Media Coverage

Odd Lots: What the Berkshires Learned by Launching its Own Currency

From Bloomberg: Every week, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so-random walk through hot topics in markets, finance and economics.


"Buy local" is a mantra that has appeal across the political spectrum. Small communities have preached this gospel for a long time. The current U.S. president advocates a version on a national scale. So how do you put it into practice?

 One experiment has been taking place in the Berkshires -- a region in the U.S. state of Massachusetts -- that has its own currency called Berkshares. On this week's Odd Lots podcast, we speak with Alice Maggio, the executive director of the currency, about how a regional currency works, what it accomplishes, and what they’ve learned from it.

Spare a BerkShare?

By  Massachusetts’ Berkshires mountain region enjoys spectacular views, glorious fall foliage, a notable farm-to-table food movement, and one more thing that similar regions don’t have: its own currency.

BerkShares, the local currency, was introduced in 2006 by the Berkshires-based Schumacher Center for a New Economics as a project in sustainable economics. Consumers and businesses can go to 16 branches of four community banks in the region to purchase or redeem BerkShares, a paper currency featuring local scenery and portraits of famous area figures.

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Recent News

The Big on Small Business - Youth Entrepreneurship

The Big on Small Business, hosted by Keith Girouard. "Youth Entrepreneurship"
Part 1 :

Part 2:

Keith Girouard, regional director and senior business advisor at the Mass. Small Business Development Center Network, sat down with Alice Maggio, Local Currency Program Director at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, to discuss youth entrepreneurship and Entry to Entrepreneurship, a business planning course for young people in the Berkshire Region. The Schumacher Center, BerkShares, Inc., and the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network have collaborated closely on the development of the Entry to Entrepreneurship program. Keith Girouard's monthly radio show is called The Big on Small Business: Ideas, Trends and Tools for Small Business. You can listen in on the 1st Wednesday of every month – 10:00-10:30 a.m on WBRK – 1340 AM in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. This show's title was "Youth Entrepreneurship."

Entry to Entrepreneurship Reaches Full Enrollment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Alice Maggio, Berkshares, Inc., [email protected] or (413) 528-1737

 

“ENTRY TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP” REACHES FULL ENROLLMENT.

 

BerkShares, Inc.’s business-planning course for Berkshire County youth, called “Entry to Entrepreneurship,” has reached full enrollment. The twenty registered students ages 14 to 25 will have their first class on Tuesday, January 26 at Berkshire Community College’s South County Center in downtown Great Barrington.

 

“Entry to Entrepreneurship” is a business education course that is community-supported, community-taught, and focuses on inspiring ‘import-replacement’ businesses that will fill gaps in the local economy. This approach is a part of a larger initiative spearheaded by BerkShares, Inc. called “Community Supported Industry (CSI).” CSI builds on the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model to find ways that Berkshire citizens can identify local business opportunities and work together to turn them into enterprises that become part of the local economy.

 

Press release:

November 23, 2015 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
More information: [email protected] or 413 528 1737

BERKSHARES, INC. TO OFFER BUSINESS-PLANNING COURSE: ENTRY TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP

This winter, for the second year in a row, BerkShares, Inc. is offering a business-planning course for young people ages 14 through 25. Entry to Entrepreneurship will take place once a week at the South County Center of Berkshire Community College starting on January 26, 2016. The program will culminate with a public event on April 12, 2016. Participants will present their business plans and receive an award of 200 BerkShares each.

What goods and services do we currently buy from outside the region that we could, instead, produce or provide locally? How can residents of the Berkshire region begin to identify and seize these opportunities and turn them into businesses that are locally owned, provide healthy livelihoods for local people, and shorten the supply chain for some of our most basic needs in the areas of food, clothing, shelter and energy?

Annual Appeal 2015

This year, we’re working to take “buy local” to the next level.


Since BerkShares were launched in 2006 we have focused on “keeping it local.” BerkShares have been a leading voice and shining example of the “buy local” movement, and consumers have become more aware of what they’re buying, and from where.

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