Renovations soon will begin on a downtown Hays building that will serve as the city’s first co-working office space.
Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development recently received a $600,000 grant from the Logan-based Dane G. Hansen Foundation to purchase and improve the property. The address is 219 W. 10th.
The building will provide office space — complete with equipment, high-speed Internet access and a coffee lounge — for professionals who either are working from home or in the process of starting a new business.
“We are really excited about it. We ran an online survey and several open houses and found there is a fair amount of interest that’s already been identified in using it,” said Aaron White, the coalition’s executive director. “It’s amazing how many people are actually working out of their homes in this area and would find this kind of set-up appealing.”
Renovation plans already have been made, and the goal is to have the new facility open by year’s end.
Interested professionals can have access to the facility and all of its amenities for a monthly fee. Short-term access also will be available on a weekly basis, or even just for a day to accommodate traveling professionals, White said.
There will be high-speed Internet available, as well as a full-size copy/scanner/fax machine. There also will be a few private office areas members can reserve if they need to conduct a private meeting.
Eventually, organizers hope to renovate the basement to include a larger conference room.
Plans also call for a break room and fully stocked coffee bar, which is included in the membership fee. That fee currently is estimated at $150 per month for full, 24/7 access.
Members will be able to access the facility day or night with a digital pass key, White said.
The coalition will oversee the facility’s operations.
Many area residents who work from home have indicated they don’t always enjoy the arrangement, White said.
“A lot of folks we talked to say their home office tends to be distracting. It can be hard to separate home life from work life,” he said. “These are the same folks who don’t necessarily need a full, formal office or a suite of offices, so this becomes an ideal filler for them.”
Another likely clientele will be individuals who are in the process of starting a new business but don’t yet have the resources to rent or purchase their own property. Other professionals, such as portrait photographers, might do most of their work on location but simply need regular access to Internet and office equipment, he said.
Long-term, organizers hope to add professional development workshops, some of which could be open to the public.
The majority of the floor plan will be open, and the common spaces also are intended to help foster collaboration among the members, White said.
“One thing this will allow you to do that you don’t get in a home office is the ability to coordinate with folks around you on a project or problem,” he said. “It’s designed to encourage folks to work together and possibly form small partnerships.”