New Maker Movement Report Helps Cities Unleash Local Creative Economy

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National League of Cities, Etsy, Recast City and Urban Manufacturing Alliance Join Forces for Latest Report

Charlotte, N.C. – A new report out today from the National League of Cities (NLC), Etsy, Recast City and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) provides a roadmap for cities to develop policies, programs and a culture that better supports local maker businesses. The guide, “Discovering Your City’s Maker Economy,” defines the maker community, highlights specific ways that city leaders can support these entrepreneurs and provides profiles of supportive programs, policies, and partnerships at the city level.

Clarence E. Anthony, CEO & executive director, National League of Cities: City leaders play a critical role in sustaining and expanding their local maker communities. Cities across the country are already working to create supportive business environments and explore how maker-entrepreneurship can act as a key driver in achieving equity goals. This report will help city officials take their maker economies to the next level and bring more opportunities to local entrepreneurs.

Althea Erickson, head of advocacy and impact, Etsy: With more than 1.9 million Etsy sellers in nearly every county in the United States, we know that creative micro-businesses are an important and growing part of the economy. Over the last few years, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with Etsy sellers and city leaders through our Maker Cities program to harness the impact of the creative economy, and help these microbusinesses find success on their own terms. We’re excited to share our learnings throughout this report. We’re hopeful that this guidebook will encourage even more policymakers to explore opportunities to engage their local microbusinesses in making their cities Maker Cities together.

Ilana Preuss, president, Recast City: Through my work with city government and real estate developers across the country, I’ve seen the power of maker businesses and small-scale manufacturing to serve as a catalyst for local economic resilience. I’ve also seen a clear need for local elected officials to champion this effort. This report collects some of the best public- and private-led initiatives for all communities to learn from as they build their own small production economy.

Lee Wellington, executive director, Urban Manufacturing Alliance: Makers are the small but mighty entrepreneurs that help build innovation economies and create vibrant neighborhoods. Whether it’s a baker preparing small batches for the corner coffee shop, or a local hardware manufacturer that’s working towards their first big supplier contract, this report provides a vetted how-to for city officials who want to identify and lift up these promising industries.

In addition to answering common questions about the maker economy and providing case studies and examples, the report outlines how cities can take action to support local maker businesses and manufacturers, including:

  • Create a supportive business environment for makers and manufacturers by taking actions like mapping and convening the existing community of makers, connecting entrepreneurs to small business supports, investing in incubators and accelerators, and helping low-income entrepreneurs access capital.
  • Drive demand for locally made and manufactured products through “Made Local” and regional brand campaigns, and by creating new business-to-business procurement.
  • Provide access to affordable and safe production spaces for makers and manufacturers by identifying micro-retail opportunities in existing buildings and new construction, considering a zoning incentive for private developers to set aside space for local businesses, and supporting local craft events, farmers’ markets, and festivals.
  • Advocate for state policies that support makers and microbusinesses such as a state (or local) sales tax exemption program and reviewing regulations related to home-based businesses.

Discovering Your City’s Maker Economy,” builds on previous work from NLC on the growth of the maker movement. The report was released today at NLC’s annual City Summit conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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About National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org

About Etsy

Etsy is the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Within Etsy’s markets, millions of people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods. Etsy offers a wide range of seller services and tools that help creative entrepreneurs start, manage and scale their businesses. Etsy’s mission is to keep commerce human. Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship program and Maker Cities initiative offers community organizations, city officials, and Etsy sellers new ways to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship and grow creative local economies. Learn more at www.etsy.com.

About Recast City

Recast City is a national consulting firm that works with real estate developers, city and other civic leaders, and business owners to integrate manufacturing space for small-scale producers into redevelopment projects. Recast City brings together small-scale manufacturers and community developers to strengthen our neighborhoods, build value in our real estate, and create more job opportunities for residents. We help landowners, developers, and city leaders understand this growing business sector and how to incorporate it into real estate products. We help maker industry entrepreneurs and small manufacturing business owners get the support and exposure they need. And we help communities create more good paying jobs for our local residents. Learn more at www.recastcity.com.

About the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA)

The Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) is a national coalition of organizations that are building manufacturing economies fit for the 21st century. Our goal is to create pathways to middle-class jobs, spark homegrown innovation and ensurethat cities and towns continue to be the places where we make things. Through our Communities of Practice, in-person Gatherings and original policy research, UMA showcases current practices, programs and people that are uplifting manufacturing and creating more equitable communities. Learn more at www.urbanmfg.org. 

Senior Associate, Communications
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