January 2014

Summary of LL4LF Winter Mixer
By Michele Bertaux

On January 26, the Cincinnati-area Slow Money group held a community gathering – their winter mixer.  These gatherings have the purpose of creating awareness and fostering relationships among those involved in the local, sustainable, food economy.

The gathering opened with a brief history of Slow Money and our local chapter, also known as Local Loans for Local Foods, followed by a go-round of group introductions – always a highlight!

Michele Bertaux then shared her experience using a self-directed, checkbook IRA to support several initiatives in the local food economy via small, low-interest loans.  She was looking for a way move her retirement savings out of publicly traded securities and put them to work in local economic activities that reflect her values around business practices, healthy lifestyles, environmental sustainability etc.

‘Self-directed’ IRA’s are available at certain financial institutions and are frequently used to hold investments in real estate.  The institution generally has protocols for approving or not approving investments, and charges fees for their various services.

The interim step between a self-directed and a checkbook self-directed is creating a one-owner LLC.  The LLC is bought by the IRA as an investment, and directed by the IRA account holder as the LLC Manager.  The Manager decides on the investments, and writes checks accordingly out of the LLC’s checking account.  Loans to local businesses are one form of investment that can be structured to meet IRS IRA guidelines.  A limited number of IRA custodians are available to hold checkbook IRA’s. More information about self-directed, checkbook IRAs (and IRAs in general) can be found in our Resource Library).

Caveat – there are tax and legal issues that must be understood and complied with to make this structure work.  Those interested are advised to do their homework.

The gathering next heard from Waterfields LLC, a small local business that is seeking financial support.  The presenters representing Waterfields LLC were Dan Divelbiss, Sam Dunlap, and Daniel Klemens.

Waterfields is a social enterprise connecting demand for local foods and jobs in the urban core through the implementation of innovative agricultural techniques.  By building profitable, sustainable hydroponic and aquaponic facilities in disadvantaged neighborhoods, they hope to produce year-round high quality vegetables and fish for a variety of markets.  Currently, they are growing microgreens and selling them in flats to restaurants so that the chefs can refrigerate and harvest at their convenience.  For more information on this enterprise, visit their webpage at: http://www.waterfieldsllc.com/contact-us.html

The mixer concluded with networking time and snacks provided by vegan chef Mark Stroud.

Our next mixer will be on March 16 at 1 pm, once again at Peterloon.  In addition to hearing presentations from food economy enterprises, there will be a brief talk on creative financing for local food businesses.

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