BANGOR, Maine — Eastern Maine Development Corp. wants entrepreneurs and innovators to step out of their home offices and coffee shops and get to work in downtown Bangor alongside others trying to grow, improve and run their own businesses.
The new program is called Norumbega Hall, housed in EMDC’s building that carries the same name at 40 Harlow St. in downtown Bangor.
When it opens officially on Nov. 1, the space will feature tables, cubicles and private offices for up to 24 businesses. The hope is that Bangor-area businesspeople, entrepreneurs and others who don’t have office space of their own will sign on to work inside Norumbega Hall rather than hunkering down in a coffee shop or staying at home. That will allow them to collaborate closely with other entrepreneurs using the same space, according to Mike Aube, president and CEO of EMDC.
“This is more than just leasing space, it’s a collaborative effort with our partners … to deliver services to budding entrepreneurs,” Aube said Wednesday during a press conference announcing the new offering.
People can lease a spot in Norumbega Hall for a day or a month. A day pass at a table can be purchased for $19 or a dedicated desk can be set aside for $199 per month. A private office can be leased for $299 and up per month. More about rates may be found at EMDC’s website. Though the spaces don’t officially open until November, EMDC is accepting applications. Fees will be used to cover the costs of running the program, such as the wideband connection and reception services, according to EMDC.
Each rental option includes access to high-speed, fiber-optic Internet, reception services, printing and other basics of business that people might not have available at home or the local coffee shop.
Similar co-working spaces are growing in popularity in the U.S. and abroad. According to deskmag.com, a website that monitors international co-working opportunities, there are nearly 600 such sites in the U.S., and more than 1,300 across the globe.
While this is Bangor’s first co-working space, Portland has four physical co-working locations within city limits where business professionals and creative entrepreneurs can work in the same building, bouncing ideas and knowledge off one another. The city also has www.wycwah.com, a website dedicated to the concepts behind co-working and updating people on what opportunities are available.
Renee Kelly is director of the Foster Student Innovation Center at the University of Maine in Orono, which serves as a co-working space for UMaine students. After graduation, Kelly said some of the students she sees at the Foster Center leave for Portland in order to start their businesses or other endeavors at co-working spaces there. Now, those students will have the opportunity to stay in the Bangor area and do the same thing.
Garrett Wilkin of Maine Hacker Club, who has used EMDC’s services in the past, said Wednesday that he believes co-working will help make Bangor a more attractive destination for young entrepreneurs, businesspeople and creative minds.
“We have an incredible pool of talent here in Maine and we want to create a reason and a fantastic support space for people to, literally, want to come out of the woods and be together,” Wilkin said.