Ilana Preuss: Planning for an Inclusive Economy: How Small-Scale Manufacturing Businesses Create Places that are Stronger, More Resilient, and More Loved

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Ilana Preuss (B.S. URS '96) is the Founder of Recast City LLC, a consulting firm that works with city leaders, real estate developers, and other civic leaders to integrate space for small-scale producers into redevelopment projects and place-based economic development. She is passionate about making great places and sees that small-scale manufacturers are a missing piece in today's mixed-use development and commercial property repositioning. With over 20 years of experience in city development, Preuss works with real estate developers, economic development corporations, and other local leaders to go from idea to plan to action to build great places with vibrant economies. She supports businesses and organizations to develop strategies with measurable and achievable outcomes.
Preuss' passion for great places grew out of her experience working with big and small cities all over the country when she led the technical assistance program at the U.S. EPA Smart Growth Program, and as the Vice President and Chief of Staff at Smart Growth America. Now through her work at Recast City, Preuss works with business leaders to understand the local small-scale manufacturing sector, discover the potential to enhance real estate development, and tap state and federal resources for support. She works with real estate developers to integrate small-scale manufacturing businesses into new and rehab products to increase a project's value and draw people to the target neighborhood. She works with economic development authorities to identify key assets in the local community and build goals and tactics to create vibrant and sustainable economic growth. Preuss' forthcoming book, Recast Your City, will be released by Island Press in 2021.
Preuss' projects at Recast City span the country, from Washington, D.C. to Honolulu, Hawaii. Through work with real estate developers, foundations, city planning and economic development offices, and with mayors, she develops demand analyses, economic development strategies, and business-retention and planning policies. Her technique of intensive one-on-one engagement with local business owners and other stakeholders provides clients with a deep understanding of local challenges and opportunities for success.
In 2017, Preuss coauthored, Made in PLACE: Small-Scale Manufacturing and Placemaking, in partnership with Smart Growth America and funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and she coauthored, Discovering Your City's Maker Economy, a field guide for National League of Cities, in partnership with NLC, Etsy, and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance. She also authored a chapter in Creative Placemaking, a publication by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Preuss is an experienced speaker, see her keynote presentation "Small-Scale Manufacturing and Main Street: The Secret Sauce" at the 2020 North Carolina Main Street conference in Bern, North Carolina, and her TEDx presentation, "The Economic Power of Great Places." She is a regular press spokesperson featured in the New York Times and USA Today. Preuss received an undergraduate degree in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Masters in City Planning from the University of Maryland.


The decision of which businesses are allowed on main street, in downtown, and in other commercial areas impacts who wins and who loses in access to economic opportunity. Planners have a responsibility to think about who gets to use the space, and how we create space for local ownership and more local opportunity, as we create or redefine a place. Small-scale manufacturing businesses (any business that makes a tangible product) are a key missing piece to create more inclusive and equitable wealth-building opportunities in our communities. Join this talk to learn about national trends for this business sector, how it helps create thriving places, and its role in weaving economic opportunity with planning decision making to strengthen our communities.

If you would like to attend this lecture, please register here.

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