Over the course of the past year, I have seen a number of things happening that appear to be driving a new wave of

entrepreneurship and innovation in smaller more rural communities. Business Incubators and Accelerators have existed

for decades in urban hubs like Silicon Valley, with the focus on incubating or accelerating the process of Starting up a

company. However most of these were focused towards technology companies and in some cases were highly

competitive to get into. While they worked great at helping the companies with those programs grow, by design they

are insular- which means they often had little impact in helping the community that surrounded them experience the

same types of growth. When smaller towns tried to adopt the model, the tight knit nature of small communities was

challenging for these programs primarily because of that insular nature.

 

Fortunately in the last few years new opportunities are opening the door for more would-be entrepreneurs and

inventors to find common creative spaces for building and starting their businesses, even in smaller communities.

 

Maker Spaces

The maker movement, an international movement that started in 2006 has taken off in the U.S. more recently and is

driving a resurgence in American Innovation. These maker spaces are provide an inexpensive opportunity for everybody

to access tools that might normally be cost prohibitive, like 3D printers, robotic components, woodshop and metal

working tools. These are the tools that allow inventors and innovators to prototype new products. Additionally they

provide opportunities for creative individuals to get together and explore new ideas. Jason Davies, who co-founded

Bellingham’s first maker Space, the Foundry, says “__________”

 

Coworking

Another movement, coworking spaces, started just a year before maker spaces and are designed to have a more open

and inclusive environment for small business, independent consultants and other entrepreneurs. Coworking by design

is efficient and economical as well as

Different Coworking spaces offer different amenities and attract different kinds of people, so be sure to shop around, we

have three Coworking spaces here in Bellingham to choose from.

 

*This piece originally appeared in the Bellingham Herald.