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  • November 13, 2016 10:12 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    You're invited to participate in Cider Monday on November 28, 2016.

    Cider Monday is a direct and delicious antidote to Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Locally owned businesses participating in Cider Monday will offer community members a warm welcome and a cup of delicious cider in appreciation for spending their dollars at independent businesses.

    "Customers are promised cider and smiling servers that will not crash," shared Willard Williams, co-owner of the Toadstool Bookshops and founder of Cider Monday.  "As always, we'll offer personal service, advice and the opportunity to touch and try items -- with no logins or passwords necessary!  Join us in taking a bite out of Cyber Monday."

    Cider Monday, already celebrated in stores from New England to Illinois, is now an international event. Participating businesses will be listed on Monadnock Buy Local's Cider Monday webpage.

    Businesses that wish to sign up for this year's Cider Monday can contact Jen Risley from Monadnock Buy Local at monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com or 603-499-7950.  For more information about Cider Monday, please contact Willard Williams at The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH at 603-924-3543 or books@ptoad.com.

    Cider Monday is part of the Shift Your Shopping movement.  From November 1 to December 31, groups like Monadnock Buy Local advocate for individuals to choose local and independent businesses for more of their holiday purchases.


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  • October 24, 2016 7:43 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News

    November 1st marks the start of our sixth annual Shift Your Shopping season in the Monadnock Region.  Something new this year: We’re kicking off the season with a Shift Your Shopping Launch Party at the Farmers’ Market of Keene on Gilbo Avenue this Saturday, October 29th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Come pick up a hot off the press copy of this year’s Monadnock Buy Local Guide.

    All Monadnock Buy Local members (citizen members included!) who pick up guides on the 29th will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win one of five $100 gift certificates to the Monadnock Buy Local Member business of their choice.  Not yet a citizen member?  Learn more at monadnocklocal.org/citizen.

    We'll also have free Plaid Friday, Cider Monday, Small Business Saturday and Shift Your Shopping swag for you to take -- including our new Plaid Friday temporary tattoos.  Finally, we’ll have Keene Downtown Group's Local First Night bags.  Pick one up and take it to participating businesses on November 5th for 20% off one item.  See you at the Shift Your Shopping Launch Party!

    More About Shift Your Shopping

    From November 1st to December 31st each year, Monadnock Buy Local works extra hard to ensure that your spending matches the community values you support.  To make our efforts strong, we participate in the Shift Your Shopping movement.  This nationwide movement encourages you to support job creation and economic growth through your holiday purchases at locally owned and independent businesses.  From your Thanksgiving meal to your New Year’s celebration, are you ready to Shift Your Shopping?

    How to Participate

    Take the Shift Your Shopping pledge to shift at least 10% of your holiday purchases from non-local businesses to locally owned businesses.  You can take the pledge at the Shift Your Shopping Launch Party on October 29th or online.

    “I think it is important to support efforts like Shift Your Shopping because every little bit helps in a small business,” shared Tim Pipp, owner of Beeze Tees Screen Printing in Keene. “We are a close-knit community and if we can turn a few people to shopping locally it impacts the community in a bigger way.”

    What are the bigger impacts that Tim is talking about?  When you spend your dollars at locally owned retail businesses in the Monadnock Region four times more money returns to our local economy compared to chain retailers.  Spend a dollar at an independent business and 62 cents returns to our local economy, spend it at a chain store and 13 cents returns.

    The money that returns recirculates through our economy, generating ripple effects that create new jobs, charitable contributions and community prosperity.  If everyone shifted just 10% of their purchases from national chains to locally owned retailers, we would return $27 million to our regional economy annually.

    Plaid Friday: Save the Date

    Shift Your Shopping includes our signature Plaid Friday Event on November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving.  Citizens wear plaid to show their support for our local economy.  Independent businesses serve as Plaid Friday Hubs, acting as Shift Your Shopping ambassadors while taking photographs of shoppers for our Plaid Friday Collage.


