CHAPTER 5Economic Development

Now that we've covered the basics of what is driving the Maker Revolution, let's talk about the economic return of a large makerspace and, given those returns, what we should be doing to replicate them. Please forgive me, again, for using TechShop so much in this chapter. TechShop has the most easily verifiable, publicly available data. I have included data from other sources where I can find them.

Given the public/private nature of many if not most makerspaces, one of the questions I often hear from potential city, university, foundation, or other partners and investors is, “What is the return from this investment?”

Since it normally does take a public/private cooperation to get a large makerspace off the ground, participants want to know what evidence there is to support the required financial and time investment. The good news is that now that some of these large makerspaces have been open for a decade or more, we have some early indicators of what kinds of returns one might see. And the numbers are impressive.

Let's talk about jobs first.

A key value that large, well-equipped, open-access makerspaces bring to a community is economic (i.e., jobs) and shareholder value. The economic impact of the TechShop makerspaces in the San Francisco Bay Area represent thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital (VC) funding, and millions of dollars' worth of KickStarter projects. I estimate that the direct economic impact of these ...

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