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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.

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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: #1,127,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
Amy Cortese's fabulous tale of a new investing trend is one of those transformative books that changes the way you look at things, and gives you reason to hope amid gridlock in Washington and a sluggish economic recovery.

Just as "locavores" promote locally grown food, locavestors put their money to work in their communities. It is a phenomenon Cortese has covered as a journalist for the past several years. She coined the term "locavesting" to describe it in a 2008 piece she wrote for the New York Times Magazine.

What she has latched on to is a subterranean movement that has yet to break through into the national consciousness. But it is no less real for that.

Cortese describes the creative ways that people around the country are finding to invest in local businesses, from mom-and-pop shops on Main Street to sprawling cooperatives like Organic Valley, a major dairy producer.

She chronicles all of this in a lean, journalistic prose that lets the story speak for itself. She has obviously gone to these places, talked to these people and seen locavesting in action. Her book is alive with real people doing sensible, hopeful things - such a contrast to the cant and posturing that fills so much of the mainstream media reporting about the economy. Her book is a breath of fresh air and a promise of hope for a resilient economy.

Locavesting is in part a reaction to the outrage over the practices of Wall Street and the big banks that brought on the financial crisis. At the same time, communities have been devastated by the recession and foreclosure crisis and people don't want to stand by helplessly.

So they began looking for alternatives, especially for ways to keep their money in the community and put it to work there.
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