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Nathan Gross discussed the Mansfield Makerspace Meetup group and the value makerspaces provide to communities Thursday morning at a Richland County Regional Manufacturing Coalition meeting.He said makerspaces allow people to complete more complex projects than they can at home and introduce makers to other people who could help out.“The businesses and collaborations that spin out of these makerspaces become economic benefits because the more people are building, and the more they’re creating, the more they need supplies and technical expertise in certain areas,” Gross said. “And ideally, it becomes a market for local mom and pop supply shops. People can turn to Lowe’s and Menard’s, but I want this to be a ‘focal buy local’ kind of thing.”While the makerspace will have some machines in-house, Gross said he also is willing to work with local businesses to provide tools to makerspace members.“If there’s already an organization that’s providing something, then I don’t have to reinvent that wheel,” Gross said. “I’ll just collaborate with them, and as long as there’s a good relationship, and the makers are happy with it, then I don’t have to add that extra layer of complexity to my business. Anywhere I can collaborate, I’d rather not compete.”“I want to build a local network with these local manufacturers and technicians so that I don’t have to have everything in-house. If a maker needs a water jet table, then we’ll work with MAPCO and be more than happy to put you in touch with them, so that you can use their tools for your project.”People interested in joining the Mansfield Makerspace have been meeting at Braintree around the third or fourth Thursday of every month to discuss ideas and work on collaborative group projects, Gross said. He said the group will work on making a modular produce washing station for the North End Community Improvement Collaborative’s farmers market throughout the winter.The group will have its fifth meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 24. Makers are beginning to think about projects, but Gross said that’s not his main goal right now.“There’s not a lot of formal stuff going on at the meetings at this point because my primary goal is winning the hearts and minds of people and overcoming that knowledge obstacle,” Gross said. “I can’t be answering the question, ‘what’s a makerspace?’ when I open my doors up or it’s going to be a flop. Getting the word out in the community is the main focus at this point.”Once the facility is up and running, Gross said he wants to help makers develop ideas and stimulate economic activity among small businesses. Braintree's emphasis on startups and its available space on East Fifth Street would make a great fit. “I’m a fourth-generation Mansfielder so I do have a little bit of concern for the general downwards spin of economic activity around here since we found out the hard way that we can’t rely on big corporations and industries to keep us afloat,” Gross said. “It’s up to the small business and the small industry. Makerspaces are great at helping stimulate that and feed ideas into local industry and suppliers.”For more information about the Mansfield Makerspace, visit the group’s Facebook page.

Source: Tech-savvy community space coming to Mansfield: Braintree under consideration as a possible location. URL: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2015/09/15/tech-savvy-community-space-coming-mansfield/72330690