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

ISBN: 978-0-470-91138-9
252 pages
May 2011
Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It (0470911387) cover image
How individuals and communities can profit from local investing

In the wake of the financial crisis, investors are faced with a stark choice: entrust their hard-earned dollars to the Wall Street casino, or settle for anemic interest rates on savings, bonds, and CDs. Meanwhile, small businesses are being starved for the credit and capital they need to grow. There's got to be a better way.

In Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit from It, Amy Cortese takes us inside the local investing movement, where solutions to some of the nation's most pressing problems are taking shape. The idea is that, by investing in local businesses, rather than faceless conglomerates, investors can earn profits while building healthy, self-reliant communities.

  • Introduces you to the ideas and pioneers behind the local investing movement
  • Profiles the people and communities who are putting their money to work in their own backyards and taking control of their destinies
  • Explores innovative investment strategies, from community capital and crowdfunding to local stock exchanges

With confidence in Wall Street and the government badly shaken, Americans are looking for alternatives. Local investing offers a way to rebuild our nest eggs, communities, and, just perhaps, our country.

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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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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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May 25, 2011
Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It

We buy local and eat local. So why is it so hard to invest local? The truth is, our financial markets have evolved to serve big business, a fact only underscored by the recent financial crisis and bailout. Wall Street has come roaring back, but Main Street is fighting for its life. In catering to those companies deemed “too big to fail,” we’ve created a new group that could be labeled “too small to succeed.”

LOCAVESTING: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It (Wiley; 978-0-470-91138-9; June 2011) by Amy Cortese demonstrates how, by investing in locally-owned companies that create jobs and healthy communities, we can begin to repair our tattered financial system and create a more just and inclusive form of capitalism.

In LOCAVESTING Cortese takes us inside the local investing movement, where solutions to some of the nation's most pressing problems are taking shape. Just as locavores eat a diet sourced in a 100 mile or so radius, locavestors attempt to invest that way. The idea is that, by investing in local businesses, rather than faceless conglomerates, investors can earn profits while building healthy, vibrant and resilient communities.

In the book, Amy Cortese:

  • Introduces you to the ideas and pioneers behind the local investing movement
  • Profiles the people and communities who are putting their money to work in their own backyards and taking control of their destinies
  • Explores innovative investment strategies, from community capital and crowdfunding to local stock exchanges
  •  Provides practical information for individuals who want to start putting some of their savings to work in their own communities  

As Cortese demonstrates, locally owned businesses benefit communities in ways that big corporations do not –  by creating jobs (rather than destroying them), paying local taxes (rather than employing sophisticated strategies to avoid them), and keeping money circulating locally (rather than being sucked out to a distant headquarters). Local businesses are also integral pillars of our communities and downtowns, promoting social bonds, civic engagement and diversity. Just as Buy Local campaigns have found that shifting as little as 10% of spending towards locally owned firms can generate outsized economic impacts for a community, so, too, can shifting some of our investment dollars. Locavesting is a call to invest once again in the innovative engines of job creation and growth: small business.  

Across the country, an extraordinary experiment in citizen finance is underway.  Amy Cortese takes you behind the scenes and shows how, rather than waiting for the government or Corporate America to ride in and save them, communities are creating their own economic stimulus. The book profiles dozens of inspiring examples, including:
 
- How residents of Fort Greene, Brooklyn became investors in a new independent, neighborhood bookstore that turned a profit after just one year
- How Organic Valley, the Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative, raised critical growth capital from individual investors who in turn receive an 6 percent annual dividend
- How the Internet and social media are creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals investors to connect
- How grassroots groups such as Slow Money are working to rebuild local food systems and invest in sustainable agriculture and food production
- How companies from Ben & Jerry’s to Annie’s Homegrown have sold directly shares to loyal customers, bypassing Wall Street middlemen
- How communities from Lancaster, PA to Honolulu are working to bring back local stock exchanges that once again serve local companies and investors.

As this clear-eyed book makes plain, local investing is not a panacea. But it can help readers begin to rebuild their nest eggs, their communities and, just perhaps, the country.

 

For more information about the book, visit: www.locavesting.com

 

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