Co-working Spaces: Not Just for Big Cities Anymore
In 2011, when Todd Luhtanen opened up Metro Work Space in Livonia, MI, a suburb of Detroit, he did so with the idea of offering startups in the suburbs the same kind of coworking facility that can be found in big cities. On Monday, he opened a second location a few miles to the north in Farmington.
“There’s a lot of hype over the startup stuff happening, and a lot of it is coming from incubators,” Luhtanen explains. “There’s not quite the same [startup creation] happening in the suburbs, but what is happening is that we have a lot of existing small businesses run by regular folks. We don’t have a lot of hackathons.”
Many of these small businesses operate out of their founders’ homes, and Luhtanen says that’s not always conducive to growing a company. “Ours is more of a sandbox type of space where you interact with one another,” he says. “Working at home can feel very isolated. Here, you can collaborate, share leads, vent your frustrations, and network.”
Located above the popular Basement Burger Bar on a block full of historic buildings, the new 2,400 square foot Metro Work Space feels airy and boasts high tin ceilings, deep red walls, and wood flooring. It offers members the usual assortment of co-working amenities: shared conference rooms that can be reserved online, office supplies, an array of device chargers, wi-fi, and unlimited popcorn and coffee.
Luhtanen, who spent close to 30 years writing software at a company called Dynatek, says Metro Work Space is open to just about any type of business; Livonia members include an architect and a party planner. “The cool thing is that a lot of people are business professionals that need an additional office,” he adds. “We have a lot of east side people who use this as a west side office.”
Eventually, Luhtanen would like to expand and open up additional co-working spaces in similar suburban Detroit cities like Northville so that members would have access to a network of shared offices.
“People that live in cities like Farmington love it,” he points out. “It’s easy to go to downtown Detroit and find a co-working space, but we want to be able to offer this kind of solution in Farmington so they can stay where they care about.”