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Affordable office space the draw at new co-working centre

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Owners of a new downtown co-working operation say their immediate success is proof positive Sarnia is embracing the concept.

“We’ve proven very quickly there’s a huge need for spaces like this,” said Chris Misch.

He and business partner Scott Palko opened Collide co-working space Sept. 7 and were still making structural improvements to their Front Street offices when clients began knocking at the door.

Co-working spaces provide professional workstations with shared resources to freelancers, small business owners, start-ups and mompreneurs who want social interaction and a workplace outside the home.

Collide – a name meant to suggest the collision of bodies and ideas – offers open concept desks, fresh Blackwater coffee, WiFi, a lounge area, boardroom and washrooms. In the summer, the partners hope to set up a river view patio outside the front door.

It’s a place where networking is possible as well as independent work, said Palko. And it’s low cost.

The least expensive membership at Collide costs $75 a month and requires a three-to-six month commitment. Boardroom rental is extra.

Pricing packages vary with workspace and amenities. The most expensive is a private office that costs $500 a month.

Misch and Palko’s business plan included two private offices that were rented before the doors could be hung.

The allure is a comfortable, flexible workspace for much less than the cost of most offices, said Misch.

“Where else are you going to go to work for $75 a month?”

The partners have diverse entrepreneurial backgrounds. Misch, 45, is originally from Hanover but has lived in many places and been involved in numerous multi-national startups focused on electric cars and charging stations.

He currently lives in Grand Bend and is entrepreneurship manager at Lambton College.

Palko, 38, is from Sarnia and has operated a graphics design and marketing firm called CCI Studios in Sarnia and Toronto the past 15 years. In September, he moved CCI Studios’ local offices adjacent to Collide.

The two men met through the college and began making plans to establish a co-working space about a year ago.

“When we saw this space we jumped at it,” said Misch. Collide is located in the lower and ground floor levels at 148 Front St. North. The historic building has been occupied by a radio station, several restaurants, and, most recently, an events centre.

A large skylight brightens the space, which features a water feature and ivy growing on one wall. At one end, the partners intend to build a kitchenette. At the other end, the boardroom is taking shape.

Collide attracted 15 members its first six weeks. Sarnia’s newest co-working space can accommodate as many as 40 to 50 but the business is already sustainable, said Misch.

In November, a “community animator” will be hired to host the space and ensure things run smoothly.

“We’re looking at other communities in Ontario for a similar concept,” Misch added. “Rural communities like this have a low cost of living and an attractive lifestyle that is bringing people back.

“We want to be a part of that.”

To contact Collide, call 519-777-5150 or email [email protected].

Got a great idea for a business story?  Contact [email protected].




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