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WORK IN PROGRESS: Infill work is ongoing for Cowork Collective for a planned late summer opening in Monett.
provided by Cowork Collective LLC
WORK IN PROGRESS: Infill work is ongoing for Cowork Collective for a planned late summer opening in Monett.

Monett to gain boutique-style coworking space

Venture’s owner aims for summer launch

Posted online

Downtown Monett is set to gain a new workspace concept this summer when a coworking venture opens its doors.

Brett Heman, owner of Cowork Collective LLC, a boutique-style coworking space and flex office, said the business is a first for the town of nearly 9,700 residents in between Springfield and Joplin. It will fill 3,100 square feet at 308 E. Broadway St., incorporating two buildings owned by Heman.

Craftsman Construction and Woodworking LLC is general contractor for the project designed by R.E. Werner Architect LLC, Heman said. Cowork Collective will include 11 private offices, 12 open desks, a phone booth for private calls, a study booth for small teams to collaborate, an executive-style conference room, a kitchen stocked with unlimited coffee, a lobby to greet guests and a courtyard to allow outside work.

“It’s something I’ve believed in for a few years now, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to bring this to Monett,” said Heman, who also co-owns real estate investment company Heman Houses Asset Management LLC with his father, Bruce, and recently was named executive director of the Monett Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The downtown is really beautiful, and people are putting a lot of effort into keeping our downtown very vibrant.”

Cowork Collective also will provide mail services, which Heman said will give home-based businesses, freelancers and solo entrepreneurs a professional mailing address. Membership fees are still to be determined for the venue. Options will include day passes, student memberships and small, medium and large office suites.

“We have the capacity to handle about 50 members,” he said.

Additionally, the company will hire a community manager to aid members and host networking events, he said.

Plan change
Heman said part of the infill work includes knocking out a wall between the two buildings to more than double the originally planned square footage. The space initially was going to be 1,400 square feet, a size Heman realized after research was going to be too small. He consulted with officials with Plexpod, a Kansas City-based company, to better understand the development and mechanics of coworking.

“My plans with the building were not finished yet with the architect,” he said, noting it was an easy change to add in the second building. “We reconfigured the space now that there’s two sides to it.”

Heman said his design goal with the coworking space is to have a historic interior facade and mesh it with a modern, industrial look.

“It’s the old meets the new. There will happen to be elements of that,” Heman said, adding he estimates roughly $300,000 in startup costs.

Noting he has a love of real estate, Heman sees the coworking space empowering small businesses to grow and flourish as they can share responsibilities in the building such as utilities, cleaning and security.

According to a report from real estate software company Yardi through its Coworking Cafe platform, the number of coworking spaces in the U.S. reached 5,612 as of March. In terms of pricing, the national median rates for open workspaces per month were $134, while dedicated desks went for $326 and virtual offices for $94.

Partner up
Cowork Collective intends to utilize expertise from the Efactory, Missouri State University’s business incubator, although Heman said details of the partnership aren’t finalized.

“We have had early stage brainstorming discussions with Brett, and we’re excited by the possibilities,” Efactory Director Rachel Anderson said via email. “Brett has toured the Efactory and attended a roundtable discussion on Innovate SOMO that was hosted at the Monett Chamber of Commerce last summer.”

Innovate SOMO is a regional network that aims to spur digital workforce and economic development in the state. A partnership between Efactory and Cape Girardeau-based technology incubator Codefi LLC, the network is designed to assist entrepreneurs in 47 counties with software developer training and other programs, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

“Innovate SOMO will increase the power and potential of rural communities, which includes building more opportunities like Cowork Collective,” Anderson said. “We want to partner with leaders in Monett and communities across the state to offer resources and programs that support entrepreneurship, small-business development and workforce development in southern Missouri.”

The Efactory has coworking space, and Anderson said that component provides “maximum productivity and minimum commitment, which is important when first getting started.”

“Coworking memberships are more than access to a desk or a building,” she said. “Coworking helps connect individuals to resources and to a community as well as access to shared amenities like reservable conference rooms, mail and package delivery, access to business support programs and more.”

Heman said one goal is to use Cowork Collective as a pipeline to further engage people in the programming events of the Efactory and [Missouri] Small Business Development Center. That, in turn, can push economic development in Monett, he said.

It’s an area Heman, a native of Aurora, has interest to see flourish in his role leading the Monett chamber. He was hired for the position in February.

“If I want to have the kind of impact that I want to have in Monett, then I need to be sitting in that seat and help empower our board and just really engage our community,” he said of his decision to seek the job. “I feel really confident in my ability to effectively facilitate and create teams and common goals to push progress forward.”

While Heman is hopeful Cowork Collective can be ready by July, he said any unexpected construction delays could push back that date. Still, he believes the venture’s start will allow Monett to serve as a test case for the value of coworking space in a rural area.

“If it’s going to work in a small town, it’s going to work in Monett. If it doesn’t work here, I’d advise no one else try it anywhere else,” he said with a laugh.

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