CoCreate Stamford Brings Manufacturing, Makers Together

above: The state-of-the-art facility at 47 John St. draws local makers, design enthusiasts and families.
Photography: Courtesy of Cocreate

Stamford has a rich manufacturing heritage. It’s evident in landmarks like the Blickensderfer Factory Building on Atlantic Street, and in the two keys featured on the city’s seal, which harken back to the era when Stamford earned the moniker “The Lock City” due to the prominence of the Yale & Towne Company. That legacy was back in the spotlight two years ago when CoCreate Stamford announced plans for a micro-manufacturing facility that helped bring GE Appliances back to Connecticut. Since the announcement, the location has morphed into so much more: It’s now also home to a fully operational community makerspace that provides hands-on lessons for locals, as well as a place where consumers can go for inspiration in kitchen design.

Left: Shared makerspaces provide opportunities to share ideas and build community. right: A variety of designers’ tools and resources are at the ready throughout CoCreate.

“Our decision to establish CoCreate in Stamford is rooted in a deep appreciation for the region’s rich industrial and manufacturing heritage,” says Michelle Donovan, experiential marketing director for GE Appliances, a Haier company. “We’ve brought manufacturing back to Connecticut in a unique way through CoCreate, where we build the Monogram Hearth Oven and GE Profile Smart Stand Mixer, which was just named to Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2023. Part appliance factory, makerspace, and design and experience center, CoCreate is a true hub for community innovation.”

At its core, CoCreate provides resources, mentors and collaborative spaces where people can exchange ideas and foster connections. “The space is a community creative playground, and it has something for everyone,” says Donovan. “Culinary enthusiasts can enjoy food cooked on our industry-leading appliances in our Co-Cook demonstration kitchen. Design aficionados can learn about the latest design trends through various workshops that will be hosted at CoCreate in the future. And our community makerspace provides a haven for those who like to make things, connect with like-minded makers and inspire new ideas.”

Local leaders joined the GE Appliances team to celebrate CoCreate’s grand opening last October.

CoCreate Stamford—which houses the nation’s second FirstBuild makerspace that originated in Louisville, Kentucky—aims to drive innovation at GE Appliances by engaging a global community of creators through virtual platforms and its accessible workspace in Stamford. With an impressive arsenal of hand tools, 3D printers, lasers and cutting-edge machinery, this makerspace invites creative minds to bring their ideas to life. CoCreate offers several educational sessions within the makerspace that cater to students, their families and schools and various community groups.

The CoCreate micro-factory gives visitors a look behind the scenes, showcasing the craftsmanship that’s essential to create products for GE Appliances. You can experience firsthand the creation of the Monogram Hearth Oven and GE Profile Smart Mixer, for instance. Visitors also can explore the heritage center, a lively display honoring the area’s industrial history. The heritage center also boasts an exhibit of iconic products from GE Appliances’ esteemed brands, including Café, GE, GE Profile, Haier, Hotpoint and Monogram.

CoCreate is committed to its workforce and the community.

CoCreate Stamford also hosts several events, workshops, networking galas and specialized programs for business development, technology, artistry and community immersion. In the Monogram test kitchen—a realm pulsating with chef showcases and bolstered by a dynamic alliance with The Village Community Foundation’s Kitchen Incubator program—CoCreate lends a helping hand to local gastronomic artisans and restaurateurs. “From partnerships with local community organizations, such as The Village Foundation, to engaging with local colleges and universities, such as UCONN and Norwalk Community, CoCreate demonstrates our strong commitment to education, economic growth and innovation,” says Donovan.

As this vibrant new scene evolves at CoCreate, Stamford enters an exciting chapter of innovation, growth and community-driven progress, according to Donovan. “Whether we’re creating jobs in our manufacturing plant, hosting specialty events with local makers and influencers or organizing events curated by the community, our fundamental goal is to create zero distance between us and our consumers,” say Donovan. “This is a place that’s open, shared and built for you.”

Through local partnerships, students access paid part-time work alongside engineers.

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