Boosting 'Made In DC' Products

Councilman Charles Allen Presents A Bill To Support A Buy-Local Movement

Locally made products could receive a boost from the DC City Council if a new bill introduced on Dec. 1 by Ward Six Councilmember Charles Allen passes. The bill — “Made in DC Program Establishment Act of 2015” — supports DC businesses by proposing the creation of a Made in DC logo and a marketing campaign to encourage neighbors to buy local.

As a part of the legislation, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) would search for locations in the city to build an innovation space and marketplace. Coffee roasters like Compass Coffee, artists like those that sell at Eastern Market and even cheese makers at Sona Creamery could market their products as Made in DC and use resources from the DSLBD.

“This ‘maker movement’ supports the entrepreneurial spirit and allows consumers to reinvest in our local economy – and this reinvestment directly impacts our communities and local tax base,” Allen said. “Whether it is clothing, housewares, food, or beverages, District residents are proud to purchase and support homegrown products.”

In November, Union Market launched a maker-space Lab 1270 on the 1200 block of Fifth Street NE for local artists, craftsmen and designers. The idea of setting up a small sales site in a semi-permanent location gives local entrepreneurs a chance to test the DC customer market before investing.

Ron Edwards of Ron David clothing launched his luxury, reasonably priced line in September. He now runs a small sales site in Lab 1270 to boost his local reach, he said. Other businesses like Craft Kombucha, S3 Active and Thursday Boots sell in the shared space.

The Made in DC bill would support more similar sites.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange co-introduced the bill with Allen. The program would bring in marketing campaign funds from donations, grants and a currently unknown amount of funds from the city, Allen said.