“It was all a dream” reads the glowing neon words etched on a wall inside the Dream Center at 5927 W. Chicago Avenue.
The business center, located in Austin’s Soul City Corridor, aims to help entrepreneurs go beyond dreaming and bring their business ideas to reality.
“It all starts with a dream and an idea, but sometimes people just don’t know how to turn those dreams into a reality. So we want to take the guesswork out of it,” said Marseil Jackson, the Dream Center’s CEO. “We’re trying to help as many people as we can. It’s all about economic development.”
The Dream Center is a co-working space that offers business support services; there are membership packages to assist both established businesses and those just starting out.
Some of their support offerings include consulting, grant writing, social media marketing, graphic design and “business in a box”— a service that includes everything needed to launch a business. The center also offers virtual offices, virtual assistants and business phone lines.
“There are so many entrepreneurs in Austin, at-home business owners that don’t need an office space, don’t need a commercial space, but they also shouldn’t be doing business out of their home,” Jackson said.
“There’s a lot of liability that you run into when you’re running your business out of home. You don’t get the access to capital that you deserve or should have access to when you’re running a business and using a home address.”
The Dream Center currently works with 39 businesses, some located on-site and others making use of virtual services.
On-site members have access to dedicated desks, private offices, the conference/training room, a backyard patio, and the opportunity to collaborate and work with other entrepreneurs.
Nyela Malone, CEO and clinical director of Lotus Healing LLC, uses the Dream Center as a West Side location for her private therapy practice.
“I think it’s great for new businesses because it puts them in a space where they can connect with others to gain networking opportunities and possibly resources, and coordinate the exchange of goods and services,” Malone said.
“We [Lotus Therapy] also work with business owners, because everybody’s mental health needs are important. So it’s been an incredible opportunity, because I’ve been able to connect with other people that can benefit from the services,” she said.
Mac Movers, a moving company and U-Haul dealer, uses the Dream Center as an office space.
“When you’re a new business owner you want to try to avoid a lot of overhead. It helps me in a good sense because it eliminates the extra expenses. It’s good office space, and it’s a very good networking connection,” said David McCall, president of Mac Movers Inc.
“I can actually functionally run a business without having to worry about you know paying a light bill, paying a gas bill. It really takes the headache away,” McCall said.
The Dream Center adds to the growing number of businesses opening in Austin, particularly in the Soul City Corridor.
“I think it helps with raising awareness that we can do more than just work jobs, but we can also have businesses,” Malone said.
“It revitalizes the community to see businesses on Chicago Avenue making a difference and providing services that the community can use.”