Factory brings future of work to the present

Josh Hudnall
Josh Hudnall
Brian Watson
Brian Watson

Phil Castle, The Business Times

What Josh Hudnall foresees as the future of work already occurs in the Grand Junction facility he helped create.

Programmers, graphic designers and writers, among others, sit at desks and work for employers and clients in far away places. Location, in this case at least, doesn’t matter. Not with high-speed Internet service.

Meanwhile, other connections are made as people sharing the space also share their skills and ideas — collaborations that can lead to new products, new services and sometimes new businesses.

Welcome to the Factory and the benefits of remote location and co-working spaces.

Hudnall and Brian Watson, co-founders of Launch West CO,  also teamed up to open the Factory, a co-working space in downtown Grand Junction. A recent event celebrated the grand opening of the facility.

The Factory occupies about 4,700 square feet of an 18,000 square-foot building once owned by Mesa County. The facility offers offices and space in which members can work as well as conference rooms and an event room with seating for up to 50 people that’s available for public use. One of the chief attractions of the Factory is high-speed Internet access with download and upload speeds 25 times faster than the average connection in Grand Junction.

The Factory constitutes a collaboration among five partners, starting with Launch West CO, a group founded two years ago to bring together software developers, designers and other entrepreneurs.

Proximity Space, a shared space facility in Montrose ranked in Forbes magazine as the best in the world, also is involved in the Factory.

The Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance soon will open in the Factory what it calls a Fuse Impact Center and provide monitors, computers and other equipment to conduct video conferences and share information.

Mesa County Libraries provides resources to the Factory, which in return offers limited access to the facility to those with library cards.

Alpine Bank serves as a corporate sponsor.

Hudnall and Watson said computers and Internet connectivity make it possible for people to work remotely from any location they’d like — and a growing proportion do. Hudnall said one of the members of the Factory schedules his time there around the workday in Sweden.

Meanwhile, demand has increased for shared spaces that offer an alternative to traditional offices or working from homes, Hudnall and Watson said.

Offices at the Factory filled up shortly after the facility opened. Memberships to use the facility have grown rapidly as well, Hudnall said. “The response has been really good.”

The Fuse Impact Center at the Factory will be one of  four operated by CAMA under a $6.5 million grant the group was selected to administer to help offset the effects of cuts in defense spending in the state. With equipment and high-speed Internet connections, it will be possible to conduct video conferences and share information among the centers.

Tim Heaton, president of CAMA, said the trade group is excited to join in an effort that fosters collaboration — particular among engineers, software developers and manufacturers that depend on their technological expertise. “It sure is good to have everyone paddling in the same direction.”

Joseph Sanchez, director of Mesa County Libraries, said the Factory constitutes a natural fit for an organization that provides information and services. Many entrepreneurs use local libraries as a place to work, access the Internet and tap the resources offered there, he said.

Dennis Lankes, co-founder of the Proximity Space, said the Factory joins a growing network of co-working locations he hopes soon will make the Proximity Space a leader in the movement. Remote location and co-working spaces offer advantages in reducing overhead and better using resources, Lankes said.

Watson and Hudnall said the Factory offers yet another local resource that helps promote business startups, attracts new businesses to the area and encourages Colorado Mesa University graduates to stay in the Grand Valley to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Such efforts in turn creates jobs and diversifies an economy that’s long felt the effects of booms and busts in regional energy development, they said.

“I think it’s the future of economic development,” Hudnall said.

The Factory co-working space is located at 750 Main St. in downtown Grand Junction. For more information, visit the website at www.factorycoworking.com.