#036 Local is the New Black

The new economics of place, with Michael Shuman


Welcome to episode 36, the 2nd since becoming The RegenNarration. Michael Shuman is an economist, lawyer, author, entrepreneur, and globally recognised expert on community economics. He is also one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “JOBS Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012. Michael is re-writing the story of business and development, to one that makes much more sense if your interest is in creating more prosperous, equitable and regenerative societies.

Michael Shuman and Anthony James at the City Farm workshop. Pic: Gilbert Rochecouste.

Michael Shuman and Anthony James at the City Farm workshop. Pic: Gilbert Rochecouste.

The bottom-line lesson that cities need to learn is that every dollar that they place, chasing outside business, is a dollar unavailable for supporting local entrepreneurship. And, that dollar spent locally will generate significantly more positive benefit than anything spent outside the community.
— Michael Shuman

It all revolves around local business. And moving away from the ‘protectionism’ inherent in the massive public subsidies that often prop up large transnational companies. A dollar spent in local business, Michael argues, compared to a dollar spent in non-local business, generates on average 2-4 times the income, jobs, and other positive knock on effects.

Observations like these, and the stories of communities and cities putting this into action, have only become more compelling since his 2006 book ‘The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition’.

Michael and Anthony talk here about some of his life’s work and observations – what’s changed, what still needs to change, and how do we go about that change? How do we get global finance to go to more of the right places, how do we grow where there really are no limits, and what is the sort of economy that can bring about what we’re really after in life?

Michael conducted a workshop at local Perth landmark, City Farm, in February. He caught up with Anthony during the lunch break for this conversation.

Get more:

Michael’s website includes info on Michael’s most recent book – ‘Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Move Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity'.

With thanks to Gilbert and Village Well for having me along to City Farm for the day.

And for the story of the first social enterprise in Australia to successfully engage the new equity crowdfunding laws, raising more than $2m, tune in to episode #028 to hear Rob & Emma-Kate from Food Connect.



Let Them Know, by Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.

Heroes (We Could Be), by Alesso featuring Tove Lo.

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