For Madison’s entrepreneurial economy to continue to grow and sustain itself, the infrastructure that supports these emerging businesses must keep pace as well. The co-working economy is one key indicator to watch, says entrepreneur Tiffanie Mark, who is taking the co-working industry to the next level by organizing the state’s first association of co-working spaces. Co-working found its way to Madison nearly a decade ago after originating in San Francisco.

Launching this summer, Wisconsin Coworking Collective aims to increase the industry’s profile and provide the general public with a better understanding of the unique value of co-working spaces. Another key role for the new entity is leveraging collective bargaining opportunities for bulk purchasing, software integrations, and even obtaining health insurance for members.

According to Statista, there were 542,000 people working in co-working spaces in the United States (1.18 million worldwide) in 2017. If the growth rate continues—around 23 percent per year—there will be more than 1 million co-workers by 2022. Wisconsin’s slice of the co-working pie is relatively small — Marks estimates between 1,300 and 1,500 co-workers in some 28 spaces.

“Operating a co-working space can be difficult work, particularly when you’re still trying to educate your community on how these models support systemic economic growth,” says Mark, a Madison native who opened Matrix Coworking, her own 10,000-square-foot space on Odana Road, in 2013. “What we need is more industry advocates, people to help build these partnerships so that space operators can focus on the day-to-day needs of the space and members.” Read the full story here.