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.

Vote Your Main Street!

Danville’s Main Street program – the River District Association – is a FINALIST for the 2018 Partners in Preservation: Main Street campaign! You are invited to #VoteYourMainStreet from NOW until Oct. 26 to decide which historic sites along 20 of America’s favorite Main Streets should receive $2 million in preservation funding from American Express.

Partners in Preservation is an initiative created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to engage the public in preserving and increasing awareness of America’s historic places and their role in sustaining local communities. Since its inception in 2006, Partners in Preservation has committed over $22 million in support of more than 200 sites.

From the early 1900s through the civil rights movement and beyond, Union Street was first a thriving tobacco warehouse district, and then a mecca for black businesses and entrepreneurship. This project will restore two storefronts to foster continued entrepreneurship and create space for celebrating the area’s civil rights history.

 

 

 

The River District and the city of Danville have made North Union Street an area of particular focus for investment in 2018 and 2019. The city is matching funds received through a Virginia Main Street Downtown Investment Grant to provide grant funding for facade improvements along this corridor. In addition, the organization and the city have also partnered on a Community Business Launch grant through DHCD that will target business recruitment efforts in this area. The Partners in Preservation: Main Street would provide additional resources to not only preserve, but to revitalize this district!

Help Danville to win – Vote Early, Vote Often!

 

Accelerators: Taking Businesses to the Next Level

There is much confusion about the difference between incubators and accelerators, as the prevalence of both types of spaces has dramatically increased over the past 10 years. While both may provide entrepreneurs with similar services such as office space, capital, mentorship and other resources, there are several differences between the two.

Incubators generally do not have a competitive process to select the businesses that they serve, while accelerators do have a competitive process to develop “cohorts” of businesses, and they are typically selected on a cyclical basis. Also, the length of time that a company is located in an accelerator is less than an incubator, as most accelerators want the businesses to graduate within three to six months. Therefore, the assistance provided is very intensive and allows entrepreneurs to learn at a rapid or accelerated pace.

Accelerators also frequently work with angel investors that will take an equity stake in a company once it graduates from the program. This provides the business with capital to take their product to market quickly. Investors are also more interested in businesses that are involved in an accelerator program as they have had a more stringent vetting process as part of the cohort selection.

The benefit of an accelerator program for the business owner is the vast amount of resources that are provided by the accelerator. Accelerators are run by professionals who have helped new businesses overcome many of the stumbling blocks that startups face, as well as the presence of peers that are in the same phase of development. A potential drawback for some businesses is that they generally will need to exchange equity in their company for participation in an accelerator program.

There are several accelerators located in Virginia, including Lighthouse Labs in Richmond, RAMP in Roanoke and Ignition in Williamsburg.

Host a Finding Main Street book club

Finding Main Street Facebook Event
Singer-songwriter Dar Williams launched Virginia Main Street’s Finding Main Street book club at the 2018 Downtown Intersections with a performance and talk on “Thinking in Bridges.”

“We think we have so much divisiveness,” she said. “But the opposite of divisiveness is not unity. It is collaboration.”

Williams found plenty of collaboration in the successful communities profiled in her placemaking and community development book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns. These are towns she has seen rise and thrive over her nearly three decades of touring. Williams asserts that they created “positive proximity” by:

  • Creating spaces that foster loose forms of communication and connection across residents.
  • Undertaking collective identity building projects that override the differences of the individuals contributing to them.
  • Welcoming the contributions of all willing citizens.

Across Virginia, the Finding Main Street Book Club will explore the strategies at work in Main Street communities. A toolkit is available in a tab at the top of this page. It currently includes:

Beginning on September 4, videos will be added weekly to highlight chapter concepts at work in Virginia’s Main Street network. In spring 2019, follow-up videos will showcase community conversations resulting from the book clubs. For the 2019 Downtown Intersections Idea Pitch, communities will be invited to propose projects inspired by the book and compete for funding to support the projects.

