The time is now to make a deposit and procure the financial health of Peterborough in the future.
Paul Bennett says the best mix for a thriving community combines social finance with private and public partnerships. The local businessman and social finance enthusiast speaks with Electric City Magazine (ECM) on the heels of a recent successful forum about social finance.
Social Financing Solutions for the Common Good, held in Peterborough Jan. 22, attracted 80-plus citizens and featured a diverse range of panelists.
Here’s what’s happening now.
ECM: Why is now the right time to put energy into developing social finance in Peterborough?
Paul: To me, social finance and private/public partnerships are the only way for many of the needed projects in our community (and others) to move forward in a positive direction. All levels of government are becoming more and more in debt and citizens at some point need to stand up and take the lead to help our communities grow in a positive way with long-term solutions, not short-term thinking.
“I have always envisioned a true community-based investment — where all community members can work together by investing their funds (and in some cases, talents) to work locally to see local developments and infrastructure happen.”
ECM: What are your next steps?
Paul: In a perfect world, the federal government would work to bring together a plan to help this move forward. The reality of this (as we all know) is that governments are burdened with a very slow process and limitless bureaucratic red tape.
So, in my opinion, it is time for community members to get together and look at how we can work to help our community and do so in a meaningful way.
ECM: What would you like from the community in support of your efforts in social finance?
Paul: I look at social finance the way I would look at resources for anything. We as a community need to work together to create business models that can not only sustain but grow.
This may involve partnerships, shared services, hub-style developments, et cetera, but the community needs to look at ideas on how we can better solve many of the issues that have persisted here and in other communities for far too long.
ECM: What’s possible now that wasn’t possible before the recent social finance forum?
Paul: I think by talking about things, no matter what they are, we as a community can build a great deal of momentum.
Coming away from the forum I have had numerous follow-up meetings that I think indicate that we, as a community, are on the same page with our drive to solve some big issues. We just need to do a better job of using our individual skill-sets and resources to help move projects forward as a team.
ECM: If everything you hope will happen happens, how will things look then?
Paul: This is a very open-ended question, but I have always envisioned a true community-based investment — where all community members can work together by investing their funds (and in some cases, talents) to work locally to see local developments and infrastructure happen.
I think we now live in a time where people want to help their local community and if we find a way to organize and mobilize those funds and skills, the things that could happen in our community would be limitless.
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