The article “5 Ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance” calls for leaders to “embrace the Maker Movement as a deeply American source of decentralized creativity for rebuilding America’s thinning manufacturing ecosystems.”
Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution and Peter Hirshberg, co-author with me of the Maker City guide, are co-authors of the article, which makes the case that the new administration might want to look to the Maker Movement as a way to think about re-vitalizing manufacturing in America. They could look at places such as the Columbus Idea Factory in Ohio.
The Brookings article also recognizes that there is something here that is more than just manufacturing.
“Long to short, the story here is that the Maker Movement isn’t just about reviving manufacturing in cities (though it is doing that). In addition, the movement is proving that anyone can be a maker and that genuine progress on the nation’s most pressing problems can be made from the bottom up by do-it-yourselfers, entrepreneurs, committed artisans, students, and civic leaders through what our colleague Bruce Katz calls “new localism.” That’s both empowering and a quintessentially American story, one that de Tocqueville would immediately recognize, and that Donald Trump might even like.
And so it’s time for the nation—and especially its local business leaders, mayors, hobbyists, organizers, universities, and community colleges—to embrace the do-it-yourself spirit of the makers and start hacking the new industrial revolution one town at a time.”
The authors call for “modest competitive grants to support” makers and makerspaces. They also think that there is a need to connect makers with manufacturers. This may or may not be something that the federal government chooses to do. Either way, local and state governments should “take matters into their own hands.”
Because the Maker Movement is local, self-organizing and widely distributed, it is taking hold in cities and rural areas throughout the country. Still, there is much that can be done to assist, sustain and grow participation in the Maker Movement. Adding financial support and focused leadership to this bottom-up movement will allow more of us to innovate and solve problems. It will create new opportunities that can benefit individuals, communities and the economy. It may help the U.S. remain competitive.
China is certainly moving ahead with both funding at the national and local levels for the Maker Movement in Shenzhen, Chengdu (below), and Bejing. Leaders in the Chinese government recognize the need for China’s citizens to become more innovative. Even there, the future is not about expanding factory jobs but rather building smarter factories and developing smarter citizens who will design products that can be made in China.