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SFMade holds manufacturing summit in West Oakland

Sat, 30 Dec 2017 19:33:00
5 / 5 (4 Votes)
Article by:
Aryana Farsai
[Left to right]: Kate Sofis, SFMade CEO, speaks with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Summit in November 2017, in which 26 cities participated. Photo courtesy of SF Made.
The SFMade event held in West Oakland on November 9 brought together 26 cities from around the bay. Individuals from public sector government agencies and from local enterprises met and hobnobbed before the presentations. When mingling in the crowd, it was easy to spot upper tier financiers and members of local banking and finance-related institutions. Other attendees of the summit included local business representatives, and members of nonprofit community-based business development organizations.
   
It was a delightful mix of people from around the Bay. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf spoke early in the presentations, applauding SFMade’s efforts to educate and heighten awareness of Bay Area business and manufacturing by the organization’s work on statewide initiatives for business development.
    
A major theme of the afternoon presentations was resiliency — not only in encouraging local government to preserve industrial zoned properties against the current housing crunch, but also to push real estate developers towards developing residential housing. In promoting local manufacturing, SFMade is working on a three-pronged approach toward ensuring that the Bay Area has a lively and prominent future as a leader in manufacturing models that support local and regional development.
    
The initial prong that SFMade is focusing upon to deliver results is that of helping to identify places where small businesses can improve technical manufacturing expertise. The organization works to emphasize that local manufacturing provides jobs and improves the quality of life for many middle-level income workers. It is a way for Bay Area cities to grapple with the current economic and social stressors of living in the Bay Area and to try to improve the quality of life for their citizenry.
    
The second prong of the SFMade’s work relies upon promoting the use of state training and business development funds to benefit and collaborate with small manufacturing businesses located in the Bay —  basically, to put those dollars to work at promoting Bay Area manufacturing.
    
The third element that SFMade is working on is to help with priority production areas — encouraging cities to promote real estate development that is also focused on manufacturing and local business.
    
One of the persons whom I met at the summit was Frumi Rachel Barr with Scaling 4 Growth. One of her projects is the Bay Area Distribution and Manufacturing Affinity Group — a group which can act as a guide for small and fast-growing businesses who are looking to improve their execution, cash management, and personnel concerns. The group’s website can be found at www.scaling4growth.com/.
    
James Hatter from Opus bank was also especially interesting in that he is engaged with bringing financing to businesses with revenues from $20 million up to $150 million. There can certainly be an exhilarating charge that comes along with the challenge of doing that much business, and James is one of many people who are literally banking on Bay Area businesses. He had that level of intensity as well, but was also able to lay it out clearly for me when I asked how he chooses to hire —  he said that his current network provides him with all the business contacts he needs as far as recruiting goes —  but he also uses LinkedIn,  as well as other professional recruiters on occasion.
    
I also met with Will Wenham, who gave me my takeaway quote of the day — the highly efficacious statement that “You don’t need to go to China to manufacture; you can make money doing that right here.” Wenham’s company is Cut Loose, a women’s apparel company that has been doing SF based manufacturing for 40 years. His company’s location is in Bayview, and they can be reached on the web at www.cutloose.com. When asked how he finds people to hire, he said that it was throughreferrals, and on internet job sites.
    
Karla De Leon from the nonprofit Main Street Launch also spoke with me. Her organization acts on the behalf of small businesses located in Oakland and San Francisco that are looking to secure funding in the  $10K?250K  range. The organization partners with borrowers so that the actual funds are managed with skillful attention, about which De Leon said, “Relationships are very important” in this aspect of business funding. The website is located at www.MainStreetLaunch.org.
    
Overall, those whom I met were very affable and interested in speaking with me about their businesses. I also observed that the event was skillfully managed, well executed, and down to the smallest detail — exceptional —  with the SFMade manufacturing summit being handled in a highly professional and friendly manner.
    
An added attraction of the event was having one of Oakland’s own breweries, Old Kan, providing two of their taproom specials to summit attendees. Adam Lamoreaux is known as a great brewmaster, and he and his chef, James Syhabout, provide locally crafted brews at 95 Linden St. in Oakland. They can be found at the website http://old-kan.com.
    
Later, I met with Kim Marshall of the City of Fremont, who is their economic development specialist. She gave me some infographics which show that reshoring of manufacturing is increasing locally, and that the Bay Area also is increasing in economic capital outlay for manufacturing businesses overall — showing that  our region can benefit from focusing on developing more manufacturing businesses.
    
In this way, SFMade and many other local manufacturers are part of a groundswell movement in developing our local economic and environmental areas to have a positive impact upon the world at large. “We embrace local development by embracing regionalism,” as Mayor Schaaf articulated to the crowd of participants during the afternoon presentations.

 
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