coworking in Ao Nang

Coworking in Reading, Pennsylvania


Holly Landau

Holly Landau works part-time in New York City. She utilizes a coworking space there. Holly also works in various places around the country, including Spring Township, PA, the location of her management-consulting firm, Landau Leadership. She was asked by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berks County, Pennsylvania, to serve on a task force for the Chamber’s new initiative, Catalyst on Commerce (pdf).



Top 10 US coworking spaces (PC Magazine)

Catalyst on Commerce is a coworking space, a new effort in this relatively small city. It has already proven successful in other areas around the country. PC Magazine says there are nearly 400 coworking spaces nationwide, and the number is growing rapidly. Here is a list of their top ten spaces:

  1. Chicago: The Coop  Features: 14 workspaces, T1 Wireless, copier/printer/fax, kitchen, bathroom, AC, office dog, local artist showcase. Offers a daily rate ($20) with no long-term commitment.
  2. Los Angeles: Kleverdog Coworking Features: 20 desks, Wi-Fi, copier/printer, free coffee, lockers, presentation equipment, conference room. Offers a daily rate ($20) with no long-term commitment.
  3. Atlanta: Strongbox West  Features: free Wi-Fi, free coffee, printer/copier, shredder, kitchen, Sirius satellite radio, lounge with TV and gaming. Daily charge ($10, cash only).
  4. Miami: Miami Shared  Features: Basic includes Wi-Fi, free coffee (and bagels on Monday) locker, parking. Custom add-ons include placement for company logo on office entrance, receptionist service and building mailing address. Daily rates begin at $35.
  5. Boston: TSP Digital Lounge   Features: Wi-Fi and use of Mac laptops, as well as Mac repair services as needed. Other amenities are nearby (post office, office supplies, coffee shops, restaurants.) Daily rate is $5.
  6. San Diego: Hive Haus – Hive 770 and Hive 241  Features: Wi-Fi, mail services, fax, reception, secretarial services, presentation equipment, printer/copier, kitchen, AC. With two locations, you select the one that fits you best—shared workstations at Hive 770, or group space/private office space at Hive 241. Daily rate is $35.
  7. Seattle: The Branch Coworking Office  Features: 18 desks, Wi-Fi, laser printer, flat-screen monitors, conference room, presentation equipment, free coffee and tea, kitchen, bike storage, and it’s dog friendly. Daily rate is $20.
  8. Philadelphia: Independents Hall  Features: 35 desks, Ethernet, wi-fi, conference room, AV presentation equipment, printer/scanner/copier, free coffee, lounge with La-Z-Boy, Xbox 360, library of magazines and books. Daily charge: $25.
  9. San Francisco: Next Space  Features: Wi-Fi, phone, mail services, locker, conference room, presentation equipment, free coffee.  Daily charge is $20.
  10. New York City: WIX Lounge  Features: Free; includes Wi-Fi and power, meeting space, event space; Other services: pro-to-peer consultation on website design and marketing. No daily charge; available on first-come, first-serve basis. Calendar of events is posted.

Small urban coworking vs big city coworking


Hub Vilnius coworking, Poland

Coworking is a bold, new initiative for this small urban area. But does it stack up with PC Magazine’s top 10 choices? Take a look: Wi-Fi, lounge area (with artwork), conference rooms with AV equipment, conference call capability, bathrooms, kitchen with refrigerator/microwave/coffee, lockers, mailing address and mail slots, networked copier/printer, free parking, paper shredder, soda and water available, cubicles with locked drawers, private offices, keyed entrances, shared workspace tables and lounges. Monthly rates begin at $125 [that works out to less than $4.25 per day, but there is no daily rate offered]. Lack of a daily rate schedule seems to be the main difference.

“Starbucks doesn’t cut it.”


Can coworking facilities in a smaller city be appealing to businesses and entrepreneurs? I wasn’t able to find many spaces for smaller urban areas, so I couldn’t easily compare offerings, usage or rates. A coworking facility could be the engine of economic growth in a small urban area, allowing members to learn from members, collaborate in starting new ventures, grow existing businesses, expand business networks and allow for telework opportunities.

