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.
This program aired on September 24, 2010.