Westside Makerspace plans permanent West Dayton home, gets $1 million grant



New facility to offer classrooms, offices, studios for entrepreneurs and others; survey finds 380 people interested

Leaders of a new West Dayton co-op makerspace say they are about two months away from closing on a permanent home for the project, which seeks to help entrepreneurs, hobbyists and young people develop their skills and launch and grow their businesses.

Dayton is full of skilled and creative people, but many face barriers to accessing capital and spaces and tools to hone their skills, said Samantha Walker-Baskin, the project manager of the Westside Makerspace. She said the project is a STEM and arts cooperative that will provide people with a place to work, learn, teach and collaborate.

“We’re so excited to help bring together all of the creatives and makers in our community to further demonstrate how great Dayton really is,” she said.

The Dayton City Commission this week approved giving about $1 million to support the Westside Makerspace, which currently operates at the Central State University-Dayton campus on Germantown Street.

The contribution, which comes from the city’s $138 million in federal COVID relief funds, will help the Westside Makerspace acquire a site for its permanent home and pay to design, construct and outfit the new facility.

“This is a great opportunity to continue some of the ecosystem work we’ve been doing in our entrepreneurial work,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

The project is expected to cost about $2.5 million, and other funding will come from grants and donations from the Dayton Foundation, The Dayton Metro Library, JJR Solutions, Culture Works and other people and groups.

When people hear the term “makerspace,” they might think of places with arts and crafts materials.

But makerspaces also can offer high-tech electronics and robotics equipment, 3D printers, woodworking tools, and tools and areas for digital fabrication, additive and subtractive manufacturing (like laser engravers), textiles work and sewing.

The makerspace project is in the pre-development phase, but the new facility is expected to have classrooms, offices, art spaces and studios and possibly galleries and storefront spaces.

Walker-Baskin said they expect to close on a site for the permanent home by the end of May.

Dayton’s $1 million contribution will “help us to construct the makerspace that is reflected in what our community is telling us they need,” Walker-Baskin said.

The makerspace was founded in 2019 by a small group of University of Dayton graduates and engineers.

It originally operated out of a garage, but a pilot project opened in April 2022 in the West Branch of the Dayton Metro Library.

The makerspace had 10 monthly members and welcomed more than 500 visitors and hosted 35 trainings and events.

The project moved out of the library in January and will continue to operate out of the Central State University-Dayton campus on Germantown Street until its new home opens.

A needs assessment survey found that more than 380 people expressed interest in being involved in the makerspace, Walker-Baskin said.

Co-op Dayton is a fiscal sponsor of the Westside Makerspace. The group was behind the Gem City Market.

Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph said it’s unique to have a makerspace that is not associated with the schools that anyone can use.

“I think it’s an important model that others may follow,” he said.

This makerspace will provide opportunities for young people to tinker around, which can lead to big innovations and breakthroughs, but it also will help people develop the skills they need for many of the good jobs out there, said Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr.

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