Berkshire Business Outlook, Episode 2 — Alice Maggio Explains “BerkShares” Local Currency
As local economy continues to strengthen, Maggio says organization seeks to broaden the reach of BerkShares to encourage support of local businesses
We speak with Alice Maggio, Program Coordinator at Berkshares, Inc., fresh from her trip to the Basque region of Spain. She explains the history of local currencies in the region, and describes her optimism for the use of BerkShares on a wider basis into Berkshire County’s northern extreme.
BerkShares are a local currency for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. Federal currency is exchanged for BerkShares at six branch offices of three local banks and spent at 400 locally owned participating businesses. The circulation of this local currency encourages capital to remain within the region, building a greater affinity between the local business community and its citizens.
BerkShares, Inc. is the place-based, democratically structured non-profit organization that issues BerkShares, a local currency for the Berkshire Region. The organization 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. In addition to their Web site, be sure to keep up with the Facebook page as well.
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. This system is 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.