    “I love Plaid Friday -- it’s so easy for businesses to participate,” said Shannon Hundley from the Hannah Grimes Center.  “When I worked at Your Kitchen Store, I’d keep my cell phone close by and snap a photo of everyone in plaid.  With their permission, I shared their photo on social media.  Monadnock Buy Local gathered the photos into an inspiring online collage -- one that keeps growing year after year.”

    Wear plaid on Friday, November 25th to show your support for our local economy and commitment to buying from locally owned businesses this holiday season.  Stay updated on all the Plaid Friday happenings.

    We’re also celebrating Small Business Saturday and Cider Monday. Stay tuned for more details about these two events.

    This year's Shift Your Shopping and Plaid Friday sponsors include Badger Balm, Beeze Tees, Bellows-Nichols Insurance, Bergeron Construction, CC&D's Kitchen, Cheshire Horse, Gilsum Freedom Motors, Green Energy Options, Hannah Grimes Marketplace, Howard's Leather, Jeni Skin Care, Korvin Appliance, MB Massage Studio, Monadnock Food Co-op, Nest: Mother Child Home, One Stop Country Pet Supply, Paragon Digital Marketing, Shree's Kitchen, Steele's Stationers, Stonewall Farm, Ted's Shoe & Sport, Walpole Mountain View Winery, Walpole Valley Farms, The Works Bakery Cafe, and Yoga with Josephine.

    Please join us by voting with your dollars this holiday season.  Together we’ll create a true holiday gift to our community -- one that will keep on giving throughout the New Year.

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  • October 22, 2016 8:12 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    Join Toadstool Bookshops and Monadnock Buy Local for Cider Monday

    Cider Monday is a direct and delicious assault on the Monday after Thanksgiving, infamously known as Cyber Monday. Locally owned businesses participating in Cider Monday will offer community members a warm welcome and a cup of delicious cider on Monday, November 28, 2016.

    Locally owned stores everywhere are encouraged to join in. It’s simple, be in your store that Monday to greet everyone with some cider and a heartfelt thanks for shopping at independent businesses.

    "Customers are promised cider and smiling servers that will not crash," shared Willard Williams, co-owner of the Toadstool Bookshops.  "As always, we'll offer personal service, advice and the opportunity to touch and try items -- with no logins or passwords necessary!"

    Cider Monday, already celebrated in stores from New England to Illinois, is now an international event. Join us in taking a bite out of Cyber Monday.

    To sign your business up for this year's Cider Monday, contact Jen Risley from Monadnock Buy Local at monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com or 603-499-7950.

    For more information about Cider Monday, contact Willard Williams at The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH at 603-924-3543 or books@ptoad.com.
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  • October 13, 2016 6:08 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    The 7th Annual Feast on This! Film Festival features movies that educate our community about the diverse issues affecting our national, regional and local food and agricultural systems.

    Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition chose films that will spark conversation and action around building stronger local, regional and sustainable food systems.

    FEAST ON THIS! FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

    Just Eat It

    6pm, Tuesday November 1, 2016 - Peterborough Community Theater

    We all love food. As a society we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing nearly 50% of food in the trash? 

    The film will be followed by a discussion led by Hazel Gershfield, Gleaning Coordinator for Hillsborough County.  She will talk about local efforts to save food destined for the compost or trash.
    Hosted by The Cornucopia Project


    Polyfaces

    7pm, Monday, November 7, 2016 - The Orchard School, Alstead

    Joel Salatin's no chemical farm feeds 6000 families. How can we make a change?
    Hosted by Village Roots CSA

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016

    NO FILM - GO ROCK THE VOTE!

    The Starfish Throwers

    Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - Monadnock Regional High School. Food drive for The Community Kitchen => Shown in classes at Monadnock Regional High School (not open to the public).

