You have heard of bitcoin, surely. The electronic currency is shaking up ideas of central banking, national authority, and the ways that self-organizing economic systems can evolve and survive on the Internet.
But, who says the creativity, solidarity, and self-emergence is limited to the digital world? In the era of globalization and networks, the local can re-emerge. Why not Lewisburg Dollars?
We know that local economies circulate wealth more through multiplier effects. In other words, earning your wage from a local employer, depositing it in a local bank, buying what you need from local merchants who in turn invest in local banks and so on…
Several studies have shown the power of local multipliers. Local dollars can add as much as three times as much additional local spending compared to chains.
One way to encourage such local self-reliance and virtuous cycle is through “local dollars.” The idea is to make locally spent dollarspurchase more.
One of the longest-running of these is Ithaca HOURS, started in 1991. Essentially, participating businesses can offer to pay employees portion of their wages in “Hours.” Each HOUR is worth $10. Local businesses can opt in and accept HOURS as payment, or even offer a discount, such that an Hour buys 10% more.
Why not some Lewisburg dollars? It would encourage local consumers and producers to exchange more. Making the local economy more vital could help ease the brain drain PA suffers (young people leave more then they are imported). Bucknell could add a boost by allowing students to take a portion of their meal plan dollars and convert them to Lewisburg dollars; it could offer to pay student workers a portion of their wages in Lewisburg dollars which would have a greater purchase power at locally owned businesses including barbers, yogurt shops, restaurants, clothing retailers, outdoor gear retailers, spas, and so on. Greek organizations could purchase food for their kitchens from local suppliers using them.
Featured image is Berkshares. Photo credit.