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A Miami Social Venture Takes On the City’s Identity Crisis

A Miami Social Venture Takes On the City’s Identity Crisis
Arts & Culture

The LAB Miami is a coworking space with a goal: reinvigorate the city, one neighborhood at a time

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 3 june 2015

In the heart of Wynwood, the up-and-coming Miami neighborhood we recently visited, lies an unassuming harbinger of progress. The LAB, as it’s called, is the keystone to a burgeoning startup culture deep within the city’s most fluid district. At its most basic level, The LAB Miami is a coworking space targeted, as most are, toward young professional creatives and technologists looking for their own take on the 9-to-5.

Since it’s opening in February 2013, The LAB has seen 47,000 event attendees walk through its doors and has approximately 80 organizations and businesses operating within its walls. How does a space like this—one that attracts such impressive numbers of people for what it is—come to exist in such a short amount of time?

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We had the pleasure of meeting with Managing Director of The LAB, Tamara Wendt, to explore the space and talk a little bit about what makes it so special. As we toured the space, Tamara made a reference to Field of Dreams: “If you build it, [they] will come.” Miami is undergoing a sort of identity crisis as it tries to shed its image as a college town and weekend party destination. Tamara’s allusion is poignant because there is a strong undercurrent of desire for substance and growth; those that want to stay in Miami are just looking for the right reason. And The LAB provides them with it.

“That was the problem before. There was nowhere to come and plug in. That’s why I say, first and foremost, we’re a place for community engagement. The LAB is a social venture.”

With the backing of organizations like their founding sponsor The Knight Foundation, this space was incorporated with the mindset to build not just a place to work, but a center for community. Two years into it, they stick to that ethos, putting on various networking events, hackathons, product launches, and even TED Talks.

Among their diverse membership you see the likes of the Wyncode Academy or nonprofits like America Votes, extending this standard for a sound infrastructure of human capital.

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As Tamara mentioned toward the end of our visit, The LAB has also partnered up with local organizations like the Overtown Youth Center. Its plan: to further ingrain itself within the community and continue that mission of rejuvenating this neighborhood through art and entrepreneurship.

As we’ve seen before,  it’s impressive to watch how projects like Art Basel and The LAB continue to influence this city’s shifting paradigm.

The LAB Miami

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