After pandemic delays, LaunchSpace having soft opening in Orange

  • The Orange Innovation Center at 131 West Main St. houses LaunchSpace on the third floor. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/20/2021 6:47:47 PM

ORANGE — Following a year-and-a-half delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, LaunchSpace is in the midst of a soft opening at the Orange Innovation Center.

LaunchSpace is the brainchild of Alec MacLeod and CEO Brianna Drohen, a nonprofit 10,000-square-foot workshop on the third floor at 131 West Main St. that was conceived as a makerspace for area hobbyists and entrepreneurs. The idea was to open at the beginning of last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic scrapped that plan. Instead, the space has been opening steadily since January, developing its membership and class schedule.

“It’s a relatively slow reawakening, but it’s happening,” MacLeod said.

The makerspace has been in the works for a handful of years. A massive lifeline came in the form of a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, also called MassDevelopment, in 2017 that was aimed at replacing the insulation, ventilation system, windows and electric system.

The space has opened nearly all its studios, including fiber arts, painting, marbling, leatherworking, 3D printing, pottery and woodworking. During this soft opening phase, the space is open for tours from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Members have full access to all available studios and equipment with the proper training, along with mentorship and skill-sharing from other members, volunteer shop stewards and makers.

Drohen explained that the shop stewards essentially serve as room managers, keeping individual studios clean and organized, and giving tours of LaunchSpace in addition to taking inventory.

LaunchSpace offers multiple membership tiers for students, adults, seniors and now, emerging entrepreneurs. The tiers offer discounts on memberships, and Drohen and MacLeod plan to create additional opportunities for new types of memberships as it grows.

The new entrepreneur memberships offer access to the makerspace for small-scale production, a growing catalog of business support resources, and a network of sales pipelines through relationships and partnerships that are being developed through the pilot program. According to Drohen, these memberships are made possible by LaunchSpace partnering with Greenfield Community College and other local partners.

“It’s really exciting, and what’s really nice is people are really wanting to be engaged,” Drohen said.

Drohen and MacLeod are looking for candidates interested in participating in the pilot program as “thought partners” to provide ongoing feedback, and who are invested in being a part of the design of the new membership tier. Interested candidates can apply for one year of free membership between now and Aug. 15 by filling out the Entrepreneur Membership Candidate Survey at bit.ly/3zgVhiG.

For more information about the makerspace, visit launchspace-orange.com.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2020 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy