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Business growth continues in Hernando County despite economic slowdown

Despite the economic downturn, work continues on business projects in Hernando, including Regent Oaks on Spring Hill Drive, which will have about 90,000 square feet of space.

RON THOMPSON | Times

Despite the economic downturn, work continues on business projects in Hernando, including Regent Oaks on Spring Hill Drive, which will have about 90,000 square feet of space.

Three years ago, there was talk of a Linens 'n Things and a Starbucks coming to Hernando County.

Today, there are two Starbucks, but Linens 'n Things has come and gone.

A lot has happened in the retail sector in Hernando County since 2006. And despite a recession, there are still some businesses opening.

"A lot of what were seeing in the area, particularly the big-box retail, was already in the pipeline," said Mike McHugh, the county's director of business development.

"Commercial projects take years to get done," McHugh added. "A lot of this was pipelined. We don't see it being refilled like it was."

One new business slated to open in June is an Express Oil Change franchise near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Cortez Blvd. in Brooksville

"We're suitable for any economic condition," said Kent Feazell, senior vice president of development for Express Oil Change. "We consider our business recession-resistant."

There are nearly 170 Express Oil Change company and franchise locations in nine states. They are generally located around other retail businesses, and site selection is done carefully.

Company officials spent two years looking for the right place before deciding on Brooksville.

"From our research, most people get their oil changed as an afterthought," Feazell said.

The company averages a 10-minute oil change while customers wait in their cars. If additional work is needed, there is a full-service department.

Express Oil Change currently has two stores up and running in Brandon. They hope to open as many as eight to 10 stores in the Tampa Bay area in the next five years.

With new stores come jobs. Express Oil Change typically opens with six full-time employees and offers benefits. As the volume grows, so does the number of employees.

It's difficult to know exactly how many jobs other new retail outlets might bring.

"Five Guys (Burgers and Fries) is slated to open next to the Starbucks on State Road 50, and a CVS and RaceTrac station are still planned for Spring Hill Drive and U.S. 41," said Buddy Selph of Tommie Dawson Realty.

Hernando County's second Target store, next to Kohl's on Spring Hill Drive just east of the Suncoast Parkway, will open this summer, said McHugh.

A new Publix store is planned at the Suncoast Parkway and County Line Road, and Best Buy, the Sports Authority, Office Depot and Ross all are preparing to open stores just south of the new JCPenney store on U.S. 19, south of Spring Hill Drive.

"Those are the rays of hope," said local Realtor Gary Schraut. "People want to move to Hernando County and do business here."

"We have three serious needs right now: jobs, jobs, and jobs," he added. "Today we have to be more competitive than ever in order to lure business here."

Fast facts

What's coming?

• Five Guys (Burgers and Fries) is slated to open next to the Starbucks on State Road 50.

• A Target store will open next to Kohl's on Spring Hill Drive just east of the Suncoast Parkway this summer.

• Best Buy, the Sports Authority, Office Depot and Ross all are preparing to open stores south of the new JCPenney store on U.S. 19, south of Spring Hill Drive.

Business growth continues in Hernando County despite economic slowdown 02/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 2009 12:14pm]

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