Cumberland Business Incubator’s Maker Space is 'just incredible'
Jon Leasure had nowhere to go when he wanted to turn his ideas into something tangible.
“In my younger years, I fooled around in robotics,” said Leasure, who works for a family owned business in Crossville. “When you get to that point where there is something you need, and you can’t make it, then that’s problematic. With a 3-D printer, for example, I could have made a ton of things.”
The Cumberland Business Incubator’s new Maker Space would have been the perfect place for Leasure, one of more than 100 visitors who toured the new workshop during an April 8 grand opening.
A Maker Space provides equipment and tools entrepreneurs need to develop prototypes. The incubator, located on Roane State Community College’s Cumberland County campus, received a $50,000 prize last fall to create the space. The prize was awarded through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition.
The competition attracted 800 applications. Finalists were reviewed by a panel of experts, and only 50 organizations were awarded prizes.
Leasure said the Maker Space gives entrepreneurs “the means to do what they want to do.”
“It’s just incredible,” he said.
The Maker Space includes a 3-D printer, laser cutter, woodworking shop, electronics bench, computer-aided drafting (CAD) design area, printing arts area, an assembly area with assorted hand tools, a fabric arts area that includes a Disney embroidery machine and knitting machine, and a vinyl cutter (including heat press equipment).
Maker Space members receive access to equipment, training and mentorship.
“The mentorship is important,” said William Savarese, a Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI) client and volunteer. “Coming into a place like this could be scary. Also, with some of the equipment, it takes special skills to operate it. We have people that will teach you how to safely operate equipment.
“It’s a community. The CBI is a community. You have friends. You have mentors to help you. You have people to encourage you.”
For more information about the Cumberland Business Incubator and membership rates for the Maker Space, visit www.cumberlandincubator.com or call (931) 456-4910.
Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge and Wartburg.
For more information, visit roanestate.edu or call 1-866-GO2-RSCC (1-866-462-7722).
Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. All colleges in the system offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit tncommunitycolleges.org.