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Ben Parkinson
Ben Parkinson
  • 1 Minute Read
  • 05th November 2012

US co-working centres open to Sandy refugees

CO-WORKING spaces in New York have introduced measures to house those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, in the wake of mass flooding and transport failures.

The community – usually centred on the technological and creative media sectors – have lowered their rates and created an online community to support workers unable to reach or use their regular offices.

Technology companies have been the most profoundly affected by the storm, with power outages and crippled data centres restricting recovery times, even as the transport system is being bought back on line and flooding subsides.

Charlie O’Donnell, founder of co-working space Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, was the first to make the call on Tuesday, compelling business centres with available space to publicise it via Twitter using the #sandycoworking hashtag.

A number of centres were quick to offer their support, announcing the availability of space as well as any discounts or administrative assistance they could provide workers or companies currently unable to access their own facilities.

Headhunter Labs, Dumbo Startup Labs, Bat Haus and Secret Clubhouse co-working spaces all opened their doors to displaced workers in Brooklyn, whilst Bitmap Creative Labs were able to offer a discount of more than 40% on desk and computer provision.

Non-co-working spaces - buoyed by such a display of community support - began opening their doors too, with marketing agency Jar Group and voting agency TurboVote both offering up surplus office space.

The region below 39th Street in Manhattan, which was most notably affected by the flooding, is also home to the largest community of entrepreneurs and startups, with many commuting from the more affordable areas around Brooklyn, which were left isolated by flood damage.

O’Donnell says that interest in providing support has been growing across the entire city as word has spread. He said: “The New York community has always joined together and felt a sense of togetherness.

“Because we don’t have the resources of Silicon Valley; New Yorkers have realised we can only succeed by working together so it’s not surprising that people have jumped on board.”

O’Donnell believes co-working centres have already gone further than providing a mere marketing opportunity for themselves, and that the additional support offered by traditionally modelled offices indicates the wider reaching success of the ‘local business ecosystem’ format.