HomeArticlesBusiness & InvestThe quiet business revolution driving our economy

The quiet business revolution driving our economy

Nick Nichols | November 2019

There’s been a massive expansion of coworking spaces on the Gold Coast over the past seven years, and they are making a meaningful contribution to the city’s growth story – one entrepreneur at a time.

There’s a quiet revolution taking place in the way the Gold Coast does business and it’s being driven by an expanding network of specialised coworking spaces.

A decade ago, these spaces were nowhere to be found in the city, but now they are emerging as a new feeder of economic growth driven by a community of entrepreneurs willing to have a go.

The explosion of coworking spaces across the Gold Coast has coincided with a rising start-up community that is driving a new-found diversity of enterprises across the city and supporting population growth.

For Ben Howe, the founder of Southport CBD’s CoSpaces and more recently Cohort in the Health and Knowledge Precinct, the coworking spaces are a vital entry point for businesses testing the waters on the Gold Coast. He says they are also useful for large multi-nationals looking to get a foothold in the local market.

There are at least a dozen coworking spaces across the city. CoSpaces, a 2000sqm facility, has become embedded in the CBD and is popular among SMEs and serviced-based businesses. Further south, Hotel Miami at Miami has been a drawcard for creative start-ups.

Meanwhile, Cohort is attracting health and technology players in line with the strategy for the Health and Knowledge Precinct.

“Our focus with Cohort is to make the Gold Coast renowned for health and technology start-ups,” says Howe.

“We have $5 billion worth of infrastructure set up there and it’s an opportunity that we can’t pass up.

“The innovations that will come in health over the next 10 years will change the way we live and we have the opportunity to be a part of that now.”

There’s no denying the role that coworking spaces play in supporting the Gold Coast economy.

Over the past seven years, Howe has seen many small businesses with a single desk at CoSpaces blossom into larger concerns and eventually move into their own dedicated offices. The pioneer of coworking spaces on the Gold Coast says the sector really began to find its stride a few years ago.

“We had five tenants that have grown their businesses significantly since starting with a single desk with us,” says Howe.

“One moved to seven desks and now they have their own office of 20 staff. Another tenant now has an office of about nine people in Burleigh.

“There are now so many coworking spaces and so many different types of spaces around the Gold Coast to suit different needs.

“They’re very much geared towards SMEs and start-ups, and the Gold Coast is the perfect market for that. We’re not only full of SMEs and start-ups, but we’re full of satellite offices of companies in Brisbane.”

Howe believes coworking spaces that focus on community can meaningfully change the urban environment for the better.

“There is massive interaction in these spaces and it works really well for everyone,” he says. “I can’t think of any industry I don’t have access to through coworking spaces and sometimes that can lead to genuine collaborations where people benefit.”

Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) has identified coworking spaces as important links to creating job opportunities on the Gold Coast to sustain the city’s population growth.

Buoyed by the success of Cohort, EDQ has released 9.5ha of land, known as Lumina, within the Health and Knowledge Precinct to cater for demand for more commercial space.

Lumina is a commercial cluster designed to cater for businesses at all stages of development, from start-ups requiring single desks through to established businesses seeking multiple floors or a bespoke building.

“Around the world, this type of cluster precinct model has proven a bright spark when it comes to accelerating business collaboration, growth and success,” says EDQ’s executive director Tim O’Neill.

The Lumina master plan is being rolled out over the next 10 to 15 years. When complete, it will support more than 12,000 jobs and generate around $1.4 billion for the Queensland economy.

Lumina leverages off its location adjacent to the Smith Collective, a residential hub that will ultimately house 2,500 people. O’Neill says quality planning is integral to cater for the more than 350,000 additional people expected to be living on the Gold Coast by 2041.

“With more people living on the gold Coast we will need more than 150,000 new dwellings,” he says.

“We’ll also need more jobs, services and transport. This growth brings an exciting opportunity to rethink our planning. We needed a smarter approach, and a new focus on not only where we will live but how we’ll live.

“Accommodating people closer to services, existing infrastructure and employment reduces the need for significant new infrastructure and has many flow-on social and economic benefits.”

Interested in learning more about how the City of Gold Coast is responsibly managing growth? Visit cityofgoldcoast.com.au/ourcityourplan

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