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A Look at How Small Manufacturing and Machining Companies Benefit the Local Community

Don’t overlook the positive community impact created by small and mid-sized manufacturing and machine shops.

By William Krueger
 3 min read
Manufacturing Tools of the Trade: Machines to Buy in 2020
September 17, 2020
 4 min read

Building the Community: How Small Shops Benefit the Local Area

Small- and mid-sized manufacturing and machine shops create a lot of value for their communities. We asked two experts to outline the various positive impacts our sector has on the local area:

  • Katy Stanton, director of programming and operations for the Urban Manufacturing Alliance
  • Rod Stevens, senior director of Revitalization Partners

What are the most significant benefits manufacturing and machining companies bring to their local communities?

Katy: The biggest benefits are family-sustaining wages, opportunities to build generational wealth, and a positive impact on the local economy through the multiplier effect. One thing that makes quantifying the impact challenging is that many small manufacturers define themselves as a maker, artisan, or designer – not a manufacturer – even though they’re functioning as small-scale producers, so they get missed when economic data is being created.

Did you know…raising the minimum wage drives higher household buying on everything from eating out to purchasing a car, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

What’s a commonly overlooked advantage of small, local manufacturers?

Rod: A lot of economic development people are chasing massive greenfield projects out in the middle of nowhere. But what’s really happening is that, where there’s expertise, people are innovating and adapting their work in the center city and on Main Street where there’s talent, connections, and coffee.

Did you know…states collected 35% of general revenue and local governments generate 11% from general sales and excise taxes.

And that translates to urban infill opportunities and lower impact on infrastructure?

Rod: Right. You need a place that supports people convening, trading ideas, and getting leads at the coffee shop.

Did you know…on average, 48% of every order at local independent businesses is recirculated in the community, according to the American Independent Business Alliance. Local shops do business with other local businesses like accountants, finishers, coffee shops, and trades.

How does a more local supply chain benefit the local environment?

Katy: When makers and designers understand regional supply chains, they can produce locally instead of in China. That supports the local economy and reduces the impact on the environment.

Rod: And being within driving distance of your suppliers and clients is beneficial because you don’t have to get on a plane when an in-person meeting is necessary.

Did you know…the EPA estimates that aircraft contribute 12% of our nation’s transportation emissions, and 3% of its total greenhouse gas production. Shorter supply chains reduce traffic on the roads, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the air, and are easier on the wallet.

Do local manufacturers support the local entrepreneurial and arts economies?

Katy: Definitely. So many people have ideas for products but they think actually manufacturing them is impossible. They don’t necessarily know about local shops and if they do, they don’t speak the same language. We have a whole program called Design Jam in Detroit that helps designers and artists see the local manufacturers as partners.

Did you know…arts and culture contributed $877.8 billion, or 4.5%, to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 5 million wage-and-salary workers in 2017, according to the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account.

Small manufacturers bring a lot of value to the local community. Sharing these facts with policy-makers, elected officials and other leaders is a great first step to empower and support businesses like yours in their community.

William Krueger
As a digital marketing specialist, William works with all forms of media from photography and video to content writing and graphic design to tell the story of American manufacturing. He holds a B.A. in Communication from Wittenberg University.

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