Acadiana Business

The Switch is on downtown

by Leslie Turk

The Opportunity Machine's latest tool aims to create a workspace that promotes interaction between startups.

Downtown Lafayette is starting to see a new trend in pod-style, pay-as-you-go office space rentals.

In its March 30-April 26 issue, ABiz reported on the conversion of a building on the 400 block of Jefferson Street into what's now been officially dubbed The Offices @ 444 Jefferson Street. The latest addition is The Switch, a pet project of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority set to open at the end of May.

"The Switch is a shared workspace environment designed to foster an open, entrepreneurial culture that will serve as a hotbed of business growth and collaboration," says Bob Miller, executive director of the Opportunity Machine, a business accelerator and incubator focused on developing technology-intensive companies in the region. "Lafayette's entrepreneurial spirit is what makes the region unique and a perfect test bed for innovative collaborations."

Those who seek The Switch and its 100 Central St. address will have the opportunity to rent a desk on a month-to-month basis without a long-term contract. These tenants will have access to high-speed Internet, local phone service, and shared spaces such as conference rooms and break areas. Rental prices for facilities at The Switch are still being determined.

"The OM staff and steering committee saw a need for this type of workspace in Lafayette," says Miller. "As a shared workspace, it is specifically designed to promote interaction between the tenants - there are no cubicles or walls between workstations. Creative professionals want to work in the heart of Lafayette's arts and entertainment district, and this concept will provide office space to individuals who may have previously worked from their home or other venues, helping to strengthen the creative, professional network that is growing in downtown Lafayette."

In the same tradition as The Offices at 444 Jefferson Street, The Switch is modeled after these types of workspaces seen in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and other major cities around the country.

Read more about The Switch in the upcoming issue of ABiz, out on newsstands Wednesday.