FORTVILLE — The couple that’s been leasing space to companies at their commercial property for the past year realizes not every business is able to move into an office right away.
That’s why they’re offering a portion of their property as co-working space for those who want a place to focus on their goals that doesn’t eat away their startup costs.
Bonny and Rockford Stites have operated the Fortville Business Center at 412 S. Maple St. since late 2017. Rockford said the property formerly housed various retail businesses and that its previous owner had renovated the building and added its second floor.
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The Noblesville couple was always interested in owning commercial real estate. When the building that would become the Fortville Business Center came on the market, they were drawn to its proximity to where Bonny teaches at Mt. Vernon Middle School and by what Rockford described as the town’s “quality-controlled growth.” The property also had an attractive price when compared to similar buildings in the Indianapolis area, meaning they knew they could in turn offer attractive leases to businesses looking for a home.
Rockford said while determining what the property’s purpose would be, they asked themselves what Fortville was missing. It certainly wasn’t restaurants and retail, he continued. A traditional business anchor to help the town develop, however, was something they felt Fortville could use.
Then people started telling them they should offer co-working space, Rockford said.
“It wasn’t really anything I could conceive or imagine,” said Rockford, whose career has mainly existed in the traditional office spaces of the financial industry.
So he toured some co-working spaces in the area.
“My mind was blown away,” he said.
After returning to the Fortville Business Center with fresh eyes, he realized its potential for people with endeavors that blur the line between pastime and entrepreneurship and who find that distractions at home hamper productivity.
“You’ve got a professional place to go work now that keeps you in that right mindset and focus all day,” he said of co-working spaces. “Then your business goes from being a hobby to something serious.”
Bonny agreed and added another benefit.
“It allows you to be focused but you’re not paying thousands of dollars for a little office space that you may not be using all the time,” she said.
The Fortville Business Center’s co-working space takes up just about all of the property’s second floor. Among its amenities are a lounge, internet, conference room, presentation room, coffee bar and kitchen. The space can also be reserved for larger gatherings.
Budding business leaders can access the co-working space for $95 a month with no contract or $950 a year.
Traditional office tenants at the Fortville Business Center have access to the space as well. April Brake, the midwife behind Serene Midwifery who’s been leasing an office there for almost a year, said she found the larger area effective for a group session with her clients.
Co-working spaces are also great ways to create support structures and referral partnerships, Rockford said. He added some may find it easier to pursue those kinds of relationships in a smaller, more intimate location like the one in Fortville as opposed to ones is larger cities, where it could be more daunting.
“We’re just trying to make this a place that can really be the nucleus of that collaborative energy,” he said.
The Fortville Business Center currently has six tenants and has room for two or three more, depending on what a tenant’s needs are. Rockford said two tenants formerly operated elsewhere in Fortville while the others came in from out of town. He also operates his financial brokerage as a regional vice president for Primerica Advisors in an office in the building.
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Fortville Business Center co-working space
$95 per month, no contract or $950 a year