CoWorking in Knoxville. Why Not?

Although I didn’t get any work done, this was one of the most productive afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Today I met up with some fine folks to discuss the idea of CoworkingKnoxville. Of course, as the name implies, the general idea is that we actually will get some work done eventually. But today turned into more of a discussion of ideas centered around coworking and its possibilities in this area. For more information on coworking, a great place to start is Alex’s site, but the general idea is a shared space where people with different skill sets and backgrounds can gather to collaborate (or not) on ideas using shared resources, making everyone’s work time more productive and efficient.

The group of five who met today all came from different backgrounds, but without a doubt there is a common thread running through the collective consciousness. Although it’s an idea that all of us have in some abstract form in our minds (ok, it’s pretty firm for Alex), it’s still a little hard for me to get my own mind completely wrapped around at this point. But to me, that shared idea is “why not?

Why can’t a guy who works for a large corporation while remaining a blogging powerhouse out of his home office share workspace with a freelance marketing research consultant recently transplanted from LA? And why shouldn’t they have access to another guy who works a job locally but is tied into the local web development community? And wouldn’t it benefit everyone to sit next to an altrupreneur who is in Knoxville by way of San Francisco and may be here for a month or a year? Why can’t all of these people share internet access, and a conference room, and a big whiteboard?

Why can’t this movement grow to the point that people are actually attracted to come here to be a part of it? Why can’t we make Knoxville a place people flock to looking for this exact thing? After all, Knoxville is loaded with talented people and the cost of living is negligible compared to the West Coast.

Why can’t we make this happen? I think we can.

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10 Replies to “CoWorking in Knoxville. Why Not?”

  1. Dude, this is SO possible. Knoxville is on several top 10 lists for “best places to live” (although I think our area is still considered quite poor in air quality). I think the only roadblock is a perception of what “the South” has to offer.

    But on a more local level I think a shared workspace where the cost of certain pieces of equipment is leveraged by a larger group makes sense. For freelancers who need things like laser printers and projectors, it makes good economic sense too.

    Great to meet you today!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Victor. It was great to meet you too. I was thinking about some other bonuses of sharing workspaces tonight.

    Example–I have a machine upstairs running linux/apache/mysql/php for development. I’d be more than happy to get this dinosaur out of my house and into a place where other people could benefit by using it too. I’m using it rarely right now, but it could be a great resource for a group of people who need a little test machine to play with and either don’t know how to set up on their own or would rather concentrate on their project instead of wrestling with installation issues.

    So many possibilities…

  3. Wow, I hadn’t thought of that! Yeah, have a few servers either running various platforms/backends or use a VM server so people can do testing. And if you have actual humans around to see a UI or test a feature, all the better. Neat!

  4. HM, the cool thing is that most of what needs to be incubated has such low overhead. Most of the people who would like to participate in something like this wouldn’t be drawn to it by millions it research dollars. For instance, I don’t need a lot of money to work on my projects (although I’ll take it if offered), but I do need a workspace and an internet connection. I could also really benefit from having collaboration and outside opinions at various points of a project.

    newscoma, I have a couch that I only sleep on in the afternoons. It’s yours otherwise.

    Billymac, This is just like an A-Team scheme…of COURSE it can work!

  5. This does sound like a wonderful idea. My wife and I run a web design shop out of our home. We pretty much have all we need as far as equipment is concerned. However, when it comes to things clients need that we can provide we’d be forced to have to contract out or send them in another direction. With this sort of collaboration the contracting or what have you, would be with someone local that you know and could possibly trust. It would be a win/win.

    P.S. Victor didn’t you teach at ITT? I think I had you for my Intro to HTML course back in 2003.

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