Oct 21, 2013

Whitewater Makerspace open to project builders

Excerpted from Daily Union
By Chris Welch

The message in the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was, “If you build it, they will come.”

However, it’s quite the opposite in Whitewater, where “If you come, you can build it” is the mantra at the newly opened Makerspace, located in the Bluff Road Marketplace building.

The idea of a space where people can make or learn how to make things — a “Makerspace” — has grown in popularity across the nation in recent years, with 113 individual Makerspaces of various sizes east of the Mississippi River.

In short, people go to a Makerspace to use tools and equipment that they might not be able to afford, or have space for, on their own.

Makerspace members range from professional artists to casual hobbyists, tinkerers, and crafters; from someone who simply wishes to learn how something is done, to people seeking to fill a special need (such as, for example, replacing a single section of carved trimming on a Victorian home).

The not-for-profit Whitewater Makerspace had a “soft opening” on Oct. 1, and while it is open for members to join and come to build things, not every piece of equipment is fully operational yet

According to Whitewater Makerspace consultant David Buggs, a more celebratory grand opening will be held before the end of the year. The soft opening, however, already has led to numerous activities at the site.

Paul Jadin, president of the Madison Region Economic Partnership, an eight-county consortium of which Jefferson and Rock counties are members, said that Makerspaces are an excellent testing ground for entrepreneurs.

“We regard them to be part of our overall effort here at MadREP, especially the innovation and entrepreneurship plank of our platform,” he said. “That platform calls for us to work more with entrepreneurs to establish more worker-spaces and provide a better network for them while giving them access to more mentors.

“Makerspaces … are very important to that whole networking opportunity and to that whole effort to create space in which entrepreneurs can test concepts or test prototypes,” Jadin said. “It’s a great way to find advice from other people who have succeeded.”

Read the full article.