Welland’s most vibrant entrepreneurial hub you never heard of

So…coworking. Every so often someone asks me what happened to the dream of a collaborative workspace in Welland.

Truth is it just sort of, well, fizzled.

We tried to please too many people. It got to feel like we couldn’t make a move without offending someone.

So we let it fade into the background, pulled up our boots and got down to business with other projects.

But the soul of the project refused to die. It waited quietly in the wings, looking for a place to be reborn.

Eventually, an incarnation of this project popped up in the most unexpected place: my office.

Let’s rewind.

The unlikely reincarnation of the project

With 3 mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay, running a small-time, home-based business was no longer an option. Not with a wily, energetic 1-year-old and his equally peppy papa in the next room.

I needed an office. With a door I could close, and no kiddo clawing at my shirt.

The house at 195 East Main was the first and only building I looked at.

Its quiet, Victorian charm was too good to pass up. It was affordable, clean, and had hardwood everywhere. Elegant woodwork from another era – the kind of craftsmanship that’s gone the way of the dinosaur.

Initially we were a strange mix of entrepreneurs and nonprofits. I shared the upper floor with Stephanie Hicks, Executive Director of the Downtown BIA, while the YWCA, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and Danielle Lapierre of Shear Nerve shared the ground floor.

Not long after I arrived, the YWCA and CMHA began their migration to the new Hope Centre, and something in the spirit of the building shifted.

Flakes of entrepreneurship began to fall, and quickly started to snowball.

Inquiries came in from people wanting to open a teahouse, sell homemade soaps or move their fledgling freelance practices out of the basement.

Everyone who visited fell in love with it. Friend, client or foe, the place has a magnetic draw.

While we were busy doing other things, exactly the kind of hub we’d dreamed about was willing itself into existence.

The hot spot in Welland for purpose-driven (and mostly female) entrepreneurs

Our building is teeming with entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and forward motion. It’s taken until now to define this shift, but the words are coming to me at this very moment:

It is, unquestionably, the spirit of the New Welland.

There’s laughter. There’s heated conversation. There’s money being made. There’s lobbying, negotiating and policy-wrangling. (I’m looking at you, Steph.)

There is innovation, powered by an infectious, joyous energy. But most of all…

There is MOMENTUM.

You can’t help but feel it.

If you were at the grand opening of BIG Insurance, you might’ve shed a few prideful tears listening to speeches from Stephen Billyard, Mayor Frank Campion, MPP Cindy Forster and MP Vance Badawey.

They know about the momentum too. And not because they’re doing their jive-talking politician thing. They said those words because they hold unmistakable truth.

The times they are a-changin’ in Welland. You’d have to be blind not to see it. {Tweet it}

Woman-powered business

Save for our most recent addition, we are a tribe of women.

We’re BIA HQ, a copywriter, a hair salon, a graphic designer, a photographer, and a soulful shop of handmade treasures called Found By T.  

(Jeff and Jason from Digital Caribou are brave men to station themselves among this many powerful women.)

But setting up shop in downtown Welland was no small decision. It required me to seriously stretch my vision for my business and rethink the way families are supposed to operate.

Mom’s do the childcare, right? And cook the meals? That’s the way it’s always been done.

Not in our family. At least not anymore. My man decided to do something not many husbands would do: run the house, and let mama bring home the cheddar.

(If you don’t know Jay, you’re missing out. He’s the sizzle in my steak and the icing on my cake. To know him is to love him.)

copywriter office welland

Got leg cramps and sore eyes from working in your stanky basement? This is where you need to be.

I challenge you to find this kind of value anywhere else. The offices go for about $2/sq foot, all in. (It’s no secret, you can check out what’s available on this Kijiji ad. Blink and you’ll miss it; They’re going fast.)

And in case you were wondering, I don’t get commission. I just love the heck out of this place.

To me, it’s a preview of the New Welland. A snapshot of what’s to come in The Little City That Could.

Got friends and neighbours who think nothing’s happening in Welland? Know someone who’s running a business from their basement? Be sure to share this article on Facebook, or email it to a friend.

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