‘Makerspace’ being considered for Columbus airport property

An exterior view of Cummins engine testing buildings at the Columbus Municipal Airport in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Plans by Cummins Inc. to end its leases for two buildings at the Columbus Municipal Airport are leading to a new idea of creating a “makerspace” there.

Cummins now uses the two buildings to test engines, but in June the lease will end and the company plans to consolidate the work to another facility, said Columbus Municipal Airport Director Brian Payne.

When looking for a new tenant, the option of renting out the buildings to an entity to use it as “makerspace” is being discussed.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get together who have similar interests in creating,” he said. These interests could be as diverse as sewing, welding or creating “gadgets or widgets,” Payne said.

The airport has had discussions with makers and individuals from local higher education institutions about the possibility of using the space for this purpose.

Makers, as well as representatives from both Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus and Purdue Polytechnic, have formed a “guiding team,” Payne said. This team is looking into ideas for what a Columbus “makerspace” could look like. Ivy Tech Chancellor and “maker” Steven Combs said that they also hope to have Indiana University Purdue University Columbus involved with this team.

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce has also been involved in “makerspace” discussions.

“It won’t be the chamber’s project,” said chamber president, Cindy Frey. “… We will support the project, but we certainly see the potential for it to not only support innovation and entrepreneurship in our community, but also the education of the thousands of students who are on that campus.”

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.