"Downtown makerspace, The Forge, has recruited from within to hire its first executive director. The non-profit’s board unanimously approved Joe Rotondi for the position. Rotondi became a member of the community-operated workspace in 2014.
“I came here to do some woodworking and got infected,” Rotondi laughed. “I have always been a tinkerer, but I became a member here because I wanted to begin learning how to do it right. And it happened very quickly. The networking, the camaraderie, the mentorship. It’s a very dynamic environment.”
Located in downtown’s south end amid the revitalized Lewis Street corridor, The Forge, with more than 160 members, has grown in just over a year into what many believe is the largest makerspace in North Carolina. So far, the entrepreneurial incubator has helped its members spin off seven patents, 15 companies and more than 70 jobs.
Paying a small fee each month, members have access to the space’s design-build tools — design software, 3-D printers, metal shop, lathes, woodworking tools, and more — as well as a deep well of expertise and support within the membership. Members routinely interact, share knowledge, lend a hand.
“The place runs on that volunteer spirit,” said Andy Zimmerman, the developer behind the Lewis Street revival and a board member of The Forge. “It was time we took some of the duties and chores off the shoulders of the members and put that responsibility on someone in an official capacity. Joe will be great in the position.”
Familiarity with The Forge’s environment and its membership as well as a deep background in hospitality, civic engagement and event promotion made Rotondi, 29, the perfect choice, according to Joey Adams, The Forge’s co-founder and board president. “In an addition to the day-to-day oversight of operations, our new executive director will be tackling big issues like ensuring the sustainability of the organization, bringing on board instructors for more classes, and continuing to improve the services and equipment available. Having Joe in this position is exactly what we need to help push the Forge to the next level.”"
- A Press Release