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Where the seeds of business grow

Oh to have been in Oklahoma 110 years ago.

Back then, the territory opened its gates to some 200,000 home-hunters, who scrambled across the plains to start farms and families.

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Free land! Yeeeeeee-hah!

Unfortunately, such opportunities don't exist today. But don't despair. Wide open spaces can be found across America. It's just that they're hidden in office parks.

Office vacancy rates hovered around 11 percent in 1998, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a leading international real estate firm based in New York. That's quite a drop from the 20 percent levels reached during the early part of this decade.

Still, some 5,800 acres of office space is available in the US. So with a good business idea - instead of farming the Oklahoma plains - you can start your own cube farm.

Instead of tractors, cube farmers rely on swivel chairs. Your field is made up of desks, computers, and phones. Your mission: to cultivate information.

Plenty of people are doing it and investors approve. Look no further than the big returns of technology stocks as indicated by the NASDAQ index (see Market Monitor, page 12).

Now for those of you who might find cube farming a bit dull, take a look at the photo to the right.

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Ad agency TBWA Chiat/Day hasn't exactly gotten rid of the cube. But they have made it more open and relaxed.

Read Shelley Donald Coolidge's story underneath, and you'll learn about several efforts to reinvent the cube. As most cube-vegetables know, the idea's long overdue.

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