Holly Landau has found it appealing. “My team is throughout the U.S.,” says Landau. She was asked to join the Catalyst on Commerce task force because she is already coworking in a space in New York City. “When we meet to build curriculum…Starbucks doesn’t cut it. It’s too noisy, you can’t spread out your paperwork.” A shared workspace provides just what she needs.

Location, location, location


Catalyst on Commerce coworking center

Looking at Catalyst on Commerce, think about the easy drive—less than 30 minutes across town during rush hour. It’s about 1 hour and 20 minutes from downtown Philadelphia and the Philadelphia International Airport, too. It’s just over 2 hours to New York City and no more than 3 hours to DC (if you hit their traffic right). Think about the opportunities for collaborative ventures and professional growth. Coworking spaces are designed to allow participants to network and contribute ideas and creativity. Placed strategically, other small urban communities could offer many of the same advantages.

Do you know of other successful coworking facilities in small urban areas? Please share them in the comments below!


Holly Landau: @LeadershipMuse, Linkedin

images: cyberhill, mdanys, sicnarf, Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce

10 Comments | Add a comment

  1. Alex Hillman says:

    Check out The Candy Factory for an example of a thriving “small urban” coworking community:

    The key here isn’t population density, like many would have you think. In fact, suburban and small urban communities are probably going to be BETTER at coworking because the people that live there are more likely to know each other better.

    That’s the key to coworking – not the desks, not the amenities, etc. The social work environment that allows relationships to form BEFORE people work together – that’s the magic.

    • admin says:

      That’s a very motivating thought, Alex, especially coming from a coworking space in Philly. I’d like to see a strong rural neighborhood form its own coworking place to see what happens. Wonder if a strong sense of community translates well into work… Great insight, thanks!

  2. Anne says:

    Thanks Alex for the shout out! The Candy Factory is a thriving coworking space in Lancaster PA. So the answer to your post is YES and Yes, we’re living proof! In fact we have two members from the Reading area.

    If you look to build a community and not just desks and wifi (like Alex stated) your chances of success will be greater.

    Myself and the other founding members of the Candy Factory had started to build a network 3 years prior to opening our doors. That network helped us get the message out and some even signed up for memberships before we opened. We were sure to do our research and tap into the coworking community.

    We’re lucky to have strong leaders within the movement like Alex who are willing to give of their time and help us along. Anyone looking to start a coworking space regardless of their location should really do their research, become active in the coworking community and use the cowoking wiki and google group resources.

    We don’t offer private office spaces or cubicles and feel we’re better for it. I feel that working in an open environment allows for more collaboration and networking between members. You get to know someone fast when you’re sitting beside them each day.

    I believe a strong professional community can be build anywhere as long as the coworking philosophy is taking into consideration, the focus is community and helping move this movement forward.

    • admin says:

      That’s a lot of solid info, Anne. Thanks for sharing. So now my new question is, in order to start a coworking space, is it necessary to carefully select your first members from people you know? The action figure in me seems to think that “knowing is half the battle.”

  3. Chip, thank you for sharing this information on Catalyst. In the case of the Chamber, we had space at our Spring Ridge location that wasn’t being used to its fullest extent. We wanted to do something with it that would help foster a culture of entrepreneurship in the Greater Reading area. We put together a task force of entrepreneurs together, of which Holly was an important part of, to help us with this. There is no other similar cowork space in the Reading area, so we are excited about the opportunities this will bring to the Greater Reading area entrepreneurs.

    • admin says:

      Judging from the other comments, your idea to form a task force of entrepreneurs was a good move. I know Reading (and many other places) can really benefit from some new innovation right now. Since Catalyst is a city initiative, it will be interesting to see how it interacts with the community.

  4. Henry says:

    Co working space is a great place for your first offices. Does not matter if it is in the city or small places. Co working space can help you to build a good business network.

  5. Dan says:

    We started a coworking space in South Bend, Indiana, called The Branch. South Bend is a city with right around 100,000 people. We’re working to find the folks that are unsatisfied with working from home, or those that have starting something new and not wanting the isolation and expense of their own office.

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