Coworking Spaces: The new office space for the future of work

There has been a meteoric growth in the number of coworking spaces in the United States, from an estimated 14 in 2007 to more than 11,000 in 2017. The number is expected to balloon to over 26,000 by 2020! This growth has mirrored the growth of workers working in the “gig” economy, with an estimated 40 percent of the population to be engaged in some sort of freelance work by 2020. In fact, a coworking company is poised to become the largest user of private office space in Manhattan.

Coworking spaces are shared working spaces that have been created to allow entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups and work-from-home professionals a place to work without many of the overhead expenses associated with a traditional office space. Users can access shared or private office space, shared resources, networking opportunities and an environment that is conducive to productivity.

Membership levels are offered that can be tailored to any entrepreneur’s needs and budget. As the popularity of coworking spaces has increased, we are seeing more amenities being offered; from desk space to a private office, meeting rooms, private space to make phone calls, mail services and even storage space, most entrepreneurs can find a coworking space that will meet their needs.

We are also starting to see some companies add coworking space to their existing retail or commercial spaces. Cowork Cafe in Arlington is a coffee shop/cafe with coworking space available, as well. Even big box retailers like Staples and Office Depot are getting into the coworking market! In Staunton, the Innovation Hub was created with the help of a Building Entrepreneurial Economy grant and is a great example of all of the possibilities of this type of work space.

While it is unclear whether coworking spaces are here to stay, the prevailing attitude is that they are and will continue to disrupt the current model of how and where people work.

Recognizing the Hard Work on Main Street: Sandwich Sampler Competition

At the recent 2018 Downtown Intersections in Harrisonburg, we continued the tradition of acknowledging outstanding achievements in comprehensive downtown revitalization efforts through Merit Awards.  They recognize the hard work, dedication and success of Virginia’s Main Street communities and their achievements across the four point of the Main Street Approach®.  This is the third in a blog series to highlight each of the seven awards.

Promoting Main Street takes many forms, but the ultimate goal is to position the downtown as the hub of the community and economic activity, while creating a positive image that showcases a community’s unique characteristics.  This next award honors the best downtown restaurant promotion designed to generate foot-traffic to local eateries within the district.  Downtown Blackstone Inc. Executive Director Zachary Whitlow accepted the 2018 Best Downtown Restaurant Event award for the first annual Sandwich Sampler Competition.

This past spring, the first Sandwich Sampler Competition was held in downtown Blackstone’s Town Square.  The community was invited to sample signature sandwiches from participating local restaurants and take part in the voting for the best sandwich, crowning Blackstone’s Sandwich King or Queen.  The event was designed to showcase the quality of local cuisine and entice visitors to dine at the downtown eateries.  Downtown retail also gained exposure and amassed return customers through a cross-promotional campaign of special-offer coupons.

For the inaugural year, only 100 tickets were available for purchase, and it was a sell-out crowd! With a fine selection of local sandwich options, the competition was fierce, but the winner was quite clear. The Corner Kitchen won with a distinctive house-made strawberry ice cream sandwich.  While the inaugural event generated a small amount of revenue, it has the ability to become a profitable signature event. Given the vast amount of positive reviews, the competition will become a bigger and better annual event.

Congratulations Downtown Blackstone!

Visit downtown Blackstone for the upcoming Regional Rev Up: Opportunity Analysis – Effective Design, Oct. 17, 2018.

The District Digest Vol. 4 – Downtown Ideas to Put to Work

While you were busy making a difference in your hometown, you might have missed these thought-provoking reads.  Attraction, expansion and retention of businesses for your Main Street district is vital. It is also one of the most difficult things for a community to successfully accomplish. It takes hard work, planning and follow-through. Here is a dose of inspiration and education:

  1. Retention and Attraction Strategies for a Balanced Retail Sector – National League of Cities
  2. Chicago Proposes Experiment with Pop-up Urbanism – The Architects Newspaper
  3. Creative Uses for Buildings in Small Towns – University of Wisconsin Extension
  4. What’s in a Name? The Different Types of Shared Work Spaces – Virginia Main Street
  5. Incubators: Hatching Ideas into Business – Virginia Main Street
  6. Accelerators: Taking Businesses to the Next Level – Virginia Main Street