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Ripple of Change: Local Investing YYC

Momentum recognized Calgarians had a desire for local investment options, while many small local businesses also struggled to access affordable capital. Here's how we helped.

  • Article
  • Our impact
  • Community matters
  • Policy and research

Fri Mar 1, 2024 by Jeff Loomis

Imagine a world where your money doesn’t just vanish into the financial ether. Instead, it stays right here in Calgary, supporting businesses you believe in. Sounds appealing, right? Let’s dive into the positive impact of local investing and how Momentum has played a role.

Why Invest Locally?

Every dollar we can keep in our community sets off a ripple effect. It’s like planting a seed that sprouts into jobs, tax revenue, and shared prosperity. Did you know that most job growth in Canada happens in businesses with 20 employees or less? Investing locally in small businesses isn’t just good for your wallet—it’s good for everyone.

But here’s the catch: billions of dollars flow out of our local economy annually. How? Most of the money Albertans invest is made through mutual funds and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). These funds invest in global corporate companies traded on stock markets. Most of us don’t have an easy way to invest locally; we can support local businesses through our spending dollars, but our investment dollars usually go to businesses around the world.

If we’re able to find more ways to invest locally, those funds can go much deeper than transactional purchases. Investing is a way to show confidence in a business you feel has social or economic value. It tells the business “hey, I’m in this with you, I believe in this, let’s make it a success”. Investing in our local economy is a direct, measurable way to build communities, jobs, and more opportunity for sustainable growth in our city.

The Calgary Opportunity

Momentum recognized Calgarians had a desire for local investment options, while many small local businesses were also struggling to access affordable capital. In 2016, our public policy team highlighted this gap and proposed a solution—a tax credit to incentivize Albertans to invest in homegrown enterprises. Inspired by Nova Scotia’s success (7,500 people investing $70 million in community-based ventures), Alberta launched the Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) tax credit in 2018.

This new opportunity was advanced when a Momentum staff at the time, Barb Davies, co-founded Local Investing YYC, making it easy for everyday Calgarians to invest in businesses making a difference right here.

Local Investing YYC

Local Investing YYC is an investment cooperative. It lets everyday folks invest their money in local businesses that are making a positive impact here in Calgary. Imagine putting your dollars to work where you live! As a co-op, members pool their resources, investing through an RRSP or TFSA. This model is more accessible for Calgarians, and local businesses get a boost through access to capital that helps grow their businesses.

Success Stories

Righteous Gelato and Lowen’s Skin Care are two leading local businesses who got a boost from Local Investing YYC’s first capital raise, and are now making a positive community difference. Since the CEDC program ended in 2019, Local Investing YYC has continued raising money even without tax credits. In their second fund, Local Investing YYC raised $725,000 that supported businesses like MobSquad, Milk Jar, Included by Design, and Clean O2. The ripple effect? More jobs, more impact, and more stability for businesses working on UN Sustainable Development goals. 

A Solution with Traction

The future is bright for Local Investing YYC. A third capital raise just closed having mobilized $1.02 million in community capital. Their first two investments in this portfolio are Carbon Upcycling and groHere, with additional investments coming this year. Recently, Local Investing YYC was approved to receive investment capital from Boann Capital—a broker of the Federal Government's Social Finance Fund—which will provide a big boost in the scale of capital that is raised.

Momentum is proud to have played a part in the development of Local Investing YYC, which is helping to make Calgary a place where everyone can thrive. So next time you think about where to stash your cash, consider keeping it close to home. Investing your money in Calgary isn’t just about the business numbers—it’s about building a better future community.

Read more about our impact through other posts in our Ripples of Change series.