The building at 410 Main St. has a purpose again after sitting vacant for 12 years before Tad Ballantyne, president of PW Partners Inc., bought the building in December for $165,000.
Several media-related companies already occupy the second and third floor. But the excitement around the first floor space — called The Offices at 410 Main — created a buzz at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday night. In a few weeks the finishing touches will be made on the first floor. The intention behind the collaborative space: to pull in media-related businesses that will have access to investors and give downtown Racine a shot in the arm.
“We see this as an opportunity to collaborate, we call it the Racine 100,” Ballantyne said. “We’re going to build space here and it will include a coffee shop… We’ve gone around to several businessmen and we asked them if they would be willing to come in on your lunch hour to do a Q&A session, so that they could ask questions about their business model, whatever it is — a product or an idea — and nobody turned me down.”
Those business owners also said they would be open to financially backing some of those businesses. There will also be a pit where business owners would have to defend their idea or their concept to those within the membership.
Racine Mayor John Dickert said that having a makers space will help bring innovation into the city.
“When people ask me what’s happening in the city of Racine I say: The 21st century and it is right in front of you,” he said. “We have people who grew up in Racine that have come back to help build this company.”
Dickert said large developers asked him about whether Racine had a makers’ space, which will allow people to create businesses out of their ideas.
“It is time for us to turn the corner on the negativity in this town and start talking about all of the amazing things that are happening right here and all over downtown Racine,” Dickert said.
One of those people that moved to Racine is Ben Kasica, owner of Skies Fall Media Group. The company has called 410 Main St. home for four months. Kasica, the former guitarist for the band Skillet, said Skies Fall was a continuation of his music career. The company produces video, film and documentaries.
“We love it here… we love being downtown and being part of something in the city,” he said. “I’m an entrepreneur so I like starting things, getting them going and then moving on. There’s so much potential in this city and I feel called to help pull that potential out and make something of it.”
For more information about 410 Main, contact Missie Mauldin at (262) 902-0848.