The W. Paul Cole, Jr. School of Business at Bluefield State College has announced an economic development collaboration with Coppin State University of Baltimore, Maryland. The Coppin team is led by management professor and former Welch, West Virginia resident, Dr. Ronald C. Williams. The initiative provides the two Historically Black Colleges with very similar histories a platform for strengthening their roles as academic innovation centers, re-establishing the historic economic relationship between Appalachian coal and urban steel production, and exploring urban and rural entrepreneurial solutions to common problems.
One primary objective of the initiative is the establishment of a “maker space” in Bluefield, a collaborative workspace for hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers, and aspiring entrepreneurs specifically for making, learning, exploring, and developing an innovative community in a shared space. Such facilities often contain equipment essential for “making” such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, mannequins and industrial sewing machines. Classes and certifications also prepares members and patrons to make their first contributions to the regional innovation economy.
Dr. Williams is the lead faculty and principal investigator on a joint sponsored research project between Coppin State University and “Open Works Baltimore,” a 60,000 square feet maker space in central Baltimore which services well over 250 “ingepreneurs,” a term he coined to describe those who are changing their socioeconomic trajectory through cultural competencies, training, and engaging in “playful ingenuity.”
Common Solutions to Common Problems
Maker spaces are part of a rapidly growing movement in the United States with a proven track record for spurring entrepreneurial activity. Open Works Baltimore, founded in 2013, now enjoys full occupancy in its over 150 studios, growing membership, and expanding class enrollment. Coppin State University is now conducting an Open Works evaluability analysis and economic impact study to help articulate the value of the enterprise to stakeholders and potential funders.
March 5th and 6th
Dr. Williams will visit Bluefield March 5-6 to share insights with students, faculty, administration, and community stakeholders. A presentation of concepts regarding the regional synergy between Baltimore and Bluefield, the maker space phenomenon, the building of innovative community will explore the role of academic innovation centers as catalysts for multi-contextual for economic opportunities. The presentation on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 6 pm, at Bluefield Area Arts Center on the 3rd floor in the Brainerd Art Gallery and is open to the public.