Berkshires Kicking Dollar Habit
An alternative local currency is now in use in the southern Berkshires region of Massachusetts. Known as BerkShares, it was founded by Susan Witt in an effort to stimulate the local economy and "encourage everybody to do their business locally rather than going to a mall or shopping online."
Local trade and barter type currencies have been in use for some time in a number of cities, but what is interesting about BerkShares is that the currency is backed by the US dollar and available through local banks.
"You walk into a local bank, put down $90 federal and get 100 Berkshares, and then those BerkShares are spent at full value at regional stores."
Local small businesses have seen an increase in customer loyalty and face-to-face interaction as a result. People are choosing to spend time and BerkShares with them rather than at the chains and big box stores that do not accept the currency.
Witt explains that local currencies require "a local population that understands and is committed to supporting the buildup of their own regional economies."
Future plans include a debit-card system and start-up loans for small business. It is also nice and fresh to see cash printed with pictures of vegetables and landscapes, rather than wrinkly oldies.
ABCNews did a feature on BerkShares, and posted the story on their website.Tweet