UMA January Email Blast

Urban Mfg Alliance
9 min readJan 19, 2021


Happy New Year!

2021 is officially underway, and UMA stands committed to manufacturing as a racially-inclusive economic development strategy that lifts communities up; as a means to build a sense of place and pride; and as a way to create more equitable neighborhoods. We look forward to continued work together in the New Year.

We ended 2020 with our #10DaysofUMA social media campaign as a way to recap what we accomplished. This year, we’re starting with a new communication strategy: Each month we will publish one comprehensive newsletter that includes UMA Research and Programming News, a Calendar of Events (both UMA-led and from our partners), News from the Community, and Readings that inspire our work. We hope this serves as a go-to resource to keep up with UMA and your fellow practitioners.

This month in Research and Programming News we are excited to share:

  • Our new report, “Sewn Trades Manufacturing in the United States: From Pre-COVID State of the Industry to Frontline Responses to PPE Demands.”
  • Insights from events out of our Industry & Inclusion cohort, exploring the process and leadership needed to center diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of running a manufacturing workforce training organization.
  • Takeaways from a conversation UMA hosted with partners from New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Vancouver about self-storage facilities displacing industrial uses in urban neighborhoods.
  • Strategies for non-traditional underwriting standards for loans and grants, discussed in UMA’s Pathways to Patient Capital program.

On the Events Calendar you can find out more about a UMA Fireside Chat: How Employers Can Train, Hire, and Retain Formerly Incarcerated Talent and how to participate in monthly Community of Practice calls about “Made in” organizations.

In Community News we are sharing two stories from The Hidden Talent Blog Series and a webinar recording from the Inner City Capital Connections Program hosted during the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City’s National Conference Day in which UMA participated.

And finally, below are two articles that we found inspiring in the What We’re Reading section: one about the role of arts and culture in equitable economic development, and another about how foundations can upend investment barriers to better serve women and people of color.

As we start a new year we look forward to meeting new people and learning more about our partners! If you didn’t get a chance to see our end of 2020 #10DaysofUMA social media campaign check it out and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to stay connected.

In partnership,
The UMA Team

Research and Programming News

UMA’s newest reportSewn Trades Manufacturing in the United States: From Pre-COVID State of the Industry to Frontline Responses to PPE Demands — looks at equitable prosperity in the sewn trades manufacturing economy and interviews leaders of five organizations that leveraged regional manufacturing ecosystems to produce PPE products in response the pandemic. The innovative organizations featured in this report successfully combined small-batch manufacturing with workforce development and entrepreneurship strategies to meet regional manufacturing demands. The case studies and industry research illustrate how sewing and textile companies can respond to opportunities — many predating the pandemic — within the sewn trades to create new nimble, agile, and collaborative business models and regional ecosystems. Read the full report authored by Laura Wolf-Powers, Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College.

UMA’s Land Use and Real Estate Community of Practice co-hosted a conversation with the City of Vancouver about their concerns regarding self-storage encroachment over industrial land uses. The event brought together planners and industrial advocates — Joseph Eisenberg from the City of Miami; Joshua Switzky from the City of San Francisco; and Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) in New York City — to discuss the land-use and zoning strategies that they used to protect manufacturing-zoned areas and meet the high demand for self-storage. Check out our takeaways and additional resources that were shared during the discussion.

UMA and The Century Foundation’s Industry & Inclusion cohort hosted two webinars at the end of 2020, both focused on centering diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of running a manufacturing workforce training organization or a manufacturing business. In a discussion entitled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ‘Every Level’ of Manufacturing,” Nieves Longordo, owner of Diseñsos Ironworks; Héctor Huezo, from Jobs to Move America; Bartholomew Taylor from Build Your Dreams (a bus building company); and Livia Lam, from Center for American Progress provided personal experiences, strategies for companies to adopt, and policy recommendations to influence how local decision makers think about meaningful impact. During the second webinar, “Explicitly Centering Racial Equity in your Workforce Training Organization,” leaders of Manufacturing Renaissance in Chicago and Jane Addams Resource Center in Baltimore/Chicago participated in a panel discussion about ways in which people of color can build wealth through opportunities in manufacturing — from entry-level careers with pathways to management, ownership, and entrepreneurship. Read our takeaways from “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ‘Every Level’ of Manufacturing” and from “Explicitly Centering Racial Equity in your Workforce Training Organization.”

In December, UMA’s Pathways to Patient Capital cohort hosted a Fireside Chat with Brendan Martin of Seed Commons/The Working World; Marie Peters of Colorado Lending Source; and moderator Nia Evans of Boston Ujima Project. They discussed their organization’s approaches to nontraditional underwriting standards, which create opportunities for lenders to provide loans and grants their borrowers are often unable to access due to overly burdensome or strict underwriting standards. For CDFIs, non-profit lenders, and similar funding institutions, adjusting this practice involves implementing underwriting measures that more closely align with investing in the underrepresented communities they serve. The discussion highlighted three key strategies — Redefine Credit and Character; Lend from the Perspective of an Investor; and Build a Diverse Underwriting Committee and Team — to create more aligned and impactful practices for manufacturing businesses, in particular. Read more here.

