- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2013

It started at five community banks and has now spread to more than 400 local businesses. One small county in Massachusetts has created its own system of money, currency called BerkShares that’s accepted by a large portion of the establishments in the community.

And $100 will get you 105 BerkShares — a 5 percent discount for money that’s good at most of the local stores, PBS NewsHour reported. Conversely, trading in BerkShares for greenbacks calls for a 5 percent fee — so 105 BerkShares only buys $100 at the banks.

Brian Butterworth with the local Red Lion Inn, said in PBS: “BerkShares is just a way to keep money within the community.”

The geographic limit to use BerkShares is about 10 miles away from the Berkshire County borders.

Alice Maggio, with Schumacher Center for New Economics, said the BerkShares’ concept isn’t isolationist or protectionist. Rather, it’s how things used to be.

“We used to have this system in this country,” she said, PBS reported. “We used to have local currencies everywhere. … That’s what we’d like to see again, is this regional currencies that work for their region and then a national currency.”

Berkshire County is located in western Massachusetts.