- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - Sandboxes can be a great place for children to interact with each other, “work” and exchange ideas.

On Jan. 5 adults got their own version with the grand opening of the Sandbox Coworking Space in downtown Yankton.

Owner-operator Mollie Grey had a busy day, speaking at One Million Cups to talk about the sandbox concept and opening the doors to the facility an hour later with an appearance by Sioux Falls mayor Mike Huether.

Coworking spaces are locations where those who work remotely without a set office or other professionals have an opportunity to work in one place together, the Yankton Press and Dakotan (https://bit.ly/2jgQxUd ) reports.

Grey said the space offers a lot of different opportunities to patrons.

“It’s basically a shared working space for people to work out of, but we’ve taken the best elements of your office, the best elements of a coffee shop and pretty much brought it to downtown Yankton,” Grey said. “It’s a shared working space, but it is so much more than that. It’s a place where your business can put on events. It’s a place where you can fuel your small business. It’s a lot of different things into one, and that’s why I’ve said sometimes that title of ‘coworking space’ can be misleading.”

The location gives freelancers, entrepreneurs and other professionals a location where they can work together with amenities such as bottomless coffee, high-speed internet, workshops, 24/7 access and member events.

Grey said the idea for the space arose from her own experiences working remotely.

“I worked remote for two years,” she said. “Working out of your home and having that flexibility is great, but in my situation, I was not performing in my job. There was always laundry, there was always chores and there was always something to do that distracted and disrupted my daily routine. When you’re working 100 percent remote, performing is super difficult.”

She added that co-working spaces provide an alternative that can help users be more productive.

“What I’ve found, first-hand, is co-working spaces alleviate that,” she said. “You get to sit around and work amongst people that are like-minded individuals that want to perform, wanting to integrate, wanting to collaborate so it has its advantages in that regard.”

The concept greatly benefited Grey herself.

“When I was working remote out of Atlanta, I worked out of a co-working space eventually,” she said. “I was spending, on average, $6 per day on Starbucks - not to mention wear and tear on your car to get there, disruptions, the Wi-Fi (wasn’t) the best. What I ended up doing was discovering there was rental space near my home in Atlanta and I ended up working out of a co-working space.”

In Yankton, Grey said there is already some interest popping up in membership from freelancers, corporate partners who would allow a few employees to utilize the space at a time and entrepreneurs. The goal for the year is to have at least 50 members.

In addition to providing a space for people to work and meet in, Grey said the new space helps contribute to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Yankton.

“I love that I’ve achieved a goal that I set for myself, which was renovate a building and set a standard for others, hopefully, to follow that you can make a building look really cool and modern in downtown Yankton,” she said. “I want to consistently put on events each week. I want to pick up programs like Entrepreneurial Week, Women in Business Week and things like that. I want consistency, I want members and I want to have the look and feel of a modern cool place in downtown Yankton.”

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Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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