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Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It Hardcover – May 23, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, generating eighty percent of jobs and half of GDP. They also create the foundation for healthy, diverse neighborhoods and strong local economies.

So why are we starving these vital enterprises?

The truth is, our financial and political system is stacked against small business. The stock market has become a vast, electronic casino that has abandoned any pretense of allocating capital to productive use. And community banks—a mainstay of small business funding—are an endangered species in a Too Big to Fail world. Don't look to the government for help, though: politicians at the federal, state, and local levels are often under the sway of deep-pocketed corporations. Meanwhile, Main Streets and downtowns everywhere are slowly dying.

But don't write them off just yet. In dozens of towns and cities across the country, an extraordinary experiment in citizen finance is underway. From Brooklyn, New York to Vernon County, Wisconsin to Port Townsend, Washington, residents are banding together to save their small businesses and Main Streets from extinction. And they are reaping rich rewards in the process. These citizens are at the vanguard of a grassroots revolution that journalist Amy Cortese calls "locavesting."

In Locavesting, you'll meet these pioneers and explore the often ingenious ways—some new, some as old as capitalism itself—they've come up with to take back their financial destinies from Wall Street and the corporate fat cats while revitalizing the communities they call home. Among other examples, you'll learn how:

  • Nine cops in Clare, Michigan saved a 111-year-old bakery and helped revive their downtown

  • As union protests engulfed the state capital, a new breed of cooperatives in rural Wisconsin pointed the way toward a more harmonious and prosperous way of doing business

  • "Crowdfunding" startups such as ProFounder, Funding Circle, and Grow VC are harnessing the Internet and social media to connect entrepreneurs with hundreds of small investors

  • A grassroots organization called Slow Money is mobilizing thousands of citizens to create new funding models for financing local food and agriculture

  • Companies from Ben & Jerry's to Annie's Homegrown have sold shares directly to loyal customers, bypassing Wall Street middlemen

  • And how communities as varied as Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the Hawaiian islands are working to bring back local stock exchanges

Forget credit default swaps and derivatives. This is the kind of financial innovation we desperately need. A source of inspiration and ideas with practical how-to advice, Locavesting is must-reading for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors looking for solid, socially productive alternatives to the Wall Street casino—and anyone who cares about the future of democracy in America.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Locavesting

"Investing locally makes sense as long as you do it with your eyes wide open. And this book is a realistic up-to-the-minute exploration of the field. After all, it was the local community that invested in Ben & Jerry's—and it worked out pretty well for them."
BEN COHEN, cofounder of Ben & Jerry's

"An inspiring look at what local businesses can achieve."
JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ, 2001 Nobel Laureate

"Buy this book before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) bans it! Locavesting demolishes the myth that the best investment options lie in the financial-doomsday machine we call Wall Street. Fasten your belt for a mind-blowing journey where you will learn about dozens of highly profitable community investment opportunities. Amy Cortese takes you on a breathtaking ride."
MICHAEL SHUMAN, author of The Small-Mart Revolution and Going Local

We have witnessed the failings of an unfettered free market system, tallied in lost jobs, stagnant wages, rising inequality, and languishing Main Streets. Isn't it time for a backup plan?

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 to locally-owned enterprises can reap outsized benefits for a local economy, so, too, can a small shift in our investment dollars. Amy Cortese explores the revolution in citizen finance taking root across the country, and shows how local investing can help rebuild our nest eggs, our communities and—just perhaps—the country.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470911387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470911389
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AMY CORTESE is an award-winning journalist who writes about topics spanning business, finance, environmental issues, food, wine and travel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, New York, Business Week, the New York Times, the Daily News, Portfolio, Mother Jones, Afar, The American, the Daily Beast, Talk and many other publications. Her recently published book, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From it (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), draws upon her experience covering these diverse realms to explore how a small shift in investment away from multinationals towards locally-owned enterprises can reap enormous economic and social benefits for individuals, their communities and the country.

Amy began her career covering high-tech from posts in Boston, New York and San Francisco, where she chronicled the fast-paced industry and its key players, including Microsoft, a colorful cast of dot-coms and the venture capitalists that funded them. As the Department Editor for Software at Business Week in the mid- 1990s, she wrote and edited many pivotal cover stories, features and commentaries illuminating the Microsoft antitrust saga, the rise of the Web, and the explosive innovation and entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley. In the late 90s, Amy was senior vice president & director of content at Wit Capital, a pioneering online investment bank that sought to democratize the IPO process by allowing individual investors to get in on the era's hot IPOs --a privilege previously available only to institutional and well-connected individual investors.

