What are Berkshares?
About BerkShares, Inc.
BerkShares, Inc. is the place-based, democratically structured non-profit organization that issues BerkShares, a local currency for the Berkshire Region. BerkShares, Inc. works in collaboration with participating local banks, local businesses, and local non-profit organizations to strengthen the Berkshire regional economy through a local currency program and related pursuits.
The members of BerkShares, Inc. envision a diverse and resilient regional economy that supports and prioritizes responsible production and consumption, wherein community members rely on the land and each other to fulfill the basic needs of food, culture, clothing, shelter, and energy.
Dubbed a “great economic experiment" by The New York Times, BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Federal currency is exchanged for BerkShares at nine branch offices of three local banks and spent at 400 locally owned participating businesses. The circulation of BerkShares encourages capital to remain within the region, building a greater affinity between the local business community and its citizens.
Echoing the local currencies widely used throughout the early 1900s, BerkShares serve as a tool for community economic empowerment, and development toward regional self-reliance. BerkShares are meant to maximize the circulation of goods, services, and capital within a defined region, thus strengthening the local economy. Commonplace during the early 1900s, local currencies are once again being recognized as a tool for sustainable economic development. The currency distinguishes the local businesses that accept the currency from those that do not, fostering stronger relationships between the responsible business community and the citizens of the region. The people who choose to use the currency make a conscious commitment to buy local, and in doing so take a personal interest in the health and well-being of their community by laying the foundation for a truly vibrant, thriving economy.