We’re busy building our shared kitchen and we’re looking for a new member of the team!
Overview: The Business Loop CID and REDI are teaming up with other community partners to open a shared commercial kitchen at Mizzou North. The shared kitchen will benefit the community by:
Encouraging the growth of local food entrepreneurs by reducing barriers and creating opportunities for those without easy access to a commercial kitchen, including those who have been impacted by racial, social, and economic inequality.
Supporting local and regional farmers by providing cost-effective space to produce value-added products.
Increasing the economic vitality of the Business Loop by developing a catalytic project that can spur new food-based businesses along the corridor.
Creating quality jobs that support upward economic mobility for the residents of Columbia and Boone County.
Providing a space that can be used in the future for business incubation, workforce development, food safety classes, and other training opportunities.
Qualifications: Must have the ability to manage a shared space, problem solve, multi-task, meet deadlines, and work with all types of people. Additional skills needed include a level of comfort with online programs from scheduling and invoicing programs to social media; time management and organizational skills; and written language skills.
Description: This position requires knowledge of kitchens, kitchen safety, and kitchen equipment, including the ability to train others on the equipment and troubleshoot maintenance issues. We are not seeking a chef but a manager.
In addition to familiarity with kitchens, the Kitchen Manager must have strong interpersonal skills including both written and verbal communication; the ability to work well with people with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and languages; and the ability to work well independently.
The Kitchen Manager shall have the following duties and responsibilities:
Maintain a clean, organized, and safe environment in the kitchen, and ensure that clients do as well.
Monitor the users of the kitchen.
Provide initial training and assistance to clients in the safe use and handling of equipment and materials.
Perform routine preventative maintenance on kitchen equipment .
Monitor the kitchen equipment and troubleshoot repair needs.
Manage repair, laundry, cleaning, and other services.
Manage clients including scheduling and tracking kitchen use and any required classes.
Process and record client payments via online kitchen management software.
Coordinate with The Loop CID, REDI, and other resource organizations to host classes and trainings at the kitchen.
Coordinate with The Loop CID, REDI, and others on promotion of the shared kitchen and the clients.
Perform other duties as assigned/requested.
The Kitchen Manager shall be selected by the Business Loop Community Improvement District (CID) with input from REDI. This position reports to the Executive Director of the CID.
This is a part-time, contracted position starting at $2000/month. We anticipate an average of 20 hours a week. Because the kitchen will be available to clients 24/7, the Kitchen Manager should have some flexibility in regards to hours to ensure proper onboarding and to prevent issues from arising. The Kitchen Manager will work with the Executive Director of the CID to set regular hours.
The banging from the construction crew across the hall from my office would be annoying in other circumstances but today, it’s the sound of progress. The lower level of Parkade Plaza is in the process of being transformed into MACC’s new makerspace and expanded Mechatronics Lab.
The MACC Makerspace will be open to both students and the community at large and will be an opportunity for local makers and fabricators to gain access to a wide range of equipment, take classes, participate in pop-up retail, and meet like-minded individuals. The current plans call for a textiles section (sewing machines, embroidery, long-arm quilter), woodworking, CNC machine, some metalworking, laser cutting, an electronics bay, and lots of 3D printing.
This isn’t the only shared space planned for the street. Over the last year we’ve spoken with so many fantastic local makers, small-batch producers, and artisans who can’t expand their businesses because space and equipment are outside their budget. Shared spaces are a proven way to increase inclusion by creating pathways for those left out of traditional funding processes, often women, minorities, and recent immigrants. A shared space reduces the obstacles to starting or expanding a business by charging reasonable membership fees for shared equipment and joint spaces.
So look for a shared commercial kitchen to open up in Mizzou North in the next couple of months. The Loop CID and REDI are teaming up to build a certified kitchen with proofers, ranges, steam kettles, and prep stations–along with co-working space, educational workshops, and pop-up retail.
