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Radius aims to bring small-scale manufacturing to downtowns

Small-scale manufacturing can range from a makerspace to a microbrewery. (photo courtesy of digitalskennedy/Pixabay)

BEDFORD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Bedford-based Radius Indiana and the South Central Indiana Small Business Development Center are partnering to bring small-scale manufacturing to the downtown areas of five local communities. The partners have begun a year-long Recast City cohort, which they say will help the towns of Orleans and Odon, and the cities of Washington, Salem and Loogootee learn about downtown revitalization. Recast City is a national program designed to help communities boost economic development through small-scale manufacturing.

Keeley Stingel, vice president of talent attraction and retention for Radius, tells Inside INdiana Business the program gives the communities another avenue toward recovering from the pandemic.

“As we’ve seen with COVID-19 and prior economic recoveries and recessions, rural communities are often left out of that conversation,” said Stingel. “This particular program was of interest to us because it’s something tangible our communities can work towards together, and so this program not only does some training as well as really assessing what the assets are of the community, as well as doing data gathering, figuring out what industries work within the community, but they also are supported and coached through implementation.”

Stingel says small-scale manufacturing can look very different in any community; enterprises can include a microbrewery, any type of business where production is done in the back of a facility while the front would be a customer-facing retail space, or a makerspace or shared kitchen.

“This is an active engagement with these communities. We want them to have the fruits of their labor after this engagement, so we do expect to see a business enterprise in each of those communities after this engagement,” said Stingel. “Five to 50 jobs is what we expect this particular business to create and we do expect there to be some sort of tangible good or product that is provided through this small-scale manufacturing.”

The program is being funded through cost sharing between Radius and the Indiana SBDC. The latter is providing funding made possible by the Small Business Administration through the CARES Act. 

Stingel says the Recast program was attractive because of its scalability.

“This has been working in other communities across the country and so we know that by working with Recast City, we have not only access going through the cohort model to the communities within the region, but we can also tap into other communities and hear about their success stories so we can really do the best practice and make sure that what works in the communities is the best fit for them and then have access to those peer communities who have done this program before.”

Stingel adds the program complements other initiatives Radius has implemented, including an economic gardening program with the Purdue Center for Regional Development, as well as the mobile maker unit program with Indiana University and Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc.

“The Town of Orleans has a beautiful Town Square with several buildings that are empty, and with the Recast programs’ leadership, we hope to find a suitable match with a potential small manufacturing client,” James Clark, president of the Orleans Town Council, said in a news release. “We look forward to seeing the opportunities and growth Recast City brings to the community.”

You can learn more about the Recast City program by clicking here.