2017 Year In Review: Coworking, Social Entrepreneurship & Trends to Look for in 2018

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As the days wind down to a year many of us are happy to say goodbye to, we’re taking a look back at the trends and topics that occupied the small business and entrepreneurial community in Central Ohio.

Two major subjects were consistently making headlines at The Metropreneur in 2017: coworking and social entrepreneurship. We’ll also take a look at some of the shifting trends we could see more of in 2018!

Places to Work 

The “Gig Economy” makes up 34 percent of the workforce according to data from Intuit and Emergent – and that number is expected to rise to 43 percent by 2020. As more freelancers flood the workforce, the need for workspaces that accommodate their lifestyles grows, and Columbus seems to be answering the call with a slew of new spaces to put in hours.

There’s a coworking or shared office space for nearly every type of worker, from the social butterflies to private-office executive types, and even artists.

We followed along as Val Geisler of The Hive started her quest for a space to bring her parent-child coworking concept to life. First, she shared the challenges in looking for a location that accommodated both on a bootstrapped-budget. Then, she dished details on a partnership with St Luke’s United Methodist Church in Fifth by Northwest that allowed The Hive to launch this fall.

Communities outside of the urban core saw thousands of square feet of space dedicated to coworking. Haven Collective opened in September to serve freelancers and business owners in Upper Arlington and the surrounding neighborhoods. Coworking meets creative meeting space Brick House Blue will open its doors in 2018 at mega-development Bridge Park in Dublin. Co-Hatch discussed its plans for rapid expansion, aiming to open a dozen spots in Columbus. They’ll start with another location in Worthington at the former Worthington Kilbourne Library, just up the street from their original digs. Columbus’ first women-only coworking space opened its doors in Powell, courtesy of Women in Digital.

The Downtown area certainly wasn’t excluded from the growth, though. Franklinton gained 25,000 square feet of coworking and private office space when the Idea Foundry finished renovations on its second floor in early 2017. New York-based Serendipity Labs made a splash, announcing a duo of Columbus locations for its entry to the market. Serendipity Labs’ Downtown digs opened in the Fifth Third Building in September, while work is underway on the Short North location which will be housed in the mixed-use development on the former UDF site.

FreshGames got a new look when it transformed into the intimate The Parker Coworking on the northern edge of Downtown. E.V. Bishoff also expanded its office portfolio with Presto! Office Suites at two addresses Downtown. The fully-furnished office concept is marketed towards both startups and larger corporations.

A pair of empty warehouses got makeovers and are now housing entrepreneurs to artists. Downtown, Blockfort’s 16 studios were occupied at opening, with the community coming into the space for a host of gallery shows and events. More artist studios settled in in Franklinton, with Chromedge Studios opening across the parking lot from 400 West Rich.

And finally, to help all these business owners find space is Kinglet. The Baltimore-based business expanded to Columbus to play matchmaker between freelancers and open offices.

Keep reading on Page 2 for a rundown of social enterprise activity in 2017.