Okotoks is supporting a six month grassroots pilot project to increase the number of coworking business relationships in the community and support business retention.
“We initially participated in a one-week coworking challenge in the spring, which was very successful and increased local businesses’ knowledge about this innovative opportunity,” said Leslie Warren, economic development contractor for the Town. “Both businesses and entrepreneurs were very interested in creating an Okotoks-made, cowork model over a longer period of time and the Town agreed to promote and fund this pilot project to support our local business community.”
In this coworking business model a storefront business provides space for homebased entrepreneurs to work and learn. It increases traffic into the store, provides greater visibility for home-based workers, supports networking opportunities between business owners and entrepreneurs, and addresses the isolation homebased entrepreneurs encounter.
Tom Barker, who is experienced in coworking situations, is leading the project and is responsible for establishing connections between entrepreneurs and interested businesses. He will be also be developing relationships with local schools to build mentorship opportunities for youth.
“The way people work is changing, with more people based in home-offices,” said Barker. “While this has a lot of advantages, it also lessens opportunities to network and connect with others. Coworking eases the isolation of working alone and increases traffic into retail businesses. It’s a win-win situation for both sides.”
Barker has created a Facebook group called Cowork Okotoks – a Grassroots initiative, where those interested in participating can connect.
The pilot project runs until March 31, 2020 with the goal of having businesses and entrepreneurs assume full control for future coworking situations.
Anyone interested in participating in the program can contact Barker through his Facebook group or by emailing email@example.com.