KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dozens of entrepreneurs, creatives and makers took part in the Maker City Summit Sunday at the Mill and Mine in the Old City.
The point of the summit is to inspire and educate local people on how to run their small businesses more effectively.
This is the fourth year the Maker City Summit has happened in Knoxville. In 2016, Etsy named Knoxville the first "Maker City." In that time, the city has seen more maker businesses coupled with city evolution.
Alyssa Maddox, a maker herself at Jupiter Entertainment and a member of Mayor Madeline Rogero's Maker Council, said the word "maker" is a broad term.
"I've seen printmakers here, ceramics makers, I've seen people that are graphic designers," Maddox listed. "So everyone who works in the creative field has come here today to network and just see what Knoxville has to offer."
Knoxville is putting those small business owners at the forefront for planning.
"We're all putting our money where our heart is and trying to support our city and our community and that's what the maker city wants to help people do," Maddox explained.
Mayor Rogero, City Council and the Maker Council have found how creators fit into the growth through things like the façade improvement program. This was made evident through businesses like Elst Brewing Company on Central.
"We can feel the vibrancy and renewal along our traditional commercial corridors and we wanna thank the maker community for being a part of this redevelopment," Rogero said
Rogero explained how Recode rezoning is crucial for those creators
"Recode's passage is important to the maker community in a number of ways, but particularly because it loosens the restrictions on certain home-based businesses, and provides the tools for developers to be creative as we reclaim old buildings such as this," Rogero said as she looked at the full room at the Mill and Mine.
The city wants to embrace the area's rich history, but also move forward.
"We know makers represent our past but they also represent our future," Rogero said.
Maker City doesn't happen just once a year at the summit, though. There are programs, maker meetups, and events all year aimed at connecting entrepreneurs.