ES Community Center celebrates business center
By Samantha Jones
With the Eureka Springs Business Center opening to the public last week, the Eureka Springs Community Center has achieved a major goal toward self-sustainability.
Community center chairwoman Diane Murphy reported that the board of directors was ecstatic to unveil the newly renovated business center on Thursday, Sept. 17. The business center includes nine office spaces available to rent. Murphy remembered when the community center first got off the ground, saying the business center was always intended to drive revenue to the project. The community center doesn't have any state or federal funding, Murphy said, nor does it have an endowment to provide financial support.
"We created the plan where we'd create an office park, which would then generate revenue to support the community center," Murphy said.
When a citizen donated a house to the community center last year, Murphy said, the board agreed to sell the house and use the proceeds to renovate the business center. Renovations took a little longer than expected, Murphy said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID has thrown a wrench into everything, but the office spaces are open now," Murphy said.
What makes the business center so special, Murphy said, is that each office space has its own exterior access .
"You don't have any common shared hallways. You don't have a common reception area. You don't have a common restroom," Murphy said. "They're all independent units. It's really an office park, which is something we haven't had in Eureka before. We really saw that as a void in the community that could be met."
The Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce has been a tenant for a while, Murphy said, and she hopes other businesses follow the chamber's example. Murphy said the board has had "quite a number of inquiries" about the office spaces, which are handicap-accessible and include discounted community center memberships, discounted meeting room rentals, proximity to the farmers market and proximity to the upcoming fitness trail.
"Hopefully, we can populate that fairly quickly and really offer a vibrant office space for people," Murphy said. "We love the idea of being able to be on a campus like that where you have your own defined space but you also have the ability to engage with other people, the outdoors, the farmers market and the fitness trail, which we'll get done this fall."
Murphy added, "Those are nice amenities for small businesses. When you're working small and independently, to still be able to have a sense of community and connection without compromising safety … it seems like a really great opportunity."
The base price for a 900-square-foot office space is $900 a month. Murphy said there's room for conversation on the fee depending on the length of the lease and features. Looking at the completed business center, Murphy said, fills her with gratitude for the Eureka Springs community.
"When we started the whole project of the community center, we had to go on faith that it was going to work, trusting that the community believed in it enough that we could get funding for it," Murphy said. "People have worked so hard just to get it launched and now that we have it launched, the community center itself has become an integral part of the community. Now we know we can provide sustainability for that."
Community is in its name, Murphy said, and has always been the most important part of the project.
"You don't build it without community. You don't have a point for it without community, and you certainly don't sustain it without community," Murphy said. "The whole reason anybody has focused on this project is because Eureka matters and the Eureka community matters."
For more information, visit www.EurekaSpringsCommunityCenter.org or call 479-239-0029.