By Yolanda Ridge, Rossland News
If the empty store fronts on Columbia and Spokane make you think there’s lots of business space in Rossland—maybe too much—think again.
There’s been a lot of movement and transition around office space in Rossland recently. As a result, several core buildings have reached capacity and some businesses are scrambling for space.
Andy Talbot, landlord of the building that houses the Rossland News (and soon the Alpine Grind, who will be moving into the space vacated by The Drift), speculates that it may be because some home-based businesses are wanting to be on Columbia to take advantage of the Holy Grail of broadband.
In addition to broadband, there are businesses with unique considerations such as the Rossland Beer Company. To accommodate the weight of their tanks, floors are being removed from the back of the building where the hardware store used to be.
With support of the real estate owner, Rossland Beer Company hopes to be up and running in the new space in early January.
Across the road, the historic Bank of Montreal Building has been fully tenanted since Thoughtstream took over the top floor this fall. For Jim Firstbrook, Thoughtstream chief executive officer, the search for appropriate office space has been difficult.
“For a one person show there are a number of options,” said Firstbrook. “There are landlords in this town with lovely spaces for smaller groups or non-growing companies. Our specific requirements make it much more challenging.”
A tech start up, initiated by Firstbrook from his home in Rossland, Thoughtstream now employs almost 30 people.
A critical mass is already located in Rossland and Firstbrook predicts that there will be 20 people joining them in the coming year.
And that number is likely to double again in the following year as Thoughtstream continues to develop in their role as international experts in stakeholder engagement.
Acquiring office space is an evolution for the company, said Firstbrook. “We are learning how to have office space as a company, how to make that work with our culture.”
But it is unlikely that the space they now occupy will work in the long term. “It is too early to say whether we will be able to expand within the current building or whether we will have to look elsewhere.”
There are big enough spaces in Trail, but Firstbrook would like to keep his company in Rossland.
“I chose Rossland because of what this community has to offer,” he said. “And all the team members who’ve moved here feel the same.”
“There is office space in Rossland, but it depends on what you are looking for,” said Fletcher Quince, owner of the Bank of Montreal building and operator of the Rossland Art Gallery.
“Plus, a lot of it is difficult to access because the landlord lives out of town or the building is owned by an institution with rules and financial limitations that are hard to navigate.”
In addition, several buildings on the main street need significant renovation and restoration, something a business owner looking to rent space does not necessarily want to tackle.
Although his building is full, Quince is still looking to create space for yet another unique business niche—the nomadic entrepreneur.
In the new year, he plans to move ahead with what he calls HUB 2.0—an evolution of the original HUB concept—by bringing it down to the main floor with individual work stations at the back of the gallery and access to a private board room.
More than just a WiFi hotspot, Quince aims to create a space that is creative, economic, and social—something that speaks to the value of the community.
And that community is unique—with a unique collection of business—something that is not necessarily reflected in the windows of its empty spaces.