Tompkins Weekly 3-21-16
By Bob Rossi
There’s a place in downtown Ithaca where people are co-creating the future they want to live in. Some are designing educational workshops and community-building events. Some provide business support services that help others succeed. Non-profits and businesses are working together for the common good.
This place is the CommonSpot, a coworking space on the Ithaca Commons. The CommonSpot started with a simple vision of creating a vibrant, inclusive workspace shared by local mission-driven businesses and like-minded people—a place where you can work, network and collaborate on projects that are profitable and beneficial to the community.
As our family continues to grow, we have become a shared support network. Through the CommonSpot we also provide a suite of professional services including graphic design, marketing, financial consulting, leadership training, and business coaching. Visit the “business services” page at CommonSpot.org for more information.
This month marks the start of something new: Business Meetups. These are informal gatherings focused on business and open to all people of a particular community. Our first such event was the Business Leaders of Color Meetup on March 10. The stated purpose of this event was to foster communication among local business leaders of color to help create opportunities and strengthen support networks.
Over 30 people of color attended, representing a broad range of sectors and professions. They enjoyed local brew served by Bandwagon Brew Pub, Colombian cuisine by Bici-Cocina, and a casual gathering with natural networking. “It was a wonderful experience. I got to network with great people and was even invited to collaborate with a couple businesses. I would like to see more events like this,” Edward Moran, head of IT at Southside Community Center, said.
Among those attending the March 10 gathering at the CommonSpot were, from left, Fabina Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC); Deborah “DJ” Campos, Assistant Coordinator for the Ultimate Re-entry Opportunity (URO) Initiative; and Runjini Raman, intern at City of Ithaca Mayor’s Office.
“As far as I know, the networking event for business people of color held at the CommonSpot was the first such event in Ithaca,” said Karl Graham, Director of Community Relations and Development at Alternatives Federal Credit Union. “This event was long overdue. It is important for entrepreneurs to network, to build connections, to utilize each other’s services where possible, and this is especially true for entrepreneurs from traditionally marginalized groups.”
Gladys Brangman, founder of Integrity Communication Group, and Fabina Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) at Cornell Cooperative Extension, were both sponsors and co-organizers of this meetup. Colon explains, “As an organization that is working to build equity, inclusion, and racial justice in our communities, we at MRC understand the systemic barriers that exist and the challenges they create for business leaders of color. We look forward to supporting more opportunities like this for people to empower themselves and thrive in their businesses.”
According to Brangman, “The event was successful because of the business leaders who showed up. This event offered an opportunity for businesses with complementary services to network and share ideas, supporting one another. I’m not sure community gets much better than that.”
In April, the CommonSpot will host a Business Meetup for Women co-organized by three women business owners at the CommonSpot: Gladys Brangman, Susan Rausch of Camp Earth Connection and freelance business goddess Leslie Ackerman. Additional opportunities specifically for businesswomen are also in the works. Stop by the CommonSpot (in person at 126 3/4 the Commons or online) or follow us on Facebook for details and updates as this exciting new programming unfolds.
These events are examples of what’s possible at the CommonSpot. We’d love to hear what you and your business need to thrive. We offer desks, meeting rooms, event space, various office amenities, and a creative coworking community. Mention this article for a free day pass, and let’s cowork for the common good.
Bob Rossi is the founder, director and custodian of the CommonSpot.