Innovate Clark County is The Columbian's online community to connect entrepreneurs and others interested in fostering business innovation and growth in Southwest Washington. Join the conversation online at
Innovate Clark County is The Columbian’s online community to connect entrepreneurs and others interested in fostering business innovation and growth in Southwest Washington. Join the conversation online at
Two months ago, Vancouver attorney Enrico Tadeo sold his small office building and moved his 10-year-old private law practice into a virtual office space. That means most days he works from home, doing research, drafting documents and taking phone calls. On the few occasions he meets with a client, however, he takes his laptop and briefcase to Executive Center Northwest. For a flat fee of $99 per month, Tadeo keeps his official address at the center and uses a Wi-Fi enabled conference room several times per month for client meetings.
“It has been an adjustment, for sure,” Tadeo said. “But it will be a big money saver for me.”
Virtual workspace is just one of many services Executive Center Northwest has been offering to small businesses since it opened at 4001 Main St. in Vancouver earlier this year. The center also rents traditional class-A office space at about 80 percent of Vancouver’s commercial office market rate, starting at $300, said founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Christensen. Tenants have full access to amenities similar to those available in other executive suites — a receptionist, a board room and other meeting spaces, as well as a copy center, Web access and information technology support.
It’s one of several alternatives to traditional office space that have sprung up in recent years to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and downsizing businesses looking for cheap space.
To differentiate itself from other offerings, Executive Center Northwest plans to ramp up a small business incubator program this fall, said Christensen. He’s assembling a roster of pre-screened accountants, attorneys and other business consultants willing to work at reduced fees for his tenants, as well as a team of experienced executives that will operate on a profit-share model, offering business advice to help accelerate growth.
Christensen’s executive training business, Learning Point, is also renting an office at the center and providing a series of small business seminars there, available at a discount to tenants.
Several other public and private organizations have recently explored the possibility of starting small business incubators in Clark County. Most recently, the Port of Vancouver voiced its willingness to consider leasing a portion of its industrial space to small manufacturers at reduced rates. But the proposal must first be drafted and approved by the port commission and is still in the conceptual phase.
Christensen is perhaps the farthest along in Clark County. His in-development incubator provides an option many small business owners are anxious to see in practice.
Trent Campbell moved his office to Executive Center Northwest after taking a few leadership classes from Learning Point. The move helped cut rent and service costs for his insurance business, which specializes in street rods and other collector cars. He likes the availability and proximity to training opportunities and the community of other small business owners who can offer advice and referrals.
“I wish I had those other advisors right here when I started eight years ago,” Campbell said. “The (incubator) concept makes a whole lot of sense.”