Grand Rapids is the home to Grand Valley State University (where I spent 4 wonderful years) and nearly a dozen other universities that help make it Michigan’s second largest city and the largest in West Michigan. It is nicknamed the furniture capital with Steelcase, Herman Miller, and Haworth planting it’s headquarters nearby. It’s design focused city that is famous for it’s public art competition, Art Prize, and creative culture wrapped in it’s Midwest humble demeanor.
Left Right Boom is a new coworking space that is a community coworking space focused on freelancers and remote workers. It’s a small space focused on community and all of the benefits of getting out of the home and hanging with others.
The Factory was one of Grand Rapids first coworking space and an early one in the entire coworking movement with a founding in 2009. The Factory is the only ‘true traditional’ (my definition) coworking space in Grand Rapids from my experience and they are welcoming to all with a culture of openness. Their community manager is hired to ‘poke around’ so people talk to each and it sets a vibe of friendship that is difficult to duplicate and why the space goes beyond just being filled with pretty furniture.
They serve individuals to small teams and are a great environment for remote workers, freelancers, and teams. They also have a variety of skill sets and industries there making it a spot for cross pollination of ideas.
Their strength: Culture and values of friendship that leads to collaboration.
StartGarden moved in and opened a new space in early 2015 with a focus on coworking as an option. StartGarden is a VC company that spent nearly 3 years giving away $5,000 a week based on popular votes (generally) with a space for public drop-ins and an opportunity for their portfolio companies to work in. Their new space formalizes their new coworking ambitions with a variety of options for individuals to private pods for teams.
StartGarden is a new space but an established great group of people and a variety of teams. I would love to say that this is a great true coworking option but I don’t know because it new and VC backed. VC backed spaces often have a culture that emphasis entrepreneurship and unintentionally shuns remote workers or freelancers. We shall see and I have faith they will be a great addition to GR.
Blue35 has a lot of features and a beautiful space with flexible terms. The wonderful furniture is to be expected because of their partnership with Haworth and Rockford Construction (who also has a collaboration with Steelcase at Grid 70). Blue35 is an evolving space with build out options for teams that want a private office and plenty of drop-in individual spaces, but culture always seemed less important.
Blue35 is an emphasis on space and providing the tools for small businesses and teams versus being a community. This is fine but coworking is used, in my opinion, incorrectly because of the lack of community and culture of openness. It’s a new flexible version of an executive suite. This is emphasised in their pricing plans as well.
Karpta coworking has a unqie purpose and a start that reminds of the early days of coworking, Karpata is a supplier to the local powerhouse rival to Wal-Mart and Target, Meijer. They opened up their space to others with a focus on suppliers to Meijer.Karpta created this space so that suppliers with a similar cause could exchange ideas to make each other stronger.
Karpta is the only coworking space with a supplier focused that I am aware of in the world.
Cluster is a repeat of the Blue35 model. It’s a beautiful space that is in partnership with one of West Michigan’s highly regarded furniture companies but not a traditional coworking space. Worklab is a flexible space with offices, drop-in, and meeting rooms and all of the amenities but they forget about connecting people. Coworking is another marketing term with lost value to them.
If you want a flexible workspace but you want it to be quiet and comfortable then go here.
Coworking: $39 to $299
Corporate Coworking: $499 – $599
Private offices: $699
MoBevy – closed
654 Work Cottage – closed
East Grand Rapids
Category: Traditional Coworking
654 was my first introduction to coworking in 2010 and my inspiration for starting Creative Density a year later. I was a remote worker looking for a place with a community and a comfortable vibe and they answered. With plenty of sofas, TVs, telephone rooms, a front porch, and a friendly community manager they allowed people to mix it up to create connectiones. With affordable options their branding was focused on being an invitation to all types of mobile workers in a simlar way The Factory is in downtown Grand Rapids. It attracted a wide variety of professionals across all age groups.
654 was in East Grand Rapids in a well maintained old house also created in partnership with a furniture company, Turnstone and Steelcase. 654 was more of a case study than a business as a way for Turnstone to understand the mobile workforce. They did a good job of creating a community with a community manager that http://www.buycheap-pillsonline.com instigated conversations and constant lunch events. They also opened themselves up to the general community for artist and musicians to put on events.
It closed a few years ago and Turnstone has designed several pieces of furniture and supported coworking at conference and Denver Coworking Week since it’s closing.
The Warehaus is outside of Grand Rapids in Holland. The Warehaus has been around for a few years although I have never visited the website gives a vibe of true coworking. They have offices and hot desking options but everything is overlayed with a sense of friendship and openness for everyone. That is coworking.
The Warehaus is one of the few locations in small town Michigan and I’m glad they have been able to survive and thrive for so long.