Connect Brings Coworking to Bradenton

Entrepreneur

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY OCT 30, 2017

Bradenton will see the region’s next coworking space open downtown. Connect Bradenton hosts its grand opening on Thursday, hoping to bring the modern work environment into town in a way that also attracts more professionals into the city core. 

Bernie Croghan, president and ‘senior doer’ at Connect Bradenton, says he sees the cowork space as the next evolution in work environments. Croghan worked for years in renting executive suites as part owner at Comcenter, leasing offices in East Manatee and Lakewood Ranch. But after selling his interest in that company to a partner, he turned attention toward establishing a coworking space. “I simply had a fondness for the downtown area of Bradenton,” he said. “The opportunity appeared.” He rented space from Bakker Inc., formerly occupied by a Bank of America location. 

Jean Farmer came on in June as the ‘connector’ at the space, and says the environment should suit the needs of entrepreneurs in the region. She sees growing demand for a low-cost workspace where all kinds of business-people can find a work home. “The reason why people are gravitating toward things like this is that we were all told years ago we could work from home, and were promised how cool that would be,” she says. “I remember dreaming about it, but after a while you just need some human interaction.”

The difference between an executive suite and coworker space, Croghan says, exists primarily a focus on a shared environment. While an executive suite allows people to share certain administrative functions like a reception desk and infrastructure like a printer or meeting room while tenants spend most of their time in private offices, a coworking environment provides large rooms and focuses more on collaboration and interaction between the tenants.

At Connect Bradenton, tenants will be able to rent a “social membership” and work in the shared space for $49 a month. “That’s probably no more than you would spend on a coffee on the way to work, so why not have that coffee with friends and peers in a friendly atmosphere,” Croghan said.

But unlike some of the existing coworking environments already open in the region, tenants still looking for an executive suite-style package can rent an office and pay for an array of administrative support. The largest available offices run for about $1,399 a month, Farmer said. Croghan likes to call Connect Bradenton a hybrid between a true coworking space, which may not even offer phone service or a mailing address, and an executive suite with maximum amenities.

Farmer expects entrepreneurs and freelancers to serve as the typical tenant, but could also see sales people with large territories choosing to set up base. And Croghan says tenants at Connect Bradenton will be able to “work the way you want,” running non-traditional hours. “They will have total flexibility," he says. "If you only want to be here Monday mornings, that’s fine.”

The coworking space held a Free Work Friday event a few days ago to show off to potential tenants the possibilities of working in Connect Bradenton. Four tenants have already signed up to use the space so far, but Croghan wants to sign up 100 tenants, and with 10,000 square feet of space says there’s plenty of room. A grand opening is scheduled Thursday from 3-6pm.

Photo courtesy Connect Bradenton

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