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LOCAL INVESTING, COMMUNITY & SUSTAINABILITY “A good community, as we know, insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help. A good community, in other words, is a good local economy” – Wendell Berry, author, poet and farmer Local independent businesses lie at the heart of a more sustainable future. Small, locally owned businesses play an essential role in fostering communities that are more economically robust, culturally vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Local investing is a tool that keeps dollars circulating in the local economy and helps local businesses prosper by providing them with an additional source of financing. The Great Recession has also led many of us to re-evaluate the wisdom of Wall Street dominated capital markets. Local investing is an alternative, decentralized system of saving and investing that provides an opportunity to diversify our portfolios while strengthening the Main St. economy.1 Local investing is part of the broader “local first” movement which is led by organizations like BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), The New Economics Institute, AMIBA (American Independent Business Alliance), Slow Money, the Carrot Project, the Institute for Local Self Reliance, and hundreds of community organizations across the country. The emerging interest in local investment is chronicled in books such as Local Dollars, Local Sense, by Michael Shuman, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money, by Woody Tasch, and Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It, by Amy Cortese. WHY ALL THE HUBBUB? Unbeknownst to most business people and investors you cannot raise capital from the general public unless you register with the SEC. In many jurisdictions registration with a state securities agency is also required. For small businesses the cost of registration is prohibitive. You are allowed to raise money from people you know – family and friends and those with whom you have a “pre-existing” relationship – but soliciting the public constitutes a “general solicitation” which triggers the need to register your investment offering. Often a business person looking to raise capital will reach out to people in the community and not realize that he or she is making a general solicitation. Soliciting investment funds by advertising in a paper or online, posting a notice in a shop window or community bulletin board, or speaking at a public event are all examples that constitute a general solicitation. The Network enables capital seekers to reach out to community members who have an interest in local investing and with whom a pre-existing relationship exists. As such, the Network provides a process to effectuate compliant local investment more efficiently. A MODEL TO LIONIZE The Seacoast Local Investment Network is modeled after LION (the Local Investment Opportunities Network) based in Port Townsend, WA. HOW IT WORKS To become a Member of the Network you must be sponsored by an existing Member you know. The Network provides a Membership Application to identify the applicant and sponsor. Capital Seekers fill out a Submission Form that describes their investment opportunity. Network Members are listed on the Submission Form and the Capital Seeker indicates which Members he or she knows and would like their Submission Form to be sent to. The Submission Form is submitted to the Network Facilitator who then forwards the Form to those Members selected by the Capital Seeker. It is then up to selected Members to contact the Capital Seeker to learn more about the investment opportunity. Investment opportunities are not vetted by the Network. The Network Facilitator reviews the Submission Form to make sure it is filled out correctly and then forwards it to those Members selected by the Capital Seeker. Who the Capital Seeker selects and whether the contact falls within or outside the scope of general solicitation rules is the responsibility of the Capital Seeker. If selected for Membership the applicant is provided a Membership Agreement for signature. Members may invest individually or together, as desired, but are never required to commit to or make an investment as part of Membership. There are no costs associated with Membership or investment opportunity submissions. The Network is an all-volunteer effort run by the Members. Members are asked to help cover minimal, incidental costs for meetings, paper, printing, copying etc. Members are expected to meet in-person at least once per quarter.