WILMINGTON — America’s Best Communities announced its 15 semifinalists Wednesday, leaving out Wilmington. Despite that, applicant Mark Rembert says Wilmington’s project will continue.
Wilmington’s submitted project was Pioneer Labs, a kind of common workshop comparable to a gym for manufacturers, who would range from students and hobbyists to professionals and large companies. According to Rembert, it could be the first rural Makerspace, the term used to describe those workshops.
Rembert and Taylor Stuckert co-founded Energize Clinton County, which applied to ABC on Wilmington’s behalf.
“We are disappointed that our community was not selected to move on in the America’s Best Communities competition, but are excited that Portsmouth will be representing Ohio in the next round,” wrote Rembert. “It is definitely a community worthy of the recognition.”
Rembert wrote that Pioneer Labs was part of ECC’s imagination before the grant, which provided resources to put into place a plan for Pioneer Labs’ vision.
“Thanks to the invaluable input and involvement of community members in the planning process, we are more confident than ever in the need and excitement for Pioneer Labs in the community,” wrote Rembert. “The fact that we will not receive the next round of funding from ABC might slow the process a bit, but we are committed to continuing our efforts to raise funds to build Pioneer Labs.”
Rembert also thanked ABC as well as the Clinton County Port Authority, the Clinton County Foundation and local donors, saying, “We won’t be starting from zero as we take the next steps forward.”
For Rembert, those steps belong at the Wilmington Air Park.
“DHL closed its Wilmington hub (at the air park) taking with it nearly 10,000 jobs, but leaving behind seemingly endless square feet of empty office and warehouse space,” Rembert said in a prepared statement. “Pioneer Labs will use some of that space to offer a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility — or Makerspace — to serve the Wilmington-Clinton County region.
“We’re hoping that the Makerspace can serve a broad audience, everybody from hobbyists to kids,” Rembert continued. “Also, entrepreneurs and real experts in their fields, who need access to equipment to take their business to the next level, will be able to join the Makerspace as a member and get access to the equipment we offer.”
The project also aims to inspire people to consider manufacturing, the city’s biggest employer which faces an aging workforce and staffing difficulties, Rembert said in previous interviews.
More information about the future Makerspace, and similar facilities serving the Cincinnati and Columbus areas, can be found at pioneer.energizecc.com.
Of the more than 350 communities that participated in the competition, only 50, including Wilmington were named quarterfinalists. Only one was located in Ohio in Portsmouth.
The first place prize is $3 million to further support the project.
Sponsored by Frontier Communications and DISH Network, the America’s Best Communities Prize is a campaign that dedicates over $10 million in cash and other rewards to support and inspire the kinds of creativity and innovation that transform communities and result in long term growth. With a grand prize of $3 million, the competition seeks to tap the competitive spirit of towns and cities across Frontier’s 27 state footprint by challenging communities to dream big and improve lives.
Rembert is also executive director of the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, and Stuckert is executive director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.