By Shandra Martinez | Mlive
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- A Grand Rapids Internet company is offering free, temporary work space to small businesses displaced by historic flooding levels that have soaked many homes and offices throughout West Michigan.
Iserv CEO Rich Koch said he wants to open unused work space at his company’s headquarters and data center, at 5222 33rd St. SE to assist small businesses in need.
There’s enough room for several business to operate in the 25,000-square-feet of built-out office space outfitted with cubicles, phones, high-speed Internet connectivity, copiers and even a kitchen, Koch said.
“We are offering people the ability to set up shop here,” said Koch, whose Boston-area telecom start-up 382 Communications Corp. bought the longtime Grand Rapids business located near the Gerald R. Ford Airport last year.
Iserv, which Koch describes as one of the largest independent Internet service providers in the Midwest, also has onsite data storage and colocation space available for businesses that take him up on his offer.
“We know that several of our fellow local companies and organizations are struggling to carry on business as usual as a result of the recent flooding in West Michigan,” said Tracy Pryce, Iserv director of customer relations. “We’re happy to offer our support in the form of space and Internet access to those in need.”
Space and services are available on a first-call first-helped basis. For more information, contact Iserv at (616) 493-3720.
The now employee-owned company has increased its Grand Rapids staff to 30, after doubling its sales force and adding a round-the-clock customer service call center. Iserv has evolved from a residential ISP to a full-service provider serving businesses and homes throughout the Midwest with more than 10,000 residential and commercial customers.
“With all of the new services offered by Iserv, such as Hosted Voice and Enterprise Wireless, the need for more sales staff was a natural growth scenario,” said Jeff Potter, Iserv director of business development. “We also feel it’s important to get our message out toWest Michigan that Iserv is offering great services at great prices.”
Koch said the company just came up with the idea to turn the unused office space into a disaster recovery center when West Michigan was hit by flood levels not seen in more than a century. “We also have a warehouse and a loading dock available,” Koch said. “We are trying to be good neighbors and offer a helping hand.”
“I just came from Boston, and we know what to do if a lot of people are stranded. You take them in and help them,” said Koch, referring to the Boston residents who opened their homes to runners who couldn’t immediately get home after the Boston Marathon bombings.
The company’s office in the Boston suburb of Quincy, where 15 Iserv employees work, was shut down on Friday - along with Wolverine Worldwide’s Boston-area facility - during a citywide manhunt for the second alleged bomber.
“It’s been quite a tense week,” said Koch. “We are bringing that Boston-strong spirit here. You need help.We can do it.”
Koch says the company is committed to giving back to its community, which is why Iserv is providing the city of Grand Rapids free Wi-Fi service for Rosa Parks Circle beginning this summer.
“As we make money, we are investing it here,” said Koch.