South Lake’s first coworking space, Tahoe Mountain Lab, wins Sierra Vision Award
The Sierra Business Council recognized Tahoe Mountain Lab, South Shore’s first coworking space, for its innovative work with a Sierra Vision Award this fall.
“At the Sierra Business Council we try on an annual basis to recognize approximately four individuals or organizations in the Sierra Nevada for their leadership in restoring and invigorating the environment, economy and community,” said Brittany Benesi, communications director for SBC.
Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop, The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, and Placer County’s former community development director and 30-year employee Loren Clark also received awards from SBC this year.
“Tahoe Mountain Lab was nominated by one of their clients, an entrepreneur who moved to South Lake Tahoe and didn’t think it was an area where he would succeed in starting a business, and really was struck by their effort to establish a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Lake Tahoe,” said Benesi.
Tahoe Mountain Lab has seen rapid growth since February 2014 when co-founders David and Jamie Orr and then-partner Jesse Walker established its original 2,400-square-foot location on Ski Run Boulevard.
With a membership of 30, the private offices and coworking space filled up quickly over the next few months and a waiting list was started.
Just over a year later, the Orrs formed a new partnership with Bernard and Cristi Creegan and purchased a 12,000-square-foot building that housed the offices of Tahoe Daily Tribune.
After extensive renovations, the new location opened its doors this May. Tahoe Mountain Lab now has a membership of 100 freelancers, remote workers, and employees of 43 different businesses.
“One of the things that we’ve been focused on is really trying to help the Tahoe Basin diversify its economy. A lot of people talk about how tourism has minimum wage jobs, and with the fluctuations of the seasons, it can be not as stable as you’d like,” said Jamie Orr.
“It’s not going to go away, but there are things that you can do to stabilize it by bringing in other careers and supporting those small businesses.”
“Now by creating a hub for everybody, it’s brought a lot of visibility to the possibility of working here and then also brought that support to the network that is here,” added Orr.
Steve Ardagh, president and founder of B-Corporation Eagle Protect, said that having Tahoe Mountain Lab here was a factor in his decision to headquarter the US arm of his New Zealand-based business in South Lake Tahoe.
Eagle Protect, which joined Mountain Lab this summer, imports and distributes disposables for the food industry in the US, with a focus on lessening its environmental impact.
Several years ago, for seven months, Ardagh and his business and life partner Lynda Ronaldson traveled the world and operated their business from coworking spaces.
“We worked in coworking spaces the whole time, so San Francisco, Vancouver, Spain, and Edinburgh. We were running the business remotely. The facilities here match anywhere we’ve ever used, and obviously the team is very helpful,” said Ardagh.
They even helped his family find a house in South Lake Tahoe, he added.
But the South Shore’s first coworking space has a network that extends far beyond the Sierra Nevada.
Tahoe Mountain Lab has an exchange program with a dozen other mountain town coworking spaces through the Mountain Coworking Alliance.
“That’s as far as Chamonix in France and Revelstoke in BC and then all across the Utah and Colorado mountains,” said Orr. “In that sense I think it’s a growing way to support mountain communities, so it was really nice to be recognized for that aspect by the Sierra Business Council.”
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