By: Ciara Thyfault, NetWork Kansas, Product Manager, Rural Entrepreneurship, Central Region
Hello and welcome to my first blog at NetWork Kansas (took me long enough)! I’ll just get right to it! Monday, December 11 was a day worth writing about as myself and 10 others from the Reno County E-Community team loaded a van and drove to Tulsa, Oklahoma for an incubator tour.
We arrived at 36 Degrees North, an elaborate co-working space, to start the tour. It has only been open two years but this nonprofit already has 330 members representing a variety of business industries. We were told that about one-third of membership is comprised of tech, one-third marketing services, and one-third other non-profits. They said that, within the types of business industries, one-fourth of their members represent startups, one-fourth small businesses, one-fourth remote workers for larger companies, and one-fourth are general community members who are there to take advantage of the wealth of resources. Dustin Curzon, the Executive Director, said that they have created their own hierarchy of needs for the organization:
Dustin also said they try hard not to prescribe the needs of their members but to find out what they want and then provide what has been requested — such as educational training events and access to resources. They view their space more as a gym membership.
“Here’s the tools, use them” Dustin said.
It was clear to see that this co-working space has created a culture.
Our next stop was Kitchen 66, a kitchen incubator. They currently have 60 licensed business memberships. They had 10 different working stations for the members to share by purchasing hourly rentals. The members include restaurants, caterers, food trucks, and general food product processors. There is a restaurant area at the entrance of the building where restaurants rotate to practice their menu with the public’s engagement. This kitchen incubator is vital to the community as having a “licensed kitchen” is not easy for a startup business. At Kitchen 66, members also get access to all types of kitchen equipment that would be too expensive for most startups. Since this is also an incubator, members are given resources and technical training to navigate through the food industry startup process.
I hope that you have found this blog to be educational and interesting. It has been exciting working with Dave Dukart and the Reno County E-Community team to explore the idea of getting an incubator in Reno County! Kudos to Dave for contacting this co-working space and incubator and scheduling the tours. In our van we had several community leaders all in one place who generally don’t meet often. Dave understands that in order to create something valuable for the community that they will have to work together and break down the silos amongst their organizations!