And down on the east end of the Business Loop, look for a reinvigorated Columbia Access TV to open up in the True/False fab lab building with more community services than before. Planned are three studios for music, radio/podcasts, and video recordings; digital and possibly print photography resources; and educational workshops and classes. They envision a low-cost, accessible space for local makers and producers–as well as a community space for classes, film screenings, concerts, and other events.
So yes, as I write this the construction crew is banging away but it’s music to my ears.
Jabberwocky Studios and the Loop Community Improvement District (CID) are proud to announce their selection as one of five Etsy Maker Cities in the nation. Each Maker City grantee is receiving $40,000 in direct program support along with customized training and a year-long learning community provided by Recast City, along with access to tools and resources from Etsy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to help them bring their project plans to life.
The Loop CID and Jabberwocky Studios are teaming up to support local small-scale manufacturers by creating a one-stop shop of resources for makers including a shared branding program, a community-wide awareness campaign, an online makers directory linked to Etsy shops, monthly educational events, regular maker meet-ups, Maker Fairs and tasting events, and assistance locating manufacturing space along The Loop corridor.
“Being named an Etsy Maker City means there’s something special happening here,” said Carrie Gartner, Executive Director of The Loop CID. “This grant will help us build a community of diverse local makers and use that energy to revitalize The Loop in a way that builds on the existing vibe of the street.”
The Maker Cities initiative seeks to unlock the potential of creative entrepreneurship to drive local economic development, revitalize cities, and help traditionally underrepresented groups participate in the creative economy.
“We want this program to create inclusive economic empowerment, and help a diverse group of makers turn a skill and a dream into a business,” said Linda Schust, Executive Director of Jabberwocky Studios. “Etsy recognizes and shares our commitment, making them the perfect partner for our efforts.”
Last year the Loop CID was one of six communities in the nation to receive a grant to support and identify local, small-scale manufacturers as a way to revitalize the corridor in a way that fits the current character of the street. That community-based process inspired a number of projects, including a planned shared kitchen at Mizzou North (opening early 2020) and a makerspace at MACC-Columbia (opening in July 2020). Shared workspaces are a key way to reduce the barriers to entry for startup producers and manufacturers.
“Not only do makers, artisans, small-scale manufacturers fit with the DIY spirit on The Loop, it’s a great way to revitalize the corridor and distinguish us from other areas of Columbia,” said James Roark-Gruender, Chair of the Business Loop CID. “We want The Loop to be known as the place where all makers and small manufacturers are welcomed and supported.”
Small-scale manufacturing is locally-based and focused on the production of tangible, artisan goods. This includes value-added agricultural products, breweries and distilleries, bakeries, coffee roasters, textiles, woodworking, metalworking, and 3D-printing. These small manufacturing industries usually have between 1 and 30 employees and are focused on both retail sales and wholesale distribution. This grant will also focus on small makers, especially those who work out of their homes and could benefit from business counseling, educational workshops, and shared workspaces.
“This partnership between the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Etsy exemplifies how important creative businesses are to building the diverse and resilient local economies we need to create jobs and drive inclusive growth,” said Sandy Fernandez, Director of North America, Mastercard Center Inclusive Growth. “We are proud to support the Makers Cities initiative that will help traditionally underrepresented entrepreneurs participate in the digital economy.”
The four other awardees are Conexión Américas in Nashville, TN; Southern Colorado Economic Development District in Pueblo, CO; Main Street Eureka Springs in Eureka Springs, AR; and Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation in Phoenix, AZ.
Join representatives of The Loop Community Improvement District and Jabberwocky Studios for the announcement of a national grant to support local makers, artisans, and small-scale manufacturers.
WHEN: Wednesday, October 9, 2:00 pm
WHERE: The Loop CID Office, Parkade Plaza, 601 Business Loop 70 W, #128
Enter Parkade via the south-facing entrance and take the stairs to the ground floor. The Loop CID office is located at the bottom of the stairs on the right. An elevator is located in the center of the building.
