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Thursday, January 27, 2022
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CARES funding benefiting startups, existing businesses

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Economic Development Director Valerie Pianta reported that the county’s Let’s Grow Hernando program, funded by the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act will be using the services of Innovation Collective (IC), an organization based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho that has recently established a presence in Brooksville.  IC is listed as a contractor on the county’s agreement with Let’s Grow Hernando.

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An agreement between the county and Let’s Grow Hernando commits the county to 50% of the costs associated with this agreement over a three year period of time, a cost not to exceed $475,000.00. Let’s Grow Hernando will charge the IC a flat fee of $124,245 for services already performed.

The focus of the joint effort is on “entrepreneurship, providing feedback on new products and services during their development phase, business incubation, modernized workforce preparation, job creation and building an inclusive community.”

Both Innovation Collective and Let’s Grow Hernando will be reporting monthly to the Office of Economic Development.

The activities that Let’s Grow and IC will deliver to the community are listed in the agreement as  “Stakeholder Engagement,” “Summit,” “Social Infrastructure Mapping,” “Coffee & Concepts Meetings,” “Think Big Festival,”  and “Fireside Chats.” 

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In October 2020,  BOCC approved $382,441 in CARES Act funds for Innovation Collective for training of approximately 100 people adversely affected by COVID-19 in the field of Information Technology (IT). Innovation Collective offered an 80-day program designed for people with no prior Information Technology (IT) training. 

Innovation Collective has set up shop in the Jennings Building in downtown Brooksville.

During this meeting, Pianta also provided an update on phase 3 of the Small Business Recovery Grant through CARES. The $2.6 million grant was awarded in phases, and several area businesses have benefited from the funds.  705 area businesses were approved out of 756 submissions, resulting in $2.46 million infused into the local economy.  Each grant was $3,500 per business. 

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