Often when an entrepreneur is starting a business, or a community organization is in early stages of growth, having a dedicated professional workspace is crucial. This is why coworking spaces like DurangoSpace are key to providing the resources early-stage projects need, reducing barriers-to-entry for new leaders, while facilitating the networking and collaboration in which small-town communities already excel.
Coworking spaces like DurangoSpace are not coffee shops or hacker-dens. For freelance workers and professionals choosing to live in Durango for the quality of life and tele-commuting, a coworking space is a key community asset for economic development. Coworking is a recent movement of independent “workspaces” that are created for remote workers, location neutral workers, and independent professionals. These are popping up in all regions and make efficient, flexible use of office space. This serves to draw workers to downtown areas, which encourages shopping at downtown local businesses (keeping money within the local economy). This is preferable to working from home or in office parks because it creates space for community, collaboration, and interconnection.
Here are some basic amenities found at DurangoSpace and a typical coworking space:
- Fast internet
- Free coffee
- Printer/Fax etc.
- Flexible office space with meeting rooms
- Cheaper than leasing a full office
- Downtown location
- Hosts networking events and educational workshops
All these things come together to make starting a business more accessible. Having a permanent space in the middle of town also makes a coworking space act as an entrepreneurship hub. DurangoSpace emphasizes itself as a space for meeting other professionals and collaborating. The 100+ clients who use the space work in all different capacities and professions. For them, the space increases their productivity and they enjoy the collaborative atmosphere. What they do have in common is that they are small businesses. Stage 1 and 2 businesses are responsible for the majority of net job growth. Having a coworking space can help encourage small businesses and professionals to locate in that town, and long-time residents with business ideas can have a welcoming space to go start a business.
Coworking is growing fast. The first official coworking space began in Germany in 2005, the concept really took off in 2010 and by 2013 Deskmag.com reported over 3,000 coworking spaces worldwide. There are over 16 in Minnesota yet none in Northeast Minnesota, although there is definitely interest in the concept with initiatives like the Iron Range Makerspace. A coworking space is a relatively low-cost investment compared to development grants, and generates a return through membership fees, development groups can benefit from supporting a coworking project. In the case of DurangoSpace, “the local SBDC (Fort Lewis College), local EDO (the Alliance), and the regional economic development agency (Region 9) are involved as members and advocates of coworking in Durango” (durangospace.com). A coworking space and more collaborative working institutions may be a big asset to the Iron Range to foster economic growth and attract professionals who want to enjoy the quality of life in northern Minnesota.
Watch an interview with DurangoSpace here
For more information on coworking space, check out the Coworking association CoShare
If this organization’s mission and ideas are of interest, look no further for their contact information:
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