HUNTSVILLE, Alabama– What was once a boudoir and glamour photography studio will soon become a coworking space for aspiring entrepreneurs, freelancers and telecommuters under one roof in downtown Huntsville.
Downtown Huntsville, Inc. announced today it has leased a 1,500-square-foot space on 125 North Side Square to develop a shared working environment operated by BizTech, a technology-focused incubator in Huntsville.
The facility, which will be called Space to Be Co-working, was most recently home to Studio 125B and is next door to the popular Amendment XXI nightclub. The space will be managed by Jonathan Pease, BizTech’s new director of marketing and community relations.
Coworking is a growing workplace trend that has evolved in recent years as technology has allowed more people to work remotely or from home. Such spaces often involve a combination of shared desks and open space to promote collaborative relationships among people who may not work for the same company.
Pease said the environment, which will provide access to wireless printing, faxing, copying, coffee and Wi-Fi, will be attractive to both young and seasoned professionals who want to rent space at the second-floor building.
“It’s going to be trendy, it’s going to be sophisticated, it’s going to be classy, but it will also have a very cool and laid-back kind of vibe to it,” he said. “… The person we’re looking for is the person who wants to get out of the house and wants to have a place where they can go other than Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, where they can meet other people who are creative and of like mind.”
The new coworking space in Huntsville is designed to inspire small business growth through support and mentoring, workshops, education and events, Pease said.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s College of Business Administration, the exclusive presenting sponsor for the project, is donating $17,000 toward the effort in exchange for 10 memberships and after-hours access to the facility to hold events.
John Whitman, visiting professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at UAH, said ideas for events include business accelerator workshops, CEO movie nights, hacking/coding seminars, open pitch sessions, financing and funding classes, UAH faculty and alumni special interest group meetings, and a Startup Stories series.
“This is a list of eight programmatic ideas we think could bring this place alive every evening,” he said. “We can more than pack it every night of the week and many of these events could be open to the public.”
The space is set to launch in the next two to three weeks, pending no delays. Pease said he and registered yoga instructor/tech entrepreneur Amanda Dorsett will also host regular networking events to give entrepreneurs, small business owners and creative professionals an opportunity to meet and collaborate.
In late January, DHI revealed plans for a new retail startup business incubator called The Clinton Row Project at Clinton Avenue and Jefferson Street. Belle Chevre, an award-winning goat cheese creamery in Elkmont, will be the anchor tenant of the development, which launched with a soft opening March 1.
DHI Chief Executive Officer Chad Emerson has said there is a “very real possibility” of a future downtown cooperative for startups that are past the incubator stage but are not quite ready to establish a permanent storefront.
In the future, Emerson said he would like to see an entire range of downtown working options, such as conventional offices, business incubators, coworking spaces and accelerators.
“We would like to have all of these in downtown so that depending on what stage your business is in, you’ll have a space that fits your needs,” he said. “That’s what a mature, innovative downtown has when you look at Chattanooga or especially Nashville.”
To discuss rates, space availability, business or community involvement opportunities and other inquiries about the new coworking space, contact Pease at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 18, 2014