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City's second co-workspace, The Forge, fires up

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Mar 24, 2014 - 3:09 PM |
Justin Carter, the executive director of reThink Green, has made his organization's office space available to other socially-minded agencies, or small businesses, at a nominal fee. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Justin Carter, the executive director of reThink Green, has made his organization's office space available to other socially-minded agencies, or small businesses, at a nominal fee. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.

Newest endeavour an offshoot of reThink Green

Jenny Martindale usually works from home, but in mid-March she started to work part-time out of a new co-working space in Sudbury called The Forge.

Martindale manages international trips for an outdoor travel company called Wild Women Expeditions.

The business, which started in Sudbury, organizes outdoor adventure trips around the world, tailored specifically for women.

Until her foray with a co-working space, Martindale dedicated a small corner of her bedroom to her home office.

“It's nice to separate work from home sometimes,” she said. “If you work at home you're always by yourself, you never have interactions with other people, except online.”

Martindale said The Forge appealed to her, because of its downtown Sudbury location, near her home, and the flexibility it can offer clients.

She said she plans to continue working from home most of the time, but could see herself spending 10 or more hours a week at the Forge, to interact with other people and escape the distractions that come with a home office.

The Forge opened in January 2014, but has been in the planning stages since 2007, when its parent organization, reThink Green, first formed in Sudbury.

ReThink Green was created to promote environmental action, policy and networking in the Greater Sudbury area, and includes a network of 13 environmental organizations.

“Environmental agencies are typically siloed,” said Justin Carter, reThink Green's executive director. “They work on different projects and so there's often a need in the community for one umbrella organization that looks at co-ordinating the overall goals, making sure the resources are there and really sharing capacity.”

As part of its mandate, reThink Green provides space for its various member organizations and shares human and financial resources with them.

“A lot of the groups we work with are volunteer-driven,” Carter said. “They don't have the luxury of having a physical place to work from, and that links to certain problems in terms of having a consistent meeting space.”

A co-working space, where socially-minded organizations could rent office space at affordable prices, was the next logical step for reThink Green to fulfil its mandate, Carter said.

But the project did not get underway in earnest until June 2013, when reThink Green was able to secure $149,400 in funding, over two years, from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Additional investments – totalling $56,700 – from organizations like the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, helped launch the project.

Because of its funding agreement with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Forge must focus primarily on attracting social enterprises.

One client, for example, launched an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder consulting business out of the space.

For $350 a month a client can rent one of two private offices at The Forge's downtown location, at 176 Larch Street.

The Forge also has a boardroom that is available at a rate of $35 an hour.

Where the space differs from traditional offices is with its open-concept “hot desks.” A client can rent a hot desk, which grants them access to a professional office with access to wireless Internet and a printer, through a number of plans that range from $50 for 25 hours per month, to $215 for unlimited access in a month.

“The value of working in close proximity without the traditional barriers is that you have all those networking opportunities,” Carter said.

The Forge is not Sudbury's first organization to create a co-working space that allows small entrepreneurs to network and share a small office.

In October 2013, The Workplace opened in New Sudbury, and opened its doors to small entrepreneurs from all fields.

The Motley Kitchen, a self-described incubator kitchen, is due to open in Sudbury in April, and has taken the co-working concept to the culinary world, with an open kitchen, instead of an open office.

“It's kind of interesting to see that in such a short period of time we've had these different services pop up that really address a full spectrum of needs for different people launching businesses,” Carter said.
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer


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