New Coworking Space Helps Economic Revitalization
After working a part-time job and following his passion for real estate on the side, Troy Evans was burned out. He found a way to follow his true calling by joining a coworking space—a collaborative effort between 40 Below and the Syracuse Technology Garden. While setting up shop in Syracuse’s first coworking space, Evans experienced the benefits of working on his real estate business alongside other independent professionals.
“My ideas grew faster,” said Evans. “I was more creative. There’s just an excitement around meeting new people.”
As Evans’ business gained momentum, so did the idea of establishing a dedicated coworking location in Syracuse. What started as 12 coworkers in a “cafeteria-looking” space inside the Tech Garden is now Syracuse CoWorks—a nonprofit organization with 55 coworking members that is housed in its own space located at 201 E Jefferson Street. The Syracuse CoWorks mission is to facilitate vital business connections between independent professionals that will benefit Syracuse’s innovation corridor.
A $7,500 Community Foundation grant helped outfit the new space with office and meeting furniture. The open-concept, modern location holds 30 desks, comfortable lounge spaces, five private office spaces and conference rooms. The space is designed to allow individual professionals to effectively collaborate.
“Those contacts are going to lead to new business opportunities that have yet to be seen,” said Evans.
Current members of Syracuse CoWorks include a cabinet maker, health coaches, internet security professionals, a t-shirt manufacturer, marketing professionals and software developers. Membership begins at $75 per month.
The relationships built here help revitalize Syracuse’s economy. Evans points out that a study shows the average business revenue increases by 25 percent after coworking for four months. Say for example that a coworker needs a website for their business. Rather than searching for a service online, they can ask their neighboring coworker who may have the skills needed or knows of another coworker who does.
“I watch this happen every day already,” said Evans.
Brian Caufield, proprietor of Folksware Technologies, a technology development company, said that coworking is critical to his business and his personal happiness. Much of Caufield’s job entails long days of work on a computer screen.
“The hard part for developers is that we are introverts,” he said. “It’s almost a requirement if you’re going to stare at a computer screen for long periods of time.”
The human connection gained from coworking is crucial for him.
“I can’t just be in my own cubicle counting code and expect that my next job is going to be there when this one ends,” he said. “I have to be actively cultivating my network and let people know what I’m working on and what I’m good at and what I’m excited about.”
Simply bouncing ideas off of each other can help tackle business problems said John Talarico, Syracuse CoWorks board chair and cofounder of a custom software shop: “Everyone brings their own outside perspective.”
Thanks to the connections Evans made through the coworking experience, he says he has found a new passion for creating real estate that connects people. This passion drives the heart of Syracuse CoWorks’ next development: Common Space Syracuse. The floor above the coworking space will turn into a “coliving space.” The space will feature micro-unit apartments, shared community spaces and a liaison to plan shared meals and events. Construction starts in July and the space will be finished in the fall.