Berkshire Connect: A Case Study of Demand Aggregation
Berkshire County is home to about 135,000 people on the far western edge of Massachusetts. It is perhaps best known as the scenic mountainous region that is home to cultural institutions such as Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). Although a rural, low-density county, average education and income levels are on par with national averages. Despite the favorable demographics of its population, Berkshire County found itself facing the "new" economy with mediocre telecommunications service choices compared to other regions of Massachusetts. The lack of state-of-the-art, affordable infrastructure was perceived as a competitive disadvantage for the region, making it harder to retain the existing workforce and attract new employers to the region. The Berkshire Connect project grew out of discussions that started taking place in 1997 among people who knew each other through their participation in Berkshire Capital Investors (BCI), a private venture fund contributed to by Berkshire Life (a large local insurance company), Williams College and others. BCI had begun funding dot-coms, partly as a way to attract professors and executives to the region by providing professional opportunities to their spouses. Through this process, lack of affordable telecom/datacom services had emerged as an issue hindering entrepreneurial activity in the region.
demand aggregation, Berkshire Connect, competitive disadvantage, infrastructure, affordable telecom