6-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 | East End Market, 3201 Corrine Drive | 321-236-3316 | free
How much money is in your 401(k)? How much is in stocks or federal bonds or mutual funds? Essentially, how much of your money is at work making you money in investments far away? One more question: What could that money be doing closer to home?
That is the general premise of the slow-money movement, an effort to finance local projects that can have a big impact in the long term. The nomenclature, which comes from author and venture capitalist Woody Tasch’s book Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money, refers to the idea that current investment in financial markets focused on quick growth is why communities get hit so hard by the boom-and-bust cycle. Slow money proposes to invest in communities themselves, even though the returns are usually neither fast nor furious.
Carol Peppe Hewitt, author of Financing Our Foodshed, will speak on Feb. 24, hoping to engage a crowd in Orlando to think about putting their money into local food production rather than just consumption. She’ll be joined by Lyle Estill, fellow author and co-founder of the North Carolina-based Slow Money NC, an organization that helps connect local food entrepreneurs with small loans and creative financing.
As you might guess from the title of Hewitt’s book, food is the biggest early focus of the slow-money movement. Because the production of food in this country has been centralized to huge facilities in the Midwest or spread overseas, local agriculture startups – from small farms to craft breweries – face difficulty in finding an entry point into the market. Land for expansion is expensive. Quality ingredients are expensive. And profit margins are often way too thin to support the weight of a typical bank loan.
Orlando is finding its footing in the world of local. Dandelion Communitea Café and Homegrown Local Food Cooperative are two of the earliest businesses to truly embrace localism, and both have had their share of struggles in doing so. But the increase in the number of venues where locally sourced products are the focus – Fresh 24, Infusion Tea, Audubon Park Community Market, East End Market – indicates a growing interest in the trend. Appropriately (or, perhaps, obviously), this slow-money talk is being held at East End Market.
Will the money in Orlando – the land of tourist taxes that can only be spent on ads and stadiums and the home of, well, let’s just say it: Darden – be receptive to the idea of investing in local food? Maybe there won’t be a giant rush. But a slow trickle could help.
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