ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Prairie Den reaches membership milestone

FARGO -- When CoCo, a Minneapolis-based co-working company, closed its downtown Fargo location in June citing a lack of sustainable memberships, several area business leaders and entrepreneurs here were not ready to give up on the concept.

Annie Wood is the Director of Community Programs for Emerging Prairie, which operates the Prairie Den co-working space in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum
Annie Wood is the Director of Community Programs for Emerging Prairie, which operates the Prairie Den co-working space in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - When CoCo, a Minneapolis-based co-working company, closed its downtown Fargo location in June citing a lack of sustainable memberships, several area business leaders and entrepreneurs here were not ready to give up on the concept.

Emerging Prairie, with financial support from businesses such as Eide Bailly and the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., reopened the space in the historic Merchants National Bank Building the following month as the Prairie Den.

Now, just three months later, it has reached a membership milestone with its 100th member. Annie Wood, Emerging Prairie's director of community programs, said she believes that is somewhere between double and triple CoCo's total memberships.

She said it is likely they will soon cap individual and team memberships at 125.

What's different?

ADVERTISEMENT

While CoCo had a successful business model for Minneapolis, Wood said she and other organizers realized a few things needed to change for the concept to work here.

Some were simple, such as offering 24/7 access.

Jenni Huotari, a partner at Eide Bailly, said her company had an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. membership with CoCo.

"They were rigid. At 4:55, we needed to have our stuff and be headed out," she said. "That's not conducive to getting things done. When you're in the middle of something, it stinks to have to get out."

Prairie Den also offers more flexible membership plans, ranging from a $15 day pass to a $200 monthly individual membership to a $1,000 team membership allowing access for up to eight employees.

Michael J. Olsen, a local communications professional who was also an original CoCo member, said he thinks this pricing structure has allowed more young entrepreneurs with tighter budgets to use the space.

Wood explained that organizers saw Prairie Den as "a gift to the community rather than a way to make money." They envisioned it as the community's "student union," where members could be inspired and encouraged to share ideas.

"We knew we needed to bring in enough income to pay the bills on the space. ... Anything beyond that, we decided to reinvest it either through commissioning art pieces or through providing free programs or education pieces," she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

They are already following through on both. Prairie Den is now furnished with pieces from over 10 local artists such as Karman Rheault.

They have also hosted a number of educational seminars, such as "Breakfast with a Banker" last month where members had an opportunity to learn about the differences between personal and business credit.

Troy Henne, a co-founder of website development company Hash Interactive, said the ability to network and learn are reasons his team recently moved into the Prairie Den.

"One thing that Emerging Prairie does really well, and this is obviously something that transcends into Prairie Den, is that they're really great at hosting and promoting events in the community," he said. "I would say once a week they have a networking event or an educational seminar where they bring in people in and outside of the business community to network or educate members about a certain topic."

Henne believes the reason Prairie Den has found greater success than CoCo is because the Emerging Prairie team is so immersed in this community.

"I think there were a lot of questions of whether this type of co-working or shared space model would work in Fargo. Obviously, we're seeing that with the right people and the right management, it definitely is," he said.

Den Days

Going along with Prairie Den's "student union" theme, Prairie Den will host its own version of homecoming called "Den Days" next week. Wood said a number of fun and educational events are planned for members throughout the week.

ADVERTISEMENT

The public is invited to participate in "co-working day" Wednesday. Those who may be interested in joining Prairie Den can come in for a tour and work for free.

 

BUSINESS PROFILE

What: Prairie Den

Where: 122½ Broadway, Fargo

Contact: prairieden@emergingprairie.com

Online: www.theprairieden.com

 

 

Prairie Den Amenities

  • 24/7 keycard access
  •  Gigabit Internet
  •  Printer/copier/scanner
  •  Reservable meeting and event spaces
  •  Full kitchen stocked with free coffee

• Lockable storage

Angie Wieck is the business editor for The Forum. Email her at awieck@forumcomm.com
What To Read Next
After cutting out allergens dramatically improved her own family's health, Alyssa Knecht is now making sweet treats for others with food sensitivities. She'll sell her goods Saturday at West Acres.
Building permits recently filed in Fargo-Moorhead.
The closing of the downtown location was announced via Facebook. All of Mexican Village's operations will be consolidated to the business's south Fargo location along 45th St. S.
While traffic has roughly doubled since 2020 — the heart of the pandemic, when there were 14.9 million passengers — it’s still not at pre-pandemic levels: In 2019, there were 39.6 million passengers.