President Obama headed to Bakery Square in Larimer



WASHINGTON – First a steel plant, then a community college and now a workshop and prototyping studio for innovation.

Bakery Square’s TechShop in Larimer will be the site of a visit Tuesday by President Barack Obama, his third visit to the Pittsburgh region this year, the White House said Friday. He is expected to discuss economic policy during the visit.

The White House would provide no other details Friday, including whether the event would be open to the public. The 16,000-square-foot space, however, is too small to accommodate the size of crowd that presidential visits draw for public events.

Julie Pompizzi, TechShop’s event coordinator, said the workshop hasn’t been briefed on the specifics of the event. She did say men who looked like Secret Service agents had been in and out of the workshop in recent days, but employees at neighboring storefronts said they hadn’t been visited by the president’s security team.

TechShop spokeswoman Connie Zheng said only that people at the workshop are excited about the presidential visit. She directed questions to the White House.

TechShop is a do-it-yourself workshop and prototyping studio, said a consultant, Alex Caldero.

Founded in 2005, it has eight locations nationwide. Clients range from local artists crafting jewelry with the workshop’s laser cutter to small businesses and startups making prototypes for commercial launch.

Members bring the materials; TechShop provides the equipment.

Monthly or yearly memberships provide access to a bevy of tools: everything from 80-watt lasers to a water jet that can cut through 4 inches of steel.

One startup, SolePower, is using the shop’s metalworking tools to fashion a gadget that, when attached to a shoe, generates electricity from natural walking movements.

“The sky’s really the limit here,” said Ms. Caldero, 24, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in product design.

The president last visited the region in April during a rare joint appearance with President Joe Biden. The pair stopped at the Community College of Allegheny County’s West campus in North Fayette, where they announced a plan to redirect $600 million to help with job training and apprenticeship programs.

In January – the day after his State of the Union address – Mr. Obama visited U.S. Steel Corp.’s Irvin plan in West Mifflin to sign an order establishing a new plan for retirement savings.

Isaac Stanley-Becker: istanleybecker@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3775. Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: tmauriello@post-gazette.com, 703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.


First Published June 13, 2014 11:04 AM

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