You may have heard that we have completed another step in our path to a shared commercial kitchen on The Loop. We still have plenty of work to do but we’ll be updating everyone as we get further into the project, on this website and our COMO MAKES site. In the meantime, here’s Julia Garlich’s article about the project in the Columbia Missourian.
Columbia’s commercial kitchen project is happening.
Twelve city partners, including Regional Economic Development Group Inc., the city of Columbia and the Business Loop Community Improvement District, have teamed up to make the proposed COMO Cooks project a reality for food entrepreneurs.
During a meeting of the REDI Board of Directors on Wednesday, REDI President Stacey Button and Business Loop CID Executive Director Carrier Gartner, detailed plans for the “much-needed” commercial kitchen, anticipated to open Dec. 1 in the existing kitchen at Mizzou North.
The shared kitchen space will allow mobile food vendors, caterers and other small-batch food producers to rent the facility and its equipment for a baseline cost of $17 an hour. It will also have 24/7 availability, dry and cold storage, business counseling services, marketing assistance and regular classes.
The COMO Cooks project is intended to provide food producers in the greater Columbia area with an affordable space to scale up their business without the usual barriers of entry.
“It’s very hard to start up a restaurant,” Gartner said. “The build-out, the equipment — it’s just too much of a barrier for some folks.”
The project will combine items from the former kitchen at the Columbia Regional Airport with existing equipment in the Mizzou North facility including several hoods, prep sinks and walk in-freezers. Only a “handful” of items will need to be purchased or donated, according to the project’s business plan.
A proposed advisory board including representatives from REDI, the Business Loop CID and food and beverage industry leaders will oversee management of the kitchen. The advisory board also intends to have representation from underserved populations to ensure the kitchen’s mission to reduce barriers for all is met, according to the project’s business plan.
Several board members, including REDI Secretary and Addison’s and Sophia’s owner Matt Jenne, supported the project during the meeting.
“I think it’s great these people have this opportunity to make Columbia more of foodie destination,” Jenne said. “I think that’s only going to be great for our community.”
The Business Loop CID was one of six organizations in the nation to receive a Smart Growth America grant designed to encourage local, small-scale manufacturing as a way to revitalize an underperforming area of the city and create new economic opportunities. A critical part of this plan was to find a way to revitalize the area in a way that didn’t drastically change the character of the street or exclude people who would benefit from the improvements.
While the complete plan has detailed action steps for moving forward, here is the general overview of their recommendations.
Establish a Clear Vision for The Loop
While our Loop Corridor Plan presents a vision of a street with working infrastructure, accessible streets and sidewalks, landscaping, and public art, a vision for how the corridor will develop in the future is important. What will infill development look like and how can we ensure new buildings can both house local makers and provide an active and attractive face to the street? How can the street connect to nearby neighborhoods to ensure that surrounding residents can benefit from increased jobs, shopping options, and other activities? Creating a visual guide to building styles and materials and creating a handful of test cases for the new Unified Development Code will be key steps.
Build upon Catalytic Partnerships
Often it takes one catalytic project to see the possibilities in an area. The Business Loop is home to some key institutions so it’s important to find ways to partner with organizations such as MACC and Boone Electric Cooperative. The Loop CID can seek developers interested in creating spaces for small manufacturing and serve as a match maker between property owners and tenants and between manufacturers and potential employees.
Help Make City Processes Predictable and Transparent
Small-scale manufacturing hasn’t been a focus in Columbia so the details of building a manufacturing space or permitting a business (particularly a food production business) are not well-established. Despite good intentions from city staff, there is also a disconnect between the needs of the businesses and what is provided. The Loop CID can help by clarifying these needs and advocate for a more streamlined and accessible permitting process. Refining the UDC’s definition of Artisan Industries to better reflect the activities of current makers is also critical.
Activate The Loop with Branding and Programming
It’s now common to focus on bringing customers to an area before any permanent structures are built—if people are excited about an area, developers and businesses are more willing to move there. We can work on branding The Loop as a destination for small-manufacturers (building on our current mix of home improvement, DIY businesses, and service centers). A series of events designed to bring people to The Loop and highlight local makers could showcase the diversity of Columbia’s makers and establish The Loop as a place for everyone.
