CONWAY, Ark. — Inside the iconic EM Building in downtown Conway is a project that has become more common during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It's actually not a new concept. I wish I could take credit for it, but it's been around for about 10 years and it has actually grown about 200 percent in the last four years because so much work is going remote,” Kate Carnahan, owner of The Studio Downtown, said.
It is a business that she has owned for three years.
“Before COVID, we were actually doing a lot of educating like you can work from home. You don't have to work from a coffee shop, there are other places to work like for business coaches or photographers,” she said.
Carahan said that the pandemic has only raised awareness that working remotely does not mean that you have to be away from an office space.
“That's why we built the studio. So that other business owners, people who work remote or people who are just starting out, have a productive and inspiring place to work,” she said.
As of now, the company is expanding its office building as the amount of people who have to work remotely has increased in the last year.
“We are home to 20 businesses in our current space and so we are going from about 2,200 square feet to 10,000 square feet, so we are hoping to add 50 additional businesses who can call the studio home,” Carahan said.
Kim Williams, director of the Downtown Conway Partnership, said she's expecting the project to increase the amount of foot traffic in the area.
“It's bringing innovation. It's bringing all those creative people to our downtown. They're very excited about helping us restart our ArtWalk,” Williams said.
Jessica Crum, creative director of The Studio Downtown, said oftentimes the price for office space can be expensive but that's not anything she wants the members of the company to worry about.
“We rent on a membership model, kind of like a gym membership. You pay $185 a month and you're a member," Crum said. "You get to use all the things and you get all the coffee and the snacks that you want all day.”
The company has started a kick starter campaign and are hoping to reach $50,000 to cover the cost of construction.
Those interested can donate to the campaign here.
The project is expected to be finished in August.