Athens MakerSpace is one of hundreds of makerspaces in the United States – places where community members including hobbyists and entrepreneurs alike can learn and teach new skills, access a wide range of tools and plug into a community of makers.
We promote and support skill-building, community-building, job and business creation, and sharing of knowledge, tools and other resources. Through our membership model, we make tools, workspace and expertise available to community members who would otherwise have no way to access such resources.
OUR COMMUNITY-BASED MODEL
Our makerspace model is community-based and tailored to address the barriers that are largely preventing small-town and rural communities in the U.S. from fully participating in the international maker and makerspace movements. Very few small communities in the United States are fortunate to have a makerspace simply because there are not enough people or funding sources to cover the costs of the facility and operations.
When we created a database of 300+ U.S. makerspaces in 2016, we found that the average population of a county containing a makerspace was over 1 million – more than the population of the entire 32-county Appalachian Ohio region – and the median population was over 600,000. Athens County has fewer than 70,000 residents. We found fewer than five multi-disciplinary makerspaces in communities at or near the size of Athens County.
So we combined lessons learned from these small-community makerspace examples with ReUse Industries’ community-based economic development model in order to develop a makerspace model that could be sustained for the long-term.
Our success will rely not only on a well-run makerspace but also on community support for our retail and workforce training activities. When people and businesses support our Columbus Road Thrift Store, our ReUse on Union store and our Athens FabMaker shop on Etsy, they are helping make Athens MakerSpace sustainable for the long-term and enabling us to offer low makerspace membership rates that cover less than 20% of our operating costs per member.