Local investors get creative with new tools
By Matthew Kish
Peter Quinn led a team of local investors to buy Quimper Mercantile in a direct public offering.
When the local general store went out of business, the residents of Port Townsend, a small Washington city northeast of Olympic National Park, didnâ€™t have many options for buying snow shovels and other everyday merchandise.
Instead of racking up thousands of collective miles making the 50-mile round trip drive to the nearest Walmart, a handful of residents decided to pool their money and open a new general store.
For funding, they turned to a process called a direct public offering, which allows communities to pool their money and invest in a new company â€” or, in this case, a new general store.
Although little-used, direct public offerings are gaining in popularity as investors pull money out of the stock market in favor of investing money directly in the community.
The effort is part of a much broader movement called â€œlocal investingâ€ that, with the help of websites like Kickstarter, is increasingly connecting mom-and-pop investors with the business down the street.
Although Portland is considered behind other cities, itâ€™s quickly catching up. Several local resources have sprung up to connect small businesses and retail investors.
â€¢ Springboard Innovation plans to use the direct public offering route to open an eastside incubator for startups. Itâ€™ll also host a series of seminars on local investing this year.
â€¢ LION:PDX is a new organization modeled on the Port Townsend success and seeks to match local businesses and investors.
â€¢ Slow Money Northwest has tentatively planned a June event that would connect small business owners and retail investors.
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