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Old Cleveland elementary school ushers in new era of manufacturing as MAGNET prepares for grand opening

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 27, 2022

CLEVELAND — Leaders from across Northeast Ohio will gather Thursday afternoon to mark a new chapter in the region’s rich manufacturing history with the opening of MAGNET, the Manufacturing, Advocacy and Growth Network’s, new headquarters. The $18.5 million project that converted the Margaret Ireland Elementary School at East 63 Street and Chester Avenue into a state-of-the-art facility that expects to shape the future of manufacturing.

“One half of what we do is we go into small and medium manufacturers and help them make their next product," said MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp. "Help them make their efficiencies higher, help them think about new markets they can enter all so they create the jobs that really propel our entire economy. The other half we help get kids and adults excited about manufacturing and get into those jobs that are being created cause they're really good paying jobs.”

"I'll take you to our drink-serving robot,” Karp said of one of the many interactive devices that serve to educate and entertain. “This is what robots do and we show it off in a really fun way.”

They create excitement around manufacturing by showing young students and adults alike that manufacturing is a field that is fun and one where they can not just find a job but make a career and the location Karp said was key to pique that interest.

"We said this is wonderful it's on Chester, everybody can look in to the manufacturing shop at any time the lights will be on,” Karp said. “That was hugely important. It is a symbol to the region that manufacturing is alive and well and we want to take that mysterious shroud of these companies in backyards making everything that runs the world we want to make it visible to the community to the passers-by to the kids that will play on that park have a great time walk in the building and say huh, maybe this is for me. I could be an engineer, I could run one of these companies, I could sell this."

Yes, the park and basketball courts on the west side of the building are MAGNET’s gift to the local community. “We couldn't just build a building in the middle of a community, in the middle of residential neighborhood and not do something specifically for that community, that's the playground,” said Karp.

However, this is not an ordinary playground.

“It is a STEM-themed playground, ‘Heroes of Manufacturing’ is what we call it. There’s the normal playground equipment but then there's a giant pulley system where you can pull up 27 bowling balls and there's actually an energy bike where you can show how much wattage you make and then there's even a game where you can play trivia and math questions,” he said.

Karp stressed the importance of being part of the community.

“That playground, unique in Cleveland, is all for the community. It is an open playground, basketball courts, climbing structures, slides. That was really important for us to say we're not just going to be a monolith sitting here we're going to be a part of the community."

There are also conference rooms in the building overlooking the inside spaces that will be open to local groups or companies to use Karp said for this reason.

"If a bank comes in uses it for a meeting, well then everybody in that bank sees manufacturing and they see why it's alive and well and how awesome it is," he said.

MAGNET will host an open house for the community Friday from 1:30 to 6 p.m. to come and explore their new neighbor’s space.

“Free food, the Science Center is going to be doing demonstrations outside, this is the first time the playground's going to be open, tours of the building and that just kicks it off, once we are open we are open, come on in,” said Karp.

There will be other attractions for guests to enjoy, regardless if they're in manufacturing or not.

“There's even a photo booth you can come take your professional headshot, you don't need to be going into manufacturing at all we want to be helpful to the community and those seeking work. Just wonder in, if you're looking for a job we'll get you connected to one of our partners who are in the building who are able to be a job concierge and really get you connected to jobs even outside of manufacturing.”