Space to Create: Group wants to aid Innovators
Raw Space supporters tour Evans-Fintube site
By Jarrel Wade
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Patrick Forringer is part of the Maker Movement.
A growing culture in the nation, the Maker Movement expects computer programmer-types of 10 and 20 years ago to do more than just know computer code. They are making entirely new technologies.
Forringer, for instance, likes to build frames for drones. He, with help from others, can design and build a specific drone to accomplish unique tasks.
“I’m getting into racing,” Forringer said. “I want to organize a (Tulsa) race.”
But he wants to grow past his own personal builds. He wants to design drone frames on a larger scale that he can sell online around the world.
On Monday, Forringer and a group of Raw Space Tulsa supporters toured the city-owned site they hope to obtain for an industrial-size maker space — which if built would be one of the premier innovation spaces in the nation, said Scott Phillips, the leader of Raw Space.
Phillips said the former Evans-Fintube industrial complex, on downtown’s border with north Tulsa, is ideally placed for small-scale and large-scale innovators to mix companies and incubate new enterprises.
Whether development of the 23-acre site would be helped with any Vision sales-tax money is another matter.
John Dungan, a leader at Code for Tulsa, said as a computer programmer he doesn’t need a large space at the industrial complex, but he hopes the large investment of space draws a diverse group of people whom he can work with.
“The best part of the vision on this thing is the open space,” Dungan said. “I can sit on my computer all day long but I would never run into the people that could benefit from my skills.”
Mark Lauinger, senior vice president of i2E — Innovation to Enterprise, says the project should be pursued by Tulsa even if it doesn’t receive funding in a Vision renewal expected to go to voters in April.
“That’s why we need big thinkers to look at things like this,” Lauinger said. “That’s what this is all about. How do you foster incremental innovation? … I love the zoo and think it’s important, but it’s things like this that are important, too.”
Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who was not on the tour Monday, said he supports the Raw Space Tulsa proposal but not necessarily at the Evans-Fintube site, which he and his office have unsuccessfully marketed for years to developers.
Bartlett said EPA requirements for cleanup at the site have been a major roadblock to developers, and he has proposed meeting those requirements through a separate Vision proposal.
However, Phillips said his $24 million proposal to build Raw Space has all the required cleanup built into it.