The Stilly Valley Collective is about to open and it will provide business space, office space and classroom space for small businesses.
The collective is the latest project from the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is also moving their offices into the collective.
The location at 103 Third St., Arlington, is in the downtown area.
“We have been thinking of ways the Chamber could more proactively serve the community, and one of the things we kept running up against is lack of space to do something,” said Jennifer Egger, executive director of the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“One day we wandered over here and thought ‘this building has been sitting empty for a while,’” she said.
Upon investigating they thought it would be a good fit for this project from the chamber.
There are a dozen private offices that small businesses can rent, as well boardroom space and classroom space that can be rented by the hour.
The collective is meant to be a transition space for small businesses, so they can “come in here, grow, gain a network of support and then be able to move into a storefront space or a bigger office because they need more employees,” said Egger.
The location already has a few clients that are moving in, she said.
“There is a couple that opened a travel agency that specializes in travel to Tuscany and they were working out of their kitchen. By moving into this place they have a great place to meet with their clients,” Egger said.
Jamie Sawdon, co-owner of Emergency Medical Education, and her husband were some of the first clients to move it.
Their business helps medical professionals obtain or renew certifications and also provides CPR and first aid training to the public.
“We’ve done this out of house for the past three years and my husband wanted to get out into the community so we could bring people here for classes,” she said.
“It’s very exciting. It will get our name out there, and to have an actual location is very helpful,” she said.
Egger hopes it’s a place that small businesses can grow and also help each other.
“Not only is it going to allow these small businesses a place to get a foothold and grow, but it’s going to be a good place where non-profits can meet or people can share their talents and potentially make a little money,” she said.
There will be the potential for pop-up retail space and/or a coffee shop at the location in the future as well, said Egger.
Other future improvements may include things like space for kids.
Chamber member and working mother Mary Andersen said that a place where her kids could play and she could work would be a huge advantage.
“This is something that a lot of people need,” Anderson said.
“Being able to have a place for the kids would be great, but that’s the next level. We’re not really close to making that a reality yet,” she said.
The downtown Arlington building is more than a century old, although the majority of it has had renovations since it was built.
It’s currently owned by Reaction Physical Therapy and was formerly used by the Advanced Orthopedic Institute.
Reaction Physical Therapy is still there, although most of the building is being used for the Stilly Valley Collective now.
The Visitors Information Center that the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce runs will continue, and Egger said moving the chamber’s offices out will give more room at the center.
Egger said that the collective was a big move for the chamber. “You have to be bold sometimes,” she said.
More information about the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Stilly Valley Collective is available at www.stillyvalleychamber.com/the-stilly-valley-collective.