In a three-level house, between the Logan Community Recreation Center and the Thai House Restaurant, sits Cache CoWorking — currently Logan’s only coworking office space.
The brainchild of manager Josh Kirk, Cache CoWorking is home to several small businesses. An animator, a computer programmer, a massage therapist, two cleaning businesses and a photographer, amongst others, all utilize Kirk’s coworking space as the tangible location for their work.
“It’s a very diverse group,” Kirk said.
Coworking spaces, as the title implies, are spaces where freelancers and startups can work together in an environment intended to boost collaboration.
“They’re kind of these self-contained spaces that help generate business for each other,” said Chase Anderson, the organizer of tech entrepreneur nonprofit Silicon Slopes’ Logan Chapter. Anderson once operated a coworking space in Logan, himself. “It’s people helping people in a social environment.”
Cache CoWorking is Kirk’s second attempt at operating a coworking space in Cache Valley. He started the first, entitled Co-Lab, after the collapse of the housing market in 2008. After deciding to pursue a career web development in lieu of selling commercial real estate, Kirk said he decided to operate a coworking space in tandem with his new business for admittedly selfish reasons.
“I wanted more work,” Kirk said. “I knew that if I was in an environment with other people, that would happen, and it did.”
But Kirk’s Co-Lab ultimately closed due to the continually increasing rent of the Emporium. Anderson’s coworking space — also located in The Emporium, though at a different time — also closed its doors when the building’s owner, the City of Logan, removed all of its tenants.
Another local entrepreneur, Rick Champlin, officially opened his coworking space named Habitat in November 2017 and closed its doors after being unable to turn a profit.
“I haven’t seen one in Cache Valley be successful,” Champlin said.
For Champlin, one of the main reasons coworking spaces struggle in Cache Valley is due to local business spending habits.
“I feel like Cache Valley is very cheap,” Champlin said. “So people don’t see so much the benefit of coworking even if it’s $100, $200 a month, compared to saving that money and just working out of the house.”
Champlin also said open working spaces are not desirable to potential tenants — a notion reiterated by Kirk. Most tenants want private offices instead of floating desk space.
“It was hard to get people into a coworking space,” Champlin said. “You know, a lot of people asking for the private space and nothing’s available, and to convince them that the open space was just as nice was difficult.”
At Cache CoWorking, Kirk took notes from his prior experiences and made the majority of the available space private. He didn’t go “hog wild” on the decor and amenities, which he’d found had been a detriment to other spaces outside Cache Valley. But even now, Kirk has had a private office vacant for nearly two months. He said he wonders if people understand there is a social aspect to coworking spaces which is beneficial to business.
“I’m still surprised that I’m not totally full right now,” Kirk said. “It’s a work environment, everybody respects that, but at the same time, you know, it doesn’t take but two seconds to say hi to someone, to smile, and those things I think go a lot further than being isolated all the time.”
Kirk said the coworking space is probably a financial wash for him long term.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not making any money,” Kirk said. “But at the same time I’ve got to pay for a space.”
Among the social benefits of being around collaborative peers, Kirk said the professional benefits of coworking also make it worthwhile.
“If a client comes in here instead of my living room, it’s way more professional,” Kirk said. “And I feel like that alone is probably the number one benefit.”
Anderson said coworking spaces are more popular than ever, but a lack of a vibrant technology community hinders coworking in Logan. The successful coworking spaces that Anderson is familiar with are those that inspire and pull people in — something that’s currently missing in Cache Valley.
“They create gravity,” Anderson said. “They have a core company or core people that other people want to be around.”
Anderson also said city and community collaboration can help make a coworking space successful in Cache Valley. He explained how Startup Ogden — one of Ogden’s premier coworking spaces — was a shared effort between the City of Ogden and Weber State University.
“It has to be community-driven,” Anderson said. “The community has to want it and push for it.”