The New York Times tells the tale of how a monolithic manufacturing industry has been supplanted by more nimble initiatives.
SFMade and Made in N.Y.C are two organisations that paint an alternative picture of the US manufacturing industry – one very different then the “ruin – porn” aesthetic sweeping Internet depections of fallen manufacturing metropolises. Both organisations provide stories and examples of how manufacturing has evolved to new models, ones more nimble than the monolithic single-industry model which preceded them:
“Manufacturers now see the benefits of being smaller and paying attention to how patterns of consumption, ownership and use are shifting.”
SFMade is a non-profit corporation, focused on building San Francisco’s economic base by developing the local manufacturing sector. They took the decision to be a non-profit as they maintained that trade organizations often serve more of a business development function rather than address the needs of the local manufacturing community.
The organization helps companies assess a product’s “manufacturability.” They then help companies either connect to existing contract manufacturing resources in the city or establish their own production capacity. Instead of assuming that things like sewing, printing and assembly need to happen overseas, SFMade is working to reconnect local production capacity to big companies.
Made in N.Y.C is of a similar ilk as SFMade, though it is less grassroots in it’s origins.
“Nevertheless both are devoted to new ways of thinking about old practices and processes. Growing consumer demand for greener, more ethically produced products, along with skyrocketing unemployment and nervousness about globalization all work in the groups’ favor”
Both institutions share a common opinion: consumers are much more likely to back the local guy. This is part of a general trend towards consumers ‘pride of place’ brand loyalty, which is great news for the new breed of manufacturers. SFMade founder Mark Dwight labels this ‘geographic ingredient branding’, which aims to tap into the
“pride of place,” which runs deep in cities like San Francisco and New York. Things made in places like San Francisco or New York command a desire-by-association. There may be a higher cost of doing business in major metropolitan centers like these, but at the same time what gets made is largely driven by design and by consumer demand.”