Coworking in Nashville, Tennessee

Coworkers at Colab in Nashville, Tennessee

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By all accounts, Nashville, Tennessee, has been on a great run recently. It’s got a hit TV show named after it, a bustling healthcare and music industry, and both The New York Times and Forbes have named it a top city in which to live. Jack White, Nicole Kidman and Johnny Depp all have homes there. It welcomes over 10 million tourists per year to its bustling downtown and authentic honky-tonk bars. And it has no state income tax, a fact that drives many business and entrepreneurs to relocate there. So how vibrant are the freelancing and coworking sectors in this up-and-coming city? Lets find out.

Nashville, Tennessee, affectionately known as Music City, U.S.A., has been growing steadily for the past 20 years and has recently received praise by both the New York Times and Forbes as a top city in which to live. Known world-wide for its vast and prolific country music industry, Nashville welcomes over ten million visitors a year, to its quaint streets and rowdy honky-tonks. And the buzz and excitement surrounding the city has only increased since the success of the ABC television showNashville,a well-written weekly drama about two competing country music stars. Although the health care and music industries are the order of the day, those who live and work in the city year-round get to take advantage of its trendy coffee shops, thriving art scene, low cost of living and optimal environment for both entrepreneurs and corporations. Freelancers and budding start-ups are finding it easier to work in the industry of their choice thanks to some new options for work spaces that have been sprouting up in the last few years.

Nestled on 4th Ave North, in the heart of Downtown Nashville, is modern coworking space CoLab. Originally founded to expand the idea of coworking to Nashville, it quickly became a popular place to work, just for the networking alone. Their wide ranging clientele includes designers, filmmakers, writers, programmers and marketing firms. As their website explains, “CoLab is proud to have become the communal hub for Nashville’s exploding entrepreneurial class. That means more than just tech startups and design firms. We’re Nashville’s go-to resource for emerging endeavors of every stripe – accountants to designers, coders to attorneys, artists to non-profits.” The creative vibe at CoLab is palpable and in addition to the open, fun and coffee-filled areas of the coworking space, members can also rent traditional office space if they require the privacy or necessity of a more intimate place to work. Giving it some extra cache, CoLab also has recently opened a small exhibition space during the locally famous Downtown Art Crawl, which floods downtown with giddy, art-seeking crowds every first Saturday of the month.

With locations in the posh area of Belle Meade and the ever-expanding suburb of Cool Springs, ESpaces has filled a void for corporate freelancers and consultants by combining a more traditional office space with the flexibility and open design of a coffee shop environment. Clients can choose to work from lounge chairs with tablet arms, to cafe tables, to work stations with raised computer stands. Catering to the “mobile professional,” they offer everything a busy entrepreneur would need, including meeting rooms, copy machines and scanners, wi-fi and myriad coffee and tea choices. Members  get all this, plus access to special networking events, and like most coworking spaces these days, membership is on a month to month basis, there are no long term contracts involved.

Despite the rise in the number and style of coworking spaces, many freelancing Nashvillians still flock to two of the city’s best loved coffee shops. Fido, in the classically cool neighborhood of Hillsboro Village, attracts all kinds of folks. Due to it’s location near Vanderbilt University, you can always find a large number of students there, but it’s also home to musicians, artists and hungry tourists. They consistently have some of the best coffee and grub in town, as well as offering craft beers and select wines. A word to the wise however, they have become so popular that they will often cut off wi-fi during peak lunch hours in order to turn tables for the hungry masses. Bonus: when you’re done working, it’s very easy to saunter across the street for a flick and a drink at the Belcourt Cinema, Nashville’s well loved independent movie house.

Another coffee shop frequented by the freelancing tribe, is Frothy Monkey. One of the first businesses to open up in the now gentrified area of 12 South, Frothy Monkey has built a huge and loyal following over the years. At virtually all times of the day you can find an army of musicians, Belmont University students, designers, photographers and the rest of the thirsty people in the city, chatting over paperwork, discussing new albums, or plugging away at their laptops. The coffee and food here are top notch and there are ample plugs-ins, which can be hard to come by at some of the other coffee spots around town. Don’t leave the district though, until you’ve walked down the street to Las Paletas, for authentic mexican popsicles. So good they’ll make you completely forget about your ice cream cravings.

Aside from the coworking offices and the coffee shops, Nashville also has some interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses. One option, which is not necessarily a coworking space but still offers some substantial benefits is The Entrepreneur Center. It was founded through a public-private partnership with the goal of connecting entrepreneurs with mentors, investors and critical resources they need to accelerate the launch of a business. Membership in this non-profit gives you access to a special Toolkit to help guide the early stages of your business, access to a vast mentoring network and discounted rates for lectures and special events. They even sell their own blend of coffee, to help percolate those startup ideas.

Another option in the niche of helping businesses with their startup costs is the Nashville  Business Incubation Center. Located on the edge of downtown near the ever popular Nashville Farmer’s Market, The NBIC helps entrepreneurs by offering inexpensive office space, access to managerial and technical support, and a slew of on-sire support services . The group, run by the Tennessee State University College of Business, provides everything a young business would conceivably need. Entrepreneurs can get a lease for up to five years on office space, warehouse, or commercial kitchen rentals.

With so many options, the future certainly seems bright for freelancers and entrepreneurs in Nashville. No matter the industry, it has a laid back solution for your coworking needs, and the low tax environment makes it easy to build your brand and bring your ideas to life. Whether a corporate space, a creative group, a business mentorship or a coffee shop, there seems to be a place for every type of freelancer in the business. It’s easy to find a proper environment to hunker down and get work done before hitting the honky-tonks for that much sought after music, beer and whisky.


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