    Worlds apart, a five-star chef, a twelve year-old girl, and a retired schoolteacher discover how their individual efforts to feed the poor ignite a movement in the fight against hunger.
    Community discussion led by The Community Kitchen

    Nourish

    7pm, Thursday, November 10, 2016 - Ahavas Achim Synagogue, Keene, NH

    Beautiful visuals and inspiring stories, the Nourish film illustrates the relationship to food from a global perspective to personal action steps. It illustrates how food connects to such issues as biodiversity, climate change, public health and social justice.
    Hosted by The Sustainability Project

    Symphony of Soil

    7pm, Friday, November 11, 2016 - Antioch University New England

    Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance of soil.
    Hosted by Community Garden Connections

    The Greenhorns

    7pm, Saturday, November 12, 2016 - Keene State College Alumni Center

    This 40-minute documentary explores the lives of America's young farming community - its spirit, practices, and needs. 
    Hosted by the Monadnock Food Co-op and Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition

    Forgotten Farms

    Sunday November 13, 2016 - Stonewall Farm

    New England's dairy farms remain the backbone of the region's agriculture but fight for survival in an age of artisan cheese and baby greens. Forgotten Farms examines the class divisions and cultural divides in New England's farm and food communities. Featuring NH Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Lorraine Merrill

    5pm - 6:15pm - Meet and greet with filmmakers, David Simons and Sarah Gardner. Locally produced hors d'oeuvres and live music!
    6:30pm - Screening of Forgotten Farms
    Hosted by Stonewall Farm, Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition and Monadnock Buy Local

    PLEASE SHARE!
    /FeastonThisFestival
    @MFCCoalition
    Email

    Tickets:
    Suggested donation at each venue: $10.
    All proceeds underwrite festival expenses.

    THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS!

    Main Festival Sponsors
    C & S Wholesale Grocers
    Anonymous

    Film Sponsors
    W. S. Badger
    Yankee Farm Credit
    Savings Bank of Walpole

    Local Food Heroes!
    Andrew Jellie, Farm Family Insurance
    Edward Jones - Allen Mendelson
    NBT Bank
    Green Energy Options
    Monadnock Buy Local

    Sponsored by the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition and
    The Monadnock Food Co-op.

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  • October 07, 2016 9:11 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    Come to the The Farmers' Market of Keene on Gilbo Avenue (across from Lindy's Diner) from 9am - 1pm on Saturday, October 29th and pick up your hot off the press 2016-2017 Monadnock Buy Local Guides. We're also handing out the Keene Downtown - Keene Downtown Group's Local First Night bags to all community members.

     All Monadnock Buy Local members (Citizen Members included!) who pick up guides on the 29th will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win one of five $100 gift certificates to the
    MBL Member business of their choice.

    We'll also have free Plaid Friday 2016, Cider Monday, Small Business Saturday and Shift Your Shopping swag for you to take -- including our new Plaid Friday temporary tattoos.  The Shift Your Shopping Launch Party is sponsored by Paragon Digital Marketing.

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  • October 01, 2016 8:29 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)


    Monadnock Buy Local invites all locally owned businesses to participate in this year's Shift Your Shopping Promotion running from November 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.  Shift Your Shopping includes our signature community event called Plaid Friday on Friday, November 25, 2016.

    During the winter holiday season, Monadnock Buy Local works extra hard to ensure that our spending matches the community values we support.  To make our 'think local first' message stronger, we participate in the nationwide Shift Your Shopping campaign.  This movement encourages citizens to support job creation and economic growth through their holiday purchases at locally owned and independent businesses.

    "I think it is important to support efforts like Shift Your Shopping because every little bit helps in a small business," said Tim Pipp, owner of Beeze Tees in Keene, NH.  "We are a close-knit community and if we can turn a few people to shop locally it impacts the community in a bigger way. Every dollar spent in a local establishment will come back into the community if we get more businesses and shoppers to support Shift Your Shopping."

    Participation is free. Monadnock Buy Local will share promotional materials on its website that any business is welcome to adapt and use.  Businesses are encouraged to connect with their customers and let them know they will be open and celebrating Plaid Friday on November 25th.  Many business owners ask their staff to dress in plaid and others offer special deals to their customers to thank them for their loyalty.

