Proximity Space, the Montrose-based coworking software and hardware developer, will once again help the state advance the industry in less urban areas.

The organization, which also helped launch Grand Junction's Factory coworking space in 2016, recently renewed its partnership with the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) as part of the Blueprint 2.0 grant program.

Proximity will work with communities so they can apply to receive money to launch coworking space in their areas as part of the Coworking 101 Initiative. It's the second year of the program.

Last year, Rio Blanco County and the cities of Delta and Sterling all were awarded grants to go toward launching their first coworking spaces, all of which are on their way to doing so.

The application period is open through April and selections should be made by June, according to Proximity Space CEO Josh Freed. Freed expects to see 12 to 18 applicants this year.

The new spaces also become part of Proximity's network, which Freed expects to surge past 300 coworking spaces this year. Communities must have reliable internet, community buy-in and available real estate that would work well for coworking spaces.

Proximity will provide the selected communities this year with an overview of coworking as a business and community asset as more and more companies rely on remote workers.

OEDIT and Proximity Space will also sponsor a teleconference with recently opened coworking spaces, provide mentorship and a forum where potential space owners can mingle with current coworking owners.

"They let us really dig into the community, look in to buildings, talk to councilors, city managers, and then come see it," Freed said. "There's a lot of mentorship."

New to the fold this year is Startup Colorado, which has worked with Proximity Space at its coworking spaces in Montrose and Grand Junction. Startup Colorado will work to set up a series of workshops and events designed to educate communities on how to support local entrepreneurs and how coworking spaces can play a role. It will also gauge how effective a coworking space can be in a particular community.

Startup Colorado, which is based on the Front Range, got involved in the Coworking 101 Initiative last year after the grants had been awarded.

"We can sit down and figure out who will be working out of there and give them that feedback," said Startup Colorado Managing Director David Camerucci.

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