Invest Locally

Many of us understand the importance of eating local food, shopping at local, independent stores and banking locally, but how many of us invest any portion of our retirement funds with the local businesses right here in Western Massachusetts? 

On this page we will provide education with the intent of igniting a community conversation about the benefits of investing in our local, living economy. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the current options of where to invest locally.

You've heard of "Buy Local campaigns," investing locally brings us to a whole new level. To "Buy Local" we need local, independent businesses who are using local resources to create products and services for us to buy — keeping our money in the local economy. Local businesses need capital. That's where you come in. The more we invest in our local economy, the more we can keep our resources circulating in our community, where we can depend on them for years to come. By funding our local businesses — whether owned by a single person, a partnership, a family, a non-profit, municipality, or cooperative — we will have a more vibrant, more financially secure local, living economy that will support life here in our communities for years to come.

Why here in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden County, Massachusetts? The Pioneer Valley is a unique community. People here are working together in powerful ways to build our economy from the ground up. More community-based businesses are thriving and developing here than in most places around the country. Many community-owned businesses are springing up. By investing in these local enterprises, we will have more jobs, better jobs, and more secure access to healthy alternatives to the things we depend on most.

Risks? Yes, local businesses have important missions, well thought out business plans and tremendous community support, but that doesn't mean they will all be successful. The money you put into a membership, equity investment, or loan will be AT RISK. Please take the time to carefully read the investment documents and understand the risk involved in any investment you plan to make.

In these uncertain economic times, many of us feel that failing to develop a strong, locally-owned economy could leave all of us and our communities at great risk. Some believe that a local investment is more secure than an investment in some large corporation far away, where they probably don't have the same care for you and your community.

In the end, it's up to you.

Here is the beginning of a list of options of where to invest locally/regionally:

1. Wellspring Cooperative

The Wellspring Cooperative non-profit is conducting a direct public offering (DPO) to raise money for our hydroponic greenhouse in Springfield. This is a great opportunity to invest in your values if you believe in: local food, sustainability, community & school engagement in urban agriculture, local economy, job creation in hard hit communities, worker ownership and community wealth building.

We are seeking to raise at least $200,000 for Wellspring Harvest through this DPO. We're half-way there but are under huge pressure to raise the other half as quickly as possible. The minimum investment is $1,000 ($5,000 for qualified investors) with a 5 year term and 3% interest. For more details, please visit our webpage: Wellspring Investment Fund or contact emilykawano@gmail.com, 413-323-7868 or frose@pubpol.umass.edu, 413-522-2204.

2. Invest in Artisan Beverage Cooperative

All of us at Artisan Beverage Cooperative are extremely excited to offer an opportunity to invest in the growth and expansion of our business. Our transition to a worker-owned cooperative was a tremendous development in our business model, and we want to continue to increase the impacts that we have on the local economy and cooperative business globally. This is an offering of non-voting preferred stock to Massachusetts residents with an annual target dividend. Minimum investment is $2,500. This is not an effort to sell secutities. Offers are made only by prospectus. Please see more at: http://artbev.coop/invest/

3. Community First Fund

Common Capital, a community loan fund serving Western MA, offers a way for residents and businesses to invest in local business and community development.  The Community First Fund will pay a 2% fixed rate over a 3-year period with semi-annual payments. These funds will go into the general loan pool and are loaned to businesses in Western MA enabling Common Capital to increase its lending to high impact businesses and community projects. As little as $1,000 can be invested.  Individual investments are a general obligation of Common Capital and are not tied to any specific loan in their portfolio. Click here for more details.

4. The Equity Trust Fund

The Equity Trust Fund welcomes loans from individuals and organizations that wish to make an investment with positive social impact. Lenders may set the terms of their loans within the guidelines established by the Fund, and may even indicate preferences regarding the use of their funds. Download a copy of our lender information packet here.

