Reopening Laois: The ‘Portlaoise Pound’
Laois will reopen. The world will reopen. That goes for certain. However nobody knows how long this process will take. Indeed nobody can foretell all the problems that will spring up during the ‘reopening’. We’re an innovative and resilient species and we will meet all and every challenge along the way.
Looking forward one potential problem is that there won’t be enough money in circulation among local businesses a long way into this process. Reduced household incomes may well dictate that an increased proportion of the weekly shop is done online or with the multiples. That is a fact of life. The Aldi’s and Lidl’s of this world will continue on. I, and I’m sure, many of our readers do their weekly shop there. The locally owned businesses will have to fight harder and longer and in more innovative ways to attract their slice of the customer pie.
To help them in this fight a complimentary currency should be set up in your local town. Take Portlaoise for instance. Let’s say we want a complimentary currency plus voucher system rolled into one. Let’s call it this currency the ‘Portlaoise Pound’. How does it work? The local business who signs up to participate in the scheme contributes for example €10 to be held securely held in a designated community fund account. Each €10 contribution from a local business backs one 10 ‘Portlaoise Pound’ voucher which is bought by a local person who pays €10 for it. The local person uses this voucher at a local participating business to keep trade local. The designated community fund account now has a balance of €20; €10 from the participating business and €10 from the local person who purchased the voucher.
The business who was presented with the 10 ‘Portlaoise Pound’ voucher redeems its face value €10 from the community account. Each voucher creates a €10 surplus which can be released for a community project like an allotment where the tools and seeds are bought locally. Businesses and local shoppers will see it working for all their benefit. This is turn will lead to more and more local businesses and consumers signing up to the scheme. It can then be expanded to all the other towns in Laois and beyond. Why not a ‘Portarlington Pound’ for example or a Rathdowney one for instance. Let’s start the ball rolling on this and have it up and running when the bulk of all our towns’ businesses have rolled up their shutters and begun to trade again.