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Summary:

A newly announced partnership between mobile working app LiquidSpace and three Bay Area cities is another example of local communities leveraging the idea of coworking to keep commuters closer to home, boosting economic development in the area and cutting carbon emissions.

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Coworking can provide independent pros with great spaces in which to work and network, but shared work spaces are also good for the local communities surrounding them. NextSpace, for instance, has leveraged this fact to win the backing of the local governments for its spaces , while rural communities in Appalachia are looking to coworking to spur local economic development. Now workspace  locating app LiquidSpace  is getting involved in the trend, partnering with three Bay Area cities to connect underutilized public spaces with laptop-toting independent workers.

LiquidSpace has partnered with Santa Cruz, Palo Alto and San Francisco to list 27 workspaces in 16 government buildings (mostly libraries), including previously and independently listed Bay Area government spaces from Sonoma to San Mateo. The aims of the partnership are twofold. Firstly, the city governments believe that keeping more commuters closer to home will mean more dollars spent in the local community.

“Over 30 percent of our local work force commutes to Silicon Valley on a daily basis, and so we’ve recognized the tremendous opportunity to create more opportunities for our citizens to work closer to home. Supporting mobile working is absolutely vital to the economic health and well being of the community,” said former mayor of Santa Cruz, Ryan Coonerty. And Sid Espinosa, the former mayor of Palo Alto agreed:

Here in Palo Alto we’re specifically engaging in a number of public and private partnerships with local tech companies like LiquidSpace. We not only want to support the companies that keep the Bay Area at the forefront of the technology industry, but want to use their unique products and services to support other entrepreneurs and the community as a whole.

The second goal of the program is environmental. “City governments are recognizing the opportunity to make taxpayer purchased real estate assets work smarter and harder,” said Mark Gilbreath, CEO and co-founder of LiquidSpace, who noted, “we have enough built-out office space on the planet to meet all of our collective needs for the next fifty years.” By putting what’s already out there to better use, the partners aim to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of their communities. The director of the City of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment Melanie Nutter explains:

We, as government entities, must lead by example in the area of sustainable economic development policies and practices. Commercial real estate accounts for 55 percent of our carbon footprint, and when mobile workers can leverage spaces nearby, we can optimize that building use and shorten commutes.

Do you see more collaborations between the coworking movement and government planners coming in the future?

Image courtesy of Flickr user San Jose Library.

  1. The Satellite Inc. Friday, March 30, 2012

    We always meet with city officials – mayors, city council members, economic development folks – in advance of opening one of our flexible workspaces in a community. One point we bring up is the industry standard figure that each full time equivalent working in our space supports 14 sq. feet of retail space.

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