Berkshares

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Template:Infobox Currency BerkShares is a local currency that circulates in the Berkshires region of Massachusetts. They were launched September 29, 2006 <ref>Official press release</ref> by BerkShares Inc. with research and development assistance from the E.F. Schumacher Society. The BerkShares website lists over 300 businesses in Berkshire County that accept the currency.<ref>List of Participating Businesses</ref> In 19 months 1.5 million BerkShares had been issued from eleven branch offices of five local banks <ref>Participating Banks</ref>. The bills were designed by John Isaacs <ref>Description of currency</ref>and are printed by Excelsior Printing on special paper with incorporated security features from Crane & Co. <ref>About the designer</ref>

How it works

BerkShares are a local currency designed and issued for the Berkshire region of Massachusetts. According to the BerkShares website [1] residents purchase BerkShares at 90 cents on the dollar from one of eleven branches of five local participating banks. Businesses then accept BerkShares at full dollar value, differentiating the business as one supporting the BerkShares values' of local economy, ecology, sustainability, and community, and creating a ten percent discount incentive for those using the currency. BerkShares can then be used by accepting businesses to purchase goods and services from other participating businesses, make change, pay salaries, or support local non-profits, increasing the local economic multiplier effect and keeping value recirculating in the region. If businesses have an excess of BerkShares, they may also be returned to a participating bank for an equivalent of 90 cents per BerkShare.

Over 70 area non-profits [6] currently accept BerkShares for donations. Participating banks provide BerkShares with eleven brick and mortar offices where residents can exchange dollars for BerkShares and receive more information on the project.

Denominations

BerkShares are printed in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 BerkShare denominations, and feature images of local people.

The purpose of BerkShares

The BerkShares program seeks to foster collaboration among producers, retail businesses, non-profit organizations, service providers and consumers. It is an attempt to strengthen the local economy. The program also seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of local enconomies and to foster optimism for the prospect of gaining local economic self-sufficiency.

The project seeks to assure that a high percentage of each dollar spent will remain circulating in the community [7]. This increase in community capital creates a positive environment for new entrepreneurial ventures. It is hoped that new businesses sprouting from the resulting local generation of wealth will replace imported goods with locally produced items, which are more environmentally sustainable in that they do not need to be shipped over vast distances by the use of fossil fuels.

Emulation and Media Attention

A number of other local currency initiatives, such as the Totnes pound are currently being developed build upon the BerkShares model. The BerkShares currency has attracted international media attention. The New York Times <ref>New York Times Article</ref>, The Times, ABC World News <ref>ABC coverage</ref>, CBS <ref>CBS Coverage</ref>, BBC <ref>BBC Coverage</ref>, Reuters <ref>Reuters Article</ref>, French TV1 <ref>French TV1 Article</ref>, NTV Russia <ref>NTV Russia coverage</ref>, Business Week <ref>Business Week Article</ref>, and Yahoo News have all carried prominent stories on BerkShares.

References

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This article is based on text from Wikipedia, available under the GFDL.

External links

This article is based on text from Wikipedia, available under the GFDL.