Iron Range Makerspace (IRM) is building a community of innovation and opportunity on Minnesota’s Iron Range (full details here). And a large portion of the work being done by IRM is in partnership with schools and small businesses.
IRM for Small Businesses
The Makerspace Movement is dedicated to providing the space and materials entrepreneurs need to hone critical 21st century skills in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math). Aside from being an accelerator for startups, IRM provides a safe, spotless, and state-of-the-art setup for established area businesses and their employees.
“Makerspace is all about collaboration and enhancing other area businesses,” said Andrew Hanegmon, Optimizer and founder of IRM. “Especially those that don’t have access to the type of equipment we have.”
Company memberships allows employees to access IRM as needed anytime during regular operating hours (generally 10am to 11pm Wednesday through Sunday). Dues of $40/month give access to the facility’s half million dollars worth of equipment and technology, not to mention the wealth of valuable knowledge held collectively by IRM’s members.
A membership to IRM can also be thought of as an extra company benefit — a sort of supplemental wellness program for employees. Based on IRM’s experience so far, employees who spend time in the facility experience a morale boost, become more productive, more engaged, and just generally “less depressed,” according to Hanegmon. Getting out of the office and spending time at IRM can also foster “out-of-the-box thinking,” Hanegmon adds.
Employers also stand to benefit from IRM — and not just its material resources. IRM is designed to foster collaboration and help build ties between companies, allowing Iron Range businesses to focus on their strengths, define their niches, and discover “how they can assist each other instead of wasting energy trying to bump each other out,” explains Hanegmon.
IRM for Schools
IRM is also actively involved in community education. Outside of providing programming for various STEM events in the region for youth, IRM has formed a number of partnerships with local schools.
The Iron Range Engineering Program, for one, provides IRM memberships for all of its students and faculty. UMD’s Center for Economic Development likewise works with IRM to assist anyone interested in starting a small business.
IRM also provides classes to high schoolers and younger age groups. One of these classes, “Breaker Space,” lets kids take apart two donated Polaris engines and reassemble them. This is just one example of the sort of hands-on learning experience IRM offers in a safe environment.
Contact IRM to Find Out How Your School or Business Can Get Involved with Iron Range Makerspace!