Provide Business Development Support
Existing business counseling organizations are not only booked solid but often lack the detailed understanding of food or other types of production. Working with REDI and CMCA/MOWBC to expand their capacity and expertise is a way to take advantage of successful processes and adapt them to new needs. Reaching out to banks and other business funding sources to link them to potential manufacturers is key, particularly since the women, people of color, and recent immigrants we spoke to during this process don’t always have a relationship with a bank. Finally, hosting meet-ups of local makers would help foster mentoring relationships between manufacturers.
Although we need to find solutions that fit Columbia, the consulting team gave us a handful of inspirational ideas from other cities to prove it can be done.
The Ennovation Center – A commercial kitchen in Independence, MO located in a former hospital. They provide space, equipment, and business counseling to their members.
MOTAR – An organization dedicated to revitalizing a Cincinnati neighborhood via inclusive entrepreneurship. They purposefully build cohorts of new business owners across racial and ethnic groups.
Western Market Pop Ups – Muskegon, MI built a handful of pop-up chalets to house start-up businesses seeking affordable retail space. While they work on permanent development, many cities use temporary buildings—like shipping containers—as shops during popular retail times like holidays or events.
Latino Economic Development Center – A non-profit organization’s one-stop website for start-up businesses that combines business counseling and financing options for a underserved population. The website is backed by on-site services in the business owner’s preferred language.
Craig Adams Executive Director, Columbia STEM Alliance
Barbara Buffaloe Manager, City of Columbia Office of Sustainability
Stacey Button President, Regional Economic Development Inc.
Jo Fey Dean of Workforce Development & Technical Ed, MACC
Carrie Gartner Executive Director, The Loop CID
Mike Grellner Plaza Commercial Realty
Dave Griggs Chair, The Loop CID
Todd Hoien Hawthorne Bank
Tyson Hunt Owner, Logboat Brewing Co.
Susan Hart Chamber Chair, Heubert Builders
Jim Niemann Director of the Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic, MU
Brandon Russell Director, Columbia Public Schools Career Center
Jessie Yankee Director, Missouri Women’s Business Center
This plan will require the approval and support of many stakeholders, including the City of Columbia. Our consulting team anticipates it will take at least 10 years until we see the impact of some of these recommendations. That said, there’s no time like the present to start!
If you’d like us to present the plan to your group or organization, contact us at email@example.com.
A team of experts from Smart Growth America, Recast City, and the Economic Development Administration just spent three days here in Columbia touring small manufacturing sites, holding roundtables with makers, and hosting a Makers Town Hall that had more than 150 Columbians in attendance. They loved our city and were amazed at the level of support for local manufacturing and for The Loop.
Armed with this information, they will create an action plan that will leverage our existing makers as a way to revitalize the Business Loop and provide more economic opportunity for future business owners and a skilled workforce.
In the meantime, we met some exciting local manufacturers, producers, and makers that we’d love to have on The Loop! As space on the Business Loop becomes available, we want to match the vacancy to the needs of small manufacturers as quickly as possible. That’s why we’re asking anyone interested in opening a small manufacturing business on The Loop–or moving or expanding a current business–to fill out our Space Needs survey.
All the information will remain confidential and it’s the best way to get on our radar. So take a few minutes and let us know what your space needs are at: www.comomakes.com/space-needs.
You’re invited to participate in a special community town hall on the evening of March 12 at Parkade Plaza, 601 Business Loop 70 West, Rm. 241.
The Loop CID is partnering with REDI on a new initiative to strengthen the Business Loop, reinvest in our spaces, and support more small-scale manufacturing in Columbia. This project is funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and will bring national NGO, Smart Growth America, and consultants from Recast City LLC to our community.
This team of experts is coming to town in March and will help us create a strategy to leverage our existing makers as a way to revitalize The Loop and provide more economic opportunity for future business owners.
