Coworking space open on Center Street
Healdsburg’s first coworking space, CraftWork, opened earlier this month.
Coworking is a workspace model that takes the form of a shared office space between people, businesses and the like. Spaces like CraftWork, or the WeWork chain, charge monthly (or daily) fees for people who want to rent out desk space, office space or meeting rooms.
According to CraftWork founder Jim Heid, the concept of coworking launched in 2007 and grew from 14 coworking spaces in 2007 to around 5,000 now.
Heid got the idea to start a coworking space while he was travelling as part of his work for the Urban Land Institute’s Small Scale Developers Forum.
“We’ve been to 16 cities in seven years and one of the common themes everywhere we went was this phenomenon of coworking,” he said. “Everyone knows ‘WeWork,’ but we saw a lot of these more boutique, smaller, community-based things.”
As he saw more and more coworking spaces, he began to think about the vacant Center Street space that CraftWork now calls home.
“In 2016 we toured downtown Detroit, which is a phenomenal renaissance story, and the whole two days was focused on coworking. I came back really motivated to do this, so I sent out a survey to the community via the Chamber of Commerce and within two weeks I had about 80 responses from people who expressed interest in learning more,” he said.
“My thesis was that in a community like Healdsburg, where you have a lot of people who are what I call ‘migrating millennials’ — people who have moved from the city who, if they’re millennials, have done really well in tech or carved out a career and they’re up here because they’re raising a family and they want a place to work that looks professional, where they get energy from being around people,” Heid said, discussing why he feels a coworking space will work in Healdsburg. “I felt that there was a larger cohort of people here than there might be in some other communities. There’s also the fact that you have a lot of people who are second-homers.”
Heid said that by having a membership-based space where people can go and work every day or when they’re visiting town on the weekends, people who are able to take their work with them will now have a designated productivity space.
“There are all of these anecdotal things that make Healdsburg, because of the kind of place it is and the kind of people it attracts, it just seemed like it was a good fit,” he said.
The timing of the idea to open the space worked out with the city’s own self-introspection, Heid said, and he viewed CraftWork as a way to change the conversation from tourism to focusing on the things that people in town are doing.
“Because they’re working from their homes, you never really see it,” he said. “When you see the kinds of people that join and what they’re doing … it kind of changes the conversation from being against stuff to being more about ‘Hey, look at all of the cool things that can happen here.’”
CraftWork opened up its doors on Jan. 7 and the opening seemed natural. Heid said that he was expecting to have to explain how coworking spaces work, but most people already know the model.
How does Heid view CraftWork?
“It’s part coworking, it’s part event space and it’s part club. The idea is that because, what I find is (that) you go out to dinner, you have a nice dinner, it’s 8 p.m. and there’s not a lot going on in town. To have a place where, if you’ve had a nice dinner with a couple of friends, you can go, ‘come over to CraftWork.’ It’s not just for working.”
As such, the space includes a fireplace and some couches, as well as a kitchen area and various meeting rooms.
CraftWork is located in the old Crocker Bank location, and has integrated the building’s history into its design. Those who have a meeting in the space can see the former bank vault, which has been opened up at the side and repurposed into a rentable meeting room.
“I really want to see this as not just an insular business that’s just the members,” Heid said. “I’d really like this to be seen by the community as an important part of who we are.”
Heid said that as part of its role as an important part of the community, he wants to integrate TED Talk-type events, as well as meeting times with local people running for office during election season.
To learn more about CraftWork, visit craftworkhbg.com/.