AVONDALE, AZ - There’s a movement that’s spreading across the country. It’s called Gangplank and it started right here in the Valley. It’s a simple way to create a community workspace that provides entrepreneurs with the resources to build a new business. It’s about sharing ideas. They don’t call it co-working, they call it collaborative working.
The newest Gangplank office is in Avondale. The city offered up the old city hall, free of charge. I had a chance to visit the office and meet a few of the people who are already using it.
People like Dharma Kelleher, a web designer who is one of Gangplank Avondale’s “anchor” tenants. This means she gets to keep her computer on-site. Others bring laptops. She says before she set up shop at Gangplank, she spent most of her time “at my kitchen table, literally, I was at the kitchen table for about 2 years."
Just a few feet away sat Elia Martinez. They run separate businesses but both work out of Gangplank. Elia was pecking away on her laptop when I met her.
“I’m a designer but most recently I've been doing some product development,” explained Martinez.
Cody Landefeld, co-director of the Gangplank location, explained the philosophy.
“We're not looking to be a place where people can just say, it's free office space. We really want people to invest in the community here,” Landefeld said.
That doesn’t take away from the fact that Gangplank is free to use. You get space, an Internet connection, power and other people who are willing to help. Landefeld said it truly is about helping each other while you’re working to help yourself.
The first Gangplank was set up in Chandler about 5 years ago. Tucscon recently opened an office, then Avondale. Smaller versions of Gangplank have popped up in Canada and Virginia.
Katie Charland, Gangplank director of operations, explained,” We get inquiries probably once or twice a week with people wanting to start locations. A really important piece of our model is that we don't push ourselves on any location.”
Gangplank hopes to be a catalyst for people who want to do it on their own. People who otherwise might not have a place to turn. People like Kelleher who, after a few years out of the business, found it hard to break back in.
“I said, I'm going to do it myself and I created my own business. I've been in business for a couple years now.”
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