Awardee: Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma
Award: Economic Vitality
City: Port Townsend
Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows in an airy, cleverly designed 2,300 square foot space – created by local designers and contractors – the Port Townsend CoLab fosters inspiration and energy in Port Townsend. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people who work independently but share values and take interest in the spillover effects that occur when talented people share a space. The concept appeals to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently and otherwise work in relative isolation. Port Townsend entrepreneurs Heather Dudley-Nollette and Frank DePalma researched the market for two years prior to making the decision that such a space was a sustainable business idea for the community.
The CoLab opened its doors on the second floor of the historic Elks Building in January 2013. It’s amenities include shared conference space, high speed internet, office equipment, a kitchen area serving locally roasted organic Sunrise Coffee, and a supportive sounding board for the members to brainstorm ideas and work together on projects. They offer targeted free and low-cost business classes to assist entrepreneurs and host the Young Professional Test Labs for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, which is a peer-driven business topic brainstorm. The CoLab also offers one-on-one coaching sessions using volunteer services of Team Jefferson/EDC and CoLab members.
“Coworking is not only about the physical space but in the collaboration and innovation that comes from having creative people working in the same space,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Program Coordinator. “The beautiful and clever reuse of this historic space has brought together 130 drop-in and meeting space users as well as 20 full and part-time entrepreneurs dedicated to fostering a healthy and vibrant economy in Port Townsend. It is sure to be a model for other communities across the country.”