Introducing Made in Place: Small-Scale Manufacturing and Neighborhood Revitalization

Small-scale manufacturing has emerged as a powerful way to tie opportunity to place, and can fill a key missing piece in today’s local economic development and neighborhood revitalization toolbox. This new old economic trend is diversifying the manufacturing sector and allowing many more people to produce and sell their own goods, and community leaders want to know: what are some of the characteristics of small-scale manufacturing, and how does it fit within their downtowns and neighborhood centers?

Made in Place: Small-Scale Manufacturing and Neighborhood Revitalization, a new report from Smart Growth America and Recast City, answers these questions and illustrates how encouraging more small-scale manufacturing in downtowns and neighborhood centers can help create a more resilient and inclusive small business environment, increase the accessibility of the local job market, and create a foothold for future growth.

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Small-scale manufacturing businesses in communities around the country are not only thriving as a result of being located on main street and in mixed-use districts, but are contributing to the character, appeal, and success of walkable neighborhoods. Throughout 2017, Smart Growth America and Recast City, with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, visited four communities that are building support for local producers to grow their businesses in target neighborhoods: Knoxville, TN; Lowell, MA; Twin Falls, ID; and Youngstown, OH.

This new whitepaper details four actions that cities and local economic development agencies can take to help put these ideas into practice, illustrated by case studies from these four cities, and others:

  1. Find, connect, and support small-scale manufacturers
  2. Identify funding sources
  3. Encourage small light industrial space in local developments
  4. Create cross-sector partnerships

Every place has a unique history of skills and industry. Small-scale manufacturers can help build on that legacy, and community leaders can utilize focused programs and policies to encourage these businesses, harness the talents of a wider range of their residents, and boost their local economies.

Economic development