Updated: May 29, 2018
COhatch, Worthington's expanding coworking concept, has a social mission to return people to the suburban downtown. And it's about to get a whole lot bigger.
Matt Davis, co-founder of COhatch, left a job with a Fortune 200 company to build the coworking brand, but he said he didn't just want to make it a workspace. The concept behind CoHatch blurs the lines between social engine, coworking space and networking community.
In addition to coworking and small offices, the concept also hosts The Madery, a marketplace-like area of socially minded, local-made retail entities, like Eleventh Candle Co., which helps victims of human trafficking, or Inside Out Creative, which supports women who have been incarcerated, and Porttion, a healthy meal delivery group.
The Madery will open April 19.
The idea is that these small groups can sell or ship their wares without building a shop in the same way the freelancers can have a workplace without having an office. And having all of them together under one roof builds an environment that feels like an urban center.
Davis termed the idea a "town hall 2.0."
"We want to bring people to these central downtown places," he said, noting the concept will look for locations in other suburban locations in Central Ohio. "It's about reconnecting neighborhoods and growing a sense of connection."
Memberships start at $50 a month but range up to private offices for $600 a month.
Moreover, the space looks to be a social hub for these self-employed and gig economy workers, encouraging them to gather on weekends or build stronger connections with the people around them. Each membership allows a user to visit all locations, but Davis said he expects to see them form into neighborhood hubs in each respective suburb.
"You're surrounded by people who can help you – a lawyer, an accountant, a marketing person – all of them can help you and you can pay them when you need them," he said.
In Worthington, COhatch fit out the former library building at 752 N. High St., down the street from its first location in an old hardware store at 659 N. High St.
Davis has raised $1 million in funding for the concept, which he says will help finance 10 locations in Central Ohio, some of which would be franchised, though the locations in the works aren't yet finalized. Other markets are being considered, too, including Milwaukee.
The group in February announced a third location, in Delaware, where it will sign a 10-year lease in a former newspaper building owned by the city. The landlord is putting $1.18 million into readying the building and will give a 15-year tax abatement to the site at 18 E. William St.