The past seven months I’ve spent as a part of the Clutch MOV family has impressed a few things upon my heart. First, we love the Mid-Ohio Valley and want to focus on all the positive aspects it has to offer. Second, we love the sense of community that spans across this valley and we strive to continue to focus on and share that love. Third, we appreciate old and new ventures that are a part of the MOV, and we like to highlight both. That being said, a positive, community involved venture called the Epicenter Makerspace took root this past January at 107 Lancaster Street in Marietta, Ohio (the first Epicenter was located in the Armory building on Front Street). The Epicenter Makerspace is a program under Building Bridges to Careers. This embodiment is dedicated to those who wish to try ideas they may have (incubation); those desiring to explore a new art/skill or those who desire to hone in on their craft (makerspace); and career development for students in this area. Through learning, networking and teaching, the Epicenter Makerspace offers many outlets for the MOV community to try.

Jenny Bruce, Makerspace Coordinator, was kind enough to give me a tour of the building and what they have to offer. The first floor is home to the makerspace end of the building. As of now, they have a woodworking shop filled with tools, including a table saw, sander, two scroll saws, donated lumber, and more. In the technology room, there are computers, five 3D printers, a Cricket, and a vinyl cutter available for use. In what’s referred to as the miscellaneous room, you’ll find art and craft items such as paint supplies, stained glass and sewing materials.

So how exactly does a makerspace work? Currently, events have been offered and will continue to be offered regarding a variety of topics. Two past events have included “Anyone Can Paint” and “Introduction to Basic Embroidery.” Upcoming events include “Introduction to MIG Welding” and “Introduction to Spoon Carving.” Most events involve a small fee, and most often no experience is necessary and the materials are provided. It is Jenny’s wish to host as many events as possible and her desire to keep the events ever-changing. As Jenny states, “the goal is to offer as many experiences as a person might want to try.” The Epicenter is also working on developing memberships for those looking to use the equipment and materials currently accessible. Once the membership fee has been paid, a person will be able to use what’s available as often as they like and on a timetable that is convenient for him/her.

Apart from the makerspace area, there is also the “incubator” part of the building. The incubation rooms are “for 4 or more people, or small groups of people, that would like the opportunity to try out their ideas while having direct access to shared resources, mentoring, and coaching.” So say you have a business idea you’ve longed to try but you don’t have the space, the resources or the direction you need from others- the incubator space is a place for you to harness your idea. You’ll have your own room, furniture and Wi-Fi. You can bring the materials you need to set your idea into motion. The makerspace may even have the materials and/or equipment you require. There is a rent fee for the room. Businesses can also occupy incubation spaces and in turn, these businesses agree to work with students; so it’s a win-win for everyone. Pamela Lankford, Epicenter Director, can be contacted for information regarding the incubation area.

So what does the Epicenter Makerspace encompass as a whole? Jenny says, “It teaches people they can try anything.” The Epicenter is here to provide opportunity for those in the community. It’s here to bring the community together through teaching, demonstrating and networking. It’s a positive place that’s meant to build up and promote the wonderful people and ideas we have right here in the MOV. It’s here to help students develop ideas and figure out what they might like to pursue in high school, college, and beyond. It’s a place for resources and camaraderie. As Jenny explained, the Epicenter is “not here to compete with any business in the community, but to give people the opportunity to try something new. Anybody can be a maker.” This is a place I think MOV residents will benefit from tremendously, and I can’t wait to see all the exciting things it’s going to produce.

For more information, visit the Building Bridges to Careers website.