Why Bank Locally?

Where You Bank Makes a Difference!

When you use a bank or credit union rooted in our community, you’re making a conscious choice to support our local economy. Local First Champion member Mascoma Bank is a great example of why it’s important to move your money to a local institution. Mascoma Bank has been committed to investing in and lending in our region since 1894. They prioritize supporting Upper Valley communities, small businesses, and entrepreneurs – keeping our economy and community vital!

5 Reasons to Move Your Money and Bank Locally

1. Get the 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 a 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, by 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 entirefinancial system at risk if they go bad.

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 December 1, 2020

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to eight 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.
Campaign guidelines here.
 

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

Community. Connection. Capital.

Study Underscores the Benefits of Buying Local

A study commissioned by Vital Communities finds that, for every dollar they earn, local retailers and restaurants return a share to the local community that’s up to four times as big as that of chain businesses.

“This study really spells out just how important it is to support our local businesses that are rooted in and support our communities, said Nancy LaRowe, director of Vital Communities’ Vital Economy initiative. “Many local businesses are struggling to stay afloat right now. We need to be there for them now by buying locally, so they will be here for us in the future to create stable jobs, enhance community character, and invest in our communities.”

Vital Communities will use this data as the basis for “buy local” education and campaigns, and as a baseline measure as we work to increase local control and investment in the Upper Valley with projects to increase community resilience.

This is in addition to ongoing ways Vital Communities supports the local economy, including marketing technical support; community crowdfunding; encouraging business networking, collaboration, and resource sharing; and innovative projects like Upper Valley Everyone Eats.

Read the full report   

The study was conducted by Civic Economics, a renowned consultant group that has done similar “Indie Impact” studies in other regions of northern New England, as well as for Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Grand Rapids, and New Orleans. Civic Economics has offices in Chicago and Tulsa, OK. The study was funded through a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant.

To aid the study, Vital Communities collected surveys from 20 independent, locally owned retailers and restaurants in Upper Valley communities on both sides of the Connecticut River. Each business was asked to answer detailed questions about its business practices. The survey questions focused on how much of each business’s revenue recirculates in the regional economy through profits paid out to local owners; wages paid to local workers; goods and services used by the business; local goods resold by the business; and charitable giving within the community.  

Collectively, the 20 retailers and restaurants return a total of 55.5% and 68.4% of their revenues, respectively, to the local economy. By comparison, Civic Economics found that four major national retail chain stores (Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Office Depot, and Target) recirculate only an average of 13.6% of all revenue within the local markets that host its stores, while three major national restaurant chains (Brinker International, which owns Chili’s and others; Darden, which owns Olive Garden and others; and McDonald’s) return an average of 30.4% of all revenue to the local economy. Civic Economics derived those percentages by aggregating data made public in annual reports.

This means that local retailers were found to return to the local economy a percentage of their revenue that’s more than four times higher than that of the chain retailers, while local restaurants return a percentage that’s more than two times higher than that of chains.  

With the mammoth online retailer Amazon and its Whole Foods grocery chain, the outcomes are even more dramatic. Civic Economics estimates that the region generated more than $165 million of sales in 2019 for Amazon; as there are no Amazon warehouses or Whole Foods outlets in the region, virtually all  $165 million dollars left the Upper Valley instead of being reinvested in our people, communities, and economy.

The pandemic ratcheted up the “Amazon Effect,” LaRowe said. “Online retail sales increased more than $100 billion due to the pandemic at the expense of our local businesses and our communities. It’s more critical than ever to have data that shows how that trend is truly hurting our local economy. Each time we buy local, we are making a choice to invest in our community, instead of sending our dollars to remote entities.”

A Closer Look

Of the 55.5% of revenues that local retailers recirculate in the local economy, 28.2 percent is in profit and wages, 17.9 percent for local items for resale, 5.3 percent for local goods and services used by the business, and 4.1 percent is charitable giving. Of the 68.4 percent that local restaurants recirculate in the local economy, 40.7 percent is profit and labor, 13.8 percent is for local items for resale, 10.8 percent is for goods and services used by the business, and 3.1 percent is charitable giving.   

