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1/14/2019 11:59:00 AM
New Albany co-working space sparks ideas; collaboration is key at The Root
A library-style space is one of the work environments offered at The Root, a new co-working space in downtown New Albany. The business opened in December 2018. Staff photo by Brooke McAfee
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A library-style space is one of the work environments offered at The Root, a new co-working space in downtown New Albany. The business opened in December 2018. Staff photo by Brooke McAfee

Brooke McAfee, News and Tribune

NEW ALBANY — Mark Mays’ new workspace is much different than the ones that he’s used to.

Mays recently started working at The Root, a collaborative workspace in downtown New Albany. He operates two businesses from his office there, including a commercial cleaning service called OfficePride and a legal financial advocacy business.

In his Louisville office, it’s easy to stay in the same routine, he said. But The Root’s environment provides something different, since he uses both a private office and an open co-working space. 

“You kind of mix it up and see new faces, and it’s good for sparking new conversations,” he said. “You never really know where it’s going to go.”

The Root, which opened at 110 E. Market St. in December, is an 8,000-square-foot space featuring a shared co-working space, 14 private offices and three conference rooms. The business, located in a renovated historic building, celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday and a grand opening celebration on Saturday.

Co-founder Brigid Morrissey, who runs The Root along with her father, Mark Morrissey, said they already had 23 members as of Friday. It’s is not just for those with private offices — the business offers full-time and part-time paid memberships, allowing people to use the first floor’s open-floor co-working space.

“Co-working is essentially shared office space for remote workers, startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs — anybody who can work from anywhere,” Brigid said. “They get all the amenities of an office environment without having to pay the overhead.”

The co-working space is available to all members, including those with their own offices upstairs. The Root provides members with resources such as business mailboxes, print/fax/copy machines and WiFi, along with complimentary coffee in the break room.

The co-working room also offers a variety of workspaces, including a library-style space, comfy couches and chairs and work tables. Brigid said she finds environment important for motivation and focus, and she often finds herself choosing different seats at The Root each day.

“Some days, I don’t want to sit at a sturdy table — I want to sit on a couch and work,” she said. “I would say that’s been very effective.”

Mays said he started working in the space once it opened. He said he enjoys using the downstairs co-working area to have conversations with other members.

“Just being in this environment sparks some ideas,” he said.

He said he appreciates how the The Root supports entrepreneurs who run small businesses.

“It’s tough when you’re an entrepreneur in the small business world — you can kind of feel isolated,” he said. “This brings a lot of community into it, and it makes you more confident in the things that you’re doing.”

Entrepreneur Eddie Prentiss is another member who’s enjoyed both a private office and the shared co-working space at The Root. He is the president and founder of BrainCo, which provides training in advertising, graphic design and marketing. He has been working in the space since it opened. 

He’s familiar with the co-working concept, including spaces in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas, but he said the comfortable, intimate environment at The Root is much different than others he’s seen.

“This is almost like a coffee shop without the barista,” he said. “This has a really good vibe.”

The space includes spots for both working quietly and engaging in conversations, he said.

“If people want more privacy they can put on their headphones and stick to themselves,” Prentiss said. “If they want to be social they can grab a coffee in the break room and chat over by the refrigerator.”

For business owner Denise Taylor, The Root is the ideal space. She’s the founder of Surprise Invitation, which offers party planning for clients who want to pre-plan their own celebration of life events before they die to spare family members from funeral planning.

She said this is the first office she’s had for her new business, and she’s worked in many workspaces that haven’t worked well for her. The Root has created a necessary solution, she said, and she’s able to have both the seclusion of a private office and the energy of the co-working space, she said.

“You can be co-working and be social and feel the vibe that’s down here, and you can focus and be in the zone in your own space upstairs,” Taylor said.

2019 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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