Ubaida Sims, chief executive of U.S. Journeymen, a District-based metal work construction team, was looking to scale up his business.
Sims used to operate out of his home in St. Mary’s County, but felt the environment “wasn’t conducive to growth.” He was isolated, and most of his construction projects — on which he normally had between five and 10 workers — were in the District, for the likes of the Newseum and the International Monetary Fund.
Today, Sims rents a desk at a workspace called the Hive 2.0 in D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood for $275 a month, a fraction of what he would have paid for other space in the city, he said. Hive 2.0, which he considers his headquarters, is in a Historically Underused Business Zone, which could help U.S. Journeymen gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.
The Arch Development Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to developing Anacostia’s economy, opened the workspace last month after receiving a $25,000 grant from Capital One Bank. Arch Development had been running another workspace for the past two years – the first Hive, also in Anacostia, but had reached capacity with 17 small businesses and nonprofits, some of whom were outgrowing the space as they hired more employees.
Hive 2.0 was founded to meet entrepreneurs’ “call for space,” Arch founder and chief executive Duane Gautier said, but the greater benefit of a shared workspace is the networking, where business people can support one another.
Hive 2.0 has space for about 30 small businesses, offering nine furnished private offices (available for between $1,200 and $2,100 a month), lounges, conference rooms and open workspaces for a few hundred dollars a month.
Not all the businesses that apply to work in the Hive are accepted, Gautier said. Some — particularly construction businesses — are eager to register mailing addresses in HUB Zones because of potential access to federal contracts, but don’t plan to actually use the space.
“If we don’t see you, you won’t be a member,” Arch Director of Marketing and Business Development Nikki Peele said. Currently only about 10 businesses occupy Hive 2.0, with a handful of prospective businesses touring each day.
In addition to the workspace, Arch and Capital One are planning to offer business-related workshops in the coming months to interested employees — topics will likely cover basic skills such as financial literacy, Capital One Community Development Banking Senior Manager Nancy Stark said.
While part of Hive 2.0’s goal is to bring business activity to Anacostia, Gautier said, not all the businesses deal directly with Anacostia’s residents.
Tiffany Quivers, who rents a desk and works from Hive 2.0 full-time between Tuesday and Thursday (Monday and Friday she spends with her 1-year-old son), is an independent organizational consultant. None of her clients are in Anacostia — she came to the space because she preferred the structure of an office setting over her home or Wi-Fi equipped coffee shops. However, she said she hopes her new location will help her “connect with Southeast.”
For some, the geographic location has already led to new business opportunities. After coming to work in Anacostia, Sims recognized there were several young and physically capable Anacostia residents who he could provide with steady employment — he’s been recruiting them from outside the Hive 2.0 and at various community centers in the area.
But few of the businesses plan to stay long-term. Dwayne Petersen, the national operations manager for Black Men’s Xchange National, a nonprofit providing support and discussion about homosexuality and black identity, only plans to stay in the Hive 2.0 for about a year until he finds a more permanent spot. While he said it’s strategically located in a predominantly black neighborhood, his nonprofit really just “needed a space to have a meeting.”
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