A view from Gravitate’s downtown Des Moines location, which features open office seating, private office space, conference rooms and a “Stairitorium” that seats 70.

Next up: A coworking space?

Staff report

A coworking space, an intensely modern business environment increasingly populating cities, is under strong consideration for downtown Jefferson as a potential addition to leverage tech and innovation from the energy of the soon-to-open Pillar Technology.

Gravitate Coworking, which has locations in downtown Des Moines and the historic Valley Junction area of the capital city, is exploring opening a location in Jefferson, Chris Deal, a local development leader, tells The Jefferson Herald.

“This really aligns well with the idea of how we can become a Silicon Prairie,” Deal said.

You can learn more in person. 

Geoff Wood, founder of Gravitate Coworking, will be holding an informational question-and-answer session at the Thomas Jefferson Gardens Welcome Center at 6 p.m. June 25.

“There have been a lot of great stories about the value of coworking and creativity,” said Deal, who is involved in Deal’s Orchard, a family business in Greene County.

Gravitate Coworking, the largest coworking organization in Iowa, is host to a coworking community of more than 1,000 members.

According to the company, Gravitate provides workspace for freelancers, remote workers and entrepreneurs, offering community and collaboration. Gravitate was named the “Best Coworking Space in Iowa” by Symmetry50 and was identified as one of “The 50 Best Coworking Spots in America” by Big 7 Travel.

“In Jefferson, we could start with people who are working remotely,” Deal said. 

Wood started Gravitate in 2013. In 2017, Gravitate expanded to West Des Moines with the Valley Junction office. In April 2019, the downtown Gravitate office relocated to a new downtown location, doubling in size to more than 13,000 square feet.

When asked about the idea for Jefferson, Wood responded, “Expanding into rural Iowa had not been a planned next step for us, but with all of the great things happening in Jefferson, including the (Pillar) Forge, the ideas included in the Vision 2020 Plan, and the general forward-thinking approach taken by the community, we decided it would be worth taking a look. Everything we’ve seen has indicated that this would be a great fit as Gravitate’s next office location.”

“Coworking is a great next step for Jefferson and Greene County,” said Deal, who is assisting Wood with the informational session. “In the short term, it will allow the large number of remote workers and freelancers in the area better access to office amenities and a community to connect with. 

“In the long term, it is one of the best ways for Greene County to attract remote workers and telecommuters to our community. It is also a great way to encourage entrepreneurship and startups.”

Coworking, according to Jamie Orr, a founder of a similar space in Tahoe, is “about creating a better place to work, and, as a result, a better way to work. Coworking spaces provide more than just office space. They are community centers, friendly gathering places, think tanks. When you rent a desk or an office, you gain coworkers to bounce ideas off and that support you professionally in a way that you can’t find working from home or in the corporate office.”

The informational session will provide background on coworking in general and about how Gravitate runs its spaces. There will be opportunity for attendees to ask questions. 

Anyone interested in the idea of coworking in Greene County is encouraged to attend.

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