Entrepreneur launching co-working space at Five Corners
By Jason Starr
The Essex Reporter
The Five Corners house that formerly held Kaleidoscope Yarn has been purchased and will be transformed this spring into a co-working space under the name Excelerate Essex.
Emir Heco, a Bosnia native who moved to town in 1996 and graduated from Essex High School in 2004, bought the building in February and is modeling the space on co-working successes in Burlington, Montpelier and around the country.
“It’s a proven thing in big cities because of big populations and a need for resources,” he said. “We want some of that excitement in Essex. There are a lot of people who could benefit from it.”
The Essex Economic Development Commission has encouraged Heco and campaigned for a local co-working space as a way to incubate new businesses, with the assumption that new businesses would feed existing businesses like law firms, accountants, graphic designers and engineering firms. Heco also owns a product development company called Heco Engineering that will have a consistent presence in the house.
“I think it offers Essex a chance to enter into an incredible movement that we haven’t yet been a part of,” said Economic Development Commission chairman Greg Morgan.
Nicknamed E-Squared, Excelerate Essex will be designed for three types of members: those who need a dedicated office space, those looking for an occasional private office and those looking to work in a common area (instead of always setting up at a coffee shop, for example). Occasional presentations about product and business development are also planned.
The two-story house is equipped with a variety of room sizes, common areas and a kitchen. Part of the co-working appeal is the ability to network and share ideas and services with fellow entrepreneurs. Heco considered other Five Corners commercial properties for sale, including two right across Pearl Street, before settling on the former yarn shop.
“It has all the elements of a co-working space, so we said let’s pull the trigger — why not? — and go for it,” Heco said. “We have all the ingredients, but we just needed one space to house it all. We want to outgrow it quickly.”
Excelerate Essex will be run like a non-profit, with a member board running it. Heco at first hopes to just cover the mortgage and utilities on the house, then use any eventual profit to improve the space or move into a bigger space.
“The first year really needs the support from the community and local businesses to sort of own this and say, ‘yes, we want this to happen,’” he said. “It’s not something to make money off of. The payoff is a more vibrant community in terms of businesses and product development.”