Let's work together

By PHILIP EIL  |  March 12, 2014
 

 0314_Cowork_AS220_top.jpg
TRANSFORMATIVE Digital City's DC206. [Photo by Richard McCaffrey]

WORKDIGZ

LOCATION | Warwick

OPENED | January 2014

SQUARE FOOTAGE |  4500, with the ability to expand up to 10,000

RATES |  $25/day; longer-term memberships start at $199/month

ONLINE | workdigz.com

OUR TAKE |  There’s really no getting around the fact that WorkDigz looks like an abandoned set from Office Space. It’s all here: the vaguely flesh-colored filing cabinets, the wall-to-wall carpeting, the cubicle-style desk partitions.

But that doesn’t mean the place offers the same soul-squelching existential claustrophobia of your last corporate gig. In fact, once you remove the overbearing bosses, the neutered dress code, and the rigid hours, well, WorkDigz starts to feel like an exciting blank space from which to plot your world domination.

It’s corporate life, minus the shitty parts. (WorkDigz: call us if you want to use that as your catch phrase.)

WHY COWORKING? “When the economy tanked back in ’06, ’07, and so many people were out of work, they sat around for a couple years crying over not being able to work and then finally got fed up with not being able to find work and said, ‘I’m going to start my own thing.’ So I think that the small business entrepreneurial spirit has spurred the coworking spirit. What you’re finding is people just can’t afford to do business as a small business and have the expense of the overhead of a private office or a private business location.”

_WorkDigz community ambassador Jessica Northup

 

DC206

LOCATION | Downtown Providence

OPENED | February 2014

SQUARE FOOTAGE |  1200

RATES |  $75/month (part-time), $150/month (full-time), $250/month (“Core” membership)

ONLINE | digitalcityri.org

OUR TAKE |  This latest addition to Rhode Island’s coworking scene is more than just a space. It’s a movement. “Clearly the time has come for us to really create an industry here in Rhode Island that has high wage jobs and can put a lot of people to work,” said Gary Glassman, the president of the production company Providence Pictures, at DC206’s launch in late February. “We really believe that digital design and media production is one very viable path to doing that.”

DC206 is actually a subsidiary of a three-pronged initiative called Digital City designed to “transform Rhode Island into an international digital design and production hub.” There is an education component, helmed by Renee Hobbs, a URI professor and founding director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media. (Check out the recently published white paper, “Going Digital: Developing Business and Education Strategies for a 21st Century Rhode Island” online.)

There will be a membership organization for designers, filmmakers, programmers, and other digital professionals.

And there will be a physical space to serve as a hub for this activity. Glassman and others originally envisioned a building-sized, state-of-the-art production facility, complete with green screen studios and editing suites — the kind of place that would both lure companies from out of town and fulfill any local media-maker’s fantasy. But, “I don’t think Rhode Island is a big enough state for the kind of ‘build it and they will come’ mentality,” says Tally Gilkes-Bower, director of Digital City and co-founder of DC206. The current space, therefore, “is a very small but important test bed to try to understand what that larger space might look like.”

A perk of membership? Pay-as-you-go access to DC206 host, AS220’s, almost unlimited set of toys: laser cutters, vinyl cutters, a media production lab, a screen printing studio, a darkroom, letter press machines, 3D printers, CNC routers, sewing machines, soldering stations, woodshop tools. “If there’s a project that you can’t complete over there. . . .” Bower says. He trails off.

It just doesn’t seem possible there’s a project you can’t complete here.

Philip Eil can be reached atpeil@phx.com. Follow him on Twitter @phileil.

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