March 5, 2019

CT's largest makerspace readies downtown Hartford opening

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin welcomes MakerspaceCT to the Capital City during a presser event last week.
Photo | Contributed
MakerspaceCT is currently undergoing its final phase of development. It will debut in downtown Hartford on Saturday, April 13.

Connecticut's largest collaborative workspace will debut in downtown Hartford this spring.

MakerspaceCT will debut at a grand opening event April 13 in the basement of historic G. Fox building, 960 Main St., in downtown Hartford, the nonprofit announced.

The 20,000-square-foot facility, equipped with the latest technology and hardware, will become a testing ground and classroom for manufacturers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, students and prospective investors, organizers said.

Currently in its final phase of construction, the venue will be the second-largest makerspace in New England.

"Connecticut has the potential to be a national leader and invest in the next generation of makers," Executive Director and Founder Devra Sisitsky said. "Our manufacturing history can be the foundation for a vibrant, tech-savvy, economy-driving future."

MakerspaceCT has been in the works for years and HBJ was the first to report in 2017 that the organization was going to occupy vacant space at the former G. Fox Building on Main Street.

It aims to offer a variety of courses in collaboration with local colleges and schools to serve local students, entrepreneurs and innovators. Participants will have access to on-site professionals, and equipment including 3D printers and scanners, which are often too expensive and large for businesses and individuals to accommodate.

The state's venture capital arm, Connecticut Innovations, will fund scholarships for adult skills training.

UConn Hartford, University of Hartford, Trinity College, Capital Community College and Goodwin College are currently in negotiations to leverage the new workspace, officials said.

More than a dozen shops will be built at the Main Street site, including spaces for a computer lab, wood-working, welding, electronics and robotics, digital and metal fabrication, plastic injection and conventional machining.

The makerspace development, organizers said, is being spurred by recent growth in small business manufacturing, tech innovation, "Do it yourself" (DIY) building, and a growing network of incubators and tech programming in Hartford and across the state.

In addition to a newly minted incubator program at Hartford insurer Nassau Re, the Capital City also houses the Stanley+Techstars Additive Manufacturing Accelerator, reSET Social Enterprise Trust and other tech programs at incubator and co-working space Upward Hartford at 20 Church St.

Officials said MakerspaceCT is also fueled by renewed interest for students and adults in STEM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning.

"MakerspaceCT is in the vanguard of that effort, with innovation, entrepreneurship and workforce development at the core," Sisitsky said.

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