Anne LaBate doesn’t just talk about bringing business to Trenton. She’s taken a hands-on approach to luring startups to the city with Base Camp Trenton, a co-working facility nestled in a Mill Hill Historic District brick building that has beautiful molding, art on the walls, and easy access to the Trenton Transit Center.
But speaking with LaBate, it becomes clear that it’s not just about office space; it’s about community.
Base Camp provides supplies, such as desks, WiFi, coffee, a printer, and a conference room, in a building fit for meeting clients. But it is the possibility of serendipitous collaborations that set it apart from other part-time rentals.
Base Camp Trenton opened in December, 2014. Central air was added through floor vents, to preserve the decorative plaster walls in the building. There has been a lot of grassroots promotion, “talking it up,” she says. The Front Street property was on the Mill Hill House Tour, on social media, and even ads in the program for the Mill Hill Theater.
Ten work stations evolved, with printers, lockers, a kitchen with coffee. A conference room, whiteboards, and what she calls the Hackathon room — an awkwardly shaped conference room that works for classes. There are about half a dozen steady co-workers, and room to grow as the Base Camp Trenton co-working community grows
LaBate believes in the positive effect Base Camp can have in Trenton, bringing people downtown, where they can get lunch and run errands during the workday and are close to government buildings.
Attorney Maria Kelly lives in Trenton but finds it is quieter to work at Base Camp. She is involved with City Council through her work, and likes having City Hall across the street.
Her office mate, Heidi Winner, had experience co-working in Durham, North Carolina, so she sought a similar situation in Trenton. “I’m so much more motivated by getting out of the house,” Winner says. “At home, I tend to do chores, and have a needy cat.” She works for different companies, currently doing marketing for one in California that helps individuals with Asperger’s syndrome. Kelly and Winner enjoy being co-workers.
LaBate has her parents’ work ethic and a particularly creative mind, especially making Base Camp feel like a home office. The reception area wall holds two wooden chairs folded flat that look like tickets or price tags. In fact, she has placed art from Trenton art galleries on the walls, showcasing Trenton artists.
Base Camp prices range from one day a month for $30, with $18 additional per day, to a five full days a week, at $300 a month, with other arrangements in between. A conference room is $30 for a part day reservation.
LaBate says she is interested in nurturing meet-ups for small business people and plans to offer talks, such as one on creative rights management by Trenton attorney Willard Stanback and one on micro-lending — with Trenton experts.
“We also think that folks will get accustomed to the convenience of being in a downtown setting where it is easy to walk to the post office or a bank, to the train station, or to grab a quick lunch or take a break in Mill Hill Park,” she says. “These amenities can make for a positive work environment for freelancers and may also inspire an entrepreneur to decide to grow right here in downtown Trenton.”
LaBate hopes that Base Camp Trenton can be a catalyst and help start-ups to get off the ground and entrepreneurs to take a risk and start a company, she says. “Members don’t need to obligate themselves with a long term lease, don’t need to deal with furnishing an office or conference room, setting up internet, and all of those expenses and administrative tasks that can suck time and energy from their real focus.
“We think that folks together may collaborate and support each other in interesting ways and that may be gratifying.”
Base Camp Trenton is located at 247 East Front Street, Trenton. For more information, go to www.basecamptrenton.com. Or contact the center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-392-0203.