4th Floor Makerspace at the Chattanooga Public Library, Photos by Hacker Medias
A Space for Entrepreneurs
Public makerspaces, like the 4th Floor Makerspace at the Chattanooga Public Library, offer creatives a space to work on everything from marketing graphics to physical products. “As a makerspace in a public library, we cater to anyone who walks through our doors,” Varnell shares. Within the 4th Floor Makerspace, a 12,000-square-foot workshop, visitors can access specialized equipment for work or for play. A startup business can create large storefront displays with the vinyl cutters, a college student can print full-size posters to decorate their dorm, and a kid can use the 3D printer to create a unique toy. All of this can be done for a fraction of the price they would pay elsewhere, as the majority of these services are available at the library for just the cost of materials.
Between software, equipment, rental spaces, and more, the average cost of starting a small business ranges from $35,000-$105,000 in the first year. Since the majority of entrepreneurs have to foot these bills on their own, those who don’t have the funds on hand will have great difficulty finding success – even with outstanding business ideas or talent.
Artists and small businesses are a huge part of what makes Chattanooga such a vibrant community, and makerspaces give them the tools to thrive. “Some of our favorite success stories include local photographer Andy Ramirez who uses our Adobe Suite to edit his photos, our large format printer for his prints, and our large working space to frame his work for exhibitions around Chattanooga,” Varnell shares. From storefront displays to merchandise, goods made at the 4th Floor Makerspace can be found throughout our city, and a number of local businesses exist today because they had access to the space at the start.
“Last year, at the Chattanooga Pride Festival, I purchased a pair of earrings from an amazing, woman-owned local business called Hello Disco. Without knowing who I was, one of the owners shared that they started their business using the laser cutters on the 4th Floor of the downtown public library, and their business became so successful they were able to purchase their own laser cutter. I have never been more excited to tell someone who I was and where I worked!” Varnell recalls. “Seeing small businesses flourish and grow from the resources and services we provide to our community truly brings joy to all of us.”
“Makerspaces offer the public an affordable place to create works of art, marketing items, and other small business materials, ensuring that everyone in the community has the opportunity to create their own future.” – Crissy Varnell, 4th Floor Makerspace