2018 was a big year for us. Really big.
The Maker City continued to expand its reach and its programming in 2018, our third year of operation. The Mayor’s Maker Council created a shared vision for The Maker City with this mission statement: To promote equity in our creative economy by fostering relationships between makers and consumers, by building networks of public, technological, and financial resources, and by creating educational opportunities and partnerships.
Here’s how we are meeting those challenges and where we plan to focus our efforts in 2019.
Fostering relationships between makers and consumers
The online Maker City Directory expanded to include 170 maker businesses in 2018. This expansion was in conjunction with a major redesign that makes the directory more searchable and includes links to makers’ websites and social media pages. The directory is the most viewed section of The Maker City website, attracting 13,000 pageviews in 2018.
An online interactive gift guide was launched before the holidays to provide an easy way for viewers to see a wide range of goods and connect with local makers.
Our online guide to regional festivals and markets provides makers with links and information about opportunities to connect with consumers.
The Maker City launched a monthly feature in Knoxbiz (formerly the Knoxville Business Journal) highlighting local makers and The Maker City community. This joined a monthly feature in Blank as well as monthly videos about the maker community by Knoxville Weekend.
Building networks of public, technological, and financial resources
The Maker City’s website made a huge leap in 2018, expanding from 2,300 pageviews and 578 users in 2017 to 46,000 pageviews and 11,000 users in 2018.
The Maker City received additional financial support from the City of Knoxville and the Tennessee Arts Commission with its America Builds Community grant.
The Maker City participated in PARKing Day in September and received Best Overall Parking Space, an example of the program’s community engagement.
The Mayor’s Maker Council remains actively involved in the ReCode Knoxville process, advocating for the makers. The rewriting of the City’s zoning ordinances provides the opportunity to make our city more small-business and small-scale manufacturing friendly.
In 2018 three makers received and completed City of Knoxville Façade Grants: Loch & Key Productions, Smoky Mountain Vintage Lumber, and Bird on the Wire Studios.
Creating educational opportunities and partnerships
The Maker City’s bimonthly Maker Meetups have attracted 600 makers over the course of 2018, giving them opportunities to connect and collaborate. This is twice the number of makers who participated in 2017.
Make. Learn. Grow., a new bimonthly workshop launched this year, drew 225 to lunchtime sessions whose topics included marketing on Instagram, producing online videos, building a brand, merchandising at craft fairs, and the steps necessary to start a food truck business.
The Maker City Summit in September drew 350 makers to The Mill & Mine, many of them for the first time. We attracted nationally known speakers on the subjects of online marketing and wholesaling and dozens of regional experts to address in workshops and one-on-one sessions on a wide range of small business-related issues. Information about the summit drew 4,400 pageviews to The Maker City website.
Regular blog posts and e-mail newsletters kept 1,534 Maker City subscribers up to date on upcoming programming and resources available to them.
What’s in store for 2019
The Maker City in partnership with Visit Knoxville will launch The Maker City Tour in 2019, an online resource that will direct shoppers and visitors to maker studios and workshops. Participating makers will be available to discuss their work.
After a successful run in seven rural communities during 2018, we will again be hosting several Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship classes at KEC, building on our local success in 2017 that saw 38 program graduates.
Partnerships are in the works with the following educational institutions to share career opportunities and get students, faculty and staff engaged with the maker community: UT Career Services, UT Art & Architecture School and Knox County Schools Art Department.
Jewelry TV and WATE have expressed a desire to collaborate with The Maker City on programming featuring local makers.
Thanks for being a part of The Maker City. Here’s to another year of making amazing things happen.