IEI Economy: Coworking

IEI Economy: coworking success

Cristina Roman was working for a large corporation in Washington, D.C. when she had the opportunity to telecommute. She moved to Raleigh, but quickly found that she wasn’t satisfied working at home or in coffee shops. Wanting to be around others, she and her sister, Sara Rose, worked together to develop the Raleigh Forum, a local coworking space that enabled telecommuters, entrepreneurs and small businesses alike to share a collaborative workspace. Now encompassed as part of the coworking space the Raleigh HUB, these sisters work to engage communities in coworking.

Coworking is a work environment where entrepreneurs, small business owners, telecommuters and others share office space. These individuals usually do not work for the same company, but can collaborate with one another to reach new markets, establish new business contacts and develop new skills. 

This workspace plays a strong economic role as well. IEI identified approximately 16 spaces across the state, and many more are in the process of being developed. Each space hosts dozens of individual businesses.

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photo courtesy of Coworx

For example, roughly 30 businesses operate out of Coworx, a coworking space located at Lumina Station in Wilmington. “In terms of the local economy, I’d be incredibly interested to see the economic impact [of this space],” said Coworx founder Bryan Kristof.

This kind of innovative space is particularly attractive to “Generation Z,” those born between 1990 and 2002, who will make up North Carolina’s core workforce by 2020.

In February 2012, more than 200 of these youth gathered at the Emerging Issues Forum to discuss the upcoming challenges and potential solutions for their generation. Developing more coworking spaces was one of their top priorities.

In response, IEI coordinated a task force to identify and develop a repository of existing coworking spaces in North Carolina, along with best business and development practices. This paper – and resulting network of coworking owners – was published in the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal and generated much interest at the 2012 Entrepreneurship Summit.

Economic developers Jenny Mizelle and Irena Krstanovic were searching for new ways to nurture entrepreneurship in their town of Holly Springs when they came across coworking.

“We know how important entrepreneurship is to the individual and to the community as a whole for long term, sustainable economic health. One of our goals is to foster the creative economy in Holly Springs and discussions with folks in that area disclosed a need for gathering places to collaborate and network,” said Mizelle. “Those concepts are inherent in coworking spaces, and we have a significant number of home based businesses that may utilize co-working space, so we feel it is a good time to test this concept for our community.”

As a result of these efforts, Mizelle and Krstanovic are actively assessing the feasibility of establishing and sustaining a coworking space downtown.

From the entrepreneurs in Holly Springs to the Roman sisters in Raleigh, coworking spaces help North Carolina businesses collaborate creatively and grow our local economies. 




Coworking in North Carolina

This report details the existing coworking spaces and owners in north carolina as of June 2012.

coworking interviews

Listen to these coworking space owners as they share best practices for starting and sustaining a coworking space.

COWORKING IN the emerging issues commons

See what others are doing and share your own ideas and actions in the coworking space of the emerging issues Commons.


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