Small business usually means big dreams but finding help to achieve those dreams can be hard to come by. Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise’s (TSBE) latest venture, a coworking space called The Branch, is like a fairy godmother for business owners. The Branch on Toowoomba’s Ann Street is where start-ups go to thrive. The goal has been to create a space where new businesses can develop, grow, learn and most importantly, succeed.
The Branch was created last year with vision chasers in mind, developed to help both small and large businesses side by side. It is a shared working space, meaning desks and rooms are leased on a subscription basis to entrepreneurs before they catch their big break and are able to rent a place of their own. It presents a more professional image to the world for start-ups to make their mark on the region.
TSBE CEO Ali Davenport believes just this. “It’s a really professional looking place and it’s really going to enhance the image of people’s small businesses just by having a space in the office,” she says, running her fingers along the exposed brick walls and black framed windows looking down into the city centre. Paired with lavish brown leather couches, lush greenery, timber and contemporary fixtures, the open plan design certainly has professional appeal. “It gives people the opportunity to grow their business gradually without spending too much money. We can also help those businesses sitting in the office become more connected.”
With more than 10 businesses calling the space home, alongside the TSBE and Newlands Group offices, the set up allows businesses to interact and create networks. Nick Barker, Toowoomba Business Development Manager of The Go2 People, a job seeker start up, wanted to expand his business into the Toowoomba region and says The Branch allowed him to simply walk in and start doing business. “The connections that you meet there are extraordinary because not only are we next door to TSBE but we also have a great relationship with them and we manage to get the handshakes of the right people.” It offers businesses a platform and gives them the opportunity to develop.
The Branch is not just a building block for start-ups to get off the ground — it is a place for businesses to reach their full potential. It means eventually “flying the nest” as Ali says. “We would love to see a constant stream of businesses coming into the office giving them the opportunity to work with other businesses in the region and then graduating from there and having their own space.” To have teams succeed on their own was the driving force behind inventing The Branch.
The Branch is also a key player in supporting surrounding areas to flourish, bringing employment and prospects to the region, and being an essential asset in maintaining a healthy economy. The establishment gives small businesses the chance to develop, and larger businesses the opportunity to expand into the region. TSBE has linked businesses with opportunity for more than seven years, and it is more than evident that local success is at the heart of The Branch.
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