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Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It

Overview

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, generating eighty percent of jobs and half of GDP. They also create the foundation for healthy, diverse neighborhoods and strong local economies.

So why are we starving these vital enterprises?

The truth is, our financial and political system is stacked against small business. The stock market has become a vast, electronic casino that has abandoned any pretense of allocating capital to ...

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Overview

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, generating eighty percent of jobs and half of GDP. They also create the foundation for healthy, diverse neighborhoods and strong local economies.

So why are we starving these vital enterprises?

The truth is, our financial and political system is stacked against small business. The stock market has become a vast, electronic casino that has abandoned any pretense of allocating capital to productive use. And community banks—a mainstay of small business funding—are an endangered species in a Too Big to Fail world. Don't look to the government for help, though: politicians at the federal, state, and local levels are often under the sway of deep-pocketed corporations. Meanwhile, Main Streets and downtowns everywhere are slowly dying.

But don't write them off just yet. In dozens of towns and cities across the country, an extraordinary experiment in citizen finance is underway. From Brooklyn, New York to Vernon County, Wisconsin to Port Townsend, Washington, residents are banding together to save their small businesses and Main Streets from extinction. And they are reaping rich rewards in the process. These citizens are at the vanguard of a grassroots revolution that journalist Amy Cortese calls "locavesting."

In Locavesting, you'll meet these pioneers and explore the often ingenious ways—some new, some as old as capitalism itself—they've come up with to take back their financial destinies from Wall Street and the corporate fat cats while revitalizing the communities they call home. Among other examples, you'll learn how:

  • Nine cops in Clare, Michigan saved a 111-year-old bakery and helped revive their downtown
  • As union protests engulfed the state capital, a new breed of cooperatives in rural Wisconsin pointed the way toward a more harmonious and prosperous way of doing business
  • "Crowdfunding" startups such as ProFounder, Funding Circle, and Grow VC are harnessing the Internet and social media to connect entrepreneurs with hundreds of small investors
  • A grassroots organization called Slow Money is mobilizing thousands of citizens to create new funding models for financing local food and agriculture
  • Companies from Ben & Jerry's to Annie's Homegrown have sold shares directly to loyal customers, bypassing Wall Street middlemen
  • And how communities as varied as Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the Hawaiian islands are working to bring back local stock exchanges

Forget credit default swaps and derivatives. This is the kind of financial innovation we desperately need. A source of inspiration and ideas with practical how-to advice, Locavesting is must-reading for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors looking for solid, socially productive alternatives to the Wall Street casino—and anyone who cares about the future of democracy in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With the recent crash of the financial markets, many investors are looking for new places to put their money. At the same time, many small businesses are finding it ever more difficult to get credit. Cortese, a former BusinessWeek editor, covers this current confluence, providing examples of how investing in local small businesses can be beneficial to all parties. Her examples include a brewpub in Austin, TX, with a multitude of "owners," an organic dairy farm in upstate New York that found "angel" investors through a sign they posted at their farmers market stand (almost getting themselves in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission along the way), and a former Iraq War veteran struggling to get funding to open a day-care center. Various types of funding methods are discussed, including cooperatives, credit unions, local stock exchanges, community development funds, public venture capital, and raising money through social networking. VERDICT Timely and easy to read, this is a nice introduction to something many of us have never considered. A good choice for public libraries and fruitful reading for small businesses and investors.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470911389
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Cortese is a journalist who has spent her career writing about business, finance, environmental issues and food, giving her a unique perspective on how these different realms are intricately linked. A former editor at BusinessWeek, her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the American, Mother Jones, Portfolio, Afar, TheDailyBeast.com, and many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Starting Anew vii

Introduction: Cereal Milk for the Gods xv

Part One The Economics of Local 1

Chapter 1 Motherhood, Apple Pie, and Political Theatre 3
How We Are Failing Our Small Businesses

Chapter 2 Blue Skies, Pipe Dreams, and the Lure of Easy Money 19
Our Financial Legacy and its Unintended Consequences

Chapter 3 Buy Local, Eat Local . . . Invest Local 31
Reconnecting Investors and Businesses

Chapter 4 The Local Imperative 47
Leveling the Playing Field

Part Two Experiments in Citizen Finance 63

Chapter 5 The Last Real Banker? 65
Relationship Banking Is Not Dead – Yet

Chapter 6 The Biggest-Impact Financial Sector You’ve Never Heard Of 79
Community Development Loan Funds Reach Out to Individual Investors

Chapter 7 A Model to LIONize 95
How One Pacifi c Northwest Town Engineered a Quiet Revival

Chapter 8 Community Capital 105
It Takes a Village, or a Police Force, or Perhaps Some Farmers

Chapter 9 Pennies from Many 125
When Social Networking Met Finance

Chapter 10 Slow Money 147
Finance for Foodsheds

Chapter 11 From Brown Rice to Biofuels 159
Co-ops on the Cutting Edge

Chapter 12 The Do-It-Yourself Public Offering 181
The Allure of Public Venture Capital

Chapter 13 Back to the Future 199
The Rebirth of the Local Stock Exchange

Conclusion 221

Notes 227

Acknowledgments 243

Index 245

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