    This year's Shift Your Shopping and Plaid Friday sponsors include Badger Balm, Beeze Tees, Bellows-Nichols Insurance, Bergeron Construction, CC&D's Kitchen, Cheshire Horse, Green Energy Options, Hannah Grimes Marketplace, Howard's Leather, Jeni Skin Care, Korvin Appliance, MB Massage Studio, Monadnock Food Co-op, Nest: Mother Child Home, One Stop Country Pet Supply, Paragon Digital Marketing, Shree's Kitchen, Steele's Stationers, Stonewall Farm, Ted's Shoe & Sport, Walpole Mountain View Winery, Walpole Valley Farms, The Works Bakery Cafe, and Yoga with Josephine.

    Shift Your Shopping promotional tools, social media posts and other updates will be posted at  monadnocklocal.org/shiftyourshopping.

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  • September 28, 2016 6:03 PM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    New Hampshire: Essential Findings

    In 2015, Amazon sold $272.3 million worth of retail goods statewide.

    That is the equivalent of 189 retail storefronts, 0.7 million square feet of commercial space, which might have paid $3.6 million in property taxes.

    A total of more than $3.6 million in revenue lost to state and local governments, an effective subsidy of $6.96 for every household in New Hampshire.

    Amazon also operated 0.1 million square feet of distribution space in New Hampshire, employing roughly 95 workers.

    Even counting all the jobs in Amazon distribution centers, Amazon sales produced a net loss of 1,541 retail jobs in New Hampshire.

    Read the full study here.


    To learn more about this study and the organizations behind it, please contact:

    For the American Booksellers Association
    Dan Cullen, Senior Strategy Officer
    914.406.7560
    or dan@Bookweb.org
    www.Bookweb.org

    For Civic Economics
    Matt Cunningham, Partner
    773.251.5926 or
    mattc@CivicEconomics.com
    www.CivicEconomics.com

  • September 28, 2016 5:46 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    The quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” resonates with me, but what if we adapted that quote to read “Invest in the change you wish to see in the world?”  What do you want to see more of in our community?  Who or what could you invest in to make this change happen?

    Your next thought might be, I don’t have that kind of money … well, please hold that thought!  Let me quickly summarize the challenge that small business owners face when it comes to finding the money they need to “be the change.”

    In 2015, the National Small Business Association noted that 27 percent of small businesses were unable to access the capital they needed to fund the growth of their business.  Traditional lenders reject 80% of small business loan applications.  Closer to home, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NHSBDC) shared that 45% of all the businesses they work with are looking for capital at any one time.

    “Often these companies are not quite ready for conventional financing [through a bank], or need only a small amount of debt or equity leveraged by their own personal investment to start or grow the business,” said Nancy DuBosque from NHSBDC.  “We see entrepreneurs struggle to financially ‘bootstrap’ their business at these early stages, or fail to grow in the absence of sources of flexible and smaller capital investments.”

    Okay, now back to that thought, I don’t have enough money to invest.  On one side of the equation is you -- wanting to support enterprises that are “making the change” -- and on the other side is the entrepreneur ready to make the change happen, if only they had the capital to launch or grow their effort.  Enter crowdfunding, the practice of raising funds to support a project or business from a large number of people. 

    Perhaps you’ve heard of rewards-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo -- where individuals collectively give small amounts of money to support a business idea and, in return, receive a small gift.  Now there are efforts to “localize” crowdfunding in the Monadnock Region -- allowing you to give just a small amount of your hard-earned dollars to make change happen.


    The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock is one locally based crowdfunding platform that Monadnock Buy Local is helping to start.  We want to use the power of crowdfunding to cultivate a stronger ecosystem of investors, service providers and local economy champions investing in a local, green and fair economy in the Monadnock Region.    During its pilot phase, TLC Monadnock will launch campaigns that support enterprises based in Keene, Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Swanzey and Winchester.  If successful, we’ll expand access to enterprises throughout the region.

    TLC Monadnock is a collective effort of Southwest Region Planning Commission, New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, Monadnock Buy Local, Hannah Grimes Center, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation.