Events Calendar

February 9, 2021–1:30pmEST
Register to attend

Fireside Chat: How Employers Can Train, Hire, and Retain Formerly Incarcerated Talent

Today, 70 million people are living with a conviction history. By 2030, this population will climb to 100 million. Pre-COVID, the unemployment rate of this population was 27%, as compared with less than 4% overall. During the last recession, the unemployment rate for the formerly incarcerated was 60%. And if history repeats itself, post-COVID, we will see a massive spike in that number.

This 75-minute Virtual Fireside Chat will bring together Susan Mason of What’s Next Washington; Stephen Tucker of theNorthland Workforce Training Center; and Christopher Poulos of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council (and others to be announced) to discuss what how to remove barriers and create programs to build a bridge to train, hire, and retain people with conviction histories.

Register to attend here.

January 28, 2021–12:30pmEST

Virtual Meeting: Local Branding Community of Practice

Every month, UMA brings together individuals from across the country that are leading, developing, or just learning about Local Branding Initiatives (LBI) or “Made In” organizations. These discussions are opportunities to learn about how LBIs are being used as economic development strategies, creating manufacturing ecosystems, and helping diverse business owners establish and scale their business and impact.

The CoP meetings are an opportunity to share developments, ask questions, gain best practices, and to find new ways to deliver support to makers and manufacturers of all scales.

If you are interested in joining the Local Branding Community of Practice, please email Eva Pinkley to be added to our monthly meeting.

News from the Community

We’ve posted our final two profiles from our Hidden Talent Blog Series. This month we’re featuring stories about trainees from the Empowerment Plan and Rebel Nell, two organizations both based in Detroit.

The Hidden Talent Blog Series tells the stories of highly-motivated, well-prepared employees who got their start at an employment social enterprise manufacturing businesses. Manufacturing social enterprises are set up with the intention of offering employment opportunities, training, and support to people who have overcome barriers to employment, while still running a profitable business. With the support of their employers and their own determination, social enterprise employees have turned their lives around and proven their value at work. They are some of the best trained, most loyal employees a business could hope to hire. As manufacturing businesses across the country struggle to find good employees, our intention is that this blog series sheds a light on the potential of social enterprises as a source for manufacturing businesses to find great people.

Murl from Detroit’s Empowerment Plan

In December, ICIC (the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City) hosted their National Conference Day and invited UMA’s Director of Programming and Operations, Katy Stanton, to participate in discussion about becoming a “Made In” business. The event also brought together Jalene Hiltzeman (NOHO Home), Meli James (Mana Up), Torie Partridge (Cherry Blossom Creative), and Meghan Sinnott (Portland Made) to talk about how individual businesses can leverage place and local identity to help make products more meaningful and marketable as well as how local organizations can build shared marketing platforms and programming as an economic development tool. Check out the recording of the event here.

Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a tuition-free executive leadership training program designed by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) to help business owners in under-resourced communities build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment.

Please share your news with us! If you have something you would like UMA and our network to know about, please contact Eva, UMA’s Community Leader to share details to include in next month’s newsletter.

What We’re Reading

How Foundations Fail Diverse Fund
Managers and How to Fix It

By: Tracy Gray & Emilie Cortes
Dec. 2020

“Foundations and impact investors need to face the ways they are complicit in perpetuating inequality through their capital allocations, and upend five structural investment barriers to better serve women and people of color. It’s time for foundations and other impact investors to face the truth. No more navel-gazing, no more conferring, no more research. Investors built the impact investing field to drive capital toward addressing climate change and social justice. But while the recent uprisings against racial injustice in the United States and elsewhere have forced all kinds of institutions into self-examination, most still fail to acknowledge and actively change the ways in which their investment strategies perpetuate inequality.”

Read the full article at
Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Building Community Wealth:
The Role of Arts and Culture in
Equitable Economic Development

By: Danya Sherman
Dec. 2020

“Since time immemorial, communities have been developing creative practices and culturally-specific traditions that are deeply intertwined with the way they produce, manage, exchange, and steward resources. What a society values, how it creates those valuable objects or practices, and who has access to them is indicative of a culture’s core beliefs. While it may be tempting to think of ‘the economy’ as a thing operating outside of anyone’s control, with its own rules and behaviors, we can look no further than our definitions of wealth, who has access to it, and how it is produced to understand who we are. Culture — and the creative practices that make it up, including the arts — has and will always be a critical way to understand an economy and work to shift it”.

Read the full report at
Art Place America

Support UMA

Help UMA by spreading the word about our work. Please share our newsletter and follow us on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and LinkedIn — and visit our website.

Since 2015, UMA has grown to encompass 900+ members in more than 200 cities — and counting. Whether you’re a city council member, an urban planner, the executive director of a kitchen incubator, or a small artisan jewelry maker, UMA’s goal is to design a network based on your feedback, expertise, and questions about the future of the industry. Your individual tax-deductible contribution will empower us to bring our members together to learn from one another (online and in person), to tell stories showing the value of manufacturing to a city’s economy, and to document and replicate promising practices with city-based partners. Make a donation today!



Urban Mfg Alliance

The Urban Manufacturing Alliance is national nonprofit organization focused on building a sustainable, inclusive urban manufacturing sector.