Computer service business is 'at home' in Soulsville

With the help of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and Alt Consulting, the Soulsville neighborhood will soon have a one-stop shop for repairs of laptops, desktops, tablets and cell phones.
By the end of April, @Home Computer Service will occupy about 200-sq. ft. at 991 Mississippi Blvd. at the corner of Walker Ave., just across the street from famed restaurant, The Four Way Grill.
“We’re trying to provide affordable, reliable technology and support for people who might not be able to find it in the neighborhood,” said Michael Patno, owner of @Home Computer Service. “It’s a pretty underserved area here for things like that.”
@Home Computer Service has been operating in Midtown, currently at 1800 Union Ave., for 18 years. Patno purchased the business over two years ago and he and three techs service computers in the shop and at clients’ residences, as well as handling the repair needs of businesses. They also offer low cost, refurbished equipment for sale.
The MEMFix event held last November activated two blocks along Mississippi and resulted in bump-out curbs at the intersection to ease pedestrian use, and selected vacant space to be better utilized by needed businesses. Through the MEMShop program, Patno’s business will have six months to incubate in the spot with the Innovation Delivery Team subsidizing the first three months rent and offering a grant for tenant improvements. Patno says he’ll spend close to $3,000 on renovations.
“We’re leasing this space and the space next door in the hopes that businesses can test themselves here and hopefully find that they want to stay,” said Abby Miller of the Innovation Delivery Team. Of the four MEMShop participants on Broad Ave. last year, three are still in business there while the fourth is negotiating a lease in Overton Square.
After the MEMFix event, the Innovation Delivery Team had 15 businesses submit applications for the two available spaces. A panel comprised of Soulsville residents and economic development organizations throughout the city explored what sort of businesses were most needed in the area and computer servicing was one of the top contenders.
Alt Consulting is the local partner of the Innovation Delivery Team and provides customized, one-on-one technical assistance of financial statements, marketing and lease negotiations to MEMShop participants.
Patno says many from the neighborhood already travel, many by bus, to him in Midtown and a closer office will ease that commute.
“In the Soulsville area, around 90-percent of the dollars, what’s called ‘economic leakage’, the dollars spent on goods and services, actually leaves the community because there’s a lack of access to basic retail services,” Miller said. “So we think by bringing businesses here, people will be able to spend their money in their neighborhood.”
Patno said he has also talked with an information technology professor at nearby LeMoyne-Owen College about the possibility of offering internships and discounts on goods and services for students.

By Richard J. Alley
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