A place to work: Fruita co-working space seen an attraction

Jon Maraschin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction, expects the F-Works co-working space in the Fruita Civic Center to help promote business startups and economic development as well as tourism. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Jon Maraschin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction, expects the F-Works co-working space in the Fruita Civic Center to help promote business
startups and economic development as well as tourism. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Within minutes of ceremonially opening F-Works, Jon Maraschin was already talking to someone about signing up for dedicated desk space in the co-working facility in Fruita.

It’s a response that reflects what’s expected will be strong demand to use the space in the Fruita Civic Center. “Fruita needs a place for people to work,” says Maraschin, executive director of the Business Incubator Center in the Grand Valley.

The center joined with the City of Fruita in opening F-Works. A $10,000 state grant that came with the designation of Fruita as a Certified Small Business Community covered some of the costs involved in the effort.

F-Works will provide space and high-speed internet access not only for local entrepreneurs working out of their homes, but also those visiting the area on working vacations, Maraschin says.

In the process, Maraschin expects F-Works to promote business startups, local tourism and even bring additional entrepreneurs to the Grand Valley to live.

Fruita City Manager Mike Bennett agrees. “This project is a really good fit.”

F-Works is located on the second floor of the Fruita Civic Center in a space that previously served as a satellite office for the Business Incubator Center.

F-Works offers a place to work for a day, a month or longer period — along with desks, office equipment and access to a conference room and high-speed internet. Rates range from $5 for daily users to $50 a month for open seating to $100 a month for dedicated desk space.

Proximity Space, a Montrose-based company that offers hardware and software to manage co-working spaces, handles user fees and access to F-Works, Maraschin says. Users use smartphones and an application to pay fees and access  F-Works around the clock. Membership can include access to other
co-working spaces in which Proximity Space is involved, including the Factory in Grand Junction as well as spaces in Montrose and Ridgway.

F-Works will continue to serve as a kind of satellite operation for the Business Incubator Center in that the Grand Junction-based facility will offer classes there, Maraschin says.

But what was needed most, he says, was simply a space for people to work. That includes entrepreneurs working out of their homes or garages who require high-speed internet or a professional setting in which to meet with clients.

Maraschin also expects F-Works to provide a place for those who need to complete a couple hours or a couple of days of work while visiting in the area — to make a trip to enjoy the mountain biking an extended working vacation, perhaps. There’s also a good chance entrepreneurs who visit the area and use F-Works will be attracted to move here. In that way, F-Works will promote entrepreneurism, tourism and economic development, he says.

Bennett says F-Works also fulfills part of the mission of the City of Fruita in providing needed services and improving the quality of life.

Kelly Manning, director of the Small Business Development Center Network, says Fruita is among the first communities to receive the Certified Small Business Community designation and $10,000 grant that goes with it.

The money will be used to expand services offered by Small Business Development Centers, including the center located at the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction.

The money also helped establish a co-working space that will serve as a model for other communities, Manning says, in providing an affordable place in which to do business. “It’s amazing what you’re going to get with all this.”

Maraschin says if F-Works proves as popular as he expects, there’s ample room to expand the co-working space in the Fruita Civic Center.

For more information about F-Works, visit the website at www.fruitaworks.org.