It was a Tuesday morning in July and the Innovation Lab located in Cascade, Iowa was buzzing with remote workers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Molly, owner of Molly Knuth Media, had just wrapped up a client meeting in the conference room. Katelyn, director of the Cascade Area Chamber of Commerce, was busy working at the desk facing out to 1st Avenue. Jared, a remote worker whose job is based in Austin, Texas had just arrived back at the Lab for a virtual meeting. And Melissa, vice president of business development with Dupaco, was working remotely at the Lab for the day.
Almost a year into its operations, the Cascade location is helping businesses launch, grow and remain competitive. The people utilizing the space are evidence that the model is working.
Jared started working at the Innovation Lab this summer. He lives in Austin, Texas, and is originally from Cascade. Working remotely for his company allowed him the flexibility to take an extended trip back home for the summer to enjoy family gatherings and weddings. However, after working from home during the pandemic, he knew he needed a space outside of his house to get away and work each day. The Innovation Lab provided just the spot he was looking for.
“Not everyone needs to be located in the same space to get the job done, we know that. But we need to be able to use other outlets to get that social interaction. The Innovation Lab provides a great avenue for that,” said Jared.
With many predicting remote work is here to stay, even after the pandemic passes, coworking spaces like the Innovation Lab provide rural communities with a unique opportunity to attract new residents. Those working remotely and looking to ditch the expensive, big cities will look to smaller communities that have the amenities and resources to support a community of remote workers.
Similarly, the Labs provide an important resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“We love the opportunity this brings to Cascade for those smaller home-based businesses that may want to expand. It’s a great, flexible starting point for a business” said Katelyn Wolfe, executive director of the Cascade Area Chamber of Commerce.
Molly is a business owner in Cascade. She started working at the Innovation Lab as a way to separate her home and work life. The space provides her a dedicated spot to go every day and get her work done, as well as a professional place to meet her clients.
“There are lots of entrepreneurs and business owners who can utilize a place like this. On top of that, they provide services like one-on-one business coaching and panel discussions that can really help a business owner level up. Between the coworking space and the business services, this is a fantastic model for small towns,” said Molly.
The Innovation Lab has locations in Dubuque, Cascade, and Independence with two new locations opening this fall in Monticello and Dyersville. Interested in learning more or supporting a Lab? Reach out to Eric at email@example.com.