    Another crowdfunding opportunity, where you loan instead of give money to an enterprise, is Kiva.  Kiva provides small business owners access to $10,000 loans with no interest or fees.  Individuals provide interest-free loans of $25 or more to a business owner on Kiva.  Individual loans are aggregated until the borrower’s full loan request is fulfilled.  Over time, the business pays back the loan and the investor can decide to take their money out of Kiva or reinvest it into another business.

    While Kiva works internationally, the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in Keene is helping to connect local businesses to this opportunity.  Hannah Grimes advises entrepreneurs interested in securing funding through Kiva and supports them through the application and fundraising process.   To learn more about Kiva, contact Jake Nonweiler at Hannah Grimes at 603-352-5063 or financing@hannahgrimes.com or visit kiva.org.

    "Given the often tricky financing climate in New Hampshire, especially for beginning entrepreneurs, the Hannah Grimes Center is thrilled to be working with Kiva to offer 0% crowdfunded loans up to $10K and with Monadnock Buy Local to support the launch of The Local Crowd Monadnock in our region,” shared Jake Nonweiler from Hannah Grimes Center.  “The opportunity we have to shift the financing opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Monadnock Region is promising, exciting and inspirational."

    Stay connected to local crowdfunding efforts in the Monadnock Region at monadnocklocal.org/crowdfunding.   Help us all be the change.

  • September 27, 2016 6:20 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    By Liz Gray, Live Free and Start


    We all have a stake in New Hampshire’s economic future. We all want strong communities and a more-vibrant economy.  A growing number of like-minded individuals and institutions are putting their dollars to work in their communities - creating tangible social impact while earning a financial return.

    You’re invited to join Live Free and Start, the NH Charitable Foundation and the NH Community Loan Fund for an early evening event where current and prospective investors can come together to explore opportunities with impact investing and to learn how you can invest in the people and businesses of the Granite State.

    RSVP today!

    A recent article on Forbes.com noted that questions about impact investing have undergone a significant shift, from “What is impact investing?” to “How do I do impact investing?”

    Three New Hampshire institutions−Live Free & Start, the N.H. Charitable Foundation and the N.H. Community Loan Fund−have teamed up to answer that question for investors and prospective investors across the Granite State. The fifth in their series of free public forums, Investing in New Hampshire, will be held at Antioch University New England, 40 Avon St., Keene on Oct. 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
     
    “A successful startup ecosystem and strong business climate require, among other things, access to capital,” said Mark Kaplan, a Live Free & Start Advisory Council member and chair of its Capital Access committee.
     
    “This focus by LFS comes as the state’s five incubators and other economic development groups are creating a vibrant startup ecosystem and angel groups have a desire to become more active. These seminars will educate people about opportunities to invest in New Hampshire, making capital more available to entrepreneurs.”
     
    Each forum features representatives of the three presenting organizations describing what they offer to impact investors:
     

    • Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft and Live Free & Start Advisory Council member
    • John Hamilton, VP of Economic Opportunity at the N.H. Community Loan Fund
    • Kevin Peterson, Senior Program Officer at the N.H. Charitable Foundation

     
    “Live Free & Start is not an investor or conduit for investment, but it can stimulate and catalyze activities leading to investment,” remarked Kaplan. “The first step in doing that was a very-well-attended angel conference that has led to new members in angel groups. The next step are these forums, which take a broader view of the opportunities to invest with impact in N.H. through other means as well.”
     
    Hamilton said the Community Loan Fund has welcomed impact investments for more than three decades. “Our options range from Opportunity NH Investments, which pay fixed-rate returns and support job creation and retention, affordable housing, child care and other vital community services, to potentially higher-yield co-investments in growing businesses,” he said.
     
    “We made our very first impact investment in 1971, by providing a loan to preserve historic buildings in Harrisville, N.H.,” said Peterson. “Working alongside our grant and scholarship dollars, impact investing creates an opportunity to make sizeable, long-term investments to strengthen N.H. communities.”
     
    “Through our impact-investment program, we can invest philanthropic capital in innovative business ventures and solid nonprofit organizations aligned with our mission to improve community well-being.”
     
