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Nonprofit started to takeover Pittsburgh's TechShop

Aaron Aupperlee
| Friday, Aug. 25, 2017, 6:03 p.m.
Peter Owens, an instructor with TechShop works on his motocross bike inside the facility in Bakery Square Thursday, September 19, 2013.
James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Peter Owens, an instructor with TechShop works on his motocross bike inside the facility in Bakery Square Thursday, September 19, 2013.

A new home for the machines and makers of TechShop Pittsburgh is starting to take shape.

A group of TechShop members have created a nonprofit and are looking for a new space for people concerned about the availability of maker space in Pittsburgh after the Bakery Square location closes its doors.

“We want to get something operational as soon as possible,” said Devin Montgomery, one of the people behind Protohaven, the nonprofit aiming to fill the gap left when TechShop closes.

Montgomery hopes to have something ready for TechShop members by October.

TechShop, which operates a national chain of maker spaces giving people access to high-tech tools unavailable to most entrepreneurs and startups, announced in June it planned to close its Pittsburgh location . TechShop was initially scheduled to close at the beginning of September but the company announced in July it would stay open through the end of September . The shop's members rallied together and held weekly meetings to find a solution to keeping it open.

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Protohaven emerged out of those meetings, Montgomery said.

“A bunch of members wanted to keep some iteration of it open, having access to the tools and the community that works out of there,” Montgomery said.

The initial goal was to keep TechShop open in its Bakery Square location for six months to a year longer as Protohaven looked for a new space, Montgomery said. Now, that doesn't seem possible, so Protohaven is looking for its own space.

Montgomery said Protohaven is talking with companies that have partnerships with TechShop about working with the new nonprofit and possibly increasing memberships. Protohaven is also looking for funding.

“One of the things that we are doing is really looking to our membership early on,” Montgomery said, noting that members will have to fund Protohaven in its early days until funding can be found.

Montgomery hopes Protohaven will be able to use the same machines as TechShop and said its corporate office has been supportive of the idea. He wants to keep the space a place where welders and woodworkers can work together.

“Pretty true throughout the process has been preserving the community and the people having access to the services they need,” Montgomery said. “I made things here in Pittsburgh before TechShop opened, and it was not nearly as an enjoyable or social experience.”

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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