The new company has leased out two storefronts at 437 North St. and has built out all of the amenities of a traditional office but will operate on a membership-based model.
"It runs similar to a gym, on a membership model. Members will purchase a monthly membership and come and go as little or as much as they please and access all of the amenities of a traditional office space. Your utilities are included, your printing is included, you have access to conference rooms," Tim Burke, one of the principals, said.
Burke is part of Mill Town Capital and teamed up with local entrepreneur Scott Moraes, who founded Radiance Yoga, on the project. They've spent about $100,000 in renovations and furnishing to create various types of offices, conference rooms, a kitchen, and shared space. They'll have a copier and printer, high-speed internet, and video conferencing technology. Small businesses or entrepreneurs can now become members to use all of those amenities.
The project not only makes it easier for small startups or those who work from home to make the jump of opening an office but also makes connections among workers. The space is eyed to foster a deeper connection between various businesses and workers.
"We're also looking to help provide a physical location for that entrepreneurial ecosystem. We want to have events, speaker series, lunch and learns, resources for entrepreneurs. We're going to having a startup a class in late September with Lever in North Adams," Burke said.
"We want to get the business open and get people in here, but we also want to be a physical location where entrepreneurs can come and get support."
Lever, something of an entrepreneurial support system, operates Cloud85, a co-working office space, and Maker's Mill, a co-work space for artisans, both on Main Street in North Adams.
Burke said co-working spaces create a community, whereas many who work remotely are isolated. The business types can range from web design to advertising to human resource consulting and that mix allows for shared resources and expertise.
"It is people who are working on different things but there could be commonalities about what people need. You could be a web developer who needs some help with graphic design. Instead of Googling graphic designers, you can be working right next to one," Burke said.
At the location, there are both open office spaces with desks or places for a laptop and a living room-type environment, small private offices for a two- or three-person operation, and larger premium suites with one having North Street frontage for signage. About 50 people can work there at the same time comfortably, he said.
"We're really interested in working with people who love what they do because it makes it a more positive environment. That's what we want out of this space, energy, buzz, and life. We don't want it to be a downer of a space or a library," Burke said.
The company has spent about six months renovating the interior.
Burke said the company has done a lot of research into the demand and put out an email blast back in the winter and got back some 150 indications of interest.
They've marketed the new place on Facebook and held meetings with prospective members. Already two of the smaller officers are called for, numerous flex memberships have been sold, and one premium office is booked.
The company is also offering day passes for $25 for people who just want to test it out or only need that type of space sporadically.
"It is a big investment on our part but we think it is a good model and a good business for Pittsfield. If you look around, co-working spaces are popping up all over the country. The growth rates are pretty phenomenal. But, Pittsfield is a gap. It doesn't have a co-working space," Burke said.
The space is located in the former Ferrin Art Gallery and neighboring retail space.
"It has basically been a complete gutting of this space. We've done a total renovation. We've done demolition on walls. We built all of these offices from scratch," Burke said.
That end of North Street was also a draw for Framework. There has been a budding energy in that section with Dottie's Coffee Lounge, Methuselah, Mission, and Hotel on North, and Burke hopes the co-working space will help further that vitality.
"We're looking at this as a project designed to create some energy in this area of North Street, continue to improve foot traffic. With proximity to things like Dottie's, Mission, and Methuselah, the hotel, this area is a good location for a business like this," Burke said. "We feel really good about the vibrancy and growth in Pittsfield."
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