By Ann McCreary

TwispWorks wants to connect potential investors with Methow Valley businesses to create a local investment network, and will launch the effort early next month with a “Methow Investment Network Happy Hour.”

The gathering will be held Feb. 6, from 5 – 6 p.m. at the Education Station at TwispWorks.

Potential investors and local business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to attend to discuss the idea of creating a “local investment opportunity network” (LION), said Hannah McIntosh, healthy economy program manager at TwispWorks.

“We think the Methow is poised and ready to make a local investment network a success,” McIntosh said. “But before launching, we need to hear from potential investors and local businesses about what it will take to build a stable, active network here.”

One of the earliest and most successful LION networks was started in Port Townsend in the early 2000s, McIntosh said.

“The LION network in Port Townsend has dramatically reshaped business funding opportunities and local investing there and is being replicated across the Northwest,” she said.

A LION is not an investment fund and does not make “collective investment decisions,” McIntosh said. “Members are local citizens — residents who care about a place who want to invest their money locally,” she said.

“It is focused on economic localization. The more local an economy is, the less susceptible it is to swings and changes in the global economy,” McIntosh said.

TwispWorks would act as a “matchmaker,” connecting investors with local businesses that need capital or support to grow in the community. Investors would work directly with the businesses they support.

Investments could function like small business loans, or could be a contribution of expertise and experience, she said.

“It could be coaching and mentoring. Someone who is retired and ran a successful business can take on a mentoring role,” McIntosh said.

In the Port Townsend investment network, the average loan size is $12,000, she said. “$12,000 can make a real difference. It can help someone buy equipment, make it through the slow season, manage inventory,” she said.

Two faculty members of Washington State University who have helped establish networks throughout Washington and Oregon will be at the Feb. 6 gathering to share information, McIntosh said.

People interested in attending the session should RSVP to hmcintosh@twispworks.org.  Beverages will be provided. For information call 997-3300.