Makerspaces: An Investment in Our Nation’s Workforce

SBA Mid-Atlantic Region - June 2019

u s small business administration

Makerspace: An Investment in Our Nation’s Workforce

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By: Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Michelle Christian 

There are makerspaces located in every corner of the world, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to capitalize on their own innovative ideas. Each brings opportunities for training today’s and tomorrow’s skilled workers needed for our thriving economy. The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a new competition that will invest in their continued success.

A makerspace is a collaborative workspace dedicated to creating products, learning new skills and sharing ideas. Many offer tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and sewing machines for community use. We at the SBA believe makerspaces have the resources and ingenuity necessary to solve the job skills and placement gaps faced by small businesses. They are uniquely positioned to boost workforce development by fostering vocational education, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurship. By utilizing these spaces, communities are able to develop new skills and boost jobs that provide a pathway into America’s middle class.

The SBA is investing in the success of makerspaces through the new MaTCH (Makerspace Training, Collaboration and Hiring) competition:

The SBA will award up to $1 million in total prizes to fund selected winning makerspace proposals based on the following tiered approach:

    • Seed: up to $25,000 will be awarded to seed small workforce development programs.
    • Proof of Principle: up to $100,000 will be awarded to grow programs with a proven history of training and/or workforce development.
    • Scale: up to $200,000 will be awarded for capacity building of successful existing programs with a strong history of training and/or workforce development. This winner will also have graduated participants in at least two training cycles.

To enter, applicants must submit a business plan that, among other things, details their team’s qualifications, experience, and resources; the proposed training curriculum; the nature and length of the training/certification program; and the number of trainees that will be accommodated. The goal is for all program graduates to be immediately placed in positions with previously identified employers that need their skilled labor. The submission period is underway and ends July 8, 2019. Winners will be announced on August 6, 2019.

Detailed information and the MaTCH application link are available at www.sba.gov/match. In today’s booming economy, our nation’s employers are searching for qualified workers to fill an increasing number of positions. This competition will empower a stronger connection between the makerspace’s community and job creation, and ultimately provide an added economic boost to communities across the Mid-Atlantic Region.