A Report on our July Meeting: Presentations from Small Business Owners

The Berkshire-Columbia Investment Network : Supporting the Local Economy through an Association of Investors and Borrowers

On July 10th,2013, the Berkshire-Columbia Investment Network had its first regular meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Great Barrington, Mass. About twenty people attended, most of them small investors anxious to help support the development of local business in the Berkshire-Taconic region of western Massachusetts and adjacent Columbia County, New York. Sauerkraut Seth, who developed his experience at the Hawthorne Valley Farm in Harlemville, N.Y., presented his product and his plans for expanding production. He was looking for about $50,000 to acquire a production facility and new machinery for fermenting cabbage. A local investor had already indicated she was willing to provide about $20,000. to help him expand his business. Seth was followed by David Frost, an engineer, seeking funding for his injection plastic molding business for which he was in the process of seeking a patent. He could foresee the growth of local production and saw the opportunity for a unique blending of the arts and industrial design and production in the Berkshires. Steve Nelson, a local businessman with many years of experience was interested in developing a local solar leasing company, pointing out that most solar leasing companies are large California based organizations who install solar equipment for free, sending electricity to the grid, and take their earnings out of state. Why not keep that capital here as well as expand local employment he asked. The last presenter was Michael Tesoro whose pasta sauce was a local favorite in Guido’s and other specialty food stores in the area. He too wanted to expand production and had recently negotiated a lease with the city of North Adams for an unused school building. He was looking for about $400,000 and was willing to consider giving an investor an equity position in the business.

Each presenter was faced with a host of questions and each responded quickly and well. Some had received help from Keith Girouad, the director of the Small Business Development Center in Pittsfield, whose task is to foster the development of small business in the region.

The Berkshire-Columbia Investment Network does not make any investment decisions as a group, nor does it recommend any particular investment. It sees itself as a matchmaker, or a conversation facilitator, replacing what used to exist in small towns and local communities, extended family networks and local banks that served local business and local entrepreneurs. It is in the process of becoming a membership association.The idea for creating a platform or a conversation between small organizations seeking funding and small or medium sized investors grew out of a set of talks between the members of the organizing group, Rich Lumma of Spencertown, NY,  Chris Schaefer, Robin Zeamer and Maia Conty of Great Barrington, MA and Peter Buckbee and Marc Clifton of Philmont, NY.  In particular we do not trust the large banks and Wall Street, where tired of not receiving any interest from our savings, and felt that a relationship should be created between local businesses needing funding and local investors wanting to support a local sustainable economy. The idea that we wanted to know how our money was working in the world, to connect our will and intentions to a transparent financial process which served the common good was also important to us. We were inspired by the LION ( Local Investment Opportunity Network ) initiative in Port Townsend, Washington, which over the last five years has put over 2 million dollars to work in their local economy.

Please contact one of our founding members for more information and about membership. You may download an Investor Member Application ($10 annual fee) or if you are a small owner you may download a Business Loan Application ($10 fee). 

Christopher Schaefer

Meeting Announcement

For the

Berkshire-Columbia Investment Network (BCIN)

In Great Barrington, MA

Wednesday, July 10
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM Reception
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Meeting
South Berkshire Friends Meeting House, 280 State Road

This will be a meeting of investors and business people.  The purpose is to positively impact the economies of Berkshire and Columbia Counties by fostering  local investment in local businesses.

For investors:

  • Are you uneasy about where  at least some of your money is invested?
  • Would you like to have a positive impact on local businesses you know?

For business owners:

  • Can you sell all you produce and need to improve and expand?
  • Have an idea that would provide a needed service and create jobs?

The July 10th meeting will be an opportunity for business owners to present, investors to listen, and both to connect when the chemistry is right.  There will be a $10 annual fee to become an investor member of BCIN and a $10 one-time fee for entrepreneurs to present to BCIN members.

For more information:

Investors contact :                Chris Schaefer   (413) 528-2319

Business owners contact:     Rich Lumma      (518) 392-2012

www.berkcolumbiainvest.org

Peter Buckbee, Maia Conti, Rich Lumma, Christopher Schaefer and Robin Zeamer are the organizing group members and will be hosting this meeting.

 

Meeting Announcements

OUR FIRST INFORMATIONAL MEETINGS
will be held:

In Harlemville, NY  

Friday,  June 7, at 5:00 PM, Farm Learning Center, HVA
(sponsored by the Hawthorne Valley Center for Social Research)
and

In Great Barrington, MA
Sunday, June 9, at 3:15PM, Friends Meeting House, 280 State Road

 The Berkshire-Columbia Investment Network is an association of individuals seeking to promote a sustainable local economy by bringing together individual lenders and borrowers.  It is based on the successful model of LION (Local Investment Opportunity Network), existing in Port Townsend, WA, and in other communities.

These meetings are designed as informational forums to introduce our initiative to the communities, encourage stimulating dialogue and address questions.

Peter Buckbee, Maia Conti, Rich Lumma, Christopher Schaefer and Robin Zeamer are the organizing group members and will be hosting these two meetings.

 Control your money and support local enterprise!

Come on either day. Call Christopher Schaefer at 413-528- 2319 for more details.