March 2013: Chapter Updates

Slow Money Austin

Reported by Jarred Maxwell.

In 2012, assisted in the investment of roughly $1.1 million in local businesses; $2.4 million invested to date in 16 companies.

 
Slow Money Austin hosted its investment showcase and fall pitchfest on Nov. 30 at the nation’s first organic event facility, the Barr Mansion.

Last year was busy for Slow Money Austin. Our Sustainable Texas Investment Club made small loans to Break It Down, a recycling and composting company; Bona Dea Bakery, a gluten-free baking mix company; and Comanche Oaks Farm, run by an organic farmer who in the mid-’80s was the second farmer in Texas to receive organic certification.

Our group of Slow Money volunteers also hosted a couple of events. We held our second pitchfest in June in partnership with the Texas Entrepreneur Network, featuring nine local businesses that spanned a broad range of sustainability and food concerns. We were proud to hear that two of the presenters were able to acquire the funding they were seeking: New Earth Superconscious Living was able to work with a local investor to obtain much-needed capital to introduce its products into new regions within Whole Foods Market. And Margarita’s Tortilla Factory was able to obtain an SBA loan to install the refrigeration needed to increase capacity. Both are wonderful businesses with Central Texas roots and both are led by great entrepreneurs.

 
Urban farmers Erin Flynn and Skip Connett of Green Gate Farms hosted a farm tour and potluck dinner with Slow Money Austin.

In November, we held our fall pitchfest in conjunction with our annual fundraiser. We had five presenters this time around, ranging from a third-generation dairy farming family to a Texas bison rancher wanting to open a “ranch to trailer” food trailer to sell his bison. The event turned into an all-day conference with keynotes from our own Woody Tasch and from Lee Valkenaar, co-chairman of the Whole Planet Foundation. We offered educational segments on how the JOBS Act will change the crowdfunding landscape and on the creation and workings of investment clubs. It turned out to be a well-received day of education for all involved.

While 2012 was good, 2013 is shaping up to be even better. We have our spring pitchfest just around the corner, a June pig roast/farm dinner coming up, and our annual event in November where we will be partnering with local foundations and impact investing managers to shine a brighter light on the progress already made in our state.

 

Slow Money St. Louis

Reported by Kelly Childs.

In 2012, $45,000 in loans catalyzed; additional loans in the works for 2013; a total of $53,000 invested.

 
In the fields with Riverbend Roots Farm, a five-acre vegetable farm in Alton, Ill.

Nine St. Louisans came together last year to form a food- and farm-focused investment club called Gateway Harvest. The club made one $5,000 loan and catalyzed an additional $25,000 in individual loans for the October opening of a Local Harvest Grocery location in Kirkwood, Mo.. Another $15,000 in loans were catalyzed for an expansion of the Local Harvest–Morgan Ford Cafe. Since 2007, the Local Harvest family, including a grocery store and cafe on Morgan Ford Road, a cafe and event space in downtown St. Louis, and a grocery/cafe combination in Kirkwood, has purchased more than $1 million in products from local farmers and food producers and has grown to employ close to 100 people.

This year, the investment club has made a $2,000 loan to Riverbend Roots Farm in Alton, Ill., to build a cold-storage room in its barn. Other deals are in the pipeline, and we look forward to gaining momentum in 2013 with our St. Louis Local Food Town Hall.

 

Slow Money Ohio

Reported by Lisa Daris.

More than $170,000 in loans facilitated since chapter formed; loans led to national media and wider product distribution.

Our Slow Money investment loan to Lucky Penny Candy in Kent, Ohio, got national exposure when the Washington Post highlighted Lucky Penny’s delicious Cajeta, a goat milk caramel sauce, in a blog that featured 22 products out of thousands from the Fancy Food Show in Chicago. As a result, Lucky Penny Candy received significant orders with national food buyers, and the story enabled us to attract an investor who secured equipment for additional growth and expansion for the company.

Our Slow Money loan to Storehouse Tea Company in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, enabled the business to offer a committed production line for Whole Foods Market, Earth Fare and Giant Eagle Market District grocery stores throughout Ohio and Pittsburgh, as well as specialty shops, regional food festivals and select farmers markets.

Our Cincinnati chapter held two “Local Loans for Local Foods” networking events, which resulted in several loans. Several other events are being planned throughout Ohio in 2013.

 

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