City Garage makerspace opening highlights tech's place in 'Make it in America' push - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jun. 14, 2016 12:59 pm

City Garage makerspace opening highlights tech’s place in ‘Make it in America’ push

Rep. Steny Hoyer was on hand at The Foundery's ribbon-cutting event to tout Congressional efforts to boost U.S. manufacturing.

Foundery CEO Jason Hardebeck (second from right) gives U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (left) a tour.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Members of Congress began touting plans to create more American manufacturing jobs in 2010. Speaking on Monday morning at City Garage in Port Covington, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer admitted there were pollsters involved, along with business leaders and economists. But over the last year, tech has gotten involved.

The Maryland Congressman said 17 related bills were signed into law in the following years, with many of the efforts geared toward addressing the country’s economic recession. But the plan continued to evolve. Last year, the leaders realized they needed tech in the conversation, so they held hearings on the on-demand economy, IoT and crowdfunding.

The culmination of those hearings came with Monday morning’s announcement of a new push for the “Make it In America” plan, with The Foundery’s new makerspace as the backdrop.

Sparks fly for the ribbon cutting. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Sparks fly for the ribbon cutting. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

“This is the example made tangible,” Hoyer said, before flipping on the power tool that cut the ribbon on the space and taking a tour of City Garage with Foundery CEO Jason Hardebeck and Sagamore Ventures’ Demian Costa, among others.

The updated plan, which is the basis for a series of bills being rolled out this week, focuses on four key areas for Congress:

  • Entrpreneurship: Ramp up entrepreneurship and innovation by encouraging more fab-labs and makerspaces
  • Education: Closing the “skills gap” by investing in STEAM education and job training
  • Infrastructure: Invest in modern technology (read: broadband), transportation and utility
  • Manufacturing: Encourage domestic manufacturing efforts, and support businesses during the “scale up” phase

Hoyer discussed how elements of City Garage and Under Armour’s wider vision for Port Covington reflect the plan. The Foundery’s membership model and open classes are designed to be a place to bring new ideas to fruition. With Open Works set to debut in Station North later this year, Baltimore Node in a new space and Made in Baltimore to corral product makers, Port Covington isn’t the only spot where making is happening in Charm City.

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“We have much more demand than we have supply, and it’ll be a long time before we have too many makerspaces and cool places to hang out,” Hardebeck said.

The Foundery on opening day. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The Foundery on opening day. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

In another section of the building, Under Armour will work on innovating manufacturing processes as part of an effort called Project Glory. The infrastructure in the area is also in need of upgrades, and Hardebeck’s role as the city’s Broadband Coordinator underscores how the issues are intertwined.

“These are all pieces in a broad effort to break out of the old way of doing things, and instead to think creatively about how workers and businesses can ahead in today’s economy,” Hoyer said.

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