April 15, 2021: “Putting Your Money to Work Locally: Investing Clubs 101”

Interested in investing locally but don’t want to do it alone? Investment clubs pool money to collectively invest in local businesses and bring a social aspect to the process – they make investment fun!

In this presentation, Matt Cropp from the Vermont Solidarity Investment Club speaks about the ins and outs of starting your own investment club, as well as some ideas about what to look for if you want to join an established club and increase your power to do good by investing as a group.


April 8: “Investing in Home Creation”

Investing for Home Creation
Thursday, April 8, 5:30 pm

The Upper Valley faces a shortage of housing, particularly in the lower-cost sector, that’s affecting our ability to be a vibrant, equitable community. This session discussed how even small investments can help address this shortage and bring about financial, social, and environmental rewards: more diverse, full-service communities, more homes closer to workplaces and served by mass transit, and a more stable workforce for employers.

Our team of expert presenters was:

  • Ken Wells,  Chief Retail Lending Officer, Mascoma Bank, on how local banking creates local homes
  • Jennifer Hopkins, director of Single-Family Housing at NH Community Loan Fund, on current projects that are creating more affordable places to live
  • Will Belongia, director of VT Community Loan Fund, on  how individuals can get tax credit for participating in home creation
  • Jen Risley, manager of The Local Crowd Monadnock, on crowdfunding projects that are creating homes.

If you are ready to take action, or have more questions, here are the people to contact:

Here is a link to the slides the presenters shared.

You can also check out impacts in these reports:

In the chat, Matthew Dow mentioned that his company, MTD Building, is working on renovating low-cost apartments in Canaan. If you would like to learn more about that, you can reach Matt at mdow@mtdbuilding.com or business partner Holly West at hspwest@icloud.com.

Additional Local Investing Resources

The local investment materials and events offered by Vital Communities are educational in nature and should not be construed as specific legal, accounting, or investment recommendations.

Have an Idea That Could Use a Lift?

New Hampshire Businesses, Farmers, Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits, Community Initiatives: 

Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen?

Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of a Route 11 Corridor cohort of campaigns.
Vital Communities is partnering with TLC Monadnock to bring local investment and capital access to the Route 11 Corridor of New Hampshire thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development.

Submit a proposal for 2021 crowdfunding campaigns if you:

  • Your organization is based in Claremont, Newport, Kearsarge Region
  • Have a project with a budget under $10,000 .
  • Have a simple, achievable project that will generate excitement in your community.
    (your proposal can be part of a bigger project, but it should have stand-alone value.)
  • Have a project that will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • Are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by May 7, 2021

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to six projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in 2021, with support and guidance from The Local Crowd Advisors.

The Local Crowd details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the The Local Crowd team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the keys of success promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from the The Local Crowd team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including NH SBDC and SBA
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less platform and credit card fees)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones
  • Opportunity for videography stipend to improve your campaign success
More questions? 

Community. Connection. Capital.

Digital Marketing Assistance for New Hampshire Businesses & Farms

Digital Marketing Assistance for New Hampshire
Businesses & Farms

Could your business benefit from professional consulting services to improve your marketing? With Rural Development funding, Vital Communities’ Local First is hosting a free marketing workshop AND providing an opportunity for several businesses to take advantage of reduced-cost one-on-one consultation with Drive Brand Studio.

Back to Basics:
Simple Ways To Improve Your Marketing Impact

Virtual Workshop- March 15, 2021 9-10:30 am

The pandemic has required businesses to up their marketing game and online presence. Nancy Clark from Drive Brand Studio will share some simple and realistic ways to improve your marketing. You’ll learn how to use back-to-basics tactics whether you’re a first-time or time-pressed experienced marketer.

Register for the workshop here

Topics will include:

● Defining your brand and your positioning.
● Setting goals.
● Assessing and building on your strengths.
● Target markets.
● Tactics–how to select the right ones for your business.
● Maximizing the impact of your website.
● Social media: creating a voice and a strategy, including best practices.
● Budgeting time and marketing dollars.

Join this workshop and be eligible for an opportunity to work with Drive Brand Studio for 10 hours of reduced-cost technical assistance thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development. 

Technical Assistance Opportunity

Workshop attendees can apply for a cost-sharing opportunity to have 10 hours of professional consultation with Drive Brand Studio that will improve your digital presence, increase customer engagement, and impact sales. Drive Brand Studio can help with website development, email marketing, campaign design, and more.

Local Investment Inspiration & Resources

An “investment” always concerns the outlay of some asset today (time, money, effort, etc.) in hopes of a greater payoff in the future than what was originally put in. Where you choose to invest your time and money matters. Shopping locally is an important way we can all support (invest in) the businesses and organizations that we love (every time you purchase from an online retailer, 100% of that money immediately leaves our economy). But, shopping at a locally owned store is only one way of “investing” in our future. Investing your time by volunteering at a nonprofit, serving on a town committee, or coaching a youth team- is also a critical component to strengthening our community and economy. Another often overlooked opportunity investing in our community is through economic investments like retirement accounts, investment club, or community loan funds. Consider investing in the local businesses you love that will be desperate for cash in the coming months. Invest in great local projects your town will initiate—perhaps in energy efficiency or local food systems—that will increase our local resilience. Invest in the entrepreneurs that are creating the innovations and industries of the future- right here in the Upper Valley!
Find a collection of inspirations and resources to build awareness and action about how we can all be part of reclaiming our economy to be more resilient, fair, and green.
Upper Valley Inventory for Investors
Capital Opportunities Inventory for Upper Valley Businesses



Easiest Way to Invest in Your Community: Bank Locally

Financial Institutions that are rooted in the Upper Valley invest in our communities!

Local Focus: Unlike larger banks that may take deposits in one state and lend in others, community banks channel their loans to the neighborhoods where their depositors live and work, which helps local businesses and communities thrive.
Relationship Banking: Community bank officers know their customers and may consider family history and discretionary spending in making loans. Megabank loan officers apply impersonal qualification criteria, such as credit scoring, without regard to individual circumstances.
Innovation: As high-tech, high-touch local financial institutions, community banks work with their customers to ensure they have access to innovative products and services while partnering with and investing in financial technology providers. A prime example of community bank innovation is showcased through ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator.
Lending Leadership to Small Business: According to the Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey: Report on Employer Firms, community banks are the small business lender of choice. (79 percent of independent businesses that used community banks report they were satisfied with their overall experience, compared with 67 percent for large banks and just 49 percent for online lenders.)
Timely Decision-Making: Community banks offer nimble decision-making on business loans because decisions are made locally. Megabanks must often convene loan-approval committees located in another state, far away from their customers.
Community Engagement and Accessibility: Community bank officers are typically deeply involved in their local communities, while megabank officers are often detached from the communities where their branches are located.
As local small businesses themselves, community banks only thrive when their customers and communities flourish. They answer to Main Street. Megabanks are driven by shareholder value and answer to Wall Street.

Community Banks: Know the Difference


Learn About Local Economic Investing

Local Investment: An Introduction
February 23, 5:30-7 pm

What is local investing? What can it do for a community? Why is it important? Who can do it, and how? A panel discussion with local and regional entities that are mobilizing local capital for local businesses, projects, and people.

Panel participants:

  • The White River Investment Club – Peter Reed and Sylvie Desautels
  • New Hampshire Community Loan Fund – John Hamilton
  • Vermont Community Loan Fund – Will Belongia
  • The Local Crowd – Jen Risley
  • Norwich Solar Technology Community Impact project – Norman Levy, Brendan Malley

Watch the recording here.


Community Economist Michael Shuman Presents:
Rebooting Your Economy After COVID

Introductory Webinar: Rebooting Your Community After COVID – How to Invest Locally Using Self-Directed IRAs and Solo 401ks

 Vital Communities and The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock hosted an online introductory webinar with community economist and author Michael H. Shuman called “Rebooting Your Community After COVID – How to Invest Locally Using Self-Directed IRAs and Solo 401ks” on Thursday, October 15, 2020, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Watch the recording here.

Michael Shuman has been studying and writing about local economies for decades. Interesting blog posts about re-booting the economy include Why Local Economies Matter, 7 Ways to Grow Your Economy Now, 27 New Year Resolutions for Community Revival Part 1 & Part 2.

Comparative Resilience: 8 Principles for Post-COVID Reconstruction by Michael Shuman,  April 2020

“We need a different way forward, what we might call the Theory of Comparative Resilience. My basic proposition is simple: Those communities that are best able to withstand future crises – whether pandemics, climate disruptions, or financial meltdowns – will be the ones that thrive economically. They will be the best places for investors to park their money. They will attract the best and the brightest people. They will be the places where residents feel secure enough to innovate. As your community begins the long road of rebuilding, here are eight criteria by which you might measure your community’s comparative resilience:

Local Ownership
Local Investment
Economic Diversity
Social Equity
Social Performance of Business”

Community Investment Funds: A How-To Guide for Building Local Wealth, Equity, and Justice
Ce(See)ding power through local investing: A handbook showing a wide range of approaches you might apply to your own community.

Local Investing Resource Center: : a resource area for community organizers — nonprofit leaders, economic development professionals, and government officials — and those looking to create aggregated pools of capital for local investing. Here, you will find a series of how-to guides and other resources that support you in catalyzing citizen-led investments into local small businesses.

