December 18 2013

Amy Cortese Discusses Hometown Economics In “Locavesting”

Amy Cortese’s Locavesting: The Revolution In Local Investing And How To Profit From It is a must-have for anyone interested in small-business financing, economics, or community development. The purpose of the book is to expose readers to a multitude of alternative investment mechanisms that help local and regional businesses grow and thrive. Although Cortese explores these topics with an obvious bias, she is quick to point out the flaws in small-business investment strategies through the use of case studies and hard facts. Straying from the conceptual in favor of realism, Locavesting aggressively tackles far-reaching issues facing local businesses within the context of today’s volatile economy, federal regulations, and the American stock market’s casino-like atmosphere.

Locavesting Cover

Although Cortese makes references to advanced economic principles and jargon that novice investors might scratch their heads at, she succeeds in reminding us that there was a time before Wal-Mart, when the United States was saturated with small businesses. Locavesting takes a look at the role small-scale commerce played in creating and retaining jobs, fostering a healthy quality of life, and contributing to a robust regional economy. The concept is clear: the regional dairy provided milk and cheese to the town, residents opened up financial accounts at neighborhood banks that reinvested in local businesses, and an ancient form of media called books were purchased at, well, book shops. Revenue and jobs remained within the community, resulting in a level of social and economic capital that we simply do not see today. In its place is the Wall Street succubus, which has arrogated our traditional business landscape only to ship off the profits to the Cayman Islands and outsource domestic jobs.

Small-scale commerce does not exist at the same degree today as it did in past centuries, and it is near impossible for ordinary citizens to support local businesses outside of simply buying their products. Throughout her book, Cortese blames this on the outdated policies of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has effectively created two classes of investors: accredited investors making $1 million or more, and everyone else. Accredited investors can offer up capital wherever they want, while ordinary citizens are limited to purchasing publicly traded stocks of large corporations.

Locavesting is not simply Amy Cortese’s cynical rants about the onerous life of small-business owners. In fact, her primary focus is on the burgeoning global movement towards local commerce and innovative investment strategies. Cortese details the execution of high-level financial tools such as Community Development Finance Institutions and Slow Money campaigns, while also promoting the successes of grassroots co-ops and internet marketing. More importantly, she demonstrates how profits can be derived from these investment opportunities, both in economic and social capital.

Northern California Slow Money chapter

There are myriad economic opportunities than can revitalize local businesses, many of which are unknown even in the sustainability community. Locavesting unpacks these innovative strategies one by one, and challenges readers to always buy local.  Certain high-level strategies may have a dizzying effect on some readers, myself included, but the fact that they exist is enough for anyone to realize the importance of this book. Amy Cortese not only provides convincing alternatives to “business as usual,” but also writes with an air of optimism that conveys her confidence in the evolution of our win-lose usiness environment into a full-blown equitable society.

Locavesting is available through John Wiley & Sons IncThe Grid is giving away 1 FREE copy of the book. Go to Rafflecopter Giveaway to enter for a chance to win!

Credits: Images by Nick Danty. Data linked to sources.

Nick Danty

Nick Danty is a graduate of the Geography and Planning Department at California State University, Chico and currently works at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in Santa Rosa. Nick has been involved in several programs at RCPA, but is most proud of the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Project, for which he served as the project manager and outreach coordinator. A Northern California native who calls his single-family detached dwelling home, Nick is not a stranger to the ills of suburban sprawl and the toll it takes on human and physical environments. Nick’s travels to Europe and throughout North America have shown him preventing and retrofitting sprawl is possible through intelligent neighborhood design, beautiful architecture, mitigation banking, innovative transit systems and visionary urban and rural plans. He is very excited about writing for The Grid, and plans on discussing projects and programs happening at his agency related to transportation planning, climate adaptation, livability, urban land development, and environmental conservation.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 at 9:13 am and is filed under Book Review, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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