After a competitive application process, South Bend has been selected by the national organization Smart Growth America to receive technical assistance that will support local efforts to use small-scale manufacturing as a strategy to create inclusive economic opportunity and enhance quality of life. South Bend has made a commitment to engage and empower small business and small-scale manufacturing in order to develop the community. This assistance is made possible by support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
“I’m delighted to see South Bend selected for this grant to support our efforts to use small-scale manufacturing to promote place-based economic development,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Technological and economic changes have led to a surge in small-scale manufacturing and the growth of the maker economy. This new-but-old economic trend is diversifying the manufacturing sector and encouraging more small-scale manufacturing in downtowns and neighborhood centers, helping to create a more resilient and inclusive small business environment, increase the accessibility of the local job market, and create a foothold for future growth.
Interviews with small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs reveal consistent challenges accessing resources, information, opportunity and capital. Technical assistance will support work to identify strategies the City can implement to bridge these gaps. As part of its stated mission to be inclusive of all of residents, the City of South Bend will engage economically disadvantaged communities to develop strategies that are relevant to those populations.
“We’re excited to use this opportunity to make policy changes, develop financing mechanisms, and build other tools to support small business and improve the quality of life, particularly for South Bend’s low-income communities,” said Department of Community Investment Business Development Manager Austin Gammage.
Chris Zimmerman, Vice President of Economic Development at Smart Growth America, explained, “Small-scale manufacturing, which generally includes entrepreneurial, specialized, and boutique-style manufacturing operations, has emerged as a new tool for economic development in urban areas. Smart Growth America’s technical assistance program helps cities like South Bend integrate small-scale manufacturing spaces into urban redevelopment efforts.”
South Bend was chosen from among 63 other organizations and communities in 32 different states who applied for this year’s program. The applicants included municipal governments, local non-profits, and regional- and state-level organizations. Five other communities were chosen by Smart Growth America to receive this year’s technical assistance following the program’s success in 2016 in Knoxville, TN, Lowell, MA, Youngstown, OH, and Twin Falls, ID. The 2018-19 cohort also includes Baltimore, MD, High Point, NC, Lafayette, LA, Colombia, MO, and Cusick, WA.