Jerry Twombly

Jerry Twombly

In my book You Snooze, You Lose (available at I speak to the changing attitudes that are driving the “new economy” and the entrepreneurial opportunities it has created.

The global economic crisis has drawn people together in ways that hasn’t been seen in over 70 years.   The arrogant independence that characterized so much of western culture in the past has been displaced by a growing trend to community.  Bigger is no longer seen as better.  Total strangers are talking to one another and are searching out comfortable venues where they no longer feel as vulnerable or alone.

For the past six years, The Service Station has become an integral part of building community within the city of Spokane, Washington.   The centerpiece of this 20,000 square foot facility is an open and inviting coffee café that seats 135.  Enhanced by fireplaces, comfortable seating, and warm décor The Service Station attracts 20,000 patrons each month.  Private meeting spaces, offices, and a 5,000 square foot performing arts area complete the facility.

The Service Station is a non-profit organization that commits all of its profits to support organizations within the community.   It is the preferred meeting place for people of all ages, a connecting point that is filled from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM seven days a week.   The facility hosts conferences, conventions, concerts, and special events that include everything from Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, school proms, fund-raising events to weekly service club meetings, a Sunday inter-denominational service, receptions, reunions, and funerals.

The focal point of the facility is service.  Service Station employees have made serving an art form reflected in not only the customer experience but in the profits that are channeled to support nearly 20 different non-profits reaching out to those in need in the greater Spokane area.  Even the profits from the coffee served at The Service Station have been used to build clinics, schools, and churches in Ethiopia.   Rebate checks have been distributed to growers from the profits of nearly 8 tons of coffee sold each year at The Service Station enabling them to purchase plantations and create a jointly owned Co-Op.

The Service Station model provides opportunities for community teenagers to work in one of several micro-business.  They earn money for the work they do and the profits of micro-businesses are pooled and placed into a Scholarship Trust Fund.  These monies are distributed to high school graduates in the form of scholarships for continuing education or vocational training.

Success in Spokane has resulted in a national initiative to establish similar facilities throughout the United States.   The availability of vacant “big boxes” in cities throughout the country has made it financially feasible for virtually any size community to have their own Service Station.  The Service Station tagline, “a center for serving communities worldwide,” reflects our intention to redefine the concept of community centers as places where people of all ages can gather, experience meaningful relationships, and have the assurance of knowing that the profits they help create are supporting non-profits committing to build community infrastructure.   Five different models are being presented to communities ranging in size from 800 square feet to 150,000 square feet.

Jerry Twombly is the Founder and Senior Partner of the BGW Development Group.   He has authored ten books including You Snooze, You Lose and Funding Your Vision.   He lives in Indianapolis, IN with his wife Susan.  You can learn more about Jerry on his blog: He can be reached via email at:

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