Made in DC Wins Approval

Mayor Muriel Bowser Signs the Bill into Law

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen speaking at the signing of the Made in DC law with Mayor Muriel Bowser on May 3. (Photo: Laura Marks)  

On May 3, Mayor Muriel Bowser officially signed the Made in DC program into law. The next day, the DC City Council funded it put together by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) in a bill in December 2015. Allen joined with Think Local First DC and the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) in this effort to boost support for local businesses and products.

The fiscal year 2017 budget awarded Made in DC $221,194 from the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The funding will to go toward creating logos and brands for the campaign. It includes a one-time $25,000 payment from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for the Office to assist the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) effort’s in finding feasible sites for a Made in DC Innovation Space and Marketplace. The program has about 92 businesses including Union Kitchen, Undone Chocolate, septcarres and Dolcezza.

"Made In DC will help take the local maker community – and the incredible products they create – beyond the borders of the District," Allen said. "It will help promote and expand our marketplace, and further brand our great city as a great place to do business."

Council Chair Phil Mendelson and At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange co-introduced the Made in DC bill with Allen.

The new law will now let even more people know about how they can contribute to and buy from their local makers, said Gina Schaefer, owner of 11 Ace Hardware co-op stores in Maryland, DC and Virginia. Her store at 1055 Fifth St. NW and others stock products like those from the Capital Candy Jar, from vendors at Union Kitchen and some local card makers.

“We try to do as much locally and as ‘mom and pop’ as we can,” Schaefer said. “Part of our mission in furthering that is helping small entrepreneurs when we can.”

For vendors looking to sell at a national store chain like Whole Foods, they can build experience selling through a third party at her stores, Schaefer said. The Made in DC movement brings more publicity to the efforts and that’s awesome, she added.

Promoting local business with the DSLBD and District government can help solve several issues such as affordable housing, pathways to the middle class and workforce development, said Raj Aggarwal, volunteer chair of Think Local First DC. Small businesses bring local revenue, jobs and vibrant engaged communities. Think Local First DC has more than 400 participating businesses.

“Think Local First exists to create systemic integrity and love in Washington, DC,” Aggarwal said.

Director Ana Harvey at the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development has a vision that also includes vital education for small business owners, said Aggarwal. Through free workshops, a maker’s fund to help new ventures and opportunities for owners to collaborate, the District can create a system of support and creative development.

“The more we are able to bring makers together to really leverage and support others through their own growth, they really succeed,” Aggarwal said.