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Coworking Spaces

The impact of coworking spaces on the local economy

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There are some who still view coworking as a quirky niche instead of the future of work. That might be hard for those of us who love coworking to believe, but important for us to remember as we try to grow our communities. While it’s true that coworking isn’t for everyone, and certainly doesn’t work for every industry - we still need grocery stores and plumbers - coworking can serve as both a model and a hub for creating better communities at large.

A guest article by Angel Kwiatkowski of Cohere Coworking Community in Fort Collins, Colorado:

Most people can imagine what shared office space looks like. It’s harder to understand the larger economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand. If you’re on the fence about joining a coworking space, here are some big picture positive impacts to think about.

Coworking keeps stellar talent in town

Coworking spaces are “office buildings” for those who had the talent (and balls) to create their own job in a crappy economy. Without coworking, many in mid-sized urban areas would have to commute or move their families to bigger cities with more opportunities. Coworking helps them stay in town, preserving their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in the local economy.

Coworking supports small business

Don’t let the mega-corps fool you: they are not job creators. They employ people only because it’s necessary for the creation and dissemination of their products and services, not because they want to revitalize a town. Small to mid-sized businesses are the lifeblood of a local economy. They live and work and shop locally, and give a crap about the personal lives of their employees.

Shocking fact: 95% of coworking desks are occupied by a small business. (Ok I made that stat up, but you get the picture — most). It might be a freelance writer who just formed her LLC or couple of buddies who decided to create their own design company. Either way, these businesses are driving down unemployment rates at a time when multi-billion dollar companies are still laying people off. Joining a coworking space means these tiny businesses will have a safe place to grow and learn from more experienced members. When’s the last time you saw Wal-Mart swapping trade secrets with the new family-owned retailer?

Coworking creates a network for collaborative consumption

The quest for bigger, better, faster has crippled our economy. People are tired of keeping up with the Jones’ and just want to keep their families fed. Collaborative consumption means reusing, growing, renting, bartering and making instead of buying. But the sharing economy demands a network of friendly, trustworthy people to make it work. Like the people who work right next to you in a coworking space.

Yes, coworking allows you to share your professional expertise and network with other successful freelancers. But you could do that at a once a month meetup. What makes coworking unique is the sharing that takes place on a personal level–be it a potluck meal or vegetable seeds or a ride to a conference in Denver.

When a community is connected and open to sharing, people save money, learn new skills, and reduce their impact on the environment. New ideas emerge, problems are solved in creative ways, and the community at large reaps all the rewards of a happy independent workforce.

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