Dueling co-working spaces at Sierra Commons and now ERC’s “Green Screen Institute” — only 0.7 miles apart

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In a small rural community that has no less than five chambers of commerce groups (Greater Grass Valley Chamber, Nevada City Chamber, South County Chamber, Penn Valley Chamber and a “Regional” Chamber), I guess it’s no surprise that we’d now have two co-working facilities being marketed from two different economic groups — all within 0.7 miles of each other in Nevada City.

“Sierra Commons is where Nevada County entrepreneurs come together to get work done,” according to this group. “With blazing internet, strong coffee, professional conference facilities and flexible work options, it’s an inspired professional community – a place where coworkers share their knowledge, skills and energy in an atmosphere that thrives on collaboration. Two memberships are available.”

The price is either $150 a month or $200-$225 per month, depending on the services and whether you’re a resident or “nomadic.” What you get is here.

Now, the Nevada County Economic Resource Council’s “Green Screen Institute,” a few blocks away, is jumping into the market with its own co-working space, or “lab.” (The NCERC depends on county funding).

“Emulating the pricing tiers of popular collaborative workspaces like WeWork, GSI also announced several monthly membership options,” according to this group. It ranges from $25 basic membership for one-work day per month to $500 per month for private office spaces. Details are here. An open house is planned in July.

This seems a little redundant to me in such a small community. I wonder if the “sharing economy” will lead to homeowners offering up office space, adding further options. I just wish there were more entrepreneurs around to fill all the empty desks. That’s going to require the real heavy lifting.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

13 thoughts on “Dueling co-working spaces at Sierra Commons and now ERC’s “Green Screen Institute” — only 0.7 miles apart”

  1. multiple shared working venues with different pricing structures and amenities is an excellent indicator of entrepreneurship, which is a trend in the larger economy and a regional economic development goal. I see no downside to this development. Insufficient demand is the worst case scenario in which case the space will just be converted to another use

  2. Stephen,
    This is putting the cart before the horse in spades. Come up and visit, and I’ll show you around our “economy.”

  3. Obviously, as one of Sierra Commons’ founding board members and its longest-term coworker, I have a connection to it. I do think an expansion of coworking opportunities is great – if they can be supported. That said, I have always been dismayed by the ERC’s foot-dragging in truly rallying behind Sierra Commons and understanding that a diverse entrepreneurial environment could be a great benefit to the economy, not to mention Sierra Commons’ commitment to teaching people how to create their own businesses. I’m psyched about Green Screen, but am wary of relying on a single silver bullet to save our ship.

    There are people here creating things – the two women, one a woodworker, the other a welder, who are building restaurant interiors from Grass Valley to Hawaii. The Grant Farm just hired a young woman who grew up in Rough and Ready, moved back here, and was about to leave to an employment pasture that would accommodate her skills and intelligence. Her membership at Sierra Commons directly resulted in her getting this position. Three Forks? Sierra Commons helped get that rolling. Now she’s helping them build their business and she’s building an exciting career in Grass Valley. BOGA Boards? They’re gone (oops), but that started at SIerra Commons. Craft breweries are happening – let’s get a couple more. Then there’s the potential for actively diving into the $6.5 Billion outdoor recreation economy – the one that pays my bills so I can contribute to the local economy. We’re not going to create the next North Face, but how about a Klean Kanteen or Farm to Feet or PR firm? What about bike – foster a couple of frame builders maybe?

    So,pie-in-the-sky: how about fostering 100 businesses that may each eventually hire one or two or six people – skilled tradespeople, artisans, business services, small scale warehousing, light manufacturing, and white collar gen-x yuppies like me – wouldn’t that be awesome? Sierra Commons can be the funnel for this.

    And thanks to Sierra Commons – I would have had to leave here if not for their support – my business thrives, and I have been able to hire a couple of other coworkers to help ease my workload from time to time.

    So, success to both spaces, and good on the ERC for driving something. But on a broader level, don’t get stuck with ’90’s thinking in a millennial environment – or as I’m overly fond of asking: Why are our community leaders sticking to Humpty Dumpty’s in a Three Forks World?

  4. Hi Mike,
    I would agree, just as I would agree that the Sierra Business Council also is responsible for some major economic development successes in our region. And I’d throw in some other private enterprises too. It’s been a “team.”

    Now that the ERC has teamed up with the Chambers (five of ’em, no less), I’m concerned about a return to the “good old boy” days of economic development/tourism. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  5. Is Green Screen the ERC’s as Jeff writes? As far as I’ve seen from GSI’s own press releases, Jon Gregory is the Managing Partner implying its a limited partnership and other PR about having Los Angeles investors. Their website doesn’t indicate what it is and asking this question and what GSI’s relationship to the ERC is goes unanswered when I and others have asked directly. I wouldn’t really care if the ERC was a private foundation funded non-profit; but it’s generally using the taxpayer at 3-levels this past year as its foundation so you would think there would be clarity about how we got from one place to another. It’s a curious bunch.

  6. Hi,
    The County contracts with the NCERC and supported the research and conceptualization of the Green Screen Institute. GSI, however, is a self-funded organization with plans to generate revenue and be supported by private investments, office space rentals and success of its accelerator participates.

  7. I really appreciated Mike Mooers comments because of his readiness to acknowledge that the expansion of co-working opportunities is inherently a good thing. The reality is over the next 25 years roughly one in four employees in the US is going to be decoupled from an office or fixed location working environment. More opportunities for co-working are going to happen.

    But I think the subtext of the comments from both Mike and Jeff are even more important.

    Sierra Commons has done great work and should be supported in the community. The ERC is doing great work and should be supported in the community. SEDCorps, the Sierra Small Business Development Center, the SBA, the One Stop Job Placement centers, and many others are doing great work.

    Collaboration between all of these efforts, and more important aligning their work so that aggregately they provide services that compliment each other and provide a pathway to entrepreneurship and economic development, is critical. This is especially important in a region with low levels of investment in economic development services.

    In 2014 when Sierra Business Council, the organization I work for, approached the SBA with a proposal to create a separate Sierra Small Business Development Center we did it because we believed the level of service reaching the Sierra, and particularly rural communities, was shockingly low. I am proud of the effort and results that the Sierra Small Business Development Center and the team assembled to run it has achieved in the first full year of its existence. The SierraSBDC serves the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Nevada, Sierra, Plumas, Lassen and Modoc, and is based in the Sierra Business Council office in Truckee.

    In Nevada County alone in 2015 the SBDC has provided technical assistance to 148 clients, provided 841 hours of direct one-on-one counseling, helped start 16 businesses that created 31 jobs, and counseled businesses in the retention of 50 jobs. We have conducted 36 business development workshops in Nevada County covering business planning, financial management, social media and marketing strategies and entrepreneurship. We have also worked directly with businesses to secure more than $9 million in new capital invested in Nevada County in the first year, and have another roughly $40 million in the pipeline likely to be secured over the next 18 months.

    More than half of those counseling and workshop hours have been in western Nevada County.

    Because the SBDC is based in Nevada County its initial focus and successes have come there but we are working hard to spread those services across the entire territory.

    I truly believe that the approach we need is more like an Economic Development Delivery System than a series of one off initiatives; that the service providers should be aligning their services so that clients can plug in and access the services they need seamlessly, and that each player is referring each client to the appropriate place to plug in.

  8. Actually the more co working options the better to get costs down. Some of my colleagues pay $50 a month for multiple location co working, with all the benefits which makes $150 / month look very expensive.

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