A group of Beaufort-area residents are exploring how the local economy might benefit from "slow money," a movement that encourages consumers and investors to consider their impact on the wider community.
Local Money Talks members want people to rethink their spending and investments.
"At Christmas time, they have a lot of promotions to 'shop local,' and this goes way beyond that, in terms of produce local and invest local," said Port Royal Town Councilman Joe Lee, who is involved with the group. "We want to improve the way business is handled, not just from a business standpoint but also from a sustainability standpoint."
The local group started meeting in July and is not a formal organization with a charter at this time, Lee said.
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Port Royal resident Elizabeth Bergmann, who was involved with a slow money group in Charlotte, brought the idea to the area, he said. Bergmann could not be reached for comment. Frank Leyda and Ben Boswell of the Beaufort County Human Services Alliance have been helping organize the initiative, Lee said.
It has been assisted by the Charleston chapter of the national organization Slow Money, founded by Josh Silverman of Jericho Advisors in Charleston.
According to the organization, "fast money" entails no-holds-barred, profit-at-any-cost investing. Conversely, slow money is not about extracting the highest value, but about redefining what is that value, Silverman said.
Typical investing entails two bottom lines -- one for the business and one for the investor -- but slow money adds a third, the benefit for the community, Silverman said.
"We are trying to get people to start thinking about ways to do business different," he said.
For instance, someone might invest in a bakery and receive bread in return, or put money into a farm and receive produce, Boswell said. A lot of diverse producers and companies in the Beaufort area could be supported by such a practice, he said.
Financial returns would still be possible, however.
"You can help a neighbor with his business, and get financial return at the same time," he said.
Organizers of the Beaufort organization say they hope to eventually start a fund that residents invest in that would be used to invest in or lend to local businesses.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.