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Open For (Your) Business: Co-working spaces provide companies offices for rent

Mitch Hooper

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There are two sides to working from home. On one hand, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your house to knock out tasks or grind away on your side projects. And on the other hand, never leaving the comfort of your home can become isolating and it becomes difficult to disconnect with reminders of work all around you. If you feel this way about your home office, you’re not alone. That’s why people like Melissa Blackburn and Danielle Allison Lim, co-founders of Haven Collective, are creating spaces to alleviate problems and promote community amongst like-minded and driven individuals.

Haven Collective is a co-working space with a location in Upper Arlington as well as the recently opened mansion operating on Broad Street. Whether you’re a freelancer looking to get started or a veteran of your industry, using a co-working space offers benefits such as low overhead, a variety of payment options, further education through specialty events, and networking opportunities. And once you dig a little deeper, you’ll see what space works best for you and your needs. Some places are better suited for smaller companies; others offer space for up to 100 employees. If the home office is a means of convenience due to parenting, Haven Collective offers a playroom for little ones so mom or dad can stay productive while the kids stay entertained.

But with so many options available, it can get overwhelming just picking one. That’s where we come in. We did some legwork for you to point you in the direction of six additional co-working spaces in the city that are worth checking out.

COVA COWORK | 1069 W Broad St. or 470 W Broad St.

The founders of Cova CoWork know a thing or two about co-working spaces; between all of them, they have collectively worked out of 40 different offices. And it’s these experiences that have helped them shape Cova CoWork into what it is today. Of course, members will have access to high speed internet and all the coffee they can handle, but they’ll also have more lifestyle options such as day care for children at the Gravity location or wellness support. Memberships at Cova CoWork at Gravity begin at $250 while memberships to the location in Franklinton begin at $200.

CO-HATCH | Various (Easton, Polaris, Upper Arlington, two in Worthington, soon-to-be in Dublin)

Whether this is your first crack at starting a business or you’ve been in the industry for years, Co-Hatch has options and locations that will suit your needs. The price points here range from the starter package at $59, granting members 10 hours of usage per month, up to the dedicated desk option at $299 a month where members have access to meeting rooms and event space as well as unlimited usage hours. Co-Hatch is also a communal place to host gatherings as it features a patio for parties, entertainment for children, and even a full gym at the Worthington spot.

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THE PERCH | 45 E Lincoln St.

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Weekend Warriors.

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Industrial design, high ceilings, and tons of lights— it’s like a millennial’s workplace dream. The Perch is a locally owned co-working space one block away from High Street, making it right in the heart of all the action near the Short North, Italian Village, and Downtown. A membership here offers a variety of office necessities such as an AppleTV with a 65’ display, private conference rooms, and perhaps best of all, on-site parking. Additionally, members have options when it comes to dedicated desks and office space, with spaces available for a single person, or a team of four to five. For prices and rates, visit theperchshortnorth.com.

QWIRK COWORKING | 341 S Third St., Suite 100

Are you looking to dip your toes into the co-working space waters, but aren’t sure where to begin? With the recent announcement of free Fridays where there’s no cost to use the space, QWirk might be a great place to start. Here, members have flexibility when it comes to packages. If you are hoping to set up shop for the foreseeable future, a dedicated room or desk starting at $375 a month might be your best bet. But, if you are just looking to ‘wow’ a client or host a conference, day passes are available for just $10. While in the space, you’ll have access to common areas where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack plus amenities such as high speed internet, lockers to store your personal items, and a mail collection service.

THE IDEA FOUNDRY | 421 W State St.

The Idea Foundry is a hub of creativity. It’s one part a place for classes and workshops, another part an area for events and exhibits, and a final part of co-working spaces and dedicated offices. The options for space here are seemingly endless. If you are just looking for a little extra space for your side hustle, the five-visits-a-month package starts at $100 and provides ultimate flexibility for your schedule. And if you are looking for a more permanent spot, co-working spaces start at $200 per month while dedicated desks begin at $350 per month.

VERSA | 1201 Dublin Rd. or 205 W Nationwide Blvd.

While co-working spaces are popular amongst start-ups and newer businesses, they are also great for a company that is quickly expanding. At Versa, they can offer private office space for a group ranging from two employees to more than 100 workers, meaning they can play host to a variety of businesses in need of space. And if the typical desk setting isn’t your speed, the open work areas provide sofas, couches, and even a patio, all with access to the amenities and perks inside. The best perk of all, though? Versa is dog-friendly and who amongst us couldn’t use more dogs inside the workplace?

millennial | writer | human

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Now Streaming: Columbus entertainers find virtual ways to perform

Mitch Hooper

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As Columbus entertainers prepared for warm weather and folks returning to the bars, COVID-19 came in and put it to a halt. The bars being closed indefinitely not only impacts owners, servers, and bartenders, it impacts the performers who rely on these places as a platform to showcase their talents. When folks can't come support local entertainers, what can they do?

