Network Hub: Catalyst For A Business Community

Only officially launched this month, the Network Hub located at 256 Wallace Street is hoping to become ground zero for a growing community of small and innovative businesses in Nanaimo.

“A Network Hub is shared space, which is the physical boundary, the building itself. But for us here in Nanaimo our vision is to provide a pathway for global business opportunities for Central Vancouver Island – full stop,” explained franchise owner, and business curator Angie Barnard.

“My desire is to create a collaborative community that both shares this physical space but also the virtual space and the community of resources found within the Hub, namely the other businesses based here. We run programs, we run events. We will focus on trade. Our niche is companies who are investing in their growth. Business growth and access to global opportunities is really our niche.”

The Network Hub - NanaimoNanaimo’s Network Hub is the fourth operation of its type currently operating in British Columbia. Similar facilities can be found in Vancouver, New Westminster and in Whistler. “It is a franchise,” Barnard said.

“They specifically scout out locations where they believe there is demand and they see the economy growing, and they see the niche for co-working spaces to survive. I started dialog with the Network Hub almost 18 months ago. We were looking at a co-working space at the Painted Turtle Guest House. After we sold the business I told them I have another fantastic location, how about now?”

The Wallace Street facility, which is spread across two floors of the building, encompasses some eight private offices, ranging in size from 80 square feet to 150 square feet, and nearly a dozen desks available in a bullpen type layout. In addition there are also kitchen, board room and training room facilities. “We want a separate presence from Square One (operated by Innovation Island and the NEDC) which is tech and start up. We’re business growth and other sectors so I see us positioning with the resource sector, with aquaculture, with education. That will be our niche,” Barnard said.

I see us positioning with the resource sector, with aquaculture, with education

“Everybody is a member, so its membership based. In the private offices we’re looking for a minimum six month term – that would be ideal. But it’s not contractual. We would set you up. The nice thing about an office is they’re priced accordingly. Everything is turn-key, so once you’re in your office the ability to book the meeting room, the event space is all online. In the private offices people will generally provide their own furniture, to specific design guidelines with color schemes to try and keep some consistency. There’s a bar we want to achieve. The common spaces will all be furnished. We’ll also have the ability to accommodate furnishing the office if need be.”

While only just opened Barnard says there are already four tenants, two with offices and two using the facilities of the open bullpen. She also said she benefits by drawing on the experience and knowledge of the Network Hub group itself. “This is my business it’s my risk, my entrepreneurial initiative. They are a support obviously. I tapped into their expertise. So they are definitely in business to help this location survive and thrive,” she said.

“They provide the back end support they provide social support and network support. One of the advantages of the Network Hub is you can get multi-location passes, so if you have a presence here, you can be in Vancouver as well.”

I’d like to see 10,000 sq ft within three years

Optimistic that her fledgling endeavor will catch on, Barnard already has visions of where the venture will take her and her growing business community in the future. “I’d like to see 10,000 sq ft within three years. I’d like to see us expand physically within this building. I’d really like within the next three years for the Network Hub to be known as the go-to place for small business growth and for company’s looking for a landing spot as they grow on Central Vancouver Island.”

Source: Nanaimo Business News