Localization Policies Directory

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By Michael H. Shuman & Doug Hoffer:

An Action List for Localization, adapted from the book The Small-Mart Revolution

Tools for Consumers

(1) Directories of Local Business – Create lists of local businesses for Vineyard residents and businesses in print, on line, in newspaper ads, and on coffee cups.

(2) Directories of Local Products – Highlight, in print or on line, the many locally made goods or locally provided services that are available.

(3) Local Labels – Develop a local insignia of local ownership, so that consumers know if a store is locally owned or if a product is locally made.

(4) Buy Local Days – Designate official days, weeks, months, or seasons, all of which can provide the basis for a buy-local campaign.

(5) Local Currency – Mobilize the island to print its own “money,” like Ithaca Hours or BerkShares, that can only be used by local businesses and consumers.

(6) LETS – Create computerized trading systems, especially popular in Europe, that encourage locals to trade with one another without toughing mainstream money.

(7) Time Dollars – Set up a computerized system for tracking volunteer hours as a way of legitimizing and expanding such contributions for the community.

Tools for Investors

(1) Reduce the Use of Credit Cards – Remind island residents that nearly all credit card processing is nonlocal, and wasting precious local money on nonlocal high-interest payments.

(2) Expand Small Business Loan Funds – Mobilize local banks, philanthropists, foundations, and government agencies to expand the assets of revolving loan funds for small business.

(3) Create Micro Funds – Consider setting up additional small-business funds in partnership with the local banks. Several dozen depositors can pony up money, create a lending pool, and then team up with the bank to administer the loans to whomever you think is creditworthy.

(4) Invest Local – Encourage island investors, including part-time residents, to invest more of savings in local business as a cooperative member, as a program-related investor in a nonprofit, as a limited partner, or as a shareholder.

(5) Local Venture and Hedge Funds – Recruit local securities industry professionals (perhaps retirees) to help create local investment funds that specialize in highperforming local businesses.

(6) Technical Assistance for Small Stock Companies – Create a company that helps small-businesses to issue local stock (i.e., tradable only intrastate), and then to handle the ongoing reporting and due-diligence requirements.

(7) Local Underwriters – Set up a local investment company that helps successful local firms create local stock issues, and that then sells the securities intrastate for a fee.

(8) Local Stock Markets – Put together an electronic trading platform to help local business investors find and trade with one another.

(9) Local Investment Advisers – Set up a firm that specializes in helping investors evaluate the performance of local business.

(10) Pension Fund Advocacy – Pressure pension funds in the region, whether private or public, to invest in local real estate, local business, local venture and hedge funds, and local mutual funds.

Tools for Entrepreneurs

(1) BALLE Chapter – Create a local business network (best linked with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) so that you’re not alone. Use the alliance to promote local purchasing, fight chains, solve problems, secure credit, and learn skills.

(2) Producers Cooperatives – Join existing producers’ cooperatives or other kinds of industry-specific affinity groups that collectively purchase, advertise, and lobby for local members. Or start a new one.

(3) Bazaars – Help set up and participate in local business mini-malls, whether they are weekend farmers’ markets or dedicated shopping destinations.

(4) Direct Delivery – Create or join a direct delivery service affiliated exclusively or primarily with local businesses.

(5) Flexible Manufacturing – Form a network of local businesses that is ready and willing to seize manufacturing opportunities as they arise.

(6) Buyers’ Cards – Team up with other local businesses to create instruments that promote local purchasing, such as local credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards.

(7) B2B Marketplace – Set up a business that links local businesses to one another, and takes a commission on each local “input” substitution.

(8) B2G Midwife – Create a business that aggregates small businesses into compelling bids for government contracts and handles the paperwork in exchange for a fee.

(9) Super-Incubators – Take existing small-business incubators (or start new ones) and rededicate them exclusively to local business. Restructure them to operate on a self-financing, venture-capital model.

