What would happen if we prioritized small businesses and entrepreneurs and reimagined the possible ways to benefit our communities? In this episode of the Capital Insight Podcast, co-host Michelle Thimesch — a securities lawyer and capital raising expert — takes a deep dive into local economic development and highlights three innovative businesses that are doing well by doing good in their communities. Continue reading to explore some highlights, or listen to the episode (under 20 minutes!) for more insights.
Local Economic Development Trends
Recent news stories have exposed the dangers of unchecked corporate greed and its impact on the residents of distressed business districts and rural America. A recent report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance highlights the systematic destruction of communities caused by discount dollar stores clustering in such a way that they kill any existing locally-owned grocer or retailer. Once the local competition is decimated and gives up, residents are left without fresh food options and must survive on the unhealthy packaged foods and inferior quality products offered at dollar stores.
“For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business versus a national chain, $25 more per $100 stays in that community. So a balance between national chains and locally owned small businesses is really critical to the health and sustainability of our local economies,” Michelle says. The good news? Many entrepreneurial-minded people want to fight back. “Ingenuity is alive and well,” Michelle says. “If we can solve the issue of funding for small businesses that are looking to have a positive impact in their community and be disruptive about the status quo that doesn’t work, we can restore hope in economically depressed areas.”
Below are three examples of businesses that are innovating to address challenges in their communities. “I hope we can continue the conversation about the power dynamics at work in our local business districts and small towns,” Michelle says. “When we recognize the ways we are inadvertently contributing to our country’s economic and social decline, we can begin to consider investing in the ripples we want to encourage.”
3 innovative businesses making a positive impact
Investment crowdfunding democratizes access to capital and allows communities to build the kinds of businesses that work for the local economy. The three social enterprises listed below are all on Crowdfund Mainstreet, or its local label Crowdfund Montana, both regulated investment crowdfunding platforms for mission-driven ventures.
Pink Bench Distilling: Wildlife biologist Kristina Boyd and rural development specialist Shawna Kelsey are co-founders of Pink Bench Distilling in Troy, Montana. This social enterprise is working to address three of the state’s most persistent concerns in rural areas: conflict with bears over backyard fruit trees, creation of jobs on local farms and forests, and inclusive community development around innovative growth.
MedFire Innovations: This medical device company was created to support the ideas and solutions of first responders and other frontline healthcare workers. MedFire helps doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and public safety professionals with feasibility studies, concept development, design and manufacturing, small batch prototype production, verification and validation testing, FDA clearance and approval, IP, and branding. In addition to the product innovation arm of MedFire, the company aims to be a powerful medical expo organizer focused on connecting the networks and sales prospects developed by industry workers.
The Super Crowd Inc: Devin Thorpe, Founder of The Super Crowd Inc, has witnessed first-hand the struggle many people face to align their investments with their values. Devin has advocated for investment crowdfunding since 2016 and formed The Super Crowd Inc. to advance impact crowdfunding. Regular people without direct investment experience are encouraged to join a free or low-cost investment cloud, where individuals share the work of vetting the offerings and conducting due diligence.
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