Ribbon cutting event for Lansing Office Works includes tour and comments by Congresswoman Ashley Hinson

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Lansing Office Works ... Left to right: Mary Palmborg, Main Street Lansing Promotions Committee member; Congresswoman Ashley Hinson; Paul Baldwin; Maryann Baldwin, Founder/Owner, Lansing Office Works; Ian Zahren, Kee High School Innovation Lab Class and Vocal Music Instructor; Eric Dregne, Executive Team Member, Rural Ideas Network; Elizabeth Loberg, Founder, Wood Media LLC and Lansing Office Works tenant; Bruce Palmborg, President, Main Street Lansing Board of Directors; Ellen Modersohn; Andy Kelleher, Executive Director, Main Street Lansing and Lansing Office Works tenant; Val Reinke, Executive Director, Allamakee County Economic Development; Andrew Boddicker, Lansing Office Works member. Photo by Julie Berg-Raymond.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa, 1st) visited Lansing Wednesday, November 10, when Main Street Lansing held a ribbon cutting event for Lansing Office Works at its newly-opened location at 274 Main Street.

Lansing Office Works, which opened September 20, is a co-working space that offers a collaborative office environment for remote workers, small business owners and entrepreneurs. Amenities include high-speed wireless internet access, private meeting spaces, a breakroom/kitchen area, common areas, and virtual business coaching.

Following a tour of the premises, Hinson spoke with attendees about post-pandemic changes and challenges in the workforce.  Hinson said people have been forced to re-assess what they really value - including how they want to work. “We’ve got to be reactive to the ‘new normal,’” she said.

Hinson, who is chair of the 21st Century Workforce sub-work group on the Jobs and Economy Task Force, emphasized the need to be innovative when it comes to workforce challenges. “We have to maintain a balance - not having too many incentives not to work and at the same time taking into consideration how people are changing their priorities,” she said. “How do we develop policies that support the ‘new normal’? We’ve really proven that we can work from anywhere; and one of the things we’re trying to do, is provide flexibility for the workforce and for innovators.”

Hinson talked about the need to be incentivizing shorter-term training opportunities for Iowans, and across the country - “expanding Pell Grant opportunities, for example.” She said that “facilities like (Lansing Office Works) can be great” for getting information out to the public about what employers need, and about what training and funding are available.

Main Street Lansing recently moved its office into the new space, allowing the organization to work side-by-side with new entrepreneurs and start-ups and offer direct assistance as these businesses grow. Hinson asked Main Street Lansing’s Executive Director Andy Kelleher what he thought should be done to support innovators and entrepreneurs. Kelleher said mentorship programs are needed - “short term, but also long-term commitments to help people develop their businesses.”

“There’s been a lot of excitement” in the community about Lansing Office Works,” Kelleher told Hinson. “I’ve heard from lodging business owners who see the space as a big additional opportunity for their guests.”

Lansing Office Works offers a “Free Coworking Friday” each month where people can come in and work for the day; and day and week passes are available for visitors needing a quiet, state-of-the-art place to work remotely. Additionally, Lansing Office Works is a member of the Coworking Visa program that allows members to use other Coworking Visa locations throughout the world for up to three free days when traveling.

“It’s awesome that the interest is there,” Hinson said. “So often, people have a great idea or a great concept, but they don’t know how to take it to the next level.”

Helping innovators and entrepreneurs take it to the next level is an integral part of Lansing Office Works’ mission, Founder/Owner Maryann Baldwin noted. “The benefit of the sessions we’ve been having is that small business owners have been coming in and seeing they don’t have to go it alone,” she said.

Among the recent sessions hosted by Lansing Office Works are a monthly Goal Getters Accountability Group, “Meet the Author” event with Krisi Hemmer, “Stories of an Unapologetic Woman”; a Digital Marketing Lunch and Learn with Elizabeth Loberg, Wood Media LLC; Amy Kuhlers from IASourceLink speaking on small business resources; and “The Path to Innovation,” with Maryann Baldwin, Lansing Office Works.

The Kee High School Innovation Lab class meets every day in the conference room at Lansing Office Works, as well. Utilizing a STEM BEST Grant (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; BEST: Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers), the Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) is working in partnership with Baldwin and Lansing Office Works, as part of the district’s community partnership program. The program strives to connect local business and industry partners with students in grades 9-12 of all ability levels and academic status.

The Innovation Lab class members presented their business plans to the community Wednesday, November 10, in the common area at Lansing Office Works.

The Lansing Office Works space has been made available for three pop-up shops on Small Business Saturday, November 27.

“In the spirit of promoting our area’s entrepreneurs and creators, we wanted to offer three 12’ x 12’ spaces for pop-up shops on Small Business Saturday,” Baldwin announced recently on Lansing Office Works’ Facebook page. “We’ll provide one 6’ table and two 3’ tables to present wares and a sign out front with the shop name and logo directing shoppers into Lansing Office Works. Rental price is negotiable.”

That pop-up space has since sold out. For more information about Lansing Office Works, follow its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LansingWorks.