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Shared office space rebrands, breaks away from franchise model

Brian Hartz

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The downtown St. Petersburg co-working and shared office space that opened last summer as WorkLodge has a new name, look and business model. 

It’s still located at 136 4th St. N., Suite 201, but the new name is Thrive, and founder Dan McLean has gone independent, separating the business from Texas-based WorkLodge. With 28,000 square feet of space spread over two floors, it’s one of the largest shared office facilities in the area, and McLean — who co-owns Thrive along with his wife, Shantell McLean, and her cousin, Anthony Pergola — is proud that it’s now a wholly locally owned and operated business. 

“We are all local — born and raised in Tampa Bay,” McClean said. “And so part of our vision for this space has always been to make it a key part of the community. Now, we can put forward some programs that we’ve been working on that we just haven’t been able to get off the ground because we’ve had to adhere to a parent company’s standards.”

For example, nonprofits are welcome to use Thrive’s boardrooms at no cost. That might not sound like a big deal, Mclean said, but with many corporate offices and event spaces closed or operating with restricted access because of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be a struggle for nonprofits to hold in-person meetings. 

“We can host nonprofits for an hour or two and give them a space to continue to push their agenda forward at no cost,” McLean said. 

Thrive’s “Startup Street” program is another initiative that McLean believes will flourish now that the space is no longer a WorkLodge franchise. 

“We’ve carved out a handful of offices that we make available on three-month grants to startups to come and use at no cost,” he said. “It gives them a space to bring their team in, to do their planning and their strategic thinking, and really pull together their business plan. But it also gives them a space to interact and network with other businesses, existing businesses that use our space.”

Startup Street launched last fall and has already attracted a diverse collection of clientele, McLean said, ranging from tech startups to lawyers and marketers. “It’s great to watch them sit down and network with some of these existing businesses and resources,” he said. “They can ask questions and get off the ground and up and running in the right way.” 

The rates for Thrive’s office spaces start at $600 per month for a one-person office and are all-inclusive, including taxes and parking. McLean hopes that offering programs such as Startup Street will provide a steady stream of potential new customers. 

“Ideally, we would love to see that if they’re successful, they stick around as paying members, but at the same time, as business owners ourselves, I get it — plans don’t always go as you want,” McLean said. “So there’s definitely no strings attached, no obligation. If we’re just not the right fit for you at the end of three months, we’ll help you out as much as we can.” 

McLean also said that Thrive is designed to show companies the benefits of getting workers back into the office but on a flexible basis. “I feel like I’ve seen more and more people realizing that working from home isn’t sustainable,” he said, “and either they’re looking for a solution that’s balanced with working from home, or they’re just realizing that working from home doesn’t work and they need a permanent office.”

The pandemic was a big blow to Thrive, McClean said, but he sees better days ahead now that we’ve turned the page on 2020. 

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” he said. “No question, [the pandemic] took a toll. We can tell by the traffic in our space how the pandemic is going locally. Month over month, though, we’ve seen positive increases. We continue to see new members coming in, looking for solutions. We continue to see small businesses trying to find a place to build their business.” 

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