When Southside Business Initiative (SBI) first opened in October of 2015, the goal was to have 50 members and put them at maximum capacity at the 6825 Madison Ave., Suite B, location.
While the Southside’s first coworking space got off to a good start, membership has fluctuated as the committee eventually turned focus to other projects and life events and efforts to grow SBI went dormant. The facility isn’t getting the use idealized when it first opened. The committee has recently been reformed and is aggressively looking at growing the space, said newly-appointed head of the Greater Southside Business Alliance and chair of SBI, Kevin Wheeler.
“We have a new marketing person that started in December and we expect to have about three new members a month going forward,” Wheeler said. “He’s already got interest, to the point that we’re remodeling the upstairs to have suites. While many people like the concept of open air, some people, like in the medical industry, said they need to be in a place they can have a true one-on-one meeting with a client.”
SBI will host a relaunch party on Jan. 25, with an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. Currently, SBI has 16 members.
“We’re optimistic in 2018 we will meet our goals.”
Here, Wheeler answers some additional questions about SBI and coworking spaces:
Who are your members? Ours was designed not to be a niche. Some coworking spaces in the state are focused specifically to pharmaceuticals. We have contractors, marketing folks, attorneys, nonprofit groups, real estate and several members that use the space as well as our GSBA board.
What are some benefits that members receive from joining? There are a large number of at-home businesses in the Perry Township area. Working from home has its advantages but it doesn’t make it conducive to have customers. You have to go to a local coffee house or McDonalds to meet with someone. Here, it gives them a more professional space to meet. It gives them a conference room, wifi, a little kitchen area. For the cost we’re charging you wouldn’t be able to get a day at a local hotel conference room for a month here. We’re part of an at-large coworking space group, Indiana Coworking Passport, which allows our members to use any coworking space in the state of Indiana if they’re part of our network.
Why do you feel coworking space is beneficial to the Southside business community?
It gives a place for folks to get together and network, a place folks can be working on their laptop but they have other members in the room they can bounce ideas off of. They don’t have the hassle of downtown parking. They don’t have to travel miles to another space in Indianapolis. Some of our members have offices on the other side of Indianapolis and worked it out with their company to use the SBI so they don’t have the commute. Employees can still be working remotely, in a professional, secure area.
We saw a lot of folks are gravitating to the coffee houses. Talking to the management at these coffee places, folks are coming in, buying a cup of coffee and planting at a table all day. Any other customer that comes in doesn’t have a place to sit.
What are you looking forward to for the future of SBI?
We’re anxious to get to the point where we’ll have to turn people away. We’re anxious to get the membership up so we have to either look at another facility or expanding. Our dream would be that if we get up to the 40, 50 members, that’s about our capacity if they’re all active.