As Berkshire County residents, we regularly engage with the historical brick mills that once produced textiles, paper, and other essential goods for the country during foundational times. These ghosts of the late 18th, 19th and 20thcenturies remind us of a once thriving industry within the Berkshires—manufacturing. Manufacturing was a source of livelihood until the 20th century when progress took its toll on manufacturers in the Berkshires. No longer feasible, the mills began shutting down as opportunity advanced beyond the rivers’ edges. Still, a few names like Crane persevered through it all.
Today, manufacturing has a different face than what we knew it to be, and the presence of manufacturers is not so apparent. The industry has evolved from large employers, to lean and mean small-medium sized companies utilizing highly technical and advanced manufacturing methods. Though, the industry still has a significant presence in Berkshire County with over 250 manufacturers spread throughout the county. In fact, manufacturing ranks fourth as an industry with the highest number of employees, peaking over 5,000 individuals! And these manufacturers excel at what they produce—from medical devices, defense equipment, armored vehicles, plastics, and paper to name a few. Our Berkshire County manufacturers make a big statement when it comes to innovation and ingenuity, producing for the local, national ,and international markets. Manufacturing has been, and always will be a part of Berkshire County’s story. That is why we at the Berkshire Workforce Board join the nation in celebrating manufacturers during the month of October—Manufacturing Month.
Manufacturing month is not only for increasing community awareness about the breadth of manufacturing in the Berkshires—it’s also about introducing youth to the many manufacturing pathways available and to celebrate the manufacturing organizations that chose the Berkshires as their home. Manufacturing makes a significant contribution to our economy, and there is a plethora of career options available for people of all ages and stages. Our educational partners strive to meet the demands of industry workforce needs, and they too are doing a great job at it! So, here’s to all our great manufacturers that keep the industry alive in the Berkshires, and to our educational partners who have a stake in the future of manufacturing.
Written by Bryana Malloy, the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board’s Manager of Industry Relations