Over at the Boomtown USA blog, small-town economic development expert Jack Schultz has a fasinating post about what communities can do to keep people shopping local:
Several towns have developed their own currency, something that was common in the Wild West of yesteryear and made a comeback during the Great Depression, as a way to encourage local purchases. It is perfectly legal to do, as long as you don’t make it look like the real thing and you do the project as a not for profit organization.
Communities can print up their own currency, with serial numbers, anti-counterfeiting details and even pictures of local landmarks or famous (or not so famous) local citizens. The local residents benefit through an advantageous exchange system, say for example a hundred traditional dollars that can be converted into 150 or 200 local dollars.
Ithaca, NY has been doing it since 1991. That’s their currency on the right. Berkshire County, MA started theirs in 2006 and has had about $2 million exchanged for BerkShares.