Written by Erin Zeltner, The Independent
Monday, January 12, 2015, 12:00 pm
Southern Utah residents are about to have the opportunity to create, build, play, and try their hands at new entrepreneurial concepts in an accessible environment called Makerspace. Makerspace, is a co-op workshop filled with the essentials for building and producing whatever the makers at a particular site desire and it’s coming to St. George.
Makerspaces and similar communal think-tanks are becoming an integral part of a new and powerful wave of industry fostered by the newfound success of niche markets and rapidly-growing crowdfunding numbers. St. George’s Makerspace will hold its first meeting, headed by Gary Engelman, at 7:30 P.M. this Tuesday at Jazzy’s Rock ‘n Roll Grill.
Because each Makerspace is unique in its opportunities for participating makers, Engelman, a technology-enthusiast and tinkerer who has visited many Makerspace sites around the country, hopes the first meeting will result in a strong direction for the future southern Utah chapter. Many Makerspaces have a focus on technology, offering 3D printers and scanners, CAD software, e-textile equipment, laser cutters and free software, but they also often offer woodworking machinery and welding equipment.
The Makerspace in St. George will lend itself to whatever the community wishes it to be. “We’re looking to get a feel for what people would like from our outfit so we know what type of space and equipment we’ll need to be to be an asset to our community,” stated Engelman.
With newer technology and a ‘making’ outfit available to southern Utahns, Engleman hopes to begin a movement for new industry in the community. In other locations, Makerspaces and other like-minded sites are building potential and providing a leg-up for entrepreneurs by giving them a place to create. Said Engelman, “We’ve found that it’s an incubator for entrepreneurs. If you’ve got an idea for a project that involves electronics, woodworking, or 3d printing or welding, you have a possible business waiting to make money and create jobs.”
Inventions and projects are often funded by the quickly-building popularity of crowdfunding investments, promoted by companies such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter. In 2013, over $480 million dollars were pledged by three million crowdfunders worldwide and it’s estimated that by the year 2025, crowdfunding is expected to reach $93 billion.
Crowdfunding offers a consistent way for entrepreneurs to create niche-market products and reap profits from them. Technology inventors and entrepreneurs can also find plenty of money beyond crowdfunding; in 2013, over $848 million was flooded into hardware startups by venture capitalists.
“Much of our income in southern Utah comes from the construction industry, and that’s a fine thing, but I would like to see new industry coming from our area to help support our economy as well,” stated Engelman. He then explained that many Makerspaces also have business offices incorporated in their design where entrepreneurs can receive the business assistance they need or where they can locate others to partner with.
A Makerspace in St. George could also stimulate the creation of new jobs in the future. Since 1990, 8 million new jobs have been created in the U.S. by entrepreneurs. In that time, 4 million jobs were eliminated by big business.
Engelman also has his sights on using the location as a place for others, including families, to learn, build, and have the opportunity to experience the ability to use technology to their advantage. Workshops and events are planned to be catered to children and teens as well as adults.
Makerspace locations vary in price for memberships. Salt Lake’s Makerspace, MakeSaltLake, requires $50 per month (or $35 for students) for a membership, while Las Vegas’ Makerspace, SYN Shop, asks for $40 in dues per month. Engelman hopes to run St. George’s Makerspace as a non-profit organization, offering opportunity and knowledge to those who would like training on the equipment available. He feels that monthly memberships will be approximately $25 to $30 with a possible option for daily rates as well.
Engelman plans to start the business as a non-profit organization and will require donated funds to set up shop, something he’ll vie for after having a better understanding of the equipment that St. Georgian’s desire. He feels positive about being able to drum-up the capital quickly because of the opportunity a Makerspace can afford southern Utah in the future. Stated Engleman, “We are in the 3rd industrial revolution. In 10 or 15 years, companies will have their products shipped to them less frequently and they’ll begin printing their own products with 3D printers under plans entrepreneurs sell them. We can be on top of that change. We need to be a city that is ready to create better paying jobs and this is a way to do it. This is not resource-intensive, but it has a high value. ”