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Jason Gregorich, Installer for Abbey Carpet of Petaluma, CA.  Support your community Shop Local First!
Jason Gregorich,
Abbey Carpet & Floor of Petaluma
lays carpet in the entryway to the new work-share space at the Sonoma Community Center.
For many of Sonoma Valley’s small businesses and nonprofits, renting office space is a cost too high to bear. The Sonoma Community Center is seeking to level the playing field by offering reasonably priced work-share space, set to open in mid-February.

“There are all of these little, tiny nonprofits and businesses that can’t support the overhead, but need a space,” said Kathy Swett, executive director of the center. “We’ll have a sliding scale so people can come in and use it for a few months, for a few days or for a few hours and pay as they go.”

Using $30,000 in capital campaign money, the center is putting the final touches on a complete renovation of room 200, which is being transformed into an office of nine cubicles. The remodel has included supplying air conditioning to the space, making it Wi-Fi accessible and providing a copy/fax machine for renters along with new desks, chairs and carpeting. There is also an area for renters to keep file cabinets. The center has installed a costly key-card entry system, which will allow renters to access the office space 24-hours a day.

“One of the things we really wanted to offer was the flexibility for people to come when they need to,” Swett said.

Swett said the center developed the new work-share space with the help of Wired Sonoma, a Valley-based business that has spent years looking for a space that is both practical and affordable for a start-up company. Owner Chip Roberson said he sees the space as an ideal option for a variety of users.

“It appeals to the freelancer, the early entrepreneur, the work-at-home person …,” he said. “I’m tired of working at home, it’s very isolating. When you’re a young company with two to three people working together, it’s nice to have a place to go.”

In addition to Wired Sonoma, the Sweetwater Spectrum, a new Valley nonprofit that is building a residential center for autistic adults, has signed on as a renter until construction is complete on its Fifth Street West location. Cittaslow Sonoma will also make use of the new business space. Monthly rentals of a dedicated desk will be $500, and Swett said the center is still setting prices for more temporary users.

As renters will have access to the center’s conference room and most likely its certified commercial kitchen, she expects the space will be attractive to those visiting the Valley on business, who may need to hold a meeting or access the business infrastructure on a one-time basis. The office will be listed on LiquidSpace, a smart phone app that shows business travelers where they can rent temporary office space.
“I use it all the time when I am traveling for business. Currently, the closest space listed is in Napa,” Roberson said.

Swett said the center sees the work-share space as filling a needed niche in the Valley. “I really think we’re creating a culture that hasn’t been there before,” she said. “We see this as another way to support the community, which is our mission here.”

Final touches are being completed in the coming weeks, and Swett said she expects the space will be ready for renters by mid-February.

by Emily Charrier Botts  Index-Tribune Entertainment Editor
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