story by Kim Souza
The Iceberg, co-working center in downtown Fayetteville, the brainchild of a few local entrepreneurs opened its door two years ago, occupying the basement space of the Metro District, just off of Dickson Street.
But the two-year lease signed with Reindl Properties expired last month and the board overseeing this venture, Northwest Arkansas Entrepreneurial Alliance (NWAEA). confirmed with The City Wire that the furnishings have been packed up and moved into storage while they look for a new home.
Jeannette Balleza Collins, board member and spokeswoman for NWAEA, said the group has worked with The ARK Challenge leadership, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Innovate Arkansas each looking at potential spaces in downtown Fayetteville. She said Downtown Properties Real Estate Group's Sheree Alt is also helping them search out potential spaces.
“The move-in date is likely to occur within the next two to three months,” Collins said.
Collins said the group is not giving up on the co-working space concept and the need it meets in the local entrepreneurial community.
In the meantime, the group is working with facilitator and business mentor Amy Reeves Robinson to organize an organizational Town Hall meeting on Feb. 12, at the Walmart 5 & Dime Museum Meeting Room from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In this meeting the group plans to brainstorm with the community about what events around entrepreneurship to pursue this year in addition to the monthly meet-ups and quarterly startup crawls.
Since March 2012, when the Icceberg opened, more than 150 individuals have used the collaborative office/workspace, according to Collins. The Iceberg has partnered with nearly 30 community, national and international organizations to host networking events, talks, panels or some other collaborative effort to create more value for the entrepreneurial community.
“Individuals based elsewhere, whether Benton County or Bangalore, India, have used the space and mailing address to conduct business in Northwest Arkansas. The configurable space has served as an office for 1 all the way to an event space for hundreds,” Collins said.
She said the most urgent needs from the community have been: a meeting space for visiting businesspeople, organizations or alliances, a place to teach classes or hold talks, as well as event spaces for sustained events like conferences, mentoring office hours and hackathons.
The Iceberg has 37 co-working members and has served as the communication hub for the 2012 and 2013 ARK Challenge team competitors, the main offices for 25 startups companies, 62 entrepreneurs and 60 mentors.