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8:25 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Entrepreneurs SCORE with WingSpace Coworking

From left, Melanie Banayat, founder/CEO, Josh Bowen, tech consultant, Jodie Krueger, content developer, and Deborah Mainville-Knight, project management facilitator. (WingSpace/Courtesy)

From left, Melanie Banayat, founder/CEO, Josh Bowen, tech consultant, Jodie Krueger, content developer, and Deborah Mainville-Knight, project management facilitator. (WingSpace/Courtesy)

Melanie Banayat, Holistic Health coach and entrepreneur, was looking for a space where she could meet with clients. Once she began teaching classes she found her home was often too busy with family and friends and coffee shops or other public places were noisy and not conducive to discussing personal issues.

Thus began her search for a shared space that was beneficial for business meetings, esthetically pleasing and cost effective for the occasional times she required this type of space. While on a hike she was discussing this with her friend, Marley, who said, “Oh, you mean like a coworking space.”

Melanie began researching this concept and found that the coworking concept has become huge world-wide and began after the recession hit.

“There are lots of people in this area who are starting businesses and are also working from home or in other less than desirable spaces,” she said. She visited several coworking spaces in Phoenix and Scottsdale and learned that coworking focused on four concepts: community, collaboration, accessibility and sustainability.

In January 2017 she was accepted into the Embry-Riddle program for business start-ups and was able to test her hypothesis using their Business Model Canvas to see if the Prescott market was ready for a coworking space. The results were very positive.

Melanie called her concept WingSpace, a place where entrepreneurs could have the space to spread their wings and grow their business. A coworking space is quite different from a mere shared office space because it has the added value of community. It will provide cubicles, individual offices, conference spaces and meeting spaces. It will implement strategic programs that foster an inclusive community that will strive to build on common values, cultural traits and a have set of moderate, equitable house rules.

At this juncture, in stepped Jerry Jones, chapter president for Northern Arizona SCORE. Jerry quickly assembled a team of mentors to help Melanie move this coworking project from concept to reality.

SCORE, with the guidance of grant writer and SCORE mentor, Rose Vasquez, has become the lead applicant for a federal grant for the seed money to allow WingSpace to open its doors. Once SCORE, which has been searching for additional office space for several years, has become established inside of WingSpace, the coworking space would then become an entrepreneurial campus conducive to seeking support from business mentors and experts to help them develop and grow their business.

Deborah Mainville-Knight, a dynamic meeting facilitator and SCORE partner, is part of the WingSpace Founding Team. Deborah’s business is “Mind Your Own Business! Consulting.” She is helping to facilitate the project meetings and keep the team on task.

Currently they are looking at the Prescott Gateway Mall area because of its centralized location. WingSpace will then be able to service entrepreneurs from the greater Quad Cities. A large part of the decision to locate in or near the mall also has to do with adequate parking. WingSpace can then become an anchor for the mall because entrepreneurs and their clients will be accessing restaurants, retail stores and services that are available in and near the mall.

WingSpace will operate on a membership basis. Memberships will be adjusted by the level of need of the entrepreneur. It is planned to be cost- effective and to also provide much more than just space; it will function as a place to discuss issues, meet with other like-minded people and find innovative ways to spread their wings. They hope to have their doors open by spring 2018. Sign up to follow the progress of the WingSpace project at WingSpace.biz and participate in the community building events.

If you need help starting or growing your business or to get your own SCORE mentor call 928-778-7438, email scoreoffice@scorenaz.org or visit www.northernarizona.score.org.

Ginni Trask Comstock is a SCORE communications contractor.