The meeting room was packed last May as members of six nonprofits wrapped up a two-day workshop at Gangplank Tucson, which has now broken off from the Gangplank Collective.

Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star 2013

Gangplank Tucson, a downtown co-working space, has merged its operations into Startup Tucson, a nonprofit group that helps entrepreneurs.

With the move, Gangplank Tucson has broken off from the Chandler-based Gangplank Collective and become an initiative of Startup Tucson with the new name CoLab Workspace (, Startup Tucson said Thursday.

CoLab will continue to occupy the 7,000-square-foot space at 17 E. Pennington St., located within the historic Pioneer Building.

As part of the agreement, Startup Tucson will serve as the organizational home for CoLab, work with Holualoa Cos. to take over the leased space at the Pioneer office building, and provide operational support.

The move provides for an increased focus on local collaboration while maintaining a strong regional connection with Gangplank Collaborative, said Startup Tucson founding Chairman Justin Williams.

Besides Chandler, Gangplank Collective includes co-working spaces in Avondale; Richmond, Va.; and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Williams said the new CoLab will keep Gangplank’s format essentially unchanged. Gangplank sites offer free, collaborative co-workspace with regular users, or anchors, asked to contribute by helping out with the space or in the community.

Williams said the change was spurred partly by new requirements for Gangplank sites geared toward wider, nationwide collaborations. Local Gangplank leaders felt resources were better used serving a strong local focus.

“We’re sort of ‘forking’ Gangplank into a very similar, complementary version,” Williams said. “It operates with the same philosophy and workspace model, but with complete autonomy to respond to the way Tucson needs to grow.”

Aaron Eden, founding director and an anchor of Gangplank Tucson, will remain involved as a CoLab leader, Williams said.

The merger follows a recent decision by organizers of IdeaFunding, an annual event that helps entrepreneurs find funding, to make the event a project of Startup Tucson.

Startup Tucson and Gangplank Tucson launched during Tucson’s inaugural Startup Weekend event in 2011.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at or 573-4181.