Free space at Windchime

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It’s not often a CSBJ reader picks up the phone or e-mails to single out the owner or manager of a local business for actions “above and beyond.”

In this case, it’s the London Real Estate Group, managers of the Windchime Business Center just west of Interstate 25 and West Woodmen Road, and broker Mike Heritage, who are offering free office space to small business owners and start-up companies.

“I met Mike at a seminar for laid off executives a few weeks ago,” said Lisa Juhl. “There are people out there who have not only lost their houses to foreclosure, but for some home-based businesses, their offices as well.”

Jim Zorman, a partner in the London Real Estate Group, said that the 66,244-square-foot center is 85 percent occupied, better than many office and retail centers around town.

“The owner, like us, believes that keeping the center full adds to the vitality of his investment — and believes that it’s important to stay optimistic about the market,” he said.

Such perks are a way to keep money coming in, said Gary Hubbard, who owns a Fresno, Calif.-based shopping center and was interviewed by PlainVanillaShell.com last week.

“Rather than let his units sit empty, Hubbard is offering free rent to qualified start-up companies, giving a break to cash-strapped entrepreneurs,” the Web site reported. “The retired dean of a college community education program in the Bay Area said that during previous recessions, he watched laid-off workers flock to the college’s Small Business Institute, hoping to start their own businesses.”

For Juhl, a former East Coast agency marketing director who joined Checks Unlimited when her family moved to the area two years ago, but was laid off, the offer could be life-changing.

“My friends and I are now in the camp of ‘maybe this is the time’ to open small businesses,” she said.