    The presentations run from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a networking reception at which attendees can ask questions. All are free and open to prospective and current investors and to philanthropists. This event is for educational purposes only; it’s not intended for individuals or businesses seeking investment or capital.
     
    Registration is required, at livefreeandstart.com/nh-investing-forums/.
     
    ----------------------------------
     
    About Live Free & Start
    Live Free and Start is a joint initiative of the Governor’s Office, the NH Business Finance Authority and the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development. The initiative is run by our State’s Director of Entrepreneurship, Liz Gray, and supported by the LFS Advisory Council, a group of 14 dedicated entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Together they are working with ecosystem partners across the state to make New Hampshire an even better place for innovation-based businesses to start, connect, and succeed. livefreeandstart.com
     
    About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
    The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation was created in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire, and is dedicated to strengthening communities across the Granite State. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 1,700 philanthropic funds created by generous families, individuals and businesses, and awards $32 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation invests charitable assets for today and tomorrow; works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving; supports critical work happening in New Hampshire communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. www.nhcf.org
     
    About the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
    The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund turns investments into loans and education to create opportunity and transform lives. We collaborate with a wide range of donors and investors, and with business, nonprofit and government partners, to provide the financing and support people need to have affordable homes, have quality jobs and child care, and become financially independent. Established in 1983, the Community Loan Fund was one of the first Community Development Financial Institutions in the nation, and has received industry awards and recognition for social impact, financial strength and performance. www.communityloanfund.org


    Learn more and register for an Investing in NH Forum event here.

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  • September 13, 2016 5:21 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

    By Alice Wendel Funk, Originally Published in The Business Journal of Greater Keene, Brattleboro & Peterborough

    There’s a buzz about rebuilding the economy in southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire. The buzz is coming from “Pollinators,” a group of rural community promoters determined to nurture our local economy.

    Pollinators gather

    “A ‘pollinator’ is a self-financing enterprise committed to boosting local business,” explained Michael Shuman to 75 people who attended his Local Economy Solutions and Pollinator Enterprises Workshop in April, sponsored by Monadnock Buy Local. Shuman, an author, attorney and local economist, gave inspiration to local business leaders for developing, launching and setting into motion their own pollinator businesses. He is the author/co-author of nine books, including The Local Economy Solution; Local Dollars, Local Sense; The Small Mart Revolution; and Going Local.

    The idea is that economic development partnerships, or so-called “pollinator enterprises,” should focus on nurturing locally owned businesses.

    “In nature, pollinators — like bees, butterflies or bats — carry pollen from plant to plant, and they instinctively know that the intermixing of these pollens nourishes the entire ecosystem,” explains Shuman. “Pollinator businesses similarly carry the best elements of one local business to another, thereby fertilizing all local businesses and creating a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

    A healthy local economy is essential for a vibrant community. A “pollinator” allows the community to undertake one or more of the five key economic development functions including planning, purchasing, people, partnerships and purse.

    “When bees instinctively do their job, they give rise to so much that we all benefit,” notes Jennifer Risley, executive director of Monadnock Buy Local, a nonprofit organization that helps nurture local businesses. “That’s the key idea with Pollinator Enterprises.”

    TLC for our region

    Shuman’s seminar explained the strategy and inspired local leaders to become involved with The Local Crowd Project. The Local Crowd (TLC), a Laramie, Wyoming-based company, received a Small Business Innovation Research grant in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish 30 demonstration sites, designed to educate rural communities to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem and spur local investments.

    During TLC’s test period, two communities in Wyoming used the program and raised more than $12,000 for four local businesses in 30 days.

    The USDA has now granted a Phase II award which includes 10 communities to participate, including the Monadnock Region. Other rural communities working together within this phase are Golden Hills, Iowa; Goshen, Indiana; Oregon, Illinois; Sauk Valley Region, Illinois; and Spoon River, Illinois; while Bozeman, Montana; Laramie, Wyoming; and Teton Valley, Idaho are ready to launch their platforms.

