Whether used for work or pleasure, the high-tech facility will benefit Thompson, the Chamber of Commerce said.
The supervisor of Thompson’s recently opened fabrication lab spoke to the Chamber of Commerce on September 21 and offered his thoughts on what the facility will bring to the city.
Don “Shorty” Glenn, operations coordinator for North Forge North’s Hayes Road fabrication lab, a 2,500-square-foot makerspace operated through a partnership with the University College of the North, says not everyone who applies for membership logs in, these will use tools to start a business, and that’s fine.
“If you have someone who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur and starting down that path, we have all the support to do that and to help them along that path,” he said. “If the person is just looking for ways and opportunities to learn new skills and brainstorm, that’s also an environment for knowledge sharing.”
Equipped with equipment like 3D printers, T-shirt-making equipment, a CNC router, and welding tools, the facility is offering free memberships through March 2023, and Glenn says they’ll tentatively cost $99 a month after that fall when business partnerships are formed to cover part of the cost.
Members must be at least 18 to use the facility unsupervised, but Glenn says he’s looking at ways to include youth ages 12 to 17 under the guidance of adult leaders.
North Forge North is modeled after a similar facility in Winnipeg, but the focus is slightly different in Thompson.
“The Winnipeg model is very entrepreneurial just because it has such a strong pool of entrepreneurs,” he said. “Here I think it’s about showing people chances and possibilities.”
Most people would not have access to the technology offered at the Fab Lab except through a job, Glenn says, meaning members can improve their employability.
“It’s an opportunity for us to enrich our workforce here and strengthen our existing workforce,” he said.
Equally important, it is a place where people can tinker in their free time and a pastime for tech enthusiasts and those who enjoy working with their hands. made furniture, of course.
“I think it can benefit the community in such a good way in an area that we’re really lacking,” he said. “If we can give people more opportunities to enrich their personal lives, they’re less likely to move.”