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Meet Open Decorah, northeast Iowa’s newest co-working space

The view overlooking Water Street from Open Decorah’s new downtown space, which opens Jan. 1. 

Beginning Jan. 1, northeastern Iowa creatives and entrepreneurs will have a new place to gather, work and create. Open Decorah, a new co-working space located at 128.5 W. Water Street in Decorah, will open just in time for the new year. 

Day passes for the space will be available for $15, while individuals looking for a more regular co-working arrangement can purchase monthly memberships for $100. 

As organizers get Open Decorah ready for its opening day, Silicon Prairie News asked Ross Hadley (right), a local small-business owner speaheading the effort, a few questions about the new space and what he thinks it will bring to the entrepreneurial community in Decorah.

Silicon Prairie News: How did the idea to create a co-working space in Decorah come about? 

Ross Hadley: It was a culmination of things, but the catalyst was a co-working Friday event hosted by Jason Trout and Peter Awad, the co-founders of GoodBlogs. Several telecommuters attended regularly and talked about how they wished they had a place to drop in and work in a similar fashion, on a more regular basis. I happened to have space available above a new retail space, and we started to dream about what the needs and wants of the members would be and how the space would be flexible to evolve with meeting needs as projects change. Our local economic development group gave the project a boost when we were awarded a $2,500 grant to assist with technology upgrades, which really was key in moving the project along and provided a good assessment of viability. We are working closely with the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce, economic development and tourism boards to be an asset for the community.

SPN: Can you tell us a little bit more about the space? What can people expect if they choose to work from Open Decorah? 

RH: The space has traditional spaces one would find in a corporate setting—such as a lobby, lounge, conference area—but it also has a dedicated co-working space, a quiet room and a guest room to put up a client who may be visiting. Another key feature for members is a shower, so if you take advantage of the new bike trail to come to work you won’t “co-smell.” Members have access 24/7 and users of day passes can work from 9-to-5 Monday through Friday. We also are working hard to support the community by offering the conference room to nonprofits in need of video conference capabilities, supporting local artists by working with D.Art Co. (our regional arts board) to feature local art in our communal spaces, and working with the Winneshiek Energy District to be as sustainable as possible with pre- and post-opening audits on lighting, heating and cooling, and water usage. In turn they make Open Decorah a better place, so its a win-win for everyone.

SPN: Why do you think this space will be a good thing for Decorah’s entrepreneurial community? 

RH: It’s a natural hub for creativity and networking, much more so than a home office or a coffee shop, which were the only options available prior to our opening. It’s centrally located in the heart of downtown Decorah, which is thriving unlike most small towns. The co-working room is full of natural light overlooking Water Street and the energy of the community is palpable.

SPN: What do you hope to accomplish through Open Decorah? 

RH: Having GoodBlogs as an anchor tenant sets the tone—they are a creative new business providing an outlet for passionate people and ideas. Several of our other core members also are involved in communications and media. I hope Open Decorah can be a creative sustainable force for the community that inspires small business to grow and prosper. In January, we will begin hosting a startup business run by current students from Luther College. The college also provides a great wealth of entrepreneurial potential for Open Decorah, so we look forward to welcoming current students downtown and alumni back into the community.  


Credits: Open Decorah photo from Facebook. Ross Hadley photo courtesy of Hadley. 

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