A new co-working space for techies, entrepreneurs and digital creatives is taking over the 5th floor of the historic DeWitt-Seitz Building on the harbor of Lake Superior in Duluth’s Canal Park.
Short on demand for the furniture and mattresses which the edifice was built for in 1909, new industry pioneers Martin Sawinski and Jacob Nelson see Co.Lab as the North Shore’s warehouse for collective brain power capable of manufacturing new tech startups in the region.
The 4600 sq. ft. of brick, beam and hardwood is currently anchored by their design & marketing firm 3five, alongside Duluth’s best known startup GeaCom — as well as the nascent Canal Park Brewery (which only makes sense).
“I’ve been envisioning something like this in Duluth for six years now, before the co-working concept as we know it was really born,” Sawinski (L) explains, “but pulling together freelancers can be like herding cats and my original attempts didn’t take hold. Then, I started listening to Alex Hillman from Indyhall, and around that time CoCo was born, which really proved the potential.”
“When Jake (R) and I connected, he basically kicked me in the ass with a ‘stop dreaming and let’s do it already’ take no prisoners mentality. Together, with support of others in the Duluth business community, we’re doing it.”
“We’re excited about the true, ‘roll up your sleeves’, innovative, grassroots entrepreneurial environment that Co.Lab offers here on Lake Superior,” said Mat Johnson, Geacom CEO. “Furthermore, GeaCom is interested in the prospects of plugging into services offered by Co.Lab Duluth members.”
The site has been in sort of a soft launch/stealth mode holding pattern for the past few months dialing in the details. Having finally reached the tipping point just last week, Co.Lab is out and offering memberships (daily, weekly, monthly, dedicated private office) in anticipation of a June 1 grand opening.
Co.founder Jacob Nelson is confident that Co.Lab will become a destination in Duluth. “I’m positive that we’ll be seeing people come up from the Twin Cities who are in the area for family, friends, or on vacation — yet still want a place to be productive and meet some new faces of Minnesota’s broader tech community.”
“The economic talk of Duluth (as you can imagine) is jobs-jobs-jobs…Duluth has been historically known for its manufacturing/manual labor…and still is in too many ways. I believe that in order for sustainable modern jobs to be created, new local industries need to be seeded and startups launched. Co.Lab is an environment for the next generation of entrepreneurs, programmers, creatives and business professionals to collaborate and grow in a way that can lead to something bigger and better for Duluth,” says the humble Sawinski, who is now on record as a catalyst of Duluth 2.0.