a local currency for the Berkshire region. Dubbed a "great economic experiment" by the New York Times, BerkShares are a tool for community empowerment, enabling merchants and consumers to plant the seeds for an alternative economic future for their communities. Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares had a robust initiation, with over one million BerkShares having been circulated in the first nine months and over two million to date. Currently, more than three hundred and sixty businesses have signed up to accept the currency. Five different banks have partnered with BerkShares, with a total of thirteen branch offices now serving as exchange stations. For BerkShares, this is only the beginning. Future plans could involve BerkShare checking accounts, electronic transfer of funds, ATM machines, and even a loan program to facilitate the creation of new, local businesses manufacturing more of the goods that are used locally.