Mobilizing Community Capital has been on the agenda of Redwood Coast Rural Action (RCRA) since 2001 when increasing our ability to control our destiny was the call to action and having local capital available for regional priorities needs was identified as a strategy.
» read more
Rural areas in particular can find themselves unable to mobilize around priorities because they lack capital needed to make projects happen. Funding sources are few and far between for rural areas, both government and philanthropy. There are, however, financial resources that could be applied locally in equity or loan products if one could overcome both inertia and the regulatory hurdles to bring them from Wall Street back to Main Street. In the aftermath of Occupy Wall Street many local residents are looking for opportunities to bring a piece of their retirement portfolios home, if they can navigate the system of identifying potential investments and understanding the tools.
This ability to control the future of the region by having access to capital as the need or opportunity arises was identified early in the RCRA planning process. The project has gained momentum with recent innovations in the investment industry (crowdfunding) and changes in SEC regulations around investing for individuals of modest means.
- Increase the number of residents who actively invest in the local economy.
- Increase capital availability for local businesses and other projects of regional importance.
- Inform, educate and create opportunities for all residents interested in investing in the local economy.
- Develop new networks and tools that connect capital to local needs.
Why is this important?
Since the early days of the financial recession, we have seen a growing interest in empowering community members to direct their capital locally, rather than through large, removed intermediaries such as banks or Wall Street based investment firms. There is a greater awareness of the importance of investing in Main Street and an increased interest of local residents in finding opportunities to invest in businesses they know. By developing a higher level of business readiness and sophistication, building the acumen of potential investors and providing opportunities for those two to find each other, the capital base supporting local job development will grow.
Mobilizing Community Capital will allow investors to inject money directly into their community, where they can witness the impact of their investments firsthand. Mobilization of local capital reduces the dependency of projects on external funding and can stimulate business growth and creation.
What are we doing about it?
RCRA is facilitating communication between localization efforts, community groups, and other interested parties across the region focused on mobilizing local investment capital. Linking these groups together in pursuit of a common goal helps establish a knowledge base and system of investment structures to increase local capital flow into local projects. Identifying sources of willing capital and potential investment opportunities is the first step in the creation of multiple vehicles that will result in local capital investments.
RCRA is educating and facilitating approaches that include:
- Investment Networks: Support the creation of local investment networks where individuals can become familiar with investing and explore opportunities to invest in the region.
- Investment Clubs: Revitalize the idea of the investment clubs as a vehicle for individuals to pool smaller dollars, investing together and help them better understand the opportunities and risks.
- Fund Humboldt: increase visibility of local investment opportunities through the local crowdfunding site – Fund Humboldt
- Business Readiness: Work with local/regional partners in supporting businesses to increase both their readiness for capital and their sophistication to increase the likelihood of long term success and return to investors.
- Unlocking local investors: Provide training to local investors helping them discover their risk tolerance, identify their resources of money for investment (i.e. self-directed IRAs) and learn about ways they can invest in the region.
- Larger Projects: Identify one or more larger projects that require greater community support and create the vehicles that allow community/collaborative investment to take them to fruition.
- Business Succession: Develop a better understanding of and plan for the business ownership transition that is happening as baby-boomer entrepreneurs get ready to retire.
North Coast Regional Manufacturers Network: A training event called ”How to Present Your Product or Service for Investors and Funders” was successfully presented.
Investor Database: Humboldt County, the group has had 4 meetings where they explored examples from other regions, identified their interests, learned about the innovations and growth plans for local businesses, provided feedback on promotional materials and presentation to a local business pursuing a Direct Public Offering .
Humboldt Made: RCRA helped develop Humboldt Made, a regional branding and marketing initiative that originated with the County of Humboldt, moved under the RCRA umbrella to develop its board and membership organization. Incorporation and non-profit status was completed and this organization has launched independently from RCRA. Several of the member businesses have successfully completed crowdfunding campaigns, have attracted investments from local residents and have expanded markets outside the region. (www.humboldtmade.com)
Local Funding Successes:
Natural Decadence – sheeting machine to expand pie making capacity,
Beck’s Bakery raised funds for its delivery trailer.
Slice of Humboldt Pie received funds to purchase their new oven.
Boujie Baking– raised working capital from local investors
Fund Humboldt: Development of an LLC crowdfunding site modeled after Kickstarter specifically designed to serve local projects. Note: we are exploring whether having a local site makes sense in light of recent SEC regulation and expansion of capacity of certified crowdfunding sites.
Mendocino’s EDFC: With funding assistance from RCRA, Mendocino County’s Economic Development and Financing Corporation completed their Direct Public Offering ($2 million authorized) to recapitalize their economic development loan fund. Mendocino’s EDFC has completed their first offering of $250,000 to assist a wool processing facility to serve the north coast.
Continued expansion of investment networks
Include identifying opportunities for the investment club, working on business succession planning and hosting “meet and greet” opportunities for businesses and investors. Every year we provide a minimum of two educational/training opportunities for investors and businesses seeking investment.
Development of a Large Project
In partnership with Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), the regional Certified Development Finance Institution (CDFI), RCRA is coordinating the identification and presentation of community projects that have opportunities for resident investment.
Primary Partners and Funding
Prosperity Network » show less
» show less