Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Study: For the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation
The Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC) commissioned the UMass Donahue Institute to study the advanced manufacturing industry in the Berkshires, examining the history, workforce and existing businesses in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts to determine prospects for growth. The area’s advanced manufacturing sector includes nanotechnology, plastics molding, medical devices and life sciences manufacturing across a diverse set of mostly small to medium sized businesses. The report examined data on different manufacturing sectors; the number, size and type of existing and past businesses; wages; potential workforce development and training programs; and location quotients. It also includes comprehensive feedback provided by the Berkshire business community on the current manufacturing climate, the obstacles and advantages that the industry faces, and opportunities to plan for growth.
The Berkshires, once a robust manufacturing region with more than 40 percent of its labor force working in manufacturing, shed over half of its manufacturing jobs throughout the 1980s and 90s. In the last five years, over 18 manufacturing companies have closed their doors, contributing to an additional 2,700 lost jobs. As of 2011, manufacturing provided 8.8 percent of all employment in the Berkshires. However, recent initiatives at the federal and state level to support advanced manufacturing along with the mix of dynamic, competitive firms in the region highlight the importance of helping to sustain existing businesses and position the region for growth.