Charlotte’s Booming Startup Economy Drives Need for Coworking Spaces

CoCoTiv, one of Charlotte's many coworking spaces.

Sunset skylines, Southern comfort food, eclectic breweries on every block — it’s not hard to imagine why so many people love the Queen City. But it’s more than just the breathtaking views and available amenities that are slowly turning Charlotte into the “San Francisco of the South.”

Entrepreneurs all over the nation are eager to lay the groundwork for their companies in this unassuming city. As startups flock to find success in the South, Charlotte is experiencing a surge in available coworking spaces to compensate for this growing entrepreneurial spirit. Not only is demand for coworking offices on the rise, but the need for variety within these spaces is crucial for startups seeking to establish a name for themselves.

Queen City’s Startup Surge

In the past 10 years, Charlotte’s workforce has grown by nearly 40%, with 298,000 workers added to the metro area between 2005 and 2013. Many Queen City residents have migrated from the northeastern U.S., drawn in by the promise of low rent and higher pay. In fact, the cost of living in Charlotte is 1.3% lower than the national average and workers get paid an average $3.61 more per hour.

While reduced rent and increased salary are huge contributing factors to Charlotte’s growth, another attraction lies in the city’s talent. From 2012–2017, the city increased its tech talent by 59% and 43.5% of Mecklenburg County residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. With so much untapped talent, a lower cost of living, and higher pay for employees, it’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs are finding their home in this Southern startup haven.

Part of supporting this booming startup culture means providing entrepreneurs with enough resources to combat staffing challenges and build a framework for sustainable growth. Companies with 30–74 employees experience increased office-space friction during the first few years in business, especially as they look to avoid expensive long-term lease agreements. One way the Queen City is working to accommodate entrepreneurs is through an uptick in available coworking spaces.

A Coworking Space for Your Company

Charlotte is currently home to over 765,000 sq. ft. of coworking space, and that number is only expected to grow. Most in the startup community are familiar with such mainstays as Packard Place and Advent; however, Queen City is set to introduce a number of new spaces in the near future — some of which are already open for business:

Coworking spaces have gained in popularity nationwide due to their flexible and inexpensive lease terms. But this trend is about more than just offering entrepreneurs attractive office spaces at an affordable price.

“We get a lot of people here who have been working out of their homes or out of coffee shops,” explains John Vieregg, managing partner at CoCoTiv. “I know if I work at home, I get stir crazy, and I have to get out and experience other people. If you’re working from home, you’re not really getting that input from others. But here, you start to get to know the members and we have such diverse groups in different areas of business. You don’t have that benefit when you work from home.”

The opportunity to collaborate and network with others is part of what makes coworking spaces such an attractive option for entrepreneurs. Even the design of coworking offices fosters social connection, with open office concepts, shared break rooms, and even community lounge areas. CoCoTiv takes the social aspect one step further, helping startups grow smarter and more sustainably through educational programs like Cotivation.


Attention to Detail

Coworking spaces like WeWork boast a modern aesthetic with trendy perks appealing to millennial workers. Other offices coming to the community are seeking to provide more upscale amenities for the city’s mid-size law firms, financiers, and corporate clients. Serendipity Labs, set to open in July, is among these upscale offerings moving to the area.

“We’re positioning ourselves as the highest end coworking in Charlotte,” says Trey Scott, franchise owner of Serendipity Labs. Set to open in July, the space will be located at The Refinery, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of Charlotte’s skyline, free member parking garage, and rooftop access for corporate events and meetings. In addition, the building will be equipped with bicycle storage and electric car charging stations.

“It’s truly designed to cater to all corporate needs,” Scott explains. For more upscale entrepreneurs seeking convenience, location, and prestige, coworking spaces like Serendipity Labs provide the perfect solution. As Charlotte expands its coworking offerings, budding businesses can be more methodical in their selection as it relates to their overall brand image.

‘Healthy Coworking’ Means More Room for Growth

Despite the Queen City’s massive growth, there is still a lot more room for expansion as it relates to available coworking space. According to a CBRE report, coworking spaces should account for 5% of the total market inventory in order for a city to claim a “healthy” coworking ratio. In Charlotte, coworking only accounts for 1.8% of the total market inventory. That means the city could more than double its available coworking real estate and still fall within healthy range. This translates into roughly 2 million sq. ft. in additional coworking space.

With even more growth on the horizon, entrepreneurs need to stay up-to-date on Charlotte’s available resources now more than ever. StartCharlotte provides Queen City startups with the most current information on everything from coworking spaces to accelerator programs. Get the latest news about emerging startups, grant applications, coworking spaces, educational programs, and more when you sign up for the StartCharlotte newsletter.