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Working together: The 701 celebrates a year of coworking in Grand Forks

Kyle Sulerud works Wednesday out of The 701 Coworking space. The building allows entrepreneurs to rent space for less than a conventional office, which in turn reduces overhead for the startups. (April Baumgarten/Grand Forks Herald)

About a year ago, Kyle Sulerud was working out of his Grand Forks home, the public library and coffee shops as he advised clients and tried to expand his business.

Sulerud said it worked, but he could only do so much.

"The biggest limitation for me was I wanted to produce training material," he said. "I'd probably get some weird looks trying to record something like that in a coffee shop."

Then, in January, he became one of the first tenants of The 701 Coworking by Evolve Grand Forks.

"It's allowed me to add this whole new component to my business," Sulerud said. "I basically doubled my business in this amount of time and have been able to help a lot more people."

The 701 opened Dec. 1, 2016, and has about 35 tenants, said Brandon Baumbach, co-founder and a board director of Evolve Grand Forks. Tenants and supporters of the project will celebrate a year of operation Tuesday at the Ramada Inn with the presentation of their annual report. It will include the announcement of a $25,000 matching grant from the Knight Foundation.

Evolve focused on The 701 in 2017, but will turn its efforts toward expanding the group's reach into the community, Baumbach said.

"In 2018, we are really excited to get outside the walls even more and do more throughout the community to support a culture of entrepreneurship," he said

Interactive space

The 701 allows entrepreneurs to rent space at a price that's lower than conventional office space. It provides internet and other necessities, but tenants bring their own equipment.

"You can get a membership unlimited for $100 a month," Sulerud said. "I think anyone trying to start a business can at least come up with $100 a month, and if not, there are even cheaper options."

Tenants can work in the open main area or rent out private rooms. The 701 also rents space for meetings.

As the first group tenant of the space, the Young Professionals use the space for several events, including gatherings for 1 Million Cups, which features businesses across the community through weekly presentations. The group finds it valuable to have a downtown space that is as accessible and flexible as The 701, said Young Professionals Executive Director Corey Mock.

"We see The 701 Coworking space as absolutely vital for thriving economic development in the region, and we wanted to get behind that," he said.

The 701 has helped draw entrepreneurs out into the open so they can interact with business people from other sectors, Baumbach said. Without a coworking space, they may have been isolated, he added.

"It's been able to draw out those really neat ideas and get them plugged into each other," he said.

In addition to the benefit of having a place for startup work, Sulerud noted the fact that entrepreneurs from different business sectors can share ideas and referrals.

"It's a great place to make you focus on what you are trying to do," he said. "You come here, and you won't be distracted. You'll focus 100 percent on your business."

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248