Tools for Policymakers

(1) Indicators – Prepare quantifiable measures of the community’s quality of life (economic, environmental, social, and political) and update them annually to hold economic development policies accountable. Conduct public hearings in which residents decide which indicators are most relevant, and then, put together an annual report on the best ones, distribute it widely, and place it on a web site.

(2) Assets Analysis – Gather data on assets in the region, especially un- or underused economic inputs like unemployed labor, deserted land, abandoned buildings, and idle machinery, all to clarify what’s available for new or expanded small business.

(3) Subsidy Inventory – Perform a full evaluation of all subsidies given in the last ten years to business (grants, loans, guarantees, tax abatements, capital improvements, TIFs, or bond issues), and catalogue which, if any, went to local businesses.

(4) State of the Region Report – Prepare an annual booklet with the latest assessments of indicators, assets, and imports, as well as other inventories noted below, all to strategically identify business opportunities with the greatest benefit for the community.

(5) Community Reinvestment Report – Study which local depository institutions – and, if any exist, which investment institutions – are reinvesting more than 90% of their savings/investments locally, especially in affordable local housing.

(6) Pension Fund Analysis – Identify which pension funds, whether public or private, specialized or mutual, might be capable of reinvesting locally.

(7) Good Communitykeeping Seals – Evaluate the performance of all businesses in the region, and award a special seal to any firm that is not only locally owned but also a good performer with workers, consumers, and the environment. This can now be done through the B-Corporation process (www.bcorporation.net).

(8) Entrepreneurship Programs – Revitalize entrepreneurship programs in public schools, community colleges, and local universities to emphasize local and small business. Allocate municipal funds to help other institutions like churches, civic groups, and small business associations set up entrepreneurship study groups.

(9) Mentorship Programs – Link established businesspeople (especially retirees with extra time) with young and aspiring entrepreneurs.

(10) Place-based Scholarships – To retain the best and brightest, create a scholarship fund that extends no interest loans to college-bound kids. (If they return to and settle in the community after graduation, they enjoy no- or lowinterest provisions; otherwise, interest rates kick up to market levels.)

(11) The Home-Grown Directory – Prepare a directory of local businesses organized by product or business type that could help residents buy local. This could then be distributed in hard copies and over the Internet to consumers.

(12) Regional Directory – Combine your home-grown directory with neighboring towns around a regional theme.

(13) Selective Public Contracting – Give a 5-10% bidding advantage to local businesses. Better still, demand that all bidders estimate anticipated multiplier benefits.

(14) Small Business Bidding Assistance – Set up an office that helps local business compete more effectively for public contracts.

(15) Broker B2B Deals – Consider replicating the model of the Oregon Marketplace, which in the 1980s and early 1990s helped local businesses buy cost-effective inputs from local suppliers.

(16) Local Currency – Support or create a local scrip, since only businesses and service providers committed to re-spending locally will be interested in accepting the currency. Pay bonuses or raises to public employees in the scrip, and accept scrip for partial payment of taxes, both of which Philadelphia did during the Great Depression.

(17) Invest Local – Begin moving municipal investment, including surplus revenues and pension funds, into local business either directly or indirectly through local-business venture, hedge, or mutual funds.

(18) Smart Growth – Revamp zoning to permit more kinds of businesses in more kinds of places, especially home-based businesses. More fully use developed land and buildings before grinding up green space or farms.

(19) Smart Schools – Refurbish older, smaller school buildings instead of building newer, bigger ones. Make it easy and safe for children to walk or bicycle to school.

(20) Smart Taxes – Phase out taxes on business, income, sales, and property, and phase in revenue-neutral taxes on energy, nonrenewable resources, pollution, and nuisances. If more revenue is ever needed, use Henry George property taxes (on land, not on improvements) to spur business.

(21) Smart Wages – Create a “living wage” to eliminate most working poverty in the community. Use savings in welfare programs to ease the transition for burdened small business. Don’t lament, but celebrate, how these scare away chain stores."