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Senate Candidate Kennedy Makes Stops in the Berkshires
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
07:47PM / Thursday, July 09, 2020
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U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III talks with Greylock Works developers Karla Rothstein and Salvatore Perry on Thursday. The stop was one of several the Senate candidate made in Western Mass.

Kennedy checks out a bottle at the Berkshire Cider Project while chatting with owners Katherine Hand and Matt Brogan.

Kennedy checks out the residential lofts under development at Greylock Works with developers Karla Rothstein and Salvatore Perry.



Congressman Joe Kennedy III asks a question of pastry chef Cynthia Walton as Salvatore Perry looks on.
 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — U.S. Senate candidate Joseph Kennedy used a campaign stop in North Berkshire on Thursday to say that the nation's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic cannot ignore the creative economy that is a major economic driver in the region.
 
"We want to have arts and cultural institutions," the 4th Mass congressman said during a tour of the Greylock Works mill revival on State Road (Route 2). "Not only are they critically important to our economy, they're literally integral to our quality of life.
 
"And the answer to coming out of COVID and the recovery from that can't be sacrificing the things that make life worthwhile."
 
Joe Kennedy III, a Boston Democrat and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, is taking on incumbent Ed Markey in the Sept. 1 primary. 
 
North Adams was the third of his five Western Mass stops on Thursday, which also saw him visit Leominster, Northfield and Pittsfield before finishing up in Springfield.
 
On Thursday, the fourth-term Congressman rolled out his "Jobs and Justice Initiative," which seeks to kick start the U.S. economy with a massive two-stage federally funded employment program.
 
Part of his initiative would help projects like Greylock Works, a multiphase project that will include loft-style apartments and already offers a large function space, studios and a new restaurant, Brian Alberg's Break Room, which opened its doors on Thursday morning.
 
"The plan has direct investment and support for cultural institutions and arts institutions, community-based organizations that foster that quality of life and those activities," Kennedy said. "Those do need support. And, some of that is things like [Payroll Protection Program] to make sure payrolls get met, but it's bigger than that. It's broader than that. It's a lot of stuff that fits right into the environment we're trying to not just sustain but to create and foster."
 
He wove the Greylock Works experience into the broader context of improving infrastructure in places like the Berkshires.
 
"The second part [of JJI] is a much broader and bigger question of the recognition that we're so vulnerable to this [COVID-19] crisis because of major structural inequities in our society," Kennedy said. "Whether that's an economy that takes advantage of essential workers and exploits low-wage labor to the challenges we obviously still confront with racial justice. It's a larger scale mobilization there around racial justice and equity but also around infrastructure investment and things like access to broadband.
 
"One of the things [Greylock Works developers Karla Rothstein and Salvatore Perry] were just talking about was for a family that used to be in Brooklyn, the fact that you can have this beautiful loft space here and have access to high-speed internet. … All of a sudden, you don't have to be living in New York to work in New York or living in Boston to work in Boston."
 
Rothstein said Thursday that the redevelopment of the former mill complex has benefited from government loans and grants in the past, and she can see ways that Greylock Works' growth could benefit from future government assistance.
 
"We also want to work on a jobs training program, and that kind of support would be really valuable," Rothstein said. "Particularly because the through-line for the project is the connection to local agriculture and celebrating food as culture, a jobs-training program that dovetails  with the hospitality industry feels really relevant and would be beneficial to the region -- both the hotels and restaurants, to make sure there's expertise and depth in that workforce."
 
During his tour through the 200,000-square-foot former textile mill complex, Kennedy met a few of the people participating in that celebration of food. The Senate challenger chatted and asked questions of pastry chefs Amanda Perreault and Cynthia Walton, cidermakers Katherine Hand and Matt Brogan of the Berkshire Cider Project and Ski Bum Rum distiller Ryan Riley.
 
In a brief back-and-forth with reporters before being whisked off to Pittsfield by his staffers, Kennedy made his case for replacing Markey, the Green New Deal sponsor who served in the House of Representatives from 1976 until his 2013 election to the Senate to replace John Kerry.
 
"If there's a message out of this moment, it's that we need change from someone who has been in power for over 50 years, and this is still where we are," Kennedy said. "If you think this is the best we can do and the best we can be, great.
 
"The message that I think we have from this is: This country is so much bigger and so much stronger and so much better than what we're seeing, and the fact that after all this time, not only are we fighting battles from 400 years ago, we are seeing massive structural inequities in our economy across Massachusetts that leave us vulnerable to things like a pandemic."
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