By: Chace Vineski
AccelNow – Social Media Coordinator
When Shannon and Jose Castillo worked from home, they discovered that one too many problems presented itself to keep them from being as productive with their businesses as they wanted. Especially with two children under the age of 3. It didn’t take long for them to realize they needed a co-working space but that was something Johnson City just didn’t supply at the time. It didn’t take them long to realize the need to open up a space in their current hometown.
It all started in 2009 when Shannon, from Ohio, and Jose, from Philadelphia, were working their at-home businesses. They had a hard time getting any work done and having two younger children made that life more complicated as many would testify. They tried working out of coffee shops as well but they’re not really set up for entrepreneurs to be productive. At the time there was a clear void for a space that offered business start-ups independence while also encompassing a more entrepreneurial open setting. Jose learned from his travels for work about co-working spaces on the West Coast which offered a space that they envisioned would help accelerate an entrepreneurs journey. They decided to fill that void in Johnson City themselves. In January of 2009, Shannon and Jose started planning out their ambitious endeavor to bring a true co-working space to their city. This being a new niche in the area they weren’t sure how successful it would be but they were determined. They were able to find a space on a floor above Freiberg’s German Restaurant downtown that would be enough to support several open-space booths for entrepreneurs to get their start. Only one month after signing a lease on the space they opened Spark Plaza to several entrepreneurs around the area from many different industries such as app development, financial advising, software engineering, photography, videography, medical journals editors, and more.
Shannon and Jose wanted their co-working space to truly be an open working environment where entrepreneurs can feed off of and learn from each other. A place where comradery, collaborating and community were synonymous with daily life at Spark Plaza. That’s what it became. Word spread to the point where they didn’t have to pay a single dollar on advertising. It became so popular with the entrepreneurial community that they decided to move to a new, larger location to better accommodate the growing number of entrepreneurs wanting to be part of the co-working atmosphere in Johnson City. In fact, they will have their soft-opening today, August 1st, and Shannon couldn’t be more excited. Spark Plaza’s new building will offer four private office spaces with doors, unlike what their now old location could offer, along with a number of opened space cubicles. Other amenities they offer are 24-7 access, private conferences rooms, free coffee and tea, the fastest internet in the area, and more. This space won’t be restricted to just tenants either as Spark Plaza will continue to play host to several different events and group meetings from around the Tri-Cities.
The new location is at 404 South Roan Street. Johnson City, TN 37601.