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  • Writer's pictureClaire

Lending with Slow Money SLO Means Keeping Connection to the SLO community

Meet Local Lender Barrie Cleveland

Barrie Cleveland has a long history in San Luis Obispo County, both as a young person, and during his career and retirement. After college and the beginning of his career, he returned to the area in 1987 and worked in marketing, first for the airline industry, and later in the wine industry. Though he spent time in the business world, he also dedicated energy to the arts, serving on various boards for organizations like the Mozart Festival, SLO Film Festival, and the Foundation for the Performing Arts. He has also played a leadership role with the local YMCA.

I would say the arts are a critical part of a full life. I want to make sure we can provide opportunities as it adds so much life to our community. - Barrie Cleveland

The Attraction to Slow Money SLO

Barrie first heard about Slow Money SLO from Jeff Wade (Founder and Executive Director) while they were working on a project in the wine industry. It was a new concept, definitely not what he learned in business school. Barrie was not sure what to think of it. However, as Jeff explained the Slow Money principles, and the reality that many local businesses had a hard time getting traditional lending, the picture became clear. Knowing that he wanted to support the community and continue to diversify his financial portfolio, Barrie decided to meet with other lenders as well as small businesses that were looking for loans.

At first it was hard to understand the concept but as I learn more about it and how traditional lenders’ requirements made securing loans difficult for small businesses, Slow Money SLO seemed like it filled a need for the small business community. - Barrie Cleveland

The Decision to Invest

Being involved in a Slow Money SLO lending project couldn't be more different than the typical Wall Street stocks and bonds and real estate investing that Barrie was accustomed to. He enjoyed being able to meet the Slow Money SLO supported business owners and their teams, see them face to face and listen to their business plans. He also valued being able to walk though their facilities and try their products and feel a part of their business team. Those experiences, along with the business acumen of the business owners, convinced Barrie that this would be a great way to stay connected to the community, while also enjoying the benefits of another revenue stream.

All these smart people out there are starting businesses and you wonder ‘why in the world can’t they get funding’? I realized it was due to the finance industry's strict protocols and was not the business’ fault. - Barrie Cleveland

The Return on Investment

Barrie has invested in three local businesses, and had wonderful experiences. He has been pleased with his returns on both a completed project, and an ongoing one. The lending not only connected him to the businesses, but also to the other Slow Money SLO lenders whose resources were pooled to reach the funding goals. This community connection is really valuable to Barrie, so he is glad to have taken the risk of investing in small businesses.

Furthermore, Barrie recognizes that helping these businesses expand means their products are more accessible to the community. More production capacity means more local ingredients are being used, more local jobs are created and more local dollars are reinvested into the local economy. Ensuring that higher quality local products can reach more local consumers is yet another reason that Barrie appreciates the Slow Money SLO mission and lending facilitation services.

It’s another way to stay tuned to what is happening in the community. You feel more connected and supportive. I am more apt to buy products from businesses that I recognize as Slow Money SLO supported, even if I wasn’t a lender to them. - Barrie Cleveland

What’s next for Barrie

Being fully retired, Barrie is enjoying his passive income streams while remaining active in the community. He still helps out in arts organizations, delivers food to seniors and he’s building a cottage on his new property. He looks forward to traveling when he can - road trips for now, and internationally when it is safe to do so.


Slow Money SLO is forever appreciative of lenders like Barrie. Not only for their willingness to take a risk, but also for their commitment to community, and their support of locally made products.

If you are interested in learning more about lending through Slow Money SLO, fill out the Lender Form on our website!


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