Cultivating home-grown economy

by Janna Marlies Maron on November 22, 2010

We were recently asked by our good friend Michael Scott for our opinion about how coworking affects local economic growth. Of course we have a lot of opinions on that topic!

Here’s our contribution to Michael’s post “The Economic Gardening of Small Business: A Boost to Cities?”

Cities can also boost their economic gardening efforts by actively supporting the reuse of empty  storefront and housing stock into shared space for small businesses. In response to the proliferation of Wi-Fi-enhanced coffeehouses as third places for budding entrepreneurs, low-cost shared office settings are sprouting up in local cities throughout the nation. Building off an emerging trend called “co-working,” these sites often serve as incubators of shared collaboration for promising startups and  second-stage companies.

Janna Marlies Santoro, cofounder of the Sacramento-based Think House Collective and an energetic advocate of shared office arrangements for small businesses, believes that small business owners, freelancers, self-employed professionals and other independent workers will be significantly more successful in a community environment where necessary support is readily available. “Independent professionals need support from others to make their business fly,” she says, “regardless of what form that support takes – encouragement, collaboration or feedback on a project. “Co-working provides that environment minus the upfront capital, long-term lease or huge overhead costs.”

Santoro says that amid the layoffs that have affected many people, self-employment often isn’t the first choice. But in a co-working community, that hesitant person can find the courage to pursue an independent career. “People are more comfortable stepping into the freelance role when surrounded by a community that is willing to provide knowledge and expertise, and sometimes even refer clients,” says Santoro.

Read the full article here, and contribute your thoughts in the comments section. What do you think about this concept of economic gardening, and how could it affect Sacramento?

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