As more and more economic power flows to major urban regions and large cities, small towns and rural regions find it increasing difficult to find the funds necessary to fuel economic growth. That’s certainly true of Creston and the surrounding region. Community investment in Creston & district may be the answer.
Every year, rural British Columbians place hundreds of millions of dollars in RRSPs — their money flows into major centres where it pays for bridges and broadband, schools and subway systems.
What is at least some of that money stayed home?
Community investment may be the answer for many rural communities looking for ways to support existing businesses wishing to expand, and to support entrepreneurs with exciting business ideas.
A group based in the Creston area thinks so. For the past three years they have been developing something called the Creston & District Community Investment Co-Op (CDCI Co-Op) — and it’s almost ready to launch.
CDCI Co-Op is an organization made up of community-minded individuals who wish to diversify a portion of their investment portfolios into local businesses and projects. Investment shares are issued to its members. Pooled funds are then loaned to local ventures that demonstrate the ability for community impact, and sustainable operations.
Community investment of this sort is designed to:
- Encourage local and regional economic development
- Improve social cohesion
- Advance environmental sustainability
- Enhance local & regional agricultural & food systems
Judging from the experiences of community investment organizations elsewhere in Canada and the U.S., there is very little bad debt associated with this type of lending. Community investment would appear to not only be good for the community on multiple levels — it also offers the possibility of a financial return to its investing members.
CDCI Co-Op plans on launching in early 2017, making it the first rural investment co-op in BC’s rural interior. Other rural communities will be carefully watching its progress — it may present a model for other places wanting to boot-strap their own economies.
In this highly informative podcast, Eden Yesh of Kootenay Employment Services discusses the origins and progress of the CDCI Co-op.