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Co-Working Centers Proliferate

More WeWorks are on the way. Fueled by a $355 million venture capital infusion last year and reportedly raising a new round of financing with an eye-popping $10 billion valuation, WeWork is actively scouting for additional locations globally and in the Miami area.

"We see building out three spaces in the more immediate future, and five to seven long term," McKelvey said about the Miami area, without giving more detail.

Independent co-working centers are moving where the entrepreneurs are, too. In the past year, artists and creatives have also been beginning to move out -- or have been priced out -- of Wynwood and are landing in Little River. Not surprisingly, co-working spaces are following.

Thomas Conway of Conway Commercial Real Estate, one of the owners of the MADE (Makers, Artists, Designers and Engineers) venture, along with Nick Hamann and Danny Buraglia of Urban Atlantic Group, wanted to be an early mover in what has been a shift to the Little Haiti/Little River area. He and his partners purchased a 26,000-square-foot building that once housed BellSouth and more recently three churches, and renovated the building with more open spaces. Just inside the door are gallery exhibits by local artists.

The space, with about 40 members and four or five resident dogs so far, has 27 private offices/studios, open work spaces, a maker space and a theater for events; still to come is a garden area. Sarah MK Moody, a photographer and gallery owner of Maggie Knox Gallery, and Deon Rubi, a jewelry designer, were integral in transforming the space. Even the bathroom stalls are hand-painted.

MADE is just one part of a strategy. Conway and his partners have big plans for another nearby building they own. "I see spaces like ours, like The LAB and others as catalysts for growing Miami," Conway said. "If we can help create a couple of young companies that go on to bigger and better things and that trickles down, that's mission accomplished for me."

The generously sized offices filled up fast with fashion and art businesses, music companies, technology startups, marketing and event companies, even a yoga studio. The space also offers one of South Florida's most affordable packages; co-working in the communal areas starts at $100 a month.

Arthur Render, founder of SoleNews26, which sells limited edition sneakers to celebrity athletes and entertainers, is now calling MADE home, attracted by space to show his inventory and meet with his clients. Other members include fashion designer McLaine Oberhellmann of McLaine O. Swimwear, artists Patricia Baro and Santiago Castillo of Mixed Media Collective and Danielle Malinski of RAW Yoga.

David Sinopoli moved his whole team -- 10 people -- into MADE earlier this month. His company, III Points, has one of the larger offices adorned with art and also whiteboards for brainstorming.

III Points provides the infrastructure for indie music businesses. Already, the company is selling tickets to its signature event, III Points Festival, a mix of music, art and tech on Oct. 11-13.

Sinopoli was lured to MADE by the building's management, design and tenant mix that was moving in. "They understood our business, they made it affordable, they made it a home we couldn't turn down," Sinopoli said. "I was convinced it was the perfect spot for our company."

He also likes that there is a pool table, DJ equipment and performance space, along with comfortable common work areas and a kitchen. And with so many creatives under one roof, there is always something going on. "Tarot card reading goes down there on certain days," he said.

Over at Büro MiMo, entrepreneurs have been moving in before its grand opening set for early July.

For Miami tech firm Blackdove, Büro's appeal includes its various convenient locations and the MiMo atmosphere that meshes well with its brand, said its co-founders Marc Billings and Tito Gaudenzi. Blackdove's art-tech platform bringing gallery caliber art to any smart screen will be launched later this summer.

"We chose Büro MiMo because of its great emerging location that truly captures the nature of what we are building. The real estate and entrepreneurial landscape of the neighborhood is changing rapidly and we are excited to be part of it," Gaudenzi said.

For Jonathan Strauss, partner of Skateboard Supercross, the decision to move to MiMo was easy. He has been a Büro member for four years, and "if my company grows to 100 employees, I would still be at Büro," he said.

"It's such a great vibe and I can't tell you the number of times I've relied on other members for help. A lot of ideas are generated by just talking in the social areas," Strauss said.

Skateboard Supercross, today a team of four, is designing and building tracks and creating educational academies. The first track, in Brooklyn, is due to open this summer. The company has partnered with a well-known European bike park designer, and Skateboard Supercross' designs will have a "ski resort-style atmosphere for wheels," said Strauss.

He's developing an app for his company's academy and is testing a platform built by fellow Büro member Steven Quayle's company, 3Floorsup. Over the years, Strauss says, Büro members have been a source of advice on design work, marketing and branding, printing services and accounting. "There are limitless connections you can make."

Meanwhile, some spaces are specializing. Pipeline has plans to develop a "co-warehousing" space in Little River that would include not only co-working but shared warehouse and logistical support -- services Pipeline Brickell members and other small businesses have requested.

Further south, on Coral Way, Lauren Harper runs the Center for Social Change, a co-working community for social purpose organizations and the people who serve them. Just a year old, the space has 50 members now from 20 organizations, and has held a number of workshops and classes. The center soon will add another floor so it can offer more offices, open co-working areas and event space, she said.

Even traditional businesses with their own physical presence in Miami are seeing the value that co-working spaces can provide and bridging the gap between Miami's established business community and its growing entrepreneurial community.

"We will continue to expand programs and events to support the community. We are studying how we can best engage corporations to help them innovate and problem solve by connecting them with startups," said Tamara Wendt, executive director of The LAB Miami, with 138 members, including ESPN Latin America, Wyncode, Wix, Bitstop, America Votes, Local Measure and Klangbox.

Law firm Akerman has been a LAB member for more than a year but upped its game with the appointment of Andrew Pompa as the new director for Akerman IN, a core group of Akerman lawyers who will work and collaborate in the space to deliver skills and services in more approachable ways.

Similarly, Bilzin Sumberg now has a dedicated office in Pipeline Brickell, where members of its Innovation Group rotate their time, exchanging ideas, connecting with entrepreneurs, building relationships and identifying synergies for doing business.

Events are still a key focus of many of these spaces, particularly at The LAB, which hosts 1,900 people a month at workshops and classes -- from its Brainfood entrepreneur speaker series to coding classes to design thinking workshops, said Wendt.

In the past two weeks, entrepreneurs and creatives could have squeezed into a standing-room only crowd at General Provision watching pitch night for the first graduates of its resident coding school, Wyncode. At the LAB Miami, they might have caught Adam Smith of Medina Capital sharing his story at Startup Grind, participated in a civic hacking project at the weekly Code for Miami meetups or even taken a swing dance lesson. They could have networked over breakfast at 360Spaces, learned about Enstitute's apprenticeship program at the new Mindwarehouse in downtown Miami, popped into the Center for Social Change's community open house, or tried their hand at live-figure drawing at MADE.

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