Three Detroit small business owners have developed some specialty "scrip" or Detroit-based currency to help jumpstart and promote new business in the city.
And from the early response, it sounds as if other entrepreneurs are giving more than just "three cheers" to this new idea.
The currency is called Detroit Cheers, and earlier this year three city business owners each invested $1,500 to kick off the idea, John Linardos from Motor City Brewing Works, Tim Tharp from Foran's Grand Trunk Pub and Jerry Belanger from Park Bar.
Consumers who use the scrip are essentially making a concerted effort to buy local, since only businesses within the city accept it.
In the 1930s such scrip was created by local business owners and entities to help promote economic activity during the Great Depression. As long as businesses accept such currency, this private money is considered legal. The Detroit Cheers currency is being printed on a limited basis but area businesses are willing to invest in an idea that they only hope will grow.
"Right now it's a way for us to help promote our businesses in this down economy," Linardos said.
There are two levels of participation with the Detroit Cheers currency. One is for businesses to accept and recirculate, thereby giving it value. Other businesses can sponsor the printing of Detroit Cheers by financing additional production.
Still in its early stages, the Detroit Cheers is printed only in $3 bills. The value of the currency is backed by putting money aside in escrow that is backed by the U.S. dollar, Linardos said. An additional benefit to local business owners is that while the front of the $3 cheer bill remains the same, the back of the bill can include the logo of any participating Detroit business.
As of late September, Linardos estimated that nearly 30 Detroit businesses accepted the scrip currency. The risk to each business involved is small because only a limited production run has been developed thus far. Some capital costs were required to help with printing and paper costs.
"Ultimately what we'd like to have happen is to find a suitable nonprofit or company take this program over and run with it," Linardos said. "We all have businesses to run and that's our main focus. As part of our...