Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, generating two out of every three jobs and half of GDP. They also create the foundation for healthy, diverse neighborhoods and strong local economies. Amy Cortese, author of the book, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From it (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), asks, then, why are we starving these vital enterprises?
Cortese, an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Business Week, the New York Times, Mother Jones and other publications, argues that a small shift in investment away from multinational corporations toward locally owned enterprises can reap enormous economic and social benefits for individuals, their communities, and the country.
Cortese, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, began her research in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, which highlighted what she believes is a massive misallocation of capital in this country. As she traveled the country, she saw that not only were people looking for alternatives to the winner-take-all Wall Street system, they were busy creating them. Her book chronicles this vast experiment in citizen finance that is reshaping ideas about investing, economic development and the nature of capitalism.
As our keynote speaker for the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence Gala, Cortese will share examples of local investing in action, and discuss ways in which Downtown Colorado, Inc. can put some of these innovative ideas to work. In addition to models that are currently in use, such as community loan funds, Local Investing Opportunity Networks (LIONs), and direct public offerings, she will discuss the recently signed JOBS Act, which will usher in some of the biggest changes to the nation’s securities laws in eight decades.
In particular, crowdfunding–a method of raising small sums from many investors over the Internet–will open up exciting new possibilities for local investing when it becomes legal next year. Crowdfunding has attracted its fair share of critics, who worry about fraud. But Cortese believes that, at its best, crowdfunding provides an opportunity to bring together local investors and entrepreneurs to create a local financial ecosystem that is arguably safer than the global casino we call the stock market.
Locavesting is a call to rethink the way we invest, so that we support the small businesses that create jobs and healthy, resilient communities. Just as “Buy Local” campaigns have found that a small shift in purchasing from chains to locally owned enterprises can reap outsized benefits for a community, so, too, can a small shift in our investment dollars. “We eat local and buy local, the next frontier is to invest local,” says Cortese.
Amy Cortese, author of Her book, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From it, is an award-winning journalist and editor who covers topics spanning business, finance, food, wine and environmental issues. Her work has appeared in the the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, New York, Business Week, the Daily News, Portfolio, Mother Jones, Afar, The American, the Daily Beast, Talk, Business 2.0 and Wired, among other publications.