Phil Castle, The Business Times
Brian Watson and Josh Hudnall lead an impromptu tour through the Factory, a coworking space under construction in downtown Grand Junction.
In the midst of vacant spaces and exposed wiring, Watson and Hudnall envision high-tech conference rooms where entrepreneurs meet with clients and desks and couches occupied by people working on computers and talking over ideas. Watson and Hudnall, co-founders of a group involved in opening the Factory, see a place that fosters collaboration and provides assistance.
“This will be a space where people can connect with
like-minded people,” Watson says.
While the Factory will offer state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment and high-speed Internet access, Hudnall says the opportunity to make those connections could prove more important. “The single biggest amenity of the space is community.”
The Factory is scheduled to open in the middle of November, occupying 4,700 square feet of an 18,000-square-foot building at 750 Main St. that once was owned by Mesa County.
The Factory constitutes a collaboration among five partners, starting with Launch West CO, a group Watson and Hudnall founded nearly two years ago to bring together software developers, designers and other entrepreneurs.
Proximity Space, a shared space facility in Montrose rated in Forbes magazine as the best in the world, also is involved in the Factory.
The Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance plans to 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 will provide resources to the Factory and offer limited access to the facility to those with library cards.
Alpine Bank has agreed to serve as a corporate sponsor.
The Factory offers memberships that vary in cost along with access and use, Watson and Hudnall say.
For $99 a month, members will have access to shared open space between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. For $149 a month, members will have around-the-clock access. For $249 a month, members will have a dedicated desk for their own use. The Factory also offers private office space, although that has sold out, Hudnall says.
One of the chief attractions of the Factory will be high-speed Internet access with download and upload speeds 25 times faster than the average connection in Grand Junction, Hudnall says. That’s a substantial benefit for any entrepreneur or business working with large files, he says.
The Fuse Impact Center will be one of four operated by the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance 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.
Watson and Hudnall say the center in the Factory will bring together manufacturers and other types of businesses in promoting business, market and work force development and research and development. The center also will make it possible to connect local businesses with their customers without the need for travel.
The Factory also will include other conference rooms members can use in meeting with clients as well as an event room with seating for up to 50 people that will be available for public use.
Watson and Hudnall say they’ve been working for about two years to assess demand for a coworking space in Grand Junction and then make such a facility a reality. “We’ve barked up a lot of trees to try to make it happen,” Hudnall says.
The effort evolved out of their own experiences when they shared a cramped office before their businesses moved into separate and larger quarters. Watson works as communications director for Hoptocopter Films. Hudnall is co-founder and chief executive officer of fastPXL, a mobile application and web development company.
Launch West CO helped to foster a community that now numbers 500 members. But it soon became apparent a shared work space was needed, they said.
Watson and Hudnall say the Factory is part of a growing trend in providing shared space for software developers, graphic designers and others looking for an alternative to offices or working from their homes. Moreover, computers and Internet connectivity makes it possible for people working for larger firms to work remotely from any location they’d like.
Watson and Hudnall say the Factory will offer yet another local resource that will help in promoting business startups, attracting new businesses to the area and encouraging Colorado Mesa University graduates to stay in the Grand Valley to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Such efforts in turn will help create jobs and diversify an economy that’s long felt the effects of booms and busts in regional energy development.
While it would be nice to recruit a single company to the Grand Valley offering 300 new jobs, it would be even better over the long run to create 100 new businesses each employing three people, Hudnall says.
“Diversity of economy is probably the most important thing Grand Junction needs right now,” he says. “I’m really hoping the Factory will be central to driving that.”
For more information about the Factory, amenities offered there and memberships, log on to the website located at factorycoworking.com.