Craft Business Accelerator


The Craft Business Accelerator (CBA) grows craft businesses into small manufacturers who create jobs and ignite innovative and equitable growth in the region. The CBA achieves this goal by creating a range of economic opportunities for craft businesses.

Creativity Powering Community Development

Craft businesses use traditional handiwork processes and emerging technologies to transform raw and/or reclaimed materials into products with utility, durability, and good design. With CBA support, craft businesses emerge as valuable components of the region’s twenty-first-century economic landscape. There are several initiatives under the CBA purview that create opportunities for craft businesses.

Craft Businesses + Real Estate Developments

The CBA fosters transactions between craft businesses and real estate development professionals. These transactions benefit both groups. Craft businesses access significant growth opportunities, and real estate development professionals access high-quality products that align with their customers’ growing interest in locally sourced products. The basic process is as follows: (1) Bridgeway uses its resources and networks to identify CBA opportunities in the region’s real estate development sector, and (2) Bridgeway brokers a transaction between real estate development professionals and craft businesses. As a result, economic activity that typically leaves the region is localized, and participating craft businesses access substantial real estate projects.

Craft Businesses + Culinary Arts Ecosystem

The CBA leverages the growing trend in the culinary arts for sourcing ingredients locally. The CBA taps into this trend by creating a “studio-to-table” movement culminating in the Signature Dish project. Participating craft businesses create custom bar ware for a specific cocktail or tableware for a new recipe or gourmet dish. The project creates marketing and economic opportunities for glassmakers and ceramicists by pairing them with well-known mixologists and chefs.

Craft Businesses + Established Manufacturers

The CBA encourages connections between established manufacturers and craft businesses. Established manufacturers benefit from new opportunities to offset business lost to overseas producers and automation. Partnering with these often underutilized manufacturers boosts capacity and improves efficiency of craft businesses. This connection is especially valuable for home-based craft businesses like Etsy Sellers/Designers. They increase production by contracting with manufacturers and avoid accumulating added overhead such as leased space and expensive equipment purchases.

Craft Businesses + Creative Entrepreneurs

The community of craft business in western Pennsylvania is ample, but ultimately finite. According to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the city has over 750 self-identifying artists. These creative entrepreneurs may not fit the definition of a craft business, but they deserve access to the economic opportunities fostered by the program. To be more inclusive, the CBA offers a “creative entrepreneur” track, which pairs creative entrepreneurs with more craft businesses and established manufactures to create products appropriate for real estate developments and other collaborative opportunities.

Craft Businesses + Regional and National Consumers 

The CBA is developing MONMADE, an online catalog and series of events that support craft businesses with aspirations for growth and potential for deeper economic impact in the Pittsburgh region. Scheduled for launch in early 2017, MONMADE aggregates and showcases the products, producers, and projects fostering craft manufacturing in Pittsburgh. MONMADE helps real estate development professionals do business with local craft businesses. With sophisticated branding and an attractive user interface, MONMADE is also well-suited to help other economic sectors and general consumers access local craft businesses and their products.