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Co-working space looks to offer community, camaraderie for local entrepreneurs
By Christopher Stephens | The Herald Bulletin | July 31, 2016
ANDERSON — An Anderson native is looking to offer entrepreneurs, telecommuters and artists a place to collaborate and learn from each other’s wins and losses.
Vesuvius, a co-working space, would tap into the growing number of people — projected to be 40 percent of the labor force by 2020 — who don’t travel to an office each day, but instead work from coffee shops, libraries, park benches or home offices.
The idea is that instead of pockets of creative professionals working by themselves in rented office space or home offices, Vesuvius founder M. Shane Bivens plans to bring them together in downtown Anderson.
The location is up in the air, but those people would be under one roof with a quasi-coffee shop vibe. If a person has questions about how to code, design, prototype or market a product, an answer is only a couple of questions and an introduction away.
“It’s all about building a network,” Bivens said. “The goal is to build up a hub and get people connected, doing business together.”
The idea taps into the emerging sharing economy, communities of professionals in different fields that help each other create products or companies that then work together collaboratively.
“It’s kind of like a gym membership,” Bivens said. A member pays a yearly fee for desk space, but what they are really paying for is access to fellow creative professionals who might answer questions, be there to bounce ideas off of or simply to help in motivation.
Also, as more and more companies allow workers the chance to telecommute, which a 2014 Harvard Business Review study notes is not only happening with more frequency but also bringing a 13 percent increase in productivity, a co-working place could give those telecommuters an office surrogate, Bivens said.
The co-working model is an offshoot of the Maker Space model, such as Anderson’s soon-to-come Purdue Polytechnic Institute, where people can gather to create products and prototypes. Instead of building physical products, a co-working space focuses on digital products including design, art or website building.
Vesuvius, named for the nickname of the natural gas well in the late 1800s that brought industry and wealth to Anderson, is slated to open later this year.
Greg Winkler, executive director of Economic Development Department in Anderson, is behind the idea.
“Having young people downtown changes the whole atmosphere,” he said at a recent pitch meeting to the Anderson Public Library Board. “Right now there’s a lot of energy, and I don’t want to lose that.”
The space would also offer artists space to sculpt, build or paint in an area separated from the intermingled co-working space, which Caryn Gorman, a local artist who backs the program, said was a perfect match.
“It’s a way to meet new people who are actually doing things,” she said. “Plus. it's always more heads are better than one.”
As well as office desks, Vesuvius will offer a coffee bar, small kitchenette, a conference room, lockers, telephone call booths and a stage for presentations.
Bivens sees the space as not only helping local entrepreneurs and freelancers but also bringing a revival to downtown.
“Downtown is the perfect place, because as companies form, or people move out, there are buildings here, empty, that are ready to be moved into,” he said. “Plus, I would love to see more foot traffic down here, bringing in small businesses, bars. … All we need is a bakery there and a brewery here and we are set.”
• Basic membership: $575 per year would include new desk with each visit, 24/7 access, fiber internet connection, coffee and snack bar, free or reduced-price event access
• Reserved membership: $575 per year, plus $150 per month would include all the elements of basic membership, plus a reserved desk and chair and locker access.
More information: vesuvius.in.