Creating a Sustainable Economy through Community Capital

Introduction

The global economy is undergoing tremendous changes due to growing pressures from poverty, income inequality, insecurity, and global environmental impact. We believe that our existing economic practices will fail to create a sustainable future. At the same time, we are seeing the beginnings of a tremendously hopeful economic model rooted in local ownership and community self-reliance: Community Capital. This new economic mindset is essential to creating a sustainable future for our communities and it must begin to scale to become a real economic force. In order to do so, a strategic and coordinated effort by economic, community, and business leaders will be required, along with a significant shift in public and private funding away from global corporations to local communities. All this must be done while also engaging  citizen investors in this new economy. This is the vision that we have for our economy, and getting there will require leadership.

The Time is Right for Community Capital

Historically, Americans have understood investment opportunities as purchasing stocks and bonds issued by publicly traded companies on a stock market, which effectively drains capital from communities. Taking a closer look at our communities and the places where we live and work, we see that the real drivers of our prosperity are locally owned businesses. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that small local businesses, which constitute over half our economy, are the most important creators of local income, wealth, and jobs — not to mention acting as a stabilizing force for neighborhoods. However, current laws governing investment, coupled with a lack of investor and entrepreneur education, make it difficult for the vast number of Americans to even consider investing in the local half of the economy. 

Our Vision for a New Economy

  1. Community members understand and practice local investing on a regular basis. We must educate and mobilize the American public on why and how to invest locally.
  2. Ubiquitous and pervasive tools and mechanisms are easy to use that facilitate local investing. We must promote existing as well as create new tools, institutions, and markets to facilitate local investment.
  3. Entrepreneurs understand and effectively use local capital raising tools. Educate and support entrepreneurs who seek capital from their communities.
  4. Regulators at every level are partners in the wise and safe movement of capital to local communities. Help state and federal regulators shift to a more cooperative approach to ensure fair and balanced oversight for capital formation and investor protections.
  5. Data and best practice are widely gathered, shared, and accessible that inform decision making and improve practice. We need methodologies and support to gather, evaluate, and share state and national examples of best practices of reform, citizen engagement, and financial innovation.
  6. Leaders and champions from around the world have ways and places to connect and learn from each other. Connect and support local investment pioneers around the world.

We are committed to pursuing this agenda by working together – by openly sharing ideas, building on and acknowledging each others’ work, and welcoming new advocates whenever possible. We know that the local investment revolution will arrive sooner when communities and organizations share vision, when we build tangible tools and mechanisms, and when we celebrate one another’s successes.