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Coworking Spaces Influencing Economic Development in Indianapolis

Posted by chamberadmin on September 25, 2017

In Indianapolis, the traditional office environment and schedule is becoming a routine of the past, one coworking space at a time.

With a dozen locations and counting in Marion County alone, coworking spaces are quickly becoming an attractive alternative for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and organizations with remote options. In an increasingly entrepreneurial city, these coworking spaces are playing a role in fostering economic development. Encouraging entrepreneurial collaboration, revitalizing neighborhoods, and supporting innovation, coworking spaces are more than a place to work.

Last year, Rex Fisher had a vision of repurposing an old church and parsonage in Fountain Square into a coworking space. Working with Develop Indy’s Regulatory and Permitting Ombudsman*, Fisher was able to obtain permits necessary to start the renovation process, and now Switchboard is officially open for business.

“Switchboard is housed in an old church building that had long been abandoned and was an eyesore in the heart of the neighborhood. The beautification of this corridor is really important to the owners and developers, who have purchased two other abandoned properties along the street for future expansion of the office/co-working model,” explains Emily Vanest, Director of Switchboard.

A cultural district bursting with renovations and revitalization, Fountain Square has become a destination for the creative class. Home to artisans, musicians, and small business owners, it is a natural fit for Switchboard and other coworking spaces to come. Recognizing that artisan atmosphere, Switchboard employed local service providers.

“Our architect/designer is a neighbor, our furniture was designed by our neighbors; all of our art came from artists who live or work in this neighborhood. We wanted the Switchboard to uniquely reflect Fountain Square and be a celebration of the talent and skill that is here,” says Vanest.

Not only do coworking spaces use talent, they also develop talent.

“Through our community development via supporting local non-profits, festivals, and community organizations, our members see the impact of a strong, interconnected community, and in turn, have more ownership of living in Indianapolis. This ownership creates a want in them to buy local, because their company’s success also depends on a thriving Indianapolis. It’s a beautiful relationship in that our community pushes the growth of the local economy, and vice versa,” champions Drew Kincius, General Manager and Director of Community Outreach at The Bureau, another Indianapolis coworking space.

Working in a close proximity, entrepreneurs that utilize a coworking space are exposed to innovation and benefit from collaborative opportunities. “The coworking community in Indianapolis is creating a viable, low-cost-to-entry infrastructure for budding entrepreneurs to produce better, more focused work, but to also connect dots with other like-minded professionals to see their ambitions come to fruition,” further explains Kincius.

A city already praised for collaboration and community connectedness, Indy’s coworking spaces are another source of innovation. In a creative and open environment like a coworking space, entrepreneurs participate in idea sharing with people from diverse backgrounds they normally wouldn’t interact with in a typical office setting. Startups are fueling the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Indy, and many need a launch space to call home.

Dean Munn, Principal at Convergence Planning LLC, is a tenant at LEVEL in downtown Indianapolis. Praising the building’s art-deco architecture and modern workspaces, he loves the coworking space’s location on Monument Circle and the proximity to businesses it provides.

“Since we are still in start-up mode, and don’t know how quickly and how much we will grow in the next few years, LEVEL was a good fit for us. We are using both private office space and co-working space, and LEVEL allows us to scale our office space to meet our exact needs. Also, the co-work environment lets us mix with people from other innovative and creative small firms which makes for a more exciting and interesting work environment,” says Dean.

More than a space to work, coworking spaces are helping to fuel economic development in Indianapolis in many ways- supporting innovation, revitalizing communities, and encouraging entrepreneurship- one entrepreneur at a time.

 

*To learn more about Develop Indy’s permitting assistance mentioned above, contact Jim Rawlinson at jrawlinson(at)indychamber.com .


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