A new project in Bennington hopes to tap into the growing popularity of coworking spaces.
Organizers of the project, called The Lightning Jar, have partnered with the Vermont State Employees Credit Union to convert 1,200 square feet of the credit union’s downtown offices into a coworking space.
The idea is to provide small businesses and start-ups with low-cost professional facilities and opportunities to collaborate with others.
“A home office can be quite an isolated environment,” says Dimitri Garder, who is leading the project. “Coworking spaces provide collaborative, open, informal environments that allow people to have office space and a professional image but without being constrained by the costs associated with a more formal office environment.”
Garder says an increasing number of workers are "untethered" from a corporate environment and need professional space.
They work as contractors or freelancers, rather than fulltime employees of corporations. Others may be start-ups or small businesses. The Lightning Jar will offer a variety of membership levels, from long-term to daily use.
The space would also provide professional development opportunities to members and host workshops, meetups and other events.
The coworking space is an effort to bring together a community of businesses that Garder says already exists in the Bennington area.
“It’s really giving individuals an opportunity to be around other individuals who share similar values but are not necessarily in the same line of business,” he says.
Garder is co-founder and owner of Global Z in Bennington, which provides data processing services to clients around the world. He says his involvement in the project stems from the belief that it’s in the interest of the company he founded 26 years ago to strengthen the local economy.
In the past 16 months, the manufacturer Plasan has announced the closure of two plants in Bennington, resulting in the loss of more than 200 jobs.
The Lightning Jar is scheduled to open later this summer.