More than 50 representatives of public agencies, industrial development corporations and nonprofit research and policy advocates, based in 13 cities, met on October 18-19, 2012 in New York City to launch the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA). UMA is a national collaborative of non-profit, for-profit and governmental stakeholders working together to grow urban manufacturing, create living wage jobs and catalyze sustainable local economies.
The gathering, convened by the Pratt Center and SFMade, with support from Citi Community Development and the Surdna Foundation, marked the first meeting of a unique platform for U.S. cities to exchange best practices and to collaborate in support of the urban manufacturing sector. A broad national consensus has emerged that revitalizing the U.S. manufacturing sector is essential to the goals of creating well-paying jobs and rebuilding the middle class. UMA’s formation comes at a moment when manufacturing job growth is leading the nation’s economic recovery, as large and small companies are “re-shoring” production, and as manufacturing start-ups are bringing new products to market at an unprecedented pace. Cities have led the country’s manufacturing renaissance, providing access to diversely talented workforces, as well as to customers, suppliers, designers, investors, and the myriad services that enable innovation and rapid response to markets. But “making it” in cities can also present challenges, from competition for scarce land, to aging and obsolete infrastructure.