Central Office – Channel
As anyone with even a casual presence on LinkedIn knows, the working world for many people has fundamentally changed. Conference rooms have been swapped with Zoom, the small talk of a coworker in the next cubicle is now the low hum of a toddler’s TV program, and the breakroom coffee machine has lost its place to the forgotten mug still in the microwave. While many workers have fully embraced the flexibility of the remote lifestyle, there is oftentimes a downside to losing an environment of natural camaraderie and collaboration.
Here in Wilmington, three of the most recent additions for shared space are putting the “co” back in “coworking,” especially for women in professional fields and entrepreneurship.
- Bash Pad: To read more about Alexis Perry and Bash Pad, click here.
- Elevate Coworking: Click here to learn about Maggie Blackham and Elevate Coworking.
- Channel: Learn more about Chakema Clinton-Quintana and Channel below.
Both The Bash Pad and Elevate, in some way or another, started with the question: Can I do this? Channel, a Live Oak Bank small business center specializing in serving minority entrepreneurs, is helping to make sure business owners in Wilmington answer that with an emphatic yes.
“We’ll get a lot of, ‘Do I have what it takes?’” says CHAKEMA CLINTON-QUINTANA, vice president of inclusive small business for Live Oak Bank and head of Channel. “The answer is yes – I mean who am I to kill anyone’s dream?”
Headquartered in Wilmington, Live Oak Bank specializes in SBA loans and is one of the area’s largest employers. While the concept of Channel had been sparked in 2020, the team opened its doors November 15, 2021.
Walking into Channel is like walking into your best friend’s house if your best friend had impeccable taste and was also an expert in capital and finance. As CLAIRE PARKER, head of corporate communications for the bank, puts it, “We have a very relaxed approach, but we are relentless in our pursuit of making sure people have what they need to achieve small business excellence.”
The space is instantly inviting, with vibrant art, natural light, and the warm welcome of Clinton-Quintana and her counterpart, inclusive small business specialist JAMAR JENKINS. Those looking to get some work done have their choice between multiple coworking tables, comfortable purple couches, a training space, and even private offices available for productivity hours or client meetings.
“Any small business owner who has signed up with us can call and tell me they need an office space, and as long as it’s available it’s theirs,” Clinton-Quintana says. “If you want to bring pictures and put it on the desk and make it look like it’s your office for two hours – have at it. We want you to be able to meet with your clients in a space that is welcoming.”
Whether it’s asking the right questions to flesh out an idea, helping to secure an LLC, or just answering what banks are looking for from a small business, Channel offers a haven for ensuring the needs of a future small-business owner are met.
“It’s technical assistance like helping get access to the right capital,” Clinton-Quintana says. “But it’s also coaching, it’s offering an entrepreneur community, and it’s really all about that trust meeting the business owner where they are.”
At Channel, TASHA MILLS, owner of Not a Speck Cleaning Services, transformed from the quiet, trepidatious, and hopeful business owner to the confident entrepreneur who says things like, “Now if someone tries to talk down my business or give me the runaround, I speak up for myself. Jamar and Chakema helped me get there ‘cause here you have this warmth. It’s not just a paycheck to them.”
106 Market Street, Suite 200 | liveoakbank.com/channel
To view more of photographer Madeline Gray’s work, go to madelinegrayphoto.com.
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