Who lives in your community? How do you grow a business? What are your community resources?
These are the sorts of issues that Brandon Call envisions "The Hub" fixing as it sets up in neighborhoods. The "community development studio" is part business development, part marketing, part community advocacy, and part real estate.
Call describes a build out plan: One building today, then a posh warehouse space, then another office, then a bed and breakfast, then an inner-office restaurant with some of Charleston's renowned local chefs preparing food on occasion, then loft live-work spaces -- it's an envisioned microcosm of all that makes a neighborhood cool.
It's a vision inspired a little by (and designed to make the most of) the Cannonborough-Elliotborough "Area Character Appraisal."
But building out a vision like that has to start somewhere. In this case Call and partner Rich Estes are launching the vision at 69 Spring Street in a community workspace set to open at the start of June. The Hub is aiming to draw folks in to use the shared meeting space, outside lounge and tables for meetings and individual work, and even the occasional mini-seminars and charrettes.
If you pony up a still-gelling membership fee you'll get to make the space your daily office complete with desks, document services, kitchen, and even a little help in the PR department from Hub staffers. -- And that's where the idea starts to scale.
The Hub is aimed to be a road to get your business going and growing. "There's an ability for us to get them on the train," said Call. They'll offer you community attention through a network of targeted communications and professional services. Along with member fees it's also where the Hub starts to make money in offering services and referrals.
They'll also be throwing regular events, BBQs, and training sessions.
In a sense it's an office space where you don't have to worry about making it hip, fun, and locking the doors -- and mobile. And the "Hubs" would be put into neighborhoods across the metro Charleston area so that the idea doesn't apply just to Cannonborough. It's a model for the business to act as a standard business service arrangement across the region.
Call says a Mount Pleasant location on Coleman Boulevard should launch shortly after the Spring Street spot.
Depending on how you want to look at it the idea is either a massive tar ball or synergy powerhouse -- but that's where the founders have to come in: Making a complex set of solutions simply work.
Now we just have to see if they can pull the grand vision off.