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Economic Resource Council helps develop curriculum for business

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to The Union

The Nevada County Economic Resource Council works with area businesses to help improve their bottom-line. The organization does so by directing principals to resources available to them, be it through an alliance with the Sierra Business Development Center to explores grants, loans and other tools geared to help with growth, or by turning to other organizations who are focused on creating successful businesses in the region. Recently, Economic Resource Council Executive Director Gil Mathew has been working together with Sierra Business Council to assist The Curious Forge, building what Mathew called a “metal and iron works curriculum” that will serve to train students in highly sought after skills.

The Economic Resource Council is, in part, supported the by California Manufacturing Technology Consulting to help area manufactures with compliance and processes geared to making the business not only viable, but a model of success

The Curios Forge is a makerspace where artists, craftspeople, entrepreneurs and, of course, the curious, share 20,000 square feet of equipment, tools and ideas.



The membership-based organization offers certifications in 13 different areas for participants to work – from blacksmithing to glass blowing, ceramics to welding, and a whole lot in between. The organization got started in 2011 when Liam Ellerby called Kara Asilanis on a drive home from a “Maker Faire” held in the Bay Area, saying he felt a collaborative artist space was something they could offer to the local community.

Co-founder Kara Asilanis said, “We wanted to bring something to our community that is all about possibility and opportunity. What stops a lot of people from making or creating is they don’t have the space; they don’t have the equipment; or they don’t have anyone to help them do it. We bring that all together in The Curios Forge.”




Local experts in various fields volunteer their time to be at the facility as a resource to the members. Asilanis said other members and volunteers are also extremely helpful. “The biggest thing about a makerspace is the peer-to-peer skill sharing, which we do all the time.”

COVID-19 shuttered the facility for a few months, but the collaborative group was able to survive by selling off some equipment, with the help of a relief grant and the support of members who stuck with them throughout the past year. In return, scholarships were made available to support others in need.

Asilanis noted of the interesting aspects to come out of the pandemic has been an increase in making from the members, “Since the shutdowns, people are much more dedicated to devoting their time to making things. I think, just like a lot of people, everyone’s been reevaluating their lives and what is important and the members coming in now are really active.” She concluded, “It’s such an antidote to tough times. When you are focused, and you are creating with your hands or whatever it is. It does something for us when we are that close to creating what matters to us.”

Now a curriculum to develop marketable skills in metals at the Curious Forge is in the works through the efforts of theEconomic Resource Council. To get more information about the program, send an email to info@ncerc.org.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a freelancer writer in Nevada County. She writes a monthly column on behalf of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. Gil Mathew is executive director of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council


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