Cary News

Co-working emerging in southwest Wake

Kimberly Goode, left, and Ian Henshaw, right, talk during a Cary Coworking meetup at the Cary Innovation Center on Feb. 25. Henshaw has been trying to build a co-working community in Cary before finding a home for it.
Kimberly Goode, left, and Ian Henshaw, right, talk during a Cary Coworking meetup at the Cary Innovation Center on Feb. 25. Henshaw has been trying to build a co-working community in Cary before finding a home for it. aspecht@newsobserver.com

Kimberly Goode is a data analyst who works remotely for a Virginia-based health care company.

She could work from her North Raleigh home, but she prefers a corporate environment surrounded by professionals.

Coffee shops can be too loud, and book stores don’t offer an appropriate setting for networking. So Goode, 42, is part of a growing number of people hoping to find a co-working space in suburban Wake County and Cary in particular.

“It’s about productivity,” she said, while at a Cary Coworking meetup at the Cary Innovation Center. “Co-working spaces give you a place to go when you want boundaries around your time.”

With co-working, people in different jobs and careers share a space for work. Entrepreneurs in recent years have opened co-working spaces in urban areas such as New York, San Francisco, Raleigh and Durham.

The spaces, which operate off membership fees, can be difficult to join depending on their location, size and mission. Some co-working spaces, including some in the Triangle, look for startups rather than individual employees or freelancers.

Others, such as Bull City Coworking in Durham or Wake Forest Coworking, cater to almost anyone who’s willing to rent space.

Soon, they may have new competition.

A group of professionals led by Cary businessman Ian Henshaw hopes to open a co-working space in downtown Cary, and Holly Springs town officials are negotiating with the owner of Mojo Coworking in Asheville to open a space in their downtown police station when police relocate later this year.

For both the towns and the co-working groups, the fit seems natural.

Local professionals want to co-work in an area where they can walk to lunch or coffee, Henshaw said. Meanwhile, leaders in Cary and Holly Springs want to spur economic development in their budding downtowns.

Holly Springs

Co-working spaces “can’t help but benefit everyone around them,” Holly Springs councilman Jimmy Cobb said. “They give people with home-based businesses a space to have meetings ... and obviously encourage people to come downtown. It’s a win-win.”

“It’s another opportunity for small businesses to get a foothold here in downtown Holly Springs,” Councilman Tim Sack said.

Holly Springs is still in talks with Craig McAnsh, who opened Mojo in 2011. But McAnsh said he thinks the southern Wake market might be a good fit for his co-working model, which has been successful thus far.

“Before we officially opened the door, all desks had been reserved,” he said of the 1,600-square-foot building he opened in Asheville. By 2012, there was enough interest to relocate to a 5,000-square-foot building.

Demand for work space in the area is high, according to Jenny Mizelle, the town’s economic development director. A local coffee shop recently started limiting the amount of time customers can sit at its tables because of how many people sit there with their laptops to work, she said.

Holly Springs police are expected to move to a new station at the corner of Holly Springs and Bass Lake roads in the fall. Town officials hope McAnsh can move in afterward to the 5,000-square-foot building. Talks have gone well so far, McAnsh said.

“It has be the right situation,” he said. “The amount of sophistication the Holly Springs leaders are bringing to the table is very reassuring for an entrepreneurial startup like this.”

Cary

While Holly Springs tries the open-it-and-they-will-come approach, Henshaw has been trying to build a co-working community in Cary before finding a home for it.

He started a “Cary Coworking” group on meetup.com in January, and it has since grown to 71 members. Debbie Castrodale, an independent sales consultant and coach for the Avadon group, is one of them. She’s worked from home in recent months, but is interested in joining a co-working community.

“I had no one to bounce ideas off of” at home, she said. “It was lonely.”

Castrodale fits the description of the tenants at Gather, a crafts shop and co-working space that opened in downtown Cary about 18 months ago.

Gather has gained 15 tenants since opening , said owner Michelle Smith. Many of them are women who want a cozy space away from home to work without distractions, she said.

“It feels like a home in that it’s a co-working space that’s not competitive,” Smith said. Co-working “is a trend that I don’t see stopping anytime soon.”

Henshaw, managing partner of Technology Tank LLC, says he’s not in competition with Gather.

“We work in collaboration with Gather,” he said. “If people want to be there, we encourage that.”

The Cary Innovation Center, which Henshaw operates as managing director, has used its conference room for co-working space. But it’s cramped, he said, so he’s held several meetings there to gauge interest in renting a building.

“We probably have six to 10 people ready to commit (to a downtown Cary co-working space) and a bunch more that are on the fence, that could very well commit if something happens.”

Lucky Pie Gallery recently vacated its 1,900-square-foot building at 111 W. Chatham St. The owner plans to demolish the building someday, Henshaw said. In the meantime, Henshaw said it might be available for a co-working space.

“We need to have some discussions,” he said. “But it’s very possible that, in a month or two, we could have a co-working space.”

Specht: 919-460-2608;

Twitter: @AndySpecht

Information

Contact Ian Henshaw about opening a co-working space in downtown Cary at 919-633-0055 or ian.henshaw@technologytank.org.

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