Memphis Makers: Data Released from Major Survey|
of More than 300 Creative Entrepreneurs
adapted from submitted press release
MEMPHIS MAKER advocates Monday (Feb. 6) released findings from an unprecedented local survey of more than 300 makers, artisans and micro-manufacturers in Memphis and Shelby County.
Today, in tandem with the release of the Made By report, a briefing and ideation summit is planned for elected officials, representatives of local economic development initiatives, stakeholders, and national thought leaders, according to a release from partners in the project.
Leaders of Memphis-based research firm Little Bird Innovation and the EPIcenter accelerator hub in Memphis were among leaders of the effort. A map of the Makers ecosystem in Shelby County is available here. [A Wiki entry on Maker culture is here.]
The final data-driven economic-development plan guided by the Maker findings unveiled this week will be released in summer 2017 and will be implemented by EPIcenter and supported by Made By Advisory Board members and institutions. Specific findings released this week appear below.
The plan will focus on closing gaps identified in the survey by creating and coordinating programs and infrastructure to support maker businesses and to prepare those who want to scale to meet the demand for handcrafted and small-batch products.
The Made By Project represents an effort to understand the aspirations and needs of "makers," or those creating and selling physical goods created at small scale in one of four sectors: packaged food and beverage; fashion and accessories; home goods; and technology and hardware.
"While the Memphis region has established strength in sectors like logistics, medical devices, music and tourism, the lack of data about our makers and micro-manufacturers means they have been thus far underrepresented in economic development initiatives and, as such, an underutilized investment opportunity for growing our economy," said Nicole Heckman, co-founder of Little Bird Innovation. "Makers represent real opportunities for organically growing minority- and women-owned businesses, skilled labor, and local suppliers in manufacturing and materials."
Implementation of recommendations in the development plan will be led by EPIcenter, a collaborative and community-wide strategic initiative that is helping entrepreneurs conceive, launch and scale businesses in the Memphis region. EPIcenter serves as the strategic hub of the region's ecosystem and coordinates resources from various organizations in the community such as accelerators, incubators, mentors, investors, networking programs, and technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs.
"Many communities are trying to determine how to build infrastructure to support makers and artisans, and we now have the data to really understand how best to serve them here in Shelby County," said Leslie Smith, president of EPIcenter, which is managed under the umbrella of Memphis Bioworks Foundation. "While many of our makers may not initially think of themselves as part of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, this 'creative class' of entrepreneurs not only represents viable businesses, but their locally made products represent such an authentic and vibrant part of Memphis."
Over the medium-to-long term, the development plan aims to grow the greater Memphis economy in new areas, specifically: the number of maker enterprises, especially by women and minorities; the diversity and quality standard of products; the number of micro-entrepreneurs scaling to small- and medium-sized businesses; the demand for skilled workers; and the brand perception of Memphis for making and creative enterprises.
Major survey findings and opportunities for growth include:
A Small Sample of What Memphis Makes:
Tech and Hardware
Apparel and Accessories
Home Goods and Furniture
Packaged Foods and Beverage
By the Numbers: