San Marcos seeks to bring co-working space to city

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The city of San Marcos is looking to get in the business of co-working.

Last night City Council directed the city manager to issue a request for proposals from individuals and business interested in organizing and managing a co-working space in the city. The proposals will be due by Aug. 3.

“We want to leverage the local talent we have to give them a platform,” Council Member Scott Gregson said. “I want to make certain, at least from my perspective, that we get the best people to make certain that we help the most people in our small business community, our entrepreneurs, our students who choose to stay.”

Council members Lisa Prewitt and Melissa Derrick pushed to give preference to local entrepreneurs interested in submitting a proposal to organize and manage the co-working space. Council opted to include language that rewards proposals demonstrating a knowledge of and connection to the city of San Marcos.

In March, City Council voted to form a subcommittee after declining to invest $15,000 in a co-working space proposal brought forward by Carina Boston Pinales, a San Marcos resident and co-working advocate.

Mayor John Thomaides said the need and potential success for a co-working space in San Marcos is apparent to him, and the council only had to determine how the city would participate in the project wisely.

“What we decided last night through that RFP, was we said to the world, ‘If you see the potential for co-working in San Marcos like we do, come show us your capabilities and strengths and ability to pull it off, and we might participate financially.’”

According to terms of the RFP, the city may provide up to $20,000 to the co-working venture during a three-year term. That $20,000 could be used for rent, renovations, tenant improvements, fixtures, furniture and equipment, according to the RFP.

Thomaides said he is also interested in presenting to City Council the idea of an innovation district—a geographic area dedicated to fostering connections between small businesses, business incubators and capital. During the U.S. Conference of Mayors held in June, representatives from the Brookings Institute presented on the idea of an innovation district, and Thomaides said he sees opportunity to create a district in San Marcos.

Thomaides said the growing residential density downtown, paired with the recent downtown relocation of the city’s economic development team, the Greater San Marcos Partnership, from a location formerly off Wonder World Drive, means the city’s core is ripe for innovation.

“I think we have a real opportunity here to capitalize, and not just capitalize, but to really benefit everybody from this human capital that’s going to be in our downtown area,” he said.

What is a co-working space? 

The Harvard Business Review defines a co-working space as a membership-based workspace where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting.

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Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.
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