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Just before The Business Hive opened in 2018, co-director Cara Tipping Smith made a speech saying “whatever we open with on day one will be different in three years’ time”.

Never has a truer word been spoken.

The co-working space in Oamaru’s Ribble St is on the move to Thames St – and it is tripling in size.

Ms Tipping-Smith and co-director Alex Regtien said it was important to “blend and fit in” with the needs of the people who were using The Business Hive and meet a growing demand.

The exterior of 120 Thames St has had a new lick of paint, and extensive work is under way to develop the two-storey interior. Everything was on track for a June opening, Mr Regtien said.

Conversations about a move started after last year’s lockdown, when social distancing at the Ribble St building was difficult, due to its shape and size, and they wanted to be more visible in Oamaru.

“We kind of went, we either go and costs too much money’ or we go work better’,” Ms Tipping Smith said.

The Thames St building – which previously housed Waitaki Financial Services and Real Classic Rock radio station – ”had a lot going for it”, Mr Regtien said.

Its size meant The Business Hive could offer more services and facilities, such as private office spaces and meeting rooms, and more hot desking, which had reached capacity for at Ribble St. It would also have a dedicated training room, and a treatment room for people in the health space.

As much as The Business Hive provided flexible, affordable office space for freelancers, the self-employed and start-up companies, it was about more than just the walls. The real beauty was bringing a variety of people together and letting their ideas collide, she said.

Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Regtien and Ms Tipping Smith were optimistic about Oamaru’s future – and the future of co-working spaces.

Even as technology continued to improve, and more organisations had successfully introduced working from home after lockdown, The Business Hive had only continued to get busier.

“Because I actually think it’s the social stuff that makes people keep wanting to come. The convenience of it is all well and good, but just that one person walks to get a coffee and then people go actually me too’ and it’s broken your day up a little bit and you still get your work done,” she said.

“It’s just a great way of getting the best of both worlds.”

Oamaru architect Virginia Barlow had designed the new space, Design Federation was looking after the interiors and David Ovens was managing the project.

“It’s all local – it’s all local people,” Ms Tipping Smith said.

“You name it, I feel like we’re touching everybody.”

Mr Regtien and Ms Tipping Smith moved to Oamaru four years ago. Mr Regtien was working for Downer when Ms Tipping Smith pitched the idea of The Business Hive to him.

“I’d worked in co-working spaces in the UK, because I was a copywriter, and when I landed here, there just wasn’t any business support,” she said.

“There wasn’t anywhere to go. I didn’t know how to meet other freelancers. My work, my clients were in Auckland, if they were in New Zealand, and there were a few overseas.

“I got involved in community stuff, because I needed to find my own friends. Alex was making friends at work, but who wants to be the cling-on girlfriend?

“So that’s actually where it all started.”

It was exciting to see how the business had grown over the past three years, and they “can’t wait” to move into the new Thames St building.