The State of the Union address gave me so much hope. I was relieved to hear that small business start-ups are returning to our economy.
The crash of ’08 destroyed thirty years of micro-manufacturing expansion, a growing sector of the economy I led as the founder of the American Made Show from 1982 until 2015.
We lost 20,000 Main Street retail stores and 200,000 micro-manufacturing businesses across America.
While I have renewed hope, I’m concerned that without guidance and support, it will still take decades instead of a few years to rebuild what was lost. There is so much that government can do to speed along the resurgence of these creative businesses and to replace the vacancy signs on every Main Street.
Rebuilding the Made in America
Small incentives could spark a robust renaissance in the handmade movement while restoring main streets devastated by big box and online sales competition. This would fuel tourism, restore local culture and pride and boost Main Streets significantly.
Rebuilding Made in American micro-manufacturing businesses doesn’t begin with giant leaps.
- Transit and tourism welcome centers could open small “Made in State” shops or retail kiosks managed, directed, or curated by local experts to ensure that products are authentic.
- The SBDC could coordinate business education workshops for makers and local arts centers with Government approved educators.
- Small start-up grants for “Locally made product storefronts” could give SBDC and Main Street Development groups an excellent reason to work together. Something desperately needed as these groups tend to isolate and avoid interdependence.
- Strict enforcement of Made in America guidelines with quarterly analysis and inventory review (by experts) for tribal and domestic products in our National Park retail concessions.
- “Made in State” wholesale trade shows with small incentives for retailers to attend and purchase. Many states already have events… they need support and guidance.
- Restoration of the $50,000 small business loans that most small retailers had with their community banks before the crash and b and mergers. This is critical in seasonal tourism areas.
- A simple customs and Border Patrol complaint desk at large convention center trade shows. Most intellectual property theft can be stopped instantly before theft happens. Thieves are blatantly obvious. Micro-manufacturers need simple training before they exhibit at a national show so that they know how to limit their exposure to theft.