SoPoCo.Works’ earlier-than-expected expansion includes a podcast studio

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SOUTH PORTLAND — When James LaPlante opened SoPoCo.Works in May, it was Phase I of the project.

A third of the former 3,700-square-foot doctor’s office at 1486 Broadway was still a traditional office wing, occupied by a group of therapists. LaPlante speculated at the time that the second phase, converting this space into more coworking offices and open office space, would come in about a year.

Turns out he had underestimated the demand.

five months later SoPoCo.Works open, the coworking space’s 14 private offices — half of which are in the Phase II area — are occupied and there’s a waiting list.

Overall, the coworking center has 30 members, including those with dedicated desks and floating members, who work in the space available day-to-day.

LaPlante said Tuesday there was still room for another 10 dedicated office and floating members.

About a third of the members are video and media producers. LaPlante, owner of Sputnik Animation, developed the coworking hub because the closest coworking was in downtown Portland, but also because there wasn’t much available that met specific needs. people who produce video and multimedia.

New to the plan, in the Phase II space, is what may be the state’s only laudable dedicated podcasting studio.

While the Phase II wing of the multi-level 1980s office building is still undergoing renovations – a waiting room, complete with chairs and magazines is still at the heart of the space, for example – several coworking offices were renovated and four of them its traditional office tenants remained as coworking members.

Space dedicated to podcasting

Photo / Maureen Milliken

SoPoCo.Works on Broadway in South Portland. The addition to the right is being renovated to add more coworking space.

Adding the podcast studio “was kind of a no-brainer,” LaPlante said Tuesday.

He had already thought about making the conference room more usable for recording podcasts, but Tanner Campbell joined.

Campbell, whose day job is in information technology, also owns The Portland Capsulewhich offers podcast support, including engineering, editing, and marketing.

Campbell didn’t need the large office available in the Phase II wing of the building, and he and LaPlante agreed it could serve two purposes, Campbell using half for his podcast production business and l other half as a podcasting studio.

While there are many Maine-produced podcasts, it’s hard to gauge a number because no one is keeping track – think self-publishing, only with podcasts. Podcasters generally record where they can.

The newly completed SoPoCo.Works podcast studio is soundproofed and lined for good acoustics, windows covered in upholstery. It’s comfortably dark, with a funky barrel table, two chairs, and hanging microphones. A bust of 19th-century political reformer Alexis de Tocqueville watches over the table.

The studio is available to SoPoCo.Works members for an additional fee, as well as Campbell customers. The public can also rent it for a fee schedule that LaPlante is still working on.

“It’s very new,” he said.

Podcasters can also pay to use podcasting equipment if they don’t have their own.

Campbell also offers production packages that include studio space.

Fill a niche

Photo / Tim Greenway

James LaPlante at SoPoCo.Works in March. The coworking space opened in May and has already expanded.

Campbell, who recently moved to Maine from Florida, with a stopover in Colorado, has been producing side podcasts for six years.

While podcasting has become much more popular, “it’s just getting started,” he said. “Companies are just beginning to understand how they can use them.”

While there are plenty of amateur Maine podcasters who do shows focused on niche interests like movies, true crime, beer, as well as those produced by news or news agencies, LaPlante and Campbell say that its use as a business marketing tool is just beginning to gain momentum.

Among those at the forefront are Portland law firm Verrill Dana, which launched “Verrill Voices” last year, which showcases its clients. Nancy Marshall of Marshall Communications launched the “PR Maven Podcast” this month, which highlights Maine’s industry and business leaders and other Maine business trends.

Campbell hopes to launch a new weekly podcast, “Portland Speaks,” by the end of the year. The show will feature stories from regular Mainers, and potential interviewees can apply to the podcast website.

LaPlante said that as an animation producer and with the number of members producing videos, the addition of a podcast studio formed. When Campbell recently joined, “it just clicked.”

The bottom line is that the addition of the studio came from the same place as the opening of the coworking center, he said.

“The goal is to fill a niche,” he said.

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