Jonathan J. Higuera

Gangplank opens Avondale office

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At Gangplank, the ethos is to provide a free workspace to aspiring entrepreneurs and other web-based workers seeking a collaborative and innovative work environment. The goal is to spur the creative class to become successful entrepreneurs and, perhaps, match them with an investor or two to help actualize their business plans, thus creating a new source of jobs and a stronger community.

Oh yeah, they want to do it in an environment of collaboration versus competition.

A tall order by any means but, by and large, the concept seems to be catching on since they opened in Chandler in 2008. Avondale becomes the organization’s third location (they also opened in Tucson recently).

In Avondale, they have the blessing of the city council and the mayor. Gangplank moved into the former City Hall in historic downtown Avondale in March. It pays $1 a year to lease the building, and received $60,000 from the city to operate.

Avondale officials don’t see it as a giveaway. In return, Gangplank’s charge is to help develop an entrepreneurial class by providing infrastructure, resources, collaboration and brainpower. The building itself was renovated with a focus on energy efficiency. Gangplank offers learning and networking opportunities for small businesses, along with activities for youth, musicians and artists.

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“Avondale is proud to open Gangplank-Avondale to the talented and innovative individuals of the West Valley,” said Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers. “It is the work space for them to come together and collaborate with other entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow and express their business ideas.”

Founded by Derek Neighbors and Jade Meskill, Gangplank’s vision is to provide infrastructure and resources to entrepreneurial workers willing to engage in the free exchange of ideas. The folks who use the space are expected to give back to the community in ways beyond monetary exchange, although, if the venture seeds business growth, they will become net contributors to the community.

In addition to providing workspace, Gangplank, which is seeking 501(c)3 status, also provides workshops, presentations and mentoring, as well as opportunities to connect with experts and potential investors. 

Other programming ranges far and wide, for example: 

Gangplank Junior allows students to learn and explore with the freedom to fail. It includes programs such as DangerScouts and the First LEGO League.

Gangplank Academy consists of weekly brown bag presentations in which community leaders share stories or teach a short subject. Workshops are longer presentations with the goal of teaching a new skill.

Gangplank Studios provide classes, workshops and events that bring together the arts and entrepreneur communities, as well as create a thriving downtown area for residents.

Gangplank Health is an initiative that seeks to program balance between life and work, so that health does not take a backseat to business.

Community outreach is accomplished through the Gangplank staff’s participation in planning off-site events, as well as partnering with local organizations.

Considering Avondale’s efforts to remake its downtown into a more active area, the hope is that Gangplank will inject some potent juice.

About Gangplank
Open: 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Address: 525 N. Central Ave., Avondale

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