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Co-working: it’s a money maker

They have names such as atelier de fabrication (fablab), bricothèquecafé associatif or relais Amap but these makerspaces or co-working places could create thousands of jobs - many in hard-hit rural areas.

The government has revealed a €110million three-year plan, including €50million of private money, to create more such tiers lieux where people of different backgrounds and skills can meet, share and find ideas, and collaborate to build much-needed new businesses.

Tiers lieux are areas between work and home and Pat­rick Levy-Waitz, head of Fond­ation Travailler Autrement, said co-working was a “citizen-led transformation of our attitudes to work responding to the isolation of rural sectors”.

He led a study into tiers lieux and the government accepted it as a way to end the traditional subsidised model of providing workspace.

Regions Minister Julien Denormandie said it would “deploy a flexible and effective way” to support co-working spaces and help them consolidate their activity.

Speaking to Cour­rier des Maires, the magazine for mayors and councillors, Mr Levy-Waitz said figures showed 40% of Ile-de-France residents were keen to move away.

Many had business ideas that needed local authorities to recreate the kind of community working life they were used to – with no commuting – and to act as business accelerators.

He said in his report they would bring “new ways of working where people who would not normally mix would meet... to create local businesses with short supply chains for a more sustainable economy”.

Communes would need to cooperate and to give co-working spaces time to develop and support to avoid failure.

Then, once running, they could back new ideas with shared experiences on training, new methods or reminders of business dangers.

Some might encourage innovation, others will share knowledge and material, such as the “fablabs”, with equipment including milling machines (for shaping metals, wood and other solid materials) or 3D printers, while others may just offer a space for teleworking.

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