We have tested the feasibility of a sustainable annual membership model that relies on 2 categories of anchor support – 2 local governments contributing $50,000 and 5 large employers contributing $25,000 each. We have polled these entities and they feel this level of support is reasonable given the value they expect to receive.
Memberships to ICS will be the primary method of ongoing funding and our pathway to sustainability. Our proposed annual rates are as follows:
- Public Agencies: $50,000
- Large Businesses (more than 100 employees): $25,000
- Medium Businesses (20-100 employees): $1,500
- Small Businesses (less than 20 employees): $250
- Households and Start-ups: $150
- Sponsors: $20,000
Our goal by Year 5 is to have 2 public agencies, 5 large businesses, 30 medium businesses, 100 small businesses, 400 households/startups, and 12 sponsors, bringing in total revenue of approximately $334,000 by the end of the grant period and $445,000 annually beyond that, providing a sustainable base of funding to compliment program-derived revenue.
There are currently 61 other “innovation spaces” in the Madison-region, 40 of which are in Madison itself, and 4 of which are within our service area. Abel Gallery, Grand Inspired, and MC Squared are located in Stoughton, and Palace Meets Coworking is in Evansville. Fab Lab Stoughton was the first, but now there are at least 14 MIT-style (https://www.fablabs.io/labs/map) other Fab Labs in Wisconsin. This shows potential for the replication/adaptation of the ICS model to other regions. Additionally, other Fab Lab communities are very interested in this community-based long-term model of workforce development and are watching our development as a pilot. MadREP is also very interested in seeing this model replicated throughout the region, if not the state.
We will share our lessons learned and successes through the ICS website, social media, news articles, ongoing meetings with stakeholders, the community at-large, and by presenting at and hosting conferences and events. Like the Fab Lab and maker space models, this proposal is comprehensive, scalable, and replicable to increase future workforce preparedness across the region. This work will provide blueprints and guides for replication and adaptation in other regions. Other communities (Waunakee, Mt. Horeb, East Troy) with Fab Labs in their schools are following this initiative with ideas to similarly expand their Fab Labs into community-based innovation centers to bring greater alignment between schools, employers, and the community. UW-Platteville recently received an EDA grant for a regional-serving innovation center based on a similar concept, developed by ICS partner Gary Becker under contract with UW-Platteville.