One of the Main Street America transformation strategies recommended for the Granary District is small scale manufacturing or a “Makers District”.
A Makers District can best be described as a cross between an artist collective, farmers market, woodworking shop, music festival, bakery, brewpub, and brainstorming session all happening in the same place. It involves independent inventors, designers, artisans and tinkerers creating and sharing.
The concept fosters this new creative and urban industrial economy by providing incentives to preserve historic buildings and by reducing barriers to individuals and companies looking to start and expand businesses in the area. Organizers put it this way:
“We all know where our Main Streets are, but do we know what they are and why they matter? Whether they are named First Avenue or Water Street or Martin Luther King Boulevard, what they represent is universal. Main Street is the economic engine, the big stage, the core of the community. Our Main Streets tell us who we are and who we were, and how the past has shaped us. We do not go to bland suburbs or enclosed shopping malls to learn about our past, explore our culture, or discover our identity. Our Main Streets are the places of shared memory where people still come together to live, work, and play.”
Look around and you will see the transformation already in play. Many of Salt Lake City’s creative and innovative business owners are thriving in the Granary District. From gourmet cookies to custom furniture, business owners are learning through discovery which gives us the problem-solving experience necessary to continue growing the Granary District in a thoughtful way.
The Granary District can be a showcase for talent designed to attract audiences that are hungry for inspiration. Talent attracts talent, and creative genius will inspire other creative genius.
The breakthrough will be in how business owners are incentivized and assembled into a highly respected place in their own community. Collaboration is at the backbone of the new Granary District. Main Street America has developed the framework by leveraging the power of residents and local stakeholders. As city leaders we are working to recruit and sustain volunteers, establish a governance structure, and looking to establish a non-profit group led by the community to sustain leadership in this area long-term.
Thanks to the open door policy and community access time, everyone involved is able to interface with a wide range of people. Lara Fritts, Director of the Department of Economic Development says, “We want both the people in our community and business owners to be involved in the process. It’s not something that happens to you, it’s something that happens with you.”
Startup culture is a key component to maintaining the forward momentum and the opportunity to continue building is a unique one. Salt Lake City’s strengths “give it the potential to be a space for innovation and a center of production,” says Roberta Reichgelt, Local Business and Entrepreneurship Manager, “This concept creates a far more sustainable business model that would localize small-scale manufacturing and drive the economy in the Granary District.”