Attracting a major employer or a tech company is not the only economic development strategy that deserves attention and investment.
When community leaders in Columbia, Missouri, first set out to revitalize The Loop, the prospects felt daunting. This stretch of Highway 40 serves as the entrance to Columbia but has been neglected for decades. Local small businesses were few, and struggling.
Leaders organized conversations with neighbors to understand what types of businesses were currently in the region, what the community wanted, and how this effort could contribute to broader city priorities. They soon learned that one particular type of business held an uncommonly powerful potential to support transformation.
Small-scale manufacturers like Claysville Creations and Heartland Soapworks were selling products online as well as in retail spaces, creating jobs, and — most crucially — attracting visitors who want to buy products right where they’re made. The project team realized these would be perfect businesses to be among the first to build a destination in The Loop. Because they sell online, they don’t depend on foot traffic, but still create a reason for people to visit and stay awhile.
Small-scale manufacturers produce anything from textiles to hardware to beer or coffee and more. Unlike large manufacturers, they fit into relatively small square footage and are clean, quiet neighbors. They are well-positioned to compete in the digital economy, but also fill storefronts and contribute to a thriving downtown or business district. They create jobs at a variety of skill levels, and it’s often women, immigrants, and Black, Latino or other business owners of color at their helm. Many owners operate these businesses out of their homes or garages at first, so your neighborhood might be home to small-scale manufacturers already.
Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects
Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.
Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’
A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?
Proposal Would Transform L.A.’s ‘Freeway to Nowhere’ Into Park, Housing
A never-completed freeway segment could see new life as a mixed-use development with housing, commercial space, and one of the county’s largest parks.
Report: Bike Lanes Can't Make up for New Roads
If California wants to meet its climate goals, the state must stop funding its myriad road construction and expansion projects.
Minneapolis Affordable Housing Project Largest in 20 Years
The city opened its first large multifamily affordable housing complex in decades, but a recent court ruling against the Minneapolis 2040 rezoning plan could jeopardize future projects.
NYC Mayor Proposes Eliminating Parking Minimums
Mayor Adams wants to stop requiring off-site parking for new buildings to reduce the costs of construction as part of the ‘City of Yes’ package of zoning reforms.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
City of San Carlos
National Capital Planning Commission
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.