Analyzed by the square footage of the businesses footprints, chain employee 12.1 people per square foot while “indys” employ 16.1; and chains keep $199 local per square foot while indys keep $489.

Broken down by state, the study found the Vermont retailers return 56.3% of their revenue to the local economy and New Hampshire retailers return 51.0%; and the Vermont restaurants return 66.5% while those New Hampshire return 69.7%.

Participating Upper Valley Businesses

Claremont Spice & Dry Goods
Co-op Food Stores
CourierWare, Inc
Dan & Whit’s General Store
Enfield House of Pizza
King Arthur Baking Company
Kit ‘N Kaboodle Thrift
Left Bank Books
Long River Gallery
Peyton Place Restaurant at The Historic Mann Tavern
Cloudland Farm, LLC
Piecemeal Pies
Poor Thom’s Tavern
Post Pond Lodge LLC
Prince and the Pauper Restaurant
Revolution
Taverne on the Square, LLC
Time-Out Americana Grill
Trail Break Taps + Tacos
Valley Floors

This project was funded by a USDA Vermont Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant.

 

 

Crowdfund Revels North’s Christmas Revels Film!

Give Today to The Christmas Revels’ 2020 Production!

Will the COVID-19 Grinch steal The Christmas Revels? Perish the thought! This year The Christmas Revels will go onscreen with a film featuring the artistry and panache that have made the show a beloved Upper Valley tradition since 1975.

Through Vital Communities’ TLC (The Local Crowd) crowdfunding program, you can help supply the final $7,500 of the $40,000 needed to produce the short film The Christmas Revels: All Shall Be Well Again,  which will available to the public starting in mid-November. Your sponsorship helps make free viewings of this film possible and creates work opportunities for those in the arts, including New Hampshire and Vermont artists, who have been especially hard hit by health regulations made necessary by COVID-19. Donate by October 19, and your name or the name of your business will be included in the credits of All Shall Be Well Again!  Other great premiums may also apply.

Produced by the local nonprofit community arts organization Revels North, The Christmas Revels each December brightens the Upper Valley with a new show combining winter music, dance, storytelling, and pageantry traditions from around the world. Each show takes us into a different culture, with marvelous Upper Valley-based artists and community performers alongside internationally renowned “tradition bearers” of the arts the show encompasses. Formerly presented at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center, The Christmas Revels now makes it home in the Lebanon Opera House.

Last year’s production, An English Celebration of the Winter Solstice, was enthusiastically received both by longtime Revels audiences and those seeing the show for the first time. Over 3,000 people attended the five performances, with audience members coming from 87 New Hampshire and 92 Vermont towns, making this a truly regional event. Although Revels North was eagerly anticipating the 2020 follow-up, COVID-19 forced a change in plans, as it has for every performing arts organization across the country. This summer, Revels North made the necessary decision to cancel December’s live Christmas Revels production and instead undertake a filmed show that would help keep the Revels tradition – and the creative sector – alive.

The Christmas Revels: All Shall Be Well Again involves the SALT Project, a three-time Emmy- winning, non-profit film production company based in Keene, NH; No Strings Marionette Company of Randolph, VT,  a collaborator in the 2015 Christmas Revels; and two guest musicians from the 2019 Christmas Revels, Vermont-based percussionist Jane Boxall and Massachusetts-based accordionist Alex Cumming. Local participation is at the core of every Christmas Revels, and the film includes the voices of recent Revels North chorus participants. The production will be led by Revels North Artistic Director Nils Fredland and Stage Director Josiah Proietti.

