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Tuolumne County’s New Innovation Lab

Written by Dave Carlberg, Co-Founder of TCBC member Kinematic Automation

As co-founder of one of the very few technology companies in the Mother Lode, it is my sincere and honest belief that Tuolumne County’s InnovationLab and Maker Space is one of the most important ideas to take shape in this area in the last decade – probably longer. Obviously it would not have happened had it not been for the vision, influence and very significant effort of Larry Cope, so his arrival on scene must take the number one position. Unfortunately, I feel that far too few members of our community understand what this means.

While the Lab is very simple in concept, its effects will be far-reaching and long lasting. On the surface it is simply a place for people to meet, to collaborate, to tinker. To be creative using the numerous tools available. To learn & grow new skills. To share. Ultimately, it is a place to hopefully germinate new business or product ideas and create jobs – good jobs, higher paying jobs, career jobs.

In the bigger picture, The Lab is a means of generating interest in Tuolumne County from the high tech world outside. It says to the world — “We know and understand your needs and wants and we are a community that nurtures, supports and encourages them.”

I am very lucky to have been able to attend the first Speaker Series event at Black Oak Casino Resort back in March and listen to Dr. Hancock speak about Joint Venture Silicon Valley. The big takeaway for me was the message that there are currently 27,000 startups in Silicon Valley – 27,000 startups just a hundred or so miles away!! Just think what could happen if we could get just a handful of those startups to notice Tuolumne County and realize what a fantastic place this would be to set up a satellite office or to move their operation. Rents here (both residential and commercial) are a tiny fraction of what they are there AND (this is the important part) Tuolumne County is a HIGH TECH COMMUNITY that welcomes and encourages them to come here. Think what this could do for the Tuolumne County economy.  Think what this could do through trickle-down economics for all the existing businesses in the county; for YOUR business.

I have long struggled with the fact that there is nothing here for our young people. My three kids have long since moved away to make their lives elsewhere. While this was a great place for them to have grown up, that’s it – there is nothing else for them here. It would be so fantastic if Tuolumne County was a place that fostered innovation; that encouraged (organized, planned) growth; that provided opportunities and a reason for our kids and grandkids to stick around after high school. A place that had good, decent paying jobs upon which a growing family could survive.

I believe that we, as leaders of the local business community, have an obligation to support this Innovation Lab in every way possible. That means:

  1. Learn more about it. If you haven’t seen it yet, at least come to the October Business Council meeting at the Lab. If you can’t do that, make arrangements with Larry for a tour. Come alone or bring along friends/family. Get exposed.
  2. Talk it up, both here locally and outside the county.
  3. One of the great resources we have here in Tuolumne County is our retired population. Many of these folks have valuable skills. Many of them are looking for something to do. I speculate that they would love to teach some of those skills to others. If you know someone like this, introduce them to the Lab and encourage them to donate their time to teach these skills to the community.
  4. Participate in the Lab through sponsorships, advertising, participating yourself
  5. If you have ideas about the lab that could make it better/stronger, share them with Larry
  6. Attend Lab sponsored activities and events.
  7. You and/or your employees likely have useful skills that could be well used by others. Offer to host classes at the Lab. By way of example, Kinematic will be hosting monthly classes on SolidWorks, a very powerful engineering/design software.

Please join me in congratulating Larry Cope on his fantastic contribution to our community and our new InnovationLab and Maker Space!!

The Tuolumne County Business Council will be supporting the InnovationLab by providing sponsorships of deserving individuals. The lab is in the process of obtaining a membership services coordinator and that individual will facilitate our support. Contact TCBC president Darrell Slocum with any questions at: 209 770-5777

Written by Darrell Slocum – Tuolumne County Business Council