Powell River’s coworking and innovation space is starting to take shape.
Located above Powell River Public Library, Coastline Colab will provide opportunities for people requiring space to situate their businesses and enterprises in, as well as a place to deliver programming.
Claudia Medina, community outreach coordinator with Powell River Creative Economy and Innovation Initiative, outlined the coworking and collaboration space at a small business workshop on October 23. She said she is excited that the initiative is at a point now where it looks like the doors will be open in January, and that a physical manifestation of all the work in the last year and a half will be created.
The goal of creating the space, she said, is diversifying the economy with an eye toward looking at how to support people who are looking at different ways of engaging a business.
“A lot of the engagement that has happened over the last while has led to the point where we are now able to create a space,” said Medina. “Originally, we hoped we would have the doors open earlier but as we all know things take a little longer in terms of getting certain elements figured out.
“We do have the space but it’s in a transitional state. Right now, it’s a nice, beautiful, empty box.”
Medina said the whole idea of a coworking and innovation space is rooted in connecting. She said through the time spent on lead-up creative economy initiative work, there was a lot of community engagement. Initially, there was thought of using the big space in Townsite Market as a coworking space. Through the time the engagement was transpiring, it became evident the start had to be within the means of the organizers.
“Rather than putting a lot of energy into how to raise a lot of money to create that space, we wanted to create something smaller, build it and start growing that way,” said Medina. “We were really lucky, doing some grant writing to get the space we are going to be opening up.”
Coworking involves having a place to go to work but it is also a place where working people can go and connect with others. That was one of the things planners heard frequently.
Medina said coworking is growing around the world. If one is only working from home, it is hard to connect with others; having space where a number of people are working and interacting will provide more opportunity to connect, build what they want to build and grow what they want to grow, she added.
“Coworking is working together in a space and working on your own, but also knowing in that space, things can happen to help catalyze and help things more outside of your silo,” said Medina.
She said the theory is that with all of the different factions in that space, things can get really exciting.
“It is actually a global movement and it’s something that’s been growing for quite a long time now,” said Medina. “The idea of coworking has always meant to be something in the community and something to support local economic and creative development. This is essentially a community-driven workspace.
“It’s not necessarily like a regular office space. You are going to be interacting with people from many different backgrounds, industries or sectors. There’s possibilities for networking and there’s also the idea of creating social space where a lot of good things happen. Creating the space to do that is what we are looking at.”
Working out of coffee shops and homes have limitations and challenges, and sometimes, people need to get out of their own space, said Medina. The coworking space is creating something that is a cross-section between a café, a home environment and an office space, she added.
Medina said the coworking space itself isn’t huge, but it will have a common area, there will be places to store things, there will be info-walls for participants to post information on themselves, and a projector and screen for presentations. There will be a mini-library and a kitchenette, a phone room so those using the space can have privacy, an enclosed meeting room and high-speed internet.
The coworking space will also feature programming to help and support people in their business start-ups, covering a wide variety of topics, and a speakers’ series featuring interesting topics.
A fee and membership structure for the Coastline Colab is still under development.