Whether you’re wanting to pick up woodworking or looking to 3D print a prototype for your new invention, the GJ MakerSpace has you covered.
The MakerSpace is a membership-based program within the Business Incubator, located at 2591 Legacy Way. It is a hub for creators in Mesa County, who want to flex their brains through woodworking, 3D printing and laser cutting, to name a few services.
“We’re like a gym but instead of exercise equipment, we have tools,” said MakerSpace Director Joe Elliott.
The MakerSpace opened on May 28, 2014, and a grant from the city paid for the first pieces of equipment.
Essentially, it’s a limb of the Business Incubator. Business owners can receive advice and help with the latter, then use the former to apply what they’ve learned and work out any kinks.
“Businesses learn how to develop a business plan then they can use rented space and design their tangible product with a 3D printer,” Elliott said.
Beyond a workspace open 24/7 to members, the MakerSpace also hosts classes and open houses for community education and supports budding businesses and entrepreneurs. It also offers its space to the Hi Five Robotics team from the area high schools.
The focus of the space is to foster growth in the community, keep up with trends and cater to its members’ needs, Elliott said.
“We also host workforce innovation programs where we help employees learn how to use new tools needed for their industry,” he said. “We have a member board, and they decide how to use the money we get from the city and county. It’s important to make sure we’re member- directed.”
The program isn’t just focused on internal growth; it also looks to help the community when needed.
When the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit, the facility manufactured face shields and extenders for mask ear loops. It then distributed them to medical facilities and schools, Elliott said.
The MakerSpace has added new programs such as sewing, woodworking and render farms — computer systems intended to develop CGI for films and television.
Elliott said they hope to add welding in the future, but getting the right equipment and the necessary safety precautions will likely come with a hefty price tag.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted growth of services and membership.
“We’re having to innovate here and have more one-on-one time instead of larger gatherings,” said Susan Webster, a volunteer with the MakerSpace.
The MakerSpace has also seen members leave because of the pandemic and rollback on some events.
The MakerSpace hosts open houses weekly on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and on the first and third Wednesday of each month. On Fridays and Sundays, it is only open to members.
Elliott encourages people to come, try it out, and get a little creative.
“Now that people have extra time, they can fulfill their ideas,” he said.