What makes us The Maker City? Knoxville has a rich history of making and manufacturing. We sit at an intersection of the past and the future: we have a heritage of manufacturing and Appalachian craft, and an economy of technology and entrepreneurship. The makers have always been here, and they represent a unique blend of art and science. The Maker City is a celebration of our history and a vision for our future.
In 2016, three representatives from Knoxville set off to Brooklyn to participate in the first Etsy Maker Cities Summit. Out of hundreds of applicants, Knoxville was selected as one of about a dozen groups to participate in the Summit. When the team returned from Brooklyn, they were committed to hosting a similar event here to bring together artists, manufacturers, and City officials, putting them all in the same room to talk about the future of this city of makers. So that September we hosted the first annual Maker City Summit, drawing hundreds of local makers and supporters to be a part of the conversation. During the Summit, Knoxville was designated the first Etsy Maker City in the US. Etsy – arguably THE online handmade marketplace – recognized Knoxville as an amazing place to be a maker.
Over the past 3 years we’ve been refining our vision for future of the makers in our region, and building on our existing foundation to make Knoxville the place to be a maker. The Maker City is led by the Mayor’s Maker Council, a broad cross section of the maker community in Knoxville that has representation from local makers, arts and business support organizations, and City officials. We host monthly meetups, workshops, and events, including The Maker City Summit each September, that offer makers the opportunity to learn from experts and each other.
Today, more than 900 makers belong to The Maker City, and the Knoxville Maker Directory features more than 190 local artists and maker businesses. We’re building a community that’s invested in makers and in The Maker City, a diverse, inclusive place where anyone can make a living doing what they love.