What if they bring their talents to them? That's what many Columbus entertainers are doing during social distancing. While "work from home" wasn't much an option before this, comedians such as Amber Falter and Ian Miller are taking to Instagram Live and other streaming platforms to perform.

The first virtual show the two did was with Alexis Nelson of BarkBox, and admittedly, they were a little nervous about not having an audience for feedback.

"I was actually scared to start," Miller said. "Jokes don’t have what I call 'standalone timing.' You need a give and take with the audience, you build it into your jokes. The thought of telling jokes without immediate feedback was terrifying."

The two said the show went great and it didn't take long for both of them to enjoy streaming their comedy. Falter quickly did another virtual show, A Hamantha and Brisket Comedy Hours, with Samantha Sizemore and Bridjet Mendy themed around dating stories via Zoom. Miller, on the other hand, started a weekly story telling show on his Twitch channel Glass Cannon Comedy.

Falter, co-host of ACLU Stand-Up For Choice, says there's even been some silver linings to streaming her comedy.

"I was joking with one of my friends that is always like, 'Hey, I'm going to make it to the show! Can't wait to see you at the show!' and then they never make it out," Falter laughed. "Now you have no excuse, honey!"

As for the future ACLU Stand-Up For Choice comedy events, Falter said she and others involved, such as co-host Pat Deering, are figuring out how to do so through streaming.

Miller said he has seen many of his shows canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. He had six shows slated across 13 days, all of which have been canceled. Additionally, his monthly story telling show as well as Glass Cannon's quarterly-themed shows are suspended.

"It’s been rough. There may not have been of ton of Columbus comics “paying the bills” with comedy, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t felt the impact," Miller said "Times are tough, and it’s really hard to have a side hustle of any kind when you know leaving your house could put yourself and other in danger."

And that's why he believes it's so important to support entertainers in anyway you can. Whether that be through a share or follow on social media, every little bit helps grow their platform.

Falter echoed this sentiment, too.

"I want this to become a source of income and I've been extremely, extremely grateful for the people that have even sent like $2," she said. "Or not even that, if they just followed me on Instagram or told me I had a good set. [By just] saying, "Hey that was really fun, thanks so much," that alone is making me super emotional."

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We Will Do It: Dr. Amy Acton is determined, not afraid

J.R. McMillan

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The announcement was shocking, even to the pool of hardened reporters gathered in anxious anticipation. On March 12, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the closure of all schools in the state for at least three weeks to hopefully halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Illustration by Sarah Moore

With only a handful of confirmed cases, based largely on statistical models and patterns emerging from cities and countries around the world, Ohio was among the first to signal, almost prophetically, that life as we all knew it was about to change dramatically, perhaps forever.

Then skepticism suddenly turned to stunned silence as Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stepped forward to reveal the possibility that more than 100,000 Ohioans were already carrying the virus.

But this dire presumption wasn’t delivered with cold calculation by a career bureaucrat who dithers or withers in front of the cameras. Instead, Acton did something remarkable, in real time. In her signature white coat and without a whiff of wonk, she calmly and confidently broke down the math behind the decision and the prediction, at one point comparing the delay in reliable data to the light of a distant star whose brightness we can only see long after the moment has passed.

And with that, Ohioans discovered the light of a different kind of star, and her moment is now.

Even before Acton was a household name, she was already an unlikely hero. A physician since 1994, she honed both her approachable bedside manner and public policy persona at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and as an assistant professor at Ohio State. During her brief tenure at The Columbus Foundation, Acton was instrumental in raising nearly $2.5 million in just six weeks to combat youth homelessness, blowing past every expectation. It was a philanthropic success that was also hauntingly personal.

It isn’t without irony that as Ohio businesses close their doors, many for the last time, that Youngstown’s venerated daily newspaper, The Vindicator, published its final edition this past August with an intimate portrait of Acton. Then, she was still the local homecoming queen who had beaten the odds, gone on to college, ultimately becoming the top public health official in the state.

The “grit and grace” we see today, so noted by Doug Kridler, President and CEO of The Columbus Foundation, was undeniably born of a chaotic, often tragic, childhood. Acton’s parents separated when she was just three, and in the decade that followed before reuniting with her father, she lived in a constant state of uncertainty. This included living in more than a dozen places in as many years across the country, some less desirable than others; she lived once in an unfinished basement, and even spent a winter in a tent. Only after abuse at the hands of one of her mother’s string of boyfriends did life for Acton finally start to turn around. Her father was granted full custody, and she’s never seen her mother again.

