With two new team members The Exchange Dubbo is gearing up for a year of growth and expansion.
Group Manager of The Exchange Alex Cowley who sits across both the Dubbo and Narrabri locations and manages the team who run The Exchange is ready for a big year.
"It's really exciting in 2023 as we look ahead, with a brand new team in Dubbo we are starting fresh with a lot of excitement and a new start," she said.
"We are in a really exciting place with our tenants as well, we are almost full, only a couple of private offices are left and we have some really interesting and diverse companies coming through our doors, so that's really exciting to see."
The Exchange is a community first co-working space, that provides the space and the resources for people to come and scale and operate their businesses.
"Ultimately we are here to support local and regional businesses with whatever they need, whether that be physical space or access to our network or being put in touch with someone else, we provide that support and resources," she said.
With a strong focus on providing "top notch, high quality" real-estate space for their customers, Ms Cowley said they would also be looking at delivering a number of different education in business and upskilling programs.
The Exchange first got started at the end of 2019, "right in time for COVID-19". That meant that a lot of their programs, masterclasses, learning lunches had to be put online.
"So we are trying to get some of those up and running in person this year," she said.
As the team looks to return to having a vibrant in-person hub, they are also looking to grow.
"We are continuing our search for the next location, we opened Narrabri and that site will have its first birthday this year, which is exciting," she said.
With a vision of 'growing to do more good' Ms Cowley would love to access and support more people.
"We are getting busier and busier and that's not just great for us but great for the people who use the space because they are continuously being exposed to and working alongside a range of businesses and a range of business people who are coming in to use the space for all kinds of things," she said.
Regional push and pull is what The Exchange is all about and having two new staff members make the move from Sydney back to a regional community excited Ms Cowley.
"They've made it their own from the very start and brought a real vision for taking The Exchange Dubbo and making it their own," she said.
"We are very exciting to have everybody on board."
Meet Abbey Downes
As the new customer experience officer Abbey Downes is one of the first people you'll meet when coming to The Exchange.
After completing a public relations degree at university in Sydney and working in the city, she found it wasn't for her.
Originally from Moree, Ms Downes wanted to get back to the country and knowing she had some friends in Dubbo, she made the move.
"I was looking around for jobs when The Exchange popped up," she said.
"I did love the communications part of my degree so it all fell into place."
Ms Downes is only working part time as she is going back to university to study primary teaching.
Despite only starting her job with The Exchange at the start of January she is already loving it.
"Everyone is so lovely and welcoming and there's a really good group of community spirit across the staff," she said.
Day to day you can find Ms Downes greeting people, making sure everyone has what they need, making sure the space is ready for the day, handling inquiries and ensuring people are having a good time.
"A lot of people still don't know what's available here and what we can do so I explain all that," she said.
"The customer experience comes in there, ensuring people are happy and working well and that sort of thing."
For the rest of 2023, Ms Downes hopes to find stability and balance in her new job and move, as well as excelling in university.
Welcome Kate O'Shaughnessy
Dubbo local Kate O'Shaughnessy has returned from her stint in Sydney to take on the role as The Exchange Manager.
While working in Sydney Ms O'Shaughnessy was just waiting for the right job to move back to Dubbo so she could use her Master of Business Association degree and relevant skills.
"This job came up and as soon as it did, I was like 'yes please'," she said, laughing.
"I think it suits, I really like the idea that we are giving back to the community and coming into work as a driver is a really nice thing to have and I have a soft spot for the Dubbo community. It works well."
With friends, family and a partner in Dubbo, it wasn't hard for her to leave her "fantastic" job in hospitality management.
"I was looking on and off but when it came up it fit so perfectly it was the decider...it also only takes five minutes to get to work rather than an hour," she said.
Ms O'Shaughnessy will be looking after the tenants at the site and coordinating with the community on the events the team will run.
"Part of what we do is give back to the community and small businesses to try and move them forward," she said.
"They come in here, we give them a space at a good rate and they grow and get bigger through the resources we supply, so my job is reading that and talking to people and making sure we supply the right resources for them to grow as a business."
Ms O'Shaughnessy said it can be isolating when starting a small business, so by creating a community within The Exchange it allows people to talk and be collaborative.
Something she found helpful when she used The Exchange to complete her MBA.
Ms O'Shaughnessy has big plans for The Exchange in 2023, with hopes of growing outside the walls of the business.
"We want to branch out and move forward, I think it's important to keep in contact with the community and we have a few more events happening, whether that be skilled events, networking or social events," she said.
"Personally I am looking for growth within using my degree and learning and getting to know the team here and making sure The Exchange moves forward together."