by Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog
Ithaca Hours, the local currency system, has issued its new annual Directory of businesses and members that accept Hours.
Ithaca Hours is cash money - in paper currency, like dollars - bolstering the local economy by providing an alternative to dollars for people to spend on goods and services.
Members join for ten dollars (or its equivalent, one Hour), and receive a listing in the Directory, and two Ithaca Hours, worth twenty dollars, to spend.
Over $100,000 worth of Hours are in circulation in Ithaca, providing money to spend locally, allowing dollars to be saved for other purposes.
Local currency systems strengthen local economies by never leaving the region. Part of every dollar spent at a Wal-Mart, for example, is guaranteed to leave forever. Local money stays.
Acceptance of local currency can provide a significant advantage to a local business competing with chain stores, or Internet sales.
Local currencies help individuals earn money, by offering goods and services for which dollars are not 100% necessary.
The Directory offers cheap advertising for individuals and businesses. Hours prints 5,000 of them, and circulates them throughout the county year-round.
Hours' 2007 Directory might be its last one to identify itself solely by calendar year, as the rhythms of Ithaca life usually keep it from publication until March of the year.
The Hours organization explains that it begins work on the Directory in October, but the holiday busyness of November and December customarily distracts members from renewing their annual memberships. Then in January many Ithacans are away, with schools closed. That leaves February for the finishing touches. Therefore, look for the next Directory to be identified as "March 2008 - April 2009."
Hours also prints the Directory in its entirety on its website, www.ithacahours.org. The fluidity of the website allows Hours to update its listings constantly, unlike the Yellow Pages, which updates just once a year.