Millennials are becoming known for their entrepreneurial spirit and cities where they choose to set up shop have the opportunity to prosper economically as a result. The trick for cities, though, is to create an appealing environment where those young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs can thrive.
One way that’s happening is with the growing trend of shared office space, which gives independent workers and small entrepreneurs a work place to call home, allowing them to move their jerry-rigged office setups out of their garages or the local coffee shop.
“Millennials often find that shared office space is a good fit for them because they pay a lot less than they would if they had to rent traditional office space,” says April Zimmerman Katz, president of The Zimmerman Companies, a property-management company in Columbus, Ohio.
And shared office space, practically unheard of a decade ago, is growing rapidly. Small Business Labs, which follows trends with small businesses and the gig economy, has projected that 3.8 million people globally will be making use of co-working space by 2020, a significant jump from 1.6 million for 2017.
Katz is part of that growth – not as a user of shared space but as a provider. She is founder of Versa LLC (www.versa.works), which is opening three shared work space locations in Columbus with more than 50,000 square feet combined.
“Columbus is growing, both in terms of independent workers and large companies recognizing the value of creative, flexible space,” Katz says. “Versa is designed to meet this demand with resources that are unique to our market.”
Shared office space is just one way a community can attract millennials with an entrepreneurial mindset who can help boost the local economy. Others include:
- Diverse living options. Whether they decide to buy or rent, millennials want to know that there are options that are conducive to where and how they want to live.
- Transportation options. Cities enjoy a leg up over competing communities if they have good public transit systems, can provide millennials with work space near their living space, or are finding innovative ways to improve transportation. Columbus is on this track and recently won a high-pitched nationwide competition for a $40 million U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City grant to develop ideas for better mobility in the city.
- Leisure opportunities. Millennials know that working hard and playing hard go well together. Katz says cities are more enticing to young people when they can provide an invigorating nightlife, recreational opportunities and an active arts community, with theater, concerts and other activities. Columbus is becoming more and more recognized for a high quality of life at a lower cost than coastal options.
“Millennials who have caught the entrepreneurial spirit just need the right community that will help nurture and support their creative spirits,” Katz says. “I know from personal experience that anyone who’s trying to start a business faces long odds and incredible difficulties. But communities that can give them access to the right resources can help them overcome those challenges and succeed.”