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“Knoxville Maker City Summit” set for September 19

EtsyBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

In less than two weeks, Knoxvillians will gather at the Mill & Mine event center to celebrate a local movement that is more robust than many people realize and to make plans to further accelerate its growth.

We’re talking about the maker movement that expands the traditional definition of making things, usually described as manufacturing, to include everything from creative people making jewelry and crafts to those who produce videos for YouTube.

The inaugural “Knoxville Maker City Summit,” set for 1 to 10 p.m. September 19, was a commitment that local delegates made when they joined 12 other communities at the national “Etsy Maker Cities Summit” in late May in Brooklyn, NY. One of those attendees was Joy O’Shell, Director of Outreach for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and her thoughts after the event were captured in this teknovation.biz post.

Today, O’Shell is amazed at just how pervasive the maker movement really is in the local community.

“There are more than a dozen maker spaces that are here or will be soon,” she says. One of the best known and most frequently cited – Knox Makers – just relocated to South Knoxville. Others include The Central Collective on North Central and Modern Studio in nearby Happy Holler.

With such a growing grassroots entrepreneurial movement, it makes sense that the Summit would be held during “Innov865 Week,” the inaugural week-long celebration of entrepreneurship in the community.

The Summit goal is to bring together makers, developers, manufacturers and city officials to cultivate a stronger, more connected maker community in Knoxville.

O’Shell says the event will be partly a showcasing of the early pioneers in the Knoxville maker space movement and partly the development of strategies to ensure that the momentum is not lost.

The national Etsy organization is participating in the local activities by providing two keynote speakers for the Summit – Ilyssa Meyer, the organization’s Public Policy Analyst, and Dana Mauriello, Director of Seller Growth.

“The day is divided into two parts,” O’Shell says, explaining that many in the maker movement have day jobs, so they can only participate after 4:30 or 5 p.m.

The Summit will kick-off at 1 p.m. with a special event where Knoxville will be declared a “Maker City,” possibly the first in the nation. The ceremony will be followed by Meyer’s keynote address.

“She’ll explain why Knoxville is a perfect maker city,” O’Shell says. Next up will be small group discussions where she explains the “task will be to pick five things that will make Knoxville an even better maker city.”

There will also be a panel of entrepreneurial support organizations addressing a key need identified by the planning committee.

“Many people asked about how to make what they are doing into a business,” O’Shell said.

After a dinner break, Etsy’s Mauriello will help answer this question: “How can we use the concept of manufacturing for artists in the same way we use it for economic development?”

Another panel discussion will follow, this one on the status of creative manufacturing in Knoxville, and then there will be a maker meet-up event. The day concludes with an “after party” at the Public House.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, 12 to 15 existing makers in the community will showcase their wares.

As she has worked on planning the event, O’Shell says she came to appreciate the breadth and diversity of things that fall under the maker umbrella.

“I hope people can find their tribe at the Summit,” she says in reference to meeting like-minded individuals.

For more information and registration, click here.


Tom Ballard

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer,
Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.

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