Bag Balm Gets New Tenants

New Bag BalmLYNDON - The Bag Balm building in downtown Lyndonville is about to receive some new tenants. The Center for Professional Studies at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon will be turning the second floor into a co-working space.

Ann Nygard, the Director for the Center for Professional Studies says, "A co-working space is actually a complex idea. Co-working has to do with not only renting space to people looking for office facilities, but also building culture, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and having people be able to bounce ideas off one another to create businesses and business opportunities."

Lyndon resident Evan Carlson thought of the idea last year during a Council on Rural Development Forum in Lyndonville; one of the categories discussed was creating a community of creatives and digital technology. "Being in that field, I felt like Lyndon didn't have much of a community around, or one that I could see." Carlson says since he works from home, he would go to local coffee shops to work and be out of the house but it was a struggle to get work done. "A lot of the coffee shops close at four o'clock and my day doesn't end at four necessarily. In addition to that, getting a strong internet connection was pretty difficult at that time, or at least a consistent one." He says while at the community forums he found others who resonated with the struggle.

When they found the Bag Balm building, they thought immediately that it was in a prime location for what they were looking to do. "We were aware the building was empty and the idea of the open industrial space that was in the downtown area, to me seemed like a perfect location to put a group of people together in a co-working space," said Carlson. It's a prime location to put visibility to digital technology, as well as putting a mass of people in the downtown area to help support the commerce and small businesses. As the community forums were taking place, the Paris family who owns the Freighthouse, was exploring potentially purchasing the Bag Balm building, and eventually bought the space. They also now own the former Cumberland Farms space which resides between the Freighthouse and the Bag Balm building.

Nygard says since the Bag Balm product is so innovative and used for so many more things than it's original use, using the building for a co-working space as well as a potential first floor retail business owned and operated by the Paris Family perfect. She says, "this is exactly the type of innovation were looking to foster in Lyndonville in a highly visible location. Where every day 1200 cars that pass by the Bag Balm building; they can see entrepreneurs at work and innovation in practice and they can participate."

During the community meetings there was mentions of NVU having a greater presence in Lyndonville. Nygard says one of the benefits of having the co-working space in the downtown is it will bring a Northern Vermont University presence. "Now we're in response to that, we're going to be smack in the middle of Lyndonville, in one of the most recognized buildings in downtown."

The total cost to get the co-working space up and running is about $99,000, and there have been many donations from local businesses. Northern Vermont Regional Hospital donated $30,000 in seed money, Northern County Health Care donated another $5,000, and the Northern Vermont Development Association donated $4,400 to help get the space up and running. Nygard says they will also be applying for federal grants with USDA Rural Development, Northern Board of Regional Commission, and the Economic Development Association in order to move to the next level. She says local businesses and residents have taken an interest in bringing vibrancy to downtown Lyndonville, and there has been conversation of creating a sponsorship program.

And as far as the iconic Bag Balm tin hanging on the side of the building, "The big hanging Bag Balm tin will definitely stay. I think it's staple, and something people can identify with. We want to retain the history of the space and I think that's a key piece to it," says Carlson.

There is an expected soft date to open in May 2018, and a full open to come in the summer time.

 

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