With a SOLD sign on the Spiral Hub’s old premises in Boundary St, it’s time for Westender to catch up with co-founder Amelia Salmon and review the state of play. After all, the site has been home to Spiral Hub since 2000.
Amelia said that the move is in response to ongoing changes what social enterprises need.
“A decade ago it made sense to provide access to office space, a desk, printer, computer and phone. Nowadays we have all that sitting in a coffee shop with our phones.”
She said that infrastructure like kitchen and warehouse facilities are less readily available and more in demand. Providing that infrastructure was the major driver for rethinking the location of Spiral Hub. In the end it was a cost-benefit exercise.
“The cost of repurposing the building as we proposed was prohibitive. It just made more sense to move.”
To reach that decision, the hub organised community and stakeholder meetings over 2012 and 2013 to discuss future requirements. The notion of a Fair Food café, learning facilities and provision of support services to social enterprises all bubbled to the surface as a result. Many of these had been long term ambitions frustrated by the various limitations of the site.
“[Moving] was a really hard decision, though. There are a lot of emotional attachments and many interest groups involved.”
Amelia said there has been a shift in the business model as well. She said the group has become less dependent on government funding and is focused on learning and providing support through financial services such as loans.
She sees the shift away from a funded model as liberating.
“We had really good social outcomes for some of that funded work, but now we’re not so caught up with the funding, we can focus more on the social change.”
The Hub has exciting new plans for premises closer to “the action” that will be announced to stakeholders first, once this sale has gone through, the new premises are finalised and those plans locked in.
“The people who have been involved with the Hub over years deserve to find out first.”