Entrepreneurs and independent professionals who would rather not work out of coffee shops or home — or go broke leasing space downtown — will have a new option at their disposal.
Leading Albany real estate broker Tracy Metzger announced Wednesday the grand opening of BEAHIVE, the region’s first coworking facility that is essentially a shared space where people work independently.
“This coworking space is more than just a place to work,” Metzger said at a Wednesday morning news conference attended by city and county officials. “It is a place where a new community will be born of independent professionals, microbusinesses, entrepreneurs and those who just want to connect.”
The collaborative work environment is a growing movement that has been effective in major metropolitan areas such as New York City and San Francisco. Think emerging blogger or Internet entrepreneur who prefers to be around other creative people but would rather not be relegated to an empty corner seat at Starbucks.
The space at 418 Broadway was transformed into a professional office environment by ROI Office Interiors. BEAHIVE members can rent a desk by the day, week or month, depending on their lifestyle.
Mayor Jerry Jennings lauded Metzger for encouraging investment in downtown Albany and called the facility the first of its kind in the city.
“She’s going to make this a very busy BEAHIVE,” he said. “And this will certainly assist the many needs of the increasing population of independent workers and startup companies in this area. Tracy has already heard from a lot of people who work at home who’ve expressed an interest to come work here.”
It’s already attracted 11 founding members. One of the intentions of gathering creative and entrepreneurial professionals in one place was to create an energy that would help support current downtown businesses and help attract new businesses, tourists and residents.
“I’m confident that BEAHIVE will help those business owners flourish here in the Albany area,” said Jennings.
Metzger said Wednesday that if coworking facilities can be successful in smaller cities such as Kingston and Beacon in the Hudson Valley, she was sure it would take off in Albany. After touring the Beacon location, she became excited for a facility in Albany.
“An Albany BEAHIVE buzzing with activity, the hive, the buzz; it had my name all over it,” she said.
Metzger held a two-hour open house Wednesday night for business professionals to tour the facility.
Metzger said the space can also be used as a venue for members to host community networking events and meetings.
Members have access to high-speed Internet service, laser printers, a kitchenette, books, magazines, newspapers, use of conference rooms and space rentals, a weekly members lunch and the occasional help of interns for member projects.
For $20 a month, a community member can have one-day-a-month access to shared space during regular hours. A nonmember day pass costs $25, with access to space during regular hours. A lite coworker, someone who perhaps has frequent business in Albany or just wants a more structured work area, can rent space for eight days a month for $150.
A full coworker, someone who has decided to get serious and move forward with a new idea or business growth, can get 24/7 access to shared space for $250 a month. For $350 a month, someone can have access to their own permanent desk.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the coworking space is ideal for entrepreneurs just getting started who are looking for affordable space now, with the hopes of generating money to eventually rent full space downtown.
Metzger, who has been in the commercial real estate business for more than 20 years, said the BEAHIVE is another way she can enjoy helping companies grow and consolidate.
“I love meeting new people, especially while I’m helping others grow their businesses,” said Metzger. “It is often difficult to know just what size your company needs to be or will be in the future. So having this space will help those companies who need overflow space. There’s no other place I would have chosen to locate the BEAHIVE.”
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