Indy commons

Ruth Miles, State of Oregon Small Business Advocate, gives business registration tips to workshop participants in 2018.

INDEPENDENCE — Indy Commons will celebrate two years in business on April 1.

“I figured that was a good day to go into business,” said owner Kate Schwarzler.

She opened the co-working space in 2017 to provide a shared space for people who work from home but still want to work in an office environment.

Additionally, Indy Commons regularly hosts workshops geared toward local businesspeople.

Schwarzler works closely with city and chamber of commerce staff to make sure not to compete with other local goings-on.

“(It) is really helpful to be able to coordinate all of that, in the spirit of we should all be helping each other out instead of dividing people away,” Schwarzler said. “So it has been really good to meet with Vikkye (Fetters-Delfino) and Courtney (Williams) and other people.”

Fetters-Delfino is the executive director for the Monmouth-Independence Chamber of Commerce, and Williams is the downtown manager for the city of Independence.

Schwarzler said Indy Commons also recently started coordinating with Dallas, Falls City and Monmouth, and “sharing resources and tips and expertise as well.”

Her vision for Indy Commons hasn’t changed much, but she does have a better sense of the needs in the community, she said.

“That’s just a product of being around people,” Schwarzler said. “I’ve done a couple of surveys. The city’s done a couple of surveys.”

From that, they’re learning what would be helpful in terms of growing their businesses, she said.

“There’s an unending appetite for any sort of digital marketing,” Schwarzler said. “Any sort of social media, anything like that is popular just because that’s where things are headed. For a small business owner, it is great because social media is free or low cost, so you can do a lot with the dollars that you spend.”

Indy Commons had good turnout for the social media-related workshops it hosted.

“I enjoy the social media ones, they are fun to do,” Schwarzler said. “I think it’s one where people can see a big impact in their business by just getting out there in advertising, learning how to effectively advertise or market their business. I think it goes back to the basics. You have to understand who your target market is, you have to understand how they get their news, what sort of news that they’re interested in getting.”

According to the most recent stats from the Itemizer-Observer’s website, 49.7 percent of readers access the site from a desktop device and 44.3 percent access it through a mobile device.

On average, 15 to 20 people attend most workshops at Indy Commons, she said.

“Some of the (Rural Opportunity Initiative) events that the city and I are working on, we’ve been pulling 30, 50 people,” Schwarzler said.

The ROI events have been a series “of sort of discovery events to talk to people, to get a sense of what sort of interests do we have out there in the community,” she said.

“The more diverse our business ecosystem is here, the stronger the community is going to be in the long run,” Schwarzler said. “If we’re heavy on one industry, when there is a downturn — and we know it’s a matter of time, it’s cyclical, it’s going to happen at some point — if one industry is impacted really hard, we all feel the burden of that, versus if we can stabilize it a little bit more.”

She thinks it would be beneficial for businesses owners to know about available tools before they actually need them.

An upcoming workshop focuses on access to capital.

She said she gets a lot of questions from people about loans.

“The first one will be more like what does it take to get a bank loan or line of credit,” Schwarzler said.

The Small Business Association, Umpqua Bank and nonprofit MicroEnterprise Resources, Initiatives and Training will be featured at the workshop.

She hopes to follow with a workshop that features nontraditional funding sources such as crowd-funding.

“We’ve been talking about what would it be like for us to set up our own kind of community-based investing, if we have potential investors in the community that want to see their money stay locally for local businesses,” Schwarzler said.

Indy Commons is working on that with the city through the ROI grant it got, she said.

“We’ll still continue to cover the basics,” Schwarzler said.

Basics include setting up a business plan, marketing, finances and taxes.

“We’d also like to start getting more topics around start-ups,” she said. “So we have some exciting things coming down the line.”

Schwarzler said she welcomes workshop suggestions from community members:

Upcoming events at Indy Commons

Access to Capital: 5:30 on Thursday, March 22.

Anniversary and member appreciation party: 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 5.

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