This article was written for our sponsor, Gig East.  

Even as the world opens back up, remote work is here to stay. In fact, a poll from Gallup found that 45% of U.S. employees were working from home in some capacity during 2021, and nine in ten of those workers wanted to maintain a level of remote work in the future.

Because of this trend, third spaces have taken off. Not work and not home, a third space is a separate communal area to gather, whether for working or for socializing.

In Wilson, the Gig East Exchange — and its conference rooms, individual workspaces and in-house coffee shop — has quickly become a community gathering place for entrepreneurs, students, clubs, retirees and everyone in between.

A long-time Wilson resident, Clark Moore has been a member of the Exchange since it first opened. After originally going to check out Larema Coffee, Moore enjoyed the space so much that he signed up for a membership and goes to the space a few times a week.

“I use Gig East for a lot of different reasons. I became President of the Wilson Rotary Club, and I moved all the board meetings down there because of the great conference room facilities. We do committee meetings and stuff there, and the staff are just great people to work with,” said Moore. “A lot of the people, longtime Wilson residents, didn’t realize the place existed, and they were overwhelmed by the architecture and history of the building.”

Through an app on his phone, Moore is able to reserve meeting rooms when he needs them. Since he’s a member, he has 24/7 access to the building. While he retired in 2020, he still does consulting work on the side and often conducts meetings in the space.

“I used to work and travel a lot, and I always tried to find a quiet place to hunker down and get stuff done. Now, the Exchange is that place for me. I’ll be down there two or three days a week for meetings,” said Moore. “We’ve had different rotary meetings where we brought people in from Eastern North Carolina, and a lot of them were really interested when I told them that it was going to be at Gig East. They’re all just so jealous that they don’t have their own broadband like Greenlight or space like Gig East.”

While the Exchange is a great meeting place, oftentimes Moore uses the space for something as simple as the color printer. But for him, no matter his reason for coming, the community interaction is the cherry on top.

“People want to be in an environment where they can see people coming and going, walking down and getting a cup of coffee or whatever. It’s good for productivity, and it’s nice to be able to take a break and walk outside in historic Downtown Wilson. The city has some really positive things going on, with the Whirligig Park and new restaurants and bars — there’s a good group of people here, and the Exchange falls into that,” said Moore. “I know I’ve turned people on to the space, and if nothing else, they grab a cup of coffee and sit there and read. When we support the Exchange, we’re also supporting the city in a way.”

It’s not just working professionals that can use the space at Gig East — local students have found a use for the building, as well.

“I transferred to Barton College, and I was looking for a space that was separate from school and home. Gig East was downtown, had a coffee shop in it, it was a clean, inviting space — I would go sit there for a while before I had a membership, and I loved it so much that eventually getting a membership was a no-brainer,” said Amoret Stinagle, the first student to sign up to be a member of the Gig East Exchange. “Being around like-minded people has been super helpful for me, just going into a space where everyone else there is trying to be as productive as possible. It’s not only encouraging, but it’s also a very safe environment.”

In addition to the space itself, Stinagle uses physical resources provided by the Exchange, such as printers and the coffee shop — at which she recommends trying the vanilla latte. Because of the building’s location,  it’s also easy to walk to restaurants in historic Downtown Wilson, and Barton’s campus is just a quick bike ride away.

Stinagle has even made connections at Gig East that have helped her sorority, with the Exchange donating to an event to show support. For her, this is just one of the many ways that Gig East supports and uplifts the Wilson community.

“The whole team is super supportive of things I’m involved in and things that the community as a whole is involved in,” she said. “If I ask them for help with something, I know that they’re more than willing to help in whatever ways they can.”

This article was written for our sponsor, Gig East