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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Brings Senate Power Broker to Pittsfield: Senate Ways & Means Chair Steven Panagiotakos to Receive a Firsthand Look at the Berkshire County Creative Economy and Revitalized Downtown
August 28, 2008

Pittsfield- Recognizing the value of learning from success, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) today hosts Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steven C. Panagiotakos (D-Lowell) in Pittsfield to highlight the revival of his hometown and its surrounding area. 


“Sharing first-hand the roadmap to downtown Pittsfield’s revitalization with my Senate colleagues will not only illustrate the importance of supporting the creative economy, but also serve as a model for similar cities throughout the Commonwealth,” said Downing.  “I am very proud of the strides Pittsfield has made, often with state assistance, to reemerge as a vibrant, bustling community.” 


As Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Panagiotakos leads the legislative panel that considers all matters relating to the finances of the Commonwealth.  He serves as the State Senator for the First Middlesex District, comprised of the communities of Lowell, Groton, Dunstable, Pepperell, Tyngsborough and Westford.  Hailing from Lowell, Panagiotakos understands the struggles faced by a community once fueled by an active industrial economy. 


Much like Pittsfield, the City of Lowell has capitalized on its unique characteristics and regional creative economy to build a strong future full of opportunity for its residents. Hosting the Chairman in western Massachusetts allows Downing to personally highlight successful initiatives that have recently received state financial support and presents an opportunity to demonstrate the ongoing need for continued support for vital economic development projects throughout the region.  


Today’s visit marks the first time Panagiotakos has traveled to Berkshire County.  “Throughout the legislative session Senator Downing has passionately advocated for many local projects in his district.  Each time he spoke of his local creative economy I drew more parallels between our two hometowns.  I am looking forward to touring downtown Pittsfield today, seeing these cultural venues and meeting with various local leaders.  I have great hopes that today’s discussions will spur ongoing efforts on the local, regional and state levels to promote economic development in the Commonwealth’s smaller cities,” said Panagiotakos. 


Panagiotakos will tour and meet with management at the  Barrington Stage Company and Colonial Theatre, as well as with the Presidents of Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in order to highlight the importance of increasing access to public higher education by offering classes by BCC and MCLA in the heart of downtown.  Downing has also convened economic, cultural and municipal leaders for a roundtable discussion on the positive role the creative economy has played in Berkshire County. 


“The visit to the Higher Education Intermodal Center in downtown Pittsfield by Senator Panagiotakos is evidence of his continuing support for Massachusetts public higher education.  I look forward to talking with the Chairman about this important BCC/MCLA collaboration,” said BCC President Paul E. Raverta, Ed.D.


“The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield is a superb example of the way enlightened state government leadership can create momentum for a project that will create expanded economic opportunity and greatly improved quality of life. The subsequent private capital invested into that revitalized atmosphere then dwarfs the original government ‘seed funds’ even while it validates the original bold decisions of the elected officials who saw the opportunity and acted on their convictions. We are thrilled that Senator Downing is bringing the Chairman into Pittsfield for a tour where he will be able to see firsthand so many good examples of that important legislative process,” said David W. Fleming, Executive Director of the Colonial Theatre.


“I have long anticipated Chairman Panagiotakos’ visit and am certain he will take away with him a clear view of how far we’ve come and what investments must continue to be made to ensure continued progress and economic development in western Massachusetts,” said Downing.




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