Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Arkansas Tech Firms Find Collaboration & Growth in Shared Spaces

November 20, 2017

More and more co-working spaces are becoming available in Arkansas, and tech startups are taking advantage. Between Startup Junkie, the Little Rock Tech Park, The Hive, and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, individuals and businesses in the state can join the shared-workplace trend.

Why Share a Workspace?
The traditional company office space is changing. Large and small firms from a variety of industries are supplementing typical office spaces, often by sharing space with other entities. Shared office space, or co-working space, is a more communal place where individuals from multiple businesses can engage in work. In many cases, members of a shared workspace pay a monthly membership fee to use the space.

Beyond promoting a more efficient use of space, the idea behind co-working is about creating a space for employees that fosters collaboration, openness, knowledge sharing, innovation and, ultimately, growth. The technology sector has been at the forefront of adopting these practices. 

There are many advantages to shared office spaces. First, they are almost always cheaper than renting or buying a large office space for an individual business. Depending on the city, location, etc., leasing a space could run a business thousands of dollars a month, whereas a shared space could have membership fees under $100 per month. And, the business won’t have the typical commitment of being tied down to a lease that easily could be a year or more. Entrepreneurs also have fewer responsibilities when it comes to maintenance of the space such as cleaning, which would fall under the responsibility of the building owners.

These co-working spaces provide a great support system for startups with networking opportunities and shared tools and resources for growing business. Entrepreneurs can expand their professional network with other business owners and share ideas, and many shared spaces offer access to resources like art studios, conference rooms and cutting-edge equipment.

Co-working centers continue to evolve into new types of workplaces that create new experiences and communities for employees. The “shared” office model is rising in popularity and has been for the past decade. In 2007, the trend was almost unheard of, with only 14 documented co-working spaces in the United States. Now, there are more than 11,100, and is projected to be more than 26,000 spaces hosting 3.8 million people by 2020.

Shared Workspaces in Arkansas
Arkansas tech startups have several options when it comes to shared, co-working spaces in the state. 

Startup Junkie, a social venture that provides consulting services to aspiring entrepreneurs and existing companies, and connects them with investors, gives entrepreneurs no-cost access to a conference room and co-working space at CenterSpace: NWA’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Space in Fayetteville. In Bentonville, Startup Junkie partnered with RevUnit and Walmart to launch Exchange, a world-class co-working space focused on working with tech entrepreneurs.  “Between CenterSpace in Fayetteville and the Exchange in Bentonville, Northwest Arkansas’s entrepreneurship scene is more vibrant than ever,” said Brett Amerine, CEO of Startup Junkie.

In March of 2017, the Little Rock Technology Park Authority (LRPTA) opened the Little Rock Tech Park in downtown Little Rock’s creative corridor. This innovative center was created to enable new forms of enterprise, collaboration, knowledge sharing and commercialization of ideas within and between Arkansas’s entrepreneur, private government and academic sectors. The center consists of two renovated, nearly 100-year-old buildings designed to form an integrated environment for startup and mature technology companies. The facility opened with 12 initial companies, and that number has since almost tripled, with 32 companies now calling the Little Rock Technology Park home.

Brent Birch, Director of the Little Rock Tech Park, said, "Shared workspaces create a very collaborative, energetic work experience unlike traditional work environments. Tenants are able and encouraged to make connections and develop relationships that ultimately will help foster their business. The design of the LR Tech Park promotes the interactivity among tenants and many, if not all, of our tenants remark how the importance of the collaborative element is vital to their success."

Another Central Arkansas co-working lifestyle space is The Hive in Little Rock. The startup hub is managed by Bespoke Media Group with a vision to create a collaborative, co-working space for independent creatives and media professionals. The Hive offers its members access to a video production studio, 24/7 building access, private and collaborative workspaces, space for hosting events and more. 

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and empowering a community of creatives, technologists and entrepreneurs by providing them with the tools they need for success. The innovation space offers entrepreneurs everything needed to build and create cutting-edge equipment and technologies, an arts and design studio and a co-working space for entrepreneurs who are looking for a collaborative environment to launch their enterprises.

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