By Chris Bosak The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new co-working hub has opened in New Milford, Connecticut. The opening follows a trend of co-working spaces launching in cities and suburbs across the country. "Makery Coworking" will allow entrepreneurs to interact with other business owners to exchange ideas, knowledge, and resources.
Makers, creators and entrepreneurs wanted.
Local businessman Tony Vengrove has opened Makery Coworking on Bank Street, where innovators will be able to rent space for a day or a year -- or somewhere in between -- to conduct business.
The two-story, 5,000-square-foot space offers small rooms for private phone conversations, a conference room for large groups, and collections of tables, straight-backed chairs and sofas where collaborative conversations, note-taking or deep thinking can take place.
"It's for people who may be tired of working in isolation in their homes or meeting at a coffeehouse and want to add legitimacy to their operation," Vengrove said. "But the most important thing is the community, people networking together. Everyone can have an office at home. This is a place to inspire and lift everyone up."
Richard Portelance was one of the first entrepreneurs to join Makery Coworking. He runs two start-ups out of his house and keeps in touch with his colleagues mostly by phone.
"Working out of my house is fine but there's a lack of stimulation," Portelance said. "That human interaction really helps to develop ideas because you're face-to-face, or inspired by conversation at the coffee machine with someone you haven't met before. This building is a great creative space to brainstorm and do entrepreneurial work."
Similar coworking spaces have started in other parts of Connecticut -- including the Hackerspace run out of the Danbury Library -- but Makery Coworking reflects Vengrove's personality and his hopes for his hometown.
Vengrove first moved to New Milford in 1998 but then he and his wife Kate transplanted their family to Richmond, Va., when the local corporation Tony worked for was acquired in the wake of the 2008 recession.
He got involved in several efforts to spur that city's start-up community, but Vengrove said he and Kate kept thinking about New Milford.
"I saw firsthand how the creative economy can revitalize a community and realized we could do all this entrepreneurial stuff in New Milford," Vengrove said. "We were homesick for the fabric and the hills of Litchfield County and were troubled to hear about the challenges facing Connecticut. So we said, let's go home to do our part to make the community and state better."
They moved back to New Milford in 2013. Vengrove founded the marketing and strategy firm Miles Finch Innovation and began networking in the region and state with other innovators. Last summer, the space at 20 Bank St. became available.
New Milford officials are supportive of the new business.
"This space combines the freedom that technology offers with a place to interact with other likeminded people and exchange ideas, knowledge, and resources so that a concept or home business can grow and thrive," Mayor David Gronbach said. "I know that it will be a tremendous opportunity for the town and am excited to see it open."
The Makery Coworking building, built in 1904, has been home to many retail outlets in the past several years. The most recent occupant was a pop-up store created by The Green Spot of New Milford. Vengrove asked the owners to leave behind some of their inventory to display on the many beautiful built-in shelves that adorn Makery's perimeter walls.
"We're excited to use our display cases to showcase the amazing works of local makers, creators and entrepreneurs," Vengrove said. "A big part of our mission is to advocate for the startup community and we plan to actively blog about the impressive entrepreneurs that call the Northwest Corner home."
Makery Coworking will offer several events during the year to encourage entrepreneurship and creative works of all kinds.
Vengrove said the space and its offerings will adapt based on the needs of the people who rent space there.
"I believe New Milford and the region is home to some of the most creative people in the state," he said.