As of July 2017, the Space On Main, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) public benefit corporation serving all of Vermont [and New Hampshire]. Below is the founding narrative that was submitted with our incorporation documents.
For a video overview of the benefits of coworking, here is a great YouTube video by Turnstone:
It is the mission of The Space on Main, Inc. to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, the arts, education, health, and recreation in order to increase opportunity for personal and collective growth in the Cohase Region of Vermont and New Hampshire by providing a creative facility with access to affordable equipment, work spaces, and classes. It is our goal to ensure prosperity of our community by leveraging talent in the region by creating pathways to outside individuals, services, and technologies.
At its core, The Space on Main, Inc. will serve as a facility to host coworking, networking events, conferences/meetings, training programs, social events, as well as educational classes for all ages. Coworking spaces are defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting. In 2005, Brad Neuberg a software developer from San Francisco wanted, “the freedom and independence of working for [himself] along with the structure and community of working with others.” He started what he coined a coworking space and invited others all over the world to advocate for open source thinking.
Leaders of the global coworking movement believe that there are five ingredients that are required for successful coworking. The first is Community, valuing a focus on people, their interactions, and the relationships that form. The second is Openness, valuing decisions that are more transparent, more expansive, and more inclusive. The third is Collaboration, valuing the ability for coworking spaces to encourage members to work together, not just with each other, but with the space itself. The fourth is Sustainability, valuing support of each other by fostering a continuous loop of giving and receiving a trade of talents and resources. The final is Accessibility, a belief that anyone who can work from anywhere, can work from a coworking space, a coffee shop, or their own living room. If they are found in a coworking space, it is because they chose to be there. As a result, members are often cited to be remarkably positive and productive.
The Space on Main, Inc. is accessible 24/7 in order to allow members to work when they choose, at the time of day that they are most productive or flexible. Studies, like that of the Harvard Business Review published in September 2015, found that although socializing isn’t compulsory or forced, even if coworkers seldom interact with fellow coworkers, they develop a strong sense of community. They believe that this comes from knowing there is potential for interactions when they desire or need them. An increasing number of companies are using coworking spaces as an alternative place for people to work.
And with statistics like those reported in Deskmag’s 3rd 2012 Global Coworking Survey, why wouldn’t they? Deskmag found that 71 percent of participants reported a boost in creativity since joining a coworking space while 62 percent said their standard of work had improved. The study also found that 90 percent of coworkers reported an increase in self-confidence, 70 percent felt healthier than they did working in a traditional office, and 64 percent reported an increase in the ability to complete tasks on time. In 2016, GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics found that 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency. This does not include the self-employed population, 22% of which works from home. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 65 million Americans (40% of the workforce) will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors, and solopreneurs by 2020. As the independent workforce grows, coworking spaces become invaluable.
Fostering Solopreneurship & Entrepreneurship
An entrepreneur is defined as a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. A solopreneur is defined as a business owner who works and runs his or her business alone. In both cases, The Space on Main, Inc. allows members low overhead costs with flexible payment plans. By allocating less money to rent an individual space and to purchase necessary office equipment, these individuals can invest more money into their companies. Vermont has approximately 23,000 business employers, almost 80% of which have fewer than 10 employees, and these small businesses account for a high proportion of the state’s economic and employment growth. Vermont also has 20,000 self-employed business proprietors.While Vermont’s labor force represents only about 0.2% of employed workers in the U.S., we are home to almost 0.3% of the nation’s businesses, representing a 50% higher rate of business ownership than in the U.S. as a whole. Specific to the region, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2015 reports the populations of those who work from home and/or who are self-employed are as follows: 64 (4.3%) work from home and 178 self-employed individuals in Bradford, VT; 58 (8.8%) work from home and 92 self-employed individuals in Fairlee, VT; 70 (6.7%) work from home and 169 self-employed individuals in Newbury, VT; 91 (3.6%) work from home and 169 self-employed individuals in Haverhill, NH; 24 (5.6%) work from home and 79 self-employed individuals in Piermont, NH; and 47 (5.7%) work from home and 156 self-employed individuals in Orford, NH.(See Figure One for more town data.) Vermont is an incubator state in which small businesses are the source of most Vermont job growth. Vermont continues to excel as an entrepreneurial “ecosystem,” now ranking second in the 2013 Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. The Space on Main, Inc. is a coworking space that is shared by people from all different backgrounds working next to each other. This allows numerous professionals the ability to consult, talk, and interact with each other. Working in a communal space allows members to use their officemates as sounding boards for ideas. The Space on Main, Inc. facilitates shared projects, networking, and mutual consulting by providing member events and directories.
Creating Pathways To Innovation With Broadband & Cellular Access
Access to reliable high-speed Internet and cellphone service have rapidly become baseline prerequisites for all citizens and businesses. While Internet and mobile phone use increases, much of the Cohase Region as well as neighboring towns are without access to cellular service and/or access to Broadband Internet at home. This presents a barrier to working from home for individuals who live outside of local service areas (which are typically focused on areas that include a downtown/main street, industrial complexes, and educational institutions). In order to thrive and be competitive in the local, state, national and global marketplace, the region’s workforce needs to attract and retain people who are skilled in computer and digital technologies, in the effective use of digital information resources, and are equipped to be flexible, lifelong digital learners.
