Zoning in on urban manufacturing: industry location and change among low-tech, high-touch industries in Melbourne, Australia

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Contemporary policy attention to manufacturing revolves around a narrative of advanced, innovation-driven production. Often overlooked are “low-tech,” “high-touch” manufacturing, which engage in specialized and often urbanized labor-intensive production. These firms represent a missed economic development opportunity yet may be displaced due to major urban industrial re-zonings. We respond to this policy challenge by providing a detailed analysis of the growth, concentration and clustering patterns of cultural manufacturing and food and beverage manufacturing in Melbourne, Australia. These forms of low-tech, high-touch manufacturing are more likely to concentrate in central industrial zones while manufacturing at large is predominately in the outer suburbs.Our findings demonstrate the need for a more nuanced understanding of manufacturing geographies and suggest that a key yet overlooked feature of industrial agglomeration is zoning. We argue that industrial decline is not solely due to outsourcing, but also land use policies geared toward maximizing land values over other benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-480
Number of pages23
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • craft
  • cultural economy
  • industrial location
  • industrial zoning
  • manufacturing
  • urban policy

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