Local Currency Brings Business to Community
Just ten weeks after BerkShares made their debut on the streets and in the
cash registers of southern Berkshire County, MA, trade in this
model local currency has been brisk. BerkShares, Inc., the organization
sponsoring the project, estimates that 333,000 BerkShares have already been
purchased from the four participating banks. Much of that has already gone
into the hands of the 188 participating local merchants and service
providers, who, in turn, have spent the currency at other participating
BerkShares are issued in five denominations: 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, and 50s. They
are beautifully produced bills that celebrate local heroes, landscapes, and
the work of local artists. They are designed by John Isaacs of John Isaacs
Design and printed at Excelsior Printing using special security paper from
Crane and Co.–all businesses located in the Berkshire region.
But BerkShares are even more powerful than they are beautiful. Every
BerkShare spent helps keep community assets from leaving the Berkshires for
far-off places. Every BerkShare spent means more money in the hands of
Berkshire businesses. And as the BerkShares keep circulating, the effect is
An estimated 3,000 people have been using BerkShares on a regular basis for
food, movie tickets, clothing, books, music, and a variety of services from
legal advice to landscaping, from car repair to carpentry. The BerkShares
project has given them a powerful impetus to shop locally whenever possible.
In an age of global commerce and internet shopping, BerkShares, Inc. has
found a powerful way to strengthen the local economy of its home region. It
has reformed the way many Berkshire business owners and residents of the
region think about their local economy. It has helped educate the Berkshire
community on why shopping locally matters. And, most importantly, it has set
in motion a revolution that can make the Berkshires not only a beautiful and
wholesome place to live, but one where locally owned businesses thrive, and
where economic self-sufficiency can be nurtured as an alternate model to the
nameless, faceless global economy.
BerkShares, Inc. is cosponsored by the E. F. Schumacher Society,
www.smallisbeautiful.org and the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce,
www.southernberkshirecommerce.com. For more information, visit www.berkshares.org.