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Ojai group aims to create town currency

July 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The small town of Ojai is considering making their own form of currency to help insulate local businesses from fiscal collapse.Greenbacks. Ben Franklin's. Our money has a lot of names, but it may soon be getting a new one -- at least in the town of Ojai. The resort community is almost two hours north of Los Angeles.

It relies on tourists spending their cash as its main industry.

"There is no big factory. There is nothing that has people employed here. Ojai itself is the industry," said Roberta Raye, Ojai business owner.

Lately the quaint town has been seeing fewer dollars. Community leaders have come up with an idea. They want to create their own town currency, and some businesses are all for it.

"It is an interesting concept. I'm very into exploring the opportunities," said Catherine Nation, Ojai business owner.

Since March a team called the Ojai Community Group has been meeting to iron out the details of the new bucks.

"We look at this is a complimentary currency to help strengthen the local economy, which has its struggles in part because it is tied to the national economy," said Tyler Suchman, community leader.

But only recently have they come up with a mock-up card and a working title for the new currency, it is called the Ojai Buck.

The Ojai Buck is going to be similar to a person's debit card. They are planning to have three ATM machines in town. It is a way of keeping all of the money in the community.

"Anything we can do for our community to bring it together and keep all of us driving will be better for us all in the end," said Susan Coulter, Ojai business owner.

A community currency is not something new. In 2006, western Massachusetts started their own money called, Berkshares. They now have over $2.5 million in circulation.

A few questions remain before Ojai Bucks go out to the public, like federal and state tax ramifications. But the plan is to roll out the new currency by the end of September.

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