Pratt Center Project

Urban Manufacturing

Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA)

The UMA is a national collaborative of public and private stakeholders working to foster sustainable manufacturing initiatives in cities across the U.S.

After four decades of decline, the U.S. manufacturing sector is growing and creating quality jobs. Cities are showing particularly strong gains, which is largely attributable to the unique cultural, spatial and economic assets of urban areas and the ingenuity and innovative business models of small urban manufacturers.

On average, the jobs created by these businesses are better paying than service sector jobs and offer more opportunities for advancement in a stable career.  However, many cities lack the expertise, data, and policies to most effectively grow small manufacturing businesses, capitalize on local assets and address land use, financing and other sectoral challenges unique to the urban environment.

For these reasons, Pratt Center and SFMade launched the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA) in 2011. UMA is a national network of small business advocates, manufacturing associations, city governments, and urban industrial experts working together to grow manufacturing businesses, create living wage jobs and catalyze sustainable localized economies. UMA members represent over 30 U.S. cities in all regions of the country.

UMA’s work involves the development and advancement of public policy and non-legislative initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels that grow the urban manufacturing sector. We are also building a communication and networking infrastructure that allows for the sharing of best practices from cities across the country.  Specifically, UMA is pursuing several interrelated strategies that will strengthen the bourgeoning national movement for urban manufacturing while building on the success of local efforts.  These include place-based marketing, targeted workforce development, supply chain linkages, energy efficient business practices, and dynamic land use policies.

The four key activities of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance include the creation of toolkits, advocacy, building a community of practice, and advancing regional initiatives.  

UMA’s Toolkits are practical guides focused on sharing best practices from multiple UMA cities, with a focus on implementation. From workforce development to local branding to land use and zoning, UMA Toolkits cover the specific challenges and solutions that are working to help grow and support the local manufacturing sector in our cities.

UMA’s advocacy work involves identifying public policy or legislative tools that can be used to help improve the infrastructure needed to support the growth of urban manufacturing. This can include areas such as tax policy, foreign trade rules or capital instruments.

Regional initiatives involve supporting campaigns around locally-identified areas of interest.  Examples of projects include the development of a consumer-facing website for New York City’s Made in NYC campaign, the development of a Chicago-Design-Make program to better connect local designers with the city’s existing contract manufacturing base, and the San Francisco Bay Area initiative to create better linkages.

Lastly, UMA utilizes social media, webinars, and an annual convening to bring members together to share best practices, ask questions, and problem-solve around urban manufacturing issue areas.  

To learn more about the United Manufacturing Alliance or to become a member, visit the website here.