Think Tank Awarded DECD Grant

Posted Monday, March 27, 2017 by in locations, coworking, entrepreneurship, Portland, ideation, facilities, Maine, remote workforce, community

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Here’s a little history of coworking in the state and how LD1332 - An Act to Attract Entrepreneurs to the State is supporting the future of coworking in Maine.

In 2015, the state of Maine passed legislation creating a $200,000 fund to support the development of coworking spaces across the state. This fund has run it’s course but there is new legislation being proposed (LD285) to replace this fund and continue supporting the innovation economy.  

Here in Portland, it now seems obvious that coworking spaces are a cornerstone of economic development in Maine.  They combine the facilities of shared office suites with the social qualities and character of a community center.  Coworking spaces are the new home of the emerging “remote workforce” and generally serve as important space for arts, culture and ideas... but they don't happen out of the blue. It’s taken years to show legislators the value of these spaces and convince them why they should support the development of coworking in their communities.

“Like any new business, starting a coworking space requires time, energy and personal risk. Unfortunately they don’t always turn a profit. This grant was created to help entrepreneurs across the state take that plunge without fear of losing their shirt.” says Patrick Roche, Think Tank’s Founder and Director. “The real value of coworking is in its contribution to the local economy.”  

In 2015, Roche reached out to Senate Minority Leader, Justin Alfond, suggesting the creation of a fund to grow coworking around the state. Modeling the legislation after the TDI Cowork Bill in Massachusetts, Roche helped craft some of the language, ultimately testifying in Augusta on its behalf.  In September of 2015, the bill was approved and the money began being dispersed via RFP in two phases of $100,000.  Since then, nine coworking spaces have received grants up to $25,000, they are: Open Bench Project; Fork Food Lab; Our Katahdin; Peloton Labs; Brunswick Landing; The Gem of Bethel, Maine; and Think Tank Biddeford.  All worthy companies focused on bringing great things to the people of Maine.

In January of 2017,  Think Tank Portland was awarded a $25,000 matching grant to cover part of the cost of expanding the Congress Street facility.  “This is the first grant we’ve received. We’re thrilled to get this funding. Needless to say, 25K is huge debt relief,” says Roche.  “This grant ensures Think Tank can continue its mission of giving members and the community a high quality coworking experience.”

By utilizing this fund, coworking entrepreneurs around the state can now more easily secure commercial real estate, lease, improve or build out a shared work space. They can invest in technology or programming that helps their clients meet the professional expectations of the global marketplace. In this way coworking is accelerating Maine’s economy.  

If you or someone you know is interested in starting a collaborative workspace in Maine or elsewhere, let them know Think Tank can help.

Before and After Photos of the Expansion

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