By Derek Jordan
Created Oct 13 2013 – 11:26pm
SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation has been recognized by the governor’s office for its effort to provide affordable, low-risk office space for area entrepreneurs.
The EDF was one of three recipients throughout the state to receive the Governor’s Excellence in Economic Development award during a presentation at the annual Arizona Governor’s Economic Development Conference in Flagstaff earlier this month.
Since it opened in the summer of 2012, the EDF Business Complex has provided office space for more than a dozen area businesses for whom operating out of a home is less than ideal.
With low rent and flexible leases, the complex provides these small businesses with the opportunity to grow beyond the home-based model and expand, with the eventual goal of moving on to even larger retail space, without the spectre of financial ruin should the business not work out.
“For the first time I was speechless,” said EDF Executive Director Mignonne Hollis, on her reaction to receiving the award. “It was such an honor to be recognized at the state level for the work that we’ve done, considering the resources that we have, as a foundation.”
Hollis started researching the idea of the business complex more than two years ago, before bringing it before the EDF board of directors. Following their approval of the $180,000 investment of EDF funds, interior work on creating nine new offices began in July of 2012.
Through the complex, which also houses the EDF offices, small businesses who might not otherwise be able to afford to work from anywhere but their own homes not only have their own office, but a shared boardroom, and access to several other economic development agencies beyond the EDF.
“It’s great to have that environment and provide that flexibility for the client, and to be able to provide outside counseling services that they may need as well,” Hollis said.
Chair of the EDF board, Lynn Mattingly, said the complex is a boon to small and young businesses.
“We’ve had a very good response with regards to tenants,” Mattingly said. “It’s more of a transition point for businesses that are already in business and need that physical location, a professional address and presence to compete and be awarded contract and projects.”
Mattingly, who also owns Weatherguard Metal Construction, said he was speaking from experience.
“For a couple years, when we first started the business, my wife was never able to have dinner at the table” due to plans and work-related materials taking up so much space, he said.
Current complex tenant Daniel Valle, of business consulting firm DCV & Associates, said that having an office space provides stability and establishes a sense of professionalism to clients.
“The business model that I had, I worked at the site of my clients, for the most part. However, you can’t do everything at a work site, and if you have multiple clients, you’re moving around everywhere. So, I basically had no stability working from home,” Valle said. “I had to go to the library to find a place to meet. We had to meet in restaurants. Very distracting. Very unprofessional. So this was a total godsend for me.”
While its original focus was to provide office space to businesses seeking work as government subcontractors, even in its earliest days the complex has been available to all kinds of business models.
In the last year, the complex has housed a health care business, a graphic designer and a financial advisor, Hollis said.
For more information on the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation’s Business Complex, visit http://www.svedf.org/.