Guests of the Corner Coworking space raised their glasses and toasted in celebration of its first operating year last Friday (March 1).

As Mark Eaton, Coworking Catalyst and Founder looks back over the Corner's first year; he shares while he had expected to attract a larger number of members, the quality of the coworking businesses that have come on board has been outstanding. "I have been pleasantly surprised by the connections people have made and the collaborations that have come out of it either by people working here or our events."

Difficult in some ways to know exactly how many businesses work out of the Corner at any given time, Eaton says there are quite a few that consider the Corner Coworking space their business headquarters. "On a full-time basis, there is probably five businesses that are here full time at the Corner and another dozen that considers this their home on a part-time basis or work here regularly. The rest is a tougher one as they are just dropping in as they need space or attending events."

There are a variety of reasons why businesses choose to share space in a coworking environment, shares Eaton, and he sees the concept only growing. "There are a couple of things in favour of coworking; people are starting to do more side gigs and sometimes they may need a space away from the home office or not working out of a coffee shop. Another is some businesses are downsizing and not always wanting a five-year lease on large office space, so we offer that short term opportunity and space as well."

The future looks bright as the Corner is also one of the businesses invested in seeing an innovation centre come to Cochrane. Whether or not Eaton can wait for a formalized plan to come to fruition is another question. "It is hard to say whether we will reach our capacity before we have those opportunities. The short answer...we are growing, but now I have to work out how fast and whether we can survive in this size of space before other opportunities come forth."

While Eaton could easily work as an office manager, a company renting out space, or even as a landlord, bringing the coworking concept to Cochrane is something he is passionate about. "I could have just had some offices, but that is not my goal. My reason or vision is to support local business by working together and not wasting office space, and it's now starting to gain momentum."

Besides offering a coworking environment, Eaton is one hundred percent committed to seeing other businesses thrive. Whether through his connection with the Cochrane Business Network, hosting his own events, working in conjunction with town departments such as Economic Development, or the relationships he has built over the past year, Eaton is the perfect example of how businesses that work together, grow together. "It is not just the Corner doing it; it is other members doing it as well. I would encourage people to take a look at some of the small business events that are put on by the Corner, the Cochrane Business Network, the Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Development. Don’t just expect to be a successful business by sitting in your office or store and have it turnaround all by itself. There are others out there who will support and collaborate with you, truly there is so much help out there, and it largely remains untapped."

Interestingly enough, Eaton says the businesses he sees growing and thriving despite a downed economy are the ones constantly educating themselves and networking with others. "I look at the people who come to these events, and they seem to be the successful ones. I am not saying it is all because of the events, but I think they see the benefit of networking and stuff like that. I don't see a lot of businesses failing that I regularly see out and about. It is the ones you don't see and the ones I have to push to make a connection. I realize people have a lot to do but make those connections, it is so important."

If you would like more information on The Corner Coworking, you can find them HERE.

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