In 2011, Jason Duff and his team got sick and tired of watching their hometown die. So they did something about it. Since buying their first building for $1 in Bellefontaine, Ohio, the Small Nation team has redeveloped over 15 empty or dilapidated buildings and helped to attract or establish over 30 new small businesses that have brought upwards of 200 new jobs to the area. They did it by buying smart, investing in people as well as places and partnering up.
They call their secret to success the “Hustle Hard Approach,” which includes buying and restoring historic buildings, actively recruiting the tenants, becoming equity partners or offering financing, helping those businesses design and promote themselves and providing mentorship along the way.
They believe their Hustle Hard Approach can be utilized by small town developers, entrepreneurs and municipalities across the country to help reach the same kind of revitalization success Bellefontaine has achieved. Today, Small Nation develops places, spaces and dreams for small towns and small-town entrepreneurs across the country. They currently offer mastermind consulting for groups, and will soon offer an online training program called SMALL B*SCHOOL featuring downloadable lessons, videos and workshops designed to help small businesses and small-town entrepreneurs learn how to start, revive, grow and thrive.