Education, Community, Health & Recreation For Those Who Need It Most
The Space on Main, Inc. is designed to be a multipurpose space for people who are looking to transform education – teachers, health clinics, charities, social enterprises, and lifestyle coaches. Community members are encouraged to use the space for classes, children’s activities, fundraising events, community health workshops, and recreational activities, e.g., yoga, mindfulness, meditation. In addition to classes or workshops offered by members, students can find internships and mentors in industries not traditionally supported in the region. Specific to the region, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2015 reports the populations of individuals who are Under 18, Between 18-64 years of age, and those Under 18 Living in Poverty are as follows: 559 Under 18, 1747 18-64, and 17.9% of youth in poverty in Bradford, VT; 218 Under 18, 679 18-64, and 19.3% of youth in poverty in Fairlee, VT; 468 Under 18, 1255 18-64, and 33.5% of youth in poverty in Newbury, VT; 772 Under 18, 2770 18-64, and 26.7% of youth in poverty in Haverhill, NH; 136 Under 18, 440 18-64, and 6.6% of youth in poverty in Piermont, NH; and 317 Under 18, 947 18-64, and 9.5% of youth in poverty in Orford, NH. According to the East Central Vermont Economic Development District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 2016-2021 report, between 2010 and 2015 the number of people in the District living on public assistance (Vermont’s cash assistance programs, Reach Up and 3SquaresVT) has increased by 15%. Actual or virtual commuting across Vermont’s rugged geography and minimal high-tech infrastructure can be very difficult for underserved communities, such as the elderly, young families, minorities and the disabled. Within small towns, these groups can be cut-off from the economic recovery and opportunity. These same groups are the face of the hidden poverty that pervades our region and Vermont as a whole, and they cannot be measured with standard tools like the Census American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year data. Indeed, the ACS only samples 6.5% of the statewide population over a 5 year period, which lowers to only 1.5% per year for the smallest geographies. Because poverty restricts the opportunities for low-income households in education, health, and limits participation in social activities, those families face disproportionate stresses with respect to domestic violence, substance abuse, and crime. Adding these stresses to those resulting from decreased job opportunities multiplies the problems for low income households and puts even greater burdens on the social networks that provide for basic safety and security. Organizations such as The Space on Main, Inc. can help break the cycle of poverty by improving access to employment opportunities and education.
Supporting Local Arts & Creative Economy
A creative economy study completed in 2016 by Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission for the East Central Vermont Economic Development District found that 70% of respondents indicated that face-to-face networking is important to the success of their businesses. Of that same group, 33% of respondents felt that these opportunities are currently inadequate. The Space on Main, Inc. is designed to offer a vibrant and creative atmosphere for workers, no matter their speciality. This is a space that artists are encouraged to bring a laptop, sketchbook, or chosen tools and share the space along with office workers. Along with desk space, The Space on Main, Inc. features an art gallery that exhibits work of local artists. In addition to offering space, The Space on Main, Inc. invites creatives to hold and attend events, shows, and workshops. What is the current state of the local creative economy? The East Central Vermont Region which covers Orange and Windsor county includes an estimated 5,515 people who earn their living from the creative content of what they support, make, and/or sell. Applying a multiplier of 1.34 to take into account the indirect jobs generated by the additional revenue in the region, the total impact in jobs is 7,390 jobs. The region’s creative economy is made up predominantly of artisanal enterprises—freelancers, sole-proprietors, and enterprises that together average 3.5 employees. There is a very high degree of collaboration among creative individuals and enterprises in the region that has led to new products and services for creative individuals and enterprises as well as more effective distribution of products and services. Employment in the creative industries is about 8.9% of the total region’s employment. Employment growth in the region’s creative industries was 10.2% from 2010-2015 versus 8.2% for the U.S. and 7.6% for Vermont. The proportion of the workforce employed in creative industries in the region is 86% above the similar national proportion.
