Give your money to Main Street, not Wall Street

LocavestingSmall 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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