Why a coworking space in Fernie?

Welcome to the very first 2nd Edition Coworking blog post!

You may be curious why the Fernie Chamber of Commerce decided to embark on this journey of opening a not-for-profit community coworking space in downtown Fernie.

In 2017 having identified that a coworking space could be of benefit to the community, the Fernie Chamber commissioned a feasibility study regarding the potential for such a facility in Fernie. This study included an online survey of prospective tenants and the final report published that summer demonstrated that there was enough demand by many in the community (and part-time residents) to make the project feasible.

With Fernie being an attractive community to live and play in, the addition of a collaborative workspace could also help it be an attractive place to work, particularly for those who can work from anywhere.

As a common space shared by several individuals and organizations, coworking facilities often provide tenants with better office equipment and a better work environment than they might afford on their own. Coworking spaces often provide home-based workers with a more social work environment while providing a greater opportunity for collaboration and local economy building.

By bringing together groups of people with different skillsets, abilities and connections, coworking centres create their own microeconomies where member tenants provide services to each other and where tenants can collaborate on larger and more lucrative projects. Therefore, a shared workspace can play an important role in local economic development and diversification, as well as community capacity-building.

As well as demonstrating adequate demand, the feasibility study also identified that the preferred location would be in the historic downtown core of Fernie. Proximity to other businesses, particularly cafes and restaurants, should create economic spin-offs for those businesses, and create more vibrancy in the downtown core.

Encouraged by the results of the study, the Fernie Chamber took steps in 2018 to apply for funding opportunities to raise the significant startup capital for the project. In early 2019, the Fernie Chamber was awarded some startup funds from the Province of British Columbia’s Rural Dividend Fund.

By matching these funds with the Fernie Chamber’s own capital reserves, suddenly the cool idea of having a community coworking space in Fernie took a big step towards becoming a reality…