HUNTINGBURG — Starting a new business is a massive undertaking, and somewhere in the chaos of getting your new venture off the ground, you have to find office space to work from.
Now try doing that in Dubois County, where many of the services and space available to startups in metropolitan areas like California’s Silicon Valley — or even Indianapolis — aren’t available.
Take Evan Daunhauer of Ferdinand for instance. He runs a branch of Indianapolis-based Foresight Financial Management here in Dubois County. There’s Amanda Tempel of Holland, who launched her professional organization service, Aligning Together, in October. There’s Crystal Buehler of Huntingburg, who went full time with her graphic design business three months ago.
These three young business owners are all members of Current Blend, Dubois County’s first co-working space.
For the past year, Current Blend has attempted to fill a void in support for small business by providing a space where local entrepreneurs can grow their startup.
In the early months of 2014, a group of nearly two dozen local business and community leaders — the group included Matrix Integration CEO Brenda Stallings and Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner — gathered to talk about some of the services the county was lacking.
The group identified the need for a space that would foster creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship. The answer was Current Blend.
With a push from the Dubois County Community Foundation, several area businesses pledged their support and a board of directors was chosen.
Stallings, president of the board, remembers the formative meetings in which they aimed to bring something similar to what business and community leaders built at Launch Fishers, a successful co-working space on Indianapolis’ north side.
“It kind of started where a couple of us were talking about how we had to go out of the county for X, Y or Z service,” Stallings said. “We thought it would be really great if we could get support local entrepreneurs and thus grow our community.”
Under the sponsorship of OFS Brands and with help from the City of Huntingburg, Current Blend was born. The Menke family, which runs OFS Brands, partnered with Current Blend to offer space in the historic Parker House in Huntingburg’s downtown Fourth Street.
“OFS has been just a super partner. They basically gutted the building and gave us the environment that we wanted,” Stallings said.
The environment is a big part of what Current Blend was meant to be: an entrepreneurial and collaborative environment, according to Stallings.
The building located next to Huntingburg’s future Stellar Communities Market Street Park project was transformed into a chic, open-floor office space decked out with new furniture from OFS. Current Blend offers its members high-speed Wi-Fi, a copier/printer/fax machine, presentation equipment, meeting spaces and bottomless cups coffee for a flat rate of $50 per month (or $30 if you’re a student).
But if you ask Buehler, Daunhauer or Tempel, the amenities aren’t the most attractive part.
“It’s been a place to escape my house and not worry about the mess and stress of the household and have a nice, clean working space,” said Buehler, a wife and mother of three young children. “Also, the benefit of being able to collaborate with other users has been a plus.”
Buehler’s client list includes Steckler Grassfed, the Spencer County Visitors Bureau and the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce. She designs websites, brochures, logos and social media and helps create marketing plans.
Tempel launched her professional organizing business last fall and joined Current Blend in January. She goes into people’s homes and helps them get messy rooms or filing cabinets under control.
“Coming in and starting your own business, you are so alone,” Tempel said. “But once you meet all these other community members who have established businesses or maybe they’re starting their own business, it’s such a huge benefit to connect and learn from these people.”
Daunhauer graduated from Purdue University in 2012, and he and his wife moved back to Ferdinand shortly thereafter to be closer to family. A lot of his time is spent meeting with clients and creating financial plans and strategies to help people find economic prosperity. He’d been working in Dubois County without set office space for almost three years before he found Current Blend.
“It’s such a cool space to have in Huntingburg, modern, clean and sharp looking,” Daunhauer said. “Having the conference room gives me a spot to grab where I can speak with clients privately.”
Daunhauer said his intent is to find a more permanent space, but for now, Current Blend is a fit.
“It’s been great for me in the sense that I have a professional space to use as my own without having to take on a lease or expense that doesn’t fit what I need,” he said. “It’s more of a stepping stone right now, but I don’t think I’ll give up my membership even when I get my own space.”
On the other hand, not all of Current Blend’s users are small business owners. Some of them own corporations looking to take on massive local projects. Jane Hendrickson of Boxer Girl LLC leads the company behind Huntingburg’s Hunters Crossing subdivision and Jasper’s proposed $26 million hotel and shopping mall, River Centre, at the sight of the vacant Jasper Cabinet building.
Hendrickson utilizes Current Blend to work remotely out of her Indianapolis office while she’s overseeing her projects in Dubois County. She likes the space because it offers her “all the conveniences of a Fortune 500 company.”
“I feel like I have a whole office there, contrary to working at a desk,” Hendrickson said. “I just renewed for another year. It’s outstanding that (co-working space) can be just as fantastic in a small community as it would be in Indianapolis.”