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Ethos Project

15th March 2008
Ethos Project

Rowland Jones of Rowland Jones Chartered Surveyors, explains why SA1’s Ethos Project will mean ‘business heaven’ for SME’s.

When we moved from a Victorian building in the town centre to a brand new office suite in the Morgan Cole Building at SA1, we knew there’d be changes. Easier car-parking and stunning views of the Marina made a big difference! But the most noticeable and completely unexpected change was the way in which our business was suddenly being perceived by others. We were punching above our weight – and winning.

Operating from a suite of offices in a prestigious new building with shared reception and conference facilities certainly impressed our regular clients, but we were also beginning to attract exciting new business challenges. Networking was a hundred per cent more effective and we were spurred on to develop the firm in ways we had never considered previously.

It occurred to me and my Associates, Jon Rance (Rockfield Software) and Meirion Howells (Meirion Howells Project Management), that if relocating to a state-of-the-art office suite in SA1 can have such an impact on the growth of a business, then there must be hundreds of SME’s out there who would be keen to follow suit if only they were able to afford it. Many of them are operating from domestic properties which could only be promoting the wrong image. Working from prestigious offices on the Waterfront could not only help them improve their client base but even aid recruitment.

Ethos – meaning ‘the distinctive character, spirit and attitude of a group of people,’ – seemed an appropriate name for the project we conceived. Our mission is to offer SME’s a chance to become owner/occupiers of purpose-built office space in the heart of SA1 enabling them to grow their businesses alongside the big players and international corporates. Something they might find almost impossible to achieve independently.

The concept behind Ethos is quite simple. If it’s possible to own just one flat in a building and share the cost of communal facilities, then it must be possible to own just one office. SME’s can then pool their finances to arrange in-house events for everyone’s benefit, such as Health and Safety courses, IT upgrades or management skills training. Using the combined knowledge and experience of other businesses locating within Ethos, SME’s will be able to network, promote and market their business with all the back up services they might need. It makes economic sense.

You could almost call it a kind of ‘business heaven’.

The Ethos Group Ltd. has commissioned a stunning building which will accommodate up to fifteen businesses. The total cost of the project will be near £6.2million and is securing Objective One funding and support from the Welsh Assembly Government (WDA). Building work starts in soon and several businesses have already signed up, attracted not just by the opportunities already outlined, but also by the decision to incorporate ‘environmental best practice’ both in the construction of the building and in the way that health and well-being will be promoted. For example, anyone who might wish to cycle to work will find bike storage facilities and showers.

Apart from the 32,000 sq ft of office space, the building will also have approximately 7,500 sq ft of purposely designed business networking areas and it’s this aspect that excites us most. Successful networking is the key to growth and SME’s will be able to meet other established SA1 businesses along with potential clients in the purposely designed business café, or in the hightech business lounge or even on the summer podium overlooking the busy marina. There’ll be break out room space for launches, receptions and exhibitions and access to an all important conference suite complete with the latest video-conferencing and presentation facilities.

Access to a facility of this standard will enable exciting businesses already established in Swansea, partly through the Technium Programme, to maintain and improve their growth adding to the vibrancy in the Swansea Bay economy.

All our occupiers are companies targeted for growth and by encouraging, and more importantly enabling SME’s to locate in SA1, the Ethos Project will provide a healthy business balance for the whole development.

Swansea’s small businesses can have a piece of the Waterfront action and an opportunity to show not just their existing customers but all those potential new clients exactly what they’re capable of.