Compiled by Jodi La Marco
David Cagan is passionate about helping the local economy thrive. Through Cagan Consulting, he’s helping small businesses do what it takes to keep the ball rolling.
What services do you offer?
I’m a small business consultant. I do everything from helping people straighten up their books to consider ways to move their business forward. Business can be overwhelming, and small business owners wear so many hats. I think it’s helpful and necessary for everyone in business to have some outside help. My motto is, you can’t really do business by yourself. You have to have help from other people. There’s something about externalizing problems and issues and daily concerns that is absolutely a necessity.
I particularly enjoy working with small businesses because I’m dedicated to helping small businesses thrive in an environment where global economics is so powerful and dominant. It’s a little bit of a Robin Hood kind of effort.
What’s your background?
For about 10 years, I was working in an organization that reached to 25 employees. I have a lot of experience in operations, finances, staff development, and human resources. I also have a lot of experience building start-ups.
How does your business fit into the larger movement to revitalize the Hudson Valley?
In addition to my consulting business, I’m also an employee of the Hudson Valley Current. Three days out of the week, I’m working for the Hudson Valley Current as the director of operations. On the other two days I feel very proud to be involved in small businesses because to a large extent, the local economy is built on small businesses. In both of my jobs I feel really involved, right on the ground, trying to help.
What measures do you take to support the local economy?
I try to buy locally. I try to be aware of what’s happening locally, and to encourage communication and business to thrive locally. As part of my regular work at both jobs, I’m meeting people in business on the local scene, both for-profit and nonprofit. We’re trying to make this region sustainable.
Why did you decide to start using Hudson Valley Currents? What attracted you to local currency?
The “aha” moment for me occurred when I was working for the Local Economies Project, which at that time was supporting local agriculture. It incubated the Hudson Valley Farm Hub and was a big influence on my development and understanding of local economics. Us humans can have a kind of runway thinking that can become more and more numerical, and less and less personal. We need to rein in that unbridled greed and desire, and bring it back to a human scale. The only way to do that is to work with human connections. With collaborations and with face to face business dealings, the Hudson Valley Current is a natural way to promote that because it’s based on currency exchanges between actual people.
Hudson Valley Currents are similar to cryptocurrency in that we use the Internet to do exchanges. Some complementary currencies also have paper currency. We are very excited to be rolling out paper currency, hopefully in the next three to six months. But exchanges will continue to be done on the Internet, so there’s a similarity there with cryptocurrency. There’s also a huge difference. Cryptocurrency is global, and complementary currencies are local. They’re personal. They’re always between members, and you can see who those members are. Cryptocurrency is an anonymous security that encourages anonymity and individual interest. Complementary currencies encourage people to know who they are doing business with.
Where do you like to spend currents?
I’ve really been enjoying the gift certificates that we’ve been promoting. I’ve had the opportunity to go to a number of great restaurants as a result of that, such as Le Canard Enchaine in Kingston, the Kitchenette in High Falls, and Mariner’s Harbor in Kingston. These restaurants aren’t accepting exchanges, but they are offering gift certificates in exchange for advertising from the Hudson Valley Current. Then, in turn, the Hudson Valley Current is selling those gift certificates for Currents. It becomes a nice way for Currents to flow without overwhelming their business.
Some businesses—because they’re so small—can’t afford to take in a lot of Currents without having places to spend them. We’ve been trying to work with them until we are able to build the ecosystem to a large enough scale where everyone has a place to use their Currents. Gift certificates are limited, but can be purchased for Currents at the Hudson Valley Current virtual store online.