More Office Space Being Geared To Meet Demand From Sole Proprietors

By Victor Ocasio

With the number of sole proprietors on Long Island growing since the recession, area landlords and developers are responding to demand from small and first-time business owners in search of a work space more professional-looking than the kitchen table.

Several property owners are creating options for entrepreneurs, from standard business centers with shared secretarial services to rentals with a boutique-hotel aesthetic, complete with office chandeliers.

YouOffice, a provider of stylish shared office space on Long Island, plans to open four new locations next year, in Great Neck, Rockville Centre, Huntington and Long Beach, and Melville commercial real estate developer T. Weiss Realty expects to open a second Totus Business Center next spring.

“Serviced office” spaces can vary in their offerings, with many operators providing scheduled conference-room time, furniture, high-speed Internet, and shared receptionists or secretarial services for tenants to rent on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.

For many small businesses, especially those seeking large corporate or government contracts, the “perception of capacity,” or the ability to project a professional image, is important, said Erica Chase-Gregory, regional director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College.

“It’s the professional consultant that is looking for that place to meet their client,” Chase-Gregory said. Having a professional address or a receptionist to answer calls can be helpful in establishing one’s business, particularly if the entrepreneur is relatively unknown. With an address outside the home comes an “appearance factor” that boosts legitimacy, she said.

The number of those going into business for themselves has grown steadily on Long Island.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of “nonemployers,” a statistical group that includes sole proprietors, has grown by nearly 10,000 in Nassau and Suffolk counties, from 245,806 in 2010 to 255,520 in 2013, the latest year for which data are available.

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