New Staunton business offers entrepreneurs unique collaborative hub

economic-forecast-headerThe storefront at 16 West Beverley Street in Staunton has seen many retail incarnations over the last few decades, but its newest tenants are a contingent of entrepreneurs set on redefining what business and community development in small main streets looks like.

16 West by Virtually Sisters, LLC opened its doors as a coworking space in early January and is already collaborative home to several local businesses, two non-profits and four community groups. More than a dozen other microbusinesses have used the space for pop-up retail events as well.

“Coworking, which is basically shared office and networking space, is popular in larger metropolitan areas, but Virtually Sisters sees enormous potential for what a shared hub of day-to-day entrepreneurial activity can provide for smaller communities. By creating a flexible and collaborative environment in an accessible downtown location, 16 West provides small businesses without a brick-and-mortar location an affordable option for running their freelance, telecommuting, online or consulting businesses,” said Karen Lawrence of Virtually Sisters, LLC, the consulting group that manages the space. “Space to work, have meetings, conduct business education classes, host networking activities and hold boutique retail or service showcases provides another dimension to existing business development offerings in the area,” she added.

In addition to shared work and activity space, coworking partners have access to high speed Internet, office equipment and supplies, coffee/tea/snack area and a burgeoning network of other entrepreneurs. Some of the coworking groups include KLCreative Media, Personally Just for You, the Staunton Music Guild, Embry Media and Project GROWS. Staunton’s new time bank initiative, the (h)OUR Economy uses the location for informal volunteer gatherings. A number of creative arts and product showcases are in the works.

Ryan Blosser, Project GROWS Coordinator discusses the fledging non-profit’s reasons for choosing a coworking situation: “Born of the combined efforts of nine community agencies, Project GROWS has a history of collaboration. We’re excited to expand our tradition of partnering by joining 16 West and other businesses in the coworking space.” Project GROWS, a non-profit funded by grants from the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth and Augusta Health seeks to address obesity in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro by giving children and youth opportunities to grow produce, compost vegetable waste, and learn about nutrition. Project GROWS believes a strategic presence in Staunton combined with their existing farm in Augusta County will position them for broader community impact.

For more information about membership packages and upcoming activities in the new shared space, visit www.16WestVS.com or follow on Facebook.


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