Community Gems: Central Point, A City of Makers

Central Point is one of the larger cities in Jackson County, boasting over 19,000 residents. However, the majority of this population will tell you that Central Point is a small town—partially because the businesses in the area embrace the idea of being on a first-name basis with their patrons, and cherish the support they can lend to the community. With the development of Central Point’s artisan corridor, and the recent opening of the CraterWorks Makerspace, the city’s creative entrepreneurs are thriving—together. From a legacy of community-oriented businesses, and the high ratings the city of Central Point has received (both internally and externally), the city is definitely a gem among Southern Oregon.

When visitors first arrive in Central Point, their attention is immediately captured by the giant grain elevator belonging to Grange Co-op, which has been supporting the Rogue Valley since 1934. City Manager, Chris Clayton, called the towering structure “the most visible symbol related to Central Point.” And it deserves to be, considering the Grange’s support given to SoHumane, FFA, and other non-profits. The business is interwoven into the city’s agricultural roots.  Local farms in the area such as Seven Oaks Farm and even the more tourist-centric Hanley Farm, carry on these roots by emphasizing fresh produce. Renowned delicacies like wines, chocolates, and cheeses are provided by the businesses along the artisan corridor, namely Ledger David Cellars Tasting Room, Lillie Belle Farms, and the Rogue Creamery. Restaurants like Spoons demonstrate compassion, supporting high schoolers without lunches and adding to the small town atmosphere that makes Central Point’s residents rate the city so highly.

Recently, Northwest Research Group LLC, a consulting company from Seattle, launched a survey across the country, rating cities of similar sizes on how accomplished they were in different aspects. Some of this information was supplied through resident voting, and other data came from internal reviews. At the conclusion, Central Point earned nearly 4.5 out of 5 stars, ranking the city as one of the top in the nation for its size and demographics. Stemming from a valued police force and longstanding city administrators who lead by example, a visit to any city-governed office in Central Point is a “better experience than you would anticipate,” said Clayton. “Organizational culture is the only sustainable resource that you have control over,” added City Councilor, Taneea Browning. “Our product is our service.”

Yet if you want your product to be a tangible product, the Central Point CraterWorks Makerspace, which opened in May of 2019, is the perfect place to create the next revolutionary invention. Makerspaces generally focus on providing communities with the tools, space, and education needed to create something—anything. If you’re a birdhouse enthusiast, or you think metallurgy might be cool, the Makerspace is the place to learn more about the craft and to work on your own creation with access to hundreds of tools. “[The Makerspace] is a brain trust,” said Browning. “It allows artisans to work side-by-side with industry,” —which is another goal of the Makerspace. Tying together education, artistry, industry, and entrepreneurship lets the creative businessperson design, prototype, build, and sell, without having to purchase the tools or space needed to create the intended product. Makerspace members also have access to any classes offered, ranging from metal-working to commercial baking. As stated on the CraterWorks website, “the shared space allows individuals to create, invent, and learn in an environment that encourages collaboration and problem-solving.”

So the next time you’re passing through Central Point, be sure to visit a few of the local businesses, appreciate the workers who keep the city safe, and maybe even spend some time fiddling around with your imaginative side at CraterWorks Makerspace. As concluded by Browning, “Whether with cheese, wood, or agriculture, Central Point is a collective space of makers who are constantly inventing ways for business to get done.”

Thanks to the newest addition to our SOREDI team, our SOU alum, Abigail Skelton, we will continue to feature some of the popular attractions located in our Southern Oregon communities. We consider each one of our towns and cities to be “jewels in the crown” that makes up Southern Oregon. If you have a story idea sparked by an inspiring local attraction, please e-mail our Communications Manager, Codi Spodnik and maybe Abigail will be giving you a call to follow up.  If you are a SOREDI Member and you have some great news, please e-mail it to Codi so we can share it in our newsletter.

CraterWorks Makerspace. (2019). Website: http://www.craterworks.org/

 

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