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January 31, 2019 | Tom Ballard

First “Co-Work Week” set for February 11-15 in Knoxville

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Anyone who has compared the greater Knoxville area to other entrepreneurially-focused communities knows that we have a deficit when it comes to co-working venues.

That picture is beginning to change as a result of several new efforts in the city as well as in Blount County and Oak Ridge, and it might accelerate even more, thanks to a new initiative dubbed “Co-Work Week” set for February 11-15.

Daniel Hodge, a local architect and entrepreneur whom we spotlighted in this 2018 article, has joined with Miles Biggs, a Knoxville native now living in Nashville, to plan a five-day test around a unique way to provide shared spaces.

“Forty percent of the workforce nationally is comprised of freelancers,” Hodge notes. That reality means individuals either work out of their homes or find another viable location. That’s where co-working spaces come into play.

As noted in the previously referenced article, Hodge and his brother operated one of their businesses out of their dining room, so they saw the need firsthand. More recently, Hodge has been involved in helping with a new Oak Ridge co-working project from an architectural perspective as well as other roles.

Biggs brings a real estate background to the table. Together, they saw a creative way to address the local gap in co-working space while also providing a potential new revenue stream for venues that are not open during the day.

“How do you activate dormant real estate . . . places that don’t open until 5 p.m., but usually have one or two employees on site most of the day?” Their answer is to focus on microbreweries of which Hodge says there are about three dozen in Knoxville.

Are those good locations where individuals can drop-in and work? Will they work for both the co-workers and the venue owners? What amenities are needed and how can they be provided? Is the idea of activating these dormant venues during daytime hours viable?

Hodge expects to get answers to those questions and others after the five-day test run at Last Days of Autumn Brewing, 808 East Magnolia Avenue. The owners of the microbrewery have agreed to open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.

“The event is designed to explore the potential of underutilized spaces for co-working during off-hours,” the announcement reads. “Join us for a week of co-working, community, collaboration, and experimentation!”

Since Hodge is testing the idea, he says he wanted to limit the “moving parts” to just a single location.

Those interested can sign-up at this link. Less than a week into promoting “Co-Work Week,” Hodge says more than 30 people have already registered.

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