By Ray York, Business Counselor for the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Green Bay

Sheboygan County, WI With a new patent produced every three days, the highly creative and driven entrepreneurs of Sheboygan County live and breathe the culture of innovation.  The Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) has recognized that to continue to drive this spirit of innovation, Sheboygan County needs more spaces for professionals and entrepreneurs to live, work, and play together.  One way to encourage this type of camaraderie is through coworking spaces.

So, what is a ‘coworking’ space? A coworking space is defined asthe use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.”

With 78% of coworkers in the US under the age of 40 (Source: Officevibe), and the consistent global growth of coworking space participants from 500,000 people in 2015 to over 2 million people settling into coworking spaces in 2018 (Source: GCUC), investors and employers have taken notice of this key opportunity with the growing generation of younger workers.  Entrepreneurs are also taking notice of coworking spaces and using the opportunity to create their small businesses when they might not be ready for facilities of their own.  Entrepreneurs and employers recognize the coworking opportunity can create benefits such as additional business-to-business engagement, easier onboarding, and ideation expansion.

Coworking spaces are not just for small business entrepreneurs; coworking spaces are helping larger corporations, schools, and likeminded individuals work together to create programming for the sake of innovating and employee recruitment efforts.  According to  Nakul Mathur’s article Why Co-working is Not Just for Small Businesses or Startups, “A ‘Co working Space’ is basically envisaged as a working environment populated by freelancers and professionals and entrepreneurs aspiring to get their ideas off the ground.  However, these type of flexible office spaces are not just restricted for freelancers and start-ups, rather there are corporations that are actively taking up the concept. The phenomenon has now been enough approaching and is facilitating much bigger and prestigious companies.”

According to GCUC, in 2017 the flexible space coworking sector emerged as the main growth driver within the office space industry.  Coworking spaces represented 29% of the overall growth in the office space industry in 2017.  

“People can work smarter and be more productive in coworking environments, but coworking environments have to make people feel safe and provide a sense of belonging, of mattering, cultivating relationships in an environment among people who care,” said Tryg Jacobson of Jake’s Café, a visionary and early adopter of the coworking trend in Sheboygan County.  “For coworking spaces to work, they need to provide more than just ‘functional benefits.’  For people to think smarter and be more productive they also need an environment that fulfills their ‘emotional benefits.’  It’s an environment that blurs the lines between work, family, and play.  A coworking community can’t and shouldn’t just be a place to work.  It must provide as much a sense of ‘validation’ as it does fun…all around.”

The SCEDC and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Green Bay have seen a trend with entrepreneurs asking for coworking spaces and incorporating this mentality into their business plans.  It is a trend that has grown on par with the global and national coworking movement.  When Sheboygan County lives, ‘co-works,’ and plays together, we drive more success in our communities!

For more information about SCEDC entrepreneurial services please email at info@SheboyganCountyEDC.com or call (920)452-2479.