IMMLP recently worked with University of Illinois Extension to establish a new technology center to help promote economic development and innovation in Harrisburg, Illinois.
The Community Innovation Center (CIC) combines marketplace and maker literacy with a maker lab to give area residents an opportunity to take a concept from the idea phase and turn it into a tangible, completed prototype, setting this center apart from other business development projects.
“Start-up ‘accelerators’ or business incubators are not something new,” says Ron Duncan, who helped develop the center as Extension Educator and will serve as its director. “But this is different,” he added. “It is designed to work with people who want to explore the development of a product design or test an idea before launching out on their own.”
In addition to 3-D printers and software, the center includes computer-controlled wood- and metal-shaping equipment — all in an environment open to the public.
“Very few communities have access to this type of equipment and learning environment,” says Connie Beck, Saline County Extension Director. “It is rare for a town the size of Harrisburg to have this type of opportunity. It points to the benefit that can come from educational institutions, local governments and private entities working together to make things happen.”
A partnership with ITG3D, a local non-profit dedicated to the training and education of the community in new and developing technologies, also helped make the new center possible.
The center opened for free classes on business literacy and 3-D printing July 1, 2017 and will open for production in August.