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Birthday bloom for The Orchard

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Orchard had double cause for celebration this week - marking the occasion of its third birthday and its most productive year to date.

A collaborative business and event space for the growing community of entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses in the region, Northland Inc’s business and events hub at 35 Walton Street, Whangārei, has gone from strength to strength since opening its doors in November 2016.

Offering all the facilities of a premium office fit-out, a creative environment, and a thriving community of like minds, The Orchard has more than 130 co-workers (permanent, part-time and casual) active in its revamped premises - a 28 per cent increase since the start of 2018-19.

"People are really seeing the benefits of a space that brings together knowledge and skills across the whole spectrum of work," said Genie van Paassen, Business Growth Coordinator at The Orchard.

"Three years ago there was a big gap here between the support services and the people they were set up to serve. The Orchard has been able to bridge that gap, creating a number of opportunities to share resources and enabling businesses to grow more quickly than they would have done in isolation.

"More and more, research about co-working spaces proves that benefits go beyond increased productivity: people working out of these spaces report feeling happier, more motivated and more engaged with their community. Personally, it’s great to see how collaboration across sectors really does make a difference, humanising businesses more while putting the emphasis on people more than profit."

As an events hub, The Orchard has hosted more than 3,000 meetings and functions during the past year and welcoming many more people across the doorsteps of its six purpose-built meeting rooms. A third of those visits have taken place since its reopening in early May following an extensive 10-month renovation.

"It’s also such a cool space to work in," added Van Paassen. "People always comment on the plants and the working environment, but the real feel of the place definitely comes from the people who work here."

One of those is Stephen Grant-Jones, a digital marketer and long-term Orchardist, who joined only a couple of weeks after it opened in 2016. "There were very few people here when I first started - in fact, there were even times when I felt like the only person in the building," he recalled. "But I thought that a collaborative workspace was a really interesting concept, and before long the place started to grow and get more of a vibe.

"Fortunately, the people from Northland Inc were really friendly, approachable and inclusive, and I soon became involved in a campaign they were working on. I suppose from that moment on, I never looked back. A creative environment is just so conducive to getting things done and increasing productivity.

"The Orchard has grown enormously in three years, to the point that it’s now a hive of activity with hundreds of events and people hot-desking - a real incubator for budding local businesses and innovators. The whole thing just clicks. A collaborative business space is definitely the way to go."


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