Business incubator to come to downtown Brooksville

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HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Businesses across the country were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, leaving several buildings in different communities sitting vacant for months.

The Jennings building in the heart of downtown Brooksville, has sat empty since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. It use to be home to a law office, a hardware store and most recently Lugo’s, a hispanic restaurant. 

What You Need To Know

  • Idaho-based business looking to renovate empty Brooksville buildings
  • Innovation Collective is operated by Nick Smooth
  • Group rehabbing empty Jennings Building in downtown Brooksville

An Idaho based organization will soon bring their innovative ideas to Hernando County, and help fill empty spaces also giving small businesses an opportunity to shine.

“We are a company that helps communities across America rebuild their economies,” said Nick Smooth is the President and CEO of Innovation Collective. 

Since starting Innovation Collective in 2013, Smooth and his team has helped business leaders thrive in over 100 communities.

“I wanted to start Innovation Collective simply because I had noticed a trend where cities had plans on how to fix economies but it didn’t focus on engaging the community members in something that they found joy in,” Smooth said.  

With help from local businesses and partners on the ground like community lead Sam Eshelman, the company scopes out empty buildings in small downtown areas and renovates them

Innovation Collective, in business since 2013, is now renovating a downtown Brooksville building. (Katya Guilluame, Spectrum News staff)

“The belief is that the greatest innovations that are going to come up are from unlikely people in unlikely places and so that’s why we’re here in Brooksville trying to do this,” Eshelman said.  

The team gets community members and business owners with a vision together for a series of events and talk about how they can come together to help their community grow

Smooth said, “We’ve seen definitely demand on people wanting to start up start-ups, businesses, some people coming up with creative ways just to stay alive.” 

They find empty buildings and use them as some sort of incubator for small businesses. “We come into a community and we deploy a three year model,” Smoot said about how his business works. 

Eshelman added, “It’s all about just creating a space, creating a culture where people can share business ideas and we can actually work with each other collaboratively to create businesses out of those ideas.” 

The end goal is to hopefully have downtown Brooksville thrive with a lot of stand-alone small businesses within the next few years. 

Innovation Collective seeks out business owners with visions from over 70 events they put on throughout the year. 

They are expecting to break ground in Brooksville within the next 30 days, with a possible 10-12 months completion date.

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