How I Left a Dying Industry To Grow Others

Until late this spring, I was working in the Circulation Department at a prominent Chicago newspaper. While the newspaper industry is an interesting and unique marketplace, it is no secret that the industry is in decline. When I interviewed for the role of the Community Manager at Industrious, Chicago's newest concept in shared office space, I was entering quite the opposite. I was told that start-ups and small businesses alike would come to Industrious to grow their businesses. Immediately I was sold on the opportunity to manage an environment that promoted growth and collaboration. A few weeks later, I gave my notice, packed up my desk, and left the dying newspaper industry to help grow another: Industrious.

Within a few short months, I had been catapulted from a contracting business model into a thriving solution for entrepreneurs. I am learning that Industrious members are tired of working from their homes, coffee shops, and uninspired corporate offices. They are looking for flexible spaces that encourage creative thinking. New York Times says that "many who work independently are discovering alienation lurking behind the home-office fantasy, and an increasing number are joining a new generation of co-working organizations." Gone are the days of working individually in a closed office; small businesses and start-ups alike are transitioning to a new era of collaborative working in an inspired office setting. They are looking for more than just an office, they are looking for a community that will fuel new ideas. Industrious is at the forefront of this new era.

Thoughtfully designed by "Horn Design", Industrious is being built to promote creativity and collaboration, yet offering private, glass walled offices to allow for uninterrupted productivity. Members have the option to choose from a single-person desk starting at $450 a month to private offices that can hold anywhere from 1 - 10 people. Unlike other private office solutions, members will have the flexibility of month-to-month leases along with the option to move into larger offices as they continue to grow.

Since Industrious first announced its opening this spring, we have had incredible excitement from the Chicago community. A month before the doors to our 17,000 square foot loft space open, Industrious is at over 70 percent capacity. Members are excited for the diversity of businesses they will find. Many of the other coworking and shared office spaces in Chicago cater to a single vertical. Founder, Justin Stewart says, "our members love knowing that it's a diverse group of companies that they are exposed to. I thought tech people would only want to be around tech people, and apparently, that's not the case. All these people are entrepreneurs, and they get their ideas from talking to people. Putting all these creative minds in one place, that's what's getting them excited." We welcome businesses and people from all walks of life to build their company in our community and collaborate with their neighbors. Industrious is filled with members who range from a recent Boston transplant coming to Chicago to grow his men's clothing company; Kellogg grads using their MBA to open their new online company; a mother building her digital agency; a pedicab driver bootstrapping his promotional business; and even the daughter of a shoe manufacturer using her experience to launch her own shoe line.

Why is this so important to the culture of Industrious? We believe in facilitating knowledge sharing among our members and making a point to understand what makes them tick. I see myself not only as a Community Manager, but an active participant in the success of my members' businesses. Before our doors open, I am creating virtual bulletin boards which companies will mesh well with others, utilizing each other's skill set in a way that benefits everyone. And while collaboration is not a requirement to be a member of Industrious, it is certainly encouraged.

If you asked me four months ago if I ever imagined going from a routine position at a large newspaper to one that is helping drive entrepreneurship amongst dozens of companies, I would say such a role doesn't exit. However, I have quickly learned that this role does exist and it is what I get to do everyday. And for this, I couldn't be more excited. Join me. What can Industrious do for you?

To apply for a space at Industrious and request additional information and a hard hat tour, visit or email Updates can be found on and