The banging from the construction crew across the hall from my office would be annoying in other circumstances but today, it's the sound of progress. The lower level of Parkade Plaza is in the process of being transformed into MACC's new makerspace and expanded Mechatronics Lab.
The MACC Makerspace will be open to both students and the community at large and will be an opportunity for local makers and fabricators to gain access to a wide range of equipment, take classes, participate in pop-up retail, and meet like-minded individuals. The current plans call for a textiles section (sewing machines, embroidery, long-arm quilter), woodworking, CNC machine, some metalworking, laser cutting, an electronics bay, and lots of 3D printing.
This isn't the only shared space planned for the street. Over the last year we've spoken with so many fantastic local makers, small-batch producers, and artisans who can't expand their businesses because space and equipment are outside their budget. Shared spaces are a proven way to increase inclusion by creating pathways for those left out of traditional funding processes, often women, minorities, and recent immigrants. A shared space reduces the obstacles to starting or expanding a business by charging reasonable membership fees for shared equipment and joint spaces.
So look for a shared commercial kitchen to open up in Mizzou North in the next couple of months. The Loop CID and REDI are teaming up to build a certified kitchen with proofers, ranges, steam kettles, and prep stations--along with co-working space, educational workshops, and pop-up retail.
And down on the east end of the Business Loop, look for a reinvigorated Columbia Access TV to open up in the True/False fab lab building with more community services than before. Planned are three studios for music, radio/podcasts, and video recordings; digital and possibly print photography resources; and educational workshops and classes. They envision a low-cost, accessible space for local makers and producers--as well as a community space for classes, film screenings, concerts, and other events.
So yes, as I write this the construction crew is banging away but it's music to my ears.