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The underground, non-industrial economy is starting to become visible in new ways.

According to The Freelancers Union, 34% of the national workforce is freelance. Co-working offices are rising up to meet the independent creatives, consultants and entrepreneurs who are leaving cubicles for communal, collaborative, flextime work spaces. These workplaces, and shared incubator spaces, have opened up throughout Minnesota.

Co-Working Spaces Susan Sorenson Langer launched her startup — Live. Give. Save. — out of Red Wing so that she “could be close and available to my aging parents. While there are challenges to launching a startup out of a rural community, having access to a legitimate community-based accelerator like Red Wing Ignite has been a tremendous blessing.” She says Ignite “provides access to smart people, influential networks and capital, as well as business-building resources.”

In Bemidji, LaunchPad offers freelancers, remote workers, entrepreneurs and small business owners networking resources. According to coordinator Tiffany Fettig, there are about 20 women members ranging from a high school student to retirees with second careers.

Anne Hendrickson started Workit in St. Paul with the intention of also offering workers a way to recharge. “Some days the office just isn’t a productive place. You’re distracted, or unfocused, or just need a change of scenery. This is when most people head home or to a coffee shop.” She created a co-working space with fitness equipment to reduce stress and increase energy, that also features a lactation room, inclusive bathrooms, and showers.

CoCo has four Twin Cities locations with private and semi-private workspaces. Davis Senseman has based her business law firm out of CoCo for eight years; her five-person team operates out of two of its locations. “Many clients we work with are just starting out as business owners, and the thought of meeting in a stuffy lawyer’s office is daunting,” she says. A coworking environment “also allows us to act as more of a resource for clients, as we have access to accountants, marketing specialists, social media folks, bankers.”

Alex West Steinman is co-founder of The Coven, a women-only space opening soon in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. “People who identify with womanhood in Minneapolis often find themselves in homogenous, male-centered environments," she says. "Women deserve a space where they can work, learn and play together, enhancing their lives and the community around them.”

In January, Julie Burton opened a women-only space near Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. ModernWell (picturedRes) includes a yoga studio and private and shared space. “After teaching a women-only writing class for two years, I saw the magic that happened when women gathered around the table and supported each other’s creativity,” she says. “After the 2016 election, I wanted to offer this kind of environment to women on a larger scale, and I knew we would need a brick and mortar space in which to do it.

“The ModernWell community is a place where women can take care of themselves in mind and body,” Burton added, “which is what we need in order to do our best work and be our best selves.”