The Maker Movement

The Maker Movement Main Photo

6 Nov 2014

The Maker Movement 

Entrepreneurs drive economic growth, create jobs, and solve pressing problems by bringing new and innovative ideas to the mainstream.

The national economy is showing signs of renewal and growth. The challenge lies in the re-invention of our economic ecosystem to create a fertile environment for today and tomorrow.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently sponsored the 2014 Mayor’s Conference on Entrepreneurship: Making an Entrepreneurial City. The conference was held in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 15th and 16th, hosted in partnership with Louisville’s Mayor, Greg Fischer. I was privileged to attend the conference, and came away with my “hair on fire.”

The conference brought together Mayors from across America, representing small, medium, and large cities. The primary goal of the conference was to create a powerful dialogue between mayors and entrepreneurship experts, sharing best practices regarding startup programs that promote new and higher levels of innovation and entrepreneurship in their respective communities and encouraging a national attitude of “can do” energy. 

The engine propelling the creation of this new energy is called, simply, The Maker Movement. What exactly is “The Maker Movement” and why should you care? Imagine millions of people, in fields ranging from food crafts to technology, starting their own small businesses dedicated to creating, making, and selling self-made products. How is this possible? Modern technology has made it relatively simple to create unique items without requiring traditional middlemen. The technologies driving this potential, like 3 D printing, are in their beginning stages. New technologies not even imagined yet will be developed and built as the movement grows and prospers. Another practice of The Maker Movement is the re-engineering and assembly of innovative, usable products from unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, and silicon materials reclaimed from computer-related devices.

Maker Spaces are being developed in communities nationwide. Physical locations that offer accessible and affordable resources to makers help to illuminate the movement and propel its expansion. Ideas and technologies combine in Maker Spaces to support the development of people. Nurturing the maker mindset through education and collaboration is all about helping individuals realize their full potential. Maker Spaces provide face-to-face support and cooperation. This kind of sharing of knowledge and skills, built around relationships, creates a compelling social experience.

Maker Faires are celebratory venues that present maker products to the world. More than 135 Maker Faires were held globally in the last year or so, attended by an estimated 750, 000 people. A Maker Faire was held at the White House on June 18, 2014. The President proclaimed June 18, 2014 a National Day of Making, saying “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills.”

The City of Belvidere is a strong advocate for the Maker Movement. My office is enthusiastically engaged with building regional relationships that will produce Maker Spaces, actively enabling the untapped human capital in our communities to move forward and upward. Together We Can!

ayor Mike Chamberlain

City of Belvidere

Click Here for another article on how the Maker Movement has been incorporated into education.