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Western Massachusetts communities in the Southern Berkshire Mountains wanted to promote local merchants and keep money circulating within their local economy. So they developed their own currency. Bolstered by locally owned banks, “Berkshares” are redeemable at participating area businesses.
The value of a Berkshare is 90 cents on the dollar. When local residents purchase Berkshares at participating banks, they are saving 10% and supporting the local economy. Since Berkshares can only be used within the community, the economy prospers from the local patronage.
Berkshares are printed on security paper at a local printing business. They are issued in five denominations: 1s, 5s, 10s, 20s, and 50s. Images on the currency feature heroes of the area - the Stockbridge Mohican Tribe, Norman Rockwell, Herman Melville, W.E.B. DuBois, and Robin van En. In the first three months since their debut last October, over $300,000 of Berkshares had been purchased from banks.