Blacksburg co-working space adjusts during pandemic, memberships increase

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 5:03 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center’s collaborative co-working space has been helping inventors and entrepreneurs for the last 18 months. Like most new endeavors that started right before the pandemic, everything was going well until March 2020. When the coronavirus caused new restrictions, COGro at the CRC also had to pivot.

“COGro is within the CRC and we are a community of game changers,” president and CEO, Brett Malone says in the promotional video. “We’re a community of those who think big, who really come out here to chase the dream.”

This co-working space was designed to be a place where people could turn their ideas into reality alongside other entrepreneurs.

“You know when we think about these collisions and people co-working, it’s really mostly about just providing access to some of that expertise,” Malone told WDBJ7.

Connection and collaboration are two fundamental elements of the space.

“So when the pandemic first hit, we really had no clue what we were going to be facing,” chief operating officer Dawn Myers said. “We had clients calling us, and asking us what we were doing with our buildings, and we just didn’t know.”

But in working with the CDC, the CRC took precautions that have now become a regular part of our lives: masks, social distancing, extra cleaning, hand sanitizers, etc. And even through the pandemic, the membership numbers have continued to grow.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are, frankly, just burned out from working at home, able to come over here, get into a membership with our co-working space and have an alternate place to work,” Malone said.

Malone added one of his long-term visions for this space is to increase its flexibility.

“One of the things the park’s always done really well is help start-ups get in and then from there,” he said.

And he wants to continue creating multi-purpose space to grow alongside those businesses.

Right now, there are about 31 members of COGro across tons of different industries. For applicant information, click here.

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