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Innovative Valley Group Sets up Pop-Up Workspace at ASU’s Cronkite School

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 15:06

Arizona State University has teamed up with nonprofit organization Gangplank to provide a pop-up workspace at ASU’s Cronkite building in downtown Phoenix.

The idea behind Gangplank is to create collaborative workspaces that provides necessary infrastructure for those who might not have access to it, and to build a sense of entrepreneurial community that helps develop the so-called new economy.

In addition to providing computer labs and studio space, Gangplank offers classes, mentoring and programs for children.

Gangplank Global Operations Director Katie Hurst said its arrival in downtown Phoenix and at ASU has been discussed for years.

“We saw this as a unique opportunity to partner with a major university, while testing downtown space,” Hurst said.

Gangplank co-founder Derek Neighbors said people, including Mayor Greg Stanton, asked him daily to offer a space in downtown Phoenix. Neighbors decided enough was enough and took action.

“It holds up to our value of doing over saying,” Neighbors said. “Rather than say we were going to do something downtown, we just decided to do it.”

Neighbors said he thinks Gangplank is just what the downtown area needs to help it advance economically and socially.

“Downtown has started to reach enough critical mass that there is demand for a more organized approach to changing the city and building deeper connective tissue to move the bar forward,” Neighbors said. “We think that Gangplank can help do that.”

Gangplank is only scheduled to be on the second floor of the Cronkite Building until August 17. However, Neighbors and Hurst said they are working to try to get a permanent space in downtown Phoenix in that time frame.

Hurstfeels that Gangplank’s presence at ASU will prove to be mutually beneficial.

“Cronkite has tremendous staff and students from which our community can greatly benefit,” Hurst said. “We believe higher education can learn from our open and agile community.”

Warren Watson, the executive director of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), an organization that has its main office in the Cronkite building in downtown Phoenix, feels the academic environment at ASU is a big reason why organizations like Gangplank are jumping at the opportunity to be a part of the Cronkite family.

“It’s a very rich environment to be around when it comes to creativity,” Watson said.

Because Gangplank’s workspaces are open to anyone, Hurst believes each location has a special personality.

“As a result we attract a varied group,” Hurst said. “Each Gangplank has its own DNA and the people within the space shape that culture and DNA.”

Neighbors noted that students will be given the opportunity to benefit from Gangplank’s collaborative philosophy at ASU as much as anyone.

“[Gangplank] exposes students to events, people and issues outside the university,” Neighbors said. “Giving them an opportunity to learn and engage in deeper and more meaningful ways.”

He added later: “Gangplank operates on social capital instead of monetary capital, showing people new currencies to move humanity forward.”

Neighbors feels this philosophy will help Phoenix grow.

“The goal is to get government, nonprofits, students and private industry all moving Phoenix forward together,” Neighbors said.

Gangplank doesn’t have any immediate plans for any other pop-up workspaces, but said that they are willing to open locations wherever people ask them to.

“We're always open to partnerships, and pop-up spaces are a great way to engage new communities,” Hurst said.

For now, Neighbors said that Gangplank will continue the mission of “pushing humanity towards magnificence.”

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