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Pollinating Food Enterprises: Creative New Models for Starting, Supporting, and Financing Local Food Business - an NGFN webinar

Michael Shuman illustrates how “pollinators” (self-financing enterprises committed to boosting local business) are efficient economic development levers.


A “pollinator” is a self-financing enterprise committed to boosting local business. Michael Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution (Chelsea Green, 2015), argues that these enterprises are the keystone of sustainable economic development.

The current mainstream means to community economic development is to attract large corporate chains to build and stay. Shuman argues that this paradigm is fundamentally misguided, because it overlooks the power and efficiency of locally owned small business. A growing body of evidence underscores that locally owned business can deliver far more economic-development impact—jobs, income, wealth, taxes—than global corporations at a lower cost.  In fact, Shuman shows that local economic development might be possible at zero long-term cost, if planners were to take full advantage of an expanding range of business “pollinators.”

Pollinators carry out all of the basic functions of economic development that are taken on by typical, taxpayer-funded programs, including planning, entrepreneurship training, business partnerships, local purchasing, and local investing. Shuman’s new book shows that pollinators accomplish these functions with far greater efficacy and at a substantially lower cost. The book illustrates the clout of pollinators through 28 case studies, many of which focus on development of local food businesses.

In this webinar, Shuman delves deep into this transformational idea on sustainable economic development through food (and other) businesses, sharing some of the best models of food-related pollinators. Linda Best, founder of FarmWorks, a local-food investment fund in Nova Scotia, presents an in-depth case study of one of these models.





Slides from the presentation (PDF)


Presenter Bios

Micheal Shuman

Michael ShumanMichael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a globally recognized expert on community economics. He is one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “JOBS Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012.  Shuman is currently Director of Community Portals for Mission Markets and a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and Post-Carbon Institute.  He’s also a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is also an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Linda Best

Linda BestLinda Best grew up on a farm in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. After graduating from Acadia University in 1966 she was involved with the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax as a Medical Microbiologist (1966 – 1995), Medical Researcher and author of peer-reviewed Gastroenterology papers and presenter at Research Conferences (1995 – 2012) and as a Director of the Capital District Health Authority (2001 – 2005). 

For twelve years she operated Alderbrook apple orchard on weekends while working at the hospital. She founded Frame Plus Art which grew to include three stores, a production facility and 10 employees. She served as a Director of Sutton Gardens Condominium Corporation for twelve years.

While a CDHA Director, after moving to Wolfville in 2002, awareness of food-related health issues led to research into potential solutions for the decreasing production of food in Nova Scotia. She helped establish Friends of Agriculture and she is a founding member and Past Chair of FarmWorks Investment Co-operative Limited, a Community Economic Development Investment Co-operative that provides funding for farmers and food producers across Nova Scotia. In the first three years FarmWorks has raised over $1,000,000 and has granted over 35 loans to food-related businesses across Nova Scotia.

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