y Maria Herrera, Sun Sentinel7:51 p.m. EDT, April 2, 2013
Delray Beach—Reposted By Bill Bathurst Entrepreneur,Office Broker, Founder of TheReef.biz
— When the lights turned off and the last book was checked out, something else was brewing at the Delray Beach Public Library. And it had nothing to do with books.
Small business owners, innovators, designers, entrepreneurs and people with big ideas gathered on the library’s second story Monday night to dream up a place where the talented could work and collaborate.
What followed was three hours of networking and brainstorming to create Start Up Delray, a program that would offer office services and shared work space to small businesses and the self-employed at the library.
This innovation hub is an infant state. But library officials have already cleared about 5,000 square feet of space and invited thinkers from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade counties to help figure out how to kick start it.
“There’s so much happening in tech and innovation and Delray is going to be a hub of it,” said Gregg Weiss, vice chair of Economic Development at the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We want young entrepreneurs, we want one- and two-people companies to work, live and play here.”
The session was similar to one held last week in Miami at The Lab, a for-profit coworking space focused on social and tech innovation in Miami’s Wynwood district.
“This is about creating community — to those folks used to gathering and used to working together,” said Vin Nolan, Delray Beach‘s economic development director. “We believeDelray Beach offers something unique and of the folks looking to participate, some of them will place roots here and start businesses here.”
It’s just another way for the progressive library, which is a nonprofit organization, to stay relevant and continue to be what library director Alan Kornblau calls “the community living room.”
“There are people here looking to invest money in people with ideas,” Kornblau said. “The next big idea might come from this group of people.”
Corey Leff, founder and CEO of SpendLO, a start-up company that he describes as a service that’s somewhere in between Priceline.com and Angie’s List, has offices at the nearby coworking space Office 55. But he said the library’s move toward creating a community space for entrepreneurs is just what he was looking for.
“We’re active in the entrepreneurial and start-up community,” said Leff said. “If we could help kick start this…this is more about supporting the local community.”
Among the ideas discussed at the gathering Monday were bartering for services, comfortable office furniture that encourages collaboration, high-speed Internet and educational programs and workshops.
“When people are in an embryonic stage of business they need resources,” said local resident Bill Bathurst, who started an online network of entrepreneurs spanning fromMiami-Dade to Martin County. “Everyone in this room is very supportive of that collaborative environment.”
Meherrera@tribune.com or 561-243-6544
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