On February 17, 2016

Group seeks to create Rutland-area makerspace

Public asked to participate in the planning process

A group of Rutland area residents and local organizations, led by Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) and Castleton University, are working to start a makerspace in Rutland. They are looking for public comment on the concept, which will be followed by a public meeting.

“Our goal at REDC is to support entrepreneurial ventures through this concept,” Executive Director Lyle Jepson said. “To keep our economy strong, we need to be making things and providing a path to commercializing those products. The makerspace is way to help people do that.”

“We want to actively involve colleges and universities in the area,” Jepson said. “Rutland is well-known for its skilled workforce, from woodworkers to welders to electrical engineers to skilled machine operators. That’s a resource we need to tap into, to make sure it grows with the next generation of workers.”

According to the site, “A Makerspace is a community of people sharing their knowledge, experience, and ideas in addition to tools, equipment, and workshop space. Its members are a diverse group featuring hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, local school representatives and students as well as start-up, non-profit, and for-profit companies.”

“Makerspaces let young, innovative, entrepreneurial people try out their ideas without having to buy equipment,” Randal Smathers, assistant director at the Rutland Free Library, said. “Often they have everything but the capital. Makerspaces let them be creators in a small footprint at low cost.”

The Makerspace would provide classes, work space, office space, and shared equipment that could include 3D printers, laser cutters, woodworking, metalworking, welding, electronics, programming, CNC and computer-aided design.

Access to the space and equipment would be available to everyone for a monthly or yearly membership fee, with the option to reserve personal workbench or small office space for an additional fee.

REDC’s entrepreneurship committee is encouraging people interested in the concept of a shared makerspace and business incubator to take a survey, available at rutlandmakers.org, by Feb. 25, 2016. The committee will announce a public meeting when the survey is complete to discuss the results.

For more information visit rutlandmakers.org or stop by REDC’s offices in Castleton Downtown at 67 Merchants Row, Rutland, Vt.

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