According to The Atmel Corporation, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of microcontrollers, has calculated that there are approximately 135 million adult Makers in the United States.This is over half (57 percent) the American population 18+ and does not include the millions of children and teenagers who are active in STEM projects through science fairs, robotics teams and tinkering in their basements. Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, projected that by 2018 nearly 50 percent of the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions would be provided by startups which are less than three years old. According to a survey by Maker Education Initiative in which 51 youth-oriented Makerspaces from across the United States responded, spaces reported serving a median of 450 visitors annually, with a wide range from 50 to 85,000 annual participants. The participating Makerspaces reported that they involved a total of 1.8 million annual visitors in their Makerspace programming – a testimony to the growing popularity of the Maker Movement. As cited in the East Central Vermont Economic Development District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy 2016-2021 report, “Makers” run the gamut from machinists, to scientists, to brewers, to cheese-makers, to artists, to techno-geeks and more. They are innovators who craft and reinvent a wide variety of products and methods of doing things better. Makers are taking big risks to start small businesses that are dedicated to creating and selling self-made products as well as inventing new ways to manufacture on a smaller scale. In 2014, we have surpassed our pre-recession levels of trade name registrations in the East Central Vermont Economic Development District with over 3,500 since 2005. That’s almost one new business per 20 people. As cited inThe Atlantic’s “Why the Maker Movement Matters,” Makerspaces provide tools that revolutionize manufacturing; a combination of 3D printing (which allows people to make and revise prototypes onsite, and produce certain high-value, low-volume items themselves, rather than going to a factory); much less expensive laser cutters, milling machines, and other sophisticated machine tools; the evolution of Arduino controls, which allow designers to add sophisticated electronic functions without doing all the coding themselves. The Space on Main, Inc. is excited to provide its patrons access hard-to-find equipment that is most commonly desired in Makerspaces.
Regional Prosperity Through Community & Economic Development
One factor that differentiates Vermont from other states is the widely recognized high quality of life in Vermont. While not always directly associated with the business environment, high quality recreation, natural beauty, low crime, and good public schools contribute to the success of Vermont businesses. These factors have attracted entrepreneurial, highly educated migrants whose businesses either benefit from the Vermont brand or can function effectively in an environment that suits the founder’s lifestyle choices. The Cohase Region is made up of a collection of Vermont and New Hampshire towns on either side of the Connecticut River. This region, as defined by the Cohase Chamber of Commerce includes: Haverhill, Piermont, and Orford on the New Hampshire side of the river as well as Newbury, Bradford, and Fairlee on the Vermont side of the river. Attracting and providing support for new, diverse, location-neutral businesses is a key component to creating economic stability that compliments the tourist market. The energy associated with a vibrant coworking community is contagious and can invigorate a small town’s business community by bringing in an air of innovation, excitement, and hope. By pulling often invisible independent professionals out of home offices, and into a central working location, it provides a place for visitors considering relocation to quickly see that full time residency is a viable option. When a person is able to work where they want to live, they can be more invested in their local community. Hours spent commuting can turn into hours spent enjoying what the region has to offer with family, friends, and neighbors.
Handicap Accessibility & Public Meeting Space
The Space on Main, Inc. will be located in a newly renovated building on Main Street in Bradford, Vermont. In an effort to make its services equally available to everyone, The Space on Main, Inc. is fully handicap accessible. In addition to being accessible, The Space on Main, Inc. is dedicated to making public meeting rooms available to the community. In addition to open and dedicated desk space, the space will provide two conference rooms that will be available for reservations. The spaces will be available for community meetings, classes, workshops, and other needs that arise.
As It Applies To Vermont’s 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
Vermont’s 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy formalized four key components that are essential to reaching its goals. These include: creating financial structures and programs that give Vermont enterprises access to capital and the means to grow; ensuring that all Vermont citizens have the skills they need to produce a robust livelihood and that Vermont businesses have the skilled talent they need to succeed; providing or improving infrastructure that is critical to economic and community development in Vermont; and creating a hospitable environment for the establishment, cultivation, and growth of businesses at all stages and for entrepreneurial innovation. In order to assist with achieving these goals at a local level, The Space on Main, Inc. is dedicated to encouraging innovation; providing support for organizations that address socio-economic issues that limit both economic development and Vermonters’ quality of life; as well as nurturing a local entrepreneurial culture. Because of “diseconomy” of scale and concentration, rural areas such as that of the Cohase Region are typically less economically robust than more urbanized areas. With this space, the region has an opportunity to cultivate and attract individuals and businesses that can build a vibrant and diverse economy. As the local economy continues to mature, the region can build on its strengths and address its weaknesses to keep pace with the rapidly changing economy.
• Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(2) of the Income Tax Regulations states that the term “charitable” is used in section 501(c)(3) of the Code in its generally accepted legal sense and includes the advancement of education.
•Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(3)(i)(a) of the regulations states that the term educational, as used in IRC 501(c)(3), relates to the instruction or training of the individual for the purpose of improving or developing his capabilities or the instruction of the public on subjects useful to the individual and beneficial to the community.
•Example 2 in Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(d)(3)(ii) of the regulations, makes it clear that “An organization whose activities consist of presenting public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures, or other similar programs,” is educational.
• Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code provides tax exemption for organizations organized and operated exclusively for charitable and/or educational purposes.
The sources of the corporation’s income derive from personal resources and public donations. Additional income sources will include grants, sponsorship and fundraising. The corporation disposes its income through the decisions made by its board of directors or through the decisions of the duly elected treasurer, whose power to pay expenses is set out by the board or the corporation’s bylaws in accordance to the corporation’s purpose. Expenses paid by the corporation include, but are not limited to: equipment purchases and rentals, ambassador’s salary and boarding, insurance premiums, internet web site fees, publications, advertising, and miscellaneous board expenses.