shows off the second floor of the Mayflower
building in Bemidji, Minn., which is being remodeled for TEAM Industries
Monte Draper/Forum News Service
-- After hosting a school, a church and a chocolate shop during its 114 years, the Mayflower Building is to be reborn one more time as the "front door to Bemidji."
Local economic development group Greater Bemidji bought the building in November, with funding from the city of Bemidji, the Neilson Foundation
and a range of other area organizations.
Next month, after $1.6 million in renovations and months of planning, Mayflower will finally be able to bear the fruit of Greater Bemidji Executive Director Dave Hengel's dreams: a place to host some of the cutting-edge tech and manufacturing companies that already call Bemidji home, and a place where entrepreneurs can nurture the seedlings of new ones.
"This is a community facility, this is not (just) Greater Bemidji's building at all," he
"This is a facility that this community came together for, and they ought to be proud of."
Hengel said the Greater Bemidji board of directors will meet today to decide a name for the new facility, but the board will likely continue the tradition of calling it the "Mayflower" after the Mayflower Transit Co. that once occupied it.
When it opens, Mayflower
will house offices for the product design department of machine part manufacturer TEAM Industries
, software/programming company EXB Solutions, Greater Bemidji
and rotating departments of Bemidji State University
In all, some 65 people will work inside the new facility, Hengel
In the large center atrium of the building, there will also be work stations called "The Launchpad" where individual business people can come into work, and a wall of video monitors where businesses and other groups can make presentations to visitors.
Paul Bunyan Communications
will donate much of the audio/visual equipment, including in the board room on the first floor that Hengel
called "the most high-tech room in Bemidji
Video monitors, lights and even the temperature can be controlled remotely via mobile phone or tablet, Hengel
A locally made table fashioned from 1,200 pounds of glass will have room for 25.
also will offer their new GigaZone gigabit Internet service to the businesses at the Mayflower
has the entire second floor, and Hengel
said they plan to encourage a Google-like atmosphere in their office: open space with comfortable couches and no assigned workstations.
EXB Solutions sometimes handles sensitive information --- such as when it fulfills Defense Department contracts -- so the company aims to have a low profile in their new space on the first floor.
The company doesn't plan to have signs on the outside of the building, and visitors to Mayflower
will have to check in with Greater Bemidji's
office near the front door before they can access the building, Hengel
The basement of Mayflower
is occupied by piles of unused florescent lights and stacks of architectural drawings.
said a number of young entrepreneurs from companies such as Bemidji Brewing
and AirCorps Aviation
have been meeting together over their mutual interest in the space.
It's ideal for startups since it's inexpensive, Hengel
said, and Greater Bemidji
is on board with the basement being used by companies trying to get their start.
"We're still trying to figure out the details of that, but we certainly would like to have that happen," he
The group of young entrepreneurs doesn't have a name yet but "they will soon," Hengel
About a third of the renovation costs to Mayflower
, originally built in 1901, consisted of HVAC and electrical installations, Hengel
praised Kraus Anderson, the building's previous owner, for its work maintaining the building.
"Kraus-Anderson did a wonderful job," he