A sweeping change

TekVenture moving in on Broadway

Greg Jacobs, photography by Ellie Bogue

Greg Jacobs, photography by Ellie Bogue

If you’re a regular user of Broadway, you may have noticed a change at one of that street’s more notable buildings. The space that formerly housed Allen County Sweeper, a vacuum sales and service company, has been cleaned up and will very shortly be open for business as the new home of TekVenture, a creative spot for those who have a “need to make things.”

Greg Jacobs is the president of TekVenture, which began as an idea nearly a decade ago and opened fully in March 2012 in a 50-foot trailer outside the Allen County Public Library. Now, as members work to clear the former Allen County Sweeper building, they are also gearing up for the Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire, set this year for Sept. 13-14 at Headwaters Park. The TekVenture Maker Faire brings together people from across the country who collaborate, share ideas and show off their creations.

“We’d spent eight years looking” for a permanent home, Jacobs said. The family of the vacuum shop’s late owner, Dale Skaggs, came to TekVenture and suggested they lease the building at 1800 Broadway. One catch, though: the building, built in 1943 as an auto shop, was crammed with decades’ worth of material – not just vacuums and their assorted parts, but also motors, toasters, microwaves from the 1980s, plates and dishware, even baby buggies. And tools. Tools of every shape, size and purpose. TekVenture held several “garage” sales to clear out much of the odds and ends, and volunteers have been cleaning.

“It’s quite a collection,” Jacobs said.

The usable items are being categorized for use by “makers,” Jacobs said. “TekVenture is about making things. People will be able to come in and do rapid prototyping.”

The goal of TekVenture is to inspire people to come in and craft their ideas, using actual machines such as 3-D printers and welding equipment. By having a space for people to come and create, TekVenture hopes to increase the ability of the region to develop new technologies.

“There’s that energy factor,” Jacobs said. “When you get two or more people together, they get excited.”

The various rooms in the building will be dedicated to different technologies, he said. Makers can come in and use tools and equipment to craft their concepts into realities.

“We describe ourselves as a gateway organization to education,” Jacobs said. As makers come in and learn how the technology works, they can continue to expand their ideas and see them to fruition.

Now that TekVenture has a semi-permanent home (the group signed a three-year lease on the building), the group can expand its offerings to its makers, Jacobs said. And it’s not just gear-heads — the new facility will help artists such as sculptors and those who need to weld creations together or blow glass.

“There are all kinds of technically inclined people in town,” Jacobs said. “We think we’re onto something here.”

First appeared in the September 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.

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