BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — In downtown Bentonville, a 200,000 square-foot workspace project is in the planning stages. It is a private development by New York-based WeWork, which a part of the company has been rebranded as We Company.
As for permits, “there is nothing filed with the city at this point, but I believe the plans are to have submittals early this year,” said City of Bentonville’s Interim Communication’s Director Debbie Griffin.
The city has not paid — or donated any land — for the project.
The workspace rental company wants to create more than an office building. An official update on the project is expected in the coming weeks, according to WeWorks Spokesperson Alyssa Botts.
University of Arkansas’ Walton Business College Center for Business and Economic Research Director Mervin Jebaraj said co-working center businesses is a risque proposition. “If you are a member of WeWork [as an example] you can cut your membership, but the organization providing the product still has to pay for the overhead.”
According to WeWork company statistics on its website, there are 600,000 members, 625 locations in 127 cities in 33 countries as of November 2019.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK, ICEBERG:
The communal workspace concept has been around for at least a decade in Fayetteville. “The first co-working center I remember was Iceberg in Fayetteville, but it didn’t work out,” said Jebaraj.
Iceberg opened in 2012, it was just off Dickson Street and occupied a basement space for two years. It had been a grassroots effort of Northwest Arkansas Entrepreneurship Alliance (NWAEA) and operated from February 2012 until February 2014 in the Metro District in downtown Fayetteville.
When the two years were up the agency looked for another place to call, “home.” That never happened, at least under the Iceberg name.
Jeannette Balleza Collins, entrepreneurial development director at the Northwest Arkansas Council, said co-working spaces provide a positive landscape for many people. She was part of the NWAEA board for Iceberg.
“Community-based collaborative spaces where experts, creatives, and innovators can gather together are critical for the supportive environment entrepreneurs need to be successful,” said Collins, “Concepts like The Station in Springdale, The Flourish Place in Rogers, Exchange in Bentonville, Maker Space in Siloam Springs, and CenterSpace in Fayetteville provide valuable resources and learning opportunities that strengthen the region’s innovation community.”
A COMMUNITY PLACE, LIKEWISE:
“Work, play, connect,” is front-and-center on its website. “Likewise is a collaborative workspace designed to engage the community in both work & play.” It offers a private conference room, open-air event space, a cafe, coffee, high-speed internet, flexible workspaces, table tennis, yoga sessions, and photography studios. The Fayetteville location is on College Avenue.
The concept appears to fit a variety of professional needs at various rates. There is a day pass, $15, where you may sit in the common areas of shared workspaces. A private 1-3 person office is $500 a month or a team suite starts at $1,000. You may also join the network as a community member for free.
A WORKPLACE THAT FITS YOUR NEEDS, NWA WORKPLACES:
This workspace option states that “workspace” is its specialty, according to its website. “From professional business addresses to private offices, we bring the operational expertise needed to create an exciting, bright and conducive work environment so you can get your best work done.”
There are dedicated desks, private offices, meeting rooms or a day office. It’s what fits your “work” needs. The company was initially called “Bentonville Workplace” and did business as 455 Media Group, LLC. It opened in June 2015.
The idea for co-working spaces is mainly for people who are consultants, remote workers, Walmart suppliers or have a company representative in the region who may need a workspace — Mervin Jebaraj
Clients usually pay a central fee and the spaces are more flexible. You can sign up for year-long membership or month-to-month. Jebaraj said, “there are people for a variety of reasons that this provides a different locale than a coffee shop … there is more privacy.”
Bottom line: If work collaborations do not have enough people renting spaces then they’ll close. This type of company must have an idea of how many people are needed to lease/rent spaces in order to make a profit — survive.
Click here for a list of coworking locations.