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Charleston Co-working Space Creates Community… and Profits

Local Works, a co-working space in Charleston run by Lowcountry Local First and BALLE Fellow Jamey Haley, has helped 42 entrepreneurs grow their local businesses and generate $16 million in revenue before reaching year two of the space, creating a strong community of entrepreneurs in the process.

Themes: Accelerate Collaboration, Act Local First

One and a half years after launch, Lowcountry Local First – run by BALLE Fellow Jamee Haley – has announced the annual revenue of the 42 entrepreneurs in the organization’s Local Works co-working space exceeds $16 million. The space is anticipated to be at capacity within the first quarter and will begin to operate on a waiting list system. A 2015 annual survey of companies in the space also found: 55 new employees were hired; 56% were women-owned companies; 191 new business relationships were formed through working at Local Works; and more than $410,250 was paid to locally-owned and headquartered service providers and product suppliers in the community.

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Inside Lowcountry Local First’s Local Works co-working space in Charleston, SC.

“We launched Local Works in 2014 to build a community and because we saw a need for affordable commercial space for small and local businesses in the Charleston area,” explained Jamee Haley, Executive Director at Lowcountry Local First. “We are two seats away from capacity and very encouraged by both the growth of our companies and the positive impact our companies are making on our local economy.”

“The people building their companies here are what set us apart from other coworking spaces in the area,” said Larry Downey, who manages Local Works as the Community Manager for Lowcountry Local First. “We have an incredibly diverse ecosystem of companies, and much like an ecosystem in the natural world, the more diversity we can bring to our business community, the more it will thrive, and the more our local economy will thrive in turn.”

The 3,000 square foot community co-working space located on Upper Meeting Street provides part-time and full-time desk space, as well as amenities like a conference room, informal meeting spaces, phone booths, Wifi/printing/scanning, and on-site parking. When building out the co-working space, Lowcountry Local First designed Local Works as a model of how to build and operate a commercial office space by working with as many locally-owned companies as possible – from the desks to the office supplies to the green roof.

“Many people don’t realize just how much can be localized when operating a business — office furniture, security, appliances, hand soap, coffee, etc., — and working with locally-headquartered companies creates a tremendous multiplier effect for our local economy,” explains Downey.

Local Works is funded through a combination of membership revenue and funders, including the City of Charleston, Charleston County and the South Carolina Department of Commerce. In 2015, Local Works won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition, receiving $50,000 to support the space and business development programs. Learn more at LocalWorksCharleston.org.