2015 March


The Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (GSFABA) announces the launch of a new regional initiative – Connecting Commerce & Community – funded by the imagesMassachusetts Cultural Council. Our goal is to build a stronger, more sustainable rural economy for area towns and businesses, achieved by integrating the skills of our residents with the power of local associations and the support of local institutions.

We will begin this multi-year effort by first learning as much as we can about the region’s creative economy by collecting and analyzing data gathered from as many people as possible representing a variety of economic sectors. We invite you, your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to participate in this initiative by completing the survey. The data collected will help GSFABA better understand and serve you, whether you are an artist, a member of an arts group, or a business that supports and promotes the arts.

Once the information is gathered and analyzed, we plan to:

  • Strengthen the region’s creative sector by partnering with you to promote your work, to provide training opportunities and/or other resources that address identified needs;
  • Brand and market the region as an arts destination community; and
  • Compose a plan for the sustainable future of the arts in the northeast Berkshires.

Your help is crucial to the success of this initiative.

YOUR ANSWERS to this survey may require some thought and could take up to 30 minutes to complete.   The survey data will help drive new programs and initiatives that will directly benefit YOU.  

To show our appreciation, your name will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to a local establishment once you have completed the survey!

Thank you. 

Take The Survey

Celebrate Spring with all your friends and neighbors by attending the 19th Annual Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association Spring Auction! Come enjoy the live auction, silent auction, delectable foods, fine wines, and local beer while supporting programs and initiatives that benefit our hilltowns. This gala event is the perfect 87a1d508 0c29 46f6 bd3a c38001595d3fopportunity to show continued support for your local communities!

Tickets this year are only $10.00 and admission includes one free beverage ticket. Auction items include over 100 items including a Vermont Lake Getaway, tickets to the Green River Festival, and original artwork crafted in our hilltowns by favorite local artists.

Doors open at the Shelburne/Buckland Community Center, 53 Main Street, Shelburne Falls on Saturday, March 28th at 6:00 p.m. for viewing items and socializing with friends and neighbors. Throughout the evening enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres, catered by Elmer’s Store. A cash bar will be available throughout the evening.

Join us as we celebrate 19 years of fun! For reservations and to pay by credit card, call the GSFABA office at 413-625-2526 or email You can also mail your check to GSFABA, P.O. Box 42, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370; we’ll call you back to confirm your reservation.

It is important to let your friends, neighbors and customers know what a fiber network could mean to your business.

Several of the towns in our region have the opportunity to participate in the building of a regional fiber-optic network through WiredWest and MBI (the Massachusetts logoBroadband Institute, a state agency). This fiber network will connect all of the homes and businesses in the participating towns and will offer robust, high-speed internet, telephone and video services. WiredWest, a cooperative of 40+ small Western Massachusetts towns, will oversee the operation of the network once built, ensuring local control (and the creation of local jobs).

The Commonwealth has allocated $40M in public funds to help pay part of the construction costs of the regional network. The rest of the cost will need to be financed by the towns, although if the subscription rate is high enough, the network will be able to generate enough revenue to return money to the towns to cover some (or perhaps even all) of the debt service. With a sufficient subscription rate, the network would be effectively free to the towns, with no increase to the local tax rate.

What does this mean to our local businesses? A fiber network is critical infrastructure to expand the economic base of our communities. It is an enabler for small businesses and for tele-workers. It will increase home and property values. It will help attract and retain younger families, which can help counter our aging population demographics and declining school enrollments. Although Verizon DSL currently serves parts of some of our towns, DSL is not nearly as fast as fiber and is delivered over the aging copper wires that currently support our landline phones. And there is no guarantee that DSL will be around forever. There is much speculation about Verizon's long-term commitment to copper-based services, including DSL.

Which towns are participating? In the GSFABA membership area, the towns of Ashfield, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield and Rowe are eligible to participate in the regional fiber network. Towns with internet service through Comcast (Buckland, Conway and Shelburne) are participating in a separate program to expand Comcast service to unserved parts of those towns. Together, these two initiatives will cover all of the GSFABA membership area.

How can businesses lead the way? Towns will be asking residents and businesses this Spring to pre-subscribe for internet service and to put down a refundable $49 deposit (to be applied to the first month's bill). Towns need to achieve a 40% pre-subscription rate to demonstrate sufficient demand. These pre-subscriptions do not have to come just from homeowners. Businesses count towards the 40%. And landlords can pre-subscribe for rental properties. A town's pre-subscription rate will also impact the build-out schedule for the network - the higher it is above 40%, the better.

It is also critically important to let your friends, neighbors and customers know what a fiber network could mean to your business. Towns will need to pass borrowing authorizations at town meeting this year in order to fund their participation in the network. Many people do not realize how many different kinds of businesses today depend on reliable, high-speed telecommunications. Economic growth is a partnership between growing our businesses and growing our local customer base, a virtuous cycle of prosperity.

Watching for mailings from your town with pre-subscription forms. Speak out about the importance of fiber networking to our future. With the state contributing $40M to help finance this regional network, this is the right time for us to make this investment.

