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Holyoke Cubit Coworks awarded $27K COVID-19 MassDevelopment grant

January 4, 2021 : MassLive, by Dennis Hohenberger

HOLYOKE - Cubit Coworks on Race Street was one of 26 recipients awarded a MassDevelopment Collaborative Workspace Program Grant.

The Baker-Polito Administration doled out $1.2 million to help businesses and organizations retrofit spaces that adhere to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Cubit Coworks received a $27,000 grant to build three offices, six micro offices, two phone booths, extra meeting rooms and dividers between desks. Also, the business will purchase air purification equipment and boost Wi-Fi access and provide video capability.

Owners Marco and Denis Luzuriaga opened the coworking space in November 2019 after identifying the needs of startups and entrepreneurs who sought affordable desk and office space sans a long-term lease.

Clients pay a monthly fee dependent on space requirements, everything from a common-area desk to a small to medium-sized office.

Denis Luzuriaga said coworking spaces had become common before the pandemic. “The whole coworking thing has been around for a decade or two,” he said. “During the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase.”

He noted a medical administrator needed space after their office closed. Luzuriaga fields a steady stream of inquiries from potential clients. The grant acted as a “perfect opportunity” for the Cubit to build more glassed-enclosed offices.

The MassDevelopment grant requires a 50% match from the Cubit. Luzuriaga designed the Cubit Coworks environment, which includes architectural elements tied to Holyoke’s industrial past.

Though Cubit Coworks is a communal working space, Luzuriaga said clients are “extremely cautious” and strictly adhering to state and federal COVID-19 protocols, including masks at all times, hand-washing and social distancing.

The coworking environment offers the chance for collaboration, Luzuriaga said. “There’s a lot of crossovers, and that is the hope of a lot of people who do work in coworking spaces. It’s like a built-in network that can work to your advantage.”

In a statement, Gov. Charlie Baker said, “Our Administration is proud to provide funding to help collaborative workspaces comply with the mandatory workplace safety standards essential to our COVID-19 reopening plan.”

The governor added, “Now in its fifth round, the Collaborative Workspace Program continues to provide key support to our community of entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, and students who drive economic activity and job creation across Massachusetts.”

Lauren Liss, MassDevelopment’s CEO and president, stated, “The Collaborative Workspace Program is a resource for collaborative workspaces to expand, buy equipment, and, in the wake of COVID-19, fund critical safety improvements to protect members and staff.”

The Cubit is home to the HCC-MGM Culinary Arts Institute and 19 loft-style apartments.