This town hall will focus on meeting with business owners and other community leaders like you to make sure our team understands what we need to make this project a success.
The town hall has two components:
6:00 – 7:00 pm – Presentation to the general public (including property owners, funders, and developers).
7:00 – 8:00 pm – Breakout session with local makers, manufacturers, and producers.
We hope you will be available to attend and share your thoughts with our team.
While Columbia boasts a healthy startup economy for local coffee roasters, breweries, and the like, it lacks a concentrated sector devoted to the small-scale artisan manufacturing that generates middle-skills jobs — those that require training but not a college degree. Carrie Gartner, executive director of The Loop, says that’s a problem because, as with most college towns, there is a growing gap in the skilled labor force.
“Our city needs a refreshed perspective on what a typical artisan looks like, as well as programs designed to bring more entrepreneurs into the mix,” says Gartner.
Earlier this year, The Loop, more formally known as the Business Loop Community Improvement District, and REDI received a federal grant to assist in developing a bustling artisan “maker economy” on the Loop corridor.
The nine-month grant is set to be implemented in March 2019 and will provide consulting services provided by Smart Growth America, a national organization that works with communities to build healthy local economies and neighborhoods. The consulting services will be funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. With ambitious revitalization plans already in the works, The Loop and REDI will use the grant to devise a plan for pumping in new business, consumers, and living-wage jobs to a long-neglected corridor.
Revitalizing the Loop
Business Loop 70 runs nearly three miles, from Stadium Boulevard to the west to East Boulevard, just shy of where I-70 intersects U.S. 63. (The Loop’s CID spans the corridor from the West Boulevard interstate exit to College Avenue.) Restaurants, bars, fast-food joints, auto dealers, grocers, museums, college satellite campuses, home improvement stores, and a myriad of retailers are among the diverse mix of businesses that call The Loop home.
Despite the variety of businesses along this corridor, The Loop presents several challenges to shoppers, property owners, and business tenants. “Right now, we have successful businesses on The Loop, and our sales are higher than expected,” says Gartner. “However, we have a number of underperforming properties, including vacant lots or overly large parking lots.”
To combat these and other problems, the CID board approved a 10-year revitalization plan earlier this year. With an estimated cost of $15 million over the next decade, funded primarily by property, use, and sales taxes assessed in the district, the plan outlines capital improvements and beautification efforts. The Columbia City Council recently approved the revitalization plan, which calls for improving traffic flow, constructing sidewalks and bike paths, enhancing landscaping, and defining the street’s identity with signage and public art. Also on the to-do list are short-term projects, like creating a handful of pop-up spaces for festivals and community events. The envisioned outcome of these improvements is attracting greater investment in The Loop by artisan startups, and in turn, consumers.
“Our goal is to improve the street, but in a way that matches the current character of the area. We don’t want to be a street with high-end clothing stores and art galleries — we want to be distinct from other commercial areas of town,” Gartner explains. “The Loop is a place where people show up in gloves and work boots. It’s an area specializing in fixing, building, and learning. A local furniture maker, metal worker, or jewelry maker would feel right at home on the street.”
City council recently rezoned The Loop to allow for just such artisan industries, which has opened the door for The Loop and other partners to focus on creating a small-scale manufacturing corridor.
“This can include welding, sculpting, arts and crafts, pottery, and carpentry, as well as local, small-batch bakeries, candy shops, cheese shops, craft breweries, and micro-distilleries,” Gartner says.
It also provides an opportunity for developing a comprehensive, citywide policy dedicated to expanding this place-based economic sector, something Gartner says doesn’t currently exist.
“Support for this plan is strong, and a small-scale manufacturing strategy would integrate into the shared economic revitalization goal outlined within,” Gartner says. “The ultimate goal is to create a corridor that revives this historically working-class neighborhood with new, small scale industries owned and operated by local residents.”
