In a world where the number of co-working spaces is rapidly rising (for obvious reasons), their role in regional communities is particularly significant and well worth supporting.
Value adding to rural communities
The constant uncertainty that comes with this pandemic has meant that economies are suffering; particularly small economies that rely on a certain amount of passing trade and tourism.
While small businesses, sole traders, entrepreneurs, and professionals grapple with maintaining their own business and securing income, we all admit to missing the hum that comes when a town is obviously thriving. That’s where co-working spaces are playing a role, both expected and unexpected.
Co-working spaces are a visible place of industry. Open doors, and in the case of BOOM Clunes, flags out and lights on.
They tell a story of progress, resilience and aspiration that not only strengthens those who are directly a part of that the space, but to those observing.
Many co-working spaces in regional areas are diverse. They might include a coffee shop, or retail outlet just like we have in Clunes.
By doing this they demonstrate understanding that they need diverse income streams - making them a longer term bet - but they also add to the local economy. One more shop open is another experience for locals and visitors alike. Sometimes, in the case of BOOM Clunes, co-working spaces are community led which means volunteers help keep the shop and services open longer hours than small business owners might be able to manage - so a plus for all.
Interestingly, many rural co-working spaces bring new life to historic buildings. Once residences or under-utilised facilities, many co-working spaces like BOOM Clunes open up historic buildings to be enjoyed (and preserved) in ways that might not have happened for years and bodes well for the future.
Astutely, co-working spaces outside of big cities are quick to recognise the value of retaining their unique characteristics while still linking to wider business networks beyond their town boundaries. In Clunes this means partnering with experts like Jobs Victoria (who visit weekly) to provide co-workers (and the community) with easy access to mentoring, workshops and online training. For BOOM Clunes, creating these connections is a huge part of what we intend to do. Business resilience, for individuals or for big organisations, is vital at anytime (but more so now). Access to the right connections and support when you most need it, will be critical.
How can you be a part of this?
BOOM Clunes is a 12 month start up. Built around a diverse income model to enhance its viability, this social enterprise needs at least 50 co-workers to hit the tipping point to then take-up a further 3-year lease option.
Co-worker passes are $275 inc GST, valid until April 2022.
“We have people who are now regularly using our co-working space,” said President Siobahn Altham. “But we’ve also had others who’ve signed up because they want to support a space like this in Clunes. They may not regularly use the workspace, but they keep abreast of what is going on and are a part of the networking and activities we have happening - face to face and online.”
“If we hit that 50 target - and we really hope we do - then we’ll be looking forward to celebrating with each of them when we take up that 3 year option.”
So how do you get involved, or support spaces like this so they can operate long term in the community?