Lowcountry Local First, a nonprofit that undertakes initiatives to support area businesses, wanted to create an affordable space for entrepreneurs to collaborate and create alongside one another.
The group launched Local Works, a co-working space along upper Meeting Street, in 2014. Small-business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs work at long, wooden desks. Bright, green plants dot the space. Light flows in through the tall windows.
“In creating the space, we’re really living that mission to support local businesses,” said Larry Downey, Lowcountry Local First’s community manager.
Full-time members deck out their desks for a permanent stay; part-time members drop in intermittently — setting down their laptops and getting to work. Two private offices are available to rent, although they have a long waiting list, Downey said.
All members have access to Local Works’ amenities, which include typical office fare such as Wi-Fi and printers, as well as parking, bike racks, a conference room, and a kitchen and bar area. Phone booths are available for private calls.
A lounge area is set up for meetings, breaks or brainstorming sessions with other members. Many of the wall spaces can be written on.
“There are places set up for private phone calls or meetings, but the space is designed to encourage interaction,” Downey said. “This is very much a shared community space. It helps people share their ideas and get creative together.”
The entire building is outfitted with materials from Charleston-area businesses — the artwork and furniture, the coffee brewing in the pot and the beer in the fridge. The space emanates the “local-first” mindset emphasized by Lowcountry Local First Director Jamee Haley.
Some of the design elements are repurposed materials, such as the light fixture made of old, rusty mattress springs.
Lowcountry Local First hopes to open the space for more community events, in addition to its co-working memberships.
“We see Local Works as a microcosm for the membership as a whole,” Downey said. “It gets people talking who otherwise might be working from home, and it helps them make connections that can then help grow their businesses in Charleston.”
This story originally appeared in the Oct. 17, 2016, print edition of the Charleston Regional Business Journal.