponics are utilized, a nursery, packaging center for produce grown on site, a restaurant, and a market and event space

Fiber & Furnishings

Most of our clothing is imported from factories in Asia and wool produced domestically is exported.  There's an opportunity to use locally harvested fiber and timber to provide our own textiles and create jobs for processing raw materials.

Services:

Interior Design - Berkshire Interior Design, also known as Berkshire ID, is an interior design company with a conscience. Berkshire ID will sell locally made items to local consumers for retail and business needs.

Wool Processing -

A cooperative that pools wool to meet an appropriate scale for the Berkshires and facility to accept wool from outside the region for processing.  Wool can be used for felting and be spun for local clothing production.   

 

Products:

Advertising - A local way to advertise your business. Berkshire Burned Woodnets creates novelty and business artisanal magnets made of wood locally sourced from branch offcuts and sustainable byproducts from landscape companies.  

Pens - Berkshire Pens fabricates reusable, refillable, pens crafted from local wood: Oak, Pine and Hemlock to stores throughout the Berkshires.

Customized Johnnies As the Berkshires face an aging population, Berkshire Health Systems will need to address the need for comfortable and accessible long term care for the elderly and this starts with providing patients with personalized hospital gowns to lift spirits and help healing.

Recycled ArtThe Berkshires have many large facilities whose by-products are shipped away and into landfills.  Artists can use the waste from industries in the Berkshires for art and display them in a public museum, using them as a teaching tool to talk about sustainability.
 

Earth
Petroleum-based synthetic fertilizers and soil amendments are costly and finite.  By looking at our own ecosystem, we can address the needs of the land and assess what we can manufacture locally.  We can also look at physical wellness and better understand how our bodies can interact with the earth sustainably.

Services:

Composting- Black-Gold Composting is a worker-owned and cooperatively run residential composting system that will provide curbside pick-up service for residents in the town of Great Barrington.  Black-Gold appeals to environmentally conscious residents lacking resources needed for composting at home and addresses the need to divert organic wastes from landfills.

Alternative Energy - Fossil fuels (oil, gas) are a finite resource with a heavy carbon footprint that have negative environmental impacts. Many of our energy needs in the Berkshires come from outside the region but we have many resources within the region that can address our need for affordable, sustainable energy.

Berkshire Solar Panels - As we approach an era in which we recognize our natural resources and finite fuel sources being depleted, we turn to renewable and alternative resources to meet our needs.  Because these products are not yet on the mainstream market, they are costly and therefore out of reach for many. The Berkshires can solve its own energy needs by producing solar panels for local installation to harness the power of free solar energy. 

 

Products:

Soap - Earthmade is a home-based sole proprietor business specializing in making 100% natural handmade artisan soaps and body care products.  Earthmade sources as many local supplies as possible, including from the following local businesses: Berkshire Co-op market, Hawthorne valley, Camp Hill Village and Caterskill Store House.  Earthmade products will be distributed through local businesses (Berkshire Co-op Market, Hawthorne Valley, Lea’s), farmers’ markets, and potentially through an online shop (Etsy). Earthmade customers will find out about the products being offered through flyers, social media, and word of mouth.  Earthmade products are a great local substitute for commercially made body care products, providing high-quality products with a local “flavor.”

Liquid Soap - We all need to wash our hands.  The Berkshires have a rich agricultural scene and the byproducts of farming can be used to supplement local soap making. With many cultural, educational and medical institutions that honor and give preference to local sourcing, there is a guaranteed market for this product.

Paper Recycling - Our industries in the Berkshires use a lot of paper products –non-profits and for-profit retailers and services a like. These products are (hopefully) recycled and taken to a facility that reuses them, but what if this process could happen locally?

Cheesemaking By-product Road De-icer The harsh, snowy winters in the Northeast wreak havoc on roadways. Each winter, municipalities purchase several tons of salt and other de-icing products to keep travel safe and accidents at a minimum.  While necessary, the runoff of these products is damaging to the ecosystem. Road salt and sand is expensive.  Disposing of salty cheese brine properly is also expensive. Cheese brine can be used to substitute manufactured products. 

Bicycle Repair -  The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has a limited route coupled with limited hours of operation, making transportation for those in need of public transit difficult. Proposed is a business that repurposes bikes and bike parts; utilizing used bikes to teach bike mechanics.

 

Technology

Services:

Digital Coupons - Berkshire Bargains offers businesses the opportunity to move into the 21st century with a bang.  Berkshire Bargains takes aspects of traditional coupons that are time proven and combine them with the innovation, modernization, and excitement that comes with a mobile app startup, and the product will be something spectacular.

Marketing - InList Berkshires is a private, membership based club, with annual renewal, which will provide subscribers local deals and promotions throughout Berkshire County

Community Transportation - The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority has a limited route coupled with limited hours of operation, making transportation for those in need of public transit difficult. Proposed is a two-tier transportation that provides cars for use and a pick up service for and by Berkshire County residents

Online Marketplace - In order for local businesses to thrive in the Berkshries, they must operate at an appropriate scale that is economically viable.  An online marketplace like Etsy would allow business owners to engage with their local community and market their products alongside other local vendors while exposing shoppers outside of the Berkshires to the creativity and talent of local craftspeople.

Essential Services 

Childcare Contracting - The Berkshires is an attractive area for young families – a rural setting with good education, but with approximately 200 births per year in South Berkshire County and exactly 21 day care spots open for children between birth and 2 years 9 months, the Berkshires express a dire need for childcare if we expect to continue to attract these families.

Aging in Place - a companionship service that facilitates co-habitation between elderly and young people.