On Thursday, May 9, those looking to start a business in the City of Pittsfield will have an opportunity to hear from successful small business owners during the workshop, “Doing Business in Pittsfield: Sage Advice and Savvy Tips from Local Pros.”
The workshop, sponsored by Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC) and Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, will be held at Framework, 437 North St. The event kicks off with registration and networking starting at 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m., a panel discussion, moderated by Linda Dulye of Dulye & Co. and The Dulye Leadership Experience, will feature Scott Kirchner, of Mad Macs; Al and Auric Enchill, of Elegant Stitches; Steve and Evan Valenti, of Steven Valenti’s Clothing; and Jessica Rufo, of Dottie’s Coffee Lounge.
Jay Anderson, president, of PERC, said this event helps prospective business owners understand the resources that are available. PERC, which operates in partnership with the city’s Office of Community Development, provides small business support through grants and loans. Since FY17 to date, PERC has awarded over $131,000 in technical assistance grants and $200,000 in loans to small businesses in Pittsfield.
“PERC is working hard to expand its services by providing education and mentorship in an effort to make small businesses better and more competitive,” he said.
In addition to the May event, PERC will be hosting, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network, a free marketing workshop 7:30-9 a.m. June 19 at 33 Dunham Mall in Pittsfield.
Dulye, who also serves on the PERC board, said these upcoming events provide engaging spaces for conversations to occur.
“PERC understands that new and aspiring business owners face many daunting challenges. We want to help them confidently take them on and succeed by offering small business loans, technical assistance grants and consulting support. Our goal is for upstart businesses to develop their full potential,” she said.
Two businesses that have received from PERC assistance include Mad Macs and Elegant Stitches.
Since 1998, Mad Macs, Apple Specialists, provide authorized Apple sales and repair services through its Pittsfield and Williamstown locations. The company, which sells and services Apple branded products, including Macintosh, iPad, iPod and accessories, is an authorized dealer for many other brands including SONOS and Canon. Mad Macs currently has nine employees.
“Several years ago when Mad Macs was at a critical stage of growth, we reached out to PERC. This resulted in our company being able to secure significant grant funding and improve our cash position. This new working capital gave us the flexibility to hire several key people at a very critical time,” said Kirchner, the business’ owner. “PERC is a valuable asset to small businesses in our community. The guidance and support they provide for small businesses should not be overlooked. In many cases, they are the key to helping small businesses thrive and get to the next level.”
It’s this type of support that has helped Elegant Stitches, a custom embroidery and vinyl printing business, continue along its pathway of success. The business was founded in the 1996 in the basement of the home of the Enchill family, immigrants from Ghana.
After a 2004 fire destroyed the company’s first location at the intersection of First and Fenn streets, the business moved to its existing site at 237 First St. and continues to thrive. Currently, the company serves Tanglewood, The Josh Billings Race and has accounts throughout western Massachusetts. Additionally, Elegant Stitches has expanded its reach to include institutions such as Tufts University, Brown University, and Wesleyan University, as well as more than 5,000 individual clients and companies within New England.
In 2019, the PERC Board approved a Technical Assistance Grant to help the company update its website.
“The PERC board has provided Elegant Stitches with the necessary capital to create an online platform that allows for expansion and better customer management. In this day and age, it is crucial that your company’s online presence is up to par and we believe that this grant has allowed us to make progressive changes,” said Auric Enchill.
To learn more about PERC or for more information on these events, please call Laurie Mick, Community Development Specialist, at 499-9378.