From the outside, Las Vegas looks like bright lights, gambling and an excuse for “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”-style partying.
But the Las Vegas coworking scene shows a much different aspect of the city. The fast-growing city is home to a number of spaces, a diverse range of professionals, and a thriving entrepreneurial spirit.
Allwork.space chatted with Jennifer Gonzalez, who handles marketing and event planning for the Coop, a bustling coworking space in Summerlin, a community in the Las Vegas Valley. Gonzalez shares her thoughts on the growing coworking ecosystem, running a community-focused space, and why it’s important for people to get off the Strip and see the real Las Vegas.
Allwork.Space: I understand you were in Chicago before Las Vegas. How did you come to coworking and the Coop?
Jennifer Gonzalez: I had a marketing client who was recording a podcast from the Coop. I got to know the owner, Dana Berggren, who had just opened the space, and gave her little tips on how to handle a brick and mortar business. She asked me to help with marketing, and she also needed someone to be in the space when she’s not here.
I knew about coworking in Chicago and I had been to several of the larger spaces there, so I knew about the concept of coworking. When I met Dana and came into the Coop, I was really excited to see some of that in Las Vegas.
Allwork.Space: How many coworking spaces are there in Las Vegas now?
It’s growing. I estimate maybe 10, at the very most, and they’re not that large. There are a few large ones, but they’re industry-specific. The spaces are all over. There’s a handful downtown, and one or two near the airport, then, just south of the city of Las Vegas, in Henderson, there’s a small one. Where we are in Summerlin, there’s not another coworking space.
Allwork.Space: What type of professionals are attracted to the Coop? Who is in your community?
It’s an interesting mix. I thought it would be a lot of solopreneurs and tech creatives, but it’s a very eclectic blend of businesses, from academic coaching to insurance agents, to a credit company. It’s such a vast array and I love that about the space.
The Coop has some small tech companies, but that’s not exactly who everyone is, so we don’t gear or cater everything toward that specific niche.
Allwork.Space: How do you see coworking in Las Vegas and the Coop, in particular, interacting with the local entrepreneurial community?
The Coop is really here for the local community. We’re far enough off the Strip that it doesn’t make sense for someone staying in one of the hotels to come 20 minutes to us to come cowork for the day.
For us, when it comes to event planning and looking at our calendar, and filling in the gaps, it’s all about encouraging community and finding ways to help businesses grow. That’s what the Coop is all about.
We just had a marketing intervention class where myself and three other Coop members presented our different perspectives on marketing and digital presence. We stream our events live on Facebook because we understand people have family obligations and time constraints. Even if you can’t come into the Coop for an event, we stream it so we can share how to grow your business with everyone.
Allwork.Space: How often do you have events and what do you focus on?
We have monthly events. We’ve been in many conversations with the SBA and are putting together an event for August. They have a lot of great information, but we want to understand what the community is looking for.
We try to go beyond just putting an event together—we want to make it worthwhile for members to come in or listen in. For instance, if the event is just about startup funding, but our community is more than just startups, how can we meet those needs?
Allwork.Space: What’s going on with the larger freelance and independent professional ecosystem in Las Vegas? What do you see happening and coming down the road?
There’s a lot of growth. Las Vegas is so transient, and it’s the third fastest growing city in the U.S. We’re seeing people moving in from the Midwest, the East Coast, California. I think we’re going to see a huge modernization in forward thinking.
That’s not to say Las Vegas isn’t modern—it is in its own way, but coming from Chicago, it’s not quite up to the same speed I had seen. But that’s all going to be changing. I think we’re going to see some advancement in terms of the tech industry and other industries and areas, as well.
Allwork.Space: It sounds like the City may be invested in the idea of supporting this new, booming freelance and entrepreneurial economy?
They very much are. We just had a gentleman from the City visit the Coop. He was looking into all the coworking spaces and teams. He really wanted to know what we’re doing, how we’re different, how we’re similar. We talked about putting together a local alliance or some kind of forum to teach entrepreneurs about coworking and what that means.
Allwork.Space: Looking at the future of coworking in Las Vegas, do you want to speculate on what’s coming?
I see growth. We’re even talking about expanding the Coop to meet some of the other areas where coworking is being underutilized. There’s going to be a greater surge in modernization and technology and business. Because Las Vegas is such an interesting, eclectic culture, I really see it moving forward—and maybe even innovatively surpassing some other cities.
Allwork.Space: What sets the Coop apart from other coworking spaces? What does the Coop do really well?
When you walk in, it’s so friendly and welcoming. I’ve been in spaces where everyone’s so busy, with their head down. Here, people look up and say hello—even to people just taking a tour.
Because our members are so diverse in gender, race, age, it’s like a club of friends. Yesterday, there was a parade in front of the space that 40,000 people attended. There were several of us Coop members out there chatting and having a good time—and this was at 9:00 a.m. on a holiday. That gives you a sense of how friendly everyone is and how we really genuinely enjoy being around each other.
Allwork.Space: Thanks, Jennifer. Is there anything you’d like to add?
If people are traveling here, or setting up shop in Las Vegas for a few days, get off the Strip and really see what Las Vegas is all about. It’s so much more than the casinos and that environment. If you’re going for that, that’s great, but there’s so much more to Las Vegas than that.