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Trend Watch: Coworking Office Space Catching On in Small Towns

THE FOX CITIES – Coworking first emerged in big cities like San Francisco and New York, but the alternative workspace concept is starting to catch on in smaller cities around the world – especially creative communities like Appleton, Wisconsin, which is now home to Avenue HQ.

Appleton’s Avenue HQ is serving as an example of how coworking office space can find a home in smaller towns. Avenue HQ has taken up residence in a renovated downtown office building in the Fox Cities. The coworking concept recently opened as a shared workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, telecommuters, creatives and other independent professionals.

Matthew Straub, community manager at Avenue HQ, says Appleton meets the criteria for a community that will benefit from having a coworking space: “The Fox Cities has a surprisingly large pool of entrepreneurial talent and freelancing talent, but as of yet, those communities aren’t very cohesive.”

Avenue HQ serves as a collaborative networking environment for professionals in the Fox Cities who may otherwise feel isolated in a home office space setting or need more resources than a coffee shop, café or other public space offers. Avenue HQ is also billing itself as a regional hub for local entrepreneurial events and creative culture development.

Avenue HQ is making coworking office space ultra affordable. Several levels of membership are available: one-day, shared workspace, reserved desk and private office options. Rates start from less than $3 per day. This is a strategic alternative for those who don’t want to commit to a long-term lease.

According to Straub, many of these professionals are lacking in business resources and, often, the inspiration needed for their lines of work. “The Avenue HQ is meant to be a place for these folks to come together, and as a way to build Appleton’s culture of innovation,” says Straub. “We have big desks, coffee donated by a local Starbucks, high-speed Wi-Fi, a large conference room and shared work areas which are a great place for serendipitous collaboration.”

Located at 120 N. Morrison St. in Appleton, Avenue HQ was freshly renovated to reflect its urban culture with glass, stained concrete and unique workstations made from repurposed bowling lanes. The floor plan has an open, laid-back feel to it.

“We wanted to create a workspace that was functional, but also stimulating,” he explained. “I think we achieved that.”

Avenue HQ is the first coworking space of its kind to open in Appleton, Wisconsin. It is a partnership between IDEAco and Willems Marketing.