Fifty years ago, the city of Pittsfield was home to almost 60,000 people with a median family income about 10 percent above the state average. This prosperity was built on top of one company, a dependency that would eventually hurt us. Today we have a population of 42,000, with a median family income more than 37 percent below the state average.

Collaboration in state government is important but even more important to the fate of Western Massachusetts is leadership. Mike Bloomberg returned to Pittsfield to try to make a difference. He did not wait 55 years, but instead returned just a few years after he graduated from UMass and gained experience in business, technology, and urban economics before his return. He studied cities that have transformed their economies like Saratoga Springs and Lowell. He came back, prepared not just to follow, but to lead.