The film will create a surprising, entertaining, and safe alternative to the live Christmas Revels production, including SALT’s nuanced animation (seen above) and No Strings’ incomparable puppetry. In recognition of the financial hardship that many families face due to the pandemic,  Revels North will provide a range of ways for people to view this film in their homes, including for free through local media resources such as CATV and on social media platforms such as Facebook. The initial response within the Revels North community to news about this film has been wildly enthusiastic. With potential audiences not limited this year by geography, calendar, or price, Revels North sees potential for this film to be viewed by more people than any Revels North production of “The Christmas Revels” in our history. And maybe the film itself will become a new Upper Valley holiday tradition. Step aside, Grinch!

 
For more information, please go to revelsnorth.org.

Support Revels North TLC Crowdfunding!

TLC 4WARD Crowdfunding for Businesses

Do you own an Upper Valley business that is suffering due to the effects of the pandemic and could use a little help from your friends? TLC 4WARD Upper Valley is here for you.

The Local Crowd (TLC) 4WARD Upper Valley is a community-based crowdfunding platform designed to address the local economic impact of the pandemic response on the local businesses that are the backbone of our community. A partnership between The Local Crowd, and Vital Communities, TLC 4WARD encourages community members to pay it forward so that your business will still be here on the other side of this crisis. TLC 4WARD Upper Valley provides and easy-to-use online platform that collects donations from the community to support the businesses they love.

Two ways for businesses to participate: 

  1. Create your own crowdfunding campaign, similar to a GoFundMe campaign. The Local Crowd can provide training modules, technical support, and Vital Communities will help promote your efforts. These types of campaigns offer multiple donation amounts and corresponding  “rewards” (tokens of appreciation) which you would be responsible for. This site can also be used as a place to sell gift cards or other products. All contributions flow directly into your bank account (less the 3%+/- credit card fees) as the donations are made. You will need a Stripe or similar account. Email tlc@vitalcommunities.org if you have questions. Apply to build and run a TLC 4WARD campaign of your own.
  2. Be part of a multi-business campaign created by Vital Communities. We’ll create and host 12 geography and sector-based umbrella campaigns that can collect donations for many businesses, each identified as a individual story with an image and text that you provide and that contributors and specifically support. For example, we’ll unite White River Junction businesses into one campaign and have a campaign for area restaurants. This is a lighter lift for smaller businesses and potentially easier for the community to fund all of the businesses they love in one easy, secure transaction. Donation amount is determined by the donor. No Rewards are expected, and you can use your story to promote your curbside service, gift card opportunities, or your online store. Mascoma Bank will handle dispersing the donations by ACH (less the 3% credit card fee) to the participating businesses (see dispersal terms below). Fill out application to be part of a multi-business campaign.

Please consult with your tax advisor regarding the tax implications of your election to participate.  Nothing in this communication is intended to constitute legal or tax advice.

General Eligibilty:

Open to Local First member businesses impacted by the pandemic. Local First membership is now free for all locally-owned businesses and organizations (see criteria below) with an “Economic Recovery Membership”. Join Local First now!

  • Local First membership is open to businesses and organizations in the 69-town service area of Vital Communities that meet the following criteria:
  • Registered in the state of New Hampshire or Vermont, with no corporate or national headquarters outside the respective state
  • All marketing, rent, and other business expenses paid without the assistance from, or payment to a corporate headquarters
  • Able to make independent decisions regarding name and appearance, as well as all purchasing, supply and distribution practices
  • The owner is (or majority of owners) a local resident who lives within Vermont and New Hampshire for more than half the year
  • If the business has multiple outlets/branches, the majority shall be located in New Hampshire and Vermont
  • Locally owned franchises are eligible if franchisee has exercised independent decisions regarding name and appearance of business.

Expectations:

Vital Communities has no variance power over the donations collected through TLC 4WARD.

Businesses are required to withdraw from the program and notify Vital Communities if they permanently close.

 

Solo Business Campaign:
Vital Communities and The Local Crowd are providing the TLC platform as a free service to Local First members. The business is responsible for creating and building your campaign on the TLC site. We can provide instructional modules to help you create and launch a successful campaign. There is modest assistance available from the TLC folks if you hit snags or have tech questions.  You will be responsible for fulfilling the rewards. Expect to spend 8 hours building the campaign (creating text, adding photos, adding rewards, connecting Stripe, etc) and lots of hours promoting it to your networks. Email with questions and apply here to build a solo campaign for your business.