As a freelance writer, Amy has explored a broad range of journalistic interests, from socially responsible business to venture capital to the pleasures of domestic caviar. These eclectic interests informed the writing of her book, Locavesting, which takes readers inside the local investment movement and introduces them to the pioneers creating new models for funding locally-owned businesses--whether farmers, mom & pop shops or multi-million dollar manufacturers. In the process, these citizens are building healthy, resilient communities and restoring a more inclusive and just form of capitalism.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If Michael Pollan changed the way you think about food, let Amy Cortese change the way you think about finance.

Modern finance helps you invest in offshore drilling rigs 10,000 miles away within a matter of seconds but makes it nearly impossible to keep your favorite dive bar or local bakery from being shut down because they can't get the simplest of loans. It greases the wheels to turn your dollars into another Starbucks, but will stand in your way in keeping the corner coffee shop open. It strangles small businesses in their infancy and channels the world's financial resources towards the biggest and most well-connected companies. This senseless perversion of finance is the same reason that the recession shuttered independent store fronts across the country, while their chain-store counterparts never closed and even expanded into the very same empty storefronts, never to close. This fundamental misalignment is addressed head-on by Locavesting, which confronts Big Finance directly, with art and an intelligence that comprehends the big picture of modern finance (and its distortions), and opens the door to the solution: local investment, an option that provides a host of solutions, all ripe for the picking.

By way of background, I worked as a financial professional drafting and polishing financial disclosures for Fortune 500 companies and dabbling in the superstructure of Big Finance and feel like I have a good grounding in the world of finance.
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Format: Hardcover
Locavesting uses great storytelling to present a structured analysis of how and why to invest where you live and in the (mostly) small businesses there. Each aspect of Locavesting is brought to life by sketches of real people who impress, amuse, and intrigue. I loved the story that starts the chapter on Community Capital. It's about policemen in Clare, MI who purchased a failing local bakery. Policemen buying a bakery (newly named "Cops & Doughnuts") would be a cliche if the author hadn't written about these engaging characters with such a sense of fun and whimsy.

The author wears her learning lightly, especially in explaining the complicated history of how laws originally intended to protect investors, have shut off the small businessman from most sources of affordable capital.

It's a practical book too, describing exactly how to walk the talk of investing locally. The author is straightforward about the risks (surprisingly low) and rewards (surprisingly good - both financially and emotionally).

I learned a lot and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
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Format: Hardcover
The topic of this book was fantastic. Cortese does a great job of summarizing the current mechanisms for local investment and provides adequate resources for readers to explore further.

That being said, the book reads like an unpolished project of a senior journalism major. The author repeated stories two to three times in different chapters and consistently presented statistics in a confusing and amateur way. I found a fair number of typos. Also, despite acknowledging that local investing should only be a portion of someone's portfolio - a complement to our global economic system - she refers to Wall Street as a casino in about every other sentence. It's really unfortunate, because these methods will limit her book's impact. She's clearly not well versed in finance, and relying on these trite expressions will deter many educated readers.

I'm very happy read this book, gaining a much clearer picture of alternative financing models, and it's certainly worth the price for this knowledge. There's simply no other comprehensive book on the subject. But don't expect the craft or expert storytelling of "Omnivore's Dilemma." To make this book 5-star worthy, Cortese could have really benefited from one more edit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic of financing small business growth. The author is both entertaining and informative - a hard combination. The amount of real life research she conducted and references she provided are fantastic too. Dont put this book on your wish list - buy it now! Thanks again to the author for tackling such an important issue for all of us business owners.
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Format: Hardcover
"Locavesting" is a timely book, offering serious investing alternatives which can have a significant economic development impact on regional economies. While Cortese emphasizes the feel-good factors of investing locally (community solidarity, social capital), she makes a compelling case for the purely financial benefits of doing so: competitive alternatives to bonds, CDs, and other lower-yield investments.

Many reports on small business point out that access to capital is the number one challenge entrepreneurs face, but Cortese gets into the nuts-and-bolts of exactly what is limiting them. As slim as it is, her book traces the development of our national (and international) capital markets from a group of businessmen meeting under a tree to the global "securitization" of finance.

But the most important aspect of the book may be its inspirational message that ordinary people are making real progress in changing how we finance our local businesses. From regional stock exchanges to SEC exemptions to modern twists on cooperatives, there is a grassroots effort to circumvent "business as usual" and create vibrant businesses in our own backyards.

The book has two weaknesses. For one, it leaves you wanting more - more information, more detailed frameworks, more in-depth ideas on exactly how and why certain strategies would work. But, as she says in her conclusion, the economic development and policy fixes are for others. She's just reporting on what's happening right now.

For two, Cortese risks alienating a wide swath of people, some of whom could be instrumental in creating policy fixes to pave the way for alternative investing. She not-so-subtly divides the world into two groups: the 'bad guys' - corporations, Wall Street, and President George W.
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