Building Resilient Rural Places: Strategies from Local Leaders to Strengthen Rural Assets, Diversity, and Dynamism by Hanna Love, Mike Powe – Brookings, December 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic tests the resilience of rural economies in real time, this research series argues that our attention should not be focused on an outdated, inaccurate image of rural America, but rather on understanding, sustaining, and investing in the hyperlocal strategies already working to bring growth and equity to increasingly diverse and dynamic rural areas. Using in-depth, on-the-ground research in three rural communities across the U.S., the following briefs highlight these place-based strategies as well as the policy and capacity-building supports needed to sustain and scale them in the years to come.

Local Investment Opportunities:

Norwich Solar Technologies (NST) Community Impact Group

NST’s Community Impact Group allows local investors to own community solar projects that expand participation to low-income residents, small non-profits, and start-up businesses while allowing investors to use their tax liability to make positive economic and environmental returns.
The Group will link mission-minded investors with high-impact projects. Projects that can generate broad benefits to the community such as economic development and greenhouse gas reduction will additionally guide project selection. The Group has a 2019 target to finance $2.5M of nontraditional ventures, primarily focused on solar projects that can significantly lower electric bills of these underserved communities.

White River Investment Club

Building a Better Future Through Local Investment – Established in 2015, the White River Investment Club (WRIC) is a group of local residents dedicated to creating a better future through local investing. Our mission is to enable its members to make local investments which help themselves and their communities – and improve the overall quality of life in the White River watershed. WRIC Facebook page

Vermont Community Loan Fund

Impact, Sustainability, Justice…OPPORTUNITY. The Vermont Community Loan Fund creates opportunities that lead to healthy communities and financial stability for all Vermonters. The Vermont Community Loan Fund is a mission-driven, community-focused alternative lender. We provide loans and other resources to local businesses, community organizations & nonprofits, early care & learning providers and developers of affordable housing who don’t qualify for a loan from a traditional lender. We develop and promote innovative capital-based solutions to issues of poverty and opportunity. We’re invested in a stronger, healthier, happier Vermont.

The money we lend is loaned to us by impact investors who want to do more with their money. VCLF investors want a safe, sensible way to invest in Vermont, doing good for Vermonters today and saving for their own tomorrow. In over thirty years, with over $110 million loaned, we’ve never failed to repay an investor. Individuals & families, institutions, communities of faith, community organizations: EVERYONE can invest in Vermont through the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

New Hampshire Community Loan Fund

Opportunity. Investment. Impact.
We believe:
One of the barriers that keeps people with low incomes from achieving greater self-sufficiency is a lack of access to credit.
People and organizations that have or manage financial resources are willing to help their neighbors when they have a trusted mechanism to do so.

Our mission:
Serve as a catalyst, leveraging financial, human, and civic resources to enable traditionally underserved people to participate more fully in New Hampshire’s economy. We do this by:
Providing loans, capital and technical assistance;
Complementing and extending the reach of conventional lenders and public institutions;
Bringing people and institutions together to solve problems.

The Local Crowd: Community. Connection. Capital. Through crowdfunding we envision strong, resilient local economies where neighbors know each other and support each other’s businesses. Started in 2012, The Local Crowd® works with rural communities to create local crowdfunding ecosystems that support growth and sustainability of local businesses and organizations.” In Vermont and New Hampshire there are two TLC communities – TLC Monadnock and The Local Crowd  Upper Valley.


Localvore Passport Webinar

Learn how Localvore Passport can help your business connect with customers at an informational webinar, Tuesday, January 12 or Wednesday, January 13!

(Attend either event. The same information will be presented twice; Zoom link below).

Vermont-based Localvore is a platform that connects conscientious consumers to the local businesses that make economies thrive. The Localvore Passport app has been successfully connecting Burlington businesses and farms with new customers since 2012, with more than 500 participating businesses. The app is free for businesses to use.

So far, only a few Upper Valley businesses have joined the platform, but the app could successfully launch in this region if enough businesses are interested.  Join this webinar to learn about how Localvore Passport could be an effective, easy, free tool to help Upper Valley businesses connect with customers this winter and beyond. Details about how this works for businesses are below. Come with your questions!

Introducing Localvore Passport
Tuesday, January 12, or Wednesday, January 13, 10 am
Zoom details:
Meeting ID: 860 8960 0458
Passcode: 075334
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,86089600458# US (Washington D.C)


How Localvore Passport Works

There are three core components of Localvore Passport  that help consumers connect with businesses:

  • Our Directory is simple. It’s your business listing, a photo, and information to help customers discover and engage with your business. If you don’t have a profile set up, email dan@localvore.co and we will curate one to your liking.
  • Creating a Local Offer: Once your Directory profile is set up, you can customize an offer that Localvores can use however often you want them to. And, you can always change the offer or take it down. This google form is a simple way to get started, and then I usually have a brief 15-minute call to make sure all the details are correct and that they understand the redemption process and other expectations. Localvore Business Intake Form.
  • News Feed: Once your Directory profile is set up all you have to do is include #localvore in your Instagram posts, and those will show up on Localvore too!