Knoxville is The Maker City

Our goal is to bring together makers and artists, developers, manufacturers, city officials, and entrepreneurs in order to develop a platform of information that will create a stronger makers community. 

The Maker City was created after a small team from Knoxville attended the first Etsy Maker Cities Summit in Brooklyn in May 2016. The Maker City represented a perfect launching pad for our growing efforts to support and connect makers.

The original founding team was comprised of a local maker, retailer, and city official. The call-to-action was simple: to join 14 other teams from across the country, learn from each other, and walk away with an actionable plan to make our city more supportive of micro businesses. 

Nanci Solomon from Rala, Joy O'Shell from the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and David Harman from Native Maps.

Nanci Solomon from Rala, Joy O'Shell from the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and David Harman from Native Maps.

 

WHAT IS OUR PLAN FOR KNOXVILLE?

We left knowing that we needed to host a similar event in Knoxville, bringing together micro-businesses, manufacturers, and city officials in the same room. 

Talking about Knoxville was easy, but we could only be effective if we knew who was out there, understood their needs, and actually got together and listened to each other. 

The Knoxville Mayor’s Maker Council, in partnership with Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, is bringing together a community of crafters, local artisans and small-Scale manufacturers to help cultivate our region’s incredible maker community.

Born out of a growing partnership with Etsy, the global online marketplace, our Maker Council has developed a year-long series of programs, workshops and networking events designed to build an informed and collaborative City, one that fully embraces the maker movement. After hosting an inaugural Maker Summit attended by nearly 400, and having been designated the first Etsy Maker City in the United States, the Maker Council is looking to build on last year’s successes, cementing our region’s status as THE place to make in Tennessee.

MAY 2016 | ETSY MAKER CITY SUMMIT | Brooklyn, NY

Operating under the banner of MakeKnox (now The Maker City), a small team from Knoxville was invited to attend Etsy’s Inaugural Maker City Summit in Brooklyn, New York. The team included a local maker, retailer, and KEC staffer to represent the City. They joined 12 other cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Little Rock and Memphis to discuss new ideas and best practices in revitalizing rural and urban spaces through creative entrepreneurship, public policy, redefining manufacturing, and maker spaces. They left knowing that they needed to host a similar event in Knoxville, bringing together micro-businesses, manufacturers, and city officials in the same room.

SEPT 19, 2016 | MAYOR’S SUMMIT ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP | Knoxville, TN

Mayor Rogero convened local and regional officials, civic leaders and entrepreneurs for a conversation on “Rethinking Economic Development” to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The Summit was sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation in association with the City of Knoxville and Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. The Kauffman Foundation is the world’s leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to the study and advancement of entrepreneurship.

Maker City Summit 2016

SEPT 19, 2016 | ETSY MAKER CITY SUMMIT | Knoxville, TN

The Knoxville Maker City Summit brought together makers, artists, developers, manufacturers, city officials, and entrepreneurs for a day of dialogue about how to create a stronger maker community. Alongside Etsy, whose industry leading online platform is driving creative entrepreneurship and manufacturing policies around the world, makers from throughout the region took part in a series of interactive panel discussions about maker spaces, growing a business and creative manufacturing. Sugarlands’ Brent Thompson emceed the entire Summit, facilitating discussions about what makes Knoxville the perfect “Maker City”, and what could make it even better. Attended by nearly 400 people, the Etsy Maker City Summit kicked off Innov865 Week, a week-long series of events that has become Knoxville’s signature gathering of entrepreneurs, creatives and investors.

MAYOR ROGERO & ETSY OFFICIALLY PROCLAIM KNOXVILLE AN ‘ETSY MAKER CITY’

Mayor's Maker Council

Joined by Etsy representatives and The Maker City team, Mayor Rogero officially proclaimed Knoxville an ‘Etsy Maker City’, the first such award by Etsy to a city in the US, and then announced the formation of Knoxville’s first-ever Mayor’s Maker Council. Etsy Maker Cities pair strong municipalities that value entrepreneurship, sustainability, and responsible manufacturing with the creative and innovative spirit of the Etsy community. The result? Empowered micro-businesses, strengthened local economies, and collective commitments to change how we buy, sell, and create goods. Etsy is an online marketplace where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods. Through the Etsy Maker Cities program, Etsy champions a new model for economic prosperity, one that promotes sustainable production and empowers people to build creative businesses on their own terms.

THE MAYOR’S MAKER COUNCIL PURPOSE

  • To develop a shared vision for our region’s diverse maker community
  • To raise awareness of Knoxville’s local maker movement and associated micro-economies
  • To promote local goods and services
  • To address government policies and regulatory issues that impact maker businesses

MAYOR'S MAKER COUNCIL

  • Victor Agreda, Modern Studio
  • Terrence Carter, Knoxville Area Urban League
  • Tom Cervone, Dogwood Arts
  • Matthew Cummings, Pretentious Beer Glass Co.
  • Andrew Edens, Smoky Mountain Vintage Lumber
  • Preston Farabow, Ironwood Studios
  • David Harman, Native Maps
  • Doug Laney, Knox Makers
  • Dale Mackey, Dale's Fried Pies & The Central Collective
  • Sarah Shebaro, Striped Light Letterpress
  • Alaina Smith, Cold Gold Leather Goods
  • Nanci Solomon, Rala
  • Matthew Sterling, Sterling Contractor Co.
  • Brent Thompson, Sugarlands Distilling Co.
  • Derek White, Bird on the Wire Studios 

MAYOR'S MAKER COUNCIL SUPPORT TEAM

  • Jim Biggs, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
  • Patricia Robledo, City of Knoxville
  • Indya Kincannon, City of Knoxville
  • Crista Curraro, City of Knoxville
  • Ben Epperson, Great Schools Partnership & Knoxville-Knox County MPC
  • Joy O'Shell, AC Entertainment
  • Jonathan Sexton, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
  • Lisa Duncan, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center
  • Maranda Vandergriff,  Knoxville Entrepreneur Center

FEEDBACK FROM SUMMIT PARTICIPANTS ON WHAT MAKES A MAKER CITY

  • Maker-friendly zoning and public policies
  • Collaboration and shared resources between makers
  • Business resources and information for makers
  • Affordable, walkable, experimental and flexible spaces for makers
  • Public support and education promoting the value of locally made goods

NEXT STEPS

  • Brand development
  • Website development
  • Maker directory
  • Maker education
  • Maker promotion
  • Maker events
  • Maker spaces
  • Maker friendly policy
  • Maker story videos
  • Fundraising to support initiatives
Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program

"We believe that there are largely untapped opportunities for local governments to help members of the maker community—from sellers, to manufacturers, to retailers—start and grow their creative businesses. Maker Cities pairs strong municipalities that value entrepreneurship, sustainability, and responsible manufacturing with the creative and innovative spirit of the  community. 

The result? Empowered micro-businesses, strengthened local economies, and collective commitments to change how we buy, sell, and create goods."

- drafted for the inaugural Etsy Maker Cities Summit