The City as an Incubator

The City as an Incubator

Scottsdale is becoming a city of entrepreneurs. Not just the innovation technology businesses that are steaming into Scottsdale. I am refereeing to the city itself. The mindset of our city staff. I find our city staff to be forward-thinking and entrepreneurial. It starts with our Economic Development Department but it permeates through the halls of City Government.

Entrepreneurship and innovation are normally terms used to describe small incubators and start-ups, not the city government. But Scottsdale is different.

As any entrepreneur knows failure goes hand in hand with success. On the Consent Agenda for City Council, November 25th will be resolution 11622 seeking the approval of 2019-178 COS. An agreement to cancel with City’s trademark of the term Eureka Loft so that another small business in California can use the name. This resolution will pass without much fanfare and gone will be a great example of Scottsdale’s forward-thinking vision. An idea the city had to help benefit all of the small, one person, freelancers or start-ups working out of their homes or huddled together in coffee shops all over the city. An idea that offered a place for them to come together, share ideas, learn from one another and become more successful as a community.

Co-working spaces and the idea of shared work environments have been around for nearly twenty years. It has only been in the past few years that several co-working concepts have gotten big and successful. Spaces like Industrious, Deskbhub and AZ CoWork in Scottsdale. Or Galvanize and CO+HOOTS in nearby Phoenix. These super cool, uber trendy workplaces offer a multitude of benefits for their tenants. They are designed to support and cater to small start-ups. I am a big fan of all of these creative outlets where lots of really smart people work. But in 2015 the City of Scottsdale decided to try to offer many of these same amenities to the citizens of the start-up community in Scottsdale, for free!

In 2015 Eureka Loft was carved out of an underutilized second-floor room located in the Civic Center Library. It was designed to operate just like any other co-working concept. With programming and speakers to help guide motivated, self-employed business people along in their entrepreneurial journey. While the Eureka Loft did not have mini-fridges full of RedBull for their users like the other co-working spaces they did offer other valuable services such as the free use of video and podcasting equipment.

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing you are not innovating enough. – Elon Musk

 They offered classes and workshops that any entrepreneur would find valuable. I was an avid user of Eureka Loft. I offered a few lectures there on Digital Reputation Management and Fair Use of Digital Property.  

Ultimately the Eureka Loft was not successful. Perhaps it was the lack of a marketing budget, maybe it was slightly inconvenient to get to. Whatever the case widespread adoption of Eureka Loft never happened. Today the second-floor room is dark and awaiting its new iteration.

I think Eureka Loft, a city-owned and operated co-working space in the public library was an idea ahead of its time. It shows how much the city is thinking about the entire population of the city. The self-employed, ordinary citizens with an idea or a dream. Eureka Loft might have been a swing and a miss for the City. But I am proud that they took a shot.

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