But even this backstory only surfaced in retrospect. The newspaper’s website also shut down a day after the final edition hit the streets. No likes, shares, or tweets. Only later were the archives posted online, with that closing interview receiving overdue attention in recent weeks, much like Acton herself.

“Lots of powerful souls walk among us,” noted Todd Franko, former Editor in Chief of The Vindicator. “Last August, she walked in and walked out of our office, and no one knew her. They know her now.”

Yet in darkness, there is still light, with dutiful denizens across the state tuning in daily for afternoon “Wine with DeWine.” But even that fierce following may pale in comparison to the more than 50,000 members of Acton’s entirely unofficial Facebook fan club. The conversation waxes and wanes from harrowing accounts to rays of revelry, from the testimonials of healthcare providers on the frontline of the crisis to heated debate about which actress should portray Acton in some future Hollywood feature. (For those keeping score, Allison Janney, Dana Delany, and Anne Hathaway are currently the top casting contenders.) Local apparel company Homage also honored her with a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Not all heroes wear capes.”

Even Acton herself is not above public levity amid unprecedented circumstances. A photo from a recent morning meeting in the lower level of the statehouse went viral, with staffers seemingly orbiting a laughing Acton from a safe social distance. It was a rare and candid glimpse of the loyalty she fosters among the small army she inspires, no longer
in anonymity.

Her candor coupled with compassion is at the heart of her appeal. The mother of six, one of whom offers her his own daily briefings on her online following from his home in Menlo Park, has been called “Ohio’s Mom” for the tough love that belies every escalating restriction that unfolds aimed at minimizing the worst case scenarios.

It’s the same honesty tempered with hope that won DeWine over barely a year ago. Acton neither sought nor expected to become the governor’s final, perhaps his most crucial, cabinet selection. In discussing the role with him, she offered an unvarnished, apolitical assessment of Ohio’s challenges and opportunities to improve public health, and prepare for unforeseen threats to it.

Thankfully, he hired her anyway.

The hasty cancellation of in-person voting the day before the state’s primary and extension of absentee voting by mail was deemed politically untenable, until it wasn’t. After what was expected to be an uncontested delay erupted into a last-minute legal reversal, Acton’s authority to protect citizens in the midst of a public health emergency found precedent in an obscure provision of the Ohio Revised Code from 1886 in response to an outbreak of tuberculosis. 

Now, Ohio leads the country in its response, with fellow states following suit, though not without criticism. The impact on businesses directly and indirectly is as controversial as it is unavoidable. DeWine is charged with an impossible task, desperately trying to land a plane safely, despite the fact that it’s coming apart in the air. There will be casualties, actual and economic. But reducing the former requires increasing the latter. Acton is not only his copilot, but is additionally charged with assuring passengers that they are doing everything they can just
to survive.

This is why we need Acton right now—she’s a guiding star in what often seems like an endless night. When human nature and history tend to suggest turning on each other, she’s quick to remind us that we’re all in this together. She’s the hero we didn’t know was in our midst, the same powerful soul who walked up to a podium and into our lives barely a month ago practically unknown, but who is now a part of our daily routine. When all of this is behind us, we’re going to look back on how we have changed. And when that day comes, we will surely have Acton to thank for telling us exactly what we needed to hear, when we needed to hear it, just to get through another day. We should all be forever grateful for her words.

“I don’t want you to be afraid. I’m not afraid. I am determined,” Acton famously confessed. “All of us are going to have to sacrifice. And I know someday, we’ll be looking back and wondering what was it we did in
this moment.”

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Columbus Does Good: Westerville designer creates t-shirt to honor Ruby Owens, Dr. Amy Acton

Mitch Hooper

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As Dr. Amy Acton leads Ohio's charge against COVID-19, local makers like Megan Owdom-Weitz are doing their best to say thanks.

Using the words written by Ruby Owens, a nine-year-old who made headlines for the optimistic and thankful letter she sent to Dr. Acton, Owdom-Weitz designed a t-shirt. With approval from Emily, Ruby's mother, Owdom-Weitz added the letter in addition to a sketch illustration of Dr. Acton.

"I'm so happy to have you and have hope," both the shirt and Owen's letter reads.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-XZa4Uo8KK/

While the sales of this shirt are currently on pre-order, a portion of the money received will benefit the Ohio Chapter of the Red Cross. As a local- and family-owned business in Westerville who has been hit hard financially due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these t-shirt sales will also help Megan Lee Designs during these difficult times. The t-shirts will ultimately be completed once the two are able to return to work.

You can find Megan Lee Designs on Instagram or at her website.

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