After an explosion seriously injured its founder, Sector67 is looking to regain its momentum as members of the Madison maker space move into a new East Side building.
Chris Meyer was injured Wednesday night in a small propane explosion at the nonprofit’s future location. Sector67 — an organization that provides work space and classes for metal- and woodworkers, programmers, hobbyists and others — is in the middle of renovating a warehouse at 56 Corry St. to become the maker space’s permanent home.
“Chris poured his life into the organization and this building process also, not only with the hours that he was putting in, but the knowledge, capability and relationships he brought in to make this project,” said Sector67 board member Scott Hasse.
On Sunday afternoon, Hasse joined about 10 volunteers to continue renovation work, which includes insulating the building, adding windows and making the space compatible with the community workshop’s programming.
One of the major components involves lifting the roof up 10 feet for a second story to be built. The building will nearly double the available square footage compared to the organization’s current leased space at 2100 Winnebago St.
“They’re literally raising the roof,” said Sector67 member Forrest Woolworth.
As executive director, Meyer took the lead on the project. But the blast has put him in the burn unit at UW Hospital, and his recovery is expected to take months.
To assist Meyer and to keep Sector67’s renovations on track, the organization has started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of collecting $50,000 in donations.
Hasse said he will take over some responsibilities in the interim and a governance structure will be developed in Meyer’s absence.
“It’s carrying forward very earnestly,” Hasse said. “We’re turning a warehouse into an education facility.”
Founded in 2010, the workshop provides its about 100 members access to lathes, 3-D printers, computers, welding machines and a variety of other equipment.
After the physical renovations are completed, all the equipment will need to be transported less than a mile to the new location.
Hasse said the goal is to have the Corry Street location running sometime next year as Sector67 has a looming deadline to leave its current space. The former pole barn off Winnebago Street is slated to be demolished as part of a co-housing development project to begin construction in fall 2018.
While contractors have been hired for the renovation, workshop members are also volunteering their time to make the $750,000 project happen on time, Hasse said.
“One of the blessings of Sector67 as an organization is a very active community of capable, creative people,” he said.
Once completed, the Corry Street location will allow Sector67 to save around $50,000 per year in rent and an additional $40,000 put aside annually to buy a building, Hasse said.
The extra funds will help to expand the programming and let the nonprofit bring on some paid staff, he said.
“The community around Chris is phenomenal. He’s helped so many people,” Hasse said. “We look forward to having him back.”