Story by Ammie Bryant
The corner of 9th and Main is historic. During the early days of life in Stillwater, this intersection served as a hub of commerce and community life. Back in 1889, the second floor of the building located on the northwest corner of this intersection was home to the first school, first church, first city council meetings, and the first bank in Stillwater. On the northeast corner of 9th and Main is the Chris Salmon Plaza, dedicated to the memory of the first woman to serve as mayor of Stillwater. Across the street from the plaza and a little to the east on 9th Avenue sits Stillwater’s oldest commercial building still standing. Originally the home of the Citizens State Bank, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places and now serves as home to the Stillwater Volunteer Center.
The southeast corner of the intersection has also seen a few firsts including serving as home to the first bicycle shop in town. The Cooper family bicycle shop started at this location when Charles H. Cooper got a job at the Greiner Bros. Harness shop where he met his future bride Angela Greiner. Cooper eventually bought a half interest in the harness shop and was allowed by his father-in-law to have a small section for bicycle repair. Cooper didn’t move his shop north to its current location until after World War II.
Now 901 South Main is home to another first: Stillwater’s first coworking center. WorkIT Coworking Center opens this month and the center’s owner and founder, Kristen Hadley understands a bit about Stillwater’s history as well as pioneering new ventures.
The Hadley family has been in Stillwater since its founding. “Between my husband, Rick, and I, we are probably related to almost anybody in town who has more than four or five generations in Stillwater,” Kristen explained. Kristen was born, raised, and went to school in Stillwater. She has seen it change and grow through the years and has an eye for spotting trends and recognizing potential, which led her to founding WorkIT Coworking Center.
Today’s workforce is moving outside of the typical corporate structure with estimates that 40% of the workforce will be freelance and 60% will work remotely by 2020. Increasingly, freelancers and telecommuters are seeking work space options outside of their home offices and coffee shops.
Enter the coworking center.
The number of coworking spaces has increased 400% in the past two years alone. It is redefining how people work. There are coworking centers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City as well as metropolitan areas all over the world.
Over 20 million Americans work from home which can lead to loneliness, distractions, and slower business growth. Coworking encourages collaboration, diverse social networks, and provides the connectedness that humans need to thrive. Freelancers and small business owners can bounce ideas off one another which leads to inspiration and productivity.
Kristen understands the need for these kinds of spaces, “If there had been a coworking space in Stillwater, I would have joined one instead of founding one.”
For the last nineteen years, Kristen has worked from home while raising and homeschooling two kids. She has a BS in Management Information Systems and a MS in Telecommunications Management. Since 1995, she has helped businesses with technology. Additionally, she has helped her husband with his business, Payne County Tree Service, which he opened in 1990.
As a mom working from home, Kristen is familiar with the distractions and limitations a home office brings. She always thought that once her children were grown she would return to the workforce; but she has enjoyed working independently and owning her own business. What she missed was the social aspect and the collaboration that can be found in an office environment. Kristen knows many other work-from-home moms as well as other small business owners and she realized she wasn’t the only one looking for a place outside of her home office for meetings or a mobile workspace free from the distractions of the home office. Seeing the need for such a space, she began researching the topic and realized that what Stillwater needed was a coworking center. When the location at 901 S. Main became available, she knew it would be great for coworking.
As of this writing, WorkIT already has approximately twenty founding members eager to take advantage of their membership and reap the rewards of a vital, collaborative work environment while maintaining their freedom and flexibility to work independently.
WorkIT has a variety of memberships available from a basic membership for someone who only requires space for an occasional meeting on up to full time private offices. There are “flex” desks and “dedicated” desks as well as a limited number of private offices. Flex desks allow a member to bring in a laptop to work at whatever desk may be open that day. Dedicated desks are reserved for members full time. The center has a small meeting room perfect for 2 to 4 people or a larger conference room that will accomodate board meetings and trainings. There is even a photography studio with backdrops and other equipment. The photographer only needs to bring a camera and their subject. It’s the perfect space for everything from product photography to portraits. Print and copy services are provided and there is also an option for mail services. Kristen is especially proud to announce the availability of fiber optic internet serviced by Provalue.net and great coffee provided by the Daily Grind.
The public is invited to attend a special grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony on August 9, which is International Coworking Day, with the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce at WorkIT Coworking Center, at 901 S. Main.
Call 405-385-9813 to arrange a tour of the center today.