How do we encourage interaction and collaboration between our region’s entrepreneurs who are often geographically and socially dispersed? Through coworking!

Coworking is a global movement with the potential to bridge a gap among us. The cowork philosophy enables individuals to easily connect and effectively support one another while growing regional business. In the simplest form, coworking spaces are shared work environments where independent professionals and small agencies work alongside one another and share amenities at affordable rates.

I’ve found through my international travels, industry conversations, and personal experience in creating coworking communities (locally and nationally) that coworking is more of a philosophy than a space. The truly successful coworks thrive based on firm commitment to the creation of community first; a clearly defined a mission; and the establishment of clearly outlined business practices.

In Rochester, we are in the beginning stages of becoming a hotbed for coworking. This is because we have a rising population of entrepreneurs and thought leaders dedicated to the expansion of innovation, here and beyond. This group is growing in Rochester because, as a community, we are embracing progressive business models and resources.

My role in coworking began in 2008 as a curious explorer, trying to figure out where a community of entrepreneurial minds existed in Upstate New York. Through my travels, I found a vast myriad of siloed institutions, organizations and individuals. I kept asking myself, “Where were all the like-minded innovators here?”

As I searched for a community that would provide a truly inclusive and supportive atmosphere I began to realize that, none of the organizations I was participating in (that included an incubator, multiple shared offices, networking groups, and even a coworking space) provided the support or community I needed to grow as an individual and entrepreneur.

Based on my exploration and desire to establish like-minded communities, I’ve collaborated with many local entrepreneurs on coworking spaces (including Carlson Cowork, Rochester and Port 100, Geneva) and networking communities (Roc Community Coworking and RocGrowth) in the area.

Good news, Rochester: We are well on our way to being a completely inclusive and community-driven business landscape.

This is the first in a three-part series on coworking. Click here to see Part 2.

Chris Cooley is a TEDx speaker, writer and cowork consultant. As a social entrepreneur who calls Rochester home, he is finding, more than ever, that true coworking provides the critical resources and atmosphere for entrepreneurial success and continues to explore the model and its effectiveness here and abroad.