How SFMade’s Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative—an “Incredible Resource” during COVID—is Building a Stronger, More Equitable, Regional Manufacturing Ecosystem
SFMade leads the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing (BAUM) Initiative, a region-wide effort of 32 cities and counties all working together to ensure a more interconnected, resilient, regional manufacturing ecosystem. Launched in 2016, this growing collaboration supports local manufacturers; accelerates the growth of quality, middle-income jobs; and creates a stronger, more diverse, and more equitable regional economy. BAUM is supported by CMTC.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, BAUM’s four-year track record of providing local governments with educational programming about how to support manufacturers became invaluable as they pivoted to offering crisis assistance. As manufacturers tried to make sense of the impact the shelter-in-place orders would have on their businesses, BAUM sprang into action, virtually convening all 32 member city and county agencies to share resources and connect over best practices.
“The manufacturing industry is a fully in-person industry — there is no way to work from home,” said Martine Neider, Director of BAUM. “The exemptions from the shelter-in-place orders were variable from state to county to city, and it was confusing for both manufacturers and government staff. We helped to clarify the ever-changing ordinances and shared the best practices we were seeing.”
BAUM’s goal was to provide member cities and counties with the tools they needed to support their local manufacturers. BAUM also helped its members collaborate on shaping policies during the early days of the pandemic.
“We were very successful in getting people to communicate and work together for consistent policies across the Bay Area,” Neider said.
BAUM was well positioned for this vital role, given its history of supporting local and regional agencies and hosting the annual Bay Area Manufacturing Week series of events. From March to June 2020, BAUM convened members for weekly virtual meetings focused on the direct impact of COVID-19.
“BAUM was a key resource for our organization during Covid-19,” said Lauren Cartwright, Business Retention & Expansion Program Manager, Sonoma County Economic Development Board. “Our weekly check-in calls were concise and kept on track while we all tried to navigate the landscape of a global pandemic. It was great to have the opportunity to hear what other organizations and industry leaders were doing and to support one another virtually.”
In addition to providing a platform for city staff to share ideas and best practices across the Bay Area, BAUM also provided direct support and engagement on a variety of topics, including financial resources such as SBA and PPP loans; COVID-related unemployment benefits; business interruption insurance claims; guidelines around sick/paid family leave, and more.
“BAUM served as an incredible resource for the City of Berkeley to stay abreast of the health order impacts on local manufacturers and what resources were available to support their recovery,” said Elizabeth Redman Cleveland, Chief Strategist, Sustainable Growth, City of Berkeley.
A key direct service BAUM provided Bay Area manufacturers was providing introductions to banks that were accepting PPP loan applications. Due to the volume of PPP loan applications that banks were receiving, many small businesses were unable to find a bank that would accept an application.
“There were so many capital assistance programs, rolled out over time by a variety of organizations,” said Neider. “BAUM became a resource on the rules around the various application processes and loan forgiveness and directly connected manufacturers to financial institutions that were accepting new clients.”
BAUM continues to support its members by convening monthly meetings centered on discussions about equitable, regional recovery. Their program in August was the annual Summer Shares conversation, which provides an opportunity for member cities to share best practices for supporting their manufacturing businesses; and in September BAUM will do a deep dive on the American Rescue Plan and the best ways for cities and counties to utilize those funds to support industrial businesses.
BAUM is also gearing up for the annual Bay Area Manufacturing Week, which was held virtually in 2020. Events are organized by the cities in coordination with BAUM; and BAUM supports its communities to create and execute their local events.
Last year’s events featured virtual tours for high school students, manufacturer listening sessions with elected officials, and deep-dive, virtual panels. Panelists included elected officials as well as manufacturing leaders such as Kevin McCracken, Director of Operations of Social Imprints and Sadie Scheffer, Owner of Bread SRSLY; and service providers such as Erica Staley, Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance and Elmer Moore Jr., Executive Director of Scale Up Milwaukee among others.
The 2021 Bay Area Manufacturing Week will take place October 1 – 8 and will feature a mixture of virtual and in-person sessions (subject to health and safety guidelines). BAUM will kick off the week on October 1 @ 11am with a panel discussion exploring manufacturing workforce development as a strategy for equitable wealth building and how to connect communities to manufacturing careers.
Throughout the week, member cities and counties will host locally focused events, including virtual panel discussions, factory tours, and thought leader fireside chats.
A full event calendar where you can sign up will be available here in early September.