If I was an economic development professional in a small town, I’d build a local version of the Oklahoma City Co-working Collaborative. Instead of looking for that next big company to recruit, I’d grow my own. And instead of focusing on “big” local businesses for my incubator space, I’d build a co-working incubator, styled after this one.
Here’s the press release:
A new place to go for people officing out of coffee shops
okcCoCo, Oklahoma’s first coworking collaborative, hopes to brew up something big by offering freelancers and entrepreneurs an alternative to coffee shop “officing”.
The Oklahoma City Coworking Technology Collaborative opened to the public on May 1, 2009 in midtown Oklahoma City. okcCoCo’s goal is to provide freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses with the comfort of a coffee house and the resources of a professional workspace in which to meet and work on a flexible time-share basis.
Co-owners Derrick Parkhurst, Chad Henderson, and Tommy Yi identified with the challenges presented in freelance work and each came to the same conclusion: Oklahoma City needed a place where the freelance and entrepreneurial community could grow and enjoy shared opportunities. Inspiration hit, and the idea for okcCoCo was born.
“We would like this to be a stepping stone for the young entrepreneur to create a successful business,” said Parkhurst. “We want to do everything we can to encourage and support that enterprising spirit in Oklahoma.”
Parkhurst also issued a challenge to independent and freelance professionals to “Stop working in a coffee shop, now.” He promotes a modern office setting and flexible membership plans as a better option. While some independent professionals question the merit of a coworking atmosphere, Parkhurst maintains, “You can rent an office somewhere or sit in a coffee house, but you won’t get the added benefits of shared resources and knowledge. Here, you will be surrounded by other professionals who can give you a sense of community.”
People are increasingly using digital methods of communication, which frees them from the fixed office setting. However, homes and coffee shops do not always provide the resources necessary to a working environment. As a result, the OKCCoCo concept was greeted with enthusiasm by many local independent and freelance professionals.
“I love working in a place where I feel welcome to stay as long as I want,” said Rex Barrett, director of ProjectOKC, an organization that connects people to volunteer opportunities. “I’m able to connect with people who are start-ups just like me, and I’m not just taking up space in a coffee shop.”
okcCoCo provides members with 7500 square feet of space containing coworking areas, conference rooms, and an event space among other amenities such as free wi-fi and accessible parking. Membership plans are flexible and available in a range of affordable packages.
Photo of Monique Terrell and Derrick Parkhurst in one of the offices at the OKC CoCo. Photo by Becky McCray.
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Fred H Schlegel says
This looks like an interesting idea, but I’m not clear how it differs from places that rent conference rooms by the hour and such. Are you encouraging more interaction between the folks who operate from there?
Sandra Sims says
This is a great concept. I saw an article on a something similar in San Fran earlier this year. Glad to see it come to OKC.
This is different than by the hour rental because it offers more benefits, free wi-fi for example, plus the idea behind it is to foster collaboration and creativity; to support independent professionals.
Franchising has been known to energize local economies in the past. Have you noted the impact of franchises in your area’s economy?
Becky McCray says
Donald, many franchises have minimum population requirements that cut small towns out of the running. Bigger small towns see the opening of certain franchises, especially food places, as a sign of their “arrival.”