Running your own business can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to finding an office space or store front. Working from home is an option, but with business calls and video conferencing, it would be ideal to have a more professional background than your living room.
Enter the Almost Local Business Hub in downtown Marlinton.
Owned by Tracy Samples and Angie Hoffman, the Hub is a place for small businesses or new upstarts to have a professional office to use as their base of operation.
“It came about kind of organically over a few years because Angie needed a place for her psychology practice, and we always thought about this concept of providing a local business hub where people could start a business or enhance the business they already have,” Samples said. “It finally just got to the point where this building became available, and we saw it almost as an investment in the community because we want to see people start businesses here or grow their business here.”
Through their own experiences with meeting individuals who would love to live in Pocahontas County but are unsure they could operate a business here, Sample and Hoffman saw a need for the Hub.
“We think that the people in Pocahontas County are very industrious,” Samples said. And we know that people come here every year to go skiing or biking or hunting, and we talk to so many people who say to us, ‘I wish I could figure out a way to live here full time.’ We think this is an opportunity where people could do business remotely and work out of this particular space and be able to make Pocahontas County their home – like we’ve been able to make it our home.”
Hoffman was the first to set up shop in the Hub with her practice, MindEase Solutions.
“MindEase Solutions is a mental health practice,” she said. “Services I provide include individual and family therapy, couples therapy, psychological evaluations. I do a good bit of work with the court system, and we also provide services for Pocahontas County Day Report center. I oversee mental health services for them and their classroom instruction.”
Hoffman also provides video therapy sessions and is an insurance provider for most insurance companies that provide services in Pocahontas County.
Samples is the human resources manager at the Green Bank Observatory, but is also passionate about the Hub and its endless possibilities.
“Angie really runs the business down here,” she said. “I’m just a co-owner and enthusiast. I’m a silent – not-so-silent – investor. I think for us it’s become a passion to get this thing going and invest in downtown and invest in the county. We truly believe this is the kind of thing that will help people get started.”
The Hub offices are available by the day, hour, half-hour, or through a monthly lease. The Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce has a permanent lease, while other businesses have used the offices in a less permanent fashion.
“People can rent it for the day, for the week – if you’re going to be in town – like Shentel, for example, did a push in the community to try to get people to sign up for the programs that they have and they used the offices,” Samples said. “It would be the perfect opportunity for the businesses to come in and work out of a professional space for a week and be able to have a store front where people can come in and talk.”
The Hub is also a great place for people with side projects or part-time jobs to have office space.
“Even people who have what I call side-gigs – selling Avon or Thirty-One or something like that – they may want to be at a store front for a day where people can come in to do an order or pick up their items. This would be a great place for that to happen,” Samples said. “We hope they take advantage of that.”
The number one question about this new business is, “What’s with the name?”
“We get this question a lot about why is it the Almost Local Business Hub,” Samples said. “It’s like Almost Heaven – Almost Local. Even though I moved here in 1994, when people asked ‘where are you from’ and even though I’m from West Virginia, I would say, ‘I’m not from here, but I grew up in West Virginia.’ And they’d say, ‘well, you’re almost local.’”
Hoffman went through the same situation. She moved to Pocahontas County in 2006 and seemed so much like a local, it surprised “real” locals when she said she was from another part of the state.
People often ask Hoffman when she graduated from high school, and say they don’t remember her. Hoffman tells them its because she didn’t go to school here.
“They say, ‘I always thought you were local,’ Hoffman laughs. “No, just almost.”
Despite not being from here, both agree Pocahontas County is home and where they are meant to be.
“I think that’s how we feel about it,” Hoffman said. “This is home, and this is where we want to invest and grow and help other people do the same.”
Hoffman is at the Hub, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested in renting at the facility may contact Hoffman at 304-992-7355 or online at www.AlmostLocalHub.biz
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org