LA GRANDE — La Grande’s downtown creative hub, hq, has expanded into an adjacent storefront.
The business at 112 Depot St. provides an event space and media studio. It also has been home to partners Cold Coffee Media and Eastern Oregon Film Festival. Chris Jennings, hq cofounder, said the two entities plus hq’s administrative offices have moved into 116 Depot St., the former storefront for Goss Family Jewelers.
“We put in word if they ever relocated we would be interested,” Jennings said.
The jewelry store closed operations in La Grande in November. Jennings said hq and its partner operations were quick to jump into the space.
“And make sure there wasn’t another downed store front, especially next to us.” he said.
But the move also brings Jennings full circle. Cold Coffee Media, a digital media and creative marketing firm, began at 116 Depot nearly 13 years ago. EOFF also originated from the space and has since grown into a nationally recognized event. Relocating into the site, Jennings said, is “in line with what I always wanted to do.”
With the business and partner offices next door, Jennings said hq is making the event space available to individuals and small groups as a creative production studio. The space has a host of audio and video recording/streaming equipment, and a complete lighting package and more. The equipment has been central this year to hq’s live streaming musical performances, Three Song Sets, the final of which was Dec. 11.
On top of this, he said, 116 Depot is a fun place.
In the previous iteration, Cold Coffee Media partnered with local artists to create Satellite Gallery. Jennings said that idea has a fresh start at 116 Depot, where local artists and craftspeople can display their works on the front windows.
In 2021, he explained, hq aims to rent the display windows to a local artist or vendor on a monthly basis, providing artists an opportunity to showcase their work downtown. Cold Coffee Media also has created a portal for artists to sell their work online at lagrande.life/products.
Moving offices next door, he also said, has served as a good reminder of the value of store fronts. Dark windows can send a negative message to visitors and prospective businesses, he said, while keeping store fronts interesting can itself generate interest.
“It shows activity,” Jenning said. “It shows engagement.”
Indeed, moments after making that statement, a mother and daughter came into hq’s new headquarters to check out the scene.
Like other operations, 2020 was hard on hq and the Eastern Oregon Film Festival, which went virtual because of the coronavirus. The film festival received a grant of $5,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation and more than $27,000 in Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support funds via the Oregon Cultural Trust. Jennings said the funds help offset the festival’s losses.
EOFF and hq also applied to Union County for federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security funding for COVID-19 relief.
The county board voted Friday, Dec. 18, to give $735,409 in the aid to 94 Union County businesses. Jennings said he is waiting to hear if the festival and hq made the cut.
He also said EOFF has more plans in the works for 2021, including a filmmaker residency program.