Business Loop CID awarded federal grant

The Business Loop Community Improvement District (CID) is one of six organizations in the nation selected to receive technical assistance tailored to help Columbia identify and support local small-scale manufacturing along the Business Loop Corridor. The Business Loop CID will partner with REDI on this project.

Small-scale manufacturing is locally-based and focused on the production of tangible, artisan goods. This includes bakeries, coffee roasters, value-added agricultural products, breweries and distilleries, textiles, woodworking, metalworking and 3D-printing. These small manufacturing industries usually have between one and thirty employees and are focused on both retail sales and wholesale distribution.

The grant is made possible by the national organization Smart Growth America with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The technical assistance provided by Smart Growth America will be tailored to address Columbia’s specific needs, including both existing resources and potential obstacles to these local startups. While the immediate financial impact of this technical assistance is substantial, the true economic impact of the resulting action plan will be a revitalized, high-performing commercial corridor.

Locating local manufacturing along the Business Loop corridor will improve the economic health of the area the while remaining true to the character of the street.

“Not only do artisan industries and small-scale manufacturing fit with the DIY spirit on The Loop, it’s a great way to revitalize the corridor and distinguish us from other areas of Columbia,” said David Griggs, Chair of the Business Loop CID. “We’re absolutely thrilled to be selected to receive this assistance and can’t wait to get started.”

“REDI has a successful grow-your-own program for local entrepreneurs and we look forward to expanding this to local, small-scale manufacturing on The Loop,” said Jeff Echelmeier, REDI Chair.  “This is an opportunity to create jobs in an area suffering from high unemployment rates and assist in revitalizing a critical business corridor within Columbia.”

The Business Loop Community Improvement District 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.

The Business Loop CID is seeking to revitalize a working-class neighborhood with new, locally-owned manufacturers. Although a clear artisan movement with an active start-up culture has emerged in recent years, the city lacks a comprehensive policy to develop and encourage small-scale manufacturing. The Business Loop CID plans to partner with REDI, along with other key players in Columbia, to use this opportunity to implement workforce training, develop public financing mechanisms, and educate the real estate community about the potential of small-scale manufacturing. Particular attention will be paid to identifying and supporting those often outside the formal support structures, such as women and minority fabricators, producers, and makers.

In addition to Columbia, the five other communities awarded 2018 technical assistance grants include Baltimore, MD; High Point, NC; Lafayette, LA; South Bend, IN; and Cusick, WA. More information on how past awardees have used this grant opportunity is available at: https://smartgrowthamerica.org/announcing-recipients-small-scale-manufacturing-place-based-economic-development-technical-assistance/.

For more information, read the national press release from Smart Growth America.