Economic Development Quarterly
Food and beverage (FaB) manufacturing represents a promising opportunity for small-scale “makers” and local economic development. The growth of entrepreneurial maker businesses can be understood in terms of segmentation of market demand, emergence of new intermediaries, and availability of affordable production infrastructure. Yet the ease of starting maker businesses stands in contrast with the challenges of achieving growth and scale as a manufacturer. Through semistructured interviews with 31 FaB makers in Chicago, New York City, and Portland, Oregon, the authors analyze the challenges facing maker–entrepreneurs in this sector. The authors find that the everyday character of food and the relative ubiquity of food production infrastructure helps makers get their start, but that the unique character of food inputs and distribution networks pose distinct challenges and opportunities as they grow. Economic development efforts to support FaB makers should focus on nurturing local demand, developing food-oriented intermediaries, and ensuring affordable production space.
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Schrock, G., Doussard, M., Wolf-Powers, L., Marotta, S., & Eisenburger, M. (2019). Appetite for Growth: Challenges to Scale for Food and Beverage Makers in Three U.S. Cities. Economic Development Quarterly, 33(1), 39–50.