December 18th, 2018

‘The Root’ Coworking Space Prepped to Sprout in New Albany

The Root Coworking SpaceSince 2013, more than 90 new businesses have moved into downtown New Albany, Ind. The city boasts a riverfront amphitheater, a center for art and history, and dozens of options for local dining and shopping. Living quarters have popped up above brick-façade storefronts, and the City of New Albany’s investments in infrastructure to improve roads and sidewalks is obvious.

Entrepreneurs can thrive in ecosystems that buzz with this kind of activity and engagement, but they also need a place to call “home.” On Dec. 3, The Root coworking space opened its doors to entrepreneurs right in the heart of downtown New Albany at 110 E. Market St., giving local innovators a place to land.

“Our vision is to show the business world what love looks like,” says Brigid Morrissey, cofounder of The Root with her father Mark Morrissey. Brigid talks about servitude, becoming a valuable resource, responding to people’s needs, and facilitating connections. “If we do our jobs right, it’s going to become so much bigger than us. It’s just as much the people there, not just me and my dad.”

The Root includes 8,000 square feet, with three floors comprised of space for full-time and part-time coworkers, two conference rooms, and 14 private offices. Interest in The Root has been brewing for a while, as people are currently on a waiting list for the private offices. Maggie Galloway, CEO and co-founder of Inscope Medical Solutions, an Elevate Ventures portfolio company, was one of the first people to reserve a dedicated space.

“I am thrilled that Southern Indiana has a place where innovators and entrepreneurs can gather and work in close proximity. Downtown New Albany has undergone significant revitalization efforts in the last few years. It was also designated as one of the new Opportunity Zones, which will provide incentives for investors looking to invest in companies located there. Having Inscope HQ at The Root provides a fun and innovative environment for our current employees and will help us recruit top notch talent in the future,” she says. Investments made within Indiana’s 156 Opportunity Zones are provided with federal capital gains tax advantages to help attract capital investment.

Brigid Morrissey was an art major at Furman University in South Carolina when she first heard of the coworking concept. It was introduced as a design strategy to advance social change. At about the same time, back in Brigid’s hometown of New Albany, her father Mark Morrissey was selling his dental practice, retiring a few years earlier than anticipated due to an injury.

When Brigid graduated in 2014 and moved home, both father and daughter were career hunting, dreaming about where they wanted their lives to go. In 2016, they started to take off on the same path.

“We were in his kitchen one night talking about the growth and development of our downtown area and how exciting it was and how we wanted to be part of that,” Brigid says. She had heard that office space was in demand, and then the coworking idea resurfaced.

Not long after, the Morrisseys planned a trip back to Greenville, S.C., to tour coworking spaces. More tours, conversations over the kitchen table and plenty of research later, they purchased a circa-1859 building on contract from local contractor/developer Steve Resch in downtown New Albany. Work began on its renovation in January 2018.

The Root will be the only coworking space in its southern Indiana region. The next closest options sit across the Ohio River in Louisville. For people who live in Indiana, the commute to Louisville is at least a 20-minute drive, depending on traffic. The Root is also situated right off of a bridge that isn’t tolled, eliminating that potential cost for employees.

“Being able to build a broader community of entrepreneurs in this area is good for all of us. Each of us has different knowledge, talents and contacts. Working at The Root, we can more easily share those things to lift up each other,” Inscope Medical’s Galloway says.

People who have signed on at The Root represent businesses in a range of industries: medical device, electric power, accounting, legal, mechanical engineering, marketing, coaching, commercial cleaning and more. The space can accommodate more than 100 members.

Over the past century and half, the building has been a discount store, pharmacy and pawn shop. The interior now holds leather couches, community tables, a café area, library nook with books and upholstered chairs, a kitchenette and phone booths. A private courtyard complete with a basketball rim is accessible only through the building. Exposed brick walls, wood floors, and shades of forest green and brown are balanced with industrial-style touches.

Elevate Ventures Entrepreneur-in-Residence Kyle Keeney, who has been guiding the Morrisseys to develop programming for startups and to plan the grand opening event, offered his own large-scale art to hang. Brigid says connecting with people like Keeney has helped shape the business and expand its reach. The Root will also be part of the Indiana Coworking Passport, which gives members of other coworking spaces access to locations all around the state.

“From the very beginning, when we were touring other coworking spaces from Greenville to Louisville, people have been nothing but helpful in our quest to set up and be successful. And it doesn’t stop,” she says.

The Root’s grand opening event will take place Jan. 12, 2019. For more on The Root, visit therootworkspace.com.

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