High-country coworking: by 2020, half the U.S. work force could be location-agnostic, so why not work closer to the slopes?

Author:Peterson, Eric
Position:STATE of the STATE - DurangoSpace
 
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Coworking has snowballed in Colorado's mountain towns.

Kicking off the trend, DurangoSpace opened in 2011 and now attracts a wide range of creatives, techies and other professionals.

Co-founder Jasper Welch says his motive isn't as much profit as it is to buoy the local business community and catalyze entrepreneurialism. The downtown Durango location is "critical," he adds.

Both locals and out-of-towners use DurangoSpace. "It's kind of amazing who shows up," says Welch. "We call it the 'work anywhere platform.'"

And it's spreading to historic downtowns statewide. In Frisco, Elevate CoSpace opened in 2014. A second Elevate location went live in Breckenridge in December 2015 after the openings of EV03 Workspace in Frisco, River CoWorks in Basalt, and Proximity Space in Montrose earlier in the year.

High-speed Internet, ergonomic workstations, locally roasted coffee, and craft beer on tap are common perks.

Elevate founder Amy Kemp "was working out of coffee shops" before she transformed a former gallery into a coworking space with people like herself in mind.

Kemp saw Elevate as not only a means to get out of the coffee shop, but to help diversify the local economy. "We're so tourism-based," she says," citing "incredible potential for Summit County to be a tech hub for the outdoor industry."

Aaron Landau launched EV03 Workspace in Frisco in April 2015 with similar motives. "People want to live and work in the mountains," he says, but there's a disconnect: Tourism and real estate dominate the economy, and affordability is always an issue. But jobs in IT services pay about $80,000 a year, according to InfoWorld data, more than twice the average for the tourism...

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