A center for innovation and creativity in Tyler is 95 percent complete with equipment on the way.
The Innovation Pipeline has been a dream of Mayor Martin Heines, who announced the program two years ago. In addition to space, the program will include mentoring and educational classes as well as an Innovators’ Lab, with equipment to create art or prototypes.
“Tyler really needs a place like this,” said Veronica Escamilla-Brady, innovation manager. “This is what the new generation wants, and this is us as a city investing in the new generation of Tyler, which is exciting to be a part of.”
The unassuming building is nestled on East Oakwood Street, across from the Tyler Transit Depot. The building was formerly used for storage, and from the outside looked abandoned.
It will keep its historic look with a front facade of aged brick, but inside state of the art equipment will help entrepreneurs and artists create and try new concepts.
The equipment is on its way, and construction on the building is largely complete. Contractors are putting in the final touches, and then furniture will be moved in.
The public opening is scheduled to coordinate with the Discovery Science Place’s Mini Maker’s Faire on April 29, Escamilla-Brady said. Details on the opening are in the works, but tickets will be available through eventbrite.com, she said.
Final touches are being made to the building’s sound and audio production room and to a mini film studio with a green screen. The building also has gathering spaces and a designated area with computers for teaching classes and editing work. There will be a textile area with an embroidery machine. Available equipment will include 3-D printers, laser cutters, a vinyl cutter and an area for making or repairing electronic equipment, including a solder. In early March, the Tyler City Council approved spending $150,000 from its Public, Education and Government account for the equipment.
Those funds have to directly benefit public education and Channel 3, the city’s public access channel.
Ms. Escamilla-Brady said there are plans to produce tutorials on Channel 3 using purchased video equipment. There also are plans for the pipeline to host a business plan competition, where the winner would win a year of free incubator space. Plans for that also are in the works.
The makerspace will be operated similar to a gym, with members paying a fee to access the equipment inside.
The exact price has not been set, and there is discussion on whether to charge for certain lectures or workshops separate from the membership fee, or whether to open those to the general public.
Before a person can use the equipment, they must first be tested and pass an exam ensuring they are competent. That’s two-fold - to sustain the life of the machines and to help prevent injury to the user.
There likely will be an option to purchase a day pass for the space, but users still will have to be certified to use any equipment, even for one day.
The Pipeline will have two staff members - Escamilla-Brady from the city and a staff member from The University of Texas at Tyler. The entities won’t know until it opens if fees will be enough to fully fund the enterprise, or if it will need to be supplemented from other sources.
6-Needle Embroidery Machine
Screen Printing Press
Fully equipped Sound Lab and Video Lab