Wyoming Main Street, a program of the Wyoming Business Council, is launching a Made on Main pilot program aimed at placing small manufacturers and producers in vacant downtown spaces to enhance entrepreneurship and business diversity in downtown communities.
Such businesses could include home brewers, artisans, food production, furniture makers, clothing, health/wellness products and more.
“Many such businessowners have built up successful companies out of their homes and might be ready to tackle the next step of a physical location dedicated to their business,” said Desiree Brothe, community development coordinator for Wyoming Main Street.
Wyoming is the first state in the nation to undertake this type of program.
“We hope to create a viable program to move more of our communities forward in the small-scale production and entrepreneurship sector, as well as set an example for how this can be done elsewhere,” Brothe said.
Laramie and Rock Springs applied and were accepted as the first two communities that will launch the pilot program. They will work in partnership with Wyoming Main Street and Matt Wagner from the National Main Street Center.
“We’re excited to work with Wyoming Main Street to launch this program and develop a strong support system for local producers, makers and boutique manufacturers,” said Trey Sherwood, director of Laramie Main Street. “We believe it has the potential to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Laramie and Wyoming as a whole.”
Research shows small-scale manufacturing and experiential retail are on the rise in terms of their ability to provide employment, diversity and an advanced customer experience. More and more, customers are seeking locally owned companies that provide outstanding customer service and a shopping experience they can’t get online.
“Small-scale manufacturing has emerged as a powerful way to tie opportunity to place, and can fill a key missing piece in today’s local downtown and community development efforts,” Wagner said. “Today’s consumers are looking for products with a story that is locally made and appeals to their individualism. From microbrewers to apparel and bike manufacturers, many more people are beginning to blend retail, manufacturing and wholesaling opportunities at a much smaller scale, leading to growing tourism, diversified employment and well-paid job opportunities for local communities.”
For the next six to 12 months, Laramie and Rock Springs will work to stand up this program. Once the process has been established, Wyoming Main Street will look to launch it in other Main Street communities that demonstrate capacity and ability to take part.
This one-day visit is designed to engage key small-scale producer targets, partner stakeholders and the local Main Street organization to assess key assets, areas of opportunities and gaps within the market impacting the launch and growth of the community’s small-scale producers and boutique manufactures.
- Outline a support system that identifies areas of strengths and needs for supporting this market.
- Identify opportunities for launching and growing this target market.
- Align on key targets and pipelines for this market.
- Identify place-based and/or programmatic projects designed to support and grow the target market. (NOTE: The outcome being the development of a follow-up technical visit that would help to implement one of these projects)
MORNING SESSION -
9 AM: Discussion with Task Force to review and understand goals, current conditions, and targets based on the following Transformation Strategy: Develop downtown as a home for entrepreneurs with a focus on authentic consumer experiences and creative Third Spaces.
10 AM: Focus group of Small-Scale Producers, Makers and Manufactures
11 AM: Focus group of potential stakeholders (i.e. planning/zoning; economic development; Artisan/Crafter/Maker groups; library; college/university officials)
AFTERNOON SESSION – Open to all stakeholders and producers
1 PM: Using the Small-Scale Production Audit – Assess current strengths and gaps within the support system
2 - 2:45 PM: Discussion around key gaps and opportunities as aligned with the Transformation Strategy
3 - 3:45 PM - Discussion of Key Stakeholders/Partners – Who takes the lead on each initiative?
3:45 - 4:30 PM - Discussion of possible projects for follow-up and technical assistance from National Main Street and Wyoming Main Street