Propeller makerspace making plans for next steps

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A local makerspace is continuing to grow and expand its horizons and will be able to do so for at least a few years, with an $580,000 economic development grant from the state.

Columbus Propeller Board President Bryan Rushton and Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey recently updated the Columbus Redevelopment Commission on the center’s progress.

Propeller has been described as a place for both “makers” and entrepreneurs. It is located in two buildings that are owned by the Columbus Municipal Airport and were previously occupied by Cummins, Inc, which had used the space for testing engines.

“This is a community innovation center a place for training, enrichment and exploration,” said Frey.

Propeller has labs for 3-D printing, robotics, electronics, metalworking and woodworking. There are also spaces for start-up support and STEM classes.

A $580,000 Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant has been approved for the makerspace. Propeller has not received these funds yet but has completed all of its paperwork and submitted its first request on Aug. 15.

She said in her presentation that READI’s funds will support Propeller in its “three-year pilot phase.”

“We’ve got a three-year runway with the money we earn and then the money we will pull down from IEDC’s (Indiana Economic Development Corp.) READI grant to support our training and some of our overhead and our new equipment purchases,” said Frey. “We’ve got a really good runway to at least see if this is going to be something that the community wants to continue to adopt and support.”

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