Non-profit coworking space Black River Innovation Campus recently launched to help support economic growth in the evolving community of Springfield, Vermont. The new coworking space is housed in a 100-year-old landmark that’s undergoing renovations to become a state-of-the-art workspace and new hub for entrepreneurial and tech activity in Vermont. We spoke with executive director Trevor Barlow to learn more about BRIC, future expansion plans, and how this initiative will impact the community.

Why did you decide to open a coworking space?

The Black River Innovation Campus opened four months ago to provide a hub for the emerging rural tech economy. It’s been three years in the making. We’re trying to break the traditional mold of coworking spaces and become a center for rural economic development in the Southern Vermont region. We collaborate with regional schools, private industry, workers, investors, and tech companies. We also have an amazing 10-gig internet network in our region that was WAY underutilized. 

What kinds of amenities do you have? What makes your space unique?

Our current space is 4,000 square feet with plans to expand to 30,000 square feet and offer housing. We are renovating a 100-year-old high school with gorgeous architecture, a gym, a 500-seat auditorium, and detailed marble and wood in the interior. It’s an amazing vibe.

What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?

Our favorite part is the people. The energy generated by creating a space for ideas to flourish is truly a privilege and joy.

What has been the most surprising or unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?

The incredible people that have come out of the “hills” to participate in the space. There are a lot of talented people enjoying the rural lifestyle here. It’s great to give them a place to congregate, and I’m blown away by the local resources that were previously unknown.

What’s your favorite story about one of your members?

We have too many stories to pick a favorite. In general, we are early in the game but I enjoy hearing stories from people who are excited to see what we are offering, and sharing how tech fits into the distinct Vermont lifestyle.

What advice do you have for someone who’d like to open a coworking space?

Build out your network prior to opening and seek feedback on the community needs. It’ll help you to adapt your space early on and avoid unnecessary expenses and improvements.

Learn more about Black River Innovation Campus on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.