The future of Webster City lies in small, not large businesses. That's according to Darcy Swon, who recently opened the fourth coworking space in rural Iowa.
The inTANDEM workspace, located at 501 Bank St. in Webster City, serves as a place where people can go to get work done. The coworking space, which began construction in May, features high-speed wifi, open and private workspaces, a copier, printer and scanner, a fridge and microwave, and coffee.
"People who enter the space get it when they leave," Swon said. "People who work from their homes, contract employees, people who cover territories, anyone looking to make phone calls, make copies and be on their computer for a couple hours, that's who we cater to here."
Darcy Swon, left, and Deb Brown, sitting, look over notes in the new inTANDEM workspace. Both traveled to Pella to look at an existing coworking space before Swon founded the facility. Coworking spaces offer a professional place to work for anyone at a small fee. This is the fourth coworking space in rural Iowa.
Simply put, a coworking space offers working professionals a space where they can work without the overhead costs of traditional office spaces. Swon, who heads inTANDEM marketing, moved her office into the space permanently.
"Even though I still like working from home sometimes, this workspace gives me and others a place where they can get away from the distractions of the home where the dog isn't barking, the kids aren't asking for things and Judge Judy isn't on," Swon said.
The coworking space also has two conference rooms with white boards. One conference room will also features a large flat screen TV. Swon said these large rooms not only provide a professional place to meet, but are also available for free to nonprofit groups. Hamilton County Crimestoppers is one of the first nonprofits that will meet at the inTANDEM workspace.
The workspace has many types of memberships. Professionals can sign up for a private office with a lease, with 24-hour access to the facility. Mobile members can also access the public area of the facility at any time. However, the space is not just for members. For $10 a day, anyone can come by and use the workspace from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., along with all the amenities.
"It's tailored to suit everyone's specific needs because everyone works differently," Swon said. "We're trying to let people customize this space to let it fit them best."
Educational seminars and member events will also be hosted at the workspace. Swon said a Microsoft trainer will be on hand to help with technical issues and will host a seminar on Sept. 17 over lunch. Those interested in just the seminars and meetings can buy a membership exclusively for that, or, anyone can pay to attend a single seminar.
Another large facet of coworking is that interaction between professionals. Swon shared a story where a foam insulation company was not getting accurate estimates for jobs, and met a data programmer at a coworking space who was able to create more accurate estimates for them.
Planning the space
Before opening the inTANDEM workspace, Swon traveled to Pella with Webster City Chamber director Deb Brown. When Swon told her about this idea, Brown said she had to see what the space was like in person. She said the ride was over in a flash because they talked about the idea the whole way back to Webster City.
"It fits in with what we're trying to do with the Chamber to make more workspaces available," Brown said.
The Chamber is also hosting a meeting about the Ireland visit planned for March at the workspace. That Chamber support is key for Swon, who said that support is not present in every community.
"The advantage we'll have in Webster City is that the Chamber is on board and they want to help small businesses grow, because that's the future of our community."
Setting up shop
In addition to Swon's business, Kathy Getting with Power Up YOUth and John Flynn of Jordan and Mahoney Law Firm have both taken up private offices at the workspace. Swon said the workspace offered Flynn the type of space not previously available in Webster City.
"They need a space to work, and a space to meet the clients," Swon said. "They don't need a full building, and until we had this space, they didn't have a good fit in town."
The main office of the Jordan and Mahoney Law firm is located in Boone, with other offices in Ames and Madrid as well. Flynn said they wanted to open up a satellite office in Webster City, as he saw a market for new lawyers here.
"We've done work in Hamilton County for a long time, and this opportunity arose and we decided we wanted to come up here," Flynn said.
When Flynn first saw the workspace, it was still under construction. Swon told him she would get the space they way he wanted it, and Flynn was pleased with the results. Light wood tables and chairs, fresh carpeting, green, orange and blue accents walls as well as a new window adorn the workspace.
The six month turnaround from idea to completion of the workspace was taxing on Swon, who only started painting, carpeting and decorating in mid-July. However, she said the work is worth it for what she said is a huge opportunity for Webster City. With coworking spaces seeing a 300 percent increase nationwide in the past three years, Swon sees this space as part of the town's future.
"As we're trying to get through that transition from being a factory town to looking to the future, I felt we needed an environment that embraced the culture of coworking," Swon said.
Fore more information, contact Darcy Swon at 835-0437, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The inTANDEM workspace is also on Facebook and can be found on Twitter @inTANDEMwc.