LYNN — Lynn is a city with a proud manufacturing history and Ted Dillard, founder of Brickyard Collaborative, plans to bring that back.
After receiving a $56,000 grant from the state, the makerspace initiative will soon move from its storage unit to a cemented home in Lynn. The idea for the hybrid makerspace, incubator, coworking, kitchen collaborative began with discussions last year, but was not officially incorporated until Jan. 1.
“Lynn has always been the center of industry for the North Shore, up until the ’50s and ’60s, and this is an opportunity to put Lynn back on the map in terms of innovation and development,” said Dillard.
His goal with the collaborative, he said, is to bring imagination to life. After eight months of holding popup workshops and lugging $30,000 worth of equipment all over the city, Brickyard Collaborative is finally ready to call somewhere home.
Dillard said he thanks Lynn Public Library, Land of a Thousand Hills coffee shop, and Lynn Museum/ LynnArts for volunteering their spaces for the workshops. Although moving from building to building has not been easy, Dillard said he is grateful because it forged relationships and created a sense of collaboration across the community.
The address listed on the initiative’s website is Dillard’s apartment. He said he looks forward to being able to change that in upcoming weeks with the grant money, which is part of the Baker-Polito administration’s $2.2 million for Collaborative Workspaces. The Dedham native applied in June and has been chewing on his fingernails in anticipation ever since, he said.
“The purpose of this grant was to find a space and be able to sign a lease and have guaranteed rent for a year,” said Dillard. “We do have a hopeful focus on being in downtown Lynn, but there are a number of different opportunities. I’m trying to work out the details now that we have the funding.”
The ideal home for the hybrid makerspace would be between 6,000 and 10,000 square feet, said Dillard. There needs to be enough space for people to collaborate, make, design, and build, with more than 20 shop spaces and studios dedicated to everything from robotics to traditional woodworking.
The slew of equipment currently owned by Brickyard Collaborative is used for imaging; video and sound; textile, visual arts, and aerial photography; printmaking; wood and metal shops; auto, motorcycle, and bicycle shops; home finishing; biotechnology; and robotics.
“I want to put in place the equipment we have but there are a couple of interesting things we hope to develop,” said Dillard. “It’s not my personal interests at stake here, it’s what the community wants.”
He said initiatives like the Brickyard Collaborative are vital in generating the economic development of communities like Lynn. Once the initiative is up and running in its own space, Dillard said he hopes to incorporate STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) to get kids learning robotics and coding.
Another goal is to involve entrepreneurship by getting mentors and experienced business people to help those interested in starting their own ventures. Dillard said the core of a successful makerspace is the support of its community, and much of that came with everything Beyond Walls brought to Lynn.
There are two more grants Dillard is waiting to hear back from, he said: a $75,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a $5,000 Community Development Block grant, which would be awarded by the city.
“Once we’re moved in, we will have a big celebration party,” said Dillard. “There are a lot of people who have been working really hard for this and it’s not just the board of directors, it’s a lot of people in the city who have been getting excited about it. I’m looking forward to having a rocking time, and then we can get to work.”