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Why WeWork is giving away free office space in S.F. and 10 other cities

After more than tripling its Bay Area footprint last year, WeWork is now ramping up its philanthropic efforts.

The co-working startup is providing free office space for 10 entrepreneurs who are military veterans for six months in San Francisco and 10 other cities. The program, Veterans in Residence, is a partnership with BUnker Labs, a Chicago-based nonprofit incubator for veterans. It’s the first time WeWork has provided free space in multiple cities through a national program.

In WeWork’s 25 Taylor St. office in the Tenderloin, a 10-seat office that is normally priced at $5,800 per month is now operated by Bunker Labs. In the country’s most expensive office market, it’s a rare offering of new, free space.

Finding affordable office space is “incredibly expensive. It’s time-consuming. It’s difficult,” said Mike Nemke, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces who served in the Middle East and joined the veterans program. Nemke is co-founder of a data science startup, Datamyne.ai, and MKTR.ai, which provides marketing and consulting to other startups.

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