This IPRO project continues the work of previous IPRO teams focusing on Made in USA and Made in Chicago. The following description for Summer IPRO 303 will be updated to reflect the activities for the Fall 2017 IPRO team. The overall intent for fall will be to develop a functional web and mobile app that fulfills the concepts of the Made in Chicago business model created in Summer 2017, which built on the work of the Spring 2017 Made in USA project team. For fall, students with knowledge and experience in app development are critical to this project to prototype and implement solutions through storyboarding, screen shots and functional prototypes. In addition, students are also needed from various disciplines who can explore user desirability and business viability, including designing and implementing usability testing protocols.
This IPRO project has the aim of advancing conscientious purchasing among American consumers. The term “locally-made” is a broad term that makes it difficult for consumers to truly understand where materials are sourced in order to make informed purchase decisions. This IPRO project will explore how these ambiguities can be clarified to equip American consumers with reliable information to support their locally-made purchasing decision.
In the larger context, even as the number of Americans embracing a Made-in-USA mindset grows, it is still rather difficult for consumers to optimize their purchasing power and practice a lifestyle that tries to support American products and companies. It is estimated that Americans spend close to 20 percent of their incomes on goods and items that are non-essential needs, an annualized 2.3 trillion dollars from spending tracked in 2015 (1) (bloombergview.com). This means making frequent purchasing choices is intrinsic to our American way-of-life, therefore potential for impact is high.
Manufacturing has the largest multiplying effect in the US economy compared to all other sectors, creating more than seven additional jobs per one manufacturing job (2) (themanufacturinginstitute.org). Companies are beginning to reconsider their manufacturing locations and how that influences bottom line and quality. Creating greater demand through conscientious purchasing can potentially accelerate this shift in some industries. It is estimated that if about 90 percent of Americans reallocated one dollar per day, spending one dollar less on foreign-made goods, and one dollar more on American-made goods, after a year, this could add $109.5 billion to the American economy, which equates to about 2,737,500 new jobs paying $40,000 per year (3) (madeinusa.org)
To provide focus for prototyping solutions, a summer 2017 IPRO 303 team focuses on the purchasing region associated with the City of Chicago, a prime area for better connecting consumers to locally made products. The goal is to design a solution that empowers a Chicagoan or visitor to (1) more easily connect to products that are locally made in Chicago and (2) trust the information provided to them about these products. A key aspect is to define the criteria that will qualify many locally made items in the Chicago area. The project includes the challenge of designing a prototype web platform to encompass crowd-source information about locally-made products, and create a dynamic, constantly updating resource for consumers.