After the idea for a business comes the need for a desk. Co-working spaces can provide a low-cost base of operations for startup companies. The region has not always received high marks for nurturing startups, so the proliferation of co-working spaces Downtown may be something that helps.
The Post-Gazette’s Mark Belko reported Wednesday that Industrious, a New York company, will be leasing nearly 24,000 square feet at One PPG Place with the goal of making 100 offices, plus common areas, available to startups and others needing modest work spaces. A second co-working provider, Coterie, has landed at the Frick Building, while a third, Level Office, plans to open its doors at 606 Liberty Ave. next year. A fourth, WeWork, also is believed to be interested in Downtown space.
In addition, co-working spaces have opened in the East End, Uptown and the North Side. Rents range from $75 to a few hundred dollars per month, a far cry from what a company would need to rent full-scale office space in a business district. While businesses may be birthed anywhere — Facebook famously got its start in a Harvard dorm room — co-working spaces give entrepreneurs a professional environment in which to hang their shingles and the chance to hobnob with others like them.
Gregg Broujos, managing director of the real-estate firm Colliers International, said co-working spaces are filling a need created by startups spun out from local universities. But is the region doing as much as it can to nurture startups? A study released in August by the Missouri-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ranked Pittsburgh last among 40 cities in startup creation for the second year in a row, and a report in June from the foundation ranked the city 27th in how fast startups grew.
Because small companies and tech firms are great economic engines, the region should do all it can to support them. A lack of venture capital is one problem commonly cited by Pittsburgh entrepreneurs. Co-working spaces also appear to be meeting an infrastructure need, and that is welcome news.