In an effort to explore innovative opportunities for business retention, growth and development, Janet Miller and Thomas Niegisch, representing the Cherokee County Economic Development Corporation, recently joined a group of their peers at a first-of-its-kind “fab lab boot camp” in Independence, Kansas.

Hosted by Fab Lab ICC on the campus of Independence Community College February 20-22, “Community Boot Camp: How to Build A Fab Lab from Ground Zero,” offered insights into the challenges and successes experienced by the organization, as well as its impact on the local economy and community culture since opening in 2014. Named with the abbreviated term for “fabrication laboratory,” Fab Lab ICC is a creative maker-space facility offering tools, technology and education to budding entrepreneurs, students, hobbyists, small business owners and innovators of all ages. The Independence facility emphasizes the integration of entrepreneurial mindset education with the hands-on creative process.

The inaugural boot camp attracted economic development professionals and community leaders from across Kansas and Ohio and included presentations by local entrepreneurs and business leaders; facility tours; and interactive “making” sessions allowing participants to experiment with such equipment as laser engravers, vinyl cutters and Arduino circuit systems.

The event was facilitated by Fab Lab ICC Director Jim Correll, a longtime entrepreneur coach, and Fab Lab Manager and ICC instructor Tim Haynes. Featured speaker at the event was Gary Schoeniger, globally renowned entrepreneurial thought leader and founder of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI) and the “Ice House” Entrepreneurship Program.

“The boot camp was an eye-opening experience that solidified the notion that a fab lab can unlock unlimited potential for creativity and entrepreneurial development,” Miller said. “Moreover, as the Independence community has realized, such a facility ultimately can demonstrate a significant positive, sustainable impact on the local economy. The possibilities really are limitless.”

More information on the Fab Lab ICC community boot camp experience and future offerings is available by contacting Correll at 620-252-5349/

About the Cherokee County Economic Development Corporation

The Cherokee County Economic Development Corporation has been working since 2013 to drive economic development in Cherokee County, Kansas. The Corporation does so by working to retain & expand existing businesses, support improved infrastructure, attract new businesses,foster & support entrepreneurship, market the county, grow tourism, and support local and regional organizations working toward similar goals.

About Fab Lab ICC

Fab Lab ICC opened in October 2014 on the campus of Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. It is a creative “maker” space where students and community members find tools and resources to bring their ideas to life through hands-on production and entrepreneurial education. Fab Lab ICC is a member of the International Fab Lab Network.