For more information, see the WiredWest web site ( which includes a list of delegates from each town, or you can call Bob Handsaker (Charlemont) at 339-0232.

March 21st, Shelburne Falls

GSFABA member Piti Theatre Co. presents their 6th annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival at Memorial Hall, Shelburne Falls on Sat., 3/21, featuring syrup 1024x576highlights from the high-flying cirque show RUCKUS! by Nimble Arts, an award-winning troupe with Cirque de Soleil veterans at 5 pm. Piti Theatre presents the world premiere of their all ages musical-clown performance about electrosmog "Innocenzo" at 3 pm. SYRUP celebrates spring's first day with syrup tasting, free pickles, a raffle, door prizes and syrup-themed discounts and treats in the village and around the region. Businesses are invited to get in on the sweetness as sponsors, raffle prize donors and between-show hotspots.

Contact Jonathan Mirin at (413) 625 6569 or Group ticket rates available! Aerial and juggling workshops on 3/22 at BSE. Details and tickets:

The pre-subscription campaign for the WiredWest fiber network is now underway! Each town needs to get 40% of the residents and businesses to pre-subscribe before network construction can begin. Please register!

Seven of the towns in the Greater SFABA membership area (Ashfield, Charlemont, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield and Rowe) are currently asking residents to Wired Westpre-subscribe for internet service. If these towns demonstrate sufficient interest and the voters approve the required borrowing authorization at town meeting, these towns are eligible to join the regional network.

The WiredWest fiber network will provide reliable, affordable, high speed internet, phone and video services to all homes and businesses in the member towns. The ubiquitous availability of these services will be a huge boost to the local economy. High speed internet enables our businesses to remain competitive and creates jobs. High speed internet strengthens the local economy by increasing real estate values and enabling remote work opportunities and part-time telecommuting. For the tourism industry, high speed internet allows us to offer our visitors the world-class telecommunications services they want and expect.

The pre-subscription campaign is the crucial first step. Each town needs to get 40% of the residents and businesses to pre-subscribe before network construction can begin. Each resident or business is being asked to sign up for service and pay a pre-subscription fee of $49, which will be applied to the first month’s bill when service is available. The fee is fully refundable if a subscriber moves or changes their mind. Landlords and building owners are asked to pre-subscribe for their rental and commercial properties. You can subscribe online (or by mail) at

The regional network will be run by WiredWest, a non-profit cooperative of 40+ small towns in Western Massachusetts. Delegates from each town will make up the cooperative’s board of directors, ensuring local ownership and control, and local, experienced professionals will be retained to operate the network. Additional funding and resources for network construction will come through the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), a state agency, which has allocated $40M for regional broadband solutions in our area. For more information, visit

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Sponsored by the Great Shelburne Falls Area Business Association

John Baldwin of Stepping Stone Accounts will be presenting free monthly (if there is interest) QuickBooks and Accounting seminars. The first introductory presentation will bedownload “How QuickBooks does Basic Accounting ” Your time is better spent on managing your business, so here is an opportunity to learn basic accounting techniques and use QuickBooks to maximize the effort you spend on your bookkeeping.

Day: March 23, 2015 Time: 9:00am to 10:00

Location: Greenfield Savings Bank Conference Room – Shelburne Falls

Link to sign-up:

Seeking Nominations

The Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (GSFABA) is now seeking nominations for the 2015 Marvin J. Shippee Community Service Award to be given to a deserving individual or group at the Annual GSFABA Spring Breakfast on Friday, May 1, 2015. Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination. Those making nominations should not assume that the Award Committee knows the nominee.

Nomination forms can be downloaded at and should be sent to the GSFABA, P.O. Box 42, Shelburne, MA 01370 or email to no later than April 5, 2015.

Please go to for more information.

Applications Available

The Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (GSFABA) is seeking applications from local students This scholarship award is intended to support a graduating senior with a strong interest in pursuing a career in business or related field, e.g. marketing, trade, agriculture, engineering, and more. The student will have demonstrated an interest in business and have an entrepreneurial spirit. The $500 scholarship will be used to help the student continue his/her education through an accredited continuing education course or a college or university.

To qualify the applicant must be a resident of one of the ten towns served by the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association (Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Colrain, Hawley, Heath, Plainfield, Shelburne and Rowe), a graduating senior, and have maintained good academic standing throughout high school.

Applications are available at school guidance offices, your local town hall, or a PDF version of the application can be downloaded at, or request a copy by email at Applications must be submitted to the student’s school guidance office or the GSFABA office by April 1, 2016.

Become a Business Sponsor & Support the Local Arts

This year we are celebrating our 9th anniversary in Shelburne Falls, and for the second year in a row we have the opportunity to bring an exciting professional guest artist heremicaela to our community. Flamenco dancer Micaela Paule, director of Micaela y Fiesta Flamenca of New Orleans, will be in residence for a week in May, culminating in her performance in Ballet Renversé’s 9th Annual Spring Recital on May 29th. The program, including residency and recital, is entitled “Many Cultures, Diversity in Dance,” and will take place at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School. It will serve as a resource for Buckland-Shelburne Elementary as well as Colrain Central and Mohawk, and the performance is free and open to the public.

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