    “We are pleased to have such a strong group of dedicated and visionary communities coming in as our second group of demonstration sites,” says Diane Wolverton, co-founder and CEO of The Local Crowd. These communities will learn strategies to buy, invest and shop locally to help increase their economy.

    Crowdfunding or raising funds

    “We see the TLC crowdfunding tool as the perfect opportunity for us to launch a ‘pollinator enterprise’ in our region,” says Risley. “This project is exactly the kind of work we hoped to inspire with our pollinator enterprise event (in April) with Michael Shuman.”

    According to the National Small Business Association, 27 percent of small businesses were unable to access adequate capital in 2015.

    “Pollinator businesses similarly carry the best elements of one local business to another, thereby fertilizing all local businesses and creating a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem.” — Michael Shuman

    Crowdfunding, or raising funds to support a project or business from a large number of people, is a viable alternative for entrepreneurs to fund their own businesses. This growth will lead to wealth and health of a community.

    Risley adds that Shuman’s visit also brought more awareness to Monadnock Buy Local’s work and their vision and mission; in fact, their membership grew 13 percent this year.

    Loyalty card

    As part of becoming more of a “pollinator” in the region, Monadnock Buy Local is exploring the feasibility of launching a loyalty card for the Monadnock Region. This card can offer gifts and discounts to users who spend their dollars at locally owned businesses, says Risley. The organization is researching loyalty card programs that will make that back-end of loyalty card endeavor easy for all participants. One program on her radar is called Supportland, which boasts a network of 150 independent businesses and 80,000 users who have collectively shifted $8 million of their spending to locally owned businesses.

    “Over the years, we’ve received a number of requests for a gift card that can be used at any locally owned business in our region,” says Risley. The Keene Downtown Group expressed a lot of interest in a program like this, so we’re really optimistic that it will be well received by both residents and business owners.”

    Fighting economic decline in region

    The Green Economy Innovation Hub is another example of a pollinator enterprise with a vision for sustainable economic growth, which was spurred by the closure of Entergy Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, in Vernon, Vermont, at the end of 2014. More than 600 employees were laid off, magnifying the region’s economic decline.

    “The closure of this facility truly affected the region, including Cheshire (N.H.), Franklin (Mass.) as well as Windham (Vt.) counties,” notes Laura Sibilia, director of economic development at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC).


    The BDCC and the Southeast Vermont Economic Development Strategy (SeVEDS) received more than a half a million dollars in federal and state investments to pursue the “Green Economy Innovation Hub” to unite assets and build sustainability and resilience that will become a model for other rural communities nationally and internationally.

    “It will take five years to develop this,” says Sibilia. “We will help the government understand what value of investing is needed in this region.”

    A green hub

    Kristin Mehalick, SeVEDS project manager at the BDCC says that the federally funded EDA grant has three parts. First, the group will conduct a Green Economy Innovation Hub and Building and Services Industry cluster analysis of the tristate region; this is expected to be completed by November 2016. The purpose of the analysis would be to pinpoint the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

    The second phase will conduct a feasibility study of the entrepreneurs in this area.

    “We need to know if there is a potential for an accelerator in this region,” says Mehalick.

    The third part of the EDA grant is to work with all of the planning commissions within Cheshire, Franklin and Windham Counties to come up with strategies to improve their local economies.

    “We have some real champions as partners,” adds Mehalick. Abigail E. Abrash Walton, director of the Center for Climate Preparedness at Antioch University New England in Keene, and Kari Gaunt, director of sustainability at Keene State College, will be part of the leadership team.

    “We’re doing our homework for the business sector,” says Sibilia. “We’re looking at opportunities for new businesses and expanding businesses.” This local initiative will attract talent, financial capital, manufacturers, consulting firms and visitors into the region.

    Despite the fact that the economy within the region looks bleak now, these busy bees are helping pollinate our area to return the riches and soundness of our rural communities.

    “If done correctly, economic development could bring a community more jobs, more wealth, a larger tax base and greater prosperity,” says Shuman.

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The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431

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