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Emporia Main Street Hires Fabrication Lab Manager

Avatar photo by Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator | February 18, 2022

Emporia, KS – There is a new face in the Emporia Main Street Fab Lab. Harford native and Flint Hills Technical College graduate, Jeremy Wharton, started his position as the new Fabrication Lab Manager at Emporia Main Street this week. Located in the Dale & Carolyn Davis Fabrication Lab room at 727 Commercial, the Emporia Main Street Fab Lab will provide resources and opportunities for individuals and area businesses to design, prototype and enhance new or existing products for business development.

Access to modern tools and equipment that can make prototyping possible can be a limiting factor for individuals without financial or business resources. Emporia Main Street hopes the access to the Fabrication Lab will help remove that barrier and provide a space for innovation that can be used to help launch new businesses, expand existing business, and enhance educational exposure to commercial technology.

Wharton comes to Emporia Main Street with experience in fabrication and technology. His background includes working with various levels of production runs, fiber laser engravers, CNC lathes, mills, and more. He graduated from Flint Hills Technical College with a Technology degree in Computerized Machine Tool Engineering in 2013, followed by Associate degrees in both Network Technology and Computerized Machine Tool Engineering in 2015.In his first week on the job, Wharton is already thinking about ways to get the community involved.

“I am excited to start working with our small businesses on special projects and the ideas they have for creating products,” says Wharton.

The Fabrication Lab at Emporia Main Street houses many types of technology and prototyping resources, including multiple 3D printers, large format printers, a CO2 Laser Engraver, and electronics testing equipment.
“Our lab offers several different types of equipment people and businesses will be able to use,” explains Wharton. “I am particularly interested in working with our CNC Milling Machine. This piece of equipment opens up the doors for more robust prototyping due to the materials it can work with.”

The Emporia Main Street Fabrication Lab will help reduce financial, time, and knowledge barriers for the development of new or innovative products that can be developed for business expansion or creation. The establishment of the Fabrication Lab was made possible through the organization’s HomeGrown Capital Campaign, individual donors, a USDA technology grant, and a Hometown Economic Recovery grant from Evergy.

“This extension of Main Street services will aid in the development of new entrepreneurial adventures that could either spur new developing businesses or enhance existing businesses in the region,” said Casey Woods, Executive Director of Emporia Main Street. “We need more technology and product-based businesses in the area to retain youth and diversify our economy. The Fab Lab will be a great tool in achieving those goals. We are looking forward to having Jeremy onboard and getting the lab fully operational.”

Information on Fabrication Lab memberships, classes and hours of operation are still being set. For more information on upcoming activities and resources, please contact Emporia Main Street at 620-340-6430 or visit the office at 727 Commercial Street. 

About the Author

Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator

Jessica Buchholz is the Community Development Coordinator for Emporia Main Street in Emporia, Kansas. She specializes in event planning, volunteer recruitment, alternative marketing, media/public relations and fundraising. During Jessica's tenure at Emporia Main Street, she has helped grow events to an international level and she has created a series of new activities to meet organizational goals.