Americans’ long-term savings in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds and life insurance funds total about $30 trillion. But not even 1 percent of these savings touch local small business – even though small businesses are responsible for roughly half the jobs and the output in the private economy!
Looking at this locally, over $7 billion Lake County dollars are leaking away from our community and into Wall Street through our long-term savings habits. Imagine if we could reclaim only 1 percent of this money and invest it into our local businesses. What difference do you think $70 million would make towards revitalizing our local economy?
Archaic and outdated regulations are standing in the way of local investing. These were put in place by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after the Great Depression of the 20th century, and were designed to protect the uneducated and ill-informed public against unscrupulous schemes.
These rules also prevent people from investing privately in a business opportunity unless they are already in relationship with the owner of the enterprise.
In several cities, supporters of the local economy movement have found a way to help people meet SEC rules by bringing community members into relationship via fun social and educational gatherings called LIONs – Local Investing Opportunity Networks.
Essentially, a LION is little more than the way business used to be done: Your neighbor owned the bakery down the street and needed some money to expand. You had some available cash and knew he was good for the loan, so you agreed to invest in her business.
On Monday, June 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thrive Lake County ( http://thrivelakecounty.org ) will hold an informational meeting about the Lake County LION (Local Investing Opportunity Network).
I will explain a bit more about a LION – what it is and what it is not. Richard Cooper, chief executive officer of Mendo Lake Credit Union, will give a short explanation of what the credit union is doing to facilitate LION local investing; and several business owners will share their interesting ideas and exciting plans for growing their businesses.
A LION welcomes all investors – from a person with only $10 to contribute to a local venture, to the accredited investor who would like to see a small portion of her assets going toward creating desired local services (more higher quality local restaurants, for example).
If you're a local business owner (or would-be local business owner), you, too, will benefit from attending the June 25th meeting.
To find out more information and to reserve your seat, visit the Thrive Lake County Web site ( http://www.thrivelakecounty.org/2/post/2012/05/thrive-lake-county-starts-network-to-enable-local-investing.html ).
We must be the change we want to see in the world. It starts with each of us being willing to do things differently and to take action where we can.
Please consider learning more about LION and other local investing opportunities by attending the June 25 meeting and by joining the movement to build a thriving local living Lake County economy.
Carol Cole-Lewis is project coordinator for Thrive Lake County. She lives in Kelseyville, Calif.