Invest. Here. Now.

Move Your Assets! - Lynn Benander Presentation (January 13, 2014)

14 Jan 2014 11:55 PM | Scott Reed
Lynn Benander, President, Co-op Power and Northeast Biodiesel LLC, lynn@cooppower.coop, office: 877-266-7543, cell: 413-552-6446, 15A West Street, Hatfield MA 01088, www.cooppower.coop

Audio Recording:

Powerpoint presentation

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Tonight’s conversation is about values and ethics, about service to the common good, about the toll corporate greed has taken on our families, on our health, our communities and our planet. It’s about how we can make a difference, even today with wealth and power concentrated in the very few.

Sheila Bair, Chair of the FDIC, said, “In policy terms, the success of the financial sector is not an end in itself, but a means to an endundefinedwhich is to support the vitality of the real economy and the livelihood of the American people. What really matters to the life of our nation is enabling entrepreneurs to build new businesses that create more well-paying jobs, and enabling families to put a roof over their heads and educate their children.”

It’s so obvious that the financial sector’s success must be evaluated based on how well it supports our lives, yet in the media, we only hear about how well the financial sector is supporting the financial sector.

Where we put our time and money shapes the world today and tomorrow.  Where we buy things, where we work, where we invest all determine what the world will be like.  If we invest our time and money in sustainable and just enterprises, our world will be more sustainable and just.  We have more power than we are often aware of.

What makes a good investment?

  • ·        Do we have an infinite supply of cheap raw materials?
  • ·        Is perpetual growth possible? 
  • ·        Will energy and transportation always be cheap?
  • ·        Will businesses always be able to avoid paying the cost for the damage they do to the environment?
  • ·        Will businesses continue to be able to create wider and wider divides between people who have and those who don’t?

In the past, and even now, businesses that are based on these flawed ideas are bringing in the biggest returns, but how long will that last?  In the recession, they lost 1/3 of their asset base.  What investments are based on real things, maybe bringing a lower return now, but maybe bringing a return based on things that are real, and bringing returns that are, in the long run, far more dependable on into the future? 

Maybe the best investments now are local businesses, using raw materials sourced locally, serving a local market, and operating in a way that is just and sustainable?

Why do small local businesses need local investment?

  • ·        Banks aren’t lending.
  • o   Many are start-ups and banks aren’t lending to start-ups.
  • o   There often isn’t a majority owner with deep pockets to guarantee the loan.
  • o   Banks don’t have experience in assessing the risk in new industries/business models that are needed in today’s new economy.
  • ·        Venture Capital is too costly.
  • o   Profit pressure too high and exit strategies are too disruptive.

If one in every three small businesses hired one new person, we would not have any unemployment.  Small businesses need access to capital in order to operate effectively.  This local investment movement is addressing an important need in our communities.

Traditional Tools for Investors to make Local Investments

      Direct Public Offerings

      Private Placements

      Preferred shares

      Cooperative memberships and Member loans

      Unsecured loans

      Secured loans

      Designated bank CD deposits

      Loans to local loan funds

      Direct grants

      Grant to a foundation that makes local grants

New Tools for Investors to make Local Investments

These new tools are designed to ensure the small business isn’t asked to pay more for back to the investor than they are able to... making it more likely they will succeed in their business venture.

      Prepaid products and services – You pay for what the business will sell up front.

      Convertible debt – You have an opportunity to get shares in the business or have your debt repaid at the end of the loan term.

      Royalty financing – You get a fixed percentage of sales until your loan is paid off.

Let’s Move our Money from Wall Street to Main Street!

Here are recommendations from the members of Co-op Power:

  • ·        Buy from local businesses and support PV Local First (www.pvlocalfirst.org).
  • ·        Move all of your money to your local credit union. Move your checking, savings, IRA's, money market funds.  Click here to find a credit union near you: (http://www.ncua.gov/NCUAMapping/Pages/NCUAGOVMapping.aspx)
  • ·        Work with a lawyer to create a self-directed IRA. Here’s an article Scott Reed wrote in July 2012 to help us get started: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5022110/Self%20Directed%20IRA%20article.docx
  • ·        Invest in community loan funds - Equity Trust (equitytrust.org), Franklin County CDC Loan Fund (www.fccdc.org/lending), Common Capital (www.common-capital.org), and Co-op Fund of New England (www.cooperativefund.org)
  • ·        Participate in Common Good Finance - R-Credit Program (rcredits.org)
  • ·        Join local consumer co-ops and make co-op member loans - Co-op Power (www.cooppower.coop), River Valley Market (rivervalleymarket.coop), Franklin Community Co-op )Green Fields Market and McCusker’s Market)(www.greenfieldsmarket.coop), Leverett Food Co-op
  • ·        Join investing networks - Invest Here Now (invest-here-now.wildapricot.org), Slow Money – PV Grows (www.pvgrows.net), or start your own investing club or Local Investment Opportunity Network (LION)
  • ·        Invest directly in local businesses
  • ·        Invest in targeted CD's that support local businesses. Here’s an example of Eastern Bank’s CD program for Equal Exchange in Boston: https://www.easternbank.com/site/business/banking/savings_cd/Pages/EqualExchangeCD.aspx
  • ·        Invest in our Homes with energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades.  If you haven’t received your no-cost MassSave home energy assessment yet (or you haven’t had one in the last 18 months and are ready for more work) or if you want an assessment for your church, business or another building you own, contact Co-op Power (www.cooppower.coop), Energía (energiaus.com) or the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) (www.cetonline.org).  Contact Energía or Co-op Power to get your air sealing and insulation work done, using all of the great financial incentives available now. If you’re ready for a solar installation, contact Co-op Power and get discounts from one of the solar installers in their vendor network or search for an installer NESEA’s Sustainable Green Pages (http://www.nesea.org/sgp/).
  • ·        Create Main Street projects that will build our local economies in partnership with local community development corporations, USDA Rural Development and SBA.

Great Resources

A New Foundation for Portfolio Management by Leslie Christian published in 2011 by RSF Social Finance.  This paper explores the assumptions investment advisors use to analyze investment options and recommends a new set of assumptions for today’s world.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5022110/A-New-Foundation-for-Portfolio-Management.pdf

Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman probes the future of investing -- making the case for investors to put their money into building local businesses and food and energy systems, and otherwise creating healthy regional economies that meet the stresses of a post-peak-oil world. The book tells readers how to find or develop opportunities for investing locally, explains the obstacles, and introduces readers to investors who have taken on the challenge and put their theories about local investing into action.

Here’s a transcript of a radio interview from Michael Shuman: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5022110/Shuman%20radio%20transcript%202012.webarchive

Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution by Marjorie Kelly. 

As long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing financial income for the few, our economy will be locked into endless growth and widening inequality.  But now people are experimenting with new forms of ownership, which Marjorie Kelly calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for life for many generations to come. These designs may hold the key to the deep transformation our civilization needs.

Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing by Amy Cortese

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, generating eighty percent of jobs and half of GDP. 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 thei 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”.

Our Black Year: One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy by Maggie Anderson. Maggie and John Anderson were successful African American professionals raising two daughters in a tony suburb of Chicago. But they felt uneasy over their good fortune. One problem is that most of the businesses in their communities are owned by outsiders. On January 1, 2009 the Andersons embarked on a year-long public pledge to "buy black." They thought that by taking a stand, the black community would be mobilized to exert its economic might. Drawing on economic research and social history as well as her personal story, Maggie Anderson shows why the black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.

Facilitator:  Scott Reed, Invest Here Now (invest-here-now.org), sreed@avacoda.com

Notes: Lynn Benander

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