Our Community Capital program encourages the community to reinvest local wealth through deposits and investments that support our local, living economy. 

Shifting our investments from Wall Street to Main Street

Do any of us really know how our savings are invested? Whether bank deposits, mutual funds, or retirement accounts, do we have an adequate sense of how our money is used to shape the world around us? We have become a society of absentee investors, and all too often our money is used in ways that are harmful to our communities and our health. 
Moreover, our financial system is opaque, intermediary laden, and highly centralized. We have the right to ask how this great centralization and control of capital distorts our democracy.
The idea of community capital is to invest our money more purposefully and transparently, in ways that provide a return on our money but also strengthen our quality of life and local economy. 
Contrary to a system that has shown itself to be dangerously volatile and inimical to wide-spread prosperity, community capital is based on the awareness that locally owned, independent businesses are the backbone of healthy communities; that they promote economic and cultural vitality and encourage citizen engagement. This is aligned with the thinking of economists around the world who are exploring new models that will meet our environmental and social challenges.
Seacoast Community Capital is a new initiative that will look for ways to connect Seacoast investors to the local economy, including the burgeoning agricultural economy. In the coming months we will vet ideas and tools to help residents keep more money local and invest with greater awareness. These ideas include peer-to-peer investing platforms, dedicated loan funds, tools to increase banking transparency, campaigns to move money to local banks, and a partnership with the national efforts of Slow Money. Some of these ideas are outlined in We invite you to read Investing in Main Street by The Wire. 
We’re just beginning, but given time and your participation we are confident these steps will lead to meaningful results.

Would you like to be notified of upcoming events and opportunities? Please email .

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Top Five Reasons to Choose a Local Bank or Credit Union

From the  New Rules Project Community Banking Initiative, at

1. Same Services at Lower Cost: Most locally owned banks and credit unions offer the same array of services, from online bill paying to debit and credit cards, at much lower cost than big banks. Average fees at small banks and credit unions are substantially lower than at big banks, according to national data. Studies show that small financial institutions also offer, on average, better interest rates on savings and better terms on credit cards and other loans.

2. Put Your Money to Work Growing Your Local Economy: Small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs, depend heavily on small, local banks for financing. Although small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, they account for more than half of all small business lending. Big banks, meanwhile, allocate relatively little of their resources to small businesses. The largest 20 banks, which now control 57 percent of all bank assets, devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business.
3. Keep Decision-Making Local: At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key 
decisions are made locally by people who live in the community, have face-to-face relationships with their customers, and understand local needs. Because of this personal knowledge, local financial institutions are often able to approve small business and other loans that big banks would reject. In the case of credit unions, control ultimately rests with the customers, who are also member-owners.
4. Back Institutions that Share a Commitment to Your Community: The fortunes of local banks and credit unions are intimately tied to the fortunes of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits. This is why many local banks and credit unions are involved in their communities. Big banks, in contrast, are not tethered to the places where they operate. Indeed, they often use a community's deposits to make investments in other regions or on Wall Street.
5. Support Productive Investment, Not Gambling: The primary activity of almost all small banks and credit unions is to turn deposits into loans and other productive investments. Meanwhile, big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to speculative trading and other Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank, but provide little economic or social value for the rest of us and can put the entire financial system at risk if they go bad.
Optima Bank & Trust, the Seacoast’s only locally-owned commercial bank, supports local every day. Since opening its doors in 2008, Optima Bank has invested more than $220 million in the local economy through loans to businesses and individuals. Optima Bank works to provide exceptional service, while meeting the varied needs of both commercial and personal clients with a particular emphasis on local businesses. The local knowledge of Optima’s staff, as well as the ability to make decisions locally, is an inherent advantage for clients. Optima’s staff not only understands the nuances of the local economies, but recognizes why the local communities are great places in which to live and work. Optima Bank has offices in Portsmouth, North Hampton and Stratham. To learn more, visit or call (603) 433-9600.


Optima Bank

Building Community Capital

September 25, 6pm


NELBF with Michael Shuman

October 5, 9:30am


Entrepreneurs Workshop

October 23, 6pm

SHIFT 2012











Holiday Season