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Cottage Grove Chamber begins relocation to city’s BEC

The Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce is in the process of relocating to the Business Enterprise Center, a move city officials say is “synergistic.”

The Chamber is leaving behind its longtime headquarters at the Youth Service Bureau and moving into a 545-square-foot space in the lower level of the former City Hall. The Chamber is housed in the former police sergeants office and communications center.

Chamber President Trent Cole said in a recent interview that the group was in the market for a new space and was attracted to the BEC’s business incubator model.

“We love it,” he said of the new space. “We can provide better services to those businesses and the Chamber has been for years trying to find a place that was more symbiotic with business development and business growth.”

When the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority first announced in August that the Chamber would occupy space in the BEC, Cole said he heard some negative feedback. He said some questioned why the Chamber, an established organization, was occupying space meant for emerging companies.

“We’d envision that the Chamber will serve as a resource for the BEC tenants and thus are not viewed in the exact same way as the other tenants,” Economic Development Authority Director Danette Parr said. “The lease terms were handled accordingly.”

The Chamber, which is on a yearly lease, is paying full-rate rent for its space. Startup businesses leasing other space in the BEC pay a lower rent.

As part of its occupancy, Parr said the Chamber will be an active member of the educational business opportunities for tenants which include lunch-and-learns seminars.

The space is currently undergoing roughly $40,000 in renovations, specifically to the restrooms. The current location is not accessible to the Chamber and a reconfiguration is nearing completion. Cole said he expects the space to be move-in ready by the end of the month.

“We have the opportunity and ability to network with up-and-coming businesses in the community,” Cole said. “As a Chamber, we wanted to be progressive and try to get new members and keep growing through the BEC.”

The Chamber is the fourth tenant in the BEC but the first to occupy the lower level.