If you’d like to talk about book club ideas or the benefits of hosting one, contact your Main Street representative or Doug Jackson at 804-418-9878 or douglas.jackson@dhcd.virginia.gov. Remember you’re never in this alone–reach out to your likely partners locally, including book stores and libraries, and see what you can get started.

The book club model was piloted in Roanoke in the fall of 2017, where chapter discussions highlighted local leaders and organizations undertaking strategies featured in the book. Find more information from the pilot, including press and session descriptions, at bookcityroanoke.com.

Finding Main Street is a project of the Virginia Main Street Program at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development with support from Virginia Community Capital, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Humanities , and Book City ★ Roanoke.

What’s in a Name? The Different Types of Shared Work Spaces

We’ve all heard buzzwords such as incubators, co-working spaces and maker spaces. As the number of people working in the “gig” economy continues to grow, so will the places that support that industry. But what’s the difference in these spaces, and what do they provide not only to the entrepreneurs that use them, but the community as a whole? Over the next few weeks, we will discuss several different types of shared working spaces beginning with an overview of the most popular types.

Incubators – Incubators specialize in growing new and early-stage businesses. They typically provide resources like office space, legal counsel, accounting and other business guidance, possibly even funding opportunities. The types of incubators vary greatly from office/service-oriented businesses to high tech. There are examples of incubators in Franklin, Lynchburg and Norton.

Accelerators – Accelerator programs are more geared towards rapid-growth companies. Most involve a “cohort” of companies that have applied to the accelerator program, and the idea is to “accelerate” the companies to market within a three- to six-month period. Roanoke and Hampton both have great examples.

Coworking space – There are an estimated 10,000 co-working spaces in the United States. The co-working space allows entrepreneurs and “gig economy” workers to join together in a low-cost space instead of working in isolation. These spaces typically offer other services such as networking events, mentoring and learning opportunities, and the opportunity to develop partnerships with other businesses. Richmond and Harrisonburg have really been at the forefront of coworking.

Maker space – A maker space is a collaborative workspace that includes a variety of maker tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, letter presses, CNC machines, computers and other equipment. Maker spaces typically charge a monthly fee to members and are created for those who are creating products or who would like to learn how to “make” items. Next time you are in Lexington or Staunton, check out these great examples!

Stay tuned for more in-depth discussion about each type of shared workspace, including best practices, in upcoming posts.

Bricks & Clicks Make Businesses Stronger Destinations

On May 2, during National Small Business Week, the city of Harrisonburg  awarded $36,700 in grants to small businesses in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. 

Grant awards range from $1,200 to $4,900 and are the final portion of a three-pronged small business assistance program called Bricks & Clicks, which was designed to help businesses become stronger bricks-and-mortar destinations complemented with stronger websites and digital marketing.

Bricks & Clicks was developed by the city of Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Rockingham County, James Madison University and the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, and it was made possible by a $40,000 Building Entrepreneurial Economies grant through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The program offered businesses in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County an opportunity to learn about small business destination marketing from a national expert through a low-cost workshop, technical assistance from local marketing and visual design experts and grants of up to $5,000.  The grant awards are positioned to bring more than $70,000 worth of investment into making the selected businesses more competitive and profitable through e-commerce tools, improved websites, strategic marketing campaigns and on-site attractions.

Congratulations to the entrepreneurs and community partners!  Learn more about Bricks and Clicks here >>>

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance will host Virginia Main Street’s Downtown Intersections on July 16-18, 2018. 

withSimplicity, a Bricks & Clicks grant recipient

What are you doing this weekend? Spend it on Main Street!

The weather is starting to turn the corner from Winter to Spring (right? please?) and you might find yourself struck with spring fever! So what’s the cure? A day trip to one of Virginia’s beautiful Main Streets! There is literally something for everyone happening around the state, and here is a sampling of what is going on this weekend on Main Street…

Thursday, March 8th

Friday, March 9th

  • Start you weekend with a trip to Manassas to see a performance of Swan Lake.
  • Inspired to dance yourself? Head to Bristol and join the Bristol Ballet for Latin and ballroom dance lessons!

Saturday, March 10th 

Sunday, March 11th

or..Restaurant Week!