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Co-Working Spaces: A New Culture of Creativity

MatchBOX Coworking Studio – which opened its “coffee shop combined with an office park in a garage” doors in 2014 — now boasts more than 250 members.
Nick Rogers | Monday, May 01, 2017

Seizing inspiration for innovative ideas is tough enough for upstart entrepreneurs. Throw in the isolation of working from home, jockeying for coffeehouse plug-ins, and talking shop over hissing espresso machines, and it’s no wonder lightbulbs take time to flicker on.

Seizing inspiration for innovative ideas is tough enough for upstart entrepreneurs. Throw in the isolation of working from home, jockeying for coffeehouse plug-ins, and talking shop over hissing espresso machines, and it’s no wonder lightbulbs take time to flicker on.

Enter coworking spaces – catering to those without overhead or obligation to rent office space and catalyzing creative types to collaborate, whether conjuring the next product we can’t live without or telecommuting for companies several states away. Open 24/7 – with plenty of coffee and snacks – they blend professional-office amenities with the anything-goes alchemy of crossing creative streams.

“Someone in a suit and tie can feel like they could do business here. So could someone with dyed hair and nose rings,” says Mikel Berger, co-founder of Lafayette’s nonprofit MatchBOX Coworking Studio – which opened its “coffee shop combined with an office park in a garage” doors in 2014 and now boasts more than 250 members.

“Come for the conference rooms, stay for the community’ is what we hoped would happen and is happening.”

MatchBOX, The Railyard (opening this month in West Lafayette’s Purdue Research Park) and Fusion 54 (in the works for Crawfordsville) are all coworking spaces to which Tipmont REMC has given financial support – helping lower prices for coworking members (currently under $500 annually) and honoring its long history of promoting economic development.

“Partnering with groups like Tipmont helps us truly reflect the community-wide nature of the space,” says Greg Napier, Purdue Research Foundation's Director of Purdue Research Parks and Physical Facilities.

“These innovative coworking spaces in our backyard provide atmospheres that foster collaboration and entrepreneurship to benefit us all,” says Jason Monroe, Tipmont REMC’s Manager of Energy Services.

Coworking is not folding chairs and card tables in extra office space. MatchBOX offers a workroom with a bench area, drill press, and 3D printer … as well as a fire-engine red slide to blow off some steam. The Railyard — whose 22,000-square-foot footprint ranks in the top 5% of coworking spaces worldwide — includes a high-tech laboratory customizable to chemical and biological research.

But the spaces aren’t solely for science. Get a look at Lafayette’s coworking categories: Student, spiritual, agriculture, biotechnology, design, health, real estate, insurance, consulting, marketing, web design, architecture, nonprofit, audiovisual, engineering, law, human resources, retail, art, financial, software development, technology, writing, and education. The largest group? “Other.”

“Coworking creates social collisions between entrepreneurs and others who work in the space or visit it,” says Paul Moses, the Purdue Research Foundation's Director of Business Recruitment / Retention and Research Collaboration. “The broader the base of entrepreneurs, the stronger the results. We call it ‘planned serendipity.’ ”

An entry point into Purdue University's innovation ecosystem for those within — or outside — the university community, the Railyard is inspired by Purdue’s locomotive heritage. It weds modern architecture to turn-of-the-20th-century antiques, and the Express Café will serve breakfast and lunch in a sophisticated setting.

So … are coworking spaces spurring development and stimulating north central Indiana’s economy? Berger says MatchBOX is finishing up its three-year numbers.

“The whole concept helps individuals and businesses become more flexible and nimble in the economy, and we’re seeing enough anecdotal signs, stories, and patterns that it’s doing the work it needs to,” he says.

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MatchBOX


The Railyard

  • 1281 Win Hentschel Blvd.
  • Kurz Purdue Technology Center
  • West Lafayette, IN
  • Purdue Railyard
  • Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017

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Nick Rogers

Nick Rogers

Nick Rogers lives in Lafayette with his wife, Abby. When not coordinating communications for Purdue Extension, he’s likely at the movies, competing at (or hosting) trivia, or otherwise out and about enjoying Tippecanoe County.

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