By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — The LaunchPad will take off Friday when the public is invited to view the new downtown entrepreneurial business space.
The Goshen Chamber of Commerce will open the communal business facility in its second story at the corner of Jefferson and Main streets. Chamber members are invited to visit the space from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday and the public is invited to view the new facility beginning at 5 p.m.
“The space is totally different than what it was,” said David Dougherty, Chamber president.
What that space used to be was several small offices separated by drab wallboard. Those walls and the dropped ceiling have been removed, according to Daugherty. More windows, including one 19-feet long, have been added to allow natural light to flow into the space.
The LaunchPad has work stations, including stand-up stations, that can be used by start-up business owners. There is also a large conference room, a smaller conference room and a stand-up conference room with a work table. All those rooms have video conferencing capability.
“Boy, it’s bright and nice up there,” Daugherty said of the changes.
Beyond the sunlight, the Chamber staff is hoping to attract some of the young, bright minds and personalities that are changing the face of Goshen’s retail businesses. Daugherty said downtown is already home to many young entrepreneurs who took their ideas and built them into successful ventures. He would like to see more such successes. Also, he sees the nearby mix of downtown eateries, small shops and service business as a plus for people wanting to start a business in the LaunchPad.
The Chamber board decided last year to convert the space into a business incubator because members saw a need for space for start-up businesses, according to Daugherty. He envisions new businesses locating in the LaunchPad for a year or two on their journey to becoming bigger operations.
Chamber members visited incubators around Michiana and talked and listened to the people using them, Daugherty said.
“We incorporated everything in them that each one had and each one wanted,” Daugherty said of the planning process for the Goshen center.
So far three entrepreneurs have expressed interest in joining the LaunchPad. He said one is expected to sign an agreement soon.
The LaunchPad will be available to members 24/7, according to Daugherty.
“It is a mulit-functional space with the primary purpose for people who want to start a new business up there,” Daugherty said.