Unusual business co-op shows off its panoramic space
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Port Townsend Mayor David King, center, talks with Co-Lab managers Heather Dudley Nollette and Frank DePalma in the space that Co-Lab hopes to rent. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND— A business symposium designed to promote the idea of sharing resources drew an enthusiastic response, causing the organizers to investigate the idea of speeding up the process.

“We originally thought that we’d open our doors in February,” said Frank DePalma, who is one of the developers of the Port Townsend Co-Lab, a collaborative business space.

“We’ve had such a good reaction that maybe we should open sooner in order to maintain the momentum.”

More than 70 people attended Friday’s daylong session, which included business seminars and tours around the proposed location, a 2,400-square-foot space above the Silverwater Cafe at 237 Taylor St.

The idea behind the Co-Lab is to provide a common space that contains essential business resources, such as a workspace, meeting area and reference material.

Additionally, the format promotes interaction among participants, allowing them to bounce ideas off each other and develop partnerships.

“There was one project that three of us worked on.” DePalma said.

“I did the Web design and teamed with a writer and a graphic designer,” he said.

“It was like it was an ad agency without all of the overhead.”

Heather Dudley Nollette, who with DePalma is managing the project, said the collaborative environment would prevent sole proprietors from becoming isolated.

The space will contain several desks, a meeting space, a kitchen area, printers and fax and a seminar room.

It will also have a “Superman booth” in which people can conduct conference calls or Skype meetings in private.

Additionally, it will have two Northwest essentials, free to members: fast Internet and quality coffee.

DePalma said other locations are under consideration but the Silverwater space fits all of the current needs and has room for expansion.

It is wide open and spacious with a panoramic second-floor view of downtown.

There is the potential to rent the banquet space on the third floor for larger events or to host presentations in the Rose Theatre, located downstairs.

“We didn’t want to start too small,” DePalma said.

“We don’t want to be in a place where we couldn’t expand in case the idea catches on.”

A variety of membership options are available, from the $20 day use fee to the top-of-the-line $375 monthly fee that includes a dedicated desk, mail service and 24-hour access to the space.

Flexibility promoted

DePalma said the Co-Lab concept promotes flexibility and is intended for people who are more “project based” and don’t need to have access to a large office during less busy periods.

Mayor David King, who visited the Co-Lab space during the symposium, said the concept could attract independently minded knowledge workers to Port Townsend.

“This is one way we can promote Port Townsend as a great place to live and work,” King said.

“It can be a positive thing to share these spaces and discover the benefits of working together.”

For more information go to wwwptcolab.com.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 14. 2012 6:47PM
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