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.
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 Throughout her book, Cortese blames this on the outdated policies of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has effectively created two classes of investors: accredited investors making $1 million or more, and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.
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.
Credits: Images by Nick Danty. Data linked to sources.