As we prepare for site visits in six new communities to develop strategies for local small-scale manufacturing this month, we’re taking a look back at the places we helped in 2016. Two communities—Lowell, MA and Twin Falls, ID—have made some impressive progress to support their budding maker businesses; their work shows how promising this emerging sector can be for building livable communities and healthy economies.
With the upcoming release of our new white paper on this topic on November 7, we are spotlighting a few of the standout examples of cities that have fostered a small-scale manufacturing sector through strategic land use decisions. This series will highlight the merits of small-scale manufacturing and how it’s contributing to the character, appeal, and success of smart downtowns in Lowell, MA; Twin Falls, ID; and Knoxville, TN.
If you think manufacturing still needs to be exiled to large, polluting, isolated factories, think again. Many of today’s manufacturing spaces are small, clean, shared among multiple firms, and integrated with other land uses. And communities across the country are creating space for these businesses in downtown neighborhoods, and making them part of a place-based approach to economic development.
Small-scale producers and manufacturers can boost local economies by creating new jobs for workers with a wide range of skill sets. When these companies are located in a downtown, however, their economic impact multiplies. These businesses can bring life to vacant industrial properties or storefronts and catalyze broader neighborhood investment. They can also help attract visitors by fostering a community of creative producers.
The Gates Art Gallery building in Lowell, MA’s Acre neighborhood. Lowell is hoping to support small-scale manufacturing in the neighborhood. Photo by Richard Howe via Flickr.
Four communities are using small-scale manufacturing for downtown revitalization to create economic opportunity, and will receive free technical assistance from Smart Growth America, made possible by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Small-scale manufacturing has emerged as an innovative strategy in today’s urban economic development toolbox. For many cities, this new industry can connect residents to good paying jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods they call home. Smart Growth America’s newest technical assistance program helps cities integrate small-scale manufacturing spaces into their economic development work.