Vision 2017 | 814 Worx dials up inventive approach

Entrepreneur Ethan Stewart poses inside 814 Worx, a co-op space on the first floor of the Feeder Canal Building on Main Street in Johnstown.

What started off as an idea from Vision 2025’s Entrepreneur Capture Team will soon become a reality and a downtown Johnstown facility.   

The upstart 814 Worx will soon be opening its doors in the Feeder Canal building located along Main and Feeder streets. The co-op space, geared toward professionals seeking the benefits of an office, will offer different amenities and events to encourage networking, collaboration and creativity.

Ethan Stewart, 814 Worx founder, said the idea for the co-op site came from Vision 2025’s goal to create an entrepreneur space in downtown Johnstown. The idea quickly evolved, he said.

“The long-term goal is to create an entrepreneur space and incubator downtown,” Stewart said. “We need a place that people can come together. Business owners, small business owners, startups and all of the entrepreneurs that are being created around the area need a place to come together, consolidate, collaborate and work on solving some of the business problems around Johnstown.

“We don’t have a place like that right now.”

Stewart, who recently moved to the area from northern Virginia, said he found through research that there is not a local entrepreneurial ecosystem developed yet that can sustain a small business incubator.

He noted that the average cost of an incubator is $600,000. 

“And that’s without all of the other resources necessary to invest and grow the companies,” Stewart said. “That’s a lot of money just to get started and find out that nobody is coming or interested.

“So in order to minimize that risk, we decided to do it in incremental steps.”

Stewart said he is currently using a three-fold approach to determine the demand for startup space that will include a feasibility study, social media engagement and a beta test. 

The beta test or proof of concept, he said, will be 814 Worx.  

“Once we have that market established for the co-working space, we can scale up,” he said.

Stewart said the new co-op space will target individuals who now work from home.

“This is perfect for anybody who ... doesn’t have access to the amenities of an office, but wants to use what an office has to offer without having to commit to the cost or the lease associated with an office space,” he said.   

“Co-op spaces are popping up all over the place in different cities,” he said. “There’s definitely a demand, specifically in the commercial sector.”

Stewart said that he discovered from his research that remote workers tend to be happier than people who work out of an office because of the flexibility. 

“People are more productive when they have a place to collaborate, but also happier when they have flexibility,” Stewart said, “and this gives you both.”

Aside from offering professionals a place to operate, Stewart noted that educational sessions will be offered at the co-op space.

The 814 Worx site will present three educational programs that will consist of a job search program, educating the youth on entrepreneurship, and an entrepreneurial meet-up where people can get together to collaborate and work to solve problems.

With a list of business professionals who have already acknowledged that they will utilize the new co-op space, Stewart said he is working to get everything ready for public use. He hopes to open 814 Worx before spring.

For more information on 814 Worx or to set up a tour of the facility visit www.814worx.com

Ronald Fisher is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @FisherSince_82.

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