Press release:

November 23, 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
More information: [email protected] or 413 528 1737


This winter, for the second year in a row, BerkShares, Inc. is offering a business-planning course for young people ages 14 through 25. Entry to Entrepreneurship will take place once a week at the South County Center of Berkshire Community College starting on January 26, 2016. The program will culminate with a public event on April 12, 2016. Participants will present their business plans and receive an award of 200 BerkShares each.

What goods and services do we currently buy from outside the region that we could, instead, produce or provide locally? How can residents of the Berkshire region begin to identify and seize these opportunities and turn them into businesses that are locally owned, provide healthy livelihoods for local people, and shorten the supply chain for some of our most basic needs in the areas of food, clothing, shelter and energy?

Students in the Entry to Entrepreneurship program this winter will be encouraged to envision and write business plans for enterprises that answer some of these questions. They will be guided through the process of writing a business plan by members of the local business community. A different guest will teach the lesson each week, bringing a wide diversity of skills and experience to the course. Mentors will offer students one-on-one advice.

Entry to Entrepreneurship will culminate on April 12th, when students present their business plans to the public at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Each presenter will receive an award of 200 BerkShares, which may be used as start-up capital for the proposed businesses. Students who decide not to pursue the business plan they develop will donate it to an online library of ideas for businesses that are appropriate to the Berkshire economy.

Last year’s graduates developed plans for a honey mead company, a compost pick-up service, a sugar-free popsicle business, a line of natural soaps, and a mobile grocery market.

Entry to Entrepreneurship is a new type of business education – community-supported, community-taught, and focused on inspiring ‘import-replacement’ businesses that fill gaps in our local economy. This approach is a part of a larger initiative spearheaded by BerkShares, Inc. called “Community Supported Industry.” Community Supported Industry builds on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model to find ways that Berkshire citizens can identify local business opportunities and work together to turn them into enterprises that become part of the fabric of our local economy.

Entry to Entrepreneurship has been made possible by support from 1Berkshire, Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, Berkshire Community College’s South County Center, the Great Barrington Rotary Club, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Hellman, Shearn, & Arienti, LLP, Hunt Alternatives & Fern Portnoy, Lee Bank, the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Berkshire Regional Office, Pittsfield Co-op Bank, and Salisbury Bank and Trust Company.

Registration is now open, and space is limited. To register, fill out the form at A registration fee is $25 or 25 BerkShares is required. If you have questions or would like to become a mentor or a funder, please contact Alice Maggio at [email protected] or (413) 528-1737.