LOCAL PROFILES: Daria Siegel (LMHQ) (7.19.17)
Downtown never ceases to amaze us with the types of incredible businesses and opportunities to support local businesses. In fact, there are now over 800+ creative companies below Chambers Street. A great example is Lower Manhattan HQ (LMHQ), a collaboration space for the New York City creative and creator community. Created by the Downtown Alliance, this "the third space" in between your home and office offers unique access to work space, conference rooms, on-site tech support and more. With sponsors like Microsoft, founding members like Intersection and partners like NY Tech Alliance, LMHQ is the go-to hub for startups, consultants, independent workers, and those simply looking to connect to a larger professional community downtown.
We spoke to Daria Siegel, Director of LMHQ, on LMHQ’s 2nd anniversary to learn more about what they do, how they’re evolving, and how you can get involved…
So how did you get involved in LMHQ?
I started at Downtown Alliance over 9 years ago as a grad student intern while I was at NYU, and transitioned into full time once I graduated. Starting in economic development work, I transitioned slowly over time into other aspects of the company. When Mayor Bloomberg wanted to introduce new incubators in New York City, we started to realize that there weren’t any spaces in Lower Manhattan while simultaneously noticing that there were more and more people in Lower Manhattan transitioning to working from home, as well as consulting and starting their own companies.
We got funding from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to create Hive at 55, a very early stage coworking space (way before WeWork was around) that we operated for 5 years as a traditional coworking space. While it was very successful, since we were a nonprofit, as more companies like WeWork filled the void many startups and smaller companies needed, we wanted to pivot to find new ways to support local businesses in Lower Manhattan and deliver on their needs asides from coworking space.
After a long process researching and taking time to understand the evolving Lower Manhattan landscape, we learned how to raise awareness as a destination of choice for tech and creatives downtown. Recognizing there was a need for a physical space to come together, meet, network and cross paths, we created our version of the Ace Hotel, which allows people and businesses to mix, mingle and spark opportunities. We launched 2 years ago as LMHQ, and have been evolving ever since to meet the increasing demand for meeting space, events space, and programming for Lower Manhattan.
Happy anniversary! What have you biggest success been?
It has definitely been our programming. We are very proud of how we’ve fostered community through thought leadership events, breakfast series, and other initiatives that get people together with thought leaders and industry leaders to talk and meet each other. For example, our Women’s Breakfast series features different speakers from different industries, giving chance for people to connect and ask their questions, as well as get together to support and network.
As we grow, we continue to try to find ways to engage people who want to participate, who want to learn and engage.
For those interested, how can you get involved?
Come to our events! Check out our programming and events, which include tech meetups to thought leadership discussions. Most of them are free and open to the public; you simply need to RSVP. It’s a huge community for locals to get involved in. You can learn a new skill for your career or your workplace. Participating is self-care for your career and yourself as a person.
How do you see LMHQ evolving in the future?
We’re responding to what people like and what they want more of. We’re working on launching workshops: Tactical hands-on learning in an intimate environment. As downtown moves from a sea of suits to a more diverse makeup, we want to support creatives and tech people in their endeavors and passions, and connect them to like minded people.
What has been the most rewarding part of running LMHQ downtown?
Everything that we predicted - the restaurants, the residents, the shifts in businesses - has come to fruition. We always knew it would be changing downtown but it took a long time to see it happen. Lower Manhattan was this lost gem for a long time and now more people than ever are discovering it and falling in love with it.