What It Takes To Grow Pittsfield’s Economy

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Pittsfield Mayor Jim Ruberto says luring small businesses is his goal, but first you have to give them a reason to come.

In WBUR’s Route 9 series story on Pittsfield’s changing economy, Ruberto’s former mayoral challenger, Dan Bianchi, ran a campaign attacking the mayor for an economic strategy centered on the arts in a city where the unemployment rate still nears 10 percent. Bianchi said the focus in Pittsfield is too much on the arts, and not enough on bringing in high-tech or small manufacturing businesses.

But are the two mutually exclusive? Williams College economist Stephen Sheppard says they’re not.

“Indeed, I would argue that building a strong arts and cultural sector is an important component of attracting a diversified economic base, including high-tech industry and other types of employment, because what you want, really, for a successful local economy, is a diverse local economy,” Sheppard said.

WBUR’s Bob Oakes speaks with Sheppard about the economic viability of Pittsfield’s plan for the future, and whether it could be duplicated in other places.