Hackerspaces sprouting up around the Midwest

[Chris Cooper] wrote in letting us know that this weekend is the grand opening of QC Co-Lab, a hackerspace in Davenport, Iowa. They kicked the weekend off in grand fashion on Friday by sand casting bronze medallions with a blast furnace. The 4000 square foot facility has plenty of room for new members so if you’re in the area check it out. It’s not too late to join in on the tail end of the festivities.

Sector67 is also making plans for its grand opening. The Madison, Wisconsin based hackerspace will officially open on October 15th. There was a strong turnout for the first viewing of the facilities on September 7th (see for yourself), with plenty of building, arranging, and accumulating to be done before the official start. [Chris Meyer] has been working hard to get the organization off the ground, acquiring several grants, and working with the School Factory (something of a quick-start incubator for hackerspace-type non-profits). Want to see more? Thanks to [Andrew Seidl] you can peruse a set of quality photos from the event.

Tax-exempt Geek Group hit with huge tax bill

Non-profit hackerspace The Geek Group has been hit with a hefty tax bill despite their tax-exempt status. We featured a boom camera built by the organization back in November. It is the goal of The Geek Group to fulfill the thirst to explore and create by providing facilities, peer group, and camaraderie that make knowledge and learning not only acceptable, but desirable. In the video after the break you can hear a bit about the organization’s role in servicing donated computers and putting them out into the community, as well as its role in education through groups like the Boy Scouts of America.

This is all done without the goal for profit and accordingly they have attained 501(c)(3) status with the federal government (we’ve seen their 990 forms stating this). To the best of our knowledge this doesn’t mean that they don’t need to pay property taxes, but it does make property taxes ridiculously low (we’ve heard of one cent per acre for non-profit land holdings before). That’s why it comes as quite a surprise when the township slaps a sticker on the doors giving notice of seizure and demanding payment for $47,652.78 in back taxes or the assets will be auctioned off. The entire story, from The Geek Group’s point of view, unfolds in a video of the quarterly Board of Directors meeting from last Saturday.

We’re hoping this is just a mistake and can be remedied. That being said, it’s not easy to run this type of operation. It’s unfortunate that the Board of Directors needs to deal with a tax battle in addition to fulfilling the mission of the organization. Good luck to them in navigating the road ahead.

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