By Kalea Hall
All eyes seem to be on Youngstown.
After all, it is home to the first additive manufacturing hub established by the President Barack Obama administration.
And now that hub, known as America Makes, 236 W. Boardman St., will bring Make: magazine to host a “3-D Printer Shootout” in Youngstown. It’s part of the Youngstown Maker City weekend that is expected to draw 400 guests from across the country.
“They could have done this anywhere in the country,” said Barb Ewing, chief operating officer of the Youngstown Business Incubator. “They said this year they wanted to do it here. That is such great exposure.”
The Youngstown Maker City Initiative will be from July 31 to Aug. 4.
The effort organized by America Makes, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, the Youngstown Business Incubator, Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Youngstown State University and others brought the exposure here. A VIP reception will be a part of the weekend on Thursday for invited guests and members of the media. The public is invited to the Sunday event, which includes a Makers showcase, 3-D printer demonstrations and a tour of America Makes.
An official “Maker City” pledge will be made Sunday with Ryan speaking “on the community plans to strengthen Maker programs and create new ones within this organized effort.”
“Youngstown is setting the standard for 3-D printing, advanced manufacturing and workforce development – and I am excited that we are working towards becoming a Maker City,” Ryan said in a statement. “Becoming a Maker City is a significant step in realizing the full potential of America Makes and Youngstown remaining one of the premier cities in the country to start and grow a business.”
The Youngstown Maker City Initiative will have a special focus on 3-D printing because of America Makes’ location downtown.
“Although the recipe for a Maker City is fairly consistent – workforce development, STEM education initiatives, maker spaces, Maker Faires, public/private partnerships, etc. – each community naturally creates a markedly different flavor,” America Makes founding Director Ralph Resnick said in a statement. “For Youngstown, it’s all about 3-D printing. From America Makes to Biz3D, we already have a significant footprint in this exciting industry and are excited to support and grow the city’s efforts in this area.”
The public and private partnerships to bring Make: magazine here were seen this week with the Mahoning County commissioners’ Thursday approval of spending up to $20,000 from hotel bed-tax proceeds. The money will go toward travel and lodging expenses of the California-based Make: magazine staff, who will conduct the “3-D Printer Shootout.” The electronics magazine will do tests of 3-D printers for its annual 3-D printer review issue.
“I cannot say strongly enough that our public officials really have embraced the economy of the Valley,” Ewing said. “The fact that they understood the opportunity really speaks volumes.”
In addition to the commissioners, the city itself will consider providing $10,000 to the initiative. Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally said he will sponsor legislation at the next city council meeting, scheduled for noon July 28, to provide those funds.
“We are very proud that this is the first manufacturing hub in the country and to showcase it for the nation,” McNally said. “We want to showcase Youngstown and the Valley as much as we can.”
Linda Macala, Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau director, said America Makes is excited to host the event that will kick off a long-term initiative with the community to promote 3-D printing and additive manufacturing in a variety of settings and formats, and other events will be announced in the upcoming weeks.
“This event will bring people from all over the country to see what’s going on and is a catalyst for future events,” and it may bring economic development to the Mahoning Valley, she said after the commissioners’ meeting.
Jessica Borza, sector partnership coordinator of the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative, found the announcement of the Maker City weekend fantastic and said it shows the resurgence of manufacturing in the Valley that can lead the area to “be on the leading edge” of manufacturing.
“People remember what we were, but people are recognizing what we are and what we can be,” she said.
At the end of the four-day event, a free, public open house will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 3 at America Makes. Tickets to attend the open house will be available through americamakes.us.