All hands on deck: Propeller launches crowdfunding campaign for external makeover

Columbus’ local makerspace and innovation center is asking for community support to fund exterior improvements and beautification for its facility.

The board of Columbus Propeller has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Patronicity for the project, said Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey. The campaign will utilize the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s “CreatINg Places” matching grant program. If the makerspace raises $50,000 in 60 days — with Jan. 15 as the deadline — the IHCDA will provide a match of $50,000.

“This project highlights the intersection of STEM education, art, local entrepreneurship and community building,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “We are thrilled to see how Columbus continues to create innovative spaces for residents of all ages.”

More information about the project, as well as links for online giving, is available at patronicity.com/propeller. Anyone who wishes to donate via cash or check can send their donations to Columbus Propeller c/o Columbus Chamber Foundation, 500 Franklin St., Columbus IN 47201. The chamber foundation is the fiscal agent for Propeller.

“If we don’t raise the 50K, we don’t get the 50K so we are counting on community members and businesses to get engaged,” said Frey, who donated $100 to the campaign Wednesday morning.

Patronicity giving levels start at $25, with donors at each level receiving gifts and perks as a thank-you. For instance, donors who give $50 or more receive one-month access to Propeller, a shout-out on social media and a Propeller sticker. For someone who gives $10,000 or more, benefits include naming rights for certain spaces at the facility and an individual recognition plaque.

Frey said that this past summer, Propeller received funding from the Columbus Museum of Art and Design and the Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, which allowed them to hire Landscape, Art & Architecture (LAA) Office. Firm co-founders Lulu Loquidis and Daniel Martinez then led a stakeholder engagement campaign to create “inviting and functional outdoor spaces.”

“This project will turn a drab, industrial building into a showplace with freshly painted murals, signage, an outdoor kitchen, seating, and landscaping. A new viewing platform will provide residents who love aviation to sit in a comfortable and shady setting to watch all the excitement at Indiana’s 4th busiest airport. Finally, an installation from Exhibit Columbus will be repurposed in public plaza. The glow from the installation and overhead lights will make outdoor evening events possible, bringing new energy to the AirPark,” according to a description of the project.

Propeller plans to repurpose sections of “Midnight Palace,” a 2021 Exhibit Columbus installation, to “augment the lighting in the evening and to provide more visual interest,” said Frey. The lighted sculpture was previously located at the ex-Sears building and current Cummins, Inc office space at 323 Brown St. in downtown Columbus.

In addition to these changes, LAA Office’s master plan for the facility also includes a green house, façade treatments and wayfinding.

Columbus 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.

According to Propeller leadership, the space is outfitted for a variety of activities, including 3-D printing, machining, welding, woodworking, electronics, sewing and vinyl cutting. There are also spaces for start-up support and STEAM classes.

Tenants at the space include Perpetua Technologies, a start-up focused on alternative energy. According to a recent newsletter, the Columbus Area Arts Council and David Bosley from Aeroflux, another business focused on energy solutions, are also expected to join the space soon as well.

“This is a true community effort with support from individual volunteers, educators, manufacturers, construction companies, arts organizations, the chamber of commerce, the community foundation and the City of Columbus,” said Propeller board president Bryan Rushton. “…We envision Propeller to be a welcoming place where people come together to learn, tinker, create and be inspired.”