Concord makerspace is open for business 

  • Laura Miller, president of the board of directors for Making Matters N.H., shows what will be the metal works area at the old Beede Electric building on Village Street in Penacook on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Laura Miller, president of the board of directors for Making Matters N.H., shows a wolf head that was made and could be made at their new facility at the old Beede Electric building on Village Street in Penacook on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/25/2020 5:37:59 PM

The nasty old carpet is gone, interesting patterns have been painted on the walls, tools from lathes to soldering irons to sewing machines have arrived, and Concord is officially part of the state’s makerspace scene.

“The fire department says we can open, so we’re open!” said Laura Miller, president of the board of Making Matters N.H., which has turned 8,500 square feet of the former Beede Electric Building in Penacook into the state’s sixth makerspace.

Makerspaces can be thought of as membership gyms for do-it-yourselfers, with tools, instruments and workspaces for use by members and the public, along with classes, training and often a sense of community. Making Matters N.H. has full memberships with access to all the facilities for $50 a month and sustaining memberships, with access to classes and events, for $25.

The space has a woodworking room, a metal shop, a photo and video studio, a room for prototyping and 3-D printing, spaces for fiber arts and textile work, laser cutters, and a community room that wouldn’t look out of place in a college dorm, with overstuffed sofas, board games and a ping-pong table. There are also rooms and spaces available for public events.

“We want this to be a community resource,” said Miller, who founded the gift shop Marketplace New England. “This is for people who have never tried to use power tools ... and people who are experienced.”

Making Matters N.H. has divided the long thin space that was Beede’s offices in two. Roughly half is devoted to the makerspace and half to offices and cubicles that can be rented out by entrepreneurs, preferably with an artistic bent.

Makerspaces are operated by various non-profit groups from Portsmouth to Nashua to Claremont. Each differs in the expertise of the membership and types of equipment available.

“We are much more art-based than most,” said Miller. “Every makerspace is shaped by the people who show up to create it.”

Making Matters N.H. will offer classes – “we’re looking for teachers” – and host events. It is already part of 1 Million Cups, a monthly gathering of entrepreneurs at 8 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month, and will be part of The Art of Entrepreneurship on March 5 – both events will be held at The Hotel Concord on South Main Street. It will also host a Pizza Pi for Peace event on March 14, with family events built around the makerspace and math activities to celebrate “Pi Day” that marks the mathematical constant.

The former Beede building may not be elegant but it has one advantage: Making Matters N.H. may be the state’s only makerspace that is fully wheelchair accessible.

Beede Electrical Instrument Co. was founded in 1917 and built the Fisherville Road plant in 1957. At its peak it had more than 700 employees making precision industrial instrumentation. The plant closed in 2014 after years of decline.

The building was empty until last spring when Regal Auction Services moved there from Franklin.

The start-up is funded largely through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Development fund, with grants from the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation and the Capital Regional Development Council. All told, only about $60,000 has been budgeted to create the space,

Miller said. “We’re starting small and bootstrapping.” That includes volunteers who ripped out the “nasty, 30-year-old carpeting” and painted the walls interesting colors using “orphan paint” – buckets of leftover paint brought in by people.

Memberships, class fees and space rental will be the main source of income. Volunteers and donations are always welcome.

For more information, visit MakingMattersNH.org.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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