Coworking in Reading, Pennsylvania
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- San Francisco: Next Space Features: Wi-Fi, phone, mail services, locker, conference room, presentation equipment, free coffee. Daily charge is $20.
- 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
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
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!