The Rochester Makerspace was founded in 2013 by Rob Roll. Rob was inspired by Artisan’s Asylum in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the nation’s earliest and largest Makerspaces, to build a large community workshop in Rochester. He hoped that it would serve entrepreneurs, artists, hobbyists, and inventors of all kinds under the same roof.
In January of 2013, the Makerspace formed as a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation. We received that IRS designation in August of 2014. With the assistance of legal counsel, it drafted organizational bylaws which provided for a Board of Directors and four officers: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Board of Directors, which appoints and oversees the aforementioned officers, is elected by the paying members of the organization.
With the help of dozens of founding donors, and with a considerable personal donation, Rob and his volunteers rented a 3,800 sq. ft. facility at 850 St. Paul Street in January 2013 to house the Makerspace. Rob and several others put together a wood shop and a machine shop using equipment loaned from their personal workshops. They purchased a 3-D printer. They borrowed bicycle maintenance equipment, art supplies, electronics testing equipment, and computers. In February, they opened their doors to the public and began offering unlimited access to anyone for $40 per month.
While in its infancy, the Makerspace continued to rely on the financial support of its founders and donations of equipment. In early 2015, paid membership exceeded 50 people and the organization achieved financial independence. It expanded its mission to provide project-based classes, teach computer programming to local children, and host field trips. The Board of Directors grew to 5 seats. Dozens of volunteers oversaw daily operations of the organization.
In January of 2016, a new leadership team emerged and was appointed by the Board of Directors. That year, a slate of six equipment-training classes was made available to members at no additional cost. Membership surged, reaching 98 paid memberships by the end of 2016, and in the January 2017 annual general meeting, seven Board Directors were elected.
During 2017, with its increased revenue from members, grants, and fundraisers, the Makerspace began to invest in state-of-the art prototyping equipment. It expanded its fleet of 3D printers to seven machines, purchased a large CNC router, invested in six high-end CAD (computer aided design) workstations, and purchased a second laser cutter / engraver. An operations staff of 15 area managers was organized by the President and each area manager now oversees a team of volunteers.
As of March 1st, 2022, the Rochester Makerspace occupies approximately 7,200 sq.ft. of the 850 St. Paul Street site, and has more than 250 active members.