Amount: The minimum amount for an Equity Trust Fund loan is $1,000. There is no maximum amount. Term: We request commitments of at least one year. Longer terms are preferred, because most borrowers require longer commitments from the Fund. At the end of the term, the loan will be repaid or it can be rolled over at your discretion.

5. MassSave.com

  • Get a free energy assessment
  • Invest locally by investing in your home so that it is more comfortable, uses less energy and saves you money.
  • Hire a local installer to make your benefit on the local, living economy be even greater
  • You could qualify every year for an instant insulation incentive worth 75% up to $2,000 on the cost of approved insulation improvements.
  •  Plus you could receive no cost targeted sealing of air leaks in the drafty areas of your home.

Apply for 0% loans to help you make qualified energy efficient home improvements with the Mass Save Heat Loan program. You could qualify for loans up to $25,000 with terms up to 7 years, depending on the utility and the loan provider.

You could get heat loans for improvements like:

  • Attic, Wall, and Basement Insulation
  • High Efficiency Heating Systems
  • Central Air Conditioning/ Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps
  • High Efficiency Domestic Hot Water Systems
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
  • 7-Day Digital & Wi Fi Thermostats
  • ENERGY STAR® Qualified Replacement Windows

Click here for more details.

For a limited time, there is also an Expanded Heat Loan of up to $50,000 at 0% interest for 7 years for deep energy retrofits and related projects, Click here for more details. 

6.  Invest in a Solar Project for your home or business, that you own

Investing in a solar photovoltaic project with a locally owned renewable energy contractor represents a socially responsible investment opportunity that offers significant economic and environmental benefits. Your investment will pay for itself while under warranty, and will continue to provide significant returns for decades to come.Most projects will also offer better financial performance over the project term than an investment in a socially responsible mutual fund.

The benefits of making the switch to solar with a locally owned business include:

  • Significantly reduced or fully eliminated electric bills through net metering benefits
  • Cash income on your energy production through the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) for the first decade of operation
  • Access to significant Federal tax credits as well as other rebates and incentives
  • Strengthening your local economy by supporting businesses who focus on local sourcing and who are part of the economic fabric of our community
  • Supporting the development of sustainable living-wage careers with socially responsible local businesses
  • Increased energy independence and reduced reliance on foreign and polluting energy sources
  • Improved public health and a cleaner environment
  • Strengthened grid infrastructure via diversified generation sources
  • Improved re-sale value for your property due to demonstrable energy benefits

The Mass Solar Loan offers some truly AMAZING incentives to help you get solar panels for your home.

To learn more about what it might look like for you to go solar, please be in touch with one of our great locally-owned and independent renewable energy businesses like PV Local First members Beyond Green Construction, Green Earth EnergyNortheast Solar and/or PV Squared (Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics Cooperative).

While all solar maybe good solar, local solar is definitely better solar.

7. Cooperative Fund of New England

Since 1975, the Cooperative Fund of New England has provided over $37.4 million in crucial, affordable financing to cooperatives and nonprofits across New England and eastern New York State. Not only have these funds created and retained thousands of jobs and housing units, often in underserved communities, but they have strengthened the user-owned, green cooperative economy.

New England has a strong and growing cooperative economy. As of 2014 CFNE's loans have gone ot almost 730 borrowers in the region, resulting in creating or retaining jobs for almost 10,000 people.

In short, by lending to CFNE, you can:

  • Put your resources to work helping people help themselves through co-operation.
  • Receive a return on investment without compromising your values.
  • Reduce risk through diversification of investment across many projects.
  • Build the co-operative economy across all co-op sectors and industries

Learn more, by clicking here.

8. PVGrows Investment Fund

The PVGrows Investment Fund, Inc. is excited to announce the launch of its community investment vehicle for individuals, institutions and foundations to invest in building a healthier food system.  It is a project of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC) which grew from the work of the PVGrows Network.. Click here to view the Offering Memorandum. More information about the investment opportunity can be found here.

For more information on local investing and to get involved with Invest Here Now, please click here.