Hot on the heels of visits by TechShop Inc. executives to Grand Rapids this week, it now looks as if you may be able to buy a piece of the $4 million makerspace it looks to build here.
A TechShop website page reports that TechShop Grand Rapids LLC is conducting a private offering of promissory notes for 10-year terms at 8 percent interest, for a maximum offering of $3 million. The minimum loan it will accept from accredited investors is $25,000.
TechShop wants to raise up to $3 million for “build-out costs, renovations, equipment, and operating expenses,” the TechShop website page states. Prospective investors need to fill out a questionnaire and provides written confirmation on their status as accredited investors as required under Rule 506(c). TechShop also has to determine and notify prospective investors that they are qualified to participate in the offering.
TechShop is looking to build a makerspace at a cost of between $3.8 million and $4.5 million that would allow anyone with the proper training to use sophisticated equipment and software to make personal projects from metal, plastics, textiles and other materials, company officials said.
“It’s a gym for creatives,” TechShop CEO Dan Woods told a group of about 60 people last Tuesday night who were attending a Grand Rapids Inventors Network monthly meeting. “But instead of having equipment to work out, we have equipment to build your dreams.”
With 227 full-time staff and 175 part-time employees, TechShop has 11 high-end fabrication studios in metro Detroit, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis, Austin, Redwood City, Calif., Chandler, Ariz. and a recently opened location in Brooklyn. Based in San Jose, TechShop also has international locations in Paris, Tokyo and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Woods said the company’s Director of Market Assessments Amber Ross and Project Manager Olga Pogoda will be compiling information about the Grand Rapids market during the next six weeks to determine if it is feasible for TechShop to open a location here.
“Grand Rapids has a reputation for being is a very happening city,” Woods said. “You have this wonderful collision here between the creatives and artists and engineers and technical people who know how to make things. And the people here believe in investing in infrastructure.”
A webpage by Start Garden reports that local funders of the assessment study are the organization itself, Grand Rapids SmartZone, Rockford Construction, CMS Energy and the Grand Valley State University, School of Engineering. The webpage states that “the westside neighborhood of Grand Rapids is a frontrunner. No final decision has been made about location.” Rockford Construction, with headquarters it opened three years ago at 601 First St. NW, has been a catalyst of change for the lower West Side of Grand Rapids, and the university has downtown campus and Kennedy Hall of the School of Engineering at 301 West Fulton St.
TechShop provides -- and strictly requires -- that individuals who want to use water jet cutters, laser cutters, large rotary metal punches, spot welders, vinyl cutters, industrial sewing machines, vacuum formers, mills, lathes and other equipment to go through standardized training by professional paid instructors. Individuals pay for the instruction above their monthly subscription.
Woods said TechShop needs at least 780 members to be a sustainable operation, with monthly memberships running on the average of $120 per month. Stakeholders include individual makers, local governments and quasi-public agencies, community colleges and universities, and corporations.