Small-scale Manufacturing Is On the Rise

This March, five Virginia communities are kicking off a pilot program for technical assistance that will determine the potential for small-scale production/manufacturing that drives economic growth and community development. This new program, provided by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), through Virginia Main Street and in partnership with the National Main Street Center, signals a shift in where, how and why goods are being produced locally.

“Small-scale producers are key to strengthening local and state economies,” said Matthew Wagner, PhD., vice president of revitalization programs at the National Main Street Center. “These types of producers create jobs, drive tourism and foster businesses that spur long-term growth within a community.”

In a mature community like Arlington, revitalization efforts along with scarce industrial space have been superseded by businesses better suited to commercial office space.  But today’s consumers are often looking for products that are unique, locally made and connected to the individual that made them. Far from hand made arts and crafts projects, makers have leveraged sophisticated equipment, new technology and online distribution behemoths like Etsy to take their products to market. In one recent report from the Re:Create Coalition, “more than 16.9 million independent American creators earned a baseline of $6.8 billion from posting their music, videos, art, crafts and other works online in 2017.”

Much more than diversifying the business base and keeping vacancies low, connection to the community can be a catalyst for economic stability and attraction.

Learn about the value, strategies and tools available to businesses like bakeries, apparel and jewelry makers, furniture producers, ceramic artists, makers, restaurants and more in this free presentation by Matthew Wagner, PhD., on Friday, February 28 at Arlington’s Central Library.

Small-scale Manufacturing: Economic Growth and Diversification. Free program. Free surface and garage parking. Metro accessible. Registration required.

Photo by Kathy LaPlante.

Topic: Creative Economy
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