A new business in an old building on our main street
This new business means business. That is, it’s there to make business easier for people with home-based businesses to work when the home office is too noisy, or doesn’t offer broadband, or when a separate place to meet with clients would be helpful. Or for people from out of town to work for a while, as needed. Or to record a podcast. The space is also available for after-hours meetings, receptions or presentations.
Check out “The Office” in the old Bank of Toronto building — the one that used to house RossVegas. Tony and Courtney Jewitt have created a space with a clean, spacious feel, with desks and chairs, a conference table that can accommodate 10 or 12 people, Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation (CBBC) broadband, and complementary coffee or tea.
The old bank vault — the safe — has been converted into a private, sound-proof small meeting room with a table and four chairs and wifi, and the original vaulted brick arch overhead. (Claustrophobes may need to find a different space for their private meeting.)
There’s also a quiet area for telephone conversations, away from the main work area. And there’s a printer/fax/scanner/copier.
The Jewitts have owned the building for ten years, but realized that they needed to renovate it when their tenant, RossVegas, moved out Ã¢â‚¬â€¢ because the winter-time heating bills were exceeding the rent. “They were the most awesome tenant!” Tony exclaimed, and the Jewitts were very sorry to lose them.
The renovation of the “Stone Block,” a rubble stone and brick heritage building, was a major undertaking and took much longer than originally anticipated, as most renovation and construction projects seem to do; in this case, partly because of the need for asbestos remediation, and lead-paint remediation, and of course, there were old windows and no insulation, which accounted for the loss of their prized tenant.
Rosslander Demitri Lesniewicz was their architect, and Steven Doyle of Roots Carpentry assembled the team; Eleanor Reimer helped with interior design. Courtney said, “The team was fantastic. We had no issues whatsoever, which is rare, especially when you’re doing a heritage building.” Tony added, “The City was really helpful. The helped us get drainage from the roof out to the front drains. They were so supportive.”
Tony still works for a concern in Texas, and wanted a space with really fast internet to allow him to work from Rossland. They set up the ground-floor work-space, and were among the first to sign up for CBBC broadband — “It works really well!” they enthused, and expressed gratitude to CBBC for the free installation provided to the first several businesses to sign on. Tony said, “I don’t take up much space, usually. So we thought we’d set it up so others could come in and have a work space, and see what happened. People have been coming out of the woodwork.”
A similar “hub” for small businesses was available for a time on the third floor in the old Bank of Montreal building, but gave way to a tenant. For a look at a 2010 article introducing the concept of that original Rossland business hub, click the link. Despite the enthusiasm and hard work of Rossland’s Sustainability Commission members, the building’s owner, Fletcher Quince, and several others, there were obstacles and it didn’t open until October of 2013. By the end of that year, Thoughtstream (now Thoughtexchange) had expanded to take over the entire space, and has since moved to different premises.
Tony Jewitt has deep roots in this area; all four of his grandparents lived in Trail. His father worked as a mine manager in Grand Forks, where Tony spent part of his youth, but was promoted to president and moved to the head office in Vancouver, and when the mining company was purchased by a company in Texas, the family moved there in 1975, and Tony attended high school and university in Texas.
Courtney grew up in a smaller centre in Indiana. She and Tony met at university; Courtney was a journalism major. They now have two grown children, and a ten-year old son who is attending Rossland Summit School. Courtney has recently been appointed as Fundraising Chair on the board of Rossland’s Museum Society, and is glad for the opportunity to become more involved in the community. “We are here to stay,” she declared.
Tony predicts that in a few years, there will be many more high-tech companies in Rossland, “because people get to where they want some open space around them, and maybe a ski hill, and the hiking trails and golf courses — it’s just so easy to get outdoors from home, here.”
Prices to use the shared office space? The Jewitts said they are still working on that, but for now, a person needing a space to work for a 3-hour morning or afternoon can have it, plus tea or coffee, for $15. They will also negotiate weekly and monthly arrangements.
If anyone wants a fancier beverage than French-press coffee, or gets hungry, the Jewitts point out that they’re right across the street from the Alpine Grind.