TechShop Brooklyn officially opens at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park at the end of the month, making good on our five-year promise to move to NYC’s most creative borough. There are countless reasons why any business would consider a move to Brooklyn (Amazon is doing exactly that right now), but for TechShop in particular, the borough has always held a special place.
For those who don’t know, TechShop is a global community of makerspaces with 14 locations across the globe. Our multi-purpose workshops and coworking studios range from 15,000-35,000 square feet, feature free-to-use computers with advanced design software, over $1 million in advanced manufacturing equipment and have been the springboard for such notable startups as Square, Brit + Co, Lumio and BoXZY.
Here’s a look at the four reasons why we are (finally) coming to Brooklyn.
1. Brooklyn’s long history as a hub for manufacturing and maker culture
From its early days as New York’s manufacturing center with factories stretching along its waterfronts from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn has long been at the center of the country’s industrial economy. This history of making things eventually led to a craft manufacturing revival in the ’90s and early 2000s, turning the borough into a magnet for small-batch manufacturers and craftsman attracted to cheap rents, large open spaces and a growing community of makers. Since then, Brooklyn has gained a reputation as a hotbed of artisanal creative energy, which Technical.ly recently wrote about in its July list of 10 makers you should know.
2. Brooklyn’s flourishing innovation economy
Brooklyn is increasingly the place to be for young, innovative companies. From Kickstarter to Wazer, these businesses are either expanding their footprint or relocating their teams to the borough. Media companies like Vice and craft marketplaces like Etsy all call Brooklyn home. With recent developments like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Tech Triangle, Industry City and TechShop’s new home the Brooklyn Army Terminal, more space and resources are available to startups and established businesses alike than ever before.
Combined with New York University’s massive investment in Downtown Brooklyn and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Make It In Brooklyn program, Brooklyn has a local economy rich in resources for starting and growing innovative companies. With TechShop Brooklyn opening, even more hardware-focused resources are coming to the borough.
3. Ample space for manufacturers and creative businesses
Brooklyn and New York City get a bad rap for high commercial rents, but the city is making a concerted effort to preserve space for manufacturers in particular. From the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center — a Brooklyn nonprofit that has been renovating old manufacturing buildings into artist studios since 1992 — to mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2015 announcement of his 10-point Industrial Action Plan, there is a surge of activity throughout New York City to preserve and expand its industrial footprint. All of these efforts aim to make the most valuable part of New York City — space within it — accessible to individuals and organizations that make physical things. The New York City Economic Development Corporation’s development of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is the latest effort to make affordable, accessible industrial space available to New York makers.
4. NYCEDC’s Futureworks NYC program
With the announcement of his 10-point Industrial Action Plan, Mayor de Blasio created Futureworks NYC to support small manufacturers and hardware startups. Since 2012, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and its partners have run New York’s Next Top Maker, a contest and incubator designed for manufacturing businesses and startups in New York City. Over the years, this program grew to support hardware startups throughout the five boroughs, spurring interest to expand the reach of the program beyond just business incubation. A key component of this expansion was the creation of an Advanced Manufacturing Center. To create this state-of-the-art, open-access manufacturing hub, NYCEDC put out a request for proposals, which TechShop ultimately won. With its opening later this month, TechShop Brooklyn adds to Futureworks’ growing network of business services, workshops and incubator programs that just this year supported over 80 NYC-based hardware startups.
As the largest and most experienced community of makerspaces in the world, we have opened TechShops in cities across the globe. Each city has demonstrated its own commitment to bolstering their maker communities, but Brooklyn is unique. We have had our eyes on Brooklyn for five years because no other city in the U.S. has the same combination of rich maker history and progressive civic policies aimed squarely at supporting making at scale.
We are excited to finally be opening here and are honored to be doing so in partnership with Futureworks NYC.
If this piece piqued your interest in TechShop, pay us a visit! We host bi-weekly tours and workshops through our meetup group. If you can’t make one of those, reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and we will happily organize a tour for you and your friends. If you have questions for TechShop Brooklyn, email firstname.lastname@example.org.