What if the 1500 households in Sierra county each ponied up $1000.00 to form a corporation?
We recognize that of the 1500 households in Sierra County, about half couldn’t come up with a grand, but for the sake of argument, let’s say we all got together and purchased one of 1500 shares in our own corporation for a thousand bucks each, what would we do with the $1.5 million bucks?
We know up front we couldn’t do much; government regulations on any significant project would eat up the whole wad. It’s doubtful we could build much of a building or buy much land. We would have to try to spend as little as possible on startup, so our corporation wouldn’t be undercapitalized and be unable to survive the first three or four years. Our corporation would have to use existing infrastructure.
Our corporation would be for the benefit of the people of the county. It would hire people from the county; it could do this because it would be a not for profit corporation set up to benefit the people of Sierra County.
The county is poor by any standards, which means we might be able to get grants. Our corporation would be owned 51% by women, since there are more women than men in the county. It might qualify as "minority owned" because many of us qualify as a minority, this way and that. Our corporation would be smart, and would beg and bullshit as much government money as possible.
But, what would we do?
We wouldn’t raise oranges, because the climate isn’t right. We wouldn’t mine bauxite because there is none.
How could we employ as many people as possible, and bring as much money as possible into the county, using what we have plenty of? We’ll call it "biomass".
What would we do with the plentiful and practically worthless mass of bushes and small trees?
We might compete with the co-gen plant; there are many small power plants available because they are used in the developing countries. That wouldn’t employ many people, though.
We might supply the world with walking sticks.
We might found an empire of branch wood and willow furniture.
We might sell special cuts of pine to furniture makers.
We might sell pellets for pellet stoves.
We might sell cedar 4X4s and 6X6s cut from small cedar stems.
We might make branch wood and natural pine picture frames.
We might cut cedar and "sun bleach" it and sell it as barnwood.
We might make yard art, chainsaw art and kinetic art.
We might make hand made specialty papers out of willow, tulle, and other fibers.
We might find markets for extracts from willow or other common brush.
Actually, we might be able to do many of those things, and make our own electricity in the process. If we made use of funding and marketed our products correctly, we might be able to rent a building; purchase equipment to mill and plane lumber (about $15,000 for small scale); steam units to bend branch wood and willow (about $3,000). We might purchase the facilities necessary for handmade papers (about $2,000) and some vertical and horizontal boring machines and sanders and tenon cutters (about $5,000). These would all be small scale machines, but we would only use them when we had an order, so it is OK. For about $30,000 we could produce pellets from small units here
Maybe by diversifying our output and cross training our staff we could gradually determine which operations to fade out, and which to build. We would need land to store and dry biomass, a place for specialty woods to be safely stored. We would need to partner, probably with the SPI mill. Still, none of it is impossible, if we all worked together. Of course, our first big hurtle is to accomplish this without spending $2 million on consultants and market research analysts. A big, beautiful pdf from U. of Oregon. here
Maybe by diversifying our output and cross training our staff we could gradually determine which operations to fade out, and which to build.
We would need land to store and dry biomass, a place for specialty woods to be safely stored. We would need to partner, probably with the SPI mill.
Still, none of it is impossible, if we all worked together.
Of course, our first big hurtle is to accomplish this without spending $2 million on consultants and market research analysts.
A big, beautiful pdf from U. of Oregon. here