Joint Multi-Business Campaign:
Vital Communities will build and promote this initiative, but your help sharing with your customers and networks will be critical. To participate:

Disbursement of donations for the joint campaigns: Due to the technical limitations of the platform, only a single bank account can be connected to a campaign. Vital Communities as the campaign creator for the multi-business campaigns and will collect and disburse the donations to each participating business as follows:

ACH funds transfer (preferred, thanks to Mascoma Bank’s offer to waive Cash Management fees for this project)

  • Bi-weekly transfers if a business has received more than $100 in donations less credit card fees. Less than $100 in donations less credit card fees will be transferred monthly

Payout by Check:

  • Monthly for amounts over $500
  • Quarterly for amounts between $100 and $499
  • If dollar amount is below $100, then business get the funds when the project closes

 

Questions? Please contact Nancy LaRowe at nancy@vitalcommunities.org or call 802-291-9100 x106.

 

Photo credit: Molly Drummond

Donation Platform for UV Businesses

Do you own an Upper Valley business that is impacted by Covid-19 and could use a little help from your friends? TLC/4WARD is here to help. 
Vital Communities launched The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley in 2019, a community-based crowdfunding platform, to empower the community to invest in local social enterprises while providing creative capital for growing businesses, community intitatives, and others.
Today, the impacts of the pandemic are wreaking havoc on our economy and threatening many of our small businesses. TLC/4Ward uses the same platform, but as a fundraising platform that encourages the community to pay it forward,  so your business will be here on the other side of this crisis. 
We are in the process of building the site, and will have it up and running shortly. Below are some screen shots to give you an idea of what we’re planning. Businesses can build their own “campaign” or there is the possibility that Vital Communities can help smaller businesses participate through multi-business campaigns. Vital Communities and The Local Crowd are providing this platform for free to Local First member businesses (no cost to use the platform, but credit card fees apply).
Reach out to nancy@vitalcommunities.org or erika@vitalcommunities.org with your interest and questions.

Give to the Businesses You Love!

Wendell Berry once said that by choosing to support a local business in your community, you’re essentially telling that business owner, “I want you to exist. I acknowledge that you and I are neighbors and I accept responsibility for that relationship.” Right now, we each face an enormous responsibility to support our neighbors.

Covid-19 is an economic crisis that many small businesses will not survive without our financial support. If you’re still working or have some extra stimulus dollars to spend, please consider donating to the businesses that make the UV a great place to live, work, and play. Upper Valley businesses need our love now more than ever!

TLC/4Ward Upper Valley is a crowdfunding platform where you can donate to many area businesses that are hanging on by a thread. Your gift will help them be here after this emergency, so they can get back to creating stable jobs, vibrant downtowns with character, and giving back to our community.

Thank you for choosing your neighbors in big, bold, generous ways. It matters.

Renewable Energy Funding for Small Businesses

Get the information you need to move forward with a renewable energy or energy efficiency project in Vermont or New Hampshire. Join Ken Yearman, Rural Development Energy Coordinator for Vermont and New Hampshire; a farmer who recently completed a REAP project; the solar company that completed that project; and Ana Mejia, Vital Communities Climate Projects Coordinator. Our workshop will be held in the Hanover Co-op Food Stores’ Co-op Learning Center which is inside the Co-op’s LEBANON location at 12 Centerra Parkway. Lunch included! Get all your questions answered and take action on your renewable energy or efficiency projects!

Join Vital Communities, Hanover Co-op Food Stores, and USDA Rural Development for a webinar and workshop series to learn about opportunities to fund renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects with the REAP (Renewable Energy for America Program).

Attend both events or just one and learn how to use government grants and loans to reduce your energy cost and your carbon footprint.

