This is a brilliant yet old idea is used to help sustain a local economy in a recession. It also promotes local businesses and helps create community. People who use BerkShares get a 5% incentive and the buying power is 1:1, so you are actually saving money when you buy with BerkShares. It’s a good way for local business to compete with national chains. There are close to 400 businesses and 5 banks that accept and distribute BerkShares.
Where’s the bay area at on this topic?? We need to get on it! yee!
Here’s what Wikipedia had to say….
BerkShares is a local currency that circulates in The Berkshires region of Massachusetts. It was launched September 29, 2006 by BerkShares Inc., with research and development assistance from the E.F. Schumacher Society. The BerkShares website lists over 370 businesses in Berkshire County that accept the currency. In 30 months, 2.2 million BerkShares have been issued from 12 branch offices of five local banks. The bills were designed by John Isaacs and are printed by Excelsior Printing on special paper with incorporated security features from Crane & Co.
How it works
BerkShares are a local currency designed and issued for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. According to the BerkShares website, residents purchase BerkShares at 95 cents on the dollar from one of twelve branches of five local participating banks. Businesses then accept BerkShares at full dollar value, differentiating the business as one supporting the BerkShares values’ of local economy, ecology, sustainability, and community, and creating a five percent discount incentive for those using the currency. BerkShares can then be used by accepting businesses to purchase goods and services from other participating businesses, make change, pay salaries, or support local non-profits, increasing the local economic multiplier effect and keeping value recirculating in the region. If businesses have an excess of BerkShares, they may also be returned to a participating bank for an equivalent of 95 cents per BerkShare.
Over 70 area non-profits currently accept BerkShares for donations. Participating banks provide BerkShares with 12 brick-and-mortar offices where residents can exchange dollars for BerkShares and receive more information on the project.
The BerkShares program seeks to foster collaboration among producers, retail businesses, non-profit organizations, service providers and consumers. It is an attempt to strengthen the local economy. The program also seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of local economies and to foster optimism for the prospect of gaining local economic self-sufficiency.
The project seeks to assure that a high percentage of each dollar spent will remain circulating in the community. This increase in community capital creates a positive environment for new entrepreneurial ventures. It is hoped that new businesses sprouting from the resulting local generation of wealth will replace imported goods with locally produced items, which are more environmentally sustainable in that they do not need to be shipped over vast distances by the use of fossil fuels.