The Share Exchange has been awarded a $10,000 grant by the Threshold Foundation, in support of the Exchange's pioneering work in building resilient communities.
The grant will be allocated to the Local Economy Institute (LEI), a project of the Santa Rosa-based Share Exchange, to work on the development of local economies, to perform research and economic analysis, and to engage in training and skill development for community stakeholders.
"This funding from Threshold will enable us to pursue some new projects, including the expansion of our business incubator, and the development of a workshop on forming cooperatives," said Kelley Rajala, the founder of the Share Exchange and directing partner of the Local Economy Institute.
The Local Economy Institute offers consulting services and training in the areas of local economics, business innovation, environmental sustainability and quality of life.
Rajala and her colleagues at the LEI see a need to engage communities and raise awareness about the benefits of local economic development."As petroleum and natural resources become more precious, as the unemployment rate remains high, and as Wall Street looks more like a casino than a safe place to put our nest eggs, it doesn't appear that the business-as-usual way of thinking is meeting our needs," Rajala explains. "We are interested in the shifts we can make individually, and the shifts our towns and cities can make to become resilient and offer connectivity and a positive quality of life."
LEI has contracted with municipal agencies and other groups to determine best strategies for creating sustainable local economies. LEI Partner and urban economic analyst Joanne Brion adds, "We ask questions, like, how can we fund small businesses- and how do we invest in local creativity and innovation? What assistance do entrepreneurs need and how can the cooperative business model play a role in economic development?"
Rajala and Brion believe it is crucial for communities to discover existing resources – human and natural capital - in order to harness innovative problem-solving. Rajala states, "We use a variety of tools, like community mapping, to help a city or town uncover its own economic vitality. There are dynamic and powerful solutions that are unique for each community. Our Institute is happy to help uncover those solutions."
Telephone: 707-584-2000 Fax: 707-585-1363
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