Poolie Time Change branches into new web site – supporting much more native companies

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A not for profit hub that helps new and small businesses in Hartlepool is growing due to the popularity of the services.

The Poolie Time Exchange supports local business owners from the newly designed Bovis House and offers them one-on-one advice and affordable business accommodation.

It’s part of a larger nonprofit called Big League Charity that started in 2014. This is a community-wide effort to alleviate poverty and create job opportunities in Hartlepool and the Tees Valley.

Founder Ian Cawley renovated and opened Bovis House (the former job center in Hartlepool) in June 2020 as a space for small and start-up businesses to grow.

The building has been inactive for the past 15 years, but is now home to a number of businesses including cosmetic specialists, a physiotherapist, an accounting firm, as well as a bespoke apparel manufacturer and professional photography studio.

Due to the location’s success, the team is branching out to a second location in the city center: Crown House on Avenue Road, which will serve 14 additional companies.

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Ian, 52, said: “We stumbled upon the Bovis site during the pandemic and adopted it as part of a long-term drive to make room for local businesses.

“Thanks to the help of volunteers, we got it up and running much faster than expected in about three months.”

The 16,000 square meter venue encompasses 28 units, all of which were filled with small or start-up businesses within a month.

This is also where the Poolie Time Emporium is located, a nonprofit store that sells quality furniture and other items at great prices.

Tom Cook, 31, who works full-time on the business side at Poolie Exchange, said, “Covid has changed everything. It was a pivotal moment when companies had to make big decisions.

“Some people had to move out of their homes into a bigger room, others struggling on the main street came to us to do a different type of shift.

“We offer lower rents than elsewhere, which gives difficult companies a big boost.”

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Tom sadly lost his father to Covid and said, “It’s been a terrible time for a lot of people, but it has given companies the opportunity to at least reevaluate.

“The Bovis and Crown locations gave people the space and opportunity to make difficult decisions.

“The acceptance was really unbelievable, we didn’t expect the rooms to fill up so quickly and there is also a good mix of companies with 95% female directors.

“Yes, there may be a certain impermanence for companies, but we welcome that – we want to help them develop larger locations and grow.”