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January 2011
Hillcrest President Gerard Burke named Chamber of Commerce board chairman 01/12/2011

The 99th Annual Meeting of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce was held on Friday, December 17, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Pittsfield-Berkshires. Hillcrest President Gerard Burke was named the chairman of the board of directors.

Burke said, "This year, I am pleased to emphasize leadership and its' importance in our community. Leadership is the process of social influence in which one person/organization can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. As you can see, we view the Chamber as illuminating the path of our community's future."

He added, "As a beacon to the Berkshire's, the Berkshire County Chamber of Commerce stands tall by being visible to the business community and the public by helping navigate the shifting sands of change and providing leadership amidst the rough waters of transition."

Burke told the crowd that the chamber, staff and volunteers will chart this years' course in several areas. First, by enhancing the Berkshire Leadership Program, which seeks to provide, involve and sustain leaders from diverse backgrounds, committed to addressing community challenges and improving the quality of life in the Berkshires. Burke added, "This program, along with the Berkshire Young Professionals group, provides our community with the next generation of leaders who are so critical to our growth."

Burke said they will establish a non-profit business roundtable. Last years' study on non-profits reported:

• The non-profit sector generates over $1.9 billion in economic activity.
• This sector directly or indirectly generates over 25,000 full or part time jobs or 38% of local employment.
• The non-profit sector is essential to the economic health of Berkshire County.

The group will be organized to promote the sustained viability, enhancement and development of the Chamber's non-profit members, civic and community service organizations. Burke said, "It will provide a cooperative and constructive business environment to its' members and promote the non-profit sectors positive impact on the Berkshire's."

In addition, Burke pledged support as an advocate for its' membership in the upcoming debate involving the Housatonic River clean-up.

In closing, Burke said, "As members of the Chamber, it is all of our responsibility to grow membership and revenues. We must invite all local businesses to have a real and meaningful role in what the Chamber does and even in a sense - if not a stake - of ownership."

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