Saturday, January 23, 2010

Community Currency: Berkshares

What are BerkShares?

BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region. Dubbed a "great economic experiment" by the New York Times, BerkShares are a tool for community empowerment, enabling merchants and consumers to plant the seeds for an alternative economic future for their communities. Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares had a robust initiation, with over one million BerkShares having been circulated in the first nine months and over two million to date. Currently, more than three hundred and sixty businesses have signed up to accept the currency. Five different banks have partnered with BerkShares, with a total of thirteen branch offices now serving as exchange stations. For BerkShares, this is only the beginning. Future plans could involve BerkShare checking accounts, electronic transfer of funds, ATM machines, and even a loan program to facilitate the creation of new, local businesses manufacturing more of the goods that are used locally. ...

The purpose of BerkShares is to function on a local scale the same way that national currencies have functioned on a national scale—building the local economy by maximizing circulation of trade within a defined region. Widely used in the early 1900s, local currencies are again being recognized as a tool for sustainable economic development. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, building stronger relationships and a greater affinity between the business community and the citizens of a particular place.

The people who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local first. They are taking personal responsibility for the health and well-being of their community by laying the foundation of a truly vibrant, thriving local economy.

BerkShares will not, and are not intended to, replace federal currency. Their use will help strengthen the regional economy, favoring locally owned enterprises, local manufacturing, and local jobs, and reducing the region's dependence on an unpredictable global economy.

BerkShares, Inc. web page


1 comment:

King of the Paupers said...

Jct: And they're just the cash-buy-in model community currency. Add the time-buy-in models like Ithaca Hours or LETS, and they it will really fly.

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