  • Webinar: February 19, 11:30 am-12:30 pm. Get an overview of REAP grant and loan programs with Fred Petok and Ken Yearman from USDA Rural Development.
    Webinar registration.
  • Workshop: February 24,  11:30 am-1:30 pm. Get the information you need to move forward with a renewable energy or energy efficiency project in Vermont or New Hampshire. Join Ken Yearman, Rural Development Energy Coordinator for Vermont and New Hampshire; a farmer who recently completed a REAP project; the solar company that completed that project; and Ana Mejia, Vital Communities Climate Projects Coordinator. Our workshop will be held in the Hanover Co-op Food Stores’ Co-op Learning Center which is inside the Co-op’s LEBANON location at 12 Centerra Parkway. Lunch included! Get all your questions answered and take action on your renewable energy or efficiency projects!  Workshop registration.

       

Improve Your Small Business Digital Marketing Presence!

Calling all Upper Valley farms and small businesses!

Could your business benefit from professional consulting services to improve your marketing? With Rural Development funding, Local First is hosting free marketing workshops AND providing an opportunity for several businesses to take advantage of cost-share one-on-one consultation with Kim Dixon and Insights Marketing Solutions.

Workshop

The same workshop will be held in three locations around the Upper Valley:

Thursday, January 23, 5-7pm, Space on Main, Bradford. Register here.

Monday, January 1/27, 3-5pm, Arnold Block, Bethel. Register here.

Tuesday, 1/28, 10am-noon, Kilton Library, West Lebanon. Register here.

FREE for Local First members, $15 non-members. Join Local First before January 31 and save 50%! 

Learn how to transform your ideas into effective marketing that drives action and sales with the workshop “10-Step Marketing Plan”. A marketing plan does not need to be complicated, but it can make your promotion more effective AND save you time. In this workshop, Kim Dixon of Insights Marketing will guide us through the ten-steps to identify the most effective approach to developing a marketing plan. Includes hand-outs, time for participant questions and interaction, and refreshments & networking time. You’re encouraged to bring your computer!

Key components to the workshop:

  • Marketing Objectives
  • Product & Branding
  • Target Markets
  • Competition
  • Positioning
  • Pricing
  • Sales
  • Marketing Venues
  • Budget
  • Implementation

Kim Dixon, Owner of Insights Marketing is a full-service marketing agency dedicated to empowering businesses and non-profits, especially in the ever-changing world of marketing.  We educate our clients so they are in full control of their marketing decisions, and collaborate with them to move those decisions to action.

      

 

Technical Assistance Opportunity

Local First members that attend a workshop can apply for a cost-sharing opportunity to have 9 hours of professional consultation with Kim Dixon that will improve your digital presence, increase customer engagement, and impact sales. Insights Solutions Marketing can help with website development, email marketing, campaign design, and more.

Join or renew Local First today to be eligible for the marketing technical assistance. Join or renew by January 31 and save 50% for an annual business membership!

TLC Upper Valley Success!

Local Investing Success with TLC Upper Valley!

The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley is a locally based crowdfunding platform that empowers individuals to invest in the businesses, organizations and initiatives that support vital communities in our region. We recently wrapped up the pilot phase of this project that supported five projects in Canaan, Enfield, Topsham, and White River Junction that collectively raised almost $50,000 from more than 300 contributors!

Thank you, Upper Valley, for supporting:

Whaleback Mountain: Base Lodge Energy Efficiency Updates, $21,180
Mascoma Friends Feeding Friends: Friends Feeding Foodie, $13,970
 Willow Tree Community Compost: Closing the Food Waste Loop, $4,080
 Sunrise Farm: Close the Loop with Compost, $4,555
The Growing Peace Project: Food for Thought, $5,725

Sixty percent of the TLC Upper Valley campaigns met or surpassed their crowdfunding goals (Kickstarter has a 31% success rate).

If you have an idea that could use a lift, Round 2 for TLC Upper Valley is underway! Learn more about the campaign guidelines and application process or contact Nancy at 802-291-9100 x106.

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