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Haileybury hosts first coworking space

Co-Worx catering to small-business owners, independent workers

When Danielle Perras first relocated to Haileybury to practise law, her integration into the community was a bit of a lonely endeavour.

Operating from a home office made networking difficult and there were fewer opportunities to connect with like-minded people.

“I worked from home for the first eight months, and it’s really quite difficult to get to know people if you’re new to the area and you’re working from home,” she said.

Sensing that she wasn’t alone in this experience, Perras partnered up with Nicole Guertin, her mother and business partner, to open Co-Worx in June.

Located in a former bakery on one of the town’s main thoroughfares, the space is designed to appeal to small-business operators, independent workers, consultants, and more.

The coworking space gives members multiple options for a unique environment that emphasizes creativity, collaboration and growth.

Perras, a corporate lawyer whose own office is based at Co-Worx, said Haileybury has a diverse cluster of workers whose varying needs aren’t met by traditional workspaces.

“We're trying to cater to that community of people who have always lived here and worked from home, and would like to get out of the house and connect with other people in similar situations,” she said.

“Or maybe it's new people to the area that don't necessarily have specific workplaces and can't connect with people because they work from home.”

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Spread over two storeys, Co-Worx hosts 15 work stations, in addition to larger tables that can fit up to eight people. A boardroom is also available to rent for meetings or bigger get-togethers.

In the kitchenette, members have access to a fridge and microwave, and coffee and tea are available. Perras said the founders are also installing a kegerator to dispense the popular fermented tea kombucha.

Two bathrooms are on site – one with a shower so that members can clean up after biking or jogging to work, or taking an exercise break – and lockers are available for people to safely secure their belongings through the day.

Membership is tiered, and there are plenty of options to accommodate different needs.

Day passes are available for those just looking to try out Co-Worx, but there’s also a virtual membership, which gives you member rates to boardroom rentals, locker rentals and drop-in rates, as well as invitations to any events the space hosts.

“So if you're a virtual member, and you just want to rent the boardroom once a month to meet with clients, or if you're from out of town and you just want to come once a month, then you can just buy day passes as you wish,” Perras explained.

For a stronger commitment, weekly memberships provide five day passes per month, a member rate for boardroom rentals and invitations to events.

At the higher end, the build-your-business package includes all the perks of membership, along with enrollment in the Peer Breakfast Program.

Led by Perras and Guertin, members will meet for breakfast once a month for seminars, consulting services or workshops on topics related to running a business, such as marketing or accounting, and the founders will provide mentorship services to help business owners advance their enterprises.

Because both Perras and Guertin have offices on site, they’re regularly on hand to provide guidance, tips and words of advice to members.

Perras said Co-Worx will also host a variety of events through the year.

Every Thursday, the space will hold member-based Networx evenings, which will be informal gatherings at which members can chat about their services and connect with other members.

Other events will be open to both members and non-members. The first, a Business 101 seminar, is slated to take place this fall. It will examine all the diverse vehicles for starting a business – sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation – and the differences between them.

All their efforts, Perras said, aim to help local enterprises flourish and build up the area’s business community.

“It’s pretty flexible what we can do,” she said. “If anybody has ideas, we’re very open to it. We just want to see members connecting and businesses growing.”