Investing in Community
The revitalization plan is also about investing in the community adjacent to The Loop. The First Ward neighborhood that lies just south of The Loop is one of three identified by the city’s 2019 strategic plan as needing a boost in social equity, public safety, infrastructure, and economic development.
“This is a neighborhood with historically low household income, low employment, and high crime,” Gartner says.
The neighborhood is inhabited predominantly by minority residents whose unemployment rate of eight percent is nearly twice that of white residents, in part because of a growing gap between the skills that employers need and the skills that residents in this area possess.
The city’s strategic plan aims to combat these issues by increasing living-wage jobs in this neighborhood and by reducing the median wage gap between white and minority households by five percent and the skills gap by 10 percent over three years. One way to meet these goals is by creating middle-skills jobs that fuel a small-scale manufacturing sector on The Loop, which is within walking distance from the neighborhood.
The Loop’s partnership with REDI is a logical one. Stacey Button, president of REDI, administers the Innovation Hub, a startup incubator that provides collaborative co-working space, business counseling, and mentorship to assist budding entrepreneurs. She is also responsible for the economic development portion of the city’s strategic plan.
“Small-scale manufacturing helps grow local entrepreneurship, and small business and can be a catalyst in revitalizing specific areas such as the Business Loop,” Button says. “It allows people to produce and sell their own goods, and if strategically located in an area such as the Business Loop, their presence will enhance not only the business corridor, but also the surrounding neighborhoods and the residents who reside there.”
Just as The Loop’s revitalization plan will take several years to implement, so too will developing a burgeoning small-scale manufacturing corridor. The first step is to create a feasible working plan that can be completed in phases, which is where the grant-funded consulting services from Smart Growth America come in. Gartner and Button are busy preparing for the first site visit in March by gathering preliminary information about Columbia’s specific needs, strengths, and challenges.
“Part of our prep for the site visit it to get a lay of the land: What types of makers and producers do we have [in Columbia] right now? Are they home-based or located in commercial spaces? What types of resources are available?” Gartner says.
The Loop created COMO Makes, a website dedicated to the planning process. Interested artisans, as well as those with resources for helping artisans with training, assistance with business plans, and funding, can add their names to the COMO Makes registry.
“That information will help Smart Growth America and their team develop a plan tailored to us,” Gartner says. “We’ve got about 30 people who’ve signed up on the makers registry now, and we’ll keep collecting names. These folks will be helpful in providing an overview of what types of manufacturing are happening now, and they can help during the site visit interviews as well. It’ll also be a good way to keep them apprised of our planning and the outcomes.”
In addition to having a community that already supports an active startup culture, Gartner says one of Columbia’s strengths lies in its educational institutions. The MU School of Engineering, Stephens College School of Design, the Columbia Area Career Center, and Moberly Area Community College have programs focused on training workers for well-paying, middle-skills jobs.
Gartner suspects the challenges to a small-scale manufacturing sector will be identifying creative funding options, assistance programs, and working space for artisans.
“We need a compelling argument for traditionally conservative real estate developers, banks, and property owners to recognize the value of small-scale manufacturing and invest in developing these types of projects,” Gartner says, adding that some local banks already recognize the value of investing in this type of jobs-based program.
Gartner expects the plan to include efforts to help women and minority entrepreneurs who historically lack access to the funding needed to gain a foothold in the startup world.
“We don’t yet know what [Smart Growth America] will recommend, but past grant awardees have created makerspaces, commercial kitchens, or fabricating labs for garment construction and other textile work,” Gartner says. “Think of these as the manufacturing equivalent of [REDI’s] Innovation Hub. Having a physical incubator would allow us to create a pipeline of local manufacturers that would help convince property owners to develop needed space for them.”
As The Loop, REDI, and its many partners look to what the future could hold for the I-70 business corridor, Gartner is confident in the planning process that will start next spring.
“A smart plan that excites the community and helps us support local manufacturers on the Business Loop will pay dividends far into the future,” she says. “If done right, we’ll revitalize the street with new manufacturers, new jobs, and new retail spaces, all while remaining true to the character of the area.”