By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2020 Issue
Innovation and a creative spirit are alive and well in this thriving New England mill town. Claremont, NH, nestled along the banks of the Connecticut and Sugar Rivers in the Connecticut River Valley between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, is full of forward-thinking manufacturers and creative entrepreneurs. While the end-product has changed over the years, Claremont continues to be the center of creativity for professionals of all ages. The most recent example of this is the opening of the Claremont MakerSpace.
The Claremont MakerSpace (CMS) is a major addition to downtown Claremont. CMS is a coworking space, education center, creative hub and business incubator. CMS offers affordable access to a variety of specialty equipment and educational resources to help members put shape to their ideas, develop new skills, learn new crafts and launch businesses. Technology, arts, machinery and classroom facilities are located on the premises. The MakerSpace is a place for personal development as well as the promotion of business and workforce development through educational offerings, hands-on classes and activities, and active collaboration across multiple crafts, trades and professions. It also serves as a home base and incubator for local hobbyists, artisans and small businesses seeking to promote their efforts and those of their community.
In the first year open for business, the MakerSpace has offered over 200 classes and events which saw over 750 participants. Collaboration with dozens of regional businesses and community organizations as well as launching an Artist-In-Residence Program and Veterans Scholarship Program are just a few of the major accomplishments achieved in just one year in Claremont. Every day, members from around the region are using the MakerSpace to put shape to their ideas, develop new business ventures, explore new technologies and learn new things.
Housed in the former Sullivan Machine Foundry, the MakerSpace enhances entrepreneurship, job development, community development, science and the arts in the Greater Claremont Region. The Foundry was one of many buildings in the downtown that composed Sullivan Machinery Co.
According to the Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service (HAER No. NH-4) “As the largest industrial employer in the city…it would be difficult to walk around Tremont Square in Claremont and not talk with a man who worked at the Sullivan plant…As an employer of mostly skilled machinists, Sullivan had always been a good place to work.”
Adding to the legacy of this building, already rich with history, is not lost on either the City of Claremont or Claremont MakerSpace founders Jeremy Katz and Steve Goldsmith. According to Jeremy Katz, “with the ability to access by membership CNC machines, 3-D printers, electrical studio, wood shop, as well as textile and jewelry studios and equipment, production will once again occur at the Sawtooth Mill.” Steve Goldsmith continues “the Maker Movement is enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and arts education, providing a vehicle for younger generations to learn the skills to create new products and designs.”
The Claremont MakerSpace is a major attraction that is drawing talented, young professionals to the area, and giving local businesses a place where their employees can develop their skills using the MakerSpace’s specialty tools, and network in their community.
Claremont, NH, as well as Sullivan and Grafton counties, are federally designated HUBZones.
NEW ECONOMY GROWS IN LITCHFIELD COUNTY, CT
Litchfield County, Connecticut is known for horses, antiques and as an easy getaway from New York City only 70 miles away. Today a new economy is growing in New Milford, the second largest population and the gateway to the rest of Litchfield County and central New England. Bioscience and bio-manufacturing are taking hold in the region and have the “first mover” advantage of an untapped workforce. The Corporation for New Milford Economic Development is now developing a former food manufacturing facility with lab space into a research and development campus with space for small firms to grow.
Already operating in this campus is MedInstill Technologies, a manufacturer of innovative sterile filling, multi-dose dispensing, sterile transfer and packaging sterilization. CEO and Chairman Dr. Daniel Py, MD, ScD in Physics, founded the firm in 1986 following his years as Director of Research at Merck. Dr. Py has 50 employees working on site in New Milford, crafting the whole sterile system from manufacturing to dispensing with in line sterilization of its closed devices.
Scientists are collaborative and this was a tremendous benefit as the Corporation for New Milford Economic Development started to bring other bioscience firms to look at lab spaces available in the facility. Dr. Py became a member of the team welcoming the visiting firms with open arms and demonstrating his production line and medical devices. This was exactly the environment the firms were seeking and the Corporation is proceeding to lease 15,000 square feet of premium lab space for bioscience companies moving to Connecticut from other states.
Bioscience is a major industry in Connecticut and there are a lot of public and private resources to support companies large and small. While New Haven and Farmington have university connections, many firms are choosing locations like New Milford where top talent can enjoy the quality of life without a tough commute. New Milford has targeted the bioscience industry by partnering with Naugatuck Valley Community College on training programs for lab associates and related positions. This program will start with adults and will roll out to high school seniors in New Milford next year and is supported by a grant from the Northwest Region Workforce Investment Board.
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