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Talent Maker City has a space

TALENT — A maker space is being suggested as the type of development being sought in the Talent Urban Renewal Agency’s Gateway Project.

Talent Maker City proponents pushed unsuccessfully to have a maker space a requirement in a Request for Expressions of Interest from developers. But the all-volunteer organization has been active on other fronts, too.

Talent Maker City was selected from nearly 1,000 applicants to compete for an ArtPlace America grant, has conducted workshops and classes this summer, and has rented a building for classes and administration.

Only 70 of 987 initial applicants were selected to compete for ArtPlace America’s 2017 National Creative Placemaking Fund. Finalists proposed projects to help address community development challenges or opportunities.

The grant proposal was submitted Aug. 9, and winners will be announced in December. TMC asked for $465,000. If the grant succeeds, Talent Maker City would use the money to set up a maker space and hire a part-time staff person, said Allison French, a Talent Planning Commission member and vice chairwoman of the TMC board of directors.

The space might include 3-D printers, CNC tools and other design apparatus to help designers and artists with space and equipment to create prototypes and artwork.

“(The grant writing) helped us refine our story and finish up our business plan and … complete an informal feasibility study,” said French.

TMC is seeking other grants. Truth South Solar gave the group money to conduct a workshop on renewable energy. Ten Realty Group, which gives 10 percent of its profits to a different organization each month, also gave TMC an award.

The nonprofit is renting the former TURA office building on Home Street. The space allows small class offerings and serves as a center for administration and development. The rent includes use of the nearby Community Center for one larger event per month.

TMC conducted summer STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) camps at Talent Middle School with a grant through the Jackson County Educational Services District and Rogue Community College.

The organization's leadership team includes representatives from education, arts and crafts, and manufacturing and community organizations. A Southern Oregon University MBA student is an intern with TMC.

A TMC Fix-it Fair in Talent last spring repaired coffeemakers, lamps, numerous bikes, weed eaters and other broken items. French estimated the effort was 99 percent successful, although repair of a printer eluded the team.

TMC  formed after a revision to the city’s comprehensive plan in 2016 that called for support of maker spaces and business incubators to help artists and small-scale manufacturers. Previously, four members were selected to attend an Etsy Maker City Summit in Brooklyn during May 2016.