The Rapidian

The Factory offers coworking space for entrepreneurs

As the technology and web development industries grow in Grand Rapids, The Factory connects entrepreneurs in a "coWorking," "coLearning" environment.
The Factory provides coworking space for freelancers and entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids.

The Factory provides coworking space for freelancers and entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids. /Courtesy of The Factory

"coLearning" at The Factory

Classes offered include:

Modern Front-End

Beginning HTML/CSS

Intro to Ruby


/Courtesy of The Factory

The Factory, a coworking space in downtown Grand Rapids, recently launched a “coLearning” initiative in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that offers six-week-long courses and internships of 40 hours minimum. “Intro to Ruby” and “Modern Web” are just two of the courses offered. Members can apply for a scholarship to help with the cost of the courses.

“There’s different structures of learning and we like to encourage the structure that allows people to pursue their passion, get trained in the technology and the job skill that they lack without having to take additional college courses,” says Mary Brown, coLearning Program Director.

The space, located at 38 West Fulton, provides a place for entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers in the technology and design industries to learn, work and network together. Whether in need of a break from a home office and need to sit at a desk or enjoy the comfort of a couch, The Factory has desks, lounge areas and a cafe to fit multiple work styles.

“The Factory is community space [with] a lot of like-minded people working together,” says Annie Klooster, Operations Manager. “We have pretty much everything you would need to grow and sustain your business.”

Lite, Basic and Resident memberships are available on a month-to-month basis and offer access to workspace from two days per week to 24/7 access. Memberships range $75 to $275 per month. Punch cards, which give access to workspace for 10 days over a three month period, and day passes are also available.

Conference rooms are available for members to meet with clients or hold meetings. Added earlier this year, Skype rooms provide a private space for phone and video calls. Internet and printing services are available as well.

Timothy Wolfer, a documentary filmmaker, recently became a member at The Factory after working at home for a year and a half.

“Even though you’re self-employed, you have coworkers [and] the benefits of being downtown,” says Wolfer. “You have a space that is yours; you can leave work at work and home at home.”

The Factory was originally called The Garage and was located in Zeeland. After founder Aaron Schaap noticed many of its members were commuting from Grand Rapids he decided to move the coworking space to a larger location that offered more opportunities for members.

In 2009, The Factory moved to the Leonard Building, 38 West Fulton, in downtown Grand Rapids. Two years later, it expanded and moved from the building’s third floor to a 5,000 square foot suite on the fourth floor.

Networking opportunities are offered through weekly, monthly and yearly meetups organized by The Factory and the West Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Friendly Code, GRWeb Dev and WMiBlogs are just a few of the organizations that use The Factory for meetups.

“Technology is coming really far and it’s growing more in Grand Rapids,” says Klooster. “We kind of just want to be a base where people can come to and know that they’ll meet other people in the community, either here or through us."

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