By Emily Jankauski
Starting a business can be expensive. Startup costs alone threaten a business’ potential growth and future success. Co-working spaces offer a professional, low-cost shared environment for startup companies, small businesses, creators and entrepreneurs. Equipped with amenities and a professional atmosphere, co-working spaces supply business professionals with a collaborative working space that suits their customized needs.
The capital city currently has at least two co-working facilities: Your Corner Office and Innovate Springfield.
Established in February 2016, Your Corner Office has three separate plans for local entrepreneurs and business professionals. Located on the second floor of 427 E. Monroe St., Your Corner Office offers furnished co-working environments at prices ranging from $20 per day to $150 per month. There are also private offices available for rent ranging from $425-$700 a month. For someone who simply needs event space or a conference room, those can be rented on an hourly basis.
Innovate Springfield, located at 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, offers various memberships which can include desks, workstations or office spaces ranging in price from $50 to $600 per month. Innovate Springfield also serves as a business incubator offering its entrepreneurial members concept development, collaborative networking, management development and various amenities.
Imagine several varying businesses, creators and entrepreneurs in a single office space seated side-by-side where each professional has the opportunity to network and brainstorm with one another. Katie Davison, executive director of Innovate Springfield, describes the collaborative format as “a group of people that you work with that you can bounce ideas off of.”
“You have that same atmosphere that you get with a larger company,” she said, “but you can still have that when you’re just starting a business.”
Melissa Hamilton is president of Synergetic Solutions, Inc. which operates Your Corner Office. Hamilton says co-working allows businesses to work independently and network while reducing overhead costs. The collaborative spaces offer amenities such as Wi-Fi, printing, mail services and high speed Internet – costs which often prove challenging for startup companies or individuals to bear alone. Co-working facilities also provide event
spaces, studios and conference rooms, which Hamilton says benefit startup businesses or smaller businesses which “want to have a
Local entrepreneurs and startup companies certainly have a home in Springfield with the growing need for co-working spaces. Jeff Sommers, an architect and founding principal of Square Root Architecture + Design, uses co-working spaces both in the Chicago and Springfield areas. Sommers describes the atmosphere of co-working spaces as “a step above working out of a coffee shop” – in other words, the fun without the frustrations.
“It’s difficult to have a professional conversation with hip-hop music and babies crying in the background,” he said.
In terms of who benefits from a collaborative space, Sommers says frequent co-working users include graphic designers, web designers, coders, creatives, online entrepreneurs on websites like Etsy and even mothers seeking to get back into the workforce. “I think it could attract anyone who doesn’t want to work around their kitchen table,” he said.
Hamilton and Davison agree that the capital city has yet to reach its saturation point of co-working spaces. Hamilton says the challenge with the Springfield market is the lack of awareness about the benefits of co-working.
“It’s getting them (businesses and entrepreneurs) into the mindset of collaboration and out of the traditional office space,” she said.
Hamilton notes education is a vital element for Springfield’s co-working growth, as entrepreneurs who work from home – and even a few downsizing businesses – may not know about the collaborative workspace concept.
Likewise, Davis sees room for growth in Springfield’s relatively young co-working sector.
“There’s definitely a need for it,” Davison said. “I don’t think we’ve even started yet.”