By GREGORY ZELLER //
They’re cramming them into the Digital Ballpark, the Long Island Software & Technology Network’s price-controlled Plainview co-working space.
Currently juggling about 20 full-time residents, the Ballpark – a joint project with Stony Brook University’s Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology and Infosys International, which owns the building at 100 Terminal Drive – is expanding.
With more professional clients interested in the co-working facility’s private offices, shared spaces and tech-friendly amenities – not to mention Friday “happy hour” events and other fringe benefits – than it has room for, LISTnet is in the process of converting one of the Digital Ballpark’s large conference rooms into an extra private office.
That 350-squre-foot space will be occupied by Skoop!, an interactive-marketing-services provider that’s a little further along than most startups – it has a sales operation in England and a freelance programmer corps bridging India and the Americas – and needed some more elbow room.
The smaller Digital Ballpark office previously occupied by Scoop! will be inherited by art therapist Janeen Mary Ilardo, who was sharing another Ballpark office but “has been getting a lot of clients and needed a bigger space,” according to LISTnet Chairman and President Peter Goldsmith.
The Digital Ballpark is not adding any additional square footage – after opening last year with about 5,500 renovated square feet, it’s set now at roughly 9,000 square feet – but remaking that conference room into an extra private office helps LISTnet fulfill its primary mission of promoting regional technology industries.
It also strengthens an ancillary mission, Goldsmith noted, which is supporting the participation of women and minority business owners in technology trades.
Including Ilardo, the Digital Ballpark is home to five women-owned businesses and two businesses owned by entrepreneurs of Indian descent – and that’s no accident, according to the LISTnet chairman.
“We’re putting a big focus on women-owned businesses, part of our focus to try and get more women and minorities involved in the Long Island technology community,” Goldsmith told Innovate LI, noting not the importance of equal-employment opportunities but “an overall shortage of high-tech people on Long Island.”
“You’ve got to get more women and minorities involved just to fill the void,” Goldsmith said. “You go to these technology events, and it’s 90 percent white men. But technology has nothing to do with the color or your skin or your gender.
“Technology is about ability,” he added. “So we’re trying to break some of those barriers.”
Ilardo’s art therapy enterprise joins Dashboard NY, a digital growth strategist owned by Carol Soman; the Long Island office of marketing and design firm U-Group Advertising, owned by Laura May; CEO and founder Loren Wildes’ Bar Harbor Web Design; and Wanda Lopez’s POEM Technology, a manufacturer of wireless oil tank gauges.
And they may soon have some women-owned company at the Digital Ballpark, at least on a visiting basis. Goldsmith said LISTnet was planning several women-in-technology-themed events, including discussions this week with other organizers about potentially hosting a Band of Coders Girls Academy event in Plainview.
Of course, LISTnet will also continue to support the region’s tech industries as a whole, whether participating companies are owned by women, minorities or anyone else. With the office shuffle set to be completed this week – it was down to spackling and a paint job as of Monday, Goldsmith noted, and should be done soon, blizzard permitting – the Digital Ballpark is already gearing up for its next slate of networking events.
Goldsmith said the Digital Ballpark is also looking to keep the momentum going by creating some more positive vibes. One way it’s doing that is by adding a new BYOG label – as in “bring your own guitar” – to the facility’s weekly Friday night happy hour events.
“The idea is a lot of techies are musical,” Goldsmith noted. “So, in the open space, we’ll have some beer and chips and a little jam session.”
Maintaining momentum and fashioning new office spaces to meet demand are an impressive to-do list for a co-working space that didn’t even exist 12 months ago, before LISTnet and Infosys International CEO Raj Mehta finished renovations and LISTnet relocated from its LaunchPad Mineola office.
“Last year at this time, we hadn’t even started construction on the Digital Ballpark,” Goldsmith said. “In less than a year, we’ve filled it, and the focus now is on creating new events.”