Columbia is home to makers, creators, and fabricators. People brew beer in their basements, roast coffee in their kitchens, or build furniture in their garages. Others work in textiles or bring garment construction to a new level with wearable electronics. School kids board the STEAM Bus to learn coding and engineering skills with a Raspberry Pi.
Small-scale manufacturing can bring innovation, creativity, and economic vitality to a long-neglected area like the Business Loop. So how can we identify and support these up-and-coming manufacturers with expert mentoring, funding, and marketing assistance? And how can we help them break ground here on The Loop?
Columbia has done this before. We’ve created an arts district alive with local creativity. We have a proud group of local farmers who are expanding their space to meet community demand. Now let’s take this DIY approach to the makers of Columbia and see what we can build.
The Business Loop CID was one of six organizations in the nation to receive a Smart Growth America grant designed to encourage local, small-scale manufacturing as a way to revitalize an underperforming area of the city and create new economic opportunities.
In partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Recast City, Smart Growth America provided free technical assistance to help us create an action plan to identify, support, and promote small-scale manufacturing along the corridor. The Business Loop CID is partnering with Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) and other key stakeholders to move this project forward. The resulting action plan is tailored to address the Business Loop’s specific needs by using existing resources and addressing potential obstacles to these local startups. It also focuses on inclusivity by creating pathways to include those left out of traditional funding processes, often women and minorities.