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Studio 12 open for innovation

Second floor renovation meant as anchor for collaborative neighborhood for entrepreneurs

May 23, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Economic development director Lyle Hevern says the internet and mobile technology have created a world of entrepreneurship from kitchen tables, cars and cafs.

"Several years ago, we hatched a vision to create an entrepreneur neighborhood in vacant second stories of buildings in downtown Estherville," Hevern said to a crowd gathered for Studio 12's ribbon cutting and grand opening Thursday.

The former ballroom in the renovated space at 12 South 6th Street in Estherville has been reimagined into a meeting and co-working space with tables, chairs, projector and screen, and a podcast recording studio.

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Visitors touring the space found private offices, private and occasional desks, conference, meeting, co-working and collaborative spaces, a kitchenette, and a rooftop deck.

Hevern introduced the entrepreneurs who have rented office and retail space in the building: Mark Gruwell of LearnAcre, Sarah and Alan Morphew of Morphew Studios, Danielle and Lawton Westergard of Sawmill Designs, and Briana Mabra of Central Perk Coffeehouse. The first occupants of the redesigned building were employees of Prairie Lakes AEA, represented Thursday by Chris Wells.

Brian Dalziel of Iowa Lakes Corridor Development presented a big vision for the next 10 years of downtown Estherville. Dalziel wondered what would happen if a skywalk connected Studio 12 to the second story to Don Jose's building.

"There are some very cool, empty apartments there now," Dalziel said.

The skywalk could create a neighborhood among Estherville's second stories where even more innovation could happen, Dalziel said.

For those possibly interested in occupying the spaces in Studio 12, Hevern said, "There are several options to utilize Studio 12, including day passes, space rentals, punch cards, and memberships. We want Studio 12 to be the first choice location for meetups, offsite retreats, special trainings and events that promote business, innovation and entrepreneurship," Hevern said.

Central Perk Coffee provided refreshments. Gruwell presented a customer service training similar to what his company, LearnAcre, offers to businesses. Later in the evening was a robotics demonstration. The event continued Friday morning.



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