Credit: Narayan Mahon

Chris Meyer, , Sector67

There's something understated about Chris Meyer, even though his matter-of-fact enthusiasm is, as they say, infectious. If your idea of fun does not include writing code or learning to solder, a few minutes with Meyer may change your mind. He's the guy behind Madison's Sector67, officially a "center for prototyping, technology and advanced manufacturing" - although its more casual identity as a makerspace (a.k.a. hackerspace) more fully captures its anything-goes joie de vivre. It's a place where people who want to make new things can meet, collaborate, share tools and geek out. And we mean that in a good way.

Meyer, 26, graduated from UW-Madison with a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 2010. The winner of several engineering contests, Meyer probably could have had his pick of jobs, but chose instead to create something for the community. The plan for Sector67 got some attention in the 2010 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest, and Meyer took the seed money from that competition to open the space in the old Anderson-Thomas building at 2100 Winnebago St.

The space has hosted everything from board-game nights to business startup accelerator workshops. And its frequent classes introduce nascent entrepreneurs to any number of useful skill sets. Sector67 is a microcosm of the innovative thinking Wisconsin needs in coming up with new businesses, the kind that actually make stuff, for the 21st century.

"I think of Sector67 as an intermediary step, helping people early on," says Meyer. "If you can afford to go to a research park or the Metro Innovation Center, you're already kind of advanced." The atmosphere at Sector67 is welcoming to those whose ideas are "maybe not sorted through," and who want to interact with others: "There's a broad range of people with